From Portapak to Vlog


Friday, April 4, 2008


Sethloader, Burning Man 2006, 2 minutes, 15 seconds.

The role of popular artist appeals to narcissistic personalities because it's something that can generate positive identity as well as an aura of special skills that therefore magnify the uniqueness and importance of the artist. This is a boat everybody wants to be on since people want to be congratulated and sought after. Yet it loses it's value when 'anyone' can be an 'artist' hence the creation of those widespread cliques and elitist clubs. Special interpretations and ways of being an artist are meant to exclude the majority in order to magnify the minority; the inveterate search for a monopoly through the power of definition. The clique that can define what art actually is to the masses gains enormous power and coveted prestige. Connect the dots. Today's art movements are no better than anything else, the artist are no better either they just hold a very transitory monopoly. (source)

So far, except for on my blogger profile, I have said almost nothing about myself either on this or on several of my other blogs. Here I'm going to post some updated excerpts from a discussion on Animal Rights Community Online Forum (ARCO) where sometimes ago I was briefly answering some questions regarding my life and art. You can see that full text here.

By the way, before I was banned from that message board, I had posted almost thousands of posts and numerous topics there. Most of these posts are gone now because of a server crash. Well, that is according to what the ARCO administrators have said. So here are couple of my self indulgent lines from some of the remaining posts there:


You say you see forums as a chess game, I see them somehow as a new cinema.

About 35 years ago as a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), working on my Master of Fine Arts degree in the area of art and film, I had run into something called video and portapak. I was fascinated by it because unlike film it was able to produce immediate results. The image was black and white and of poor quality but what was new about it was that it worked like a mirror; you were seeing what you were recording right there and then. It was about here and now.

These days, video is everywhere being used and abused, from YouTube to MOMA. However, in a similar way that I felt video to be interesting then, today I find internet forums phenomenon to be a breath of fresh air as a possibility for a new expression. In this new medium each poster is in a way an artist-writer-actor living while directing themselves and creating their own lines together with still or moving images and sounds in response to all the other participants so that the work takes it's own organic direction and shape without predetermined plot or any authoritative control. Moreover, while each poster is a character with her own ideas and visions in this ongoing group effort, they are also the audience actively participating in the making and shaping of this work all at the same time. The only preset common factor is that the forum is about animal rights, in this instance for example, which I think is good since I feel that art should be addressing the important issues and that it should be for a meaningful social and political change. Furthermore, in this global communal setting, each participant of the forum becomes an integral part of the whole process while the learning and sharing of the ideas takes place. The result, in my opinion, is a democratic expression of all those who are involved and a creation of a very interesting transparency,

After graduating from UCLA, I received National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Individual Artist Fellowship which helped me a bit monetarily and got some people interested in my work and showing it. So in terms of that, right at the beginning I had some minute "success." However, the money I got from US government run out quick; I had to get a job or beg and sell out.

I ended up in NYC alone trying to survive and pay rent, couldn't deal with narcissistic cliques and elitist clubs of art world and became involved with animal rights, street protests etc. Actually, I documented a lot of that on hundreds of hours of video which I hope to edit and somehow present some day. I also used to lug around at least 50 pounds of video gear including portable monitor on NYC streets along with huge posters which I would design myself in order to display animal cruelty. Nowadays, with new technology, displaying video on the street has become much easier. I have seen PETA people just strapping a large but rather light video LCD flat panel on their chest.


To get back to your question about irony and have I changed my views? Yes it's ironic and I have not changed my views regarding art, art dealers and museums but at my old age I find all this a little depressingly amusing and entertaining.

Thegettylosangeles, California Video March 15-June 8, 2008 at the Getty Center, 2008, 3 minutes, 54 seconds.

Even though I've never stopped doing art and my work gets to be shown at different places now and then, I've never had time or the ability to actively participated in any of this and to work on my art career.

Once in a while, I get a letter or a phone call telling me that so and so wants to show my videos here and there, but about eight months ago, out of the blue, I received a phone call from the Getty Museum representative asking me if I was willing to be interviewed on camera by them regarding oral history in connection to their forthcoming exhibition survey of California video. Considering that this was the Getty, the richest art museum in the world, I must admit I got tickled a little and had fun talking for couple of hours in front of the camera about my work and things I did more then 30 years ago.

So, although I had fought it all of my life, I think I am starting to understand now why some of my friends and so many people I have known have become "art whores."


To add to this, I've just run across some more thoughts about art:

Art be it 30,000 year old cave drawings in France or a crucifix in a jar of urine all have a crucial common element - the evocation of emotion, the conveyance of a message.

