Artist & Author

Clearinghouse Publishers: “Content Management”

“Content Management” (2010), issue #2 of “Clearinghouse Publishers” with accompanying letter:

“Dear Subscriber:

We hope and trust that you enjoyed your first issue from Clearinghouse Publishers. “Once I Started Talking to the World I Found I Had a Lot to Say” lacked only perforation marks to prove its usefulness as a collection of action words. Everyone knows someone who needs to not only hear, but see the words “Dump the Jerk” in 112 point sans-serif caps, even if that someone is you yourself. Lawrence Weiner has some things to learn from Tony Robbins.

Every bookstore, newsstand, and home in America is filled with non-action words, with the self-satisfied musings and digressions of the human mind. A mind which, when confronted with problems (as in something to solve, not just something to grouse about) is usually content to frame, categorize, itemize, and organize the components of the problem into a neat structure, rather than strike out into the world to wrestle the problem, alligator-like.

“Once I Started…” is a rough attempt to reverse what we all, as pale intellectuals, do every day. There is a flood somewhere in the world, and people are knee-deep in it, actually and really. Our reaction is to take photographs of it, to write columns about it, and to pass legislation about it. The columns and photos are then passed on to the layout department, who choose the right colors and fonts, and intersperse it with ads for the latest bestseller by an upper middle class college graduate’s spiritual journey through the very lands that are now underwater. (Tellingly, when an American wants to go Buddhist, she will go buy books and a yoga mat and blog about her “experience,” rather than simply squatting down in the dirt and doing the work of erasing the self.)

We at Clearinghouse embrace action words as a translation of abstraction into action. It is not enough, either practically or artistically, to simply frame the most elegant re-statement of the real. And so this second issue, “Content Management,” is a continuation of our attempt to deal with this rational diarrhoea, the tendency to produce content, rather than to physically re-organize the world. For this issue, the old artistic products of our contributors have been chopped and cropped, folded and molded, and, crucially, sent away, in the faint hope that some of the poorly-expressed and rough thoughts contained therein might spark the most minute human interaction with our readers. (Yes, laughing counts.) There is nothing we the editors enjoy less than to be ensconced in stacks of dead ideas. Perhaps it is the case that ideas have expiration dates, beyond which they are not a help but a hindrance.

Some of our readers may spy the irony—and therein the kernel—of “Content Management”: that the magazine is but the residue of a process, the forceful answer to the question we’ve been asking ourselves, namely “What do you do all day?” The answer being “We suspend production of things made to last in exchange for processing culture the way water processes stone in the making of a canyon” and not “We erect headstones for ideas and feelings that are transitory and meant to be one movement in an evolving process, thereby extracting their purpose and pulling them from the game, taking them off the field.”

And so on and so on.

Dan Nelson, editor”

[There was little to no response to these first two issues. Only later did I find that the reactions of a couple of the recipients amounted to disgust that I was sending them “a bunch of junk that had been sitting on my desk.” While this was factual, they failed to see many things that I thought they would see: humor (god forbid); the implication that we allow junk to enter our consciousness every day in the form of magazines, books, websites, etc. and to wonder how art was different from this “stuff”; potentially useful material within all the “content.”]

“Content Management” (2010), issue #2 of Clearinghouse Publishers with accompanying letter.