Archive for December, 2015




(Wandering over Water Street, a big chunk of vacant land along the river, just over the bridge from downtown Ypsilanti. Once the site of flour mills, sawmills, chair factories, auto parts manufacturing, later covered by auto dealerships. Now a weed-grown rubblefield, surrounded by chain link and bufferzone trees. Long controversy over use of this land, now owned by the city. The usual strife: private development vs. public use. Public users, reclaiming the commons, have moved ahead and built a sculpture garden at the heart of the vacancy, creating beauty and strangeness.)


Deliberately random.

Consciously accidental.

Unmeant intent.

Art energy expressed as sudden outgrowth of connected ruin.

Instant ruins.

Archaeology of the present moment.

Materials generated by the site.

The site ground by time to small fragments.


Found objects.

Ground objects.

The Department of Missing Perceptions.

Structures of memory and dream.

Grown from seeds of stone and rust.


The absence, the hole in the continuity, sinkholes of intention, lost parts found and repurposed, rust as patina as memory suggestive of use, invention, dreams of rust and decay, overgrown lot with a crop of weeds hides outgrowth of creative energies that deny decay, reinvent the local and useful as something to be remembered in subtle pieces, reassembled in the minds of as many as will. As they said in the old dance manuals. This is the oldest dance, the archaic manifesting as the most thoroughly contemporary resistance to being changed out of existence. We still have a use for these things.


Everyone adds his or her stone to the pile, cairn of community, sign that human beings passed this way once and left this here for others to find. Ur sculpture, first art. Before cities: the cairn.

Water Street Commons is a cairn, each artwork a stone brought to the pile until a cairn is achieved. The cairn is instantly achieved in the intention to make one.


Yes, Merzbau, yes, Schwitters, his spirit and example. Yes, many others who have left their car on the tracks, poured sugar in the tank, grit in the gears. But cultural sabotage is harder to effect in the present moment. No, not an instantly consumable commodifiable good carefully positioned in a burgeoning market. Not a proffer, and aware of not being for sale. Don’t say who would buy it anyway, because any manifestation even in outright opposition and harshest most devastating critique can be subsumed in the art narrative, cooked and eaten by elite diners at the ongoing banquet where every human product is reduced to a dollar value.


Not so much critique as a rebeginning to grow, a new way to make something where you are not supposed to be able to make anything. So: a permission, self-granted.

And joy. And pleasure. Pure pleasure of putting just that thing there, next to others similarly placed, constructing an intention after the fact.


Breathing the atmosphere of the commons your way of seeing the world is changed. As art can effect. The two boards, laid in the mud: deliberate? Yes, whether art or accident, because everything here is deliberate. There is no accident. The death of chance. All intention all the time.


This is one way of connecting the world.

That changes, and is replaced.

Because everything changes and is replaced.

Deliberation the same as accident.

Intention the same as chance.

Wandering a cold field in winter.

Warm fire of human intention.

A made thing at hand.

Rocks and gravel, stones.

Tree and river.

Factory ghosts, human plans erased by time.

Archaeology of collapse.

Fragments of use.

Rusted and broken.

Pieces of meaning







Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 123 other followers