But ultimately art should be more than just a source of passive bemusement, it should be a participatory activity. When art is a recipe rather than a static monstrosities collecting dust in pretentious museums, art where the viewer is part of the process, they become artists as well. Not only does this dissolve the repulsive elitism staining modern art but it becomes entertaining and enlightening too because there's nothing holy or mystical about art or the qualities an artist must posses. This is the most nihilistic and democratized art movement I can think of because it has no set genre, no clique is defining what's acceptable. Every artist creates what they are best at creating and what's most appealing to them while anyone else that appreciates the same material can use the recipe, the instructions to create their own version, slightly changed to suit themselves. Paint the walls, post on the Internet, wear it on your shirts, it doesn't matter. The more you practice the better the product looks. (source)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Live Vegan, San Francisco Art Institute Promotes Animal Snuff exhibit, 2008, 7 minutes, 8 seconds.


Citing threats of violence by animal rights activists, the San Francisco Art Institute said Saturday that it is canceling a controversial exhibition that included video clips of animals being bludgeoned to death, as well as a public forum it had scheduled to address the controversy.

The exhibit that sparked the controversy was a one-person show by Paris artist Adel Abdessemed called "Don't Trust Me," which opened March 19.

Along with a variety of other elements, the show included a series of video loops of animals being bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer in front of a brick wall. The animals killed included a pig, goat, deer, ox, horse and sheep.

Animal welfare groups had attacked the video clips as degrading and cruel, and accused Abdessemed of killing animals for the sake of art.



If we are trespassing, so were the soldiers who broke down the gates of Hitler's death camps;
If we are thieves, so were the members of the Underground Railroad who freed the slaves of the South;
And if we are vandals, so were those who destroyed forever the gas chambers of Buchenwald and Auschwitz. - X

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right.
- Martin Luther King

Friday, November 23, 2007


T2024, The Dead of the Rat, 2007, 8 seconds.


Anyone can go to their local hardware or a general store and buy a "clever" device to torture and to kill an animal called "vermin" who in her ability to feel pain and to suffer is no different than their dog, cat or their child, whose only fault is that she or he reproduces successfully and needs food, water and warmth.

Glue Traps are worse than poison. Not only do they kill indiscriminately, but they suffocate, blind, rip off body parts of the animals as they try to free themselves from the glue, which is impossible for them to do. It's like being stuck in the quick sand. The more you struggle, the more you get embedded into the glue. Try sticking one of them to your own face, mouth and your eyes.

Residential killing, torturing and then killing, catching in non lethal traps and then misplacing, which humans do in their homes, is only the tip of the iceberg. There are billions more of these animal persons being killed and tortured by poison, suffocation, starvation and dehydration, in glue traps and other industrial devices, in the cities and plantations, in public and private commercial buildings where food is produced, stored and handled, in parks, schools, churches, hotels and restaurants. This is done by paid to torture your friendly professional exterminators every second of every day everywhere.

At the same time, the reaction to this mass torture from the public and even from the majority of "animal rights crowd" is one of indifference, laziness and complacency. Killing is inexcusable but torture is evil. If cats and dogs were tortured in this way on this scale there would be an uprising. When seals are getting clubbed to death, great apes being experimented on, or puppies abandoned on the streets, there is a public outcry and rightfully so, but where is the outrage when mice and rats are being poisoned and tortured slowly to death every day and every hour, five feet from your cushy office chairs or around the corner in the kitchen of a restaurant as you are feasting on the body parts of chickens or cows, enslaved and then killed for your appetites?

A 1983 test that evaluated the effectiveness of glue traps found that trapped mice struggling to free themselves would pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. The mice broke or even bit off their own legs, and the glue caused their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecated and urinated heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Animals whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration. It takes anywhere from three to five days for the mouse to finally die. This is nothing less than torture.

It is important to remember that though small and removed from our day-to-day world, mice and other small animals are mammals, with nervous systems and perceptions of pain that are similar to humans. There is no evidence that mice suffer any less than we do. (source)

If you find a mouse caught in a glue trap, you can save his or her life. Simply put some cooking vegetable oil such as sesame oil onto the places where the mouse is stuck and gently work it into the glue with a Q-tip. Pour some more oil all over the glue board and around the mouse and let the animal work her or his way out of the glue into a dark and safe place such as a mailing tube with the opposite end closed.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


LiveVegan, Gandhi is alive & well in US Congress - Vegan Dennis Kucinich, 2007, 9 minutes, 52 seconds.


Congressman Dennis Kucinich became a vegan out of love.

Abolitionist: What do you think a non-human animals purpose is on the planet and do you think that humans have reneged their duty to the nonhuman animal kingdom?

