AIDS-3D: Witch House Forerunners or Pitch-Shifting Anomaly?

This post has been on the back-burner for awhile now. I originally planned to write this up more than a month ago, but when I dove back into it, certain links and references I was planning to use seemed to have just… disappeared.

I was first clued in to the existence of AIDS-3D via Wikipedia’s “Witch House” page. On returning (Wire ref, yo),  I found the skeletal remains of Wiki’s take on witch house and any references to AIDS-3D and their connection to the scene excised. That’s the first oddity.

So, veering away from that dead end, I decided to revisit their official website, aids-3d.com, where I had previously downloaded several of their freely distributed tracks. But that trail has gone cold as well. At some point during the last couple of months, the site went dead, leaving me with the dozen or so tracks I had helped myself to months ago, but not much else in the way useful information.

What remains on the web deals almost exclusively with their physical art projects. There is little to no information on their music.

Here’s what we do know: AIDS-3D is a two-man art collective composed of Americans Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas, both of whom now reside in Germany. In addition to the OMG Obelisk featured above, AIDS-3D has also done several other art installations, including one in which they re-purposed sneeze guards.

There’s also this video, which features a alightly different mix of Spreading Love All Over the World  (found below) as interpreted by a dancer. (The video itself is part of a Vimeo group called “NOS: Naked on Stage,” so keep that in mind if clicking thru at work.)

We also have a little information about the group’s charming name itself: AIDS-3D. Definitely a provocative combination, but charmingly enough, the algorithmic output generated by a piece of software used by brand consultants to develop brand names — in this case, the brand consultant was… Daniel Keller’s mom.

Dan’s mom, is a well-known brand consultant, and she helped develop the AIDS-3D trademark for us. She uses a fairly complicated computer program to develop ‘brand-idents’ for her clients. This program (I can’t remember the name of it), simulates suggestibility/response levels in various microdemographics using a huge amalgamation of data like google searches, brainwave scanning, credit reports, numerology, psychoanalytic statistics, etc. The program suggested AIDS-3D as a perfect fusion of our mutual interests in contemporary art, social activism and state-of-the-art technology.

Now, there seems to be no direct link between the pitch manipulations of AIDS-3D’s remix work and the DJ Screw emulations of several members of the witch house genre. The most probable explanation is that AIDS-3D performed these deconstructions on their own and witch housers found something they liked — a kindred set of tempo-fuckers and welcomed them unofficially into the fold, as a sort of after-the-fact association.  The dates listed on their former mp3 page (page is dead, but oddly enough, hosting still seems to alive [or archive.org does a much more thorough job than I thought] — most of the tracks are still downloadable) range from 2007-2009, putting them very slightly ahead of the witch house curve.

AIDS-3D still maintains an active Soundcloud page but the tracks featured there include none of the work that was archived at their now-dead website. One of their uploads is the improbably titled North Face® Winter 2012 Mens SmartPhone Demo, which is, in fact, none of the things listed in the name. It’s a mixtape that flows like a DJ set played on the world’s shittiest set of belt drive turntables. The tempo shifts up and down, going from “walking underwater” speed to post-happy-hardcore 200 BPM freeform techno.

No attempt is made to “normalize” any of this set (bpm, vox, etc.), because, honestly, when you’re already this far beyond the “DJ set pale,” why even bother. It’s an experience that many would dismiss with the left-handed compliment “interesting,” if not bypassing niceties completely and dismissing it as “fucking annoying.” It is (“interesting”) and it isn’t (annoying). And it is definitely worth a listen. (It runs at 666.0 BPM, apparently):


Now that we’ve explored this dead end, let’s move on to the music I (apparently) salvaged from the defunct aids-3d.com, most of which was filed under the heading “11 Songs I Like More When I Slow Them Down.”

AIDS-3D – RushRush.mp3

Skyscrapers and ultraviolence, cruising at warp speed in a faux NYC, driving a faux sports car, looking for faux trouble, Radio Flashback cranked All The Way Up. “Rush rush get the yayo.” Cocaine makes the world go ’round.

