John Riegert, by Eric Lidji, and Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich, by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE | Book Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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John Riegert, by Eric Lidji, and Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich, by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE 

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Reviews of the first 50 pages of works by local authors.

JOHN RIEGERT. The 2016 SPACE gallery exhibit John Riegert was a Pittsburgh first: some 250 portraits of the same person, by 250 different artists. So why not commemorate it with a 700-page book? Most of this gorgeous, coffee-table-sized hardcover is a long essay by Eric Lidji, documenting the exhibit’s making — mostly local character Riegert’s encounters with many of the contributing artists. Lidji shadowed Riegert for more than a year, and his writing is clear, funny and sensitive. These sketches of the artists, and ruminations on the nature of art, themselves comprise a group portrait of a cross-section of Pittsburgh’s contemporary art community. But if the book’s principal project is a literary portrait of the charming, guileless and sometimes troubled Riegert, a moving subplot recounts the growing relationship between him and Lidji.

Graphic designer Brett Yasko, Riegert’s friend who conceived the show, self-published the book (with support from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and others) and supplies many of the copious photos. Images of all the portraits in the exhibit are also included.

John Riegert ($50) is available on Amazon and at the Carnegie Museum of Art bookstore and Caliban Books.

At 6 p.m. Wed., Sept. 6, Lidji reads from John Riegert at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Main Branch. 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. www.carnegielibrary.org

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PARADIGM SHIFT KNUCKLE SANDWICH. Tapping inspirations including absurdist playwright Alfred Jarry, and Douglas Hofstadter’s classic book Godel Escher Bach, local art imp tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE offers this good-humored, self-published 407-page journey into mathy thought experiments, number games, logical conundrums and the nature of language. The general idea is that what we call “reality” can be improved upon, and that “paradigm shifts in consciousness can occur from ‘violent’ conceptual shocks to the (consensus reality?) system” that induce changes in the physical world. In Tent’s view, games where the rules change continuously are not only legit, but preferable to games with consistent rules. Obscure? A bit. But you don’t have to understand much math to be engaged by his wide-ranging intellectual curiosity and irrepressible sense of play. As Tent himself writes, “I don’t know where I am, but I won’t let that stop me from navigating thru the chaos of believing in nothing at the same time I believe in everything.”

Paradigm Shift ($20) is available on Amazon and at Caliban Books, Copacetic Comics, and White Whale Bookstore.


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