Category: Chronicle

7. Mood, Scrapbooks & Digital Materialism


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.


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

1. Stepping to the music I hear

The idea is to make logic out of scattered cultural phenomenon. There are many influences, and there’s no reason to feel anxious about any of them: I’m processing new knowledges and changing nature.

I’ll start here.

For street ambulations and serendipitous modernist citations: Andre Breton’s Nadja and Mad Love, though very recently Valeria Luiselli’s Sidewalks, for the way she reorients cosmopolitan melancholy, thinking through books in public spaces like gardens, cemeteries, airplanes, and freeway overpasses. There’s also Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street and Arcades Project; to a large extent, for their collage impulse and experimentation with text and narrative genres, like fragments, aphorisms, and quotes. Joseph Joubert’s Notebooks delight me in this way, too. Single sentences are elegant whole diary entries where the episodic and allegoric take precedent.

 I now cite two of my favorite blogs: Theresa Duncan’s The Wit of the Staircase and Rafa Saavedra’s Crossfader Network (may they both rest in peace).

Theresa Duncan’s Wit collects quotes and images from celebrity gossip and fiction to substantiate her poetic ruminations on culture and mass media. Rafa Saavedra’s Crossfader contextualizes moments in the Tijuana underground scene, incorporating conceptualist photography, radio programs, VJ sets, interviews, documentaries, and magazine citations.

Thus I go, stepping to the music I hear, close and far away.