Archikulture Digest

Brian Feldman Reads This Newspaper In Its Entirety

Brian Feldman Reads This Newspaper In Its Entirety

Brian Feldman Projects

Featuring “Orlando Weekly”

June 25, 2009

Frames Forever & Art Gallery, Winter Park Florida</strong>

Have you actually read a print newspaper in the past few years? I’m down to the occasional USA Today on a business trip, or a flip through the Orlando Weekly to check out a restaurant review or what the competition is saying about shows I’ve seen. In his continuing celebration of buggy whip technology, local loco Time Constrained Performance Artist Brian Feldman enters into another marathon of absurdity.

On this muggy Orlando night, entertainment options include a Michael Jackson Memorial at a local bar, or listening to Mr. Feldman read the current issue of the Orlando Weekly. He’s returned to his latest hangout, the Frames Forever & Art Gallery on Orange Avenue in Winter Park. If you don’t know where it’s located, you’ll likely whiz past it as the sign isn’t well lit. At 8:30 pm, the reading begins. Feldman wears a vest made out of the paper in question, and charges ahead, reading every single ad, article, and pronounceable symbol in the paper.

Feldman isn’t a seasoned announcer; he has trouble with some of the higher scoring Scrabble scoring words and Billy Manes’ tortured syntax. Occasional pedestrians wander down the sidewalk, vaguely curious as to what might be happening. A CSX train screams by as platoons of traffic pass, organized by the traffic lights at Denning and Pennsylvania. A desultory crowd hangs out, including three actual Orlando Weekly staffers and a young journalism major from a local community college. (Disclaimer – I’ve written for the Weekly, but not recently). An hour into the project, Mr. Feldman is around page 10, and I estimate this will take until 3 in the morning. I cheat a bit as I picked my own copy of the Weekly and scan Lulu Eightball, an article on SunRail, and the review of Judas Iscariot. Like all modern Americans, I’m impatient.

Summer is a slow time for the news, and the lead article on some sort of Ramen Noodle scandal isn’t enough to get me enraged about the injustices in the world. That vague unease is the main product of the media – something bad is happening, and the only way you can fight it is to pay attention to what we are publishing. That information filter now belongs to smaller and smaller voices, blogs and tweets or even the occasional fanatical cable channel.

Is there meaning here? Of course. Just as television dilutes its already sparse content with ads and teasers, newspapers are adding more intelligence-free content to there reporting. Call it the USA Today effect; call it News McNuggets, but the effort of collecting useful information out the print media has become so difficult it requires Australian gold mining methods to make it worthwhile. That’s the main reason I get my news on line – there are more sources and specialized providers, and for the cost of a monthly internet connection high quality content appears on my screen, and there no messy recycling and nothing I find blatantly uninteresting. Feldman’s homey stumbling though the minutia of print media recalls the past – this is how Dad got his information, but that now that’s so 1959. Just like the recent demise of analog TV and the distant loss of elegant rail transport. Newspapers are headed from popular culture to a Steam Punk conceit. Consider this – when news papers are gone, with what will we line our bird cages?

More information on Mr. Feldman’s projects may be found at http://brianfeldman.com


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