Creating a formula for the creative process can lead to cheap tricks.
But that might not be such a bad thing. You'll never get worried about
making your next art work. You'll always know where to start and when to
finish. No more worrying about whether the work you're about to make has
been done before. You can use the word "oeuvre" when talking about your
work. They'll be no more degrees of badness and goodness because you'll
either get the formula right or wrong. We feel like we're repeating
ourselves, but we mean that in a very positive way. -IC
Send letters to the editor to email@example.com
|Saturday Edition Feature
1. The Aesthetic Equation | Jon Sasaki
When I was a kid, I tried to read Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, because I thought it would be a how-to guide for fixing motorcycles. I quickly discovered that the book contains very little practical information about bikes, and a whole lot of excruciatingly longwinded passages about Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality. The few parts I didn't skip led me to believe that Pirsig's methodology was far more complicated than was necessary. In fact, the task of assessing "Quality" can be accomplished simply by applying a few objective mathematical formulae. Let's look at an art example.
A painter becomes tired of making mediocre (we'll call that "M") work, and wants to start producing excellent ("E") work. In order to reach E, the painter must add something to M. That elusive, desirable element, "goodness," we'll refer to as "G" in our formula.
G = E - M
The corollary: bad art ("b") is work with even less "G" than the amount found in "M"
M - G = b
Practical application: Our painter takes a batch of paintings (quantity "X") to a curator. By applying the following formula, the curator can decide ("D") whether the series should be shown, ("S") or not shown ("N.")
If, however, the amount of badness, divided by the number of crappy paintings exceeds the goodness divided by the number of good paintings, then clearly the series is not worth showing, and D will result in a value of N… a decision made mathematically, not by resorting to unreliable intuition. These formulae are intended to take all the guesswork out of art evaluation, and are simple enough to be used even by people like myself, who scored a 53 in OAC algebra. (I should mention that my 53 was not really indicative of my algebraic ability, so much as an expression of Mr. Nassour's disapproval of my attitude toward his subject, which he unfairly perceived as "lacking seriousness.")
2. The Halifax Drawing Club
The Drawing Club is an informal social group for people who love to draw. Founded in 2002 by artist Rebecca Roberts, the Club early on adopted the motto, "Can't is not a word." Members of the Drawing Club have in common not only a love of drawing, but a desire to share their collaborative drawings with the world. To this end, the Drawing Club has mounted public exhibitions in Derby, England, and Canada's Maritime provinces, giving away drawings free of charge to gallery-goers and members of the public, inviting everyone to "Join the Club!"
Most recently, in early 2003 the Club participated in the exhibition Raw/Beauty, curated by Halifax artist Chris Lloyd for the Saint John Arts Centre in Saint John, New Brunswick. In an attempt to introduce itself and its work to New Brunswickers, The Drawing Club mounted a dynamic city-wide mail art campaign, sending free gifts of Club drawings in individually hand-decorated envelopes to the citizens of Saint John. Most recipients appreciated the art in silence; several phoned the Arts Centre to praise the "disgusting," "unsolicited" gifts. Later, an Arts Centre board member, mistakenly believing that a Club drawing was not appropriate to be seen by the children who attend piano recitals at the contemporary arts gallery, attempted to remove a work from the gallery. Curator Lloyd quickly sorted out this kerfuffle, and the Drawing Club declared the project a success.
Building on its momentum, in the coming year the Drawing Club plans to expand its visibility in its home city of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Club members hope that their eye-catching holiday decoration of the street-level shop-windows of a local artist-run centre this past December will pave the way for similar window projects. Also in the works is a collaboration with players in Canada's newspaper industry. Daily papers, borrowed briefly from vending boxes in the wee hours of the morning, will be enhanced, embellished and interpreted by Club members, who will put their drawing skills to work turning daily newspapers into value-added products by the addition of original art to their pages.
Public projects aside, the heart of the Drawing Club is its bi-weekly meetings, egalitarian get-togethers at which concepts of "skill" and "talent" are abandoned. At Club meetings there is no such thing as a bad drawing; Drawing Club members often remind eachother, "Remember, can't is not a word!"
You can't not join the Club! For more information please contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. The Kraken | Tasman Richardson
The Kraken, showing at Ne-Plus-Ultra, is one of those projects that has layers of meaning that you wouldn't be able to guess on your own. Speaking with the artist Tasman Richardson at the opening, the intricacies behind the piece began to come forth. I offered Tasman the opportunity to "expose his secrets" in the next Saturday Edition, and he took me up on the offer - TC.