AIDS-3D takes one of my favorite tracks from the Grand Theft Auto III soundtrack and sedates the hell out of it. Throwing the brakes on Blondie’s ode to the Drug of the Eighties, AIDS-3D turns Rush Rush into the zombified shuffle of a burnout. It still retains some of its reckless cheerfulness, but the pitch-shifting turns the vocals into the time-stands-still molasses drip of forced withdrawal (and takes them right up to the edge of farcical “Techno Vocals.”)

AIDS-3D – Spreading Love All Over the World (Moore’s Law Remix).mp3

There’s a bit of a nerdy joke contained within this track. Familiarity with the law itself is a bonus as it explains AIDS-3D’s insistence on spinning the dials to infinity, taking the bpm from “casual stroll” to “Six Million Dollar Man.” Not completely unprecedented (see also: Moby’s Thousand) but still enjoyable.

Much like blogging, fucking with electronics to build yourself an in-joke is its own reward: the joy of expression that is (mostly) undeterred by a lack of attention. “If nothing else, I’m amusing myself.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

AIDS-3D – Girl

AIDS-3D takes on Suicide’s Girl because musical antagonists make the best music, especially when combined. Confrontational minimalists Suicide get confronted by transplanted Germans with a knack for running the pitch well below zero. Alan Vega’s gasps, moans and half-croon/half-choke vocals take on even more weight as they’re dialed back into hellish invocation territory. At 11 minutes, this one might run a bit long, but that’s the way AIDS-3D rolls, but rest assured, it doesn’t seem anywhere near that long, perhaps do to the fact that the audio drops completely out around the 6-minute mark.

AIDS-3D – I Just Wanna Fuck.mp3

If several minutes of a remixed Suicide threnody is too much for you, why not unwind with whoever the fuck this is being unwound even further by AIDS-3D? Nothing fancy going on here. Just a screwed loop repeating over some beats that make click tracks look positively ostentatious. Again, not for everyone, but it does hold a bit of brutalist allure. Turn it up loud enough and you’ll hear some unexpected guitar strumming kick in about halfway through.

AIDS-3D – ZOMBIE.mp3

We’ll leave on a relatively high note. AIDS-3D takes on Zombie Nation’s colossal club hit Kernkraft 400. Oddly enough, the beat seems to pick up exactly where I Just Wanna Fuck left off, leading me to speculate that some of these tracks may have been part of a larger mix at one point.

Like every other track here, it’s nothing as simple as simply turning the dials to the left. Most of AIDS-3D’s reworks sound as if they’ve actually done their own drum programming, rather than just rely on the pitched-down tempo to do all the heavy rhythmic lifting.  If you’re interested in more, well… I’m not sure what to tell you. Normally, I’d say something like “go to AIDS-3D’s site to pick up more” but all that would get you is your favorite browser’s impersonation of an Alzheimer’s patient. (Save yourself and your browser the embarrassment and sneak up on it via archive.org.)

If nothing else, AIDS-3D will continue on as an artistic entity, while their musical efforts will apparently be largely secondary. Travelling slightly ahead of witch house makes for some entertaining theories but beyond that all we’ve got is a chunk of speculation and a dead website. THESE THINGS HAPPEN. I’m going to keep poking around. If I find anything, I’ll be dropping it off here.

/s/CLT

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9 Comments

Filed under Electronica, Remixes

9 responses to “AIDS-3D: Witch House Forerunners or Pitch-Shifting Anomaly?

  1. Atavistic

    “Dan’s mom, is a well-known brand consultant, and she helped develop the AIDS-3D trademark for us. She uses a fairly complicated computer program to develop ‘brand-idents’ for her clients. This program (I can’t remember the name of it), simulates suggestibility/response levels in various microdemographics using a huge amalgamation of data like google searches, brainwave scanning, credit reports, numerology, psychoanalytic statistics, etc. The program suggested AIDS-3D as a perfect fusion of our mutual interests in contemporary art, social activism and state-of-the-art technology.”

    That is plain silly.

