How do we read a book as an object in a network, in a post-book, post-reading, meta-data environment? Seven Controlled Vocabularies models a generic book, a kind of field guide to the arts, wherein distinctions between various aesthetic disciplines are relaxed or dissolved and where avant-garde notions of difficulty are replaced with more relaxing and ambient formats such as yoga, disco, and meditation. Each of the book's seven sections is devoted to a particular art formfilm, photography, painting, the novel, architecture, music, and theoryand includes both text and found photographs as it explores the idea of what it means to be a book in an era when reading is disappearing into a diverse array of cultural products, media formats, and aesthetic practices. Seven Controlled Vocabularies will be available in a variety of print and electronic book delivery systems and formats.
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SEVEN CONTROLLED VOCABULARIES AND OBITUARY 2004 THE JOY OF COOKINGAIRPORT NOVEL MUSICAL POEM PAINTING THEORY FILM PHOTO LANDSCAPE
By TAN LIN
Wesleyan University PressCopyright © 2010 TAN LIN
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Field Guide to American Painting
Laura Riding, Anarchism Is Not Enough
What are the forms of non-reading and what are the non-forms a reading might take? Poetry = wallpaper. Novel = design object. Text as ambient soundtrack? Dew-champ wanted to create works of art that were non-retinal. It would be nice to create works of literature that didn't have to be read but could be looked at, like placemats. The most exasperating thing at a poetry reading is always the sound of a poet reading.
FW HW W 11/4-1"
What [ ] you are seeing is executed in Director and plays independently of any intuited reading [voice] practices. It takes place in real time, and like a feedback loop it is different each time it is played. The work was executed in b/w because b/w is more soothing than color. Halfway through the program, a color randomizer has been inserted to provide a greater sense of visual permutation, change and pleasure. One word, then another, and finally a third follow each other in a kind of slow-motion, time-lapse photography.
Poems to be looked at vs. poems to be read vs. paintings to be sequenced vs. paintings to be sampled. Everything that is beautiful is a code for something that is already known. Nothing should be unknown. The program [ ]code you are watching generates 16.7 million different shades of color backgrounds. Some of these are suggestive. None of them functions in place of memory. Memory cannot be sequenced. Memory is usually non-designed. You are about to enter: ] Three rooms. Mirror balls. Roving wallpaper. Disco. Home Furnishings. Lifestyle. Getting up [ ] and having a drink.
Of course, in some novelistic vein, sequencing is highly absorptive, and so at the subliminal, i.e., non-designed level, the sequencing allows reading itself to become abstract, [bracketed] hypnotic, and [mesmerizing.] The problem with most poetry, like most design and architecture, is that it is a little too bourgeois. For this reason, the poem [or novel] should never be turned off. It is unfortunate but everyone says "cogito" in the Franco-American novel. Like a thermostat, it should regulate the room's energies. This allows the piece to constantly erase itself. As we all know, poetry and the novel should aspire not to the condition of music but to the condition of relaxation and yoga. A lot of people think great poems should be memorized. As anyone who has ever read a painting will tell you [like Ed Ruscha], paintings, like poems, are most beautiful [and least egotistical] at the exact moment in which they are forgotten, like disco and other Four on the Floor Productions.
Each sequence or sentence, i.e., word set, runs 7.2 seconds or the amount of time it takes to pronounce each word, one word at a time. 7 is generally thought to be the number of things the human brain can readily remember. George Miller did pioneering studies on this and his theory is called Miller's Number Seven. Hence, most phone numbers are seven digits in length. 7.2 seconds is hopefully just long enough to get the reader/viewer into a groove. It might suggest a strobe light going off at timed intervals. The interval can be beautiful because the interval can be dubbed. Relaxation like non-designed home decor, has no real bounds. It supplements that thing known as real life. That is why it is so pleasurable to read.
Someone (I think) said the time for poems written with words and the era of reading poems with feelings in them is long gone. Today, no poem should be written to be read and the best form of poetry would make all our feelings disappear the moment we were having them. This sequencing of "events" constitutes a code more uncrackable and soothing than anything we could actually see. "Paintings to be read" -> "poems to be looked at." A beautiful poem should rewrite itself one half-word at a time, in predetermined intervals. With their numerous circuit boards, televisions and computers do this; together, they enhance the microproduction and sequencing of feelings heretofore thought inaccessible, complex, or purely entropic. If all paintings could just be codes projected onto a wall, those names (accessories) for things canceling the wall would be more beautiful than anything we could feel.
Right, left. Top, bottom.
Nothing that is negative is simple. Everything that is artificial is related to everything else in the room. Poetry should aspire to the most synthetic forms (the colors or numbers around it) and the most synthetic forms are to be found in houses with rectilinear walls, hallways, and foyers. Each wall separates one space from another. Everything that can be divided is divided into its proper sequence (i.e. style) of ones and twos. Private spaces are over-elaborated and under-inhabited. Public spaces are under-elaborated and lack sufficient feedback. Things that are living vs. things that are dead vs. languor.