The Kraken installation consists of three parts. The first being a set
of hand molded ships and aeroplanes. The ships were made in very rough
moulds and each additional casting would get worse. The models degrade
and warp over time as a result. These represent the vessels lost in
transit for various reasons but mostly related to the Bermuda Triangle
and Devil's Sea off the east coast of Japan.
The video projection is a loop of complex edits made from images of
people and vessels lost in the Bermuda Triangle. The images were faxed
back and forth repeatedly until they were completely decimated and
unrecognizable. The faxes were then scanned into a computer and numbered
as video frames, 30 pages of faxing being equivalent to 1 second of
video. Faxing was used as a unique dissolve treatment rather than
photocopies due to the transitory nature of the fax. As information is
transmitted over time and space a subtle erosion and misinterpretation
occurs, becoming magnified in succession. The sounds of actual cockpit
black box recordings are joined with the animated faxes to produce a
range of "instruments" like a young pilot's face degrading with the
sounds of screaming cockpit personnel during a crash. These linked
samples are then arranged through a series of cut and paste operations
much like a piano roll plays notes, a kind of video / music concrete.
Supporting melodies are made using samples of waves crashing on the
shore. The waves are slowed down and resampled to degrade them. This
also creates a wavering sustained "note" that can be pitched up or down
by adjusting the video clip speed. Many of the notes pitch bend which is
especially difficult in video since a video clip can only play at a
specified speed, it can't pitch bend, only shift. To do this you've got
to make 5 or 6 copies of the one wave and then layer them on top of each
other, each wave being 1% slower than the last. Together they look like
one wave progressively slowing down and pitching down. The images of
the clouds and the water from above were shot by myself in the cockpit
of a single engine prop plane. All in all there are 8 layers of video
playing so it's like having 8 voices of edits, an octate all running in
harmony and supporting a beat. What you see is what you hear. There's no
soundtrack being synchronized to. I'm not editing to an existing song,
just straight cuts and then the each string of cuts is layered on top of
another and set to luminance so that you can see through to the next
The photos on the wall are of me. They're from every flight I took until
now. A sort of chronology of my own erosion over time, over space, like
the faxes and the imperfect moulds. The last two frames are blank,
uncertain, hinting at the upcoming and inevitable crash that I'm so
paranoid about. The images are filled with minute glitches that happen
when you try and scan with a damaged usb port. Again, a reference to
imperfections magnified in transit. Time and erosion, blah blah.
Seriously though that's pretty much it. I wrote this blurb that's a
lot more concise and catchy to describe the installation. I'll paste
that here too:
A turbulent voyage into certain oblivion at an infinite scale.
The mythical hazards that await us in our passing. Faces and vessels
lost at sea, faxed in relay, degrade with each imperfect transmission,
each movement through space and time. Chronicled by snapshots taken in
transit, the artists movement through space, one for every year and
designated by flight number. Waves slowly make an irregular assent
through the sound spectrum, surfacing as fine crystallized shards; the
last moments collected from numerous flight recorder decks recovered
from the wreckage. A morbid procession of vessels making an irregular
descent, each an imperfect
cast of an imperfect model.
Did i mention the kraken is an octopus? eight arms, octate layers...
mythical sea monster, chaos that waits for us as we traverse the
4. First Day of War Contest
Instant Coffee will give a t-shirt to the person who guesses (or knows wink-wink) the day the bombs are gonna drop on Baghdad. Must be covered on CNN and CBC Newsworld as "Live Coverage". Because of the immenent nature of this event, we have a submission deadline of March 17th - which is also the UN's new deadline.
We'd publish this letter if we felt we could ; unfortunately it's author is pissed off that it got onto the net. It's a gossipy and chatty report from last January's World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland:
Here is an article detailing the author's annoyance and reprecussions of such "privacy spills" -
instant coffee links
who wouldn't want to eat candy that was shot out of a cannon?
Since the begining of the year, William Gibson has had an official website, and has been posting a blog.
Myfawny Ashmore deconstructed a video game. It requires you to have a NES
Thrill Rides: an on-going series of videos. the series has already started,
but it is worth repeat visits.
swop CDs postcards videos dvds w/ other users. It's free to sign up - the
only costs are for shipping things. The postage might be high for books, but
CDs aren't that bad. It evens out, because people will pay to ship you stuff
that you want.it works on a point system, so if you sign up, say that you were referred by
janii (cause I get points). then, If you refer the site to others who sign
up, you get points, etc (JD)
ic supporter links
Instant Coffee Butterball Cookies
3/4 cup butter 1 Tbsp. water
1/3 cup confectioners sugar 1 tsp. vanilla
1.5 Tbsp instant coffee 1.75 cup unsifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda 1 cup finely chopped nuts
Cream butter. Add 1/2 cup confectioners sugar. Cream until fluffy.
