2002 Notebook: Weak XI
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13 March 2002
No. 9,205 (cartoon)
What happens now?

I can’t say.

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14 March 2002
From Anthrax to Disco and Back Again
I went to a presentation tonight on “The Art of Extreme Robotics: Showcase for Limits of Human-Machine Interaction.” The talks were part of a “Discourse and Disco” series, a title that raised several alarms. Discourse? Be wary. Disco? Be very afraid. Discourse and Disco? Flee for your life!

As any number of close friends will arrest, the very best advice is wasted on me. And since the evening was organized by some smart art chicks and featured my friend Mark Pauline among the ne’er-do-wells, I thought I’d have a good time.

In fact, I had a good time, a very good time indeed. The artists talked about buying their raw materials (obtanium) from crack addicts, dispensing anthrax from vending machines, and other innovative approaches to contemporary art practice.

The event organizers brought an illuminated disco ball, but it never functioned properly. No one could get the public address system to work, either. That’s contemporary technology!

15 March 2002
Another Personal Postal Scandal
Oh dear, more problems with bulk email. Almost a year ago, I discovered that all the copies of my artist’s notebook of sorts had been dumped into the North Sea instead of being emailed to the eighteen people who’d subscribed to it. Feh! That was the last time I used Acme Electronic Mail Delivery Systems.

I thought I’d learned my lesson, and contracted with another company to email copies of this notebook. The company, which I can’t name for legal reasons, was equally incompetent, and even more nefarious. I discovered the latest problem when a state trooper from the U.S. state of Georgia dropped by the lab to “ask a few questions,” and to report that hundreds of email pages from my notebook had been found among the rotting corpses in a Georgia swamp. [The larger scandal involved a lazy crematorium operator who saved time, energy, and money by willy-nilly dumping bodies he was paid to cremate throughout Georgia woods and lakes.]

Oh dear. As a result of serial incompetence, I’ve decided that I’ll have to distribute my notebook transcripts myself, starting with this batch. My apologies to would-be readers who never received anything, and my apologies as well to current readers for wasting your time.

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16 March 2002
The Importance of a Tripod
Sheila gave me a large amount of money to photograph some Purportedly Important People who were visiting her organization yesterday. I arrived with my fancy and ridiculously complex new digital camera in my jacket pocket, and my old Tiltall tripod on my shoulder.

After perfunctory introductions, I hung my jacket over the tripod then made a hundred snapshots of the PIPs at work. I figured that was enough, so I grabbed my jacket and tripod and headed for the exit.

“You aren’t done, are you?” asked Sheila.

“Yep,” I replied. “I’m sure I have all the photographs you’ll need.”

“But you never even used your tripod,” Sheila said.

“You’re mistaken,” I responded. “Since almost everyone owns a fancy and ridiculously complex new digital camera these days, I brought the big tripod to give the impression I was I serious photographer.”

“But you never even used it once!” Sheila protested.

“Its presence was its use, and vice versa,” I corrected. “Sometime the tripod supports the camera; other time it only supports an audience’s presumptions and expectations. Tripods are versatile tools.”

17 March 2002
Blow Books
I just heard about a new genre of books, “blow books.” (Actually, blow books are a very old genre; they’re just new to me.)

I made my discovery when I ran across a reference to Ricky Jay’s book with a forty-nine word title, The Magic Magic Book: An Inquiry into the Venerable History & Operation of the Oldest Trick Conjuring Volumes, Designated “Blow Books” [For Whosoever Bloweth on the Pages, if He be Versed in the Secret Method May Cause the Images to Appear, Vanish & Change at Will Many Several Times].

I understand the book was published in an edition of only three hundred copies, so I’ll probably never get to touch an original. I know that if I had an original volume, I wouldn’t let many people see it. I imagine that the book would get pretty messy pretty fast if lots of people were blowing on it.

I like the idea of a book that changes its contents “many several times” in response to the reader’s actions. Blow books may me one of the earliest examples of interactive art.

18 March 2002
A Narrow-minded Critique
Sonja just provides me with unsolicited and unambiguous editorial feedback.

“I can’t believe you wrote such rubbish about my ex-boyfriend and me,” she fumed.

“I recall you said he was a jerk,” I replied, “so what does it matter what I wrote?”

“Because it’s not true!” Sonja shot back.

“So what?” I asked. “Just because something isn’t all that true is hardly a good reason not to say it. I think you’re doing your friends and audiences a huge disservice if you shackle yourself to reality.”

“You’re so juvenile!” Sonja responded.

“Why, thank you!” I said. “Being perpetually juvenile takes immense discipline; your recognition delights me to no end.”

Sonja rolled her eyes and huffed away. I guess she didn’t want to play with me any more.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart