David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

19 August 2017

A script within a script | a play without actors. How bizarre!

In last night's SBS re-run of the original Batman TV series, the illusionist Zelda the Great and her clever criminal companion Eivol Ekdol watch through periscopes as Batman and the Boy Wonder enter the Inescapable Doom Trap : 

Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
 Look, Batman, a note on the counter :
 "To whom it may concern. Try interesting volume
 on top shelf last book of back row."
 Gosh! Could it concern us? It certainly could.
 Look at that title : The Truth About Bats.
 Wow! That book worked a concealed switch.
 Let's see how the plot goes, huh? 
 Bizarre! A play without actors.
 This script could be for us.
 One way to find out.
 Let's get in the limelight.
 Look, in this booth : It's a bat.
 I bet it means something. 

- Episode 10 : A Death Worse Than fate (1966)

Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 


16 August 2017

Color Me Ken

Last week we attended the impressively credentialed workshop Art and Translation : Ian Fairweather’s The Drunken Buddha lead by Claire Roberts at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne University. 

 Towards an Abstract Mood : The Drunken Buddha, 1965

While there, we also regarded (and translated...) The Potter's current exhibition The Score, curated by Jacqueline Doughty :

A musical score is a form of translation. It transcribes sound into drawing, by representing the aural complexities of pitch, rhythm and tempo as visual symbols.

The Score expands upon this spirit of transformation to ask, if music can be represented by notes on a staff, why not by colours? If a song can be performed by the voice, why not with silent hand gestures? And how would dance based upon the syllables of a poem, or music based upon the shape of a leaf manifest?
photos by Jodie Hutchinson   

excerpts from The Score of Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
Now, following The Score, we're listening again to Ken Nordine, to his 1966 Colors album, an extension of his 1964 7" EP Fuller Paint 'Color' Spots made for the Fuller Paint Company. 

The ad man Bob Pritkin gave Ken Nordine this opportunity. That's Bob below, on stage with the Fuller Four Paint Performers doing their conceptual Can-Can-Can-Can for TAR. This info and these images from the excellent audioarcana.

Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
COLORS has thirty-four tracks, each around 1' 35" of cool jazz hip bop advertisement copy for the chosen colors. It's available on Spotify and YouTube

cover design Daniel Czubak  
Flesh is ... color-centric thinking

Flesh, as a color is in an awful mess, yes
Ask anyone with flesh, they'll tell ya
Flesh, as a color is about as close to a problem as a color can get
Some people think the only color flesh color should be is the color their flesh color is
Which, pure and simple, is color-centric thinking
Popular in some corners, but you and I know, though, 
That the proper color flesh for flesh to be is the proper color it is
Varying from complexion to complexion
But if black flesh
And white flesh
And brown flesh
And red flesh
And yellow flesh
And tan flesh
If all the fleshes that are flesh want to establish a sensible similarity among differences,
We better forget the flesh, and the colors it can be, and think on the Spirit, and its singular light
Otherwise, flesh as a color could be black and blue,
Or even a bloody hue

01 Olive
02 Lavender
03 Burgundy
04 Yellow
05 Green
06 Beige
07 Maroon
08 Ecru
09 Chartreuse
10 Turquoise
11 White
12 Flesh
13 Azure
14 Puce
15 Magenta
16 Orange
17 Purple
18 Muddy
19 Russet
20 Amber
21 Blue
22 Black
23 Gold
24 Crimson
25 Brown
26 Rosey
27 Hazel
28 Mauve
29 Fuschia
30 Sepia
31 Nutria
32 Cerise
33 Grey
34 Coral

TAR presents regarding Abstract Mood (for Ken N) :

Ken Nordine  
 Towards a Drunken Buddha : Haymes 'Interior Colours' chart, 2017

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 

13 August 2017

Annual Grudge Match : Constructivism versus All Comers

It's the Australian Football League's version of Tomasso Siciliano's 1585 Vatican ceiling fresco 
The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism,
performed each AFL season whenever St Kilda (The Saints) and Melbourne (The Demons) clash at the MCG TAR (Melbourne Cricket Ground Theatre of the Actors of Regard).

