Andrew Hultkrans

  • Glenn McKay

    GLENN MCKAY PIONEERED the ’60s psychedelic light show, a somehow instantly tacky “art form” responsible for everything from Tom Wolfe having images “projected . . . on the back of [his] eyelids” while researching The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test to the Pink Floyd–scored Laserock freakouts I attended at the Hayden Planetarium as a seventh-grader. Like a creaky wave machine dusted off and set Into motion again, McKay’s work has been resurrected by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art under the rubric “Altered States” (until June 1). McKay, who founded his company Head Lights (get it, man?) In


    Not so long ago the decision to become an artist was greeted by parents with horror. But with the ’80s art boom, the joke was that art was every bit as solid a career choice as dentistry. With more than 10,000 students due to pack off to graduate arts programs this fall, we wondered where tomorrow’s MFAs most want to go today and why. With all signs pointing to Los Angeles and a pair of schools—UCLA and the Art Center College of Design—battling for the distinction of Black Mountain by the beach, we asked ANDREW HULTKRANS to visit the campuses and talk with students in their studios. Photographer

  • Andrew Hultkrans on Wired design

    In 1993, Day-Glo ads on buses proclaimed the arrival of the “Digital Revolution” and the birth of Wired magazine, the self-appointed arbiter of said revolution. These promos also augured the magazine’s retina-scorching design. Created by John Plunkett and Barbara Kuhr, Wired’s look has been an amalgamation of rave flyer aesthetics, Haight-Ashbury psychedelia, and Quentin Fiore’s pioneering design of Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage. Most indebted to Fiore’s style are the magazine’s opening spreads, called “Intro Quotes,” which offer purportedly “mind-blowing” prognostications of the future. When anthologizing these pieces for a self—published book, the editors went so far as to call them “Mind Grenades: Manifestoes from the Future.”
    San Francisco MoMA recently displayed a handful of these “mind grenades.” How surprisingly incombustible they now seem. The ore benign ones sound like tautologies rather than manifestoes; others appear misguided. Wired’s gospel —that libertarian techno-capitalism will create a utopian leisure society—s increasingly out of step with a world in which the work week lengthens, the gap between rich and poor widens, and the government scrutinizes Wired’s poster boy Bill Gates for his robber baron behavior.
    The graphics have also aged badly, save the spreads from the Japanese edition, which adopt an old-school collage strategy that evokes the detritus of industrial society. It seems odd that Japanese designers, at least superficially obsessed with a whiz-bang future, would illustrate a “cutting edge” tech magazine with such archaic images, but it works. If the US edition had as much respect for the future as its Japanese version does for the past, Wired might one day achieve the revolutionary relevance it seeks.

  • Andrew Hultkrans on Tim Rollins and K.O.S.

    Prometheus Bound, the first website ( by Tim Rollins and Kids of Survival, is a typical K.O.S. project, where Rollins and company select a classic text or work of art, debate its meanings and relevance, and create something based on that material. Here, the source of their rumination is Aeschylus’ tragedy.
    Reading through the dialogues Rollins conducted is entertaining, and the high-low juxtapositions in the accompanying illustrations are refreshing—Goya rubbing shoulders with the Human Torch, Karloff’s Frankenstein menacing Georgia O’Keeffe. Unfortunately, there is little in the design of these pages to distinguish them from a magazine. Apart from the user’s ability to click on and enlarge the illustrations or add to the conversations by E-mail, this text—heavy project, sponsored by the Dia Center for the Arts, could just as easily be digested in hard copy.
    There are two modes of designing artworks for the Web. One incorporates the myriad features of the electronic medium into the work itself. The other far more common method amounts to little more than an electronic version of a museum catalogue. Prometheus Bound falls into that camp. Still, it’s not without merit. The K.O.S. street-slang version of Aeschylus’ text is hilarious. Why slog through the overwrought subject/predicate inversions of the Henry David Thoreau translation when you can visit an Olympus where the gods really talk shit. One only hopes that Rollins and K.O.S. will discover a way to incorporate the Web into their vision with as much brio as they have brought to the classics.
    Andrew Hultkrans