Dissolve instant coffee and baking soda in the water; add to butter mixture
with vanilla. Beat well. Stir in flour and nuts.
Shape into small balls. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees
for 15 to 18 minutes. Roll each cookie in additional confectioners sugar
while still hot. Makes about 3 dozen.
Instant Coffee = Dehydrated fresh brewed coffee, usually sold in granulated
form. You just have to add water to obtain a coffee beverage.
1. Serath's Wizards and Dragons
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 :25 EST
Subject: review needed
Hi Jon, I just found this website and it's making me laugh. I figure it should be reviewed for the next Sat Ed.
----jon (email@example.com) wrote:----
Tim, I don't think it's cool to laugh at "Serath's Realm: Madness is the Genius of the Fallen." In fact, what exactly are you laughing at? The drawings of wizards and dragons? That short story about the vampire? Bottom line… for me, this stuff is frankly a bit scary, and I don't think we want to antagonize this guy "Serath." Let me bounce this off you, Tim: what if dragons and vampires really do exist, and Serath is friends with them. I mean, we really don't know for sure, do we? What if he's so incensed by your mocking that he sends a vampire buddy to turn you into another vampire? Think about THAT. We wouldn't be able to go to your favourite noodle place anymore because they don't serve glasses of blood. I realize that's probably a worst-case-scenario, but it COULD happen, man, and I for one am not having any part in this.
1. Sarah Hollenberg's Letter of Appology
Director of Advancement
Office of Advancement
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design
5163 Duke St.
Dear Ms Abbot,
I'm very sorry about letting my friends smoke in the visitors apartment.
There is no excuse for that, especially with that big sign on the door. I
guess we should all be pretty worried about fires these days. As for the
rest, well, I'm awfully sorry about that too - especially the bathroom - I
guess my quick look around wasn't thorough enough - I would certainly have
never left a mess of that nature for someone else to clean up if I had known
it was there. That just wasn't something I would have expected any of the
nice young professionals who came by to leave behind. It came as something
of a surprise - the enthusiasm with which my friends threw themselves into
an attempted re-enactment of the glory days before all of the really cool
people moved to Toronto or got old. Especially on a Monday night. I guess
we all wanted to think that we were channelling Vito Acconci and Carolee
I am torn in my feelings about Francis Dorsey's tea towels. I understand
that they are meant to be used - but I also wish they hadn't been used so
much, and I was very sad to find them such a mess in the morning. I am - I
must confess - still very much on the fence about the whole life as art /
art as life idea. It's a really nice idea, but it seems to leave people
angry 9 times out of 10.
It is very important to me that you understand that the magazine is not at
fault here. The two year relationship that I have had with them as writer
and guest editor would never have led them to believe that I had any
character flaws more serious than a tendency to run-on sentences. Last
week's incident was an unusual case in its conflation of my private and
professional activities. I can certainly understand that you would feel
the need to communicate my inappropriate behaviours to the magazine's staff
and board of directors, so that they may make more informed hiring decisions
in the future - it was really very considerate of you to take the time to do
so. I do hope though, that you won't hold them responsible for my actions -
again, they could not possibly have predicted them. Just about everything
about my professional track record implies that I'm a perfectly reasonable,
and reasonably considerate person. They should not blamed for what was in
essence a very effective deception on my part.
I hope that you will accept my apology with good will, and please contact
me at home if there is anything I can do to make you feel better about this
whole affair. My home phone number is 422 7299 and my email address is
2. | John Barlow
Your flattery is worth a hundred
ordinary flatterings! Flattering enough
you bother at all, and from your own e-account.
Some of the constraints I'm facing around
writing to publish etc other than instant email
are as follows: knee and heel injuries
combining with insufferable weather,
insidious global and local news
travesty upon travesty
and anything around war in a quicks and
of the already said. I've never believed
the "everything's been said" line
but around war it's closer to being so;
yet it is hard to ignore threat of war.
But that all of this is depressing
and enraging to an extent
that results in all my (non-email)
writing going into stylistic extremes
darting this way and that, the writing
itself exploding in upon itself,
in ways I do not find useful.
And it just gets sadder, as all
the above prevents me getting refreshed
by getting out to see people:
missed Bill K's birthday whoop,
didn't see a good friend from MTL
on her visit, missed Adrian B's
going away party, feel like a shell fish.
