Votive Objects at Bard Graduate Center


I was on the upper west side today so I stopped by the Bard Graduate Center to see the Agents of Faith: Votive Objects exhibition, an exploration of votive offerings across different cultures. While I would not necessarily classify all these objects as votive offerings, it was interesting to think about creation in this context.

A votive offering is a gift, made to the gods, god, saints, or for some religious significance.  I would say that the Yizkor light could count as a votive offering, although I am not sure if we should call this ancestor worship.

What I found most interesting about these items is that they were folk art religious artifacts. We normally think of religious art as this rarified thing, only practiced by a small group of professional artists. But this is intensely personal religious art fused with folk magical practices to create a very personal offering.

A book associated with this exhibition is Ex  Voto – from the latin meaning from a vow. This artwork is performative, it is created as a result of a prayer reminding us of the old Roman prayer Do ut Des – I give so that you may give.  It this case altered slightly I am giving this to you because I said I would honor you.

I wonder, in this exhibition, what is a created because of some sort of spiritual inspiration and what is fulfillment of a vow? For those items that are obviously votive there is a logic to their creation, or a template, as if one was satisfying a legal contract. What what are the requirements of a votive, is it so different from the requirements of a painting destined for the bourgeois living room wall? Or for a church. These are all purpose driven art works.

I wonder what would it be like to personally give thanks or votives as a piece of visual material art, what would my votives be? What promises or contracts with the divine am i making?



Whenever I think of a mentor I think of Mentok the Mind Taker from Harvey Birdman.

When did mentoring become a job, probably around the time networking became a verb.

I am currently ‘mentoring’ at New Inc, but as I mentioned to someone, these people at New Inc are all super accomplished, they could mentor me.

When you read Da Vinci’s notebooks, it shows when he wants to go learn something he goes and finds an expert and talks with them. Is this a mentor mentee relationship? I dont think so.  We have framed human to human communication, learning, and knowledge exchange into this value exchange hierarchical.

Today I met with the folks I am supposed to ‘Mentor.’ And I said, I am not a mentor, but you can bounce ideas off me, if I can help I will help, but mostly I am just a third party, a sort of therapist, for you to work out your issues through. And then I said, here this is what I am working on, maybe you can mentor me? And so there rather than this unidirectional relationship of givers and takers we have a bidirectional relationship. Because really we all are mentors and mentees, and just like theater is really for the actors, and teaching is for the teachers, mentoring is for the mentor. So if the mentee becomes the mentor, then I think I have done my job,

t Jean-François Millet (1814–1875) Blue pencil.svg wikidata:Q148458 s:en:Author:Jean-François Millet q:en:Jean-François Millet

Hidden Figures


“In June 1932, without advance warning of any kinder any conscious association that might have made an explanation possible, Millet’s Angelus appeared before my mind’s eye. The image was very clear and colourful. It made its appearance practically instantaneously, displacing all other images. It made a deep impression on me, indeed devastated me; because, although everything in my vision of the picture precisely ‘matched’ the reproductions I have seen of it, it nonetheless seemed totally transformed, fraught with so powerful a latent intent that Millet’s Angelus suddenly struck me as the most bewildering, enigmatic, compact picture, the richest in unconscious ideas, that had ever been painted.” – Dali The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus

I was reading a book on Dali this morning, and came across his interpretation of Millet’s Angelus and his painting inspired by it – Atavism at Twilight.

How magical and mysterious that at Dali seemed to suspect there was originally another figure in Millet’s canvas, that of a coffin.  It made me think about the nature of painting the and medium of art. We cannot have this hidden object in the same way in a photograph that we do in a painting.

This obviously touches on notions of the unconscious, on intuition, on materiality. What matters in any art is the matter in which it is made.  An artifact is made in history, it has historicity and a history.

Ritual Tech and The Blockchain


I have been thinking about some sort of intervention in crypto currency. First I was thinking about the different proofs for validity – proof of work, proof of stake, and my favorite, proof of authority.  I was thinking about a project where validity is no longer logical coherence but some sort of consensus algorithm, and what are the implications for this.  So for example I could write a poetic statement or a statement in general and it could be persisted to the blockchain based on some sort of consensus algorithm  – this is an interesting idea of ponder. What if we have the metaphoric algorithm, the rhythm algorithm, we only accept statements in iambic pentameter or something. hmmm

I was also thinking about the structure of the blockchain, the genesis block and the onto-theological implications.

