What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?
My official title is Archival Assistant for the Time-Based Media Collection. I am part of a broad, comprehensive effort to preserve all of the film, video, and audio assets at the museum. My main task is to create an archive that will house the photographs, letters, reports, posters, slides, and memos that provide context for the media materials. These papers help tell the fascinating history of film in Pittsburgh. I am working to preserve the records and taking steps to make them available to everyone inside and outside the museum. Some materials will even be scanned and put online. Overall, my goal is to make this information readily accessible so more people can use it for research. I hope my work helps others discover the city’s unique, exciting, and influential film scene.
Film still from Discarded: Joachim Schmid and the Anti-Museum © Carnegie Museum of Art.
“I am an artist because there is no other description for what I do.”
These are the surprisingly telling words of Joachim Schmid, a Berlin-based artist who has spent more than 30 years of his career working with found photographs. The majority of his projects have involved gathering and re-presenting photographs—both print and digital—taken by the anonymous public. Oftentimes intentionally discarded by their creators, Schmid’s source materials would, but for him, disappear into the physical or virtual trash heap. Instead, Schmid’s “anti-museum” of forgotten, lost, and disused photographs, challenges us to reconsider not only our assumptions of photographic worth, but also how photography and collecting function as cultural practices.
Briggs’s office in a Wilkinsburg firehouse that she converted to a studio for her art practice back in 2009. Photograph courtesy of Dee Briggs Studio.
Arriving at the firehouse-turned-studio where sculptor and architect Dee Briggs centers her art practice, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that you’ve stumbled upon a well-kept secret. Located in Wilkinsburg, a small town just outside of Pittsburgh that’s become better known in recent years for its economic decline rather than its prosperous history, the building is partially obscured from public view by an abandoned house that towers over nearby Swissvale Avenue. In fact, nearly every street within walking distance of Briggs’s studio features either a vacant lot or an abandoned home, nature quietly reclaiming the open spaces and derelict structures in a tangle of thistles and ivy. The reality outside her front door, however, is not lost on Briggs. Instead it’s an issue that occupies her thoughts and informs her work.
From Cory Arcangel’s Working on My Novel.
I wonder whether there will ever be enough tranquility under modern circumstances to allow our contemporary Wordsworth to recollect anything. I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness that characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction. —Saul Bellow, the Art of Fiction No. 37, 1966
Cory Arcangel’s new book, Working on My Novel—based on the Twitter feed of the same name—is a compilation of tweets from people who are putatively at work on novels. No more, no less. On Twitter, this concept feels merely clever; printed and bound as a novel would be, though, it becomes a vexed look at novels’ position in the culture, and a sad monument to distraction.
Maggie’s Dundee, 2003. Architect: Frank Gehry. Photograph © Raf Makda.
On Thursday, September 18, Scotland votes on independence. Over four centuries after the English and Scottish crowns joined forces, and over three centuries after the original Act of Union, the people of Scotland will democratically elect to remain within or abandon the ideal of a United Kingdom
. When Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh, in 1835, such rupture would have seemed incredible as the British Empire ruled approximately a fifth of the world’s population and one quarter of the Earth’s land area.