Computer games and almost an opening.

Olle Essvik has been working on a computer game based on Beckets Waiting for Godot. A month ago he gave a presentation of the finished first part of it at Gallery 54, and I took the opportunity to record a short video. If you like to play the game you can do so at and should you want to learn more about the making of and thoughts behind it, you can read an interview in Swedish at and another in English over at Game Scenes.

Following that, Andreas Vesterlund is presenting the Skup Palet event week Your Mentality is Alert. It was a week-long process oriented collaboration which ended with not so much an “opening” as a “closing of the process so far.” In practice, it’s difficult to organize something which looks like an opening without interpreting it as one, but in the video Andreas tries his best to explain what has been going on and some of the ambitions going into it.

Both videos are in Swedish.

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Every once in a while I think I ought to be more serious in documenting these kinds of events in Gothenburg, but can’t seem to make good on my ruminations. If you enjoy these videos, or if you have suggestions on improvements, let me know and I’ll add your voice to the todo-choir.

Honestly, one of the things driving my ambition to make a more focused video blog is that I get to play with my old MIDI keyboard, and I’d have to finally learn After Effects properly to do titles and whatnot. In addition to, you know, providing a cultural service with above average editing and good taste.

Three Quarks for Master Mark; alt_cph 2010

I’m in Copenhagen at the alt_cph artfair. Unlike last year, I’m here on a technical assignment, as I and Jonas have been tasked to document the Skup Palet project with which Anna and Jan are participating. They’ve relocated 13 kids and two teachers from Hølstebro into the exhibition space, where they have daily classes. Read more about it on the alt_cph homepage as well as

It’s been great fun to see the project take off; just the logistics of transporting and housing all kids is daunting, but if you take into consideration that the parents had to be persuaded and the accompanying teachers are doing this on their own time, it’s bloody impressive. The kids have been extremely brave in the face of it all, and hardly flinch at all at being gawked at by the art-going public.

Jonas has been shooting video, I’m the sound guy which has had me wearing headphones and staring into space as if in a daze. I’m pretty sure that we’re visible in every picture anyone has taken so far, since we’re climbing all over the podium to get the awesome which Jonas keeps delivering. Should you want to see me looking confused, holding a microphone, you can do so in the video here:

Gay driving.

Almost ten years and a score ago, my family made landfall in Sweden and settled down in Hudiksvall. While dad worked at a concrete factory my mom was busy gestating what would become Tomasz. We stayed in Hudiksvall for two years and a week ago I briefly revisited the place.

Anna and Jan arranged for Markus Anteskog to show his work Virtual Waters with Skup Palet, and the cheapest way of getting the 1m×1m×1m works to Gothenburg was to rent a lorry and drive 1600 kilometers, returning with both art and artist properly secured.

With a merry “Right ho,” me and Petter set out in a giant Renault early Monday morning. Not five minutes had passed before I was frantically ringing the rental establishment for instructions on how to operate the non-cooperative sound system. They weren’t able to offer any help in the matter, so we turned to the Internet. Using a combination cellphones, wireless broadband and laptops, I soon had a question up on Metafilter and after a couple stops I had wrangled the player into submission. The car rattled too much for my spoken word podcasts to be audible, but Petters supply of rock music tided us over.

After an uneventful journey we met with Markus in Hudiksvall, lifted the God-awfully heavy boxes onto the lorry, and left looking for our hotel. Anna, in a gesture of motherly affection, had found a place north of Hudiksvall which judging from the pictures looked like a manor. Its webpage boasted of a fitness center, sauna and beautiful surroundings. We were to have luxuriant Italian toiletries and designer towels.

Imagine my shock upon discovering that the internets are not always faithful to the truth! The house was big-ish, but a glorified bed-and-breakfast rather than a grand guesthouse; A hard toffee was the only concession to luxury afforded us. The wifi was excellent, but I would gladly have settled for a slower connection in exchange for something more extravagante than Italian soap (no shampoo) and a backed–up shower drain. The towels might have been designed, but as one who has occasionally employed dirty shirts in lieu of traditional devices of absorption, my taste can hardly be called discriminating.

Anna, who had felt that she needed to compensate for the previously mentioned “motherly affection,” had unbeknownst to us called ahead and asked the proprietors to spare no efforts in making our stay as romantic as possible, since I and Petter had been eyeing each other for months and this would be the first time we’d be able to express the gay. Apparently, homosexuality hasn’t been invented in Bergsjö (population 1 243) which would explain the resulting tiptoeing. Also, the mirth expressed at the request of an additional duvet to the king-sized bed was better understood in light of Annas preplanning.

We had dinner at the one pizzeria which was licensed to sell beer, and trudged home. We’d been shown neither sauna nor fitness centre, and soon we fell asleep, with nary a fondle or caress. Breakfast was a toast–and–yoghurt affair, and pretty soon we were off in the truck again. The stereo had regressed to it’s previous state of being a broken piece of crap, and no amount of poking would convince it to work. I tried to entertain with the speaker of my cellphone, but Jay-Z just doesn’t carry the necessary oomph at such meagre volumes. We picked up Markus in Hudiksvall and off we went.

