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 Podcast #201: Roderick and the Political Unconscious

The guest this week is professor and philosopher Noelle McAfee and we discuss her friendship with the late Rick Roderick and her book Democracy and the Political Unconscious.

There were no new donations this week and if you’d like to correct that you can find the paypal buttons at I should also tell you to follow me on Twitter, facebook, linkedin, netlog (does anybody understand what that is?), stumbleupon, and google plus. My email is douglain at gmail dot com. You should read my blog at, look for the Diet Soap facebook page, and buy all of my books on

You’ll hear a lot of clips of Rick Roderick in this episode as well as music from the Art of Noise, the theme from the motion picture The Candyman, Charles Ives 3 Quarter Tone Pieces, and Luc Ferrari’s Societe II.

Diet Soap Podcast #192: The Transrealism of Cyberpunk

The guest this week is the cyberpunk author, mathematician, and transrealist Rudy Rucker, and we discuss his upcoming book The Big Aha.

My novel Billy Moon came out on Tuesday, August 27th, and I’m going to fly to Decatur, GA this weekend. I aim to record the reading in Decatur and possibly include it in next week’s podcast. I will also soon be traveling to San Francisco, Chicago, and NYC in order to promote the novel and this podcast on the Think the Impossible tour. I look forward to meeting people who have been listening to the podcast. I’ll be at Borderlands in San Francisco on September 7th at 3pm, I’ll be at the Book Cellar on September 11th at 7pm, and I’ll be at Bluestockings in NYC on September 15th at 7pm.

There are several sound clips in this episode. You’ll hear from Rick Roderick, a backwards Miley Cyrus, a documentary film about philosophy and the Matrix, and Max Headroom. And for some reason talking to Rudy Rucker about Transrealism put me in the mood to insert clips about Baudrillard and the Hyperreal, so you’ll hear about that in this episode too.

Rudy Rucker on Transrealism:
The Transrealist writes about immediate perceptions in a fantastic way. Any literature which is not about actual reality is weak and enervated. But the genre of straight realism is all burnt out. Who needs more straight novels? The tools of fantasy and SF offer a means to thicken and intensify realistic fiction. By using fantastic devices it is actually possible to manipulate subtext. The familiar tools of SF — time travel, antigravity, alternate worlds, telepathy, etc. — are in fact symbolic of archetypal modes of perception. Time travel is memory, flight is enlightenment, alternate worlds symbolize the great variety of individual world-views, and telepathy stands for the ability to communicate fully. This is the “Trans” aspect. The “realism” aspect has to do with the fact that a valid work of art should deal with the world the way it actually is. Transrealism tries to treat not only immediate reality, but also the higher reality in which life is embedded. dietsoap192