Surfing the Spectacle

Who Watches the Watchmen?

The Roman poet Juvenal once famously asked, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” or “Who watches the watchmen?” The question is not rhetorical. Trevor Paglen. He watches the watchmen.

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The modern surveillance state is far more competent than anything the Romans had to worry about. Nowadays, people just sort of expect that their phones are tapped and emails read by CIA spooks and deep government agents. Apathy strikes hard and deep, and leaves a nasty infection that takes ages to heal.

In comes Trevor Paglen. An artist. A photographer. A hunter of ghosts. His subject of choice: secret bases.

are51

This is one of Mr. Paglen’s photos. It’s Area 51 at 26 miles: which is pretty much the legal boundary. You see, Mr. Paglen can’t enter the bases. That could get him shot. So he does the next best thing.

He sits 30 miles away with a telescope and documents them.

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This one is called “They Watch the Moon.” It’s a picture of the Sugar Grove Complex in West Virginia. The complex is supposed to observe outer space. Yet, many people believe it observes us: a covert NSA outpost, disguised nefariously as a research center.

So……Mr. Paglen watches it back. Just in case.


Chemical and Biological Weapons Proving Ground/Dugway; UT/Distance approx. 42 miles; 11:17 a.m., 2006

Trevor Paglen is not releasing state secrets. He doesn’t break the law. He is not a revolutionary. He collects no evidence. But he is watching.

The invisible hand of power rests across the country in nooks and crannies that could be anywhere, lurking in the dark behind barbed wire fences. Trevor Paglen watches the invisible, the obscure and untouchable. Nothing else. The NSA, the CIA, the FBI, in whichever form they come, are not alone. Trevor Paglen watches the watchmen. This gives me immense comfort.

Guest Entry by John Wagner

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Flawless Love

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Sim Chang, a Taiwanese artist interested in photography and human disconnect, released a series of works in 2010-2014 entitled “Flawless Love.”

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Chang’s work utilizes Japanese anime culture, juxtaposed by tradition and modern technology.

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iPads replace self and turn into a faux reality. Chang’s work questions our perception of the world.

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How do we express our identity as an individual? As a culture?

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At what point do we consider something seductive to be grotesque?

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What does it mean to feel safe? Fear of confrontation, imagination derived from the avoidance of problems.

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The Screen Generation interprets life from second-hand, online experience. Limited by convenience.

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Chang writes: “Falling in love with their own imaginations may be a much more beautiful truth than reality.”

Spectacle Entry by Elizabeth von Kaenel.
Sim Chang’s work can be seen here and here and here.

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The Luxurious Freedom of Statelessness

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Look at you.

Wealthy, beautiful, alluring, you spend your days pursuing pleasure, seeking to enjoy life at its fullest. You yearn for ultimate liberation.

But you are not free.

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You are tethered to a world of banality. Look at the people you pass on the street. Worker drones with their petty aims and desires. And worse still, the poor, the ill, the lowest class. All of these people are beneath you, with no understanding of how to truly live.

Worse yet, you must pay taxes to serve all these people.

Why not serve yourself? Why not just pack up and leave the United States, hop from one country to country, purchase the finest luxuries, commingle with other elites, and sample the best life has to offer?

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Break free into statelessness.

A stateless person is not considered a national by any state. They are free from the operations of its laws. This could be you. This could be the end to your prosaic nationality.

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You can obtain a rare and distinctive 1954 Convention Document that allows utter statelessness.

Forget all the legal documents of the state. Forget taxes. Now all your money is your money. Secure exceptional treatment wherever you go.

You need no passport to buy a yacht. Sail across the world in a new and different port of call every night. Meet amazing people that are truly of the highest caliber.

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Stateless, you will be in great company. Sip champaign with Nicolas Berggruen, a billionaire who renounced his citizenship to avoid taxes and spent the last decade hopping between 5 star hotels. Or shop for diamonds with Eduardo Saverin, a billionaire founder of Facebook. He renounced his U.S. citizenship before a 2012 tax would cost him $700,000.

