Blatt’s approach sounds unorthodox, because, as he so aptly notes, we are used to studying literature in a granular way. We spend days, weeks, months on the reading and analysis of one work. We draw conclusions about culture and place until we exsanguinate it, and then we place it within a broader canon. What Blatt’s numbers can do is study the aggregate, massive swaths of work that can reveal broader trends than any single book can. More data, as far as science is concerned, is always better. The more points one can make coalesce into a picture, the better the odds of that picture being accurate.
Articles by B. David Zarley
A rotating selection of new articles and personal favorites; updated periodically.
“In Life Review, Ben Murray’s solo show at Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, continues the artist’s reconnaissance of the maddeningly amorphous landscape of memory, here pinned to the walls in its most dramatic form. The “life review” is the classic, quasi-paranormal event wherein one’s life flashes before one’s eyes—in totality, crystal-clear—during a near death experience. A fictional trope and indelible fact to those who have experienced them, the life review is memory armed with the exigency of death, its celerity contrary to every little thing we imagine about ourselves—that we are some grand elegy in our total, that we are incapable of reduction to a series of scenes—when in fact we are, of course, nothing but scenes, none ever seen from the same perspective twice, singular in both our mind and the minds of others.”
“Even if some of the story beats sound familiar, their placement in Wuertz’s Seoul, where hair gleams “like the belly of a giant tuna” and drinks arrive “one after the other like the next turn on the disco ball” even as American GIs tear families apart and agitators are whisked away in black cars, renders them new.
The novel reveals an exciting place and time, in the catalytic sense, and all the more-so for us as visitors who are surrounded by its echoes—class, sex, race—even now.”
“Indianapolis’ Tube Factory Artspace is best understood not as a structure, but as a multifaceted art practice on a municipal scale. Heralded in The Guardian as a “fairer form of gentrification,” art collective Big Car‘s maker space and community center is the central hub for their efforts to invigorate the Garfield Park neighborhood, buoyed by ten houses owned by the collective, a second renovated factory, and a sound-art gallery and radio station.
“One thing that sets us apart is that we operate as a community center and a museum,” Big Car co-founder and Tube Factory commissioning curator Shauta Marsh tells Creators. Tube Factory is used for neighborhood association meetings, clubs, classes, and other events, as well as showing art and providing work spaces and a tool library.”
In the hall outside the main space, an array of paint cans—actually wood, and liable to tip right over if one bumps them—sit on nightstands, surreal vignettes within and around them (a Hockney scene post-summer, leaves and furniture in a tiny empty pool in a drawer; a potato which wanders the wall like the world’s starchiest spider) suggesting the kind of sleep-deprivation-derived trompe l’oeil one gets in a dawn-lit bedroom after a prolonged coke binge, something just beyond the playfulness of his material alchemy and with the slightest soupçon of strange menace, the uncanny power of trompe l’esprit.
“The fate of the Cedar Creek Nuclear Power Plant, the self-styled “safest plant in the world,” looks fairly secure, all things considered.
There’s a terrorist placing C4 while another provides covering fire, but they are only two men and the Counter-Terrorist Unit, with their superior numbers, are swarming the bomb site. And you are adjacent to the terrorist in overwatch position, with the entire conflict laid out below—a deific perspective usually impossible, or at least highly unusual, to achieve in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. But virtual reality is changing how we can watch esports, and as the desperate fight to set off or defuse the bomb reaches a fever pitch right, you could simply tilt your head up to where a giant screen floating in the sky displays the down-the-barrel view so familiar to video gamers and figure out where things stand in the semi-final round of the Intel Extreme Masters CS:GO competition at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.”
Conversations with artist and ACT UP videographer Rudy Lemcke—who has work in Art AIDS America—while living in the Bay Area first got [show curator Danny] Orendorff thinking about the intergenerational divide with the epidemic. For some, it was a war lived on the front lines, with the casualties to match; for others, a terrible but foggy memory of a tragic past. And for populations underserved by institutional efforts to treat HIV/AIDS, the epidemic has never really left, hanging on their eaves and haunting their communities.
“While at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, Marnell is introduced to Ritalin and the entire trajectory of her life changes. Armed with a methylphenidate prescription, her grades soar, along with her social status. The performance-enhanced work/play dichotomy first established at Lawrence is repeated throughout the rest of the book, throughout the rest of her career; it is the speed which helps her rip through the hallowed halls of Condé Nast like garden shears through satin, pushes her into parties past dawn, sends her careening about the streets of Alphabet City, fitting in to exceptional designer jeans as she chases more drugs, work and people.
The image of the addict as hopelessly in the gutter, completely incapable of functioning, is torn asunder. She has crippling depressive periods, of course, wherein she does nothing for days, weeks, months, but Marnell is a voltaic little bee for much of her memoir, omnipresent around Magazine World. It would be impossible to deny her work ethic, drug-derived or not; Marnell’s desire to work in magazines and publishing is a constant lodestar, even if one being navigated while on a particularly unstable fuel source.”
“Halweg was laying out transmission pieces on the garage’s back table in anticipation of the more that were coming and was taking advantage of her bike’s forced downtime to do some maintenance work. Her 1983 Harley-Davidson Ironhead’s gas tank was licked with flames the kind of supernatural green you’d have seen on a Juicy J shirt in the mid-aughts, tipped with chartreuse, a perfectly iconic bit of motorcycle adornment she admitted she almost got rid of until she got matching grips—these sparkle-like fishing lures—and a seat, which makes the whole green thing look badass. Unfortunately, the Ironhead is one of those temperamental, needy kinds of beasts who regularly finds itself under the wrench.”