Depending on how each Regardist regards the unlimited binary opportunities afforded by these two opposed teams of players, the match is tween
Saints v Demons, Good v Evil, Heaven v Earth, 
Sky v Ground, Levity v Gravitas, Wings v Horns, Light v Dark....

If guided by the club colours or jumper designs, the battle might might be between, say...

Constructivists v Sheep Dippers 
(the latter based on an old advertising slogan 
Red White and Black/The Tri-Benzyl Pack (sic)

Today's result : 
The Triumph of ... Constructivism! 
(14 12 96 def. 10 12 72)

The battle continues at :
Call of the Avant-GardeConstructivism and Australian Art 
Heide Museum of Modern Art  (5 July 8 October 2017) 

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 

10 August 2017

Cooeeeee! Capital and the Call of the Avant-Garde

“Into Production!”: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism

Christina Kiaer

In the first issue of the Russian avant-garde journal Lef, in 1923, the Constructivist theorist Osip Brik wrote a brief article with the title “Into Production!”. Taking Aleksandr Rodchenko as his example, he opens: “Rodchenko was an abstract artist. He has become a constructivist and a production artist. Not just in name, but in practice.” He continues: “Rodchenko knows that you won’t do anything by sitting in your own studio, that you must go into real work, carry your own organizational talent where it is needed – into production.”[1] Brik was one of a group of theoretically-informed, Marxist critics and writers within the Moscow Institute of Artistic Culture (or INKhUK) who began promoting the so-called “Productivist” platform of Constructivism in the fall of 1921. Some of the most prominent Constructivist artists, such as Vladimir Tatlin, Karl Ioganson, Varvara Stepanova, Liubov Popova, and of course Rodchenko, attempted in various and significantly different ways to enter into Soviet mass production after the Russian Revolution. Yet if the debates leading to the formulation of Constructivism and Productivism in 1921 had emphasized “laboratory work,” industrial technology and engineering, a great deal of Productivist work ended up being less about technology and the factory, and more about the invention and theorization of new kinds of useful material objects that would transform everyday life under socialism. In this essay, I consider these artists’ different models of “production art,” and suggest that the Productivist idea of the “socialist object,” in particular, might still be relevant to radical cultural production today.

(full article here)

This "Into Production!" came to mind yesterday, watching TV of the CEO of the CBA, Ian Narev, defending himself and his bank against allegations of turning a blind eye to the facilitation of money laundering via the CBA direct deposit ATMs. 

Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
Ian Narev (r) in front of the CBA (Commonwealth Bank of Australia / Constructivism's Bastard Art) expanded Logo field.

The TAR CBA mise en scène above is lineage product(ion) progeny, surely, of Picasso (Cubism), Malevich (Supremetism), Rodchenko (Constructivism), Mondrian and Van Doesburg 
(de Stijl) ... through to 'Pure' Corporation Art. All grist to the mill of mis|appropriat|ion bottom-line Capital|ismus.

click image to enlarge  
Featured on the cataLOGOS/HA HA cover of Sotheby's RUSSIAN PICTURES November 2016 auction, Alexander Rodchenko’s Construction No.95 (1919) sold for a record £3.6m with fees, eclipsing its previous auction record of £420,000.

We remember when the new CBA logo by Ken Cato was announced and was much discussed. The 2012 article extract below is from Desktop :

Described as “bold, strong, modern and progressive” in a bank press release, the Commonwealth Bank’s current logo was introduced when the bank enlisted its new identity in September 1991. According to the bank, the design is based on the formation of the Southern Cross constellation with the yellow section linking the five stars of the Southern Cross, and the black portion completing the geometrical shape. Yet, Ken Cato, the designer appointed in 1989 to create this new corporate identity, disagrees: “It doesn’t mean the Southern Cross; it means the Commonwealth Bank,” he says. “We needed a shape that could still include the colours yellow and black (as this distinguished us from all of the other banks’ colours) and it had to be a memorable shape in contrast to the bank’s competition and a diamond seemed like a good idea, plus it breaks up the black and yellow colours,” Cato adds.