But even these gentlemen are tied to other governments. For Saverin, it’s Brazil; for Berggruen, it’s Germany.

You, however, can break all ties. You can grab the freedom you truly deserve.

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Statelessness is the true answer.

Few know that there are already some 10 million stateless people in the world. But most of them have no idea what to do with the cherished condition. Indeed, they are among the most wretched people on the planet.

The Bedoon, for instance. Former nomadic people in the Arab Gulf States and Iraq, they became stateless in the formation of the gulf states and exist as illegal immigrants in many countries. And the Rohingya, an ethic minority from Myanmar. They were denied citizenship in 1982, and currently survive in ghettos or internal refugee camps, if they’re not fleeing the country amid a genocidal campaign against them by the Myanmar government.

None of these people have the wealth and taste to embrace the rich freedoms of statelessness. You’re courageous enough to live lavishly. Paradise is calling.

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Take the plunge. Renounce your citizenship today.

A U.S. citizen needs only to go to a U.S. embassy or consulate, pay an expatriation tax and fee, and flee the United States and its horrific income tax forever.

Since 2010 over 13,000 Americans renounced their citizenship. You should be next.

Seize control now. Renounce your nation. Find your bliss. You can be a free and beautiful creature — it is your true destiny.

s10

Entry by Meredith Brindley with editorial assistance by SurfingtheSpectacle.

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BLITZ

We’re not talking about American football here.
“Blitz” is what Italian artist Iginio De Luca calls his blend of street art
that incorporates projections, performances and installations.
Like most street art, these pieces are enacted without permission.

He likes to slander and attack valuable figures, buildings and institutions.
It is really rude stuff and doesn’t merit permission or praise.
Take this piece done in 2010, for example.

lavami

Lavami. That is Italian for “wash me.”
Why are you victimizing the Catholic Church, Iginio?
They’ve never done anything wrong. Come on…

Then there’s this degenerate piece, also done in 2010:

Silvio c’hai rotto li gommoni.

silvio

“Silvio, you have broken the life rafts.”
An insinuation that the now ex-Italian Prime Minister,
Silvio Berlusconi, was irresponsible and was “sinking” Italy.

Iginio, I am sorry to tell you that you were dead wrong.
Italy is in great shape now. And before you mention that whole thing
about Berlusconi being convicted of tax-fraud in 2013, remember this:
Everyone is human.

Including the Pope.
Which is why this other 2010 piece,
Il Papa macchiato, is especially distasteful.

papa

Stains on the Pope? Not cool.
All Popes have a God-given sense of fashion, don’t forget.

Unfortunately, Iginio continues to employ these distasteful tactics
to insult and hurt. Here is a photo of the artist (the one in the white jacket)
rolling some big dice in front of The Quirinal Palace, the historic building
where the President of the Italian Republic works.

dice

Ca maronn c’accumpagn.

We get it. You think the politicians are treating the well-being of Italy
like a game, just tossing dice around to see what happens. Funny.

Now listen to that carabiniere and go home already.
Seriously, why are you so angry?
Like I said before, Italy is in great shape.

Spectacle Entry by Costantino Toth

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The Big Picture

I hate Chris Jordan.

Let me explain. This artist makes large prints of seemingly beautiful scenes or patterns. For instance, look at this gorgeous atmospheric photo of a forest in fog.

supermarket-bags_chris-jordan

I could get lost in that. I did. But then I saw the title “Paper Bags.” What? Apparently the image shows 1.14 million paper bags stacked on top of each other to look like trees from a distance. That is the average number, a synopsis explains, of supermarket paper bags used every hour in the US in 2007. Excuse me?

I was staring into this piece like I would a Rothko. I was losing myself and finding myself again in a new light. But Chris Jordan wants to ruin my meditative experience with these irritating truths about mass consumption. Where does he get the nerve?

Let me show you other beautiful moments that Chris Jordan has destroyed. See this?

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The nostalgic and wondrous magic of gentle snowfall captured by camera?

