I read a theory once that the human intellect was like peacock feathers. Just an extravagant display intended to attract a mate. All of art, literature, a bit of Mozart, William Shakespeare, Michelangelo, and the Empire State Building just an elaborate mating ritual. Maybe it doesn’t matter that we have accomplished so much for the basest of reasons. But, of course, the peacock can barely fly.”

Dr. Ford, Trompe L’Oeil” – Westworld, Episode 7.


Would it perturb you to see things as they are? To gaze at the world tranquilly and accept responsibility for your gaze, whatever it might see?” 
 Jean Genet, “The Balcony”.


An exploded diagram of a film is a good analogy for this installation. The process of filmmaking—including research, screenplay writing, location scouting, set production, composing a shot—becomes invisible in the final production. In ‘Soft Regards’, the peripheral activities that go into the production of filmic space, place, and time are abstracted and extended; the play of real and unreal is centered.”

Elena Harvey Collins And Liz Roberts, from “Soft Regards” Artist Statement.

I. The Wild East Meets Westworld: An Imploding Script.


(aka Learning from Las Vegas Unter Alles!)


FADE IN & OUT & IN & OUT& IN & OUT & IN & OUT & IN & OUT & IN & OUT:





A soon time to go in a white cubed by black box luxury-debunkered art gallery mentality far far away…where some form of humanity has managed (with a whole lot of money and a large mainframe computer) to beatifically survive the destiny of the Manifestly Decimated Frontier in a Bill Gatestead Community(), we hear the diegetic breathing (IN & OUT & IN & OUT) of the half person half artificial intelligence singularity known as THE GREAT WHITE BISON-O-TAUR -the mechanistic ID gone wild somewhere in the center of our EGO driven labyrinthine ALT Reality…a placeless plane where Silicon Valley Execs have burrowed deep under Haight-Ashbury in order to survive the post-modern apocalypse they helped predicate by developing a submersive supernormal virtuality while micro-dosing LSD.


The GATEKEEPERS, those THEM (ahem/ amen) who were entrusted with not letting this sort of thing happen, furiously pound CTRL-ALT-DELETE to no avail…something has profoundly shifted in the IT world, the Barbarians are now controlling the Gates and many retreat and retweet the emergency safe words while withdrawing like snowflakes to a safe space: “Tweety bird say: Some putty TATS are more equal than others”. THE GATEKEEPERS roll up their sleeves, swipe their secret barcode TATS and disappear behind the heavy doors of a part of the bunker not even THE INVESTORS knew about…what happens in the bunker stays in the bunker.


ENTER: LIFE IS BUT A STAGE RIGHT: THE GREAT WHITE BISON-O-TAUR, whom (ohm), profoundly unperturbed by all this, loops and circles in the shadows -pawing at the ashes to ashes of all this IT that sifts down the chutes of this gridded and glassed in Labyrinth, setting alight the Palace of the Best Disinfectant –a hall of mirrors melted in a flash with flamethrowers born from its flaring nostrils, a mass incineration of the Gilded Age collapsing under the weight of more gilding -that Sociopathic Darwinism- that proverbial bullshite in the China shop that has cum on earth as it did in Heavin’… till a good ‘ole “Yee-Haw to Common Cents” curdles the haze!


ENTER: our anti-gravitas Volks-hero 2PER UBU ALLES, the hallucinogenic toreador, doing the last ghost dance of the angry white man in The Strawberry Fields for Nevermore. S/HE gingerly approaches that eternal return of ID history, plunging sword after flaming sword (IN & OUT & IN & OUT) into this mechanized maelstrom…all to no avail: the verses of She-Man versus Virtual are written in thin air! A Great Recession settles upon them, a housing market of cards collapses into the plumbing of the why and how of thou hath forsaken me Dear OverLord. To breed or not to breed becomes the mourning electric. So buy, buy Mrs. Eucharist Pie…drove my Chevy Saturn off the Levy with my children inside.

EXIT. NOEXIT. We be-left-holden the pearly-gated communities’ ragbag. Feud-All-ism hath built these sand castles in the Death Valley Sky where the circling and toupéedbald eagles screech “Jesus H. Christ, Jesus H. Christ” above our Democratically Elected and Exquisitely Civil Dis-Corpse whose centre cannot hold, yet unfolds the naughty bits of our constitution to reveal the addictively pure and ever white substance –a Heroine of Liberty with a needle hanging from her vein.


