Saturday, January 01, 2005
PRESS RELEASE - CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
James W. Bailey
Force Majeure Studios
11196 Silentwood Lane
Reston, VA 20191
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?! – Project web site: http://jameswbailey.blogspot.com/
“CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!”
"What Could Possibly Be Funnier Than Five Rich White Guys in Hand Cuffs on Their Way to Prison for Stealing Billions and Hurting Millions!" - James W. Bailey
EXPERIMENTAL MISSISSIPPI ARTIST PLANS HIGH-TECH PERFORMANCE ART PROJECT TO BLAST EMAIL HUNDREDS OF BANKRUPT COMPANIES AND THEIR FIRED, INDICTED AND/OR IMPRISONED FORMER CEOs ON APRIL FOOL'S DAY - DEMANDS ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS SUBMITTED FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
(Reston, VA) “Can you hear me now?!” - At 12:01 am on April Fool's Day, artist James W. Bailey will click the send icon on his lap tap computer from a secret Wi-Fi hot spot in Reston, Virginia, and blast a caustic email containing this question, and potentially thousands more, to hundreds of bankrupt Information Technology companies and their disgraced former CEOs, demanding answers to this and other questions submitted from citizens from across the country.
An experimental photographer/artist from Mississippi who moved three years ago to Reston, Virginia (the central hub of the Dulles IT Corridor of Northern Virginia) Bailey explains the basis of his unique performance art project titled, “Can You Hear Me Now?!”: “I’m asking every interested American to email me a question they would like answered concerning the implosion of the high-tech sector. On April Fool's Day, I will direct an email letter that incorporates all the questions I receive to a list of bankrupt companies and their former corporate executives I have developed over the last 2 ½ years from extensive research of public records available from the SEC. Of course, I don’t expect to receive any answers to this blast email because these companies and their former CEOs, in a certain sense, no longer really exist. What I do hope is that this mass-communicative project will allow Americans to collectively vent their pent-up anger against the perpetrators of this mass-fraud that occurred in certain sectors of the American business community and declare their independence from this type of criminal behavior.”
Bailey calls his proposed event a Littoral Art Project. He describes Littoral Art as being artistic projects that take place outside the traditional boundaries of the institutionalized art world that seek to democratically involve people in the process of exploring a contemporary theme or current social concern.
“Since 1992, I have made a point of engaging in one Littoral Art Project per year,” says Bailey. “These projects are usually cloaked in secrecy and not promoted to the public. In most cases, I consider them to be a direct private line of communication between others and myself. With ‘Can You Hear Me Now?!’, however, I very much want to involve as much of American society in this dialogue as possible. What has occurred in some quarters of corporate America the last few years has been the biggest crime wave in the history of our country. To date, nobody, Martha Stewart and Ken Lay included, has really been held accountable. The jail time they and their corrupt cohorts have received is nothing compared to the money they ripped off and the lives, careers and retirement accounts they destroyed and bankrupted. This Littoral Art Project is designed to provide an opportunity for citizens to hold these companies and their corrupt former leaders accountable, maybe not criminally, but morally. All questions, and any answers received from any corporate ghosts willing to speak, will be posted on a dedicated web log to become the living legacy of this project.”
After moving to the Northern Virginia region in early 2002, Bailey immediately became aware of the reversal of fortunes for many tech companies in the region and found the inspiration for his project in the IT sector free-fall that specifically existed in the Dulles Technology Corridor: “Like many Americans, I became fascinated with watching corporations like Enron explode in the media. At the same time I was seeing the real-life fallout of the MCI/Worldcoms and PSI.nets bankruptcies and the negative impacts on the lives of real people and the economy where I live,” says Bailey. “I found it ironic that the very people who worked to build our nation’s enviable communications system could not seem to find a way to speak in one voice to the corporate owners of the system they built that ultimately betrayed them. I wanted to utilize technology in a Littoral Art Project that would allow for a unified voice to be heard, even if it is ignored and treated with a silent response. Celebrating the American tradition of declaring independence from the fools who oppress us, ‘Can You Hear Me Now?!’ is also conceived to be a belated April Fool’s joke played on those who profited mightily by trying to play the rest of us for fools.”
