Monthly Archives: October 2008

Artist as Collectors of Info: let’s get personal – olivia ciummo

I was thinking about the differences between practices of artists in book collecting as to people who collect books for their rarity. I guess it is self-explanatory as to how and why a person would collect for the sake of collecting an object, pretty straightforward.  I guess the question I ask is it the same for artist?

With artist I found a distinct engagement in the way the collection is formed, the content and cataloging. A personal connection to the collection rather than a collection biased on accumulation of rare forms.  I’m not saying all that collectors outside of the realm of art have no connection to the content of their collection. Rather the idea of contrasting and comparing collecting objects for personal reference to collecting objects for sequential relevance due out of a system of capitalist (meaning money making) publishing.

I interviewed filmmaker, video maker and artist tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE to investigate the functions of his book collection. (please note the questions I ask) I also referenced Martha Rosler’s collection to look for similarities in these two artists’ trade of collecting books. This I contrast with book collectors of another kind. Such as noted in Baudrillard’s The System of Objects (I know we all love Baudrillard) page 93. He accounts a story told by Maurice Rheims (art collector and writer on art) about a bibliophile that dealt with unique and original copies of books, who one day learned about a second copy of a particular book. Leaning this he tracked down the location, bought the book burned it and had a lawyer draw up a legal document stating that his copy was now the ONLY copy. This is the contrast I speak of between artist that collect and collectors, though possibly extreme.  The notion of objectification and putting forth the effort of doing violent actions to identify the object as an object to be counted, collected or amassed.  This I think is absent form the story on Martha Rosler’s website ( and form the interview below with tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE. These artist have collected to do research, to understand knowledge and to use it to make art. Not to own an object.


When did you start being a book collector? Was it a particular book or subject that got you started?

The value of the books that I collect is based on their content & the significance of that content to me personally NOT on market value – which would usually be contrary to what I consider to be important.  It’s also based on how rare the content of the book is.

For example, I’m not as likely to buy a mass-market cookbook, even though the recipes might be useful, just because there’s no ‘need’ for my library to contain a book that’s likely to be found easily elsewhere.  The books I acquire are books I intend to READ or, at least, use as a reference work.  As such, I’m much more likely to look for rare music theory, politics, film history, science, literature, art, etc, books than I am for something as omnipresent as something by a popular horror writer, eg.  I won’t get a book just because it’s a 1st edition or some such, but I will look for publications that I think will be hard to find because they’re small editions, etc..

How you go about searching for books on the Internet? Do you still use methods of searching other than the Internet?

I’m almost constantly researching & looking for books that might be valuable sources for me to study.  EG: after we talked on the phone tonight, I started thinking that I should read that Iranian book of the so-called ‘terrorist’ confessions that I was lucky enough to pick up an English-language copy of in Australia.  That got me to thinking about Reza Baraheni, the author of “The Crowned Cannibals: Writings on Repression in Iran”.  Reza was an Iranian poet in exile in the USA who had been tortured under the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK.  I knew him in Baltimore & we both gave readings at a friend’s apartment one night in Baltimore in the late 1970s.  I decided that I should read his book 1st so I went online & ordered a copy of it (only $5.00 w/ shipping!).  That means I’ve now set in motion YET-ANOTHER research for myself.

How do you go about lending books out?

If someone that I know will benefit from or appreciate the book I will lend it out to them
(unless it’s TOO irreplaceable).  The lending process is ‘controlled’ by trust and memory. For example, if someone borrows a book it’s up to them to remember to return it.  If it’s been a long time and I see that the book is still missing I’ll harass them to return it.  If neither they nor I remember then it’s a loss. I don’t lend to people I don’t know.
My system isn’t that different from any other lending library except that it’s based more on trust & doesn’t have a bureaucracy.

How do you catalog each item?

Again, not THAT differently from any other library insofar as books are organized according to content rather than by, say, the cover’s color or some such.  The organizational categories are simply very common ones that I’m likely to remember such as Literature, Art, and Film, etc. But these categories aren’t necessarily the best for accuracy.  For example, Timothy Leary can be found under Drugs, though he might be more correctly filed under philosophy – I just put his books under drugs because I mostly associate him with expanded consciousness research that involves LSD, etc.

When did you start being a book collector? Was it a particular book or subject that got you started?

When I was a little kid my elementary school had a few book sales
& I got a copy of a book of limericks & illustrations by Edward Lear
called “A Book of Nonsense”.  I probably had other books before that
but that’s the one that really sticks in my mind as somehow ‘precious’
– ‘precious’ in the sense of seeming almost magically wonderful to me.