  2. imaitland

    If you want the witch house connect here it is: The Michigan Arts Focused Private High School where Aids 3d and ‘Witch House’ OGs SALEM were contemporaries. Aids-3d’s chopped and skrewed mixes were ahead of the (Caucasian) curve for sure (so too were their .jpg smorgasbords – uhh Tumblr anyone?) and i think they got hits on their site for that. Then they (Dan & Nik) linked up Salem on Myspace and Salem got linked up with the Euro Net Art brigade that Aids-3d run/ran with. I remember Petra Cortwright linking up Salem on her myspace after Aids-3d and probably more people. Then there was a record label – Disaro Records that I think had Aids-3d first, and then Salem and a whole bunch of other currently peaking/peaked WH artists like ‘King dude’ and ‘Hype Williams’ ‘White Ring’ (http://www.myspace.com/ffdisaro) yadda yadda…

    The more interesting thing that your article touches on is that the aids-3d website was a bit like a patient zero for more than just witch house. It also nailed down a kind of ‘spectacular hey look at that’ pointing attitude / philosophy that typifies a current direction in modern art / life. (e.g. sneeze guards – access to the artwork is the same as learning a new language – like your mother pointing at a ‘tree’ and you learning the word ‘tree’ in that way. Modern art or Aids-3d’s art teaches you their language…points at a ‘sneeze guard’ and suddenly you have learnt the word ‘sneeze guard’. In this video the pointing is to ‘loading screens’ and suddenly you have learnt a whole new word – loading screens –

    For a time Aids-3d’s early art was almost wholly culled from the ‘suggested videos’ bar of You Tube and Daily motion. http://www.whokilledbambi.co.uk/tag/aids-3d/
    CF.
    Hand-Held Flaming balls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzkNI4YIU2o
    and
    I can’t find the how to for the mirror/face effect.

    Anyway, this ‘pointing’ or more prosaically culling could be called ‘Hiip Streaming’ subcutaneous strands in the internet soup. Learnt perhaps by first hip-streaming DJ Skrew has led Aids-3d to a more sophisticated / influential practice.

    They are the progenitors of this kind of thing: http://www.visual-aids.org/
    Which by Hip-Streaming Arab Race/Drift Culture =

    All that without saying anything about the domination of nature. And the abstract and self-contained nature of language, which is a bit more interesting. Yours Faithfully, Aids 3d no.1 Fan Girl.

    • Atavistic

      Seriously?

      I’m pretty sure I know what a forward slash means in the English usage. In most cases, it used to replace the word “or.” Given that one is saving a single key stroke, it indicates debilitating laziness. The forward slash may also be used to indicate a joining between two concepts, words, or the like (e.g. the 2011/2012 NFL season). In this usage, a hyphen will usually work just as well, but the forward slash can add clarity if you are using hyphenated words (e.g. a three-day/four-night stay).

      My complaint here is with the first usage. Lazy writing is the progeny of lazy thinking.

      How can one seriously claim there is a “‘spectacular hey look at that’ pointing philosophy” or that it “typifies a current direction in modern art”? The forward slash in “attitude/philosophy” treats the two concepts as if they are equals in a way using “or” would not. Same with modern “art/life.” The writer’s use of the words “art” and “philosophy” is parasitic rather than descriptive. The forward slash conceals the freeloading in verbal frippery.

      Further, I seriously doubt AIDS-3D taught anyone the word “sneeze guard.” The same applies to “loading screens.” And if it did, and that qualifies it as art, than your definition of art is so broad it is meaningless.

      Which is the point. The sneeze guards and “Vatican Vibes” are not art. They are the type of thing a fifteen-year-old makes years before he or she begins making art. They indicate interest, perhaps talent, but art they ain’t.

      • imaitland

        Woah easy there Lenny, no one knows what hard/lazy thinking looks /sounds like. If you scrunch up your face, frown or pace the room it doesn’t make you play a better game of chess. Rather the proof is in the pudding, you win the game. But this isn’t even a game of chess, it’s a non-competitive and informal forum for delivering ideological/theoretical/critical payloads. The fact that your payload amounts to: “The sneeze guards and “Vatican Vibes” are not art.” The sort of art criticism that was blown out of the water about 100 years ago by Marcel et al…makes you look like the parasite.

        But yeah. I’ve got my theories and since you asked here they are:

        Looking at and reading the label on a bottle of ‘Pabst Blue Ribbon’ beer.

        There is a sentence that reads.

        “This is the Original Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. Nature’s choicest products provide its prized flavor. Only the finest of hops and grains are used. Selected as America’s Best in 1893.”

        As compared to the industrial processes that produced the beer the sentence is wide of the mark.