Wrong. “166,000 packing peanuts, equal to the number of overnight packages shipped by air in the U.S. every hour.”

Do art lovers really need to hear these depressing facts about consumerism and inorganic waste? Can’t we just behold the glory of enchanting abstractions?

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For instance, gazing upon this gorgeous mandala, I felt like I was in some sort of temple, looking up at the great vaulted dome. I started having a profound spiritual awakening.

Then I read the title. “Oil Barrels.” The image apparently depicts 28,000 42-gallon barrels, which was the amount of oil consumed by the U.S. every two minutes in 2008. A supremely annoying statistic. Now my newly centered chi was back out of balance. It was that miserable Chris Jordan again.

But then, man, I was getting really into this one. The pattern and the colors were really letting me space out.

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And suddenly my blissful reverie was rudely interrupted. I didn’t even mean to look at the title, I swear. But I inadvertently glanced over and saw the words — “Shipping Containers.” It turns out that each dot in this work of Jordan’s depicts one of 38,000 “containers processed through American ports every twelve hours”. Bastard! He’s making me consider the vast amount of materials, goods, money, and energy used in this constant process. And I hate him for that.

But this one is his worst offense.

titanic

This iconic image took me back to the first time I watched “Titanic.” Oh, I got caught up in the thrills of the story, and the timeless, tragic love of Jack and Rose. I leaned up close to see if I could spot the immortal lovers. That was a mistake.

I discovered that the big picture is made up of 67,000 smaller pictures of mushroom clouds. That represents the number of metric tons of ultra-radioactive waste in pools in the U.S.’s 104 nuclear plants.

What a buzz kill.

>unsinkable_cu

On his site, Jordan describes goes on to say how unstable, vulnerable, and over-filled these pools are. He writes, “The Brookhaven National Laboratory estimated that a calamity at just one of these waste pools in the U.S. could cause 138,000 American deaths and contaminate 2,000 square miles of our land.”

It’s clear that the facts Jordan spreads with his artwork are just as dangerous and disturbing as that of any radioactive accident. Chris Jordan is practically a domestic terrorist. He must be stopped.

[Guest Entry by Alex DeMoll with editorial assistance by SurfingtheSpectacle. You can find Chris Jordan’s website here. We urge you to avoid it.]

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Spoonful of Sugar

[A guest entry by Meaghan Long, with editorial assistance by Surfing the Spectacle]

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“A bombshell report from Credit Suisse’s Research Institute brought into sharp focus the staggering health consequences of sugar on the health of Americans….Our national addiction to sugar runs us an incredible $1 trillion in healthcare costs each year. The Credit Suisse report highlighted several health conditions including coronary heart diseases, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which numerous studies have linked to excessive sugar intake.”
[from Global Research, Sugar: Killing Us Sweetly, February 2014]

spoonfulsugar


(please click audio for proper reading accompaniment)

A SPOONFUL OF SUGAR

Just a Spoonful of Sugar
And ev’ry bite you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree! It’s very clear to see that

A spoonful of sugar helps the kidney shut down
The intestine shut down
The pancreas shut down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the brain shut down
In a most delightful way!

colas

The big companies excessively give us the sugar
A health killer with a lethal trigger
“More sugar more sugar” they yell
Not thinking about the health problems they sell.
Just add another gram
no one gives a damn

A spoonful of sugar helps the kidney shut down
The intestine shut down
The pancreas shut down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the brain shut down
In a most delightful way!

trix

Bringing in the dough by the billions
The last thing on their minds are the civilians
While they work closely with Capitol Hill
We the people deal with the medical bill
A few hours without the drug
And I feel that angsty tug
I’ll just turn a blind eye
because it’s impossible to say goodbye

sugar_addict-450x299

A spoonful of sugar helps the kidney shut down
The intestine shut down
The pancreas shut down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the brain shut down
In a most delightful way!

[For more about the wondrous effects of sugar, we recommend
the article Is Sugar More Addictive Than Cocaine?]

