Monday, December 31, 2007

tote bags for xmas

Tote bags given away for christmas gifts.
"Face with Hair", screen-printed drawing by Ethan Pierce.
(Opposite side)
"Sock Puppet with Mohawk" drawing by Cain Tillman.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

George Steiner, "Tongue of Eros"

There exists a fair number of monographs on sexual terms, lexica of the erotic, glossaries of the pornogaphic. What is lacking is any historical and psychologically responsible phenomenology of the interplay between sexuality and words, between libido and enunciation -- either internalized or vocal. No Aristotle, no Saussure has taken up this pivotal challenge. We have, so far as I am aware, no study, even summary, of how sex is experienced, of how love is made in different languages and different language sets. How does love-making in Basque or Russian differ from that in Flemish or Korean? What privileges or inhibitions arise between lovers with different first languages? No polyglot woman or man, so far as I know, has left a record of her or ehis sexuality within and between languages.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Piano Diagram

this instrument first sparked my interest because I've noticed a growing trend of piano driven ambient music. What is it about this classical instrument that contemporary experimental musicians find so interesting?

Then, over Thanksgiving weekend my great-aunt Charlotte gifted me a broken piano hammer. When I was 12 she hired me to remove a forlorn piano from her home. There was a good deal of smashing and pre-teen angst involved with its' removal. Not once in the past 18 years did I notice that Charlotte kept one piano hammer pinned up with her collection of presidential campaign buttons.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New tool, new series

(from wikepedia)
In music notation, a sixty-fourth note (American or "German" terminology) or hemidemisemiquaver (British or "classical" terminology) is a note played for 1/64 of the duration of a whole note (or semibreve). It lasts half as long as a thirty-second note (or demisemiquaver).

Sixty-fourth notes are notated with a filled in oval note head and a straight note stem with four flags. The stem is drawn to the left of the note head going downward when the note is above or on the middle line of the staff. When the note head is below the middle line the stem is drawn to the right of the note head going upward. Multiple adjacent sixty-fourth notes may have the flags connected with a beam.

A similar, but rarely encountered symbol is the sixty-fourth rest (or hemidemisemiquaver rest, shown on the right of the image) which denotes silence for the same duration as a sixty-fourth note.

Notes shorter than the sixty-fourth note are very rarely used in music, though the hundred twenty-eighth note (otherwise known as the semihemidemisemiquaver or quasihemidemisemiquaver), or even shorter notes, are occasionally found.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

in the middle of something

The back of the bus used to be something special.
Now its the 30 minute walk to work that does it.

Written material is overdue here, I'm resistant to posting beginnings and starting points.

I'm currently captivated by Badiou's "supernumerary", the element with no structure.

Landlord called this morning, he received half of the rent check, the other half disapeared in the mail system, devoured perhaps.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Ode to Flavin

An Audio Tour of a Dan Flavin Exhibit, Manipulated beyond recognition into glitch.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I found this while browsing through Swingr's archive of curatorial projects.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

awkward exchange

My downstairs neighbor likes to jam the late 90's idm classics. I like walking into the building and hear matmos, aphex, boc, and sometimes kraftwerk. I've been intending to make a mix cd for him because he seemed to have a decent taste in music. So when I found out he was moving, I put a mix together and went downstairs to give it to him. What followed was a very strange transaction. I knocked on the door and he yelled 'who is it?'. I answered its Cole and he repeated 'who is it?' again i stated my name and again he asked who was there and then i wondered if he knew my name and became confused at this increased security measure, so I said 'I'm your neighbor', when i should have said something about living upstairs. We say hi and whatever but never talk at length, but it still surprised me he was this cautious. Finally he opened the door and all I could say was "I made you a mix cd", and his tone flipped into a gay "thats so sweet of you, is it a going away present?" I said yes and it was for Florida and left that awkward scene.

Monday, September 24, 2007

almost cool

Yall read alot of music reviews? I do. If you're tired of pitchfork check out and
I just spent some time reading almost cool, which is one guy writing about maybe 4 albums a week. So far I trust his judgement, we'll see what happens when I listen to more.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

about Domestic Firefly

I'm showing a 2 channel video installation Roxane's basement, aka Low Level Vision aka Vega Estates. We tested it yesterday and it was more intense than I expected. The first video plays for 4 minutes, then is off for 4 minutes. It looks like a shifty op art painting, but is actually a car window sun shade thing for kids. I shot it up close with a wide angle lens to suggest a spacial perspective. The original idea was to create something so optically disorienting that it becomes a visceral sensation. I think this is one tactic to locate the limits of our cognition. I've been into contradictions between the abstract and pragmatic, conceptual and visceral. The juxtopositions experienced are something of an everyday epiphany.

