Counterfactual Identity

Some of our activities have come in 2-week pairs, like Drawing & Painting, or Rapid Prototyping & Kickstarter. For the next 2 weeks we’ll be thinking about Identity with our Counterfactual Identity and Landscapes with a Corpse activities. So much contemporary art in the last 1/2 century has been about Identity. Even after all that powerful work our Wk 6 Artist OTW, Nikki S. Lee, was still able to come along and create work that’s fresh & compelling. She’s kind of the cheerleader for our Counterfactual Identity (CFID) activity. CFID can be a lot of fun. I hope, like Eva & Franco Mattes, you can embrace the prank-like fun in this activity, and also explore the truly powerful ideas it brings up. Full activity details on the Counterfactual Identity page!

A Better Website?

A while back Justin asked me about improving his website design. I’ve thought about all of your websites, and with no disrespect, I’ve come to the conclusion that almost all of you have the “wrong” theme! Less than 10% of you will ever be “bloggers,” yet over 90% of you have chosen “blogging” themes. I think almost all of you will be better able to put your most compelling online face forward with a “Portfolio” theme. Here’s a video where I explain what I mean and show you a bunch of great choices using free themes from

Picking a Design 4 Your Website from Glenn Zucman on Vimeo.

Discussion Qustions

Counterfactual Identity
If you’ve already done your CFID project by the time you meetup for discussion, you can share your experience. If you haven’t done it yet, you can talk about what Identity you’re thinking of creating, how you might go about it, and what sorts of reactions you might expect.

Eva & Franco Mattes
In projects like Luther Blissett, Darko Maver, Nike Ground, and many others, Eva & Franco Mattes have “hacked reality” or put “fake content” online and in the world. We live in a world where any blog could be fake or misleading. But it’s not only new media: the New York Times & NBC News also have perspectives, agendas, and cultural contexts. The 2001 photographer of the year, Brian Walski, was fired by the LA Times in 2003 for an altered photo of the Iraq war. Al Jazeera & Fox News broadcast pretty different content: is one “truth” and one “lie”?

What do you think of Eva & Franco Mattes many “pranks”? Are they deeply insightful cultural critiques? Or offensive breaks of our social contract?

Abstraction & Representation

I try to downplay subject matter because I’m afraid it limits how people think about pictures… ambiguity is as important as specificity. It becomes a beautiful dialog, a tightrope walk, between abstraction and representation.

— Wayne Thiebaud

In the video I talk about Kasmir Malevich’s idea of discovering the surface of painting. What is a painting to you? Is it a gold-framed “window” to step into another world? Or a “surface” on which an artist confronts formal elements like line, color, mass, texture? What do you think of Wayne Thiebaud’s idea that abstraction & representation are a kind of dance or balance in a work? Do you prefer works that are more representational? Do you prefer works that are more abstract? What do you make of a monochrome (single color canvas) by Ellsworth Kelly or Yves Klein?

Discussion Groups

The discussion groups with Jenn, Ricki, Heather & Shamir seem to be working pretty well. Remember, if these 4 times are bad for you, just send me an email and you can host another time slot that works better. Otherwise, be in touch with Jenn, Ricki, Heather or Shamir to stop in at one of their time slots. Note that Heather moved from Tue to Thu, so you can now do a Thursday discussion with Ricki at 6p or Heather at 9p

  • Wednesday 9p with Jenn / Jsolis91 at aol dot com
  • Thursday 6p with Ricki / cline dot ricki at gmail dot com
  • Thursday 9p with Heather / hmichellebencivengo at yahoo dot com
  • Saturday 2p with Shamir / shamir dot mohideen at gmail dot com
photo of Franco & Eva Mattes, clothed, in an inflatable swimming pool

Eva & Franco Mattes. Photo by Max Power.

Art Talk 9: Abstraction & Representation

Art Talk #9 – Abstraction & Representation from Glenn Zucman on Vimeo.

Art Talk #9 – Abstraction & Representation – CSULB, School of Art, Art 110, Intro to the Visual Arts.

Artist OTW 9: Eva & Franco Mattes

Eva and Franco Mattes from Glenn Zucman on Vimeo.

Mu gallery: It’s always six o’clock from robertanderson on Vimeo.

Nike Ground from Eva and Franco Mattes on Vimeo.

Eva and Franco Mattes
Nike Ground

In September 2003, together with our friends at Public Netbase, we set up a fake Nike advertisement campaign, including a public installation, a website and a performance. The news went out nationwide: "Karlsplatz, one of Vienna's main squares, is soon to be renamed Nikeplatz, and a huge monument in the shape of Nike's famous Swoosh logo will be built in Nikeplatz". The one-month campaign provoked the reactions of Vienna's citizens, city officials and the Nike group, which started legal action to put an end to this bizarre performance.

Recent CSULB Film & Electronic Arts graduate Raeha Keller talking about Eva & Franco Mattes.

Written by Glenn Zucman

BA, Psychology, University of Hawaii, MFA, Intermedia Art, Long Beach State. Host of American Public Media's "Border Patrol." Host of KBeach Radio's "Strange Angels." Interested in Identity Art that explores our Oracle-at-Delphi-like straddling of corporeal and virtual realms in our new media century. Civil rights in online space. 10 years...
Read more

Leave a Reply