        Yet we cannot help but enter into the spirit of sentence.

        “This is in fact a ‘quality’ beer. Perhaps even of rare quality. If only the words could do it justice. If they are true, why, At that point it would become irresistible.”

        It is asif our minds have been momentarily invaded by an anodyne and banal but logically foreceful lance that goes to the heart of our agency.

        I bought the beer and autistic Children chant advertising slogans.

        The effort must be to position the sentence correctly so that we can deflect the compulsive ramifications of taking it at face value.

        So taking one word as we might take any of the words

        ”Original” is a word which can be used in different ways.

        “The original phone call ”
        “The original thought has been lost”
        “Original writing is hard to find”

        In each instance the word ‘original’ shares characteristics with every other instance without meaning exactly the same thing.

        A family share facial characteristics but putting your finger on these shared characteristics remains difficult.

        When we were learning what ‘Original’ means. Well, someone or something was pointing at something in the world and saying ‘Original’ and gradually we learned how to recognize the word ‘original’ by what it pointed to in the world and the repeated concurrence of ‘original’ and that thing in the world, even if it was just the happenstance of the pointing, and a certain situational or circumstantial ‘feeling’.

        In those later cases, when ‘Original’ did not seem to point to anything in the real world but still held meaning. Then we began to understand that perhaps the word ‘original’ was self contained and that it need not strike the world as really constituted. Asif the logical lance might not always have to nail us to the world. Rather we saw that it was just a family name and we could decide which member of that family we were dealing with.

        The realization is that what a word points to is imagined. It exists outside of the factual relationship that the word has with the seemingly real thing that it seemingly points to in the real world, essentially its face value or its value at the moment of the first pointing.

        Our Mother’s Tounge.

        This realization need not obliviate the usefulness of words. Nor might it lead us to the conclusion that words themselves are not real or that they cannot attach themselves to reality.

        We always accept the word at its face value.

        It is like examining an object at a flea market. We first pretend that it is real so that we can properly assess how short of the mark it falls.

        With time we realise that in actual fact there is no absolute congruence even amongst those articles which we can call ‘the real thing’ or ‘originals’ In fact our own yardstick might itself have been a fake all along.

        We thereafter carry around a set of variations to compare. (The family again.)

        In this way the face value of a word like ‘Original’ is acknowledged (we enter into the spirit of the game) before working to assign it the proper family identity.

        The work is not in the process but in dealing with the risk of being disappointed. We learn a nostalgia for the illusory ‘truth’ of some original pointing because despite expanding and culling the family of things that a single word might point to they sometimes fall short.

        We get it wrong.

        In the case of PBR ‘Original’ points to the authentic quality of the beer. It is a pointedness with real world ramifications, that we check by remembering that we are just imaging what the word points to, and for that we can assign its pointedness ourselves.

        ‘Original’ is being used to market and boost the beer. We therefore engage with the word appropriately.

        Basically ‘Take it with a pinch of salt’ or ignore it altogether.

        What I mean by Aids-3d’s ‘Spectacular hey look at that’ attitude/philosophy is that they are mothering us. That is pointing at something in the world and giving it a name.

        In particular they are doing this in a spectacular and commofied world. One of beurocratic implements like sneeze guards and decoy electronic article surveillance. And activities associated with real-world virtue reduced to consumable-marketing-heavy-non-products like charity and performance enhancing wristbands.

        Yes I too was aware that sneeze guards existed, and obviously loading screens too.

        What I was not wholly aware was that what they meant or could mean to me was self contained and can be decided upon as I see fit, rather than as the forces of global capital decide. In fact Aids-3d decided to elevate them to art. Or rather elevate the idea of recrudescing the spectacular/beurocratic quagmire in which we are forced to exist to art.

        That is what I mean by the ‘hey look at that’ pointing that typifies a current trend in modern art.
        More fun stuff here:

        http://dismagazine.com/

        The best way to describe this is as an attitude, and considering its sophistication, a philosophy so why not attitude/philosophy? (That question is rhetorical.)

        In essence a lingustic trick played out in a gallery, magazine or website, itself set within the spectacular field of its own re-purposing. The net-result (geddit) being main-stream impact, a change effected. This must be considered higher order human achievement.

        Certainly more than this. Peace.

