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.

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...