Situation Room

January 13th, 2009  | Categories: Bidder vs. Ledia Carroll

In the second to last auction, the Public White Cube has finally arrived at the place where it is actually standing – in the museum. After a sand sculptor used Ledia Carroll’s sand landscape to exhibit his creative trade in the last round, the current auction-winner comes from the museum itself. Scott M. MacLeod, a designated artist with an extensive vita, earns his everyday livelihood as a “preparator” in the SF MoMA. Of course, he made the bid in his spare time, and won as an artist. For once, now he has an opportunity to show what he has to offer as an artist within his employer’s noble rooms.

But Ledia Carroll’s spilt sand, with no apparent beginning and no end, also caused him to hesitate. MacLeod required a little time before he told us about the final plans for his intervention in the Public White Cube. But to make up for that, what has now reached us is extremely up-to-date, even sensational. The Public White Cube will be made into a newsroom. Not just any old newsroom, one hastens to add, but the “Situation Room” of CNN; the sacred place of political reporting with its well-known anchorman Wolf Blitzer.

MacLeod will collect together all kinds of visual material and objects on the forth floor of the SF MoMA. Images of commando centres, rows of clocks, blurred maps, but also loud speakers and sculptures made from asthma inhalers. This can only mean one thing: current daily politics has reached the Public White Cube. Ironically in these times of crisis, MacLeod paid the lowest price bid to date. The recession has caught up with the PWC – elsewhere, it consumes entire museums.

But what does all this have to do with sand? MacLeod doesn’t much want his ensemble to resemble the Mad Max scenario of a world after climate catastrophe. But what is the alternative? The Iraqi desert? The Gaza Strip? Car repair shops, crumbling into dust? A desolate Wall Street? According to the most recent reports, the artist in command intends to comment on the change of power at the White House. But as yet, these are no more than scenarios. In any case, MacLeod will be re-installing our webcam. Newsroom live will then be showing the artist’s home game.

  1. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 04:02

    Well, the spelling of the name is MacLeod not McLeod, and it’s not any newsroom at all but a “situation room” where Strangelovian decisions are made – the kind of room that the press is usually specifically excluded from. In fact there are many innaccuracies in the text above, bad intel one could say. Absolutely not a newsroom. Command centers not commando centres. Not a comment on change of power – well, slightly so – but more a snapshot of regime change as a generic dynamic.

  2. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 08:38

    and definitely absolutely no Wolf Blitzer.

  3. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 08:45

    [Here is the real (wolf blitzer-less) information I sent to the curators:]

    My proposal is to install some components from an installation I have been organizing very slowly for a year or so. I don;t think I would try to include all possible components, just a few, to try to make a clear idea, not too complicated. But enough so that it can be said that this will be the very first version of Installation called “Situation Room.”

    Of course this is meant to allude (in a generic way) to things like: crisis-management, science-fiction movie iconography, stereotypes of governance, all sorts of things like this.

    The intention is to create a representation of decision-making space, or maybe overlapped decision-making spaces, a kind of movie set for simultaneous production of multiple films, a set made up of discrete components (art pieces which could also stand alone) that resonate with each other to suggest a particular ontological approach to “crisis” or “situation.”

    As to Ledia’s sand, you can see that I am trying here to incorporate it, subsume it really, into my conception. Because of the engineering issues involved, it is not practical to attempt to move any significant portion of the sand, so I think it will stay almost exactly as is. The presence of the sand will certainly influence how my added components are read. I hope it does not make the “environmental crisis” aspect too overpowering. With the thermometers etc. it might. I would prefer to include enough so that the term “crisis” can be understood in a more generic way, to include crises of governance, of education, of employment, etc etc. To create something within which the sand could be read in multiple ways: crisis of energy/oil under sand; crisis of water/desertification; etc etc even as a movie set, or a metaphor for the intrusion of crisis into the man-made control zone, like “Woman In The Dunes.”

    So I will just have to put a few things up & see how I can influence the whole. In some ways it’s a little premature of me to put this installation together, but I’m glad to have this opportunity to make these experiments.