  3. Atavistic

    “Woah easy there Lenny, no one knows what hard/lazy thinking looks /sounds like.”
    Actually, I think the difference is usually obvious.
    “If you scrunch up your face, frown or pace the room it doesn’t make you play a better game of chess. Rather the proof is in the pudding, you win the game. But this isn’t even a game of chess, it’s a non-competitive and informal forum for delivering ideological/theoretical/critical payloads. The fact that your payload amounts to: “The sneeze guards and “Vatican Vibes” are not art.” The sort of art criticism that was blown out of the water about 100 years ago by Marcel et al…makes you look like the parasite.”
    A few things here: First, you state whatever we are doing here is noncompetitive, but then imply I’ve lost. I’m fine with either, but please pick one. Second, Dechamp’s Fountain doesn’t apply because Dechamp had originality and Dada’s quasi-philosophy going for him. AIDS-3D has neither. Repeating Dada a century later isn’t art, it is uninspired mimicry. Monkeys can mimic. Third, I’m not so sure Dechamp blew the debate regarding what is or isn’t art out of the water. The debate resumes every year around the time the short list for Tuner Prize is announced. The fiat artists (i.e. I say it is art, therefore it is) have never been on firm ground.
    You go on about words and their relationship to meaning, etc. I’m familiar with structuralism and postmodernism.
    “What I mean by Aids-3d’s ‘Spectacular hey look at that’ attitude/philosophy is that they are mothering us. That is pointing at something in the world and giving it a name.”
    How does that work? Both sneeze guards and loading screens already had names.
    “Yes I too was aware that sneeze guards existed, and obviously loading screens too.”
    So why did you say otherwise (or at least assume others didn’t know)?
    “What I was not wholly aware was that what they meant or could mean to me was self contained and can be decided upon as I see fit, rather than as the forces of global capital decide. In fact Aids-3d decided to elevate them to art. Or rather elevate the idea of recrudescing the spectacular/beurocratic quagmire in which we are forced to exist to art.”
    You might need to explain this. Do you mean that AIDS-3D somehow liberated the meaning of the word “sneeze guard” from its bourgeoisie moorings? That seems ridiculous for many reasons, one of which is the truly bourgeoisie don’t frequent places with sneeze guards. Or perhaps you mean that AIDS-3D elevated sneeze guards from its proletarian status to the realm of art.
    “In essence a lingustic [sic] trick played out in a gallery.”
    Playing out linguistic tricks in a gallery is about the fastest way to make art self-referencing, insipid, and irrelevant. It shifts the trajectory shifts from art to arty. Which brings us back to the point. What AIDS-3D does is arty, not art.
    “This must be considered higher order human achievement.”
    Nope.

  4. wwwjfnkjck

    imaitland wins.

    • You can’t declare yourself the winner, imaitland. At least not if you don’t have the common sense to enter a bogus email address. Not only that, but your avatar is linked to your IP. Same IP, same generated avatar.

      This could be passed off as a form of satirical gamesmanship I suppose, if someone other than me had suggested it.

      I do appreciate you giving me the background on AIDS-3D’s link to the witch house genre, which Wikipedia is apparently going to edit out of existence. I think it’s real but is it notable? Other people with more time and administration privileges are voting “no.”

      As for this art discussion… I’m not going to jump into this one. The music is what drew me to AIDS-3D, not the sneeze guards or the OMG Obelisk (although I do kind of like that one… sort of a pre-Tumblr experience, if you follow). The music is still my main fascination and I’m not going to display my limited skill set re: art criticism because a.) I try not to flaunt my weaknesses and b.) I’m really not interested in debating the merits of something that plays second-pitched-down fiddle to the music I’m writing about.

      Also c.) I’m not going to tangle with Atavistic, whom I’ve known nearly my entire life. He’s incredibly intelligent and highly opinionated. And if he’s wrong, it’s not very often and he’s the first to admit it.

      I was enjoying this give and take, but I’m not about to discuss the merits of this artist or that artist without very solid footing, something that is nearly impossible because of subjectivity and the fact that a lot of what is called art ceases to be anything more than its raw material without the viewers’ reactions.

