Zero Squared #74: Conceptual Militancy

Mike Watson is an art theorist and curator based in Italy. He writes regularly for Frieze, Art Review and Radical Philosophy and his book Towards a Conceptual Militancy is currently out from Zero Books.This week we discuss his book, Marcel Duchamp, and the idea of freedom in a world of objects.

Zero Books will be rolling out a membership site this month. Members will get access to members only podcasts, online workshops with our authors, and audiobooks. To find out more follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or check out Zero Books blog at zero-books.net.

In this episode you’ll hear clips from a Situationist documentary called Call it Sleep, an interview with Marcel Duchamp, Pharrell Williams interviewing Jeff Koons, an excerpt from the BBC’s television movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Negativland.

Zero Squared #71: Towards a Conceptual Militancy

This week’s podcast is a recording of Mike Watson’s talk with Mark McGowan (AKA the Artist Taxi Driver) at the Open School East. Mike Watson is an art theorist and curator based in Italy and he writes regularly for Frieze, Art Review and Radical Philosophy. His book, Towards a Conceptual Militancy, is currently out from Zero Books.

Zero Books will be rolling out a membership site towards the end of this month. Members will get access to members only podcasts, online workshops with our authors, and audiobooks. To find out more follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or check out Zero Books blog at zero-books.net.

Also, Zero Books authors will be reading in libraries this summer in an effort to promote summer reading as a time for thinking as well as thrillers, celebrity gossip, and beaches. And if you enjoy Zero Books you might recommend us to your local librarian. Let your library know about us, our website, our monthly newsletter announcing new titles, and urge them to include our books in their collection.

The music in this episode includes what the Swingles performing Bach’s Fugue n.5 in D Major as well as Crosley Bendix at Jamcon ’84.

Talking Art: Conceptual Art

Conceptual art is the subject Miriam and I discuss as I try to work on my novel and create a podcast at one and the same time.

We start with John Baldessari’s “A painting by Pat Nelson” and with the ideology of the polaroid camera, where the goal was to eliminate the barrier between the photographer and his subject so that all that was left was the simple decision. This is the ideology of art that is on display in these paintings. The artist is the man pointing, and in fact John took polaroids (or at least photographs) of his artist friend pointing at things that interested him enough to point at them. But what we’re given isn’t a series of these photographs, but a series of paintings. What John did was take the photos to different “sunday painters” who were then given the instruction to realistically paint what they saw in the photos. They were told not to embellish or make art, but just to render the photos in paint. What we were left with is an erasure of the act of painting (because what makes these paintings interesting isn’t the painterliness of the painting) and also the erasure of that immediate act of decision (the subject matter isn’t interesting either) and instead we have paintings of what polaroid wants to ignore. The mediating step. But what John wants to give us is that mediating step in itself and without mediation. He wants to make it transparently apparent. Paradoxically what he has to do in order to make the mediation of our experience of his work apparent is to create an aesthetic of irony rather than no aesthetic at all.

Diet Soap #182: What Art is For

The Artist Michael Reinsch is the guest this week as we discuss contemporary art, concepts, meaning, nihilism, and what it’s like to kiss a strange man for money. Michael Reinsch’s installation at the Place Gallery successfully blurred the boundary between art and life, and I was glad to get to talk to him about that distinction and the aim of his work.

I’d like to thank my subscribers who donate monthly. That would be John L, Andrew M, Jacob L, and Ted F. And let people listening know you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and at douglaslain.com. Also, I’ve started up writing for Thought Catalog again and I’ll provide links to two essays about the philosophy of Arrested Development in this week’s show notes. (Link 1. Link 2)

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There are many sound clips in this episode. There are clips of Marcel Duchamp and Robert Hughes, a comedy routine from Coyle and Sharpe, Laurie Anderson’s Bright Red, and Michael Reinsch himself set in C.

Another conversation with Jason Horsley regarding his book Prisoner of Infinity is online this week. Check out the links to the right on his blog.

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