According to the Commonwealth Bank, the current logo shape is               based on the Southern Cross constellation
*see also : Warwick Thornton's film 'We Don't Need A Map' (Ed.)

1989 (current) logo by Ken Cato
The story behind the development of the trademark’s single, extended character, double M typeface is also surprising. “It simply came down to having very uncomfortable words placed together,” says Cato. “It was a very long word followed up by a descriptor word like ‘bank’ and I needed to make the word ‘Commonwealth’ as short as I could. There was also a picket fence in the word where the double ‘M’ forms an awkward arch, so these were the decisions behind the joining of the letters and the legibility was not lost – only a designer would pick it up.”
While the Commonwealth Bank declined to comment on the controversial price of the revamp, Cato says he has to smile when people bring up the so-called $11 million redesign budget. “In today’s world, that figure is considerably small when it comes to the branding of big corporations, which have to replace all of their building signage and stationery – it’s almost laughable as it was done incredibly cheaply.”
aside : Ian Narev's current wage package is around $10million/year. Yesterday, the CBA announced it's annual financial result, a profit of around $10billion. Dating from 2012, there are an alleged 54,000 CBA breaches of Australia's money-laundering laws for which the CBA faces a potential $1trillion in fines. Previously, the CBA overcharged its customers by more than $100million and... and... Banks Inquiry, anyone?

Man and His SymbolsKarl Jung, 1964

On the weekend, we read with interest Rex Butler's consideration in Memo Review of the current Heide MoMA exhibition Call of the Avant-Garde: Constructivism and Australian Art.

... It is not that it is art-historically calculating in any sense, or even somehow self-prophesying, but rather that the real interest it possesses is to serve as evidence of a particular time and place. It serves as the marker of a "scene" – Brisbane in the early 1980s, Melbourne throughout the rest of that decade and into the '90s – and the same could be said of the artists who followed him also in the show: Stephen Bram, Bronwyn Clark-Coolee, Melinda Harper, Kerrie Poliness and Gary Wilson. There's virtually nothing to look at in their work, almost nothing of visual interest, except for the fact that it points to a certain kind of artistic activity.
In other words, the principal – if not only – significance of the work is socio-historical, or in more up to date language relational. The work – unlike the original Russian Constructivism – does not point somewhere else but only tautologically to itself and its own existence.
So that in many ways the show is not any kind of exploration of what happened to Constructivism when it arrived in Australia, but merely demonstrates the fact that there were artists here who made work in its name. The result is not any kind of art history but more a social history. Or that, at least, is how it appears once the 1970s begins.
- the extract above is from :

Heide Museum of Modern Art    
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 

06 August 2017

Professor Laughwell

Young and old at bLOGOS/HA HA have been enjoying the Friday evening re-screenings of the 1960s Batman television series on SBS Viceland.

The most recent, episode six - Batman Is Riled, featured our favourite supervillain The Joker played by Cesar Romero.

 Cesar Romero as The Joker : "HA HA! Look, I've been framed!"

     A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
     someone looks at something... 

Holy Headline #1 : 
The responsibility of the press

Robin: All the same! "The Joker is wild!" "Batman and Robin foiled again!" Holy Headlines, do we look like page one dumbbells!
Batman: Too true, Robin. The responsibility of the press is to report the truth, despite what it might do to our public image. Our main concern is to a frightened public, whom we seem to be failing.
Robin: Gosh, you're right. I can't help thinking of only myself. I'm sorry.
Batman: Well, that's okay, chum. We all have the right to be selfish sometimes.

Holy Headline #2 : 
Holy grammar!