Herald Be Thy Name, Kingdom has Cum, with Golden Shower Economics all over our bums, Thy whiles be dumber than Heavin’ after a rapturous binge. IT is mortally wounded but never quite dead. ID heads in a slouch toward Bethel OH… where Earth Mary bore a little lamb, its fleecing was white supremacist.

MEANWHILE…a Narcissist unfolds in the sustainable rooftop garden penthouse at the height of the GATEKEEPERS ivory watch tower of babel, wilting over the trickle-down-piss-boy-gold-plaited-fountain, (the last piece of ART under earth), only to succumb to the next great wave of depressive self reverence atop the Mirage Hotel. DON’T JUMP. JUMP! Sharks churn The Oasis.


II. The Trumping of the Will.

An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan. Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us … [but] who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements?”

Neil Postman, “Amusing Ourselves to Death”.


Have you seen this trash they call ART in museums nowadays? Cigarette butts in an ashtray! Videos of Black Lives Matter Riots! Not a hand made or pretty thing in sight! Could we please make Art Great Again!?

A Concerned Patriot



Sorry Dearie, but I think it’s time to fight fire with fire.


III. Exhibitionism.

The Constitution/ A noble piece of paper/ With free society/ Struggled but it died in vain/ And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain/ Looks like it’s hoping/ Hoping for some rain.”

Gil Scott Heron “Winter in America”, 1974.


How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?”

Max Bialystock character from the 1967 film “The Producers”.


You will ask yourself questions like: what is the history of wind? How did this gust arrive here? Where did it come from and who am I to be blown by it? The storm is blowing people back to their homes, blowing goods back to their factories, blowing factories back to their countries, blowing people back into their past.”

Hito Steyerl, “Liquidity Inc.” 2014.


For some it’s Winter in America. For others I suppose it might be “Springtime for Hitler and Germany”. Seems that more and more that this perspective depends on how you regard it all, not on anything necessarily factual, or scientific, or real even, now that we’ve begun the inevitable three and a half dimensional high gear shift into virtual-reality, spending more and more time in front of our screens when we should probably be in primal scream therapy, or screaming in the streets. But with a 6th great mass extinction sucking US and all our classic cars into sinkhole massacres on the Bowling Green, will it really matter?


Maybe this is just the inevitability of the face of the Ugly American Spirit emerging from the shadowy unreachable of the Deep State now that the Multi-National Final Empire has started its inevitable decline into a white hot overdriven form of Disaster Capitalism that can’t help but produce its own self-immolation? Or is this just the next Great White hope going into the Ring of the Nibelungen, up against the Last Chinese Hoax, only to get pummeled by the reality of its truly world-wide minority.


For Elena Harvey Collins And Liz Roberts “Soft Regards” Installation, which has already come and gone from the Weston Gallery, the suggestion seems to be hope for the best but prepare for the worst, conceptually and practically. Get into Bunker Mode with a pillow, a calming tea, and some of your favorite dystopian books. Learn some low-cost self-defense methods. Meditate against the Great Anxiety Generation. Practice Yoga with some self-help tapes playing softly in the background while watching Sigourney Weaver kick ass and take Alien names -on mute. Be Resourceful. Build a pitfall covered in resistance bands for the IT or WHO that will go unnamed but still goes bump in the night. Appropriate something from the Angry White Survivalists, in a sort of tongue and cheek, scary that it’s become a necessity as much as an art, kinda sorta thing. Like, duct tape like, a collection of your like, leftover bathroom tiles and unwanted books around your chest cavity in case like, someone starts shooting. Like, running becomes like, a real chore, unless you’ve like, been working out doing crunches regularly. This work though seems a purposefully ironic, and sometimes even powerful mix of the trite and the most serious.


The Weston’s glassed in main floor is usually a welcome challenge for most installation artists, who tend to go big and vertical when faced with the expanse. Collins and Harvey don’t differ much in that respect. Yet the first thing you might have encountered from this project, if you didn’t miss it altogether, was an almost slapdash quad of what looked like copier machine paper that seemed taped up last minute to the gallery glass facing streetwise and emblazoned with the somewhat half-hearted and rather cryptic resistance slogans like: “MOTHER AND DESTROY/ REFUSE TO NORMALIZE/ STAY WITH THE TROUBLE/ GO OFF SCREEN.” Not any “NO TRUMP/ NO KKK/ NO FASCIST USA” here…keep moving please…


The last three seem straightforward enough; the third is even a recent title from seminal (ovational rather?) author Donna Hathaway, who published her radical and timely (1984) post-humanist and nearly genderless affirming work “The Cyborg Manifesto”, which seems both ahead of its time and maybe even quaint from our Post-Orwellian perspective:


The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of retuning to dust.

