I had flashbacks to my last performance of Intermedia in May 2003. In it, I showed the 1954 school psychology film, “Facing Reality”. It has a similar aesthetic to the NBC Duchamp film but is about “when reality seems too difficult for us to face we retreat behind defensive mechanisms.”
There’s a scene in a high school class where a boy named Mike is is being peer-pressured to act against his wishes by everyone in the world. Peers, teachers, family, and friends — including the omniscient narrator — calls him a “negativist”. They mock him for writing a novel instead of making decorations. At this point I begin to channel Mike and interrupt the Intermedia class viewing this film and begin sarcastically criticizing everything. I make it as negative as possible and try to force the teacher and my class to “Face Reality”. I kill the omniscient narrator in the performance piece, break the 4th wall, and everything generally turns super duper awkward. The real Intermedia Workshop art professor is pissed and yells at me for sabotaging the evening. Mike and I become one.
On Groundhogs day at dawn, I wrote propaganda on the back of some deteriorating paintings and set them up as yard signs in my back yard. They were not directed at anyone specific. My wife woke up and thought I was criticizing her. Our dog thought it was threatening as well. My wife asked me to take it down and I said I would if she agreed she was either destroying art, banning a book, or censoring me. She said sure, I took it down, and now the performance painting is over.
There is a film from 1959 called “I Captured the King of the Leprechauns”. In it, Walt Disney blurs the lines of reality by filming a mockumentary about shooting the fictional film “Darby O’Gill and the Little People”. The man who plays the Irish expert, who is not Irish but actually is, but actually isn’t, claims that “all the old Irish families have their own banshee.” He names the Butlers as one of these old Irish families. Perhaps I’ve seen it.
In the show The Tomorrow People, a student in an art class makes a strange painting that changes color. The art student is channeling an alien force and using the painting to make the world violent and chaotic.
The artist Hilma af Klint was born in 1862. Her paintings are considered among the first abstract works known in Western art history and she painted at the same time as Duchamp. She intentionally did not show her work in museums during her life. The first exhibition was 42 years after her death in 1986. Her abstract paintings were created by contacting the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom. She wrote, “The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings, and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke.”