Joker: Batman and Boy Wonder? Are your blindfolds in place? Very well, then. Ask yourselves, "What is wrong with this sentence?" "He who laughs last laughs good!" [laughs]
[Batman turns off the television.]
Robin: Holy grammar! Is that all?
Batman: He who laughs last laughs best, not good! Best! Best! Best!
Robin: Do you suppose "blindfold" might have something to do with it?
Alfred: If I may venture an opinion, sir, I think Master Dick may have put his finger on it.
Batman: Blindfold?
Alfred: No, sir. Grammar. The sentence was gramatically incorrect. One does not laugh good, sir. One laughs well.
Batman: Why, that's it, Alfred! Laughs well! Laughwell! Professor James J. Laughwell!
Robin: Holy safari! The one that just got back from Africa, with a collection of rare masks and objects of art!
Alfred: That's where the blindfold part would come in, sir.
Batman: And they're being stored at the Lasts Longer Warehouse! To the Batmobile!
Masks of The Joker : Theatre of the Actors of Regard 
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 


03 August 2017

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...

Michael Fullilove, Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, addressed the National Press Club of Australia yesterday. His topic, 'Australia in the Trump era'.

He concluded his speech with this anecdote :

Ladies and gentlemen, I was last in the United States in January. I left just before Mr Trump’s inauguration ceremony.

I’m very fond of America. I admire its energy and its idealism and, for all its flaws, I believe the country does much more good than ill.

I have many friends and colleagues in Washington, which was once my home… and I didn’t want to be there to see what followed.

Because I left town before the twentieth of January I don’t have any first hand information for you on what Sean Spicer memorably described as, “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration period, both in person and around the globe.

But, I was part of that huge crowd on the National Mall in 2009 for President Obama’s first inauguration. And before the proceedings began in January 2009, I looked up to see a bald eagle, Americas’s national symbol, soaring and swooping over the Capitol dome. And I found this quite affecting, I’m a romantic by nature, and I turned to the stranger sitting next to me and I pointed this out to her.

But she turned out to be a very conservative Republican, and she said to me, “That’s no heavenly sign, that’s a trained eagle that the Obama campaign has put up in the sky to attract positive media attention.

Now, at the time, I found this world view merely disappointing. In retrospect, I see it as pretty disturbing. It was an early case of a new more dangerous strain of partisanship in which Americans are willing to ignore reality if it does not fit with their prejudices.

I was present, I believe, at the first instance of fake news : where I saw an eagle, she saw alternative facts.

And, ladies and gentlemen, this is the world, Trump’s world, in which the United States and Australia must now make our way. 

Thank you


Look, up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's...
or rather, we are...
Theatre of the Actors of Regard!

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 


01 August 2017

If it looks like a turkey, and if you appear to be the star of a TAR tableau...

Duck test

The Duck test is a humorous term for a form of abducktive reasoning. This is its usual expression:

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

The test implies that a person can identify an unknown subject by observing that subject's habitual characteristics. It is sometimes used to counter abstruse, or even valid, arguments that something is not what it appears to be.

Turkey test

The Turkey test is a humorous term for a form of abturktive reasoning. This is its usual expression:

If it looks like a turkey, if it excites its observer to 'talk turkey', then it probably is a turkey.

The test implies that a person can identify an unknown matter by observing that matter's slanguistic characteristics. It is sometimes used to counter abstruse, or even valid, arguments that something is not what it appears to be.


Theatre of the Actors of Regard   
TAR tableau test

The TAR tableau test is a humorous term for a form of abTARk'tive meta-reasoning. This is its usual expression :

If it looks like a TAR tableau, sounds like a TAR tableau, and smells like a TAR tableau, then it probably is a TAR tableau.

The test implies that a person can identify an unknown meta-maTAR by observing that maTAR's TAR-bi-TARy characteristics. It is sometimes used to counter abstruse, or even valid, arguments that something is not what it appears to be.

Theatre of the Actors of Regard  
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 


30 July 2017

Picky of the Bunch

The Archibald Prize : The prize will be awarded, in the terms of the will of the late JF Archibald dated 15 March 1916, to the best portrait ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees for sending in the pictures’.

the work must be a painting. Must be a portrait painted from life, with the subject known to the artist, aware of the artist’s intention and having at least one live sitting with the artist.

- from AGNSW Archibald Prize Entry Conditions

For some, the annual Festival of Portrait Regard is their Festival of Dagger Definitions.

Unsheathe your dagger definitions. Horseness is the whatness of allhorse.