For many years I have thought about prayer wheels, and prayer tech in particular. I guess you could call this ritual tech: leaving notes at the western wall, tefillin, rosaries, votives. These are some ways or methods that people pray or amplify their prayers.  I have read The Power of Eight by Lynn McTaggart and ways people today are approaching prayer differently. I am also interested in the relationship between prayer and poetry: Prayer as a sort of performative poetry, or performative speech act.

I am also taken with the idea of Ethereum as the world computer, this sort of echos the world soul, the animus mundi.  What would it mean to have your prayers read or performed by the world computer. So first I imagine a smart contract, it has a prayer associated with it, and the prayer is executed perhaps every time some action occurs – it could be linked to solar or stellar events, it could be linked to human interaction, it could run on a private blockchain and runs whenever a new blockchain is added. What are the actions of the prayer, these too could be specified by a smart contract.  The prayer could generate sound, or be connected to some actuator, the prayer could donate money, the prayer could just add a transaction to the blockchain – prayed.

I really like this, I feel the simplest thing would be to just have an interface where people can either write a prayer or empower another prayer (powers of eight style).  The simplest way to do this would be to use ethereum or some sort of token, Maybe the more people that pray the more coin is generated and that this coin is freely given to whomever asks for it.

Evening Star James Cowie (1886–1956) Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

Metaphysics and Negation


I was reading I think Zizek, there I admitted it, a he said something like Hegel was the greatest metaphysician.  It has been a while since I read Hegel, and while I remember something about the master slave dialectic and applying it to feminist theory, Hegel did seem a bit random and dogmatic to me. Where DID he get these crazy ideas from? They are definitely not of the necessary (and contingent) type.

The notion of truth through negation though is probably generator of post modern, or post post modern, or the relentless search for newness – process devoid of content. And this is funny, since the post-kantians who view Hegel as grounding Kant’s transcendental idealism in the particularities  of human existence (history, social relations), or in the grounding of Kant in a new, more solid, metaphysics.  So Hegel is the content to Kant’s form.  But when you have a process metaphysics involving negation then is there room for content at all?

What is an alternative to this? What comes after post modern contemporary post post ? What is a metaphysics that is not grounded in process? Heidegger is the metaphysician who returns to ontology. We cannot talk about the world, we must talk about existence.  Then perhaps we have some philosophers of science who introduce a contextual metaphysics, or phenomenologists who introduce a perception or subjective metaphysics, or even the psychologists who interpret the ‘world’ in terms of drives and  complexes.

What is a view of ‘the world’ that is useful for us, that will remove us from endless negation and fracturing?

The Bourgeois Imaginal


I have no idea what I intended to write for this post. But the title is amazing.  Something Jungian I suppose.

I perhaps was thinking about poetry.  Poetry was once heroic, then with Baudelaire it became romantic (or romanticize paupery). Various modern and contemporary poets could be called bourgeois, or use bourgeois as subject matter.

What is the point of this?

Maybe to show the beautify in this life, the indescribably uniqueness of a moment (a bourgeois moment), the beauty and value that is found there.  Why is this important?  I dont know, maybe we should write poetry of reality tv stars or celebrities. What do we find least worthy of poetry and we should write poetry about that.  What has been neglected by poetry and we should write about that. Poetry about the journey that is not a journey – can a life without a journey be powerful and worth living? What is that epic poem?

I always think about the hero’s journey and wonder what is the heroine’s journey? People have written poems of Penelope waiting for Odysseus. But what is missing? Most people dont read this and are not touched by this. Are there certain subjects that are worthy for poetry and others that are not. That the story of the heroine must be told a different way – not through poetry?


PAOM tee shirt

The Tee Shirt Protocol


I am attaching a preliminary write up of the tee shirt protocol that we are working on at PAOM. Right now only for tee shirts 🙂

The Tee Shirt Protocol

The goal of Tee Shirt Protocol is to break the manufacturing supply chain into different components and allow different actors to participate in and own different stages of product development.

To start this will all be implemented for a small subset of (PAOM) PRODUCTS (we will launch with one – a tee shirt)

  1. Convert the designed PRODUCT (teeshirt) into a non-fungible token that keeps track of the history of creation and ownership.
  2. Add an additional interface method to the non-fungible that allows for reification (the creation of a physical object). Ideally there should be an option to allow forms of reifications and different people to reify, but right now it will just be PAOM.