Donna Haraway “The Cyborg Manifesto”.


The Mother of all our problems might just be that garden, and the relentless logic of this machine we have mothered that might in fact destroy us with that reason not born of dust or mud. Hi IT, can we um, incorporate some clay into this coding pls? MOTHER AND DESTROY seems, on the surface at least, to be the most paradoxical statement among these, and tends to encapsulate the mood of the rest of the installation. You can possibly and simultaneously nurture some-things and decimate others. It’s necessary to choose your political battles though.

November, 2016, one of four letterpress posters, 15 x 19 ½”

In the Weston’s street-level gallery, the “Soft Regards” artists installed a triptych of banners that picture advertising on the side of a trailer for new homes in the middle of what looks to be a drought stricken desert, if such a thing is possible or even advisable -making the womb of hearth and home in such an arid region. This is also an apt symbol for the great recession and Americans “Can Do” attitude flying in the face of a resounding “Why Do?” Dispersed among these banners, as if holding them down like paperweights, were artificial rocks containing audio speakers playing looped sample snippets of yoga breathing exercises mixed with sound bites from films portraying the Nouveau Heroines of recent action/ Sci-Fi film fame such as “Alien”, “Terminator”, and “Lady Snowblood”. This collectively is entitled “How to Make Stones Weep” and overall seems to have an almost biblical sweep: like a deteriorated, barely illuminated pic from a Dark Ages table top “Book of Revelations” juxtaposed with advertisements for the apocalypse retrieved from a dumpster dive of history.

“How to Make Stones Weep”, 2016. Printed vinyl banners rock speakers, looping sound.

Tucked away in the corner next to this banner triptych are the appropriations of pages from “survivalist bibles” annotated in red with phrases from Hiro Steryl’s appropriately appropriated essay “The Wretched of the Cinema”. These pages represent something that is becoming an increasingly and weirdly practical solution for The Road Many of US Are About to Travel, with titles like: “Disposing of a Body/ Leaving Zero Digital Trace Behind/ Use Improvised Body Armor/ Become Crisis Proof”.

No. 045: Dispose of a Body, diagrams from 100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson, (detail) annotated with text from ““Cut! Reproduction and Recombination”, Wretched of the Screen, Hito Steyerl, 2015.

Weaving ONE’s way down the Weston’s steps, to the second half of the show, (because the show must go on, right?), ONE would have found “Resistance” 2016, a series of exercise bands stretched above and between the staircases that traverse and connect the Weston’s upper and lower galleries. These seemed to express the somewhat futile exercise of trying to disrupt an increasingly militarized state with such flimsy tactical practices as vague as staying in shape. Shadows of this resistance, (which were banded across the show’s title displayed at the lower level entrance), become distended lines expressing a kind of labyrinthine conceptual imprisonment, a memory of something courageous when the boundaries of imprisonment seemed clear. Seems apropos also to speak of this exhibition in the past tense since we seem to increasingly be looking at America in our rearview mirrors, where our common goals constantly recede. But maybe that’s just life…or death.

Lower Level Entrance, Courtesy Weston Gallery.

IV. The Elixir Of Resistance.


If you look into your own mind, which are you, Don Quixote or Sancho Panza?” Almost certainly you are both. There is one part of you that wishes to be a hero or a saint, but another part of you is a little fat man who sees very clearly the advantages of staying alive with a whole skin. He is your unofficial self, the voice of the belly protesting against the soul.” 
 George Orwell, “All Art Is Propaganda”: Critical Essays


This piece is also about reorienting the gaze; “Soft Regards means a way of looking that is gendered, a femme way of looking that is soft but serious, that addresses the power relations in how landscape is seen, processed and represented.”

Elena Harvey Collins And Liz Roberts, from “refiguaral” magazine interview.


So, the Labyrinth is a piece of cake, is it? Well, let’s see how you deal with this little slice…”

David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King in “The Labyrinth”.

