Friday, July 29, 2011

Aesthetics of mediation and teeth


Teeth whitening is a public act.

One's eyes do not directly see one's teeth.

In less mediated times, one would most often see one's teeth in the reflection of a mirror; it must be assumed, and quite reasonably, that this viewing took place in a private space.

The most effective advertisement for teeth-whitening may be that which takes place completely as a side effect of social networking and the disembodiment of experience entailed by this transubstantiation from the private to the public, from being-as-seeing to being-seen: the avatar.

The experience of the self as an image is no longer limited to private viewing and taken for granted in life outside of these mirrored spaces. The reflection is now public, "iconic," and, further, it is fixed.

Thus the comparative whiteness of teeth is no longer the stuff of subjective oblivion, and, in the hyper-realizing of the moment fixed by a flash, no longer a minor detail overwhelmed by a far greater manifold of minor details in dynamic and lived space.

If "reality" is in some meaningful and even empirical way able to be understood as a product of mediation, is there a qualifiable difference in the aspect of reality between whitening one's teeth with bleach versus whitening one's teeth with photoshop?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Aesthetics of sleeplessness

I couldn't sleep very much last night but when I did I had a weird dream.

The heat is too much I suppose. I woke up at 1 am and drank two glasses of water.

It looked like there was going to be a big storm and I could see flares of lightning somewhere else but then when it rained it lasted for about one minute.

I put on my tape of "gentle rain" and after it had ended I was still awake.

I have gotten two more sounds of nature tapes: one is a "thundering rainstorm" and the other is "the oceans relaxing surf." They are not very good.

I would be pleased to find there were a tape of a rainstorm that didn't sound real.

And I was thinking about what the market for these tapes was like. Someone probably paid something like $14 for these tapes 20 years ago at some music store in a mall. And the tapes were released by actual record labels.

And there was a huge bewildering cultural situation in which all of this happened, and it makes me think of the architecture and design of the mall just to imagine anything about the sounds of nature tapes. The mall was full of burgundy, and people could smoke inside of it. I feel like that little facet makes the time that has passed seem so foreign.

The meaning of things consist in so many little details beyond the thing itself.

"Gentle Rain" is a product of the conditions of its time and place, of the ideology which made it possible as a commodity.

It was another time.

I know that the rain I am listening to is rain from 1987, when the mall was lined with burgundy carpet and burgundy paneling and burgundy benches and people could smoke in it and put their ashes into burgundy ash trays.

The mall seemed so much more personal in its homeliness.

I have been thinking of the title "Sleepless" for an imaginary film, and I think it would have something to do with tapes of nature.

The sound of rain must only work as a sleeping aid if you can stop thinking about what it means that it's on a tape. (But then again, I wonder if its efficacy for the people of 1987 wasn't precisely in the opposite of this? The little details that compose its meaning. And what is the sound of nature anyway? Whatever it is, if it is there, couldn't you not escape it?)

Boredom itself is misunderstood. Boredom itself is engrossing.

When we sleep we experience nothing and when we fail to sleep we experience nothing, ie nothingness. In the former, nothing is a negative state. In the latter, it is a positive. Sleep is an escape and sleeplessness is a pursuit.

What is sought?

More importantly, what is the seeking?

Time itself is institutionalized beyond biology. Sleepless, we are out of time.

It is a desperate pursuit and a desperate fleeing, from anxiety to nothingness.

In banal desperation I turn on the television, hoping to be bored back to sleep as bluish static, like particles sputtering from the screen penetrates the sheet over my head and bores into my skin and my sandy, circled eyes.

Sleeplessness wins in spite of banality and boredom, and so I seek engrossment.

Most infomercials I find are for exercise machines and routines and pills. There are elastic bras and body-shapers, articles conflating containment and clothing. One imagines the bodies. Some are scams preying on these bodies, these desperate bodies, promising the secrets to gaining riches and luxury vacations, all as an unthinking middleman on the real estate market or eBay. Of course there are gadgets. I suppose there would be less market space for music collections, and needless to say, the payers of paid programming aren't actually that interested in providing me with aesthetic reverie, but the splendors of positive boredom Time Life has endowed my life from time to time number many hours.

Infomercials are both meant to be enjoyed and not meant to be enjoyed. They have an aesthetic value entirely in spite of themselves, yet this value is derived from precisely everything that they are. Deceit is given its most honest exposition in these productions.

What one feels, adrift in the negatives that constitute the target audience for infomercials - nonsleeping, underemployed, disenchanted - is dread. This is the sublime dread of the existentialists, when finally the stark wasteland underneath all the distraction is revealed, in its collapse, to be nothing, and to have been nothing all along. The production functions perfectly, and nothing more.

This "nothing more" is the void.

Harsh static set to images.

Smiley-faced demons prodding the smiley-faced damned.

Pulled to sea in the surf of a muzak version of a Jan and Dean song in a broken elevator, never ending.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hospital aesthetics

I want to say there is no more desperate object than the television over the hospital bed, but then I remember the one in the living room.

And I feel like this is one of those things I want to say but won't because it would sound baffling. But the fact that it would sound baffling is precisely the problem; there doesn't seem to be anything alarming about the idea that one might die in the midst of an episode of "According To Jim." And why? Because nothing else was on?