How you go about searching for books on the internet?

I rarely search for books on the internet.  If I did I’d have to use extreme critical limitations or it would be too expensive.

Do you still use methods of searching other than the internet?

I mainly look for books in used book stores, at library sales, yard sales,
that sort of thing.  Wherever they can be gotten cheapest or for free.

If you are especially eager to obtain a copy of a particular book, do you buy one in lesser condition if that is all that’s available?

Condition is of little importance except insofar as it effect readability.
I want all of its pages to be there..  that sort of thing.

Do you upgrade to a better copy when one becomes available?

Not usually.  I’d rather get a different book than repeat.

What other hobbies, interests, or recreation or arts, etc., do you enjoy?

I’m interested in almost everything EXCEPT sports.

What would you like to tell us, business or personal, about yourself?

electronically signed,


Amir-ul Kafirs

Some tenuous beginnings of P.N.T. (Perverse Number Theory):
(for all x)x = (for all x)x (Anything is Anything)
(A Double Negative As Not A Positive)
(A finite quantity represented as a set containing
an infinite quantity of its subdivisions
(such as its subdivision in terms of rational numbers)
does not equal the same finite quantity
represented as a set containing an infinite quantity
OF A DIFFERENT DEGREE of its subdivisions
(such as its subdivision in terms of irrational numbers).)
m + n does not equal n + m is isomorphic to x
the ceiling of x is greater than or equal to the ceiling of the ceiling of x
(Enough is Enough)
The Formula of the Origin of the H.M. (Hermaphrodite Mafia):
(S0+S0) = so&so (predicate: 1 + 1 = the free variable so-&-so)
interpretation 01: predicate:
The successor to zero plus the successor to zero
equals the free variable so-&-so.
interpretation 02: predicate:
Parents have produced a child
that transcends their fixed gender status.

Some tenuous beginnings of I.J.T. (Internal Jumbling Technique):
The biran of hdeas teird & selpt ’til its biarn was in a wreid sacpe.  It cvread the stlay crud on its berad & in its driay snak in the sitan of the bran & the bran aklie.

Work will make you Free Trade,

anonymous /
David A. Bannister / Luther Blissett / Monty Cantsin / Karen Eliot /
E.G.Head / id ntity / Tim Ore / Party Teen on Couch #2 /
RATical / Alan Smithee / SpRATacus / tANGO, aLPHA cHARLIE /
1/2 of “Who is like God?s”

For a highly abridged promotional lo-fi version of my “Book ‘Em” documentary:

For a copy of my book that references my 1st 9 books:

For info about the press that published the above:

Here’s a recent article I wrote about my friend Bruce Stater’s writing:,com_docman/task,doc_download/gid,32/+Staterment&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us

The video of my presentation at THE INFLUENCERS fest in Barcelona in 2004
can be accessed @:
wch surprises me because I was pretty unpopular there.

For 2 volumes of my “Piano Illiterature” on the Internet Archive:
Thanks to the ever-lovin’ Germaine Fodor for putting this on-line!!

the “Whoop Up @ the Funny Farm” audio track
from the “Luther Blissett – Open Pop Star” CD
can be downloaded from:

An outdated version or another of the venerable Seven by Nine Squares is available at:

A subset of the above concentrating on my writings being:

S.P.C.S.M.E.F. web-site: <;
or is it: <;

tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE action reports:
or is it: <;?

“History Begins Where Life Ends” can be read at:

WIdémoUTH tapes related text: <;
or: <;

Now available for download, Retrograde Release no. 28, February 2004:
PhonoStatic 27′ cassette
Description: <;
(direct download of 11 ogg vorbis file available on above link)
This includes my 8:20 sped-up piano piece entitled:
“It’s Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso (#2)”

Downloads from CD release of Scrape Audio Magazine #1:
“Tone Fones Duet” & “Top Bottom”
are available at:


N.A.A.M.C.P.: <;
or is it: <;

I reckon that one of these yrs there’ll be link from here:
to the vaudeo I made about the Industrial Arts Co-Op’s Deerhead sculpture.

Mottos & Slogans:

“Anything is Anything”
“No More Punching-Bag Clowns!”
“Neoism Now! & Then!”;
“Kill Normality Before It Kills You!”
“The Revenge of the Impotent is to Try to Neuter the Fertile”
“Before You Decide Against Biting the Hand That Feeds You,
Ask Why It Has So Much Food in the First Place”
“WE are all UNEQUAL under the LAW & THAT is its PURPOSE!”
“USICIAN, Use Thyself!”