III. The Flow

  1. a) A designer creates a piece via a web interface
  2. b) The designer connects this with her metamask account
  3. c) The address is connected as the creator or designer of this piece with the following data:
    • the type of piece – are there sizes (maybe we put this on IPFS or this could be its own smart contract or built into the smart contract – to start will just be tee shirts so lets not spend too much time on this – we can hard code it and call it the tee shirt protocol)
    • how many can be made (if there is a limit)
    • the print IPFS
  1. d) This is submitted to a DB
  2. e) A cron job or lambda process or worker process pulls this new data
  3. f) a modified paom non-fungible token is created
  4. g) the print file (also in db) is associated with the token and is added to IPFS
  5. e) A website pulls all available paom tokens for sale (like cryptokitties)
  6. f) Someone buys a paom Token with metamask with the following data:

available for sale

available for reification

quantity available if designer did not specify

  1. g) owner transfer is triggered on the smart contract:

Owner information changes from designer to owner, or from last owner to owner and the paom token is modified – the smart contract function is triggered

  1. h) A website pulls all available paom tokens for reification (like cryptokitties)
  2. I) Someone reifies a paom Token with metamask with the following data:

– size (if specified)

– a shipping address (QUESTION – how do we store obfuscate shipping address)

– can we store this on ipfs obfuscated? PGP?

  1. J) Smart Contract update – order made

– Move funds to temp escrow account

– 50% money disbursed for manufacturing

– availability of limited edition pieces reduced

  1. K) Smart Contract update – order shipped

– rest money disbursed for manufacturing, designer ownership, each past owner, current owner, we could even add past reifiers

  1. L) Smart Contract update – order problem (NOT v1)

– Everyone involved with the product at any point (all buyers, manufacturers, owners and designer) vote on whether to

– refund 50% of manufacture fee, design commission and sales commission

– refund everything

– refund nothing

– all parties can leave comments

  1. The data we are keeping track of:
  • the original designer
    • everyone that has every own the token
    • the print file -IPFS
    • how many times a piece can be reified (limited edition). This is set by the designer or current owner of the virtual object if the designer does not specify.
    • current reifications (open orders)
      • shipping address
      • variant or customization information (size only for now)
  1. Other data for v2:
  • everyone that has ever reified the token
    • who owned the token while it at each point of reification.
    • possible manufacturers
    • who has ‘manufactured’ each reification
    • variant or customization information expanded (fabric, notions, etc)

Melancholia vs Depression


I’m reading Politics and Melancholia, and there is a completely relevant relationship to Ted Chiang’s Lifecycle of Software Objects.  I am thinking about the relationship between melancholia and depression and the role of psychotropics.

What does Jax, one of the digient protagonists actually experience when he is alone, or lonely, in the virtual world once everyone else has moved on to an upgraded world? Is this a new complex, similar to how depression is not necessarily melancholia.

What creates depression vs melancholia. In capitalist society, where each person must be operating effectively to optimize the M-C-M capitalist machine. Depression is a bug in the machine, a slowing down of the circuit. Or is capitalism itself a melancholic system with an empty nihilistic core?

What does it mean for an AI to suffer from melancholia vs depression and how do we treat this?  Is this just a projection of our own on to a digital creation that lacks mental states?  What is the hormonal or physiological analogue that explains AI melancholia? Bad data, bad algorithm, bad experiences? There is something in both the experience of melancholia and depression in humans, so that it cannot be only reduced to experience? These are also chemical processes. Yet depending on the type of therapy we use to treat this, like CBT, we can perhaps alter the chemical secretions by altering the behavior.

Is Melancholy necessary for deeper knowledge? or for creative genius? What is the digital analog? How are we not chemical circuits like an AI is a circuit of boolean logic?

One thing I am interested in the idea that AIs have their own mental states is the relationship between this and the Lacanian Gaze.  Ana believes she has a relationship with Jax, however is this a relationship, can Jax has feelings towards her. Derek believes he displays the highest form of love by sacrificing the possibility of having a relationship with Ana by committing Marco and Polo to Binary Desire. Yet if Ana had reacted otherwise would this have dissolved Derek’s fantasy – leading as well to an unconsummated relationship between Derek and Ana. But what is Gaze of Marco and Polo that causes us to disrupt the fantasy that we can talk about them as free sexual objects?

Art, Worlding and the Partisan Review


The non-representational or abstract, if it is to have aesthetic validity, cannot be arbitrary and accidental, but must stem from obedience to some worthy constraint or original

I reading a bunch of old Partisan Review articles this weekend. What is the avant garde? What is Kitch? Right now this distinction does not really matter. There is a distinction between outsider art and ‘insider art’. There is the art world. This is a concept of worlding, rather than value or something intrinsic to the art.  The worlding construct of art is the market, either art is in the art market, and then exists in a sort of hierarchy like some many stocks ranked on market cap or growth or some other quantitative metric, and then art outside the market.  Is this art in a state of exception?