The soundtrack for this video is the first real song i've made. For the most part it is gentle and harmonic, a slow lulling rhythm of hums, whistles, ticks and tones. It subtly increases the hypnotic effect of the imagery. Not that it matters, but I think it is fitting that the source material for the song was a recording of a toy top. I say it doesn't matter because the material is manipulated beyond recognition. However, I find a spinning top to have a fitting relation to the notion of locating the limits of cognition. The 2nd video loops consistently in the space behind the window shade video. It is a field of fireflies shot in rural Iowa. It is very dark but you can barely make out a landscape. The soundtrack is also from this nighttime nature scene, a sometimes melody sometimes cacophony of crickets, sacadas (sp), and 5 species of frogs. The low end of this sound is tweaked in order to add a droning bass of creapiness. Its beautifully unsettling. I'm also giving away about 35 copies of an ambient mix-cd. The cd's are screenprinted and the brown-bag cases and inserts are linoleum cut prints. I'll try to make it available to download. Anyone know how to upload an mp3? or a zip file?

Email me if you want a copy.

Repost from Steve Nyktus
"Cole Pierce has been giving away mixed cd's since 2004. He collects music, burns a mix, decorates a case, and leaves small stacks in public.
There's something about creating a mix cd that is intensely personal, even romantic. It's the kind of thing a person usually does for a close friend, family member, or significant other. That someone would do this on a public scale is curious. In the moment when the mixed album is given away, something personal is shared. Taste is perhaps one of the most intimate ways to identify someone and giving someone a collection like this is a way of revealing that hidden identity. A person might be attracted to the idea of a free cd, but the opportunity to take home a piece of a stranger's life may be more compelling. Yet this is also a very anonymous gift. There is no special thread that pre-exists before the cd is given, or taken. It's still a curiousity as to whether the free mixed cd creates this bond or only further emphasizes its absence."

Vega Estates Presents

Join us for our fourth installment Saturday, September 8th, 6-10pm.

In the Garage: The Addition
Kissing Sisyphus by Kelly Kaczynski

In the Basement: Low-level Vision
Domestic Firefly by Cole Pierce

Next up and last show of the series!!!: Steve Reinke and Selina Trepp, October 13, 6-10pm.

Join us this Saturday as we also celebrate Kelly Kaczynski's birthday!

The Addition and Low-Level Vision, located in the garage and basement of 723 West 16th Street, are a series of one-night only exhibitions featuring Chicago artists. The events will take place on the 2nd Saturday of each month from June through October.

Vega Estates
Roxane Hopper and Julie Rudder
723 West 16th St.
Chicago, IL 60616
(773) 852-9665
(336) 577-3276

Monday, August 20, 2007

nonrepresentational painting vs. ambient music

"Ambient music is a stillness that scatters thought."
-Derek Miller,

" . . . nonrepresentational painting seeks to present the unnameable . . ."
-Jeremy Gilbert Rolfe, Vision's Resistance to Language

Monday, August 6, 2007

Pierce Press Presents

Tyler Carter's new chapbook "New Place" is now availableat Adam's Books in New York as well as the Pierce Press website. This time around, Tyler couples geographic location with the act of speaking with a collection of prose poetry. But don't worry, it is also sprinkled with a dash of paranoid anxiety.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Pirates Exist

I saw a man at the hardware store who had a severed leg just above the knee. He bought a plunger.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Pitchfork: What did collage mean for you 10 years ago and what does it mean now?

Cornelius: Ten years ago I used to gather different peoples' sounds, people's samplings, and patch them together cut-and-paste. But now, I create, record each sound and put them up together.


"I just can't drink whiskey like I usta could"

Collage and the use of appropriated material is not what it used to be. Call it post-post-modern, or maybe another embrace of modernism, I'm still working through this muddy notion. Consider the following albums "Endtroducing" DJ Shadow (1996) "Carpal Tunnel Syndrom" Kid Koala (2000) and "Lost & Safe" The Books (2004). In the past 10 years, artists have been appropriating material differently than previous generations. I think the difference lies in the degree of attachment to images (or sounds). The 90's was a time marked by irony, a separation between our experience and reality. caution. Now there seems to be an embrace, or engulfing of imagery and our experience. apathy. I'd like to develop this further as a statement but for now i'll leave it as a question.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Regular Cat

This is the 'regular cat car' that my son Ethan requested for his pine wood derby race. It wasnt designed for speed, but it placed him 2nd out of 22 in the 7 year and under category.

after much consideration i changed the name of my blog to presto samo, which is an inside joke my wife (then girlfriend) and I had about a magician who didnt know any magic tricks. I was just informed that presto samo is a story that my wife Melissa made up about a magician whose only trick was to make things stay the same. I tried registering Pierce, Cole Pierce, Semaphore, Wizzzard, Elsewhere, and Loophole but they were all taken.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

P.G. & L.C.