      Keeping score in art is pointless. I’ve nearly completely given it up in my particular arena: music. No one’s “Wrong” about music. Some people are just more demanding than others. If you like the radio to provide your soundtrack, than that’s completely up to you (royal “you” deployed). I don’t and common ground is limited. The only part that is “wrong” is when the radio person decides to tell the demanding listener that what he listens to sucks. At this point, the undemanding listener is arguing “above their station” because they allow others to make their listening decisions for them and have no active role in their participation with this area of artistic endeavor.

      I am the radio listener when it comes to art. I don’t have the background and expertise to make statements about what is or isn’t art. So, I’m not going to jump in here and argue for or against sneeze guards and loading screens because of my personal shortcomings.

      However, this doesn’t excuse artists who toss something out there with a minimum of exposition and rely on the patrons and viewers to do all the mental heavy lifting.

      But, long-winded excuses aside, I also won’t argue with someone who declares themselves the “winner” via the most half-assed proxy ever.

      • wwwjfnkjck

        Didn’t want to sound repetitive…

        Let’s say you understand one meaning of the phrase ‘water sports’ you think of jet skiing, windsurfing, yachting etc… Then you are told that ‘water sports’ can also be used to describe a sexual fetish. ‘Water sports’ does not always mean the same thing in the ‘real’ world.

        Let’s say you understand one meaning of the word ‘love’ perhaps you think of love as it was originally taught to you, that love that your parents had or have for you. Then you hear someone say that they ‘love pancakes’ and someone else later on say that they ‘love with Ewan Mcgregor’s character in Star Wars.’ Finally perhaps someone you know tells you that they ‘love you’.

        In each case ‘Love’ does not mean the same thing, nor does it point to the same thing in the ‘real’ world each time it is used. Rather at each instance you work to assign some meaning to it. In the final instance it is more like agreeing with another person what that word means. It points to nothing ‘solid’ or tangible in the real world. Rather it is self contained in its existence somewhere between two people.

        Let’s say you understand one meaning of the word ‘Sneeze Guard’. Then Aids-3d points out another meaning. The meaning that it has as a piece of art. What has happened is that as with ‘Water Sports’ and as with ‘Love’ you learn and at the same time learn to agree upon a new meaning. A new pointing. A new word. A new language.

        By repeating that you are in fact aware of what Sneeze guards ‘have a name’ … You are like someone refusing to acknowledge that ‘Water Sports’ can mean more or something other than plain ‘Water Sports’. You have a sweet but ultimately naive nostalgia for words actually being anchored to the real world.

        As to the new meanings that arise from Aids-3d new pointing. Ideally this discussion in a more advanced form would have been able to work on these meanings and in that way consider their influence (what excited me about this article). As it stands Atavistic has dismissed these meanings whole sale as not existing and ‘capitalist lion tamer’ has whinged:
        ‘… this doesn’t excuse artists who toss something out there with a minimum of exposition and rely on the patrons and viewers to do all the mental heavy lifting.’

        It is not as easy to dismiss by saying ‘Oh well everyone has a different opinion, it is all subjective. It relies on the viewer too much’. The activity is more philosophical than that. It could have been fun.

  5. Atavistic

    I believe you have mistaken what my complaint is w/r/t AIDS-3D. This has led you to spend a lot of key strokes on making a point in which I am in general agreement.

    You wrote: “You have a sweet but ultimately naive nostalgia for words actually being anchored to the real world.”

    This isn’t the case. Hardly anyone who has studied the subject believes that words are firmly anchored in the “real world.” (I assume by “real world” you actually mean all the stuff outside of language. Language is, after all, just as much part of the “real world” as water sports and love.) The word “cat” does not contain any essence of “cat-ness.” It is a more or less arbitrary arrangement of letters that a lot of people can read and have a good, general understanding of what I mean.

    Almost all of our language is like that. If enough people understand what someone means by a certain word or phrase, it become part of what is commonly called “general usage.” The only thing that makes the word “door” mean that thing that lets me go through a wall is that everyone else pretty much understands it to mean the same thing. There is no Platonic “door-ness” supporting it. The exception to this is onomatopoeia (i.e. words that sound like sounds, e.g. roar, boom, etc.). There really isn’t much debate on this. I certainly don’t debate it.