An award-winning experimental painter and photographer, Bailey has supplemented his art activities the last eleven years by conceiving and producing one Littoral Art project per year. He says he seeks to develop projects that have the potential to initiate an alternative understanding of an issue that interests him. Some of his projects have required a significant amount of research, planning, preparation and writing: “Eastern 304”, a 1994 project that explored the mysterious plane crash in 1964 of Eastern Airlines flight 304 into Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans, involved almost a full year of investigation and writing.
Bailey has also spontaneously developed projects contemporaneous with living history: In the project “911”, for example, Bailey, compelled by overwhelming emotion, left his job at a museum in Biloxi, Mississippi, strolled across the street to a hotel/casino, walked up to a pay phone in the hotel lobby, left the phone on the hook and calmly punched in the numbers 9-1-1 in that sequence 911 times in a row. Bailey says he was never confronted by any casino employees regarding this project, but was harassed repeatedly by casino visitors who wanted to use his phone to make their phone calls.
Since his relocation to the Northern Virginia region, Bailey has engaged in two of this Littoral Art Projects: In 2003 he conducted an unpublicized event called “The Beltway”. In this project Bailey photocopied three hundred sixty five separate black and white media images of the two African-American suspects that were arrested in the metro D. C. area sniper case and ran the photocopies through a paper shedder. The fragments were randomly dispersed from the Bailey’s car as he circled the Beltway on the first anniversary of the death of the first sniper victim.
In 2002 Bailey produced another unpublicized event titled, “The Metro”. In this project Bailey left a non-working cell phone on the Metro at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., with an attached SASE and note that read: PLEASE IMMEDIATELY RETURN THIS CELL PHONE TO THE ARTIST OWNER. The cell phone was delivered to the artist’s home by the United States Postal Service nine days later with no return address and no letter of explanation.
Although his Littoral Art projects are directed toward exploring the potential of dialogue, Bailey is quick to point out that his projects are not about the promotion of himself as an artist: “I have consciously avoided documenting many of these projects because I consider that too egotistical. I also do not want a photographic or video documentation of a living moment of history to become the static legacy of these events. What is important to me is to reach out to someone in an artistic capacity and to communicate with him or her in a vanishing moment of time. That vanishing moment, maybe to never be seen or recalled again, becomes its own history. The only documentation that will exist for ‘Can you hear me now?!’ will be the web log posting of the original blast email letter and any received responses.”
If you are interested in participating in the project “Can You Hear Me Now?!”, Bailey requests that you email him one question that you would like to see answered by a bankrupt IT corporation or former corporate officer concerning the meltdown of this information technology business sector to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Bailey’s original blast email letter and all responses will be posted starting April Fool's Day, April 1, 2005, on the following blog: http://www.jameswbailey.blogspot.com/.
James W. Bailey is an experimental artist, photographer and imagist writer from Mississippi. His art focus includes Littoral Art projects that explore the fleeting moments of cross-cultural communicative intersections; film projects, including the short film, Talking Smack; “Wind Painting”, a unique naturalistic art practice inspired by the vanishing Southern African-American cultural tradition of the Bottle Tree; street photography centered on the hidden cultural edges of inner city New Orleans life; and “Rough Edge Photography”, a hard-edge non-digital photographic style that celebrates the death of 35mm film through the burning, tearing, slashing and violent manipulation of chemically developed negatives and prints.
Bailey’s experimental imagist literary works include, The Black Velvet Smash and the Missing Gospel of William S. Burroughs, Cold Dark Matters, Eastern 304, Killing Film Noir, and, two books of poetry, The Despised American Edition and Southern Standard Time, all published by Force Majeure Press. Bailey has also written a full-length feature film screenplay, The Cold, a crime drama based on a true story set in New Orleans, which is currently in pre-production development.
