Placement was a website that turned a critical eye on culture, with an emphasis on the importance of integrity in process over product. It published frequently from 2005 through 2006, as an online critique of art and design within contemporary culture. Placement provided original content by independent voices – something the internet is particularly good at offering but which blogs don’t seem to be very good at maintaining. It had two phases, originally launched it as a multi-author blog with essays appearing weekly.  My thanks and greatest praise to Seth Edenbaum; Jennifer Hamm; and Chérie Louise Turner. In its second phase, Placement was kept as a journal where I kept essays I’d written continuing that discourse.  As blogs became over-saturated later in 00s, I rolled up the doors and shuttered it.  Unfortunately, I gave up the url and the archive evaporated.

Here, I’m going to archive some of the better essays in order maintain to those efforts and that engagement.  The issues addressed here, not so long ago really, are still near and dear to me.  Creating a good life is an act of conscious choices.

The concept of “choice” persists through every waking moment. Within culture the act of choice redounds: it enriches our wettest paintings and enrages our thirstiest wars. Placement recognizes these pragmatics from a cultural, aesthetic and temporal dialogue. Our discourse is not specifically in pursuit of the act, location, or persona but reflection on the decisions and intentions en route: a “metaphysics of choice.”

These observations offer an appeal against the deluge of sound bites and marketing feedback that are disguised as cultural anthropology. We concede and embrace that this is a quickly changing world with vast complexities, but it’s imperative that the foundations that brought us here are considered in order to appreciate change as growth. Virtuous and Just ideals appear alien and antiquated in our contemporary cultural landscape. Here, we mean to challenge that assumption as lazy sophistry, illuminated neither by morality nor explication.

The examined life is the one worth living, as judiciously expressed by OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES JR., an extraordinary Supreme Court Justice:

“Until lately the best thing that I was able to think of in favor of civilization, apart from blind acceptance of the order of the universe, was that it made possible the artist, the poet, the philosopher, and the man of science. But I think that is not the greatest thing. Now I believe that the greatest thing is a matter that comes directly home to us all. When it is said that we are too much occupied with the means of living to live, I answer that the chief worth of civilization is just that it makes the means of living more complex; that it calls for great and combined intellectual efforts, instead of simple, uncoordinated ones, in order that the crowd may be fed and clothed and housed and moved from place to place. Because more complex and intense intellectual efforts mean a fuller and richer life. They mean more life. Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have enough of it.

“I will add but a word. We are all very near despair. The sheathing that floats us over its waves is compounded of hope, faith in theunexplainable worth and sure issue of effort, And the deep, sub-conscious content which comes from the exercise of our powers.”

At the age of 92, Holmes was found reading a copy of Plato’s Republic. When asked why? He responded indignantly that he wanted to expand his mind.

Life expands with choice. The act of choice is placement.

  • Robert Smithson, Intl. [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – JUNE 26, 2005 Robert Smithson, “Terminal Area Concepts,” Tibbets, Abbot, McCarthy, and Stratton, c.1966 Robert Smithson’s distant, mythic, Spiral Jetty is his most familiar artwork. However, it was nearly eclipsed by an earlier and far more commercial proposal to develop the “Dallas Fort Worth Regional Airport” as…
  • Portrait of the Artist as Correspondent [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – JULY 04, 2005 The Summer issue of “Art on Paper” displays the fruit of a simple experiment. A young staffer (either real or fictive) sends a letter to a bunch of artists explaining the problem of being young and new to New York, with many of the…
  • Suffering from Comparison [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – MAY 25, 2005 Now grossly over-magnified, marketing is pivotal in exaggerating choice in western culture. It’s a tired refrain to remind that branders and advertisers gorge you on implausible and improbable variants of things you already own or likely never needed — a buffet of attrition culminating…
  • Relevant, Authentic and Intimate [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – JUNE 16, 2005 Despite the marvelous technology that colors our lives, we persist in perpetuating an anachronistic mindset. According to Ron Pompei we might as well be living in the 19th Century. Our growth is subsumed by a culture that privileges an ever-narrowing worldview. Ron Pompei is…
  • Making Light [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – June 13, 2005 Though you can draw a diagram for the different axis’s that humor works on, you can’t really sit down and tell somebody what “funny” is. Humor is contextual, inexplicable and personal. Bob Mankoff has been working on a research project with the University of…
  • Death in Venice, pt. 2 – Douglas Rushkoff Revisits the Art of Persuasion [Placement Archives]
    originally published – APRIL 17, 2005 This is our second installment looking at Douglas Rushkoff’s “Advertising: The Persuaders”, a talk hosted by the Department of Culture and Communication at NYU. Also in attendance were: Mark Crispin Miller (author and NYU professor), Keith Reinhard (chairman of DDB Worldwide) and Barbara Lippert…
  • Places of Everyday Suffering [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – SEPTEMBER 11, 2005 A few years ago, I wrote a memoriam of my experiences on 9/11, in an attempt to meet head-on my anger and melancholy. This fourth anniversary reminds me of that history: the days of confusion; months of sorrow; and years of daily life that…
  • Death in Venice pt. 1, Douglas Rushkoff revisits the art of persuasion [Placement archives]
    originally published – April 2005 Recently, Douglas Rushkoff reprised his much acclaimed Frontline: The Persuaders episode with a continuation of a dialogue on advertising and the way it produces consumers, and the clutter that it is complicit in manufacturing. ‘Advertising: The Persuaders’ was a talk hosted by the Department of…
  • One Hundred Years Towards Hell [Placement Archives]
    Originally published  –  June 05, 2005 At two and a half miles wide and three-quarters of a mile deep, the Bingham Copper Mine is an extraordinary hole. It is so large, in fact, that it is one of only a few manmade objects viewable from the Shuttle in orbit. Presently…
  • A Practicable Reform [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – JUNE 03, 2005 The image you see here is from a manuscript auction a few months back. It’s been resting in limbo because I keep thinking it’s from a Sotheby’s sale in March, and that i’ll find the source material. No matter how many times I go…
  • Robert Smithson’s Boiling Curve [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – AUGUST 18, 2005 “Through the vaporous abstraction of Box Elder County Utah, I beheld a wide expanse of lake whose waters were so bloody a hue as to bring to mind a landscape of unspeakable carnage. Yet at the same time a voluptuous calm prevailed. A voluminous…
  • Entre Nous [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – MARCH 28, 2005 A book I’ve recently started reading discusses the role of the sidewalk in relationship to neighborhood crime, or further to the point : the way that good neighborhoods patrol themselves in a way that city planning and police action cannot. When I stopped writing…
  • Nowhere in Particular [Placement Archives]
    Originally published – OCTOBER 08, 2005 “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know.” “Do you want to see a movie?” “OK.” “Which movie would you like to see: there are four playing now.” “I don’t know.” “Would you just prefer to go home?” “OK.” A scene not unlike…

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