    There is debate regarding whether language authorities should be proscriptive or descriptive (and even a debate on if there are such thing a language authorities, a question raised the more militant descriptive camp). Words and their usage change over time, a fact everyone agrees upon. New words are invented and old words atrophy and die due to lack of use. Again, everyone agrees.

    The debate is over how one proceeds from this understanding. The proscriptive camp would state just because most people say “effect” when the mean “affect” doesn’t make “effect” mean the same thing as “affect.” The descriptive camp would say that if enough people use “effect” to mean “affect” than “effect” really does mean “affect.” Or, as Webster’s Third puts it, “Correctness rests upon usage.” Of course there are problems with this like: How much usage? Who’s usage? Surely not once, and surely not anyone. After all, we can’t throw out a perfectly good word just because a fifth grader gets his vowels wrong.

    The descriptive camp is right in the long run, but that doesn’t mean English professors shouldn’t let their students know that “a lot” is actually two words. (You can unpack this significantly, leading to stuff about class, the power of language, etc. etc., but fortunately we don’t need to for our purposes.).

    None of this gets around the fact that words do mean things. It only demonstrates that those meanings are fluid and a lot of heady stuff is written (which almost no one reads) about the who, what, when, where, and why of correct usage. (And before you go off on some Foucault or Derrida-inspired rant, you brought up the whole thing about words – not texts or narratives or anything more substantial.).

    But what should be apparent from all of this, what both the proscriptive and descriptive camps would agree upon, is making sneeze guards art is not as simple as calling them art. That is outside purview of what D. F. Wallace calls the “seamy underbelly” of U.S. lexicography, except insofar as the proscriptively or descriptively defined word “art” may include sneeze guards.

    This is why I spent so many keystrokes on Dechamp and so few on wringing my hands about words and meaning. What Dechamp, as the first fiat artist (at least the first I’m hip to), showed with his Fountain was not that anything could be art, but the utter vacancy of a large part of art community. It changed things, there is no denying that. Since visual art didn’t have to be about the object itself, than it had to be about something else.

    That something else was art theory. Something could be brilliant, not because of the thing itself, but because of what the artist is “trying to do.” This Balkanized the art world into theoretical camps and made visual art about what was happening in journals, not in the gallery. It was less and less about art and more and more about the printed word.

    So what was my complaint with what you wrote? That you called what AIDS-3D is doing a philosophy and art. What you call “pointing” is not a philosophy. It may spring from a particular philosophy, but since you can’t help but have a philosophy, the fact that an act springs from a philosophy is hardly exciting, unique, or noteworthy. Philosophies rely on rationality and internal coherence, not the results of these things. AIDS-3D has decided that this “pointing” is important for some philosophic reason (even if unconscious), but it is not a philosophy itself. You had it right with “attitude.”

    And art? Your case for AIDS-3D’s sneeze guards is a bit confusing. Do you believe that the objects (i.e. the sneeze guards) are art? Or, do you believe that the act of naming them art is the art? In either case, my earlier statement still applies: Your definition of art is so broad it is meaningless.

    In the first case, if sneeze guards can be art, anything can be art if you can just get it into a gallery. That means gallery proprietors define what is and is not art. I don’t think you would agree with that. In the second case, if an artist calling something art makes it art, then you better get to defining what qualifies someone as an artist. Making art won’t do it, because you would have be an artist first (there is a chicken and egg problem).

    And then there is this:
    “Let’s say you understand one meaning of the word ‘Sneeze Guard’. Then Aids-3d points out another meaning. The meaning that it has as a piece of art. What has happened is that as with ‘Water Sports’ and as with ‘Love’ you learn and at the same time learn to agree upon a new meaning.”

    What if I disagree?

    “A new pointing.” Ok. Sure.

    “A new word.” Nope, same word. A new usage, maybe – but no more artistic than a child using a trashcan as a hat.

    “A new language.” Really? Now, we both know it AIDS-3D has not invented a language.

    And finally, there is this: The nail in the coffin w/r/t AIDS-3D being art-with-a-capital-A, artists, “[W]e’re big fans of The Secret” (from that Dejour interview). “We spend at least an [sic] 3 hours a week visualizing our hopes and dreams. It works!”

    Enduring is a boyish way. Sort of makes you want to pat them on the head and ensure they have enough bus fare.