JAMES W. BAILEY - LITTORAL ART PROJECTS
“Littoral describes the intermediate and shifting zone between the sea and the land and refers metaphorically to cultural projects that are undertaken predominantly outside of the conventional contexts of the institutionalized art world.” - Sentences on Littoral Art by Bruce Barber
Since 1992 I have made a point of engaging in one Littoral Art project per year. These yearly artistic liturgical events have become for me a critical source of covert emotional inspiration. For the most part, these events are cloaked in secrecy and not promoted to the public. I have attempted with these projects to communicate, directly or indirectly, with a selected group of people and to offer an opportunity for them to respond. I consider theme to be, in most cases, a direct private line of communication between others and myself. In some cases, I am hoping for a public response, but not to the extent of promoting my involvement for any public relations value.
I try to conceive projects that have the potential to initiate an alternative understanding of an issue that interests me. Some have required a significant amount of research, planning, preparation and writing: “Eastern 304”, for example, involved almost a solid year of dedicated effort. Some were spontaneously developed contemporaneous with living history: “911”, for example. I was at work at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi, on September 11, 2001, and felt compelled by overwhelming emotion to walk across the street to the Beau Rivage Casino and complete this project.
I have consciously avoided documenting many of these events because I consider that too egotistical. I also do not want a photographic or video documentation of a living moment of history to become the static legacy of these projects. What is important to me is to reach out to someone in an artistic capacity and to communicate with him or her in a vanishing moment of time. That vanishing moment, maybe to never be seen or recalled again, becomes its own history.
LIST OF BAILEY’S LITTORAL ART PROJECTS
2004 – “ANTI-OPTIONS 05”, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The artist applied to curator Philip Barlow to be considered for the OPTIONS 05 exhibition of emerging artists sponsored by the WPA/Corcoran Association. When Barlow was fired as curator by the Board of Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the artist initiated an online and real space art project, ANTI-OPTIONS 05, to hold both organizations accountable for their actions. ANTI-OPTIONS 05 was submitted by the artist for consideration in OPTIONS 05.
2003 – “The Beltway”, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The artist photocopied 365 separate black and white media images of the 2 African-American suspects that were arrested in the metro D. C. area sniper case and ran the photocopies through a paper shedder. The fragments were randomly dispersed from the artist’s car as he circled the Beltway on the 1st anniversary of the death of the 1st sniper victim.
2002 - “The Metro”, Washington, D. C.
The artist left a non-working cell phone on the Metro at Dupont Circle with an attached SASE and note that read: PLEASE IMMEDIATELY RETURN THIS CELL PHONE TO THE ARTIST OWNER. The cell phone was delivered to the artist’s home by the United States Postal Service 9 days later with no return address and no letter of explanation.
2001 – “911”, Biloxi, Mississippi
The artist left the phone on the hook and punched the numbers 9-1-1 in that sequence 911 times in a row from a touch-tone pay phone inside the lobby of the Beau Rivage Casino on September 11, 2001. No casino employees ever confronted the artist about this activity. However, several casino visitors repeatedly asked the artist what he was doing and several more strongly encouraged the artist to use another phone so they could use his phone to make their phone calls.
2000 – “Drive by Shootings”, New Orleans
The artist selected 36 street sites in New Orleans that were the scenes of 36 drive by shooting murders of African-Americans and randomly shot from inside his car 36 black and white photographs of 36 white individuals who happened to walk by. The photographs were later arranged in a “Rough Edge Photography” collage. Photocopies of the collage were made and mailed with an enclosed SASE to 36 random people selected from the white pages of the New Orleans phone book. The artist received written responses from 8 individuals. 1 person responded by including a cassette tape expressing her thoughts on receiving the collage.
