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The New York Times - August 18, 2012

Museum Link: https://app.museumofcryptoart.com/collection/the-permanent-collection?collection=0x41a322b28d0ff354040e2cbc676f0320d8c8850d&token=1680&page=3

Source Link: https://superrare.com/artwork/the-new-york-times---august-18,-2012-1680

Date Minted: January 24, 2019

Artist Description: Made with Code  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

“Anti-Putin Stunt Earns Punk Band Two Years in Jail.” 

“In Policy Shift, Fewer Teachers Are Given Tenure.”

“Obama Limits Lasting Stamp on the Courts.”

“Panic Seizes India as Region’s Strife Radiates.”

The daily news is an exercise in minutiae. The combined existential measuring-stick of a scattered humanity. On just the front page of a newspaper, you have American politics, Russian politics, Indian agriculture, and the nuances of collegiate academic employment. There is no version of the news which does not run counterproductive to the Web3 ideal of decentralization; any organization of news you see is essentially curated by some board of editors, all the events in the world at any moment distilled down to the things some person or group wants you to believe important. I’m not going to go any further into the malevolence of such a thing, and I’m not sure it’s even avoidable, I’m just saying that, factually, whether you’re watching the news or reading them, consuming them via newspaper or via Twitter or via Facebook, someone (or something) somewhere has decided what you’re seeing. That you need to know about this executive order but not that. This country’s famine but not that one’s. 

Which brings us to this fascinating piece of crypto art, The New York Times - August 18, 2012 by Leozeba, a piece that indulges in that most modernist of actions and presents us with a familiar, commonplace sight, but it’s twisted in a crucial way, drawing our attention to the to the underlying artificiality of “business as usual.” A New York Times homepage devoid of nearly all its verbiage, The New York Times - August 18, 2012  is the business of the news stripped of its thought, its analysis, its slants and skews, and turned into parody. 

Because what are we left with when we take the news out of a newspaper? In Leozeba’s perspective, a long, blank white page, interspersed with horizontal black lines which, I suppose, would have once separated news segments from each other, and of course, pictures. Pictures which depict people, which depict Super Mario, which depict security officers and massive throngs of colorfully-dressed people. But stripped of any identifying information, the headlines taken away, the pictures become random and disconnected, the happenings here unrelated to the happenings there, and now we’re searching for other ways to connect what we’re seeing. We strive to, but we can’t, because our brain is presenting us with preconceptions. This person isn’t dressed like those people, for instance. And the man standing front-and-center in the piece is unequivocally Eastern European. The news is a curated beast. But stripped of its context, its analysis, and its connective tissue, it becomes what it actually is: A sequence of random, unrelated occurrences happening in random, unrelated places in the world. 

With The New York Times - August 18, 2012, Leozeba reveals the artificiality of the entire news industry, showing the stilts upon which it stands. Newspapers use their words and stories to justify themselves, right? Each story is a tiny pitch trying to convince you that “This thing matters (in the grand scheme of it all) and it deserves your attention.” The goal being that, after enough achieved persuasion, you will take it on faith that anything presented to you is equally deserving of your attention; it matters equally much. Of course, the opposite reality must then be true: If not covered in the news, then thing X, Y, or Z must not be worthy of your time. And suddenly we’re curating more than just what’s important, we’re curating the very lens with which you see the world.

The headlines I quoted earlier are taken directly from the same issue of the Times, August 18, 2012 edition, that Leozeba has removed here. Tell me, do they seem applicable to what you’re seeing? And where would you place them on the page? There are a few more, of course, but do they seem connected even to the photos and aesthetic makeup of the page we see before us. 

In a lot of ways, this piece makes me think of Generative Art. Not in composition, but in how a Generative art piece demands the participation of the audience, an audience who is tasked with imposing meaning and order and connection upon something which may not have been ordered specifically by an order-conscious human brain. In that way, our own mental processes are revealed to us. Or, if not these processes specifically, than our penchant for indulging in such processes, and maybe we even come away with a better idea of how we individually place meaning on certain things, random things, discordant things. 

Ditto The New York Times - August 18, 2012. I feel myself searching for meaning, trying to place thin wires between pictures, between places on a page —Ah yes, this displays that, and this relates to that— and as I feel that, I am exposed to the world within me, the world of connective tissues and attempted understandings. I am exposed to how the world around me reflects this, this compulsion to understand which is not just mine but which is everyone’s, atop which whole industries are ordered and developed. I am reminded of Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet filmmaker who pioneered the idea of montage, trusting (where nobody else had previously trusted) that an audience would be able to see two images and understand that they were connected, either by symbology or by chronology. Leozeba has crafted a version of this. It’s an anti-montage he has exposed us to. But we’ve learned no less about how we connect to the world around us. And how that world seeks to connect to us too.

(And I should mention. Leozeba makes a lot of these such pieces. An eye interested in the news, in Instagram, and in how information spreads, a dive through his Superrare page is a highly-advised experience.)