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As Good As Dead

[Guest Entry by Keith Boylan with editorial assistance by SurfingtheSpectacle]

If I hoped to make a conservationist out of you, I could try telling you that 700
black rhinos were killed in South Africa over the course of 2013, more than any
other year in human history.

Or I could just show you this:

rhino_butchered_calf_2@large

The little rhinoceros in the picture is crying because his mother was chased off of
a cliff by dogs and poachers, who were looking to harvest her horn. There is a
great demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and other Asian countries, where it is believed the horn holds cancer-curing properties.

No medical evidence supports this claim of miraculous cure, but that’s probably of little interest to Gertjie.

ht_baby_rhino_gertjie_hoedspruit_endangered_species_centre_jc_140610_16x9_992

This is Gertjie. She’s not the same baby rhino we see in the first image, but she went through a similar experience. She was traumatized when she watched poachers brutally kill her mother. She still doesn’t like to sleep alone.

We can read stark statistics about poaching, deforestation, the meat industry and other awful things, and be remarkably unfazed. But there’s a sharp emotional impact when we actually see vivid images of dead and wounded animals.

Like, say, 16,000 dead pigs.

pigcarcasses

These sanitation workers are retrieving pig carcasses from the Huangpu River in
Shanghai, China. Thousands of pigs were found floating downstream in 2013, the likely result of illegal dumping from meat factories and other black market meat operations. Chinese authorities insisted that the pigs had no effect on Shanghai’s water quality. Many found the spectacle disturbing.

Including this guy:

Guo-Qiang

This is Cai Guo-Qiang. You can think of him as sort of a Chinese Damien Hirst, well known, well off, and creating art on a massive scale. But unlike Hirst, Guo-Qiang’s work actually makes an honest attempt at social and political commentary.

The thing behind him is an abandoned fishing boat that has been repurposed to act as a makeshift ark. Its passengers are lifelike sculptures of sick-looking animals. Currently, it lives in The Ninth Wave, Guo-Qiang’s 2014 solo exhibition in Shanghai’s Power Station of Art museum.

fishingboat_Guo-Qiang

But getting there was quite an adventure. Guo-Qiang’s boat travelled down the Huangpu River, the very same waterway infested with dead pigs the year before. It’s a reference to that event, as well as to the world’s wider environmental crisis. Creatures from around the globe appear clinging to the dilapidated vessel as they succumb to illness. From afar, it probably looked as if the rickety boat was carrying actual ailing animals, a sight that would be almost as unnerving as the thousands of dead pigs.

Guo-Qiang_NinthWave

In other works, Cai Guo-Qiang utilizes this same sculptural realism to evoke the mysterious, sublime power of animals.

Guo-Qiang_headon

Head On (2006) is an enormous sculpture depicting a huge pack of wolves ramming themselves into a wall, falling down, and then getting back in line to do it again. This one is not so much about the environment as it is about the dangers of mob mentality and zealous ideology. It’s deeply political, especially considering that Guo-Qiang was a child during Mao’s revolution, and that the Chinese government continues to oppose creative dissent.

cai-guo-qiang_heritage

Guo-Qiang’s view of life on earth can also be strangely affirming. Heritage (2013) depicts nearly a hundred different animals drinking from a watering hole. It preaches an idea of pan-special oneness and quietly notes that every living creature draws its life from the same sources. This work offers a complementary vision to The Ninth Wave with its boat full of sick animals. It may be true that all living creatures have a shared fate, Guo-Qiang seems to say, but our actions can determine what that fate will be.

P.S. I feel bad about the downer bit with the rhinos at the beginning, so here is a link to a cute video of Gertjie playing with her friend, Lammie the lamb:

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Returning from the Undead

Dear reader, for several years, SurfingtheSpectacle has softly chugged along on automatic pilot. While we attended to other wondrous projects, we left our website here open, but without new creation and embellishment.

That, alas, has left some of you alone and forlorn.

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But it’s important you realize something.

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New blog posts and sidebar entries will emerge,
just as you have dreamed.

Yes, you may pinch yourself.

You are alone no more.

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You must trust us on these things.

Trust us forever.