Reading the avant garde, or high art, within marxism one analysis is that art or culture is a creation of the elite. The goal of the art is to perfect expression within the confines of the elite. During late capitalism and perhaps early communism there notion of elite is upended, there is a new creator of culture, the middle class or  bougeoise. The bougeoise can drive its own culture. It also so happened that the working class created its own culture as well, and this is distinct from folk art.

How is the fragmented notion of art, art markets, or art worldings distinct from the historical distinction between folk art and high art or culture?  Why is kitch not folk art, why is working class culture distinct from folk art?  I have no ideas, however I think that the contemporaray art worldings are about the creation of form and value, where as traditional folk art and culture is about the expression of value through existing forms (virtuosity vs innovation). But really this is something I need to sit with longer.  The charge is now for each one of us, working class, middle class, or elite to “forge within the smithy of our souls the uncreated conscious of our race.”

There is recognized in avant-garde art a crises of audience.  This is something I feel I hear in the startup world, and in the creation of products. Who is the audience! As the elite pays less for culture ?

Especially as non representational art, the desire to create something on its own terms, or modernism glorifies the individual will to power (over some expression of universal value), perhaps the only value of avant-garde art is as a template for how an individual can create his own art work, and it is perhaps through art or through personal (idiosyncratic) creation in general (the creation of criticism or companies or software).  The art as content is for an audience of one, the artist, but as a form of being, in so far as it is successful is for everyone to integrate into his or her own praxis while individuating, becoming more conscious, realizing one’s own will to power.

Criticism, Marxism, and Practice


Criticism today does seem to be a dry or perhaps even  useless activity. There is confusion as to what criticism should actually do? There is the notion that by merely selecting something to criticize (or review), one has an obligation to select something ‘good.’ Why in flood of work, should we focus on our attention on something that is not worthy of criticism – so in a sense criticism is already denuded of its original use (or what I had interpreted as its original use), to judge.

But perhaps I was wrong, and criticism is not about judgement but about revealing? “Criticism for Marx is an Action.” This is from Rosenberg’s Marxism and Criticism or action.  And one of the concepts from Marx that speaks deeply to me is the notion that there are ways of understanding beyond interpretation. This opens the space for understand through art and through praxis.

So what is the purpose of criticism, in Rosenberg’s paper? One, to supplant instinct with reflection or consciousness, and two as an antidote to bourgeoisie mind control (myths and mysticism – Religion is the the opiate of the masses type thinking). So this transfers the import of criticism from the work to the critic, and criticism becomes a practice much like we talk today of an art practice.  I wonder is anyone supposed to read the criticism? Is the criticism supposed to act on readers (and perhaps the culture producer/work being criticized)? Or is the criticism just for the critic?

Our era is an era of transduction, as I have mentioned before – where one kind of signal is transformed into another (mechanical energy into electrical energy). This is different from say the age of metamorphosis where one form transforms into another (Zeus into a Swan.  Or the age of alchemy, the transformation of one type of matter into another.  Perhaps alchemy and metamorphosis are the same and there is no distinction between form and matter.

Then what type of  transformation is the conversion of labor into capital is a transformation? I would say transduction since the transformation is about power, labor power converted into economic power. Criticism is a conversation or dialogue between individuals or individuals and creations of individuals rather than between abstract man and mass products or abstract man and kitch.  But by and large criticism just seems to be another commodity in a magazine designed to promote a lifestyle brand of perhaps a certain luggage brand or car.

Returning to criticism, both the artist and the critic look at the work as a personal process of personal myth creation and social myth ‘busting’.  Art is the process of individuation and revolution against abstract man. In reading for example Jackson Pollack’s thoughts on his own process “When I am in my painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing.”, or Rosenberg and Kootz in “The Intersubjective”, that  “dramatically personal, each painting contains part of the artist’s self; this revelation of himself in paint being a conscious revolt from our puritan heritage.”

That art needs a criticism, that the mind must be protected against misinterpreting art,  is something I am uneasy with, although it is definitely the trajectory that art has taken. it.  From Barnett Newman, “It is now time for the artist himself, by showing
the dictionary, to make clear the community of intention that motivates him
and his colleagues.” Is it? Why?  Is the criticism an extension of art or the co-option of art by the marketing and advertising forces of capitalism.