Mad Scientist / d composer / Sound Thinker / Thought Collector / As Been /
PIN-UP (Postal Interaction Network Underground Participant) /
Headless Deadbeat of the Pup tENT Cult /
booed usician / Low Classicist / H.D.J. (Hard Disc Jockey) /
Psychopathfinder / Jack-Off-Of-All-Trades / criminally sane /
Homonymphonemiac / Practicing PromoTextual /
Air Dresser /
Sprocket Scientist / headitor & earchivist / Explicator /
Sexorcist /
Professional Resister of Character Defamation /
Proponent of Classification-Resistant What-Have-Yous /
Princess of Dorkness’s Right Hand Man /
Human Attention-ExSpanDex Speculum /
Imp Activist /
SPLEENIUS / Cognitive Dissident

social associations:

nuclear brain physics surgery’s cool founder & graduate
Krononaut / Church of the SubGenius Santa / Neoast?! / Pregroperativist
talent scout for Olfactories Organized
S.S.S.B.ite (Secret Society for Strange Behaviour -ite)
(Anti-Secret Society for Strange Behaviour Asshole Son-of-a-Bitch)
member of the I.S.C.D.S. (International Stop Continental Drift Society)
1 time supporter of the ShiMo Underground
Ballooning One in the Fructiferous Society
founder & president of the N.A.A.M.C.P.
(National Association for the Advancement of Multi-Colored Peoples)
co-founder of the S.P.C.S.M.E.F.
(Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sea Monkeys
by Experimental Filmmakers)
Borderline Kneelite in the KNEEHIGHS GANG
emphatic member of the No-No Class
Street Rat Liberation Front
Money Against Capitalism
What?! Collective

“Why, if we allow them to think for themselves there would be anarchy!”
– a fictitious quote from Daniel Webster

The PRESENT of Information Storage/Retrieval
lies in understanding how to decode-from/encode-in ANY medium
(such as the surface you’re reading this from)

File under DDC#040.002


Gordon Matta-Clark, Fake Estates

Documentation of an Artist’s Collection
Erik Peterson

Can one collect air?  Can one collect stars?  Can one collect land?  The answers to these questions is of course yes, yes, and yes.  Marcel Duchamp collected 50 cc of Paris air and cell phone companies are buying it from over our heads, the naming rights for stars is for sale on, and certainly land is bought and sold as “property” all the time.  Collecting intangibles like “land,” objectifying and possessing it as property, is probably the cornerstone tenet in our democratic/capitalist society.  In young America, property not only had functional value, but political as well.  Land gave freedom for a white male to participate in government, to cast a vote as a “landowner”.
Land is one of the most one of the most sought after objects to own, everyone wants a “piece of the pie.”  The playground question I remember from childhood was: do you own just the skin of the crust or the diminishing slice all the way to the molten core?  Is land a surface or volume, a painting or sculpture?  Perhaps owning land, you are just purchasing the right to use it until you and all your descendents die.  The functionality seems paramount, a farmer buys arable land, an hotel developer buys land on the beach.  But what if the land is unusable?
Gordon Matta-Clark, most famous for his work cutting large voids into disused buildings, observed these oddities of American land ownership and went about collecting parcels of land that were as close to unusable as can be.  His collection consisted of 15 extremely marginal pieces of the New York City pie, fourteen in Queens and one in Staten Island.  The land, sold at city auctions as “gutterspace,” was often behind or in-between buildings, utterly inaccessible, extremely small and oddly shaped, or quite literally a gutter.  Formed by the quixotic jousts of municipal intervention – strange zoning arrangements, cast-offs from public works projects, and left-over slices from surveys – these lots became metaphors for the fracturing of space and the inherent strangeness of property ownership.  The fact that Matta-Clark purchased the parcels (instead of simply collecting photos of them or circling them on a map) speaks volumes to the absurdity of the commercialization of something so physical and yet so ephemeral.  It also speaks to the nature of collecting, where an object is stripped of its intended function to become a singular possession.  The nature of the possession of land becomes even more intriguing when the land is functionless, such that the only purpose is to be the “property” of a collector.
The final manifestation of the project, which was to be called Fake Estates, was never realized due to Matta-Clark’s untimely death in 1978.  The cycle of landownership redoubled, and the city reclaimed the sites due to unpaid taxes.  Luckily, a physical manifestation of the piece is still possible due to the artist’s collection of buerocratic ephemera surrounding the sales of the estates.  Matta-Clark not only collected unusable (and often unseeable) bits of land, but also the documentation surrounding its existence.  His archived collections – the deed of sale, tax-assessors maps, photographs and films of the sites, and writings – now form the material representation that documents his immaterial collection of former possessions: land that had no function but to exist.