Phillip Glass and Leonard Cohen together is better than anything they could have done apart. Perhaps the summer picnic at Ravinia buttered my toast. It sounded like Einstein on the Beach with complex lyrics and without the agitating repetition.

Friday, June 8, 2007

A blog of interest and unrest
The writing on your blog is fascinating. While I anticipated the relational project that we were assigned, I was curious to know what you would come up with given the high standards you set with your previous questions and comments. I’m afraid to say that your “Dirty Numbers” project disappointed me. But take into account your brilliant revue of the diy show and all those smart questions you asked Rainbow Video. The project didn’t really stand a chance. But its still a good project. I love binary information, especially when I look at all those zeros and ones on and know that they translate into something dirty. (I once knew this guy who had just immigrated from Mexico and the only English he knew he learned from porno flicks.) Epic Romance seems an appropriate title, because the sense I get from your blog and the way you use language is on one hand a gross reduction of communication into code, or on the other hand romantic and celebratory of subjective interconnections. These opposing elements could give birth to many more interesting combinations.

A blog of interest and unrest

I’m trying to relate Lisa Majer’s project on her blog to the rest of her work, and I think I've got it figured out. At first I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand why she replied to a survey about language. I guess the point is that the language you speak can be alienating and isolating as well as connective tissue. Vaguely, I think Lisa explores the dark side of culture, or at least she considers the disconnect in humanity. Looking at her paintings is like spelunking into a foreign bedroom where the bed hasn’t been made for weeks and laundry is way overdue and don’t even think about looking underneath the bed. Domesticity, as a metaphor of all things internal is equivalent to your culture’s native language.

this revue of Leafcutter John's album "The Housebound Spirit" seams relevant.,1474

A blog of interest and unrest

The trouble with anonymity. I think I know who Yum Yum is. Lord of Yum Yum may be Paul Velat, but my wife tells me that Yum Yum is Chris Holmes. The last time I spoke with Chris was maybe 4 years ago, and rumors were the topic of the conversation. He had researched rumorology in school, and at the time I was making weird parallels between conceptual art and rumors. But anyway that was 4 years ago. Today my friend Julie Rudder is a contestant in a competition to be the next NPR talk show host. Her last entry talked about a rumor that the American Idol contestant Sanjaya is actually the invented persona of an art student at RISD. I hope its true. I also hope Julie gets her own talk show. Is their still time to vote? We need to get some buzz going, rally the troops. Maybe a good tag line like “I’d Rudder be listening to NPR”. She needs a rumorologist, (Chris are you reading this? Is it true that you were once detained at an airport for trying to carry-on your grandmother’s brass knuckles?) I’m familiar with Julie’s work as we were in grad school together and she has consistently questioned power structures, big ones like religious institutions. It seems inevitable for Julie’s work to move into the public realm, like talk radio. Lane makes some excellent points in his comments to her blog entry; the importance of anonymity and the importance of weak social ties to the economy being that they support creativity and innovation. Now that I consider Julie’s NPR project and her blog entries I think of her videos differently. "The Greater Sense" (2007), and "I Have so Many Things I Just Don't Know" (2007) In the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern, she has two videos in which the audio is her voice manipulated and multiplied in a way that confuses the integrity of the narrator. Now I see the character in the videos as anonymous and shifty as the blogger or chat room alias. Vote for Julie, lets get her on the air and maybe we’ll find out who she really is.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Interview with Teena McClelland

Teena McClelland and Michelle Maynard on the set of Death by Design, Co. at Gallery 400 in 2006.

Teena's in* interior interventions headquarters in 2004

In* Interior Interventions is a business that provides customers with an unconventional interior design service. With the help and consultation of Teena McClelland, founder of In*, clientele have their homes redesigned to be completely nonfunctional. Recently, Teena has been collaborating with Michelle Maynard to create Death by Design Co., which provides participants the chance to star in their own horror flick. In Michelle's previous work, she wrote, produced and starred in her own horror movie "Throb". I started to become more interested in Teena and Michelle's work while studying relational aesthetics in graduate school, so I asked Teena if she would answer a couple questions.