1999 – “The River Card”, Louisiana
The artist drove the length of River Road, a petrol-chemical manufacturing corridor known as “Cancer Ally” that parallels the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and dropped 1 opened solid air freshener out of his moving car every 1-mile. A male driver in a pick-up truck who witnessed one of the air fresheners being thrown from the artist’s car stopped the artist. The pick-up driver had retrieved the air freshener from the road and returned it to the artist. The pick-up driver told the artist to not liter the road through his community or he would call the police.
1998 – “Killing Film Noir”, New Orleans
The artist visited 24 abandoned, renovated and converted buildings that were former inner city theaters during a 24-hour period of time and interviewed the first person he meet, 1 per hour, by asking 2 random questions selected from a hat. The 48 questions and answers from the 24 individuals were incorporated into an experimental imagist book titled, Killing Film Noir.
1997 – “Highway 61”, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee
The artist rented a car with a Louisiana tag and drove the length of Highway 61, the famous “Blues Highway”, from New Orleans through Mississippi to Memphis while playing loud gangster type rap music through a speaker attached to the top of the car. The artist was stopped by police once in Louisiana, three times in Mississippi, and once in Tennessee, and asked to turn the music down. None of the stops resulted in arrest.
1996 – “Dead Letter Box”, New Orleans and Arkansas
The artist mailed 100 letters with an enclosed SASE from New Orleans to randomly selected residents of the state of Arkansas that asked the following question: Is there anything about Bill Clinton that you would care to share with the rest of us before it is too late? The artist received one reply with no return address in which a photocopy of the artist’s original letter was marked in black ink that read in large bold script: NO!
1995 – “The Missing Gospel of William S. Burroughs”, New Orleans and Lawrence, Kansas
The artist visited the owners of the home that Williams S. Burroughs once owned on Walker Street in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans and asked to use their phone to call Williams S. Burroughs at his home outside Lawrence, Kansas. The artist interviewed Burroughs over the phone and this interview was incorporated into the experimental imagist book titled, The Black Velvet Smash and the Missing Gospel of William S. Burroughs.
1994 – “Eastern 304”, New Orleans
The artist gained access to medical, police and FBI investigation files into the mysterious 1964 plane crash of Eastern Airlines flight 304 that crashed into Lake Pontchartrain and was missing for several weeks before being discovered. The research was incorporated into an experimental imagist book titled Eastern 304. Copies of the book were mailed to 5 surviving family members of the 59 crash victims that the artist was able to locate. The artist received 3 letters of thanks and appreciation.
1993 – “The Bankers”, New Orleans
The artist visited a bank parking garage and taped 10 1$ bills on the outside driver’s window of 10 automobiles owned by the top 10 banking executives of the largest net asset bank doing business in New Orleans with a SASE and a note that read: PLEASE IMMEDIATELY RETURN THIS ONE DOLLAR BILL TO THE ARTIST. The artist eventually received back 3 of the 10 $1 bills.
1992 – “The Local Fish Wrap”, New Orleans
The artist dissected 10 copies of the Sunday edition of the Times-Picayune newspaper and separated each of the 10 newspapers into 2 sections: hard news and junk. The junk section included, but was not limited to, the following: classifieds, advertising, sports, style, travel, arts and cultural reviews, editorial columns, opinion columns, etc. The 2 sections generated from each newspaper were placed in 2 separate envelopes. Each junk envelope represented 99 per cent of the total weight of each newspaper and the hard news envelope represented 1 per cent of the total weight. The artist mailed 10 packages containing identical versions of the 2 envelopes to 10 randomly selected reporters from the Times-Picayune newspaper along with a note that read: WOULD YOU PLEASE IMMEDIATELY INVESTIGATE THIS MATTER AND REPORT ON IT TO THE PUBLIC? To this date no articles on this matter have ever appeared in the Times-Picayune newspaper.
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