For this reason, poetry (like a beautiful painting) ought to be replaced by the walls that surround it and doors that lead into empty rooms, kitchens and hypnosis. A poem should be camouflaged into the feelings that the room is having, like drapes, silverware, or candlesticks. All painting should aspire to the condition of encyclopedias, sequencing and b/w diagrams:
What are the forms of non-painting and what are the forms a non-painting might take? What are the non-forms of viewing and what are the forms non-looking might take? Painting as slow-motion film script? Canvas as ambient soundtrack? Dew-champ wanted to create works of art that were non-retinal. It would be nice to imagine a painting that didn't need to be looked at but could be sampled, like the newspaper, the television or the weather. A beautiful painting is a painting that disappears one half-brushstroke at a time. Like a thermostat, it should merely regulate the other colors and furniture in the room. Ad Reinhardt was wrong. Everything that is painted is sitting next to everything else that is not. The beautiful painting is involuntary. It should repeat itself endlessly in the background, like plants or a sofa. Only in this way can it repeat its own perceptual mistakes. As anyone who has ever sequenced a painting will tell you, perceptual mistakes are never sublime. A painting should expire just before we look at it, just like the drapes. The most annoying thing at an art museum is always the wall with a painting hanging on it.
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"NIAGARA FALLS IS JUST A KIND OF PAINT"
What would it be like to look at a poem? It would be the most beautiful thing in the room that could stand to be looked at. It would be more beautiful than the thing itself. A beautiful poem is a poem that can be repeated over and over again. You are reading about a poem comprised of a thousand wayward looks. Look. A beautiful poem is a painting that can be repeated over and over again. Repetition is the only thing that makes something more perfect than it already is. For this reason, there is always a gaze that does not reach inside the face (I was looking at). That should be the gaze of poems that think they are paintings.
Andy Warhol understood this and he repeated the look of a painting every time he painted the same thing over and over and over and over. That is why he painted over the faces of photographs. Nothing is more beautiful than a face when it is repeated like (a word for) make-up. Novels were the earliest form of photography known to the human retina. That is why books are rarely mistaken for paintings. Paintings, unlike words, die the minute they attach themselves to a wall. Someone else said, "Excitement is the only thing in the world that cannot be predicted."
'NIAGARA FALLS IS JUST A KIND OF PAINT'
My name is Dorothy. Because we like to come to a given space of our choosing, everything we see tends to look like a diagram or flowchart, as if it were designed to produce comfort zones, trance passages, or luck. Here is a house, here are its binary coordinates.
I was reading a story about the anti-actress Chloe Sevigny, who is the most chased-after fashion trendsetter now because she is "ugly-beautiful," wears "vintage prairie dresses one day and Yves Saint Laurent the next," and seems negligent and muse-like at the same time. She often claims not to know what she is wearing. She moves around the room like an "anti-cheerleader." She goes shopping in Hello Kitty underwear. She played a vapory deb in The Last Days of Disco and, in Boys Don't Cry, a trailer-park girl who falls in love with a boy who's really a cross-dressing girl. She can make a beret look very recent. Her publicist announced: "She is trying to dissociate herself from fashion at the moment." When I think of Chloë Sevigny, I feel the code-book wobbling on my retina. Someone said: "Anticipation is an interesting and difficult thing to produce."
SOURCES 1.2 Bob Morris 1.5 Jorge Ramón
The ultimate lifestyle exercise for a home is its television. It produces error after error. If knowledge unlike pleasure takes place in a network, a painting should pursue itself in a set interval of time, i.e., the time allotted to it. The ideal interval is programmed, usually three or seven or twelve, and expands indefinitely. In that way all the words, like portraiture or shades of color, could be replaced by something that reminded one of a couplet, an integer, a television set, a phone number or the revolving seasons. If one doesn't have a television set it is necessary to make one. It is now spring or it is now autumn when you read this. The temperature is the same across all three screens. Somewhere it is summer and I am losing someone because she is already gone. The television set is sitting on the windowsill. It resembles a canvas. These are the feelings television has and these are the ways we make our feelings disappear into them, like small pieces of ice. The best paintings like poems make our feelings evaporate at a constant rate like a disco, which is nothing but a rotating system of words masquerading as numbers. I think it is snowing and I worry that the guests will be late. I flick on the screens. This is an election year, of course. How to incite the idea of reading without reading? How to accessorize reading as a practice similar to entertaining? One comes and then one goes. One adds something and then one subtracts something else.
The most precious commodity in modern life is time. I live in a house like a series of loops, plus signs
As any junkie will tell you, addiction knows no cause and occurs without memory. The best paintings, like words, expire like photographs of themselves. As such, the space for paintings and for experiencing paintings ought to take place backwards and as if they were erasing themselves
paintings like words can be read as an equation for any number of diagrammatic surfaces: inexactitude, thought, the false arc of the historical. All paintings should be flowcharts of paintings and inhabit a decorated space. A painting like a poem is just a space that is showing up somewhere else. It should be ahistorical and undesigned and as homogeneous as possible. Like a book, it should aspire to the most taciturn forms of expression such as greeting cards, photographs of outer space, video monitors turned off, slightly incandescent lightbulbs, automobile windshields at night, billboards, cheap but glossy high-quality reproductions (of photos or paintings), banners, escalators, central air-conditioning, airports, ticket stubs, sheetrock, flags. You are looking at a book. Look at what is reflected: symbols that pass before it before they become emotions. In paintings, all emotions become the symbols of things that they are not.
