This is a course I am teaching at the Parallel University (see http://web.me.com/sandysampson/Parallel_University/HOME.html ). To be enrolled, simply go there and sign up; but feel free to comment here as an "auditor." The main thrust of this course is conversation; a dialectic on the uses of art, its experience as lived everyday (outside of the signed precincts of “art”), and the proposal of some specific projects for public domain use; as the basis for discussion (responses welcomed); and for revision and rethinking. Any and all are free to put a project into practice; no credit is needed for this author. A project may be changed for use, or overwritten completely. It is wished that the concepts themselves will act as art, at the very least provoking thought if not discussion. Here then are the first few projects.

Nick Thabit
Adjunct Professor
Parallel University


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I am the eggman. They are the eggmen. I am the walrus.
John Lennon

A time-based art for two. Create two large luminous "eggs" from translucent styrofoam (about 8' high, 4' diam. at the widest), put an amber light inside, provide a human-sized entrance on the back and a small visor on the front. The eggs should be installed in a public space that encourages interaction, such as a cafe or other "hang" space, allowing easy access for those wishing to continue exploration. Two participants (acquainted or not) write an everyday message, a fragment of conversation and display it on the fronts of their respective eggs. To create a message: attach words, stamped into small (1-2" x 3-4") thick metal plates, on the front, in a jagged, fragmented way, clustered near the egg's center, first words higher than the last. For example, "Hey, Trina, haven't seen you around in a while." The spoken words are a coherent sentence, but their fragmentation here points up the autonomous nature of their existence: they perform only as signs, and do not in any configuration convey the infinity without our presumed "self"; the ocean aside the preamble, waiting eternally.

The two participants, after displaying their messages, enter the eggs, read the other's message and reflect on identity, and separation; on the unspoken; on being, and the fragmentary nature of speech. The participants engage in this exercise three times, each instance being at least two weeks apart. Each time, the experience of "double isolation" brings a new understanding of the mediating power of words and perhaps a sense of new possibilities in communication. What do two reasoning people want to say to each other, behind the words? That is the question.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who Are You?

I think understanding the concept of relationship as art is much more worthwhile than trying to make art out of relationships. Example: our relationship with Blaise Cendrars, writer, who had an impossible backstory; no one quite sure who he was or where he came from, or what he had done, or what his books were about. But both he, and his books, were so compelling you had to think about him, to grapple with the mystery. 50 years after his death, the mystery deepens to fulfillment; the void cannot be more “saturated” with nothingness. And people begin to worship... So the neighbor as stranger is more perfectly art, as long as he/she makes her/himself compellingly strange; or rather, unknown...

A dubious proposition to be sure. But instead of everybody telling everybody everything they know, and boring them to tears with tales of their supermarket trip and their mother calling and so on, they can meet their neighbor to exchange cryptic words with him; let them sum up their inner self with three 3 words - and leave; or say three cities they lived in. We are left to wonder. Make the neighbor more mysterious not less. Let us imagine...

What is compelling about you? Tell me, not what is “comforting” about you. I don't want to know. Keep me puzzled, not posted. Live within your spirit. Keep your eyes on the prize/the sidewalk/the self and speak only of conduct, ethics, and industrial parks.

Make of the world a mystery, profoundly fecund with your innermost thoughts and feel-ings, a mystery dazzling and inefficient, not remembered for its details but gasping for breath, we point upward, all the time.

Go to your local Hardware store and sing! And when the cops throw you out, throw a bunch of pamplets in the air that mean nothing!

Down with intellectual capitalism!

struck down, the radio towers of false reason

the world has ended; what are you doing now?

Author's note: It so happens that I found a detailed bio of Msr. Cendrars in Wikipedia (although it leaves out a lot; it is probably all made up.); it does not change anything.

Recovered Spacecraft TBA

The piece: A sculpture in 4-7 parts, placed around the park or the city, that would take days to "see". Abstract black forms half organic-half geometric: pieces that of the internal combustion engine of a rocket ship , circa 1948, all painted dusty black, with signage to tell you what part, and the final piece found in the series (in an obscure place; located with direction from an earlier piece) with brief yet confusing explanation of a space voyage reputed to have taken place in that year; but no mention of the astronauts, sponsor, (private?) or any other useful information. stuff must look old, though. and also look like “art.” Like, cool.

There will be vague intimations of an unexpected outrageous success of this voyage but also a failure on re-entry; while in flight, something transcendent happened , although to this day scientists still can't figure out why (or what). I want to make people believe it actually happened, and also to imagine, decide what actually happened. All their fears, their hopes, their dreams will be tied up in this piece of confusing metal. Then the art is purposely (or not?) vandalized, messed up and dutifully removed by the city (not) that put it up (also not; we did). After which a local paper runs a story about it, ending with a call for info: anyone who knows anything more about the supposed flight is to write in their memories or knowledge, which will be printed up. I want to see what happens then! After those pieces are published you can admit the whole thing. Or not.

By this time , the sculpture is complete. Took a while, did it?

reponse: realself@hotmail.com