    [the next day I sent them more info:]

    When I woke up this morning something occurred to me that hadn’t yesterday.

    I remembered a couple of other objects I had been considering for this installation & these made me think of our own regime change & I realized that this installation will still be up, if barely, when Obama is sworn in. I then immediately remembered that – of course – most of my previous installations of this type have been, among other things, representations of spaces of institutionalized power – but ones that have been stripped – the power has been sucked out. One of my largest was inspired by photos of Ceaucescu’s palace, in flames, and another had some references to something like maybe a Stasi interrogation room. So with my head on my pillow this morning I realized that this was – could be – another in this type of series, in that – while still referring to everything I mentioned yesterday – it could also refer to this current regime change of ours – which is in many ways an interregnum. So now in my mind this room is maybe that Situation Room, but there are some evidences of a kind of going-away party made by those bastards who have just cleared out. The door is still swinging a little from their exit, things are not so tidy maybe, and some drunken noises can be heard far down the hallway outside. We don’t know if it’s the drunken group who is leaving or the new, slightly drunk & celebrating group who is coming in to take their places. Probably it will matter less than we would like to think.

    In practical terms this might mean that there are a few more small objects scattered around:

    a small statuette of a man lecturing, without its base, lying on its side.
    two small paintings lying kind of tossed in the corner
    maybe an old boom box playing softly some parts of soundtracks from DDR films – from DEFA studios – like Eolomea, Im Staub der Sterne, etc.

    Again, it’s a question of achieving a balance between the competing signifiers. I think that with the above consideration, the ecological crisis reading will be counterbalanced by the “regime change” or “interregnum” reading, hopefully allowing my preferred, more generic perspective on crisis management to have some space in which to surface.

    I’m not yet sure what this will do to Ledia’s sand. Maybe it connects to “beach party” theme or something like the film “On The Beach”

  4. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 08:47

    Thanks for finding & posting those “situation room” images above though.

  5. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 08:48

    I especially like the 2nd one, I guess it’s LBJ – and it looks like a sandbox, like they’re playing backgammon in a sandbox.

  6. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 08:50

    “But Ledia Carroll’s spilt sand, with no apparent beginning and no end, also caused him to hesitate. MacLeod required a little time before he told us about the final plans for his intervention in the Public White Cube.”

    These statements are entirely incorrect.

  7. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 08:53

    They’ve changed the spelling of my name in response to my first comment.

    Maybe I won’t bother to remove the cover from the security camera.

    Anyway this is great fun & a great opportunity. There is a huge can of worms to be opened with this project. Tempting but I have other fish to fry. I just want to make a little art show. Which I will try to do tomorrow.

  8. January 14th, 2009 at 12:57

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Let me take this opportunity to personally congratulate the organizers of this event for their dedication to hard hitting journalism and REAL socio-political discourse. To Mr. MacFly I would to express great thanks – truly, I am flattered and whole-heartedly accept your invitation to act as moderator of your commando-project. See you in the Newsroom, Boys!
    Sincerely Yours,
    Wolf Blitzer

  9. Scott MacLeod
    January 14th, 2009 at 15:56

    Also, I think that gallery is on the fourth floor not the third floor.

  10. pwc
    January 14th, 2009 at 22:28

    Ebay is a complicated business. The bidder has to bid. The seller has to read forms, and somewhere along the line, our ingenious winner Scott M. MacLeod lost an ‘a’. The PWC Team would like to apologise for this embarrassing mishap, and of course we corrected our mistake straight away. It is impossible to overlook the fact that during our reading of the range of suggestions for change submitted by our bidder (“When I woke up this morning something occurred to me that hadn’t yesterday.”) we also lost track of our auction winner’s finely constructed, political-aesthetic labyrinth. The PWC reduces art to communication, to a game with dominos, to memory playing cards, to the arbitrariness of the participant at the cost of participation. MacLeod is the victor in this game to date, a game in which there are no more sand dunes, but only the wide expanse of MacLeod’s oeuvre; a synthesis of the arts in which a complete biography takes a stand against a small aesthetic, shifting dune. Here the iron principle of artistic authorship and vita engulfs the sand. MacLeod is certainly not one of those bidders who permit themselves to be outbid by the gestures of their predecessors, leaving behind an ironic-malicious apercu in the shape of a sardonic sand cone. Art is back in the PWC, in all its glory and to the sound of bagpipes. Here, one of the many beach parties of the operating system is taking place in the stardust.