Like the Pantone color chart, the beautiful book is a diagram of "historical inexactitude" which reflects (by turning) something "not there." A very beautiful painting should have its pages turned endlessly and without thought. What is "not there" is opposed to what appears in a poem or building or painting. It should never be necessary to turn a page when reading.
The page should turn before you got there. This is known as history.
Chapter TwoA Field Guide to The American Landscape
PLATE 1 Lumens. Clay. A grove. What does it mean when the world forgets the things that are repeating themselves beside it? Like a photograph, I believe everything that was once imaginary takes place on a surface that is real and cannot be repeated. Every novel should, like a chain of chemical reactions or code, be photographed or painted as a series of E's, a grid, a box, or lines. Only in that way do the memories we are not having become visible, somewhere to the left of what we were anticipating.
a diagram of a golf course
LECTURE (Panel 77/60)
FLIRT (#3522 RED
Instead of a photograph, A, that merely repeats something, a souvenir or keepsake, I wanted this to resemble nothing but itself, and thus to capture the blankness and non-theatrical spaces of the world "out there." The least repetitive photographs are the photographs that make us forget the things that we love. That is why most landscapes are so boring to look at. A beautiful landscape is like a beautiful photograph is like a beautiful landscape is like a beautiful photograph. Such photographs erase people, relatives, household objects, other photographs, and landscapes at a steady velocity. That is why it is normally so difficult to fall in love with the same person twice.
Because each of these flowers, in April, may be counted more than once, the photograph seems to repeat itself endlessly, just like our feelings do. That is why photographs of landscapes or people or nature are usually meaningless. Such a photograph becomes a kind of definition of the theatricality of the world. If the world is a landscape, then our emotions become a reversed and private spectacle of all the things we cannot remember.
Yet everything about our desires is central to a point of fault. For this reason, the empty page corresponds to a location. If my eyes were like a newspaper, the photographs appear to revolve around the words like a series of imaginary facts, and then appear to double.
In any given landscape, B, like this, whatever is written down is beset by resemblances and whatever I hear I write down. No writing should ever be done while one is thinking about something. The newspaper on the other hand is purely temporal. It records phenomena as if they had just happened. If I have no memories of this (i.e., Plate 6), I consider this to have been the object of a desire or something that is reconstructed many years after the fact.
When I look at a landscape in a novel all I see is something that I have not had the time to forget. One waits patiently for the things that have happened already. In this landscape, something I forgot (once) is about to reverse itself and become exactly what it is. You can remember someone many times but you can forget them only once.
On the front page of today's New York Times, which I confuse with a landscape, in front of the flag, there is a photograph of an unspecified Federal building.
My girlfriend thinks the world is constantly taking its own picture and walking away from it.
Miyuke kissed me (autism)
like too many typos (impropriety)
(ym) in the background
Excerpted from SEVEN CONTROLLED VOCABULARIES AND OBITUARY 2004 THE JOY OF COOKING by TAN LIN Copyright © 2010 by TAN LIN . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A Field Guide to American Painting
A Field Guide to the American Landscape
American Architecture Meta Data Containers
2 Identical Novels
A Dictionary of Systems Theory
Various Library Standards
A Field Guide to American Cinema
What People are Saying About This
“Tan Lin proposes a radical idea for reading: not reading. Words, so prevalent today, are merely elements that constitute fleeting engagements, one amongst many that make up the shape of our rich technological landscape. You get the sense that these words aren't meant to last forever. By setting up a textual ecologyrecycling and repurposing languageLin makes us aware of both the material and ephemeral nature of words. Language is fluid and can be poured into many forms. Skim, dip, drop-in, tune out, click away. For this brief moment, they've come together between the covers of this book; tomorrow they'll be a Facebook meme.”
"The recipes contained herein are quite computational and result in the blankest of architectural forms, in which I would like to go shopping. An utterly, compellingly boring film--I've already forgotten it in the best way unimaginable."
Warren Liu, assistant professor of English, Scripps College
"The recipes contained herein are quite computational and result in the blankest of architectural forms, in which I would like to go shopping. An utterly, compellingly boring filmI've already forgotten it in the best way unimaginable."Warren Liu, assistant professor of English, Scripps College
"Tan Lin proposes a radical idea for reading: not reading. Words, so prevalent today, are merely elements that constitute fleeting engagements, one amongst many that make up the shape of our rich technological landscape. You get the sense that these words aren't meant to last forever. By setting up a textual ecologyrecycling and repurposing languageLin makes us aware of both the material and ephemeral nature of words. Language is fluid and can be poured into many forms. Skim, dip, drop-in, tune out, click away. For this brief moment, they've come together between the covers of this book; tomorrow they'll be a Facebook meme."Kenneth Goldsmith