Styling Sagaciousness: Oh Great No!

FORTHCOMING in the Fall of 2022 at Punctum Books

Styling Sagaciousness: Oh Great No!

by Joseph Nechvatal

During the Paris pandemic confinement period of 2020, with the dread of viral death in the air, artist Joseph Nechvatal finished his second book of poetry called Styling Sagaciousness: Oh Great No!. The mythopoeic mélange of Styling Sagaciousness is intended as a complicated forensic fairy-tale, suitable for Noh theater, which keeps slipping in and out of idiosyncratic narration, a ghostly appearance-disappearance act that turns on the nub of our narcissism concerning our death, that strange, incurable and deeply irrational affliction we all share. Putting identity aside, this book tests the limits of form and stretches the bounds of meaning by recasting our experiences of encountering our self as the sumptuous physicality of total negation. As such, Styling Sagaciousness delivers to us all an airy irrational punch of needed nonsensical negation by tying together insouciant informality with a visceral camp irony: at turns hip and flamboyant and morally outrageous.

Joseph Nechvatal is an American artist currently living in Paris. His post-conceptual art practice engages in the fragile wedding of image production and image resistance. Through his version of an art-of-noise, he brings a subversive reading of society through his use of custom a-life computational viruses. His computer-robotic assisted paintings and software animations are shown regularly. Nechvatal earned his Ph.D. in the philosophy of art and new technology at The Centre for Advanced Inquiry in the Interactive Arts (CAiiA) at the University of Wales, Newport. From 1999 to 2014 he taught in the mfa graduate department at the School of Visual Arts. His book of essays Towards an Immersive Intelligence: Essays on the Work of Art in the Age of Computer Technology and Virtual Reality (1993–2006) was published by Edgewise Press in 2009. In 2011 his book Immersion into Noise was published by the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office in conjunction with the Open Humanities Press. He has also already published two books with punctum books: Minóy (ed.) (2014) & Destroyer of Naivetés (2015). In 2021 a cassette of his Selected Sound Works (1981–2021) was published by Pentiments experimental music and sound art label.

 

About josephnechvatal

Joseph Nechvatal is an American post-conceptual artist who creates virus-modeled artificial life computer-assisted paintings and animations. Themes he has addressed in his art include the apocalyptic, communication excess, the virus, and gender fluidity. In 1975, he moved from Chicago to the downtown Tribeca area of New York City. He began studying at Columbia University with the philosopher Arthur Danto while working for the Dia Art Foundation as archivist to the minimalist composer La Monte Young. In 1980, he moved from Tribeca to the sordid Lower East Side where he found artistic camaraderie and politically inspired creative energy. There he became closely associated with Collaborative Projects (Colab), the influential post-punk artists’ group that included Kiki Smith and Jenny Holzer, among others. Those were glory days for the famous Colab projects, such as Just Another Asshole, The Real Estate Show and The Times Square Show. He also helped establish the non-profit cultural space ABC No Rio, where exhibitions were animated by political purpose. In the early 1980s, his art consisted of dense post-minimalist gray graphite drawings (that were sometimes photo-mechanically enlarged), of sculpture, of photographs, and of musique concrète audio collages. In 1983, he co-founded the famous avant-garde art music project Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine. In 1984, he created an opera called XS: The Opera Opus (1984-6) with the no wave musical composer Rhys Chatham that was presented in Boston and New York. In 1986, Nechvatal began using computer-robotics to make conceptual paintings. Some were exhibited at Documenta VIII in 1987. In 1992, when he was artist-in-residence at the Louis Pasteur Atelier in Arbois and at the Saline royale d’Arc-et-Senans, he created computer virus codes that he used as an artistic tool. This work was a reflection on his personal experiences of risk and loss with the AIDS epidemic. In 1999, he earned his doctorat in the philosophy of aesthetics and technology in England and soon wrote two art theory books: Towards an Immersive Intelligence and Immersion Into Noise. In 2001, he extended his initial experimentations into the virus as an artistic painterly tool in a series of artificial life works. These works include various series of paintings, animations, and a lengthy audio composition entitled viral symphOny. He has created a series of virus-based themed exhibitions of artificial life paintings and animation projections that explore the fragility and fluidity of the human body. You can follow him on Twitter at @twinkletwink Homepage: http://www.nechvatal.net
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