  11. Scott MacLeod
    January 15th, 2009 at 05:51

    Okay – so I finished installing at 11:56am today, Wednesday. I took the plastic baggie off the web cam. I met with Melissa to try to get her to make me a label for the wall. She asked me for info. I told her you had told me you had sent info to SFMOMA. She said everyone tells her this but she has no emails. Who are you emailing to? Why does my curatorial contact not know what is going on? When will a live image appear on this page? So many questions, so little time….

  12. Scott MacLeod
    January 15th, 2009 at 05:54

    Here: it’s xxxxxxx1, she is curatorial assistant in Media Arts, she is the one I had to talk to today to get label, to get things “approved,” so maybe she needs to know some information that she doesn’t seem to have yet. Her email is xxxxxxxx1
    1name and address deleted on request

  13. pwc
    January 15th, 2009 at 07:28

    Now it is becoming clearer how our bidder, Scott M. MacLeod, understands his Situation Room – i.e. as a centre of information about Scott M. MacLeod, a base for excursions to the planet Scott M. MacLeod. The PWC is Houston; the museum has ended up in orbit, but at a fixed point up above we see the artist, the sun in this project. This is how things have always been in the history of the artistic genius. And so the PWC becomes an artist’s project once again, a place where an army of assistants is magnetically attracted to its master for a single night, hurrying to make Scott M. MacLeod’s work easier through the time lags. The team of the SF MOMA hurries. Melissa Pellico, responsible assistant at the SF MOMA, is hurrying. In the meantime, the crisis ticker-tape machine in the Situation Room goes on spitting out new reports, and these have not been written for our entertainment. They demand accountability and the fulfilment of duty. Scott is our commander in chief. Scott is an artist.

  14. Scott MacLeod
    January 16th, 2009 at 06:52

    Oh eBay isn’t that complicated a business & neither is communication. One simply pays attention to other people & what they say & then tries to give them the kind of treatment one would like oneself. It’s great you fixed things quickly but I don;t think you should make too big a thing of me asking you to correct spelling of my name. Beyond simple respect, it’s a museum & one expects things to be done right. When I helped install Ledia’s sand, I tried to do things as well as possible, it’s part of my job at museum. And you were the one who specifically asked me for permission to give out the information about my cv, experience etc as an artist. Sure I was enthusiastic in my response, but I didn’t initiate request & really couldn’t care less one way or the other. “iron principle of artistic authorship and vita” makes me laugh because of what I know about my history, feelings, activities etc specifically in regards to these types of issues of authorship etc. That you do not know anything of these is almost proof of the pudding. Anyway, sticks & stones I guess, but why can’t we all get along instead? But maybe we can’t? It does appear from your post of 1/15 7:28 that sitting staring through your webcam has touched some nerve, rubbed off some scab, raised some issue for you, as it is a little vituperative & unseemly. More so than necessary I think. And again I have to laugh – this image of MOMA staff “hurrying” to make my work easier is pretty hysterical. Everyone’s doing their job, I would imagine. James is taking pictures, Melissa printed a label for me to nail on the wall, the guards are guarding, John swept up some sand that I missed in my own sweeping. I guess that others are slaving away for me, arranging press interviews, magazine covers, catalogs, etc – all the complicated work involved in “mission control” for such a space flight – I’m sure they are all very busy with this because I haven’t seen them anywhere – so they must be busy with such thing. It’s always busy on Planet MacLeod & why not? Maybe it’s just a gambit, a ploy to elicit some reaction? Some of my vast army of personal assistants are of that opinion. I’d like to chat more but excuse me, I have to go downstairs now & find out why my damned lackeys & minions haven’t finished the laundry, the vacuuming, the dish-washing, let the dog out, opened the bills etc. Ciao from the Magnetic Master.