Video stills from a 1975 video by Jaime Davidovick with Gordon Matta-Clark shot on site during Matta-Clark’s Reality Properties: Fake Estates project

Alison Knowles Lecture Wed Oct 29

Alison Knowles Lecture

Art+ Design Lecture Series, Columbia College Chicago

Oct 29, 2008

6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

623 S. Wabash Ave. room 203

Alison Knowles is a genuinely interdisciplinary artist. One of the original members of the Fluxus group in the 1960s, she was a founder of Something Else Press (with her husband Dick Higgins), the source of numerous iconic publications connected to Fluxus, including Notations, the book she edited with John Cage. Her works have encompassed performance, sound, conceptual art, sculptural work incorporating found objects, pieces made from handmade paper, printmaking, and artists’ books. Her work is collected internationally, and she has an active career as a practicing artist and as a guest lecturer and teacher. In 2008 alone, she has done residencies in New York; Minneapolis; Durham, NY; London; Cologne; Cardiff, Wales; and Genova, Italy. After her visit to Columbia College, she will be performing in Berne and Zurich, Switzerland, and have an exhibition of her series “Rake’s Progress” in Berlin.

posted by Andrew Oleksiuk

I’m building a birdhouse – Mary Robnett

I found these birdhouses on the side of an apartment building at Lyndale and Sacramento. Most the collections I found were either an amassment of Halloween decorations…

via camera phone

or quasi abandoned storefronts.

Girl Talk makes CD?

Pilsen Homies, 18th Street, Chicago. -by Maria Gaspar

I found this collection on 18th Street and Bishop in the Pilsen Community. It is comprised of Homies toys/characters popularized within Latin American neighborhoods in Chicago. One can purchase a Homie toy from a toy machine for about $.50.


Homies characters consist of several series: The Homies, The Mijos, The Hoodrats, Homie Clowns, Dogpoung, The Palermos and Trailer Park. The more popular Homies characters’ are described on their website as…”The Homies are a group of tightly knit Chicano buddies who have grown up in the Mexican American barrio ( neighborhood ) of “Quien Sabe”, ( who knows ) located in East Los Angeles. The four main characters are Hollywood, Smiley, Pelon, and Bobby Loco. Their separate and distinct personalities and characteristics together make up a single, composite entity that is the “HOMIES.” In an inner-city world plagued by poverty, oppression, violence, and drugs, the Homies have formed a strong and binding cultural support system that enables them to overcome the surrounding negativity and allows for laughter and good times as an anecdote for reality. The word “Homies” itself is a popular street term that refers to someone from your hometown or, in a broader sense, anyone that you would acknowledge as your friend. In use in the West Coast Latino community for decades, the word “Homies” has crossed over into the now mainstream Hip-Hop street culture that has taken America’s young people by storm.”

David Gonzalez, creator of The Homies Series, says “…to be able to see the world
of the Hispanic child from a humorous point of view, and to be able to write and draw 
about it, is a gift from God. I would like you to help me share it with the rest of the world.” … The artist profile states that “…during this time he has successfully marketed to the Hispanic market with a variety of custom lines. His art has been sold on t-shirts in hundreds of retail outlets, both large and specialty. Some well known accounts include J.C. Penny, Millers Outpost, Mr. Rags, and Hot Topic.”

I know of several people who collect these toys and am always amazed at their popularity. They are extremely stereotypical and mostly cater to the EAST LA MEXICAN STEREOTYPE used within our pop culture and mainstream media. The company has a number of youtube videos, songs, homegirl calendars and many, many other products that are marketed towards Latinos. I question the relationship between the purchaser being of Latin American descent purchasing a stereotypical image of themselves. This collection is interesting because it is small storefront space that is owned by a private family. How many years did it take for them to create this collection? They included other characters, like Sponge Bob, Lisa Simpson and others.

Novelas and Comic Books by Jose Velazco

Here is my found collection of comic books and short story paperbacks at my local corner store.

Here is video of the collection….