Depression, aggravation, fury.
(Which when periodically lifts
I then proceed to cackle with jokes
and madnesses others couldn't hope
to understand). I keep wanting to
metamorph into a very large bird.
I'd ask what new drugs there were
but I'm anti-chemistry. Bahhhhh!
ps everything from "constraints" down
could maybe be such a report?
Otherwise, I will look into my files. ~ John Barlow
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday 03 February 2003 10:03 PM
Subject: I love my instant coffee, but not watered down...
Art leads to competitive situations that acquire the artist to gain a
competitive edge. This can force the artist to move out of the local,
whether that be traveling, leaving their place of practice, or crossing
disciplines to bring new information into their work, and therefore making
them more competitive in the local scene because local styles develop in the
appropriation of broader contexts. Trust us on this one. :ic:
In true Canadian form your assertation reverses the dynamic of those more
self-assured cultures in which "broader contexts" are the product of artists
pursuing very narrow and atypical interests and somehow being recognized as
such. Your statement is quite accurate therefore in terms of any social
activity in a cu lture unable to move beyond a colonial heritage. "Go
somewhere else (physically, methodologically), see what is being done in the
"elsewhere", steal your content, bring it back and do it here for a cultural
audience that has little means to appreciate its own inherent uniqueness but
will always prefer that which comes from "afar". Your statement does
highlight another "Canadian" problem: that of the supremacy of awareness of
contemporary practices elsewhere over an ability to distinguish quality in
contemporary practice anywhere. The source of the problem is an
unwillingness to lead, to be wrong, to be ou trageous, to be
self-evidentially authentic, to be wildly successful - usually we prefer to
be correct, to follow. In summary, your advice is pragmatic to the realities
of making many different things in Canada, unfortunately your use of the
term "art" is highly suspicious and the pairing of this highly undefinable
term with pragmatism is, at best, boring. But solid Canadian advice, to be
trusted. It will work. Sadly.
----- Reply -----
From: instant coffee
Sent: Tuesday 04 February 2003 9:18 AM
Subject: just add another spoon of instant coffee
We also sadly note a lack of confidence in Canadian cultural activities, and
in a way our editorial addresses this concern. It is meant as a statement
of faith, as a call to those who leave and don't return to reinvest in the
places/communities from which they come.
It is surprising to have words like unique and authentic, directed at us, a
collective who work together to avoid the futile task of defining such
terms. But since we choose to address your use of the these words, for us
they aren't about one thing but rather about a mixing of things.
We will publish your response in our next issue of Saturday Edition, and
would like to take this opportunity to invite you to submit a text on
whatever in the future. Thanks.
Kindly Sincere, :ic:
instant::::: coffee:::: is::: rather:: good:
----- reply -----
Sent: 05 February 2003 10:37 PM
Subject: mmm mmm good
Thanks for taking the time to reply, (it's a riot starting an email with
"dearest artworld", sounds like the basis for something, nicely sardonic
take on artword too, cheers).
Well I admit turning to the nasty business of "authentic" and "unique" and
all that pre-Benjaminian (?) vernacular, though with no intent to demean
those who, which timely acuity, choose to extoll the ordinary, the
anti-narrative, as "aesthetic" strategies, I wished only to counter
pragmatism by resorting to a crude and out of date idea: "courage", as
unsophisticated as it with its rightfully moribund cultural/historical
baggage. Meet enough people involved with creative projects over the years,
listen closely to them, evaluate their motives, watch how they deal with
success and/or rejection, personal "glory" and/or self-destruction and that
which emerges as important, worth striving for, individually and in groups,
is always tied to (perhaps even, and so what? a false sense of)
hopefullness: what did he, she, they hope to achieve? how and why? Did he,
she, they start from a po sition of fear, or of courage? We cannot pretend
these judgements are unimportant even though they may be difficult to
swallow, paradoxical, or futile, as you write. But it takes balls.
Alternatively one can give up, go find some broader context, hitch one's
wagon to somebody else's train, and flog it all over the Great White North.
Which works but, at the end of the long day, ain't worth remembering. Sadly,
it seems the history of this young country is full of those who "leave" -
not physically but (all apologies, another notion rendered justifiably
damn-near useless) morally.
PS, even if you were just baiting me with your "advice" I still think it's
been a pot worth stirring in return. Thanks again for the instant coffee.