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We are with you always.

[Our thanks to the pioneering artist Larry Van Pelt
for his inspirational “With You Always” drawing series.]

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The Dream Depicted

One of the world’s most famous paintings generates a profound turbulence.

Black and white on a huge canvas, Picasso’s Guernica
imagines the frenzied destruction of an aerial bombing.

It has become an iconic image of the madness of war.

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But while Guernica is an image of war, there are no soldiers to be seen.

Instead, the painting depicts a very particular kind of war.
A war against humanity.

The bombs that fell in 1937 on the small town of Guernica
in the Basque region of Spain fell on women and children
and old men and animals.

It was no accident. They were excellent targets.

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Which reminds me, have you ever dreamed of flying?

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In his masterful The History of Bombing, Sven Lindqvist shows us
that when man first began to dream of flight,

he began to dream of bombs.

Early popular fiction depicted bombers high in the sky,
safe and dedicated to their sacred mission:

the absolute decimation of entire cities and races below.

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And then, the dream became real.

Man learned to fly, and quickly, very quickly,
he learned to bomb.

It proved an impressive way of keeping order.

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Lets say you had valuable colonies filled with inferior people
who possessed an entirely different skin color than your own.

And say the colonies were disobedient. They opposed your occupation.
Or interrupted your removal of their resources.
Or gave comfort to your enemies.

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You merely had to fly over the homes where their children
played and their wives cooked and their elders sat,
and drop your bombs.

The fiery transformation was considered most effective.

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You had delivered a clear message on the law of civilization:

Never resist your superiors. Never think of resisting.
Submit and serve.

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In this way, early aerial bombing massacred civilians
in the villages and cities of Morocco and India and
Iran and Ethiopia and many, many other countries.

Only you never heard of these bombings.
They had no Picasso to tell the tale of their devastation.

Their stories went up with the smoke.

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Of course, the civilized powers dropping the bombs
did not endorse the brutal killing of innocents.

They were nations of laws and justice and religion.
They enacted strict international laws forbidding such actions.

Only these laws applied to humans like themselves.

Humans unlike themselves,
Africans or Arabs or Asians or Indians,
were naturally inferior and fell outside such legal constraints.
They could be slaughtered for their own good.

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That’s what was interesting with Guernica.

Europeans bombed innocent Europeans.

That was new in 1937. And deeply unsettling.

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Picasso began working on his masterpiece almost immediately
after hearing reports of the atrocity, and his Guernica painting
soon toured widely through Europe.

When viewers gazed upon it, did they sense
it was an image more from the future than the past?

No matter. A single painting, no matter how strong,
no matter how celebrated the artist,
was not enough. Not enough at all.

Soon the people of the civilized nations would learn
what their darker-skinned brothers already knew.
Everyone was at risk from the sky.

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In a few short years, civilians living in huge cities
would be incinerated by the tens of thousands.

Dresden, Hamburg, and Tokyo would be
decimated in a new kind of war where everyone
was a target and innocence was irrelevant.

Of course, that was another time, another world.
Nothing like this could happen today.

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The important work of our greatest artists tell us so.

[Sven Lindqvist has a brief essay on the Guernica bombing here. This final image is a photo of a Damien Hirst artwork auctioned off with some of his other works for some $200 million — the news of which ran in all the business publications.]

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The New World

Some say that there are no more new frontiers in our world today. They claim that every place on earth has been discovered, explored and thoroughly populated.

This is not so.

An exciting new land mass that remains more or less untouched by humanity.

It waits in the Pacific, between Hawaii and California, just ripe for the taking.

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There’s one catch, though.

It’s made of garbage.

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Though no official name has yet been given this new world,
many are simply calling it the “Eastern Garbage Patch.”

Although “patch” doesn’t quite do the trash mass the justice that it deserves.

Researchers estimate it to weigh roughly three million tons,
covering an area larger than Texas.

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How did this modern miracle come to be?
What could possibly create something so mighty?

Well, man, of course.