Dennis Kucinich: Since I have a view of the world which is holistic, I think the diversions between ourselves and other species are often false. If indeed the world is interconnected and interdependent then whatever species we are part of a circle of life. Every plant, every animal, every human is part of a circle of life and we ought not separate ourselves so easily from that which derives itself from the earth, from that which moves across the land, from that which is our brother and sister whose eyes we look into and reflect a continuation of ourselves. It is the alienation and separation from nature that has caused the human species a tremendous amount of pain and anxiety and we need to reintegrate to create what one writer called “the re-enchantment of the world” which is our reconnection with nature and our reconnection with all that makes up the planet.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Jean Dubuffet, Vache et Personnage, 1953, dead butterflies body parts glued on whatever.normal.img-009


In the Winter 2007 October, Sarah K. Rich resurrects and analyzes a singular chapter in 1950s art criticism that saw various writers bitterly lament Jean Dubuffet’s use of butterfly wings in collage: “Why does he massacre butterflies to evoke effects he would better achieve with paint and brushes?” “[He] uselessly massacred hundreds of butterflies with which he covered the faces of the monsters that haunt him.” “Poor Dubuffet who, with a hundred massacred butterflies, only knows how to make a rough, ‘informe’ effigy.” “Dubuffet has unleashed himself upon butterflies, seizing their wings and gluing them in a terrible mess … One can’t help but think that butterfly wings — such marvels — are sufficient on their own, in their form and beauty, and that the artist’s process is useless and cruel.” Link

In this article, amongst a lot of other esoteric things which are basically glorifying a mass murderer of animals for his ego and profit, this speciesist writer calls butterflies "things" as if these sentient animal persons were clocks or computer chips:

As the insect that famously change from caterpillar to winged thing, the butterfly always already indicates a changing of form, a shifting of meaning.

Speciesist usage denigrates or discounts nonhuman animals. For example, terming nonhumans “it” erases their gender and groups them with inanimate things. Referring to them as “something” (rather than “someone”) obliterates their sentience and individuality. Pure speciesism leads people to call a brain-dead human “who” but a conscious pig “that” or “which.” Link

Am I saying that a firefly is as fully entitled to moral consideration as a rabbit or a bonobo? Yes. Am I saying that a spider has as much right to life as an egret or a human? Yes. I see no logically consistent reason to say otherwise.
~ Joan Dunayer

Just as racists see individual humans as embodiments of a particular race, speciesists see individual nonhumans as mere species representatives. Speciesism's hallmark trait is denial of nonhuman individuality. In reality, no animal is replaceable. Both physically and mentally, every sentient being is unique. Every lobster, every crow, every housefly is an individual who has a unique life experience and never will exist again. But that's not how abusers see it. For example, the flesh industry. In the flesh industry's view -- and that of flesh-eaters -- chickens, fishes, and other nonhumans can be killed by the billions each year provided that others of their species remain available for future killing.
~ Animal Equality (Joan Dunayer Speech at 2002 Austrian AR Conf)

Friday, March 30, 2007


HELPxANIMAL, Animal Massacre in USA, 2007, 3 minutes 1 second.

[B]ehind our literature and philosophy, our ritual and art, stands the stout killer of Packingtown.... the cathedral and the capitol, the museum and concert chamber, the library and the university are the facade; in the rear are the shambles.
~ Will Durant, Oriental Heritage, p.7

[Martin Luther] King’s world house is still a damn slaughterhouse, because humanism doesn’t challenge the needless confinement, torture, and killing of billions of animals. The humanist non-violent utopia will always remain a hypocritical lie until so-called “enlightened” and “progressive” human beings extend nonviolence, equality, and rights to the animals with whom we share this planet. Link
~ Dr. Steven Best

Friday, March 16, 2007


Ante Bozanich, Film Reel, 1975, still from a black-and-white video, 3 minutes 45 seconds.
Film Reel Still 1


There is talk of the liberation of the cinema...
The only interesting venture is the liberation of everyday life,
not only in the perspectives of history but for us and right away.
This entails the withering away of alienated forms of communication.
The cinema, too, has to be destroyed.
~ Guy Debord
In a world that is really upside down, the true is a moment of the false.
~ Guy Debord

Thursday, January 25, 2007


ALFJAG, Animal Liberation Front Give Mice and Rats Freedom, 2006, 4 minutes.


After the novel, and subsequently cinema, privileged narrative as the key form of cultural expression of the modern age, the computer age introduces its correlate – database. Many new media objects do not tell stories; they don't have beginning or end; in fact, they don't have any development, thematically, formally or otherwise which would organize their elements into a sequence. Instead, they are collections of individual items, where every item has the same significance as any other.
~ Lev Manovich, from The Language of New Media (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2001), pp. 218-43.

Sunday, January 7, 2007


Ante Bozanich, Video Head, 1976, video installation, window curtain, stool and television monitor.
Video Head(300x300Gr#1E5F43


Unlike the other visual arts, video is capable of recording and transmitting at the same time - producing instant feedback. The body is therefore as it were centered between two machines that are the opening and closing of parenthesis. The first of these is the camera; the second is the monitor, which reprojects the performer's image with the immediacy of a mirror.
~ Rosalind Krauss, from October, Vol. 1, Spring, 1976 (Spring, 1976), pp. 50-64