- James Joyce, ‘Ulysses’

This art competition has a history of contention :

...the most famous was in 1943 when William Dobell's winning painting of Joshua Smith was challenged because of claims it was a caricature rather than a portrait.

Max Meldrum criticised the Archibald Prize winner in 1938, saying that women could not be expected to paint as well as men.

In 1997 the painting of the Bananas in Pyjamas television characters by Evert Ploeg was deemed ineligible by the trustees because it was not a painting of a person.
This year, John Olsen and Tim Storrier - both are former Trustees of the AGNSW, and both previous Archibald Prize winners via self-portrait entries - publicly criticised the winning work.

In the Daily Telegraph :

Veteran art dealer Hughes said he was “not unhappy” with Cairns being selected as winner but an incensed Olsen’s comment was simply: “Oh dear, oh dear.”

“I have never seen anything so superficial,” the 88-year-old said. “The thing is so totally bland.”

Sour grapes? “How can it be sour grapes when I am the richest grape?” Olsen said.

“I know nothing of the artist and I wish him very well but the thing is that it hasn’t got the necessary qualities that makes a portrait. Where the hell is the Archibald Prize going? If they get to that kind of level, what’s the point?”
.    .    .    .  

Storrier said Cairns’ win was symptomatic of a political “agenda”.

“What I’m referring to is the inclusion of certain types of paintings by certain types of people, which appears to me to be the case. The board has lost what its focus is meant to be, which is to pick the best portrait,” he said.

In the Age/SMH :

The Archibald Prize has once again sparked controversy with veteran artist John Olsen calling this year's winner, Mitch Cairns' colourful portrait of artist Agatha Gothe-Snape, "just so bad".

"I think it's the worst decision I've ever seen," the 89-year-old former winner and three-time judge of the country's best-known portrait prize said. 

Insisting that an outstanding portrait should give an insight into its subject, Olsen said Cairns' painting lacked analysis. 

"It's entirely surface, the drawing is just not there, and the structure, which is a summation of what makes a thing good, isn't there," he said.

What is "a portrait"? 

We can't find a definition of "a portrait" provided anywhere in the terms and conditions of this contest. 

In this regard ...

We were very interested to note as one of the 43 hung finalists, and therefore, presumably, a work considered by the Trustees to meet the stated terms and conditions of entry :

Tjungkara Ken's Kungkarangkalpa tjukurpa 

(Seven Sisters dreaming), a self-portrait.

At the AGNSW Archibald Prize website, the artist is quoted :

‘I hold my father’s story, I hold my mother’s story… [it] doesn’t come out of paper or out of a book. It’s coming out of the ground here,’ said Tjungkara Ken in 2015.

‘When the ancestors painted our tjukurpa (dreaming) on the caves and on their bodies, it was a celebration of our culture, a way of identifying people and places, and a way of continuing our stories. Today, we have new materials and ways but the celebration and commitment to tjukurpa and cultural identity is always the same,’ says Ken.

‘My painting is a self-portrait through Kungkarangkalpa tjukurpa, the Seven Sisters dreaming – a self-portrait of my country. For Anangu, they are one and the same.'


 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something... 


27 July 2017

2017 Archibald Portrait Prize

Tomorrow at midday, the Festival of Portrait Regard will reincarnate at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with the announcement of the 
2017 Archibald Portrait Prize Paint for Regard.

Each year, along with the newly celebrated, a previous lineage master is also acknowledged.

This year, Theatre of the Actors of Regard will honour the artist Ike Taiga and his seminal work 

"The Connoisseur of Regard".

Ike no Taiga (池大雅, 1723–1776) was a Japanese painter and calligrapher born in Kyoto during the Edo period. Together with Yosa Buson, he perfected the bunjinga (or nanga) genre. The majority of his works reflected his passion for classical Chinese culture and painting techniques, though he also incorporated revolutionary and modern techniques into his otherwise very traditional paintings. As a bunjin (文人, literati, man of letters), Ike was close to many of the prominent social and artistic circles in Kyoto, and in other parts of the country, throughout his lifetime.

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...