Luther Blisset on Thu, 24 Feb 2000 21:06:42 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] Interview: Cary Peppermint


The following interview was conducted between Luther Blisset and Cary 
Peppermint on the Staton Island Ferry, February 14, 2000 in NYC.  Peppermint 
brought along his mother for this interview .  She quickly left us in favor 
of a large can of Budweiser b eer and the scenic vistas of the island of 
Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. - LB


Blisset:  Your works such as "The Mashed Potato Supper" and "Conductor 
Number One: Getting In Touch With Chicken" were some of the first real-time 
performances over the internet.  Could you talk a bit about these works and 
their relation to internet art, new media technologies and the current state 
of affairs with

Peppermint:  No, I cannot talk about trends in art.  The works you mention 
were executed with a conscious and sometimes unconscious disregard for any 
medium or movement.  They are intuitive undertakings many times based on 
theory forgotten or experiences given over to the loose fabric of memory; 
many mis-understandings.   Would one wish to epitomize their lifetime 
beneath a single statement?

Blisset:  Well, could you maybe just tell us your motivations or the energy 
surrounding some of these initial internet performances.

Peppermint:  Sure, but only as best I understand them now at this specific 
moment in time.  "Conductor Number One" went something like this: Humans are 
afraid of themselves.  Human perception is regulated and/or dulled by 
frames.  Humans are always mediated.  Mediation is a lie told with the 
utmost conviction.  "The Mashed Potato Supper" went something like this:  
The real-time event supersedes in importance the actual event.  No 
extraneous chewing.  Lets make friends with the spectral images of others.  
Let's be no one and no where right here, right now, no-where.

Blisset: So is it true you model your fashion and personal appearance after 
REM's Michael Stipe?

Peppermint: Well in the early 1990's I began to cultivate an initial 
understanding of Art which I now think of as "Restless Culture".  At the 
time I lived in Athens, Georgia and Stipe was a great reference for fashion 
because he had the agency to travel much more than I via his pop star 
status.  He would in effect bring back the surface veneer of a world then en 
route to global capitalism and I would happily try it on.

Blisset: How would you currently explain "Restless Culture"?

Peppermint: Someone the other day said to me, "Oh yea, I understand this 
'Restless Culture'... Its sort of like you change so fast that market can't 
keep up with you".  And I thought, maybe... but where is one ever located?  
Then I thought there is really no place to be anyway and this may be an 
understanding of art with a profound precision most minds refuse to 
calculate.  Then I thought of a good friend of mine Chilean artist, 
Guillermo Cifuentes who claims to be in a state of permanent departure. Then 
I thought restlessness is a real dissatisfaction with the way things are, a 
sort of hyper-conscious; an understanding where an artist breaks the 
seemingly continuous surface of beings by producing intermittent exposures.  
Then I thought about us discontinuous beings and how exposures function as 

Blisset:  Capital or i.e., fashion is an over-exposure.  A great light 
blinding the real.  Jem Cohen made a film after the Berlin wall came down.  
He called it "Buried In Light".  I think it was about the disappearance of 
culture beneath the hype of capital.

Peppermint:  Yes. Uh-huh. Yes. Uh-huh.

Blisset:  You are a fashionable human.  You were educated within the 
academy.  You oftentimes give off the radiance of a pop-star.  How is it you 
can critique with sincerity a system of which you are obviously so willfully 
and somewhat gleefully integrated.

Peppermint:  I am an artist not a holy man and desire is a complex 
phenomenon steeped in the erotic.  Eroticism is a great impetus to my work.  
Things prohibited result in things sacred.  My job here is to suggest points 
of departure, to cull obscurities and to possibly re-work the sacred.  
Sometimes I ride a bus.  Sometimes I ride the subway.  Sometimes I walk down 
the street.  The academy bought me time to understand myself outside of 
capitalist production.  Fashion affords me a point of entry or admission 
into unsuspecting scenes singularly based on class status where I can 
collect invaluable data and conduct research experiments and/or performance 

Blisset: Can there be such a thing at this date as sincerity in art?  Does 
irony play into your work?  What about Humor?  Is art simply regulated to 
the role of entertainment as the Walker's "Art Entertainment Network" might 

Peppermint:  Maybe sincerity in art is possible if you know exactly whose or 
what kind of shoulders we are standing upon by this I mean historical 
context.  If we were to accept our contemporary western and sadly dominant 
culture as a self-perpetuating spectacle, an accelerated system of capital 
and exchange then we could approach a sort of "simulation sincerity" amidst 
this mass proliferation of imagery by dressing as our favorite tele-tubbie 
and then performing open heart surgery on someone in need.  Please 
understand, my work is not for entertainment.  Certainly aspects of my work 
are entertaining but these aspects function only as a vehicle for something 
else... something that could be difficult to handle or terribly frightening 
or maybe just quiet... so quiet you can hear nothing at all.  The sound of 
nothing where your being just moments ago effortlessly resided until wildly 
illuminated by exposure, made restless by art.

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