Man from all the continents of the world has cast his garbage into the sea. The endless swarms of trash drift and drift until they reach an empty, immense and uninhabited area of the ocean where competing pressure zones from around the world come together to create a dead zone for sailors and sea creatures alike.

And now, garbage.

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Oh, clever Nature! How she provides!

The foul-smelling eyesore of our civilization’s garbage finds a far-off watery home, relieving us of its odious presence.

Of course we could simply consume less, waste less, create a lifestyle that utilizes our resources in a clean, self-sustaining manner. But why bother when nature provides its own solution?

Sadly, some don’t grasp the beauty of this organic approach. They point to a certain material in our garbage that takes eons to disintegrate — plastics.

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They whine that accumulating plastics poison the environment, poison the creatures that consume the plastics and poison all of us in turn.

It’s all gloom and doom.

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Have they never heard of a little thing called survival of the fittest?

Embrace the new world, my friends!

Trust in Nature!

[Guest Entry by Andrew Volpe with editorial assistance by SurfingtheSpectacle]

[There’s an excellent article on the subject here and a decent Wikipedia entry here. Check out the NPR radio story or the video series on VBS.TV called Garbage Island which vividly chronicles this subject. We should mention that there’s a Western Garbage Patch, much like the East. And the massive amount of trash in these remote locations aren’t actually piled up like marvelous garbage dumps; it’s a far more insidious blight as the debris floats in immense swaths below the surface, trillions and trillions of plastic particles and contaminants quietly involved in the steadfast destruction of earth’s organic life.]

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[Glass of water, anyone?]

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The Man Who Made the Mousetrap

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Who made the mousetrap?

Who? Who?

Hiram Maxim made the mousetrap.

That’s who.

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Hiram had a great creative mind.

In 1881 Hiram visited the Paris Electrical Exhibition.
A man told him, “If you want to make a lot of money,
invent something that will enable these Europeans
to cut each other’s throats with greater facility.”

Hiram did. He invented the world’s first automatic portable machine-gun.

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It could fire 500 rounds a minute, as much as 100 rifles.

Hiram’s invention was soon used in Africa with marvelous results.

A small group of brave English soldiers could employ
the Maxim Gun to mow line after line of unruly warriors
desperate to save their homes from destruction.

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Thousands could be slaughtered in an astonishingly
safe and efficient manner.

Hurrah!

Queen Victoria was much impressed with this American inventor
from Maine and his splendid weapon.

She made him a knight.

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Hiram kept improving his invention.

It was a complicated business.
There were problems regarding the weapon’s weight,
its recoil, the need to keep it cool.

But Hiram was quite ingenious.
Men around the world appreciated this.

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When they were ready for their Great War,
variations of Hiram’s machine gun
could be found on all sides.

It made a brilliant addition to a pointless conflict
in which millions butchered one another
in new and unparalleled ways!

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Hiram also invented a light bulb, a flying machine
and dozens of other devices.

But his most famous invention would be his apparatus
for the mass extermination of humans.

Even the mousetrap,

while quite wonderful,

could not compete.

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Behold the Man

Who holds the leash?

Who holds the leash that holds the head of the man?

Who holds the leash that drags the naked, beaten man?

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Lynndie England. Lynndie England holds the leash. The news has told us that.

But there is another question, one that no one bothered to ask:

Who is the man on the leash?

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This is the man on the leash.

He was beaten, drenched in urine, sodomized with a broom,
and dragged along the ground on a leash.

He is an Iraqi, he is innocent of all crimes, and now he is something else. He is a witness. In 2005 in an Istanbul hotel room, he told his story.

An American artist was also in that room. He captured the man’s likeness and the stream of his words, much as he had with other ill-fated souls of Abu Ghraib.

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The artist’s name is Daniel Heyman. His involvement here began with the most infamous photograph from that Baghdad prison: the hooded prisoner.

That stark image became a global symbol of the abuse
committed by Americans in Abu Ghraib.

Heyman used the figure himself in silkscreens and etchings to comment on torture. But eventually he found the anonymity of the image troubling. It seemed to continue the process that the torturer had started – to strip the victim of his humanity,
to annihilate his self-dignity.

