Fireworks in the Desert

The fireworks set off against a New York skyline that was as disconnected and irrelevant as a default desktop image, selected not by you or your computer, but by an unknown and external force. It flashed on the screen when the computer woke up this morning. Framed by the baseball stadium’s two outfield bank of lights, these modest pyrotechnics blinded you from a natural order – they sparkled with instantaneity. The Chinese were said to have invented it, the Japanese and Koreans have perfected its craft, but the Americans are the ones that adopted its logistics for their narrative. Somehow, exploding sparks of colored light have come to stand for liberty and freedom.

That was yesterday in Staten Island. On the drive there, Raekwon’s gravel-spiked voice spilled from the speakers. From Staten (Go Hard) – a Shaolin answer to Jay-Z’s Brooklyn (Go Hard): You know I’m / back at it / an asthmatic / always mad jiggy / I love fashion. These sound like hard won lyrics, called forth by a focused obssession to craft and a delirious sense of playful self-mockery. This is what got me and my shotgun Jerry Tanaka going, making us hit repeat to prove he actually rhymed what we thought he rhymed. Belief is not so much about what you think is true, but about what you think is dope.

At PS1 today, scenes from an unraveling. Video artist Ryan Trecartin feverishly revels in the clipped declarative language and junky waste culture that we’re currently lost in. Cheap new furniture, exercise machines and forms of imprisonment – locks and chains – set a mood of wicked normalcy in room after room, while video after video of hyper teens spaz out over nothing in particular. Maybe he’s making new poetry out of found poetry, like rappers do. But his work feels more like suburban punk that middle-aged parents would “get.” America produced Trecartin and eventually, if that’s what we want, he’ll have to be synthesized into its crazy narrative the way fireworks and hip hop already have been.

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