Your projects seem to take place in a post-Rirkrit form of Relational Art, where you offer a service, but the service is very
unconventional. I'm thinking Death by Design, as well as thenonfunctional interior design project in 2004. I'm using Rirkrit
Tiravanija as an example because his practice of inserting the everyday into an institutional setting is designed in a way that suggests there is no separation between the two spheres. In Rirkrit's case we notice the difference after the fact, so we notice how an art gallery changes a dinner party. In your case, it seems that you approach a project with the knowledge that the everyday will be affected or transformed when it is placed in a gallery or museum. So you offer a service of redesigning my closet so I can't reach my clothes. Am I on the right path here? Are your unconventional services a comment on service-based artworks, contract-art and the history of relational aesthetics? Or, does it come out of a reaction to economics and the service industry expanding into every nook and crevice?

My ideas for my work employ similar sentiments to Rirkrit Tiravanija's motives of creation, for sure. Rirkrit creates a situation in the gallery which is not about looking at art--but it is about "being in a space, participating in an activity, and the nature of the visit has shifted to emphasize on the gallery as a space for social interaction." My "businesses" exist as installations in galleries much like Rirkrit's aftermath they "function like scientific experiments: the displacement becomes a tool and exposes the way scientific thought processes are constructed. The visitor becomes a participant in that experiment."

There is a difference here between Rirkirt and I. The businesses I create are earnest establishments which have little choice but to exist in the art gallery (since another venue does not exist for such services just yet) and these businesses are often seen only as an "experiment" and are somewhat hindered in their mainstream ability because they cannot get a foothold in the commercial business realm. Ideally, my in* interventions interior design firm would have existed in a real commercial/retail space where it offered the new formula I employed for interior decorating.

home decor and arrangement--
ESTABLISHED BY--beauty/functionality/order=successful interior design

home decor and arrangement--
ESTABLISHED BY--narrative/catastrophe/disorder=successful in* interior

So, here you see the idea of Rirkrit and that idea's attempt to use a formula to displace the audience and teach or show the opportunity of using an established context/site in a new way--but I am not interested in merely using it against/for the gallery or art itself. That is just the venue it is allowed to exist in at this time. And often that venue works out fine.

The two of you collaborating has complicated both of your practices, in a good way. Teena's twisted sense of the service economy is now more sinister, and Michelle's horror flick is now participatory. Sorry for this very generic question, but how do feel about this combination? What do you think this says about art that takes the form of a service or a social contract?

The projects in* and Death by Design, CO. are serviced-based as a draw for participants--Services are active and participatory and not static and stable. My main intention while working as an artist-is the idea of involving others, perhaps directly, especially others who might not normally be engaged in artwork/artworld. Ta da--so offer them a service! and then they will be part of the project and the project will rely on them...and even in the project's failure-no willing participants- we can find success (this is a longer conversation). Therefore, collaboration occurs not only with Michelle Maynard, who
will collaborate on the initial structure of the formula (the set, menu, contracts, methods of making and selling), but there is a collaboration with clients and with staff and with the gallery--and they all get to shape the outcome by adding their own to the initial formula.

Achieving entertainment is one key to all of this working out (entertainment can be the goal for a project and it can still have
valuable side effects) and it doesn't hurt to make it official by calling it a "business". That definitely adds an air of expertise to the whole package. In some ways, Death by Design, Co. allows Michelle to do what she would like to do most and allows me to do what I would like to do most. I would like for people to face a situation that I have arranged and leave that situation thinking that they must reposition themselves in relation to what is being dealt with--much like the goal of Rirkrit. I am optimistic and I hope for the best, for something to happen--and these services and spectacles seem like the clearest path for some kind of direct affect on the audience/participant.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Free Mixed CDs

My "Free Mixed CDs" project has been a part of my studio practice since 2004. My MFA Thesis exhibition is currently at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University until June 17th. While the collection of songs is eclectic, the genre I use most often is ambient music. The experience of listening to ambient music adds an element to, or helps define the overall content of my work.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Its not all about things

Its all about things.
Three Walls Gallery
February 5, 2007 - March 31, 2007

Maldonado has transformed ThreeWalls residency/gallery into a flea market shanty auction house. I was informed upon entry that the show wasn’t complete without the artist being present, who was attending to an emergency. When the artist is present, the audience is invited to barter for Maldonado’s artworks, which are mostly small paintings that range from landscape to pop abstractions. The quality of the paintings mirror the eccentric aesthetic of his gypsy auction house, where they are displayed. Even without witnessing the performance, it was obvious to me that the artist was interested in human behavior in relation to material stuff, so I wondered why it was necessary for the artist to be present. Raw materials and messy murals constructed the environment, which was compartmentalized into a lounge, a private viewing room, a permanent collection room, and an exhibition space. The installation of IAAT is a Thomas Hirshorn version of a blue chip auction house. I hear that Maldonado will barter intensely for up to 30 minutes with a customer, yet I’m already hyper aware of the importance of materiality in the gallery space. Along with the bartering and trading, Maldonado documents the procedure with paperwork that feeds into his overarching practice, which is a study of the relationship between humans and things.

