Curt Cloninger -<em> Pop Mantra</em>

Pop Mantra
Pop Mantra Video Documentation #4 (2008, 51.7MB, 5:17 min)

Pop Mantra
Pop Mantra Video Documentation #7 (2008, 50.5MB, 5:41 min)

I like & admire Curt Cloninger for his steadfastness of belief in both his religion
& his artistic work.
He’s also one of the best writers about new media around at the moment.
In both theory & practice he’s curious, inventive, knowledgable, quirky and passionate.

Unlike many in this sphere he’s also not afraid to think aloud in public, to take risks.
Even, (quelle horreur!), to risk appearing uncool.
Recently he’s been making work away from the web, some of it performative
& very interestingly so.

Here (& I stress what you see here is the documentation, not the piece
itself -a fine, but important, distinction) he repeatedly sings & plays a
single phrase from a popular song, in this instance Radiohead’s Karma Police, for several hours.
For me there are number of interesting resonances – minimalism, shamanism,
the kinds of ‘test’ that occur in many religious belief systems, a losing, dissolving
of the self (In additon to the eponymous “mantra” ,there’s an echo too, I think, of Sufism);
but also there is the straightforward investigation*** of the mechanics of playing,
of performing (& there’s a fractal quality to the rather symmetric & crystalline
structure of popular song that makes this kind of extracting both possible & immediately
approachable -it’s a world familiar enough to welcome us in.)

The two extracts are from different ends of this marathon
( & selecting & typing that word just conjured another association –
the of the twenties & thirties).

I find this work fascinating.
Fascinating & affecting too.

*** It’s almost always a laughable misuse of the word to say ‘investigation’
in an art-speak context. Here it seems correct & natural.