----- Original -----
From: Gordon Hatt
To: instant coffee
Sent: 03 February 2003 10:28 AM
Subject: just add another spoon of instant coffee
Hi Instant Coffee,
I was thinking about how much I enjoyed the particular style of your
typical Instant Coffee correspondence, and I was trying to think of a
descriptive term for it. I was thinking, "first person," or something
like that, when I came across a book review of "Reports from Berlin, [in the New York Times]
1920-1933" by Joseph Roth, where the "feuilleton" is defined:
"A feuilleton is best described by what it isn't. It isn't
news. It isn't the metro report. The opposite of an
editorial, a feuilleton is descriptive, philosophical,
meandering and poetically inclined. Though the word is
French, the form reached its apogee in fin-de-siecle
Vienna. An early master, Alfred Polgar, said, ''Life is too
short for literature, too transitory for lingering
description . . . too psychopathic for psychology, too
fictitious for novels.'' The feuilleton could never have
prospered without the Viennese cafe, a place where the
waiter brought over, along with your customary drink, your
With coffee too!
and further down . . .
"Roth himself defined a feuilleton as ''saying true things
on half a page.'' One minute we're pausing to note the wind
vane atop an advertising kiosk, set there ''to proclaim
which way the wind is blowing down that particular
street,'' the next we're getting cultural commentary on the
significance of the kiosk's posters. ''Typography, to us,
has become perspective, value. The most important, the less
important and the unimportant only appear to be important,
less important, unimportant. It's their image that tells us
their worth, not their being. The event of the week is
whatever -- in print, in gesture, in sweeping arm movements
-- has been declared the event of the week. Nothing is,
everything claims to be.'' "
and finally . . .
"The shortness of the feuilleton was a response to the jumpy
pace of the age (Roth can be something of a Futurist at
times), as well as the sense, in those years following the
Great War, of the brevity of life. What brought the
feuilleton into being, in other words, is still with us.
The background was apocalypse; the response was an
intensification of experience."
Subject: Network Associates Webshield - e-mail Content Alert
Date: Monday 03 February 2003 1:26 AM
Network Associates WebShield SMTP V4.5 MR1a on exterminator intercepted a mail from
(firstname.lastname@example.org) which caused the Content Filter (Subject or Body contains
"penis") to be triggered. If this is a legitimate communication, please reformulate
and resend your mail.
From: "RBFG MMS SEW01020" (email@example.com)
To: "instant coffee" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: MMS Notification
Date: Monday 03 February 2003 1:39 AM
Your message is believed to contain profanity and has been returned by
RBC Financial Group.
** THERE WILL BE NO RESPONSE TO THIS NOTIFICATION, PLEASE DO NOT REPLY
From: "judy Cheung"
Subject: To Jon Sasaki
Date: Monday 24 February 2003 1:57 PM
I 'm glad that you think PATH is a healthy and somewhat spiritual place.
I visited PATH frequently last year because many of my health providers
including my dentist are located in the underground. I wondered around
PATH as if I was walking in the park, looking at window display as if they
were trees. The scent of the cinnamon buns and coffee is is always around
the nose. It can be addictive.
Chrome, metals and reflective surfaces are the very striking feature in
PATH. Together, they resemble a Kaleidoscope. The design, though somewhat
fanciful, accentuates the artificiality in a non-abrasive, monotonous way.
Artificial stimuli contrast with indoor plants, groceries and health food
products. It is a convenience store and a shopping mall. The windowless,
wall to wall environment seems two-dimensional. The activity is mundane
and could be demoralizing. There is also a subversive approach to
exploring the possibility of avoiding the surveillance camera or the
security guards. One time, I had my camera on hand and was chased from the
building by a hysterical bank clerk. Strangely, I feel a great sense of
privacy within such a public space. Individuals travel up and down the
hallways, escalators, and elevators, anonymously without making eye
contact. Have you tried asking for directions? I haven't had much luck so
Instant Coffee Saturday Edition is our (sort of) monthly email/online zine. Saturday Edition compliments to Instant Coffee's email list service, which has been promoting local, national and international events to a targeted audience since 2000.
Instant Coffee Saturday Edition takes submissions. We're interested in graphics, articles reviews and links about music, video/film, art exhibitions, architecture and design for the sections as above ... and self indulgences for the Sanka section. Send submissions to email@example.com
instant coffee has a fist up your ass
just read &delete
|Saturday Edition content submissions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email IC to ADD or REMOVE yourself to IC EVENTS LIST: local toronto/ontario and inter/national posts. IC HALIFAX LIST: local halifax/maritime and inter/national posts. IC VANCOUVER: local vancouver and inter/national posts. IC NATIONAL LIST: inter/national posts only. Art related only. Post for FREE, but no Guarantees.