  • 'zine anthologies

    WILLFUL OBSCURANTISM, the elevation of the banal, and the ironic appreciation of trash culture are guiding principles of most ’zines. ’Zine pioneer Candi Strecker, ruminating on her own fascination with beer-can hats, eloquently identified this tendency in her Sidney Suppey’s Quarterly & Confused Pet Monthly all the way back in 1982. “Something has made our vision of the world go a bit askew,” she writes, “and instead of accepting the satisfactions that derive from being players in our society, we create our own amusement by examining the output of that society.” The average ’zine editor and

  • David Foster Wallace

    GIFTED IRONISTS DIE HARD. Which is why it’s so painful to watch David Foster Wallace’s awkward attempt to transmogrify from arch metafictionist to champion of Meaning. In his recent A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, a collection of magazine articles written between ’92 and ’96 and revised for the book, we witness Wallace’s protracted struggle to shed the glib, ironic armor of his early fiction by declaring his willingness “to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs . . . the ‘Oh how banal’” of the gifted ironist. For veteran Wallace-watchers, this New Sincerity


    “The deviant technology of the car-crash provided the sanction for any perverse act.”
    —J.G. Ballard

    SO CONCLUDES JAMES BALLARD, the conveniently named narrator of J.G. Ballard’s novel Crash, while contemplating a tryst with the story’s already damaged homme fatal, Vaughan, a brutal and charismatic ex-scientist whose current “project” documents grisly collisions between human flesh and Detroit dashboards. Just as Ballard found a green light for his darkest imaginings in the peculiar resonance of the car crash, David Cronenberg discovered in this “deviant technology” a new way “to show the unshowable,” resulting in his most disturbing film to date. For those intimate with Cronenberg’s

  • Three Days in the Desert

    SHADES OF Hunter S. Thompson . . . I am cruise-controlling through the Mojave desert having been dispatched by Artforum to cover a potentially dodgy event called “Chance: Three Days in the Desert,” described by its creator Chris Kraus as “a philosophical rave and summit meeting between artists and philosophers, chaosophists and croupiers, mathematicians and musicians,” and archly located at a resort casino forty miles south of Vegas. Obviously chosen for its “post-modern” kitsch value, Whiskey Pete's turns out to be both too cheesy and not cheesy enough. The locals populating the casino floor

  • the Year's Images

    1996 has not been a banner year for memorable images. “OJ 2: The Wrath of Goldman” was removed from the fall TV lineup, political scandals were bereft of salacious visuals, and yet another Nintendo bombing raid on Iraq was preempted by Baywatch reruns. Even the “outing” of presidential adviser and hardened toe-sucking enthusiast Dick Morris failed to generate any dirty pictures. In the latter part of the year, we were left to watch two completely compromised politicians struggle half-heartedly to shove each other out of the ideological center. Indeed, the grinding banality of the 1996 presidential

  • Laptop Cops

    IN FEBRUARY 1996, hot on the heels of ill-conceived Hollywood artifacts The Net and Hackers, Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick delivers a rambling, paranoid speech on the specter of computer hackers and “info warfare” to a closed session of the National Security in the Information Age conference at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Menacing her audience with an extended rap sheet of malicious hacking incidents (as well as bizarre digressions on alienation and loneliness in the Computer Age), Gorelick calls for “the equivalent of the Manhattan Project” to combat the mounting

  • Naughty Bytes

    IN FEBRUARY 1995, Senator James Exon (D-Nebraska)—whose name shares the ominous “xon” suffix with such other authors of unmitigated disasters as Richard Nixon and the Exxon Valdez—introduced the Communications Decency Act (CDA) as a stealthy remora on the back of a regulation-munching shark, the Telecommunications Reform Bill. The CDA was then defanged and refanged in a series of cheap backroom operations that would affront the dignity of the shoddiest Tijuana dentist. Nevertheless, a version of the law, censoring incisors intact, was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress and signed


    A PAINTER WHO ENROLLED in the Whitney Program before migrating to Columbia Film School, Kathryn Bigelow is something of an anomaly in Planet Hollywood. Combining an affinity for the frenetic rhythms of the thriller with a taste for subversive genre-bending that recalls her “high art” beginnings, Bigelow is a consummate technician whose balletic action sequences remind us how cinematically pure the language of violence can be. Her latest film, Strange Days, is a tech-noir set in a Los Angeles on the brink of the millennium, where conflicting visions of rapture and revolution divide the collective