As ONE would have wound one’s way down to the lower level of this exhibition, one would have encountered a wall projected upon a wall with a flat screen TV propped in a corner and bits of a sort of stream of consciousness script exhibited on the walls.

Installation view, Soft Regards, 2016, Weston Art Gallery. Image courtesy of the Weston Art Gallery. Photo: Sylbester Yeo.

The wall had projections on 3 sides of the central cube in the gallery, a slowed down loop of some tracking shots of a never-ending series of the walls of DIY gated communities as seen from a car, which had the disconcerting effect of something moving while you’re standing still, when you don’t feel like you should be, standing still that is… sort of like a flurry of Executive Orders that include a wall you don’t want and don’t agree with but are going to pay for anyway. On the flat screen in the corner were “screen tests” from the exhibited scripts, an almost absurd rendering of our new normal, where moms take their kids to home improvement stores, collecting DIY materials for physical self-preservation against the great big THREAT. What the alt right and alt left seem to agree to in all of this is the survival part. From WHAT seems to be the deeper question.

There IS something to fear and IT is fear itself.

Video stills from Number 008: Use Improvised Body Armor, 2016, HD color video, Silent, 00:04:22 (looped).

Inside this projected upon cube/ bunker entitled “The Paranoid Library” were a collection of books elle-bent mostly on topics of “femme” or minority preservation both physical and psychological: all the way from Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” to “A Gynecological Guide to Your Body”. 

“Paranoid Library” 2016, 23 selected books and texts, 2 beanbag chairs, and posters.

Actually, when I think about it, there seemed to be little in this exhibition for the ANGRYMAN, except for the nods to survivalist techniques, which of course is fine and probably the point. HE will probably only be reached with politically overt Super Bowl beer commercials anyway, that at least give the appearance of allowing for the dominant culture to speak when spoken to…albeit with the almighty cash register ringing patriotically in the background.


In the broader picture ONE always hopes that this sort of politically infused art will lead to politically infused action, once the shock of the now wears off. Freedom of Speech is nothing without an equivalent Freedom of Action. It’s just difficult when the Deep State seems to be holding the entire house of cards. 

“Soft Regards” Script Excerpt, 2016. Courtesy of Weston Gallery.

V. And Now… a Hardening Regard of the Future.


Hi! You’re here. And it’s now. And soon it will be the end.”

Matthew Collings “This Is Modern Art”, Episode 6 “The Shock of the Now”.


Revolution 2076

(An Exploded Film)

(…and Sequel to Devolution 2016)





Tonight on the Brave New Orwellian Minority Report, we swear in the new IMPresinator.


CUT TO: Camera cranes in as President Elect Arenault TWO TERM-INATOR SCHWARZENEGGER begins to malfunction mid-inaugural speech, parroting himself on a loop.


Alternate facts. Alternate facts. Alternate facts.


Per Ubu Uber Alles!


I’ve got me a Moby Dick!


This is the Best Political Performance Art Ever!

Also Staring (sic):


(Screaming from an Exercise Bike)

Mother and Destroy, Refuse to Normalize, Stay with the Trouble, Go Off Scream!


Me the People in order to form a more perfect UNion…

White + Might = ALT Right.

He is The Great White Angry Hope.


Are you so blind with reality that you can’t face virtual reality?


You makum powerful political hokum pokeUS.

Me see a wall projected upon a wall…


UN-ion. A glass UN…LHOOQing through a glass UNion.

Your Toupee + Hitler’s Mustache = A Warm Gun…


The toothbrush mustache, the comb over, the gilded toilet, the Hussein Republican Palace, Hussein Obama, the Versailles Palace, Trump Towers.

This is not a pipe dream.


There’s only one way to stop a Mad Twit.


FaceBunker. I like it!


You can’t handle the lies!


Art is a lie that is a truth that is a lie that is a truth…

All Art is equal but some Art is more equal than others Art.


You can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!





The End.


Regan Brown (http://www.reganbrown.com/) has advanced degrees in both Creative Writing/ Journalism (B.A. Miami Oxford, 1991) and Fine Arts (MFA, Electronic Arts, DAAP 2009). That noticeable gap is not a typo, but represents a long stint spent living and working in Post-Soviet Central Europe as a journalist, woodwind multi-instrumentalist, professor and audio/ video producer. He currently teaches Film and Video at The Art Academy of Cincinnati and has several in progress projects.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *