Category: Archives

7. Mood, Scrapbooks & Digital Materialism

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This past April, Declan Schweitzer presented at the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive what was for me a discerning essay “On the Mood of the Collector in the Digital Age.”  Using Borges, Benjamin, and Heidegger, Schweitzer complicated the idea of digital collections thinking through concepts of constellation, mood, and experience.  The digital, he argued, resists extension and unity because it divorces form and content from cultural objects. As the world is still time based, he called to change the means of thinking of materiality and temporal experience through new forms of collecting and curation.

These ideas brought to mind the Getty Research Institute’s archival project with George Herms where they catalogued Herm’s poetic associations in artworks, letters, and ephemera, to rescue historical context of the 1950s and ’60s California Beat and  Pop scene.  Through a process of  “knowledge capture” – interviewing Herms – the Getty initiated a process of archiving archive art, which was, in itself, a constellation of moods and experiences.

Scrapbooks in many ways evoke mood in materiality and time. I like the idea of a blog as a scrapbook, but also as a panel, canvas, and archive for temporal and material experience.

Above,

George Herms, Get In The Car, (For Lew Welch) 1999

2. The Mystic Mexican

How is the Mystic Mexican back in the scene after having disappeared way back in September of 1968? It happened like this. One evening I happened upon Andrew Martinez, the Archivist at RISD’s Fleet Library, while he was sifting through boxes of archival materials. Strewn across the desk were student newspapers from the 1960s.

I asked what he was doing, and he said, “Looking at the Mystic Mexican.”

“Who’s the Mystic Mexican,” I asked.

“Check em’ out,” he responded. He then unfolded every newspaper the Mystic Mexican appeared in, they were about 9, all published in 1968. Who is he? Turns out his name is Ricardo Alonzo, and he was a Graphic Design major at RISD from Colima, Mexico.

Ricardo assumed an alter ego, The Mystic Mexican, in the columns and advertisements of the school newspaper, where he was in the editorial  board. On his column as the Mystic Mexican he spoke a jive tongue on tolerance and cosmic life cycles.  He also staged street performances dressed in Eastern garments. The newspaper reported multiple sightings.

The Mystic Mexican promoting theft at the local bookstore.

The Mystic Mexican making friends with public art.

The Mystic Mexican meditates.

(The Grass Scene at RISD.)

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