Nurse-Family Partnership

Just a note that Feb. 6th’s New Yorker was one of the top issues in many months, and the top of the top was Katherine Boo’s article on the Nurse-Family Partnership program in rural Louisiana. Unfortunately the article is not online, but they did post an interview, wherein she talks about the program and the article.

In fact, many young Louisiana mothers saw being in the program as status-enhancing—they loved to tell their friends, “I have my own private baby nurse.” This excitement tended to wear off, though, as the mothers realized that the nurses weren’t just coming to help them change diapers but to pressure them to quit smoking or return to high school or make other serious changes to improve the economic and emotional stability of their child.

It’s a social program that’s actually resulting in much progress and success, but at the same time it’s still wrought with individual setbacks and failures. But the program thrives by acknowledging its limitations and making constructive efforts to improve. The story is heartbreaking, and it is brilliant in portraying the lives of those profiled. I teared up when one of the young mothers asks the nurse if it’s possible for her to write a “get out of sex” note — along the lines of a “get out of gym class” note — because she’s still not healed from the birth and she knows her boyfriend is going to demand sex when he gets home. Same thing with the mention of the young mother who says that she really enjoys her janitorial job, and that her favorite part is handling the dirty dishes of the family and fantasizing about the meals that the family must spend together.

Put the article online, New Yorker!

I have my aspirations.

As a follow-up to this now-deleted post about wanting to become an extra on some kind of video production, I’ll now briefly record the fact that I did, just last week, procure work as an extra. Come June or so, I’ll be in a show on TLC. I was cast as the older brother, and my part was pretty substantial (although it was just a short skit). I’m still not sure if I’m able to act, but I tried. I’m topless in the scene, and wearing white and multi-blue striped shorts. It was a great experience.
Alas, the production company was from England. So I won’t be making a career out of not making it in the industry. That was the extent of my acting prospects. In fact, my stint in Seattle has come to an end. In a couple weeks I’ll be employed elsewhere, in mental health. Back in California. So long Seattle. It was an interesting two months. But I’ll be taking my can of bungees.

can of bungees

The king of all rom hackers?

I very much enjoyed the “Visual Issue” of The Believer, and totally want to subscribe to Wholphin. But I can’t afford such luxuries. (edit: I got a job, so I can afford it now)

Caitlin Jones’ article on the state of net art was interesting. At my previous job at an arts library I would frequently be exposed to loads of neat net-art resources (from new books and magazines). I always found this bursting belly of the net to be astounding. It was loaded with interesting and completely obscure projects, with links to vast collectives of artists, and with enough content to browse for weeks (though my work computer didn’t have sound and the headphone jack was broken — so that sort of inhibited the amount of things I could check out).

I’m not going to question the artistic value of Cory Arcangel’s work, and I wouldn’t mind having his latest poster of a screenshot from a hacked version of F1 Racer, but I do have issue with the narrowness of Jones’s, and other art worlder’s, perspectives, who act like hacking roms started with Arcangel in 2003.
cory arcangel's latest poster
He definitely did a better job hacking them than most people (see this post of mine documenting a few hacks), and he marketed himself well. But his work is nothing new. The Carbon Defense League began hacking Game Boy games back in 1998. And while they did it with specific ends in mind, it was still art! Also, I have a folder on my computer with 1,200 hacked games in it. This practice is widespread. I realize that Jones and others (like my sister) who deem his work groundbreaking and new might know that he’s not the first, and think (reasonably) that it’s more important that he was the first to place it within a more standard and accessible world (on a wall in a gallery). But in way, that’s exactly what Jones argues (most) net artists don’t care so much about — the traditional artworld setting is undermined and rejected by net-artists. They don’t need galleries to display their work and gain validity.

But, as it was with photography and video art before it, net-art has been fairly successfully incorporated into the high art world. Even Jones and other critics and people who are less entrenched within the institutional art world have trouble recognizing all aspects of net-art until it’s been redistributed into more acceptible terms. It’s not yet art until someone emerges declaring their work to be art! On that note:

If I’m only somewhat sick of hearing about Arcangel’s Super Mario Cloud hack, then I’m definitely sick of hearing about Natacha Merritt – the digital girly (looks like her site is undergoing work at the moment — I can’t get it to load properly). Yes, I guess her work was pretty outstanding a few years ago, when voyeuristic web cam girls weren’t all over the place. Our library carried her book. But please, no matter how you repackage it, it’s only a girl taking pixelated photos of herself both while naked and alone in bed, and while naked with people in bed. This is nothing new anymore, and it doesn’t deserve any attention. “This is not pornography; this is sexuality,” says Eric Fischl in his article in the same issue. Big deal, there’s thousands of pages of not-pornographic sexuality all over the internet. But this artist is one of the few to market herself so well that she gets her own art book (filled with jpgs from her website), and so well that she still receives mention, even years after her gimick became flooded and stale. I now question whether some of these other artists mentioned in Fischl’s article are there because he simply remembers their name from four years ago, and remembers them having something to do with art that was once considered in vogue. Perhaps he’s acquainted with them, and felt bad that people had begun to turn away. I’m hoping the newest incarnation of her website provides more variance to the bored-with-webcam genre of the net.