The highlight of the trip was having lunch at Dragon Gate, some twenty kilometres outside of Gävle. It’s an eight story Chinese pagoda with a surrounding wall, where you can eat lunch, get a massage or watch the largest collection of replica terracotta soldiers outside of China. We had spotted the place on our way up, and it was immensely gratifying to stop for a stir-fry, which we enjoyed in a dragon-shaped boat. Petter has already vowed to arrange any future wedding there, and I will most certainly recommend it to anyone going in that direction. The place is other-worldly; A mix of post-apocalyptic Chinese fortification combined with the concept of clave in Diamond Age.

With bellies full of tofu and rice, we continued the uneventful journey home. Long after dusk, with a lingering taste or french fries and coffee we’d picked up, and with lower backs bruised by unforgiving seats, we arrived in Gothenburg. Our precious content was delivered — art and artist in one piece, the latter only slightly worse for the wear — and we went our separate ways, sleeping the sleep of the well deserving. The show opened just the other day, and will be open until 28th March. Check out Skup Palet for more details on hours and so forth.

Proof of value

I’m learning to do silkscreen printing again, and I’m making all the mistakes one would expect; I Overexpose the film, don’t dry the mask properly and forget to harden the emulsion. Too much paint or too little; Too much pressure or too little. And I’m ordering paper samples like there’s no tomorrow.

As much as I look away with poorly hidden mirth when Jan is espousing the merits of one balsamico over another, I’m at the moment hip deep in primers on paper, absorption and paint. So where he has discerning taste buds, I have rough fingertips and Wikipedia. Slave to the geek within.

A month or so ago I became a member of KKV, a workshop for artists doing craft. There are welders, carpenters, printers and potters, and most of them are seriously dedicated to doing stuff by hand. They make me nervous, because I feel like a self-conscious cynic among optimists. This whole thing with materiality, and the high value of craft, sneaks up on me every once in a while. People at KKV talk about stuff as if the stuff was what mattered and not the social interpretation of the stuff.

Because we’re such tactile and fundamentally primitive creatures, it’s easy to understand this drive to interpret ones surroundings directly, and project meaning (and value) onto them so literally. Feel the grain of the paper. Look at the pearl-like coating of the paint. Well. Smell the coffee of fucking post-materiality, you sack of neurons!

Almost immediately when I started printing, I was reminded by a dialogue by Banks in Look Windward, where a human composer and an A.I. discuss the merits of art and the value of labour, when the former is not a result of the latter:

— You have to think like a mountain climber.
— Oh, do I?
— Yes. Some people take days, sweat buckets, endure pain and cold and risk injury and — in some cases – permanent death to achieve the summit of a mountain only to discover there a party of their peers freshly arrived by aircraft and enjoying a light picnic.
— If I was one of those climbers I’d be pretty damned annoyed.
— Well, it is considered rather impolite to land an aircraft on a summit which people are at that moment struggling up to the hard way, but it can and does happen. Good manners indicate that the picnic ought to be shared and that those who arrived by aircraft express awe and respect for the accomplishment of the climbers.
— The point, of course, is that the people who spent days and sweated buckets could also have taken an aircraft to the summit if all they’d wanted was to absorb the view. It is the struggle that they crave. The sense of achievement is produced by the route to and from the peak, not by the peak itself. It is just the fold between the pages.[…]
— How far do I have to take this analogy, Cr Ziller?
— You’ve made your point, but this mountain climber still wonders if he ought to re-educate his soul to the joys of flight and stepping out onto someone else’s summit.

I’ve done three posters so far, all of which in connection with events which Skup Palet has organised. The exhibition Dip To Black with Jesper Norda and Sara Lännerström, a book launch with Signe Vad, and the Textival party this Saturday. We’ve hung original, one-of-a-kind, prints in the rain and sleet as we would any poster; The hand-craft and resources are treated as disposable, instead of being numbered and sold as signed graphic art.

I’m at KKV because I’d like to find a middle ground between worshipping the craft and the idea. What is the value added of me printing posters by hand which just as well have been printed in an inkjet printer? There must be something more to being an artist than just calling them giclée prints, right? Even if you take the errors into account — the diminutive differences between copies caused by human inaccuracy — this bastion of human expression can be substituted with a randomness generator, so what’s the point of doing it by hand?

I’d argue that what I’m adding to the finished object is the time and labour, and more specifically, the marketing of time and labour. You might buy my numbered and signed prints if you knew that there was 40 minutes worth of work behind it, as opposed to the non-effort an inkjet offers. You’re paying for my discomfort so that you can hang my 40 minutes on your wall.

Up to a certain point you can argue that some art is “better” than other, after which it really becomes a question of taste and trends. Beyond a certain limit the inherent value of all that work, the hours learning and thinking and planning, is not something which you see in the resulting object. But if you’re told that it’s the result of six months of suffering and planning and execution? Why, you’d have to be truly monstrous not to appreciate the artistry.

Speaking of objects of desire, two things I want: The Rauschen 4 album and the complete Bembo Book font face family. I just redesigned the Skup Palet business cards, and although the Bembo is nice, I wouldn’t mind the lower x-height; This is what craft has reduced me to, soiling myself over type before the computer at night…