So there is the description.

Now here are some questions.

1. Is it really all about things?
2. Why is an impoverished flea market the setting?
3. Why is the aesthetic a manicured mess?

1. It’s not all about things. It is a performance, an event that forces a relationship on the things. It may be participatory, and the artist might be engaging the audience, but the event is still a mediated experience, a reproduced performance. Maldonado states that this project is a way to study a person’s relationship to things. If this is the objective study that Maldonado claims, the theatrical scene and performance is going to skew the results. Maybe the statement should be reconsidered, because the real content of IAAT lies in Maldonado’s relationship to things, or more specifically his relationship to aesthetics. This scenario at Three Walls is a pronounced version of context determining value. So it’s not all about things, it’s all about a contrived context. Maybe it’s all about context. There is a stage, props, and performers of this play. Even though he solicits audience members to speak about their emotional attachment to knick-knacks, it is still Maldonado’s stage.
2. Bartering is the tool that Luis Maldonado uses to engage his audience. Face to face communication. Maybe I am still answering question number one, because this direct engagement of talking trumps all other aspects of the project. This also makes me question why the gallery is outfitted in murals on cardboard walls, exposed 2x4’s and tarp. A few years ago I visited my friend Michael, and he had turned his apartment into one expansive sheet tent. Every ceiling and every wall had sheets tacked onto them. He told me that his apartment had undergone a Halloween transformation. This makes sense. It was Halloween. I don’t think it makes sense for Luis Maldonado to transform a gallery into a shanty auction house. Does he need an immersive environment in order to talk one on one to audience members? And why an environment that is a sign of poverty? It seems that Maldonado does want to address class issues and systems of value, but why does he model his project after a third-world bazaar? This seems inconsiderate to say the least. I don’t understand why bartering is better than a monetary system. Is it because he wants a stronger connection to his audience? My confusion that you, yeah you the reader are sensing is because the IAAT project is inconsistent. If Maldonado thinks that one system of exchange is better than another system of exchange, don’t mix them together. IAAT is sectioned off into paintings worth money, and paintings worth bartering.
3. For Maldonado, aesthetics are used to devalue the discreet art object that he calls a “thing”. Aesthetics are props and stage settings for an event to take place. Maldonado needs a site that can be used to barter and talk to people. Why does he need a gallery? David Hammons sold snowballs on the street. I wonder if a public intervention might be better suited for IAAT. But then Maldonado would have less control over the Brechtian in your face performance that is the core of the project. Since the performance is the forefront of Maldonado’s project, I don’t understand why he creates an immersive environment. The cardboard and tarp functions as a sign for poverty. This sign is distracting and unnecessary for a performance of Maldonado haggling with an audience.

Coming Soon!

Interview with Teena McClelland and Michelle Maynard, the masterminds behind Death by Design, Co.

Sharon Hayes Notes

Here are the notes I took during Sharon Hayes' artist talk.

demonstration based performance
-speech act
-performance as singular event

documentation as event in and of itself
event and nonevent
respeaking, the perfomative, does rather than says
-contradiction in time
-moving backword and forward

through what
voice and vote, confused

following sound, indirect, general questions
in affiliation with subjectivity
how does the speech act create meaning
protest what protest
installation- unfixed, transient

respeaking history
readymade? action

impossibility of the simultaneous moment
never forgetting


work to be done in disabled
disrupted cognition- failure
gaps in speech, fissures in language

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Exciting News

I was excited to learn that Murcof was from Tijuana and there was possibly a minimalist electronic music scene in Tijuana, Mexico. It was about the same time that I had visited Ajo, Arizona which is a dusty desert border town abandoned by a copper mining company who refused to settle a worker strike 70 years ago. The atmosphere reminded me of dirty ambient music. Dry and textured. At this time I was also reading about a bunch of political art sprouting up around Tijuana and the US/Mexico border. I started to wonder whether or not a strife ridden geographic location was the impetus of both abstract audio art and public political art. Tijuana could be an example of a situation that was inciting both escapism as well as protest. But Murcof no longer resides in his hometown of Tijuana, where he was part of the Nortec Collective (which sucks like a club chill out room). He didn't make brilliant music until he moved to Barcelona. Another theory out the window.