The Frank Gehry Intervention


Dreamed up by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press, 1976, it describes a complex of distinct memorable units that can be transmitted, directly or indirectly, from one mind to another. The word denotes the Cultural equivalent of Biology’s Genes, and implies that memes likewise follow the rules of Darwinian evolution.

American Heritage Dictionary:
A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.

See also: “Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination”, Daniel C. Dennett, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 48:2 Spring, 1990, pp 127-135.


The business card image above was a gift from my son based on one local group’s declaration that I was their terrorism expert. Loving the card, but unwilling to claim an unwarranted authority - or get on some federal Terror Watch List - required a separate intervention. And since nothing devalues the functional like an Art meme, I simply made an edition of my son’s gift. Thus each card is numbered n/100, initialed – no room for a signature – and dated.


For the most part my sculpture falls within traditions beginning with Dada but connected into a slew of other art world memes - pigeonholes - including but not limited to, Surrealism, Neo-Dada, Conceptualism, Assemblage, POMO, etc. I use Analytic Dada as the terms (memes) are oxymoronic and therefore apt as well as descriptive.

I’ve generally thought about my sculpture in terms of Set Theory where pieces can fit into standard or idiosyncratic art world categories, or represent series begun but never extended. The development of Eurasian Calligraphy – and not Frank Gehry’s folly - got me to thinking about my artwork in terms of Memes.

Writing Western texts vertically involves lnking the Western alphabetic and linguistic memes with those of various Asian calligraphic memes. For this vertical script to become another meme in our vast ocean of cultural memes, it must embody itself in others’ minds as well as in cultural artifacts. Obviously, this website is designed to infect other minds.



Since I understand Frank Gehry’s designs as being fundamental to his art, my interventions as memetic architectural critic have necessarily become a part of my own back story… hence this section of the website.   And as with Rauschenberg’s erasure of de Kooning’s drawing, Gehry made it easy to see in his first published Site Plan reasons to want to erase his designs on the relative tranquility of Brooklyn life… my Brooklyn life, here, barely a quarter block from the Atlantic Yards Project’s eastern boundary.



The two Gehry Interventions have had markedly different receptions. The memes clustered around Terrorism have certain memetic hurdles to surmount, especially when posited by a private citizen. Thus it has never been a question of contesting the details or logic, instead what looms largest are Allowing the Terrorists to Win, Fear Mongering, Acting like Republicans, Obstructionism, “NIMBY’ism”, etc.

The memes associated with Solar Access Rights, on the other hand, have worked in favor of that idea’s acceptance.   Sunlight “is”, by association, Green, Warm, Bright. Shadows, on the other side, connect with Cold, Dark… Hidden.  Unfortunately, within the memes of the Law, unexercised Solar Rights have little or no standing. Thus, as Solar Access Rights are not (yet) the legal equivalent of Air Rights this intervention, unlike that regarding public safety, did not make it into the current lawsuit.