He wondered: Who are these people?

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Heyman soon found out. He met an attorney involved in a reparations lawsuit on behalf of detainees held unjustly in the notorious Baghdad prison.

It turns out that many of the inmates tortured in Abu Ghraib
were eventually released without any criminal charges.

They were utterly innocent and they were tortured.
They returned to their homes broken, ravaged, devastated.

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These inmates were later located and brought to Jordan and Turkey for interviews. There they told their stories for the first time. Heyman was invited to sit in and document the process, which he did in drypoint etchings and watercolors.

The result is his Abu Ghraib Detainee Interview Project.

Each story is a catastrophe. They began with events of confusion and tragedy. Houses stormed. People beaten. Explosions. Bewilderment. A man taken away moments after holding his dead children in his arms.

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The former inmates chronicle their abuse in Abu Ghraib. These taxi-drivers and dentists and teachers and candy shop owners were rarely told why they were captured. When they asked, they always received the same answer:

Brutality. Deprivation. Rape.

And shame. The father forced to dig a grave for his son. The brother forced
to beat brother. All this amid the daily degradation of shit, piss, sexual
humiliation and religious mockery.

These events left them traumatized long after they were released.

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Personal accounts of torture in Abu Ghraib rarely surface in the mass media.
Reports that do emerge seem distant, impersonal.

So it is startling to see the victim’s tale offered in his own words, and rendered visually by the expressive hand of a single artist intently observing.

There is an intimacy here that cameras and other mechanical devices cannot
capture. A story passed from person to person.

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A story passed to us. If we might consider that Lynndie England
did not hold the leash alone, that we are complicit in the crimes
done in our name, then Heyman’s Abu Ghraib project suggests we can
also be involved in repair, in the transmission of new truths.

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Many stories need telling.

[Several places on the Web provide more images from this project, including extended accounts of these prisoners’ tales, as well as descriptions of Daniel Heyman’s techniques and mediums. Check out Heyman’s website here which provides links to articles, reviews and his own journals. Good articles can be found here and here with an audio piece here.]

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That Which is Fashionable

It’s insane to go anywhere these days
without a reliable weapon.

But with so many awkward and ungainly choices,
how does one find something suitably chic?

Taser International has the answer.

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Its team of top artists and designers have created
stylish tasers for the discerning eye.

Check out this sporty pink number, ladies.
Taser International made it just for you.

Sleek, stylish and, best yet…

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…a little squeeze sends 50,000 volts of electric shock
to confound any villain.

Simply ideal for the fashion-forward crowd.

The taser design, with its svelte yet sensuous contours,
has also begun to integrate more organic motifs.

A powerful reminder of man’s unity with all living things.

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With such a high level of aesthetics, the taser is becoming an
objet d’art. What else in your collection can reduce
someone to a writhing bowl of jelly?

Could the taser designers display their work at MOMA or the Louvre?
Of course they could.

But these artists are dedicated to the transformation of everyday culture.
They toil so that we may live full lives of creative imagination.

And now they’ve dreamt up something truly new and marvelous.

Behold the Taser Music Player Holster, which holds
your favorite taser and an MP3 player.

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Brilliant!

Everyone knows it’s most unpleasant when you tase a man
and he starts screaming like a little child.

Now you can remain blissfully oblivious to his blood-curdling cries
as you groove to the musical stylings of Phil Collins.

It’s a Taser International motto: “Mixing Music with Security.”

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Want to subdue an unruly questioner at a political event?

Go ahead!

Just set the volume high for your fave tunes
to drown out any silly “Don’t Touch me Bro!”
or “Please, God, no, no!!”
and then tase, tase, tase away!

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We admit it.

Our harsh denunciation last year of tasers was wildly flawed.

We displayed evidence showing that tasers were dangerous
and frequently misused by poorly trained police and security guards.

As if that really mattered.

We ignored the beauty of it all and in so doing, failed in our role as artists:

Serving those who depend on us.

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