Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things People See




We see a baboon at Cape Point
in South Africa










200 years from now
100 solid years of digital photography, at least
everything has been seen
all is uploaded
we are ready for the virtual world
we can go anywhere
see anything
we just plug in
Already today
I've seen:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Destruction Is Creation"


While not posted as a comment on my last post, this was a response that I got to my reflections on the neon statement: "Artists need to create on the same scale as society has the capacity to destroy"

I've been thinking about this statement. "Destruction is Creation."

Here is a quote by Chuang Tzu, as translated by Derek Lin:

"When you break something up, you create things.
When you create something, you destroy things.
Material things have no creation or destruction.
Ultimately these concepts connect as one." 

Yes, this is true. 
It is true that forest fires create space for new growth and generate ash which is very fertile for the land.
It is true that the breaking down of a structure can allow for a new one to form. If one is not attached to either form than the "destruction" of one can certainly be the "creation" of another.

Still, there is something sticky. I suppose I am thinking about different types of creation and destruction. Different qualities, different intentions. As an artist, I'm thinking about my own creative process, and the things I've learned along the way. I'm thinking about a transformative process and calling one type of energy "creation" and the other "destruction". 

The process I am aware of, which I call "creation", has an intention which guides it. This process is deliberate and considered. It is a kind of refinement and also communication. 

The process I am aware of, which I call "destruction", uses a totally different type of energy. I feel like the difference is in the intention. I think that the attempt at communication is missing, and rather, it is a kind of erasure. 



















Here is a piece that I "created" this past week for a show at 23HAM in Berkeley.
To create this piece I cut out 95% of all of the words that were printed on the map. This was a subtractive process, I was, in a sense, taking the map apart. Does this make it a destructive process? I don't think so.

I did destruct the map to create the artwork. Is that the same as cutting up the map aimlessly? Destruction that results in a pile of cut up paper? Is a pile of aimlessly cut up paper different than art? Hmmm... these are tough questions. My sense is that they are not the same. Intention seems like the key.

Here is a Scottish artist (who shares my name) who focuses in this type of creation through destruction, Georgia Russell:























De Baudelaire au Surréalisme 2007

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Farmlab







Seed Samples







?
Is this supposed to mean that the one balances out the other?

First of all, destruction is a much more rapid process than construction... Second of all, that's a HUGE responsibility for Artists!

How about:
"SOCIETY IS ONLY ALLOWED TO DESTROY AT THE RATE AT WHICH SOCIETY CAN CREATE"




"... (they) grow from the engine cavities, cabs, flatbeds, and trunks of scrap vehicles. Conjuring new ways to integrate organic life into an auto centric built environment the wheeled vehicles are still mobile when pushed or towed."
-Farmlab brochure





Photos from Farmlab in L.A.

"Continuing to serve as a catalyst for community involvement and change through the development of art actions, projects, and otherwise, Farmlab is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuity of all living things."











Sunday, November 30, 2008

Egret Observations


I see them
4 white Egrets in the marsh
fishing 
looks like

They have orange bills
they stand, they don't swim
every once in a while 
they jab at the water

Actually there are 5
Spied unaware
bathing together
on a warm afternoon

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's The Little Things...
















I've been doing projects with found pennies since 2002.  Why? I'm asking myself that regularly. They are these recurring elements, falling in between valuable and worthless, noticed and unnoticed, cared for and disregarded. They are like so many, many things in our world. It's not about the pennies...

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Declare!






The Bread & Puppet "Cheap Art Manifesto"





















"Thank you, Francis!"
by Francis Picabia
January 1923

One must become acquainted with everybody except oneself; one must not know which sex one belongs to; I do not care whether I am male or female, I do not admire men more than I do women. Having no virtue, I am assured of not suffering from them. Many people seek the road which can lead them to their ideal: I have no ideal; the person who parades his ideal is only an arriviste. Undoubtedly, I am also an arriviste, but my lack of scruples is an invention for myself, a subjectivity. Objectively it would consist of awarding myself the légion d'honneur, of wishing to become a minister or of plotting to get into the Institute! Well, for me, all that is shit!

What I like is to invent, to imagine, to make myself a new man every moment, then forget him, forget everything. We should be equipped with a special eraser, gradually effacing our works and the memory of them. Our brain should be nothing back a blackboard, or white, or better, a mirror in which we would see ourselves for a moment, only to turn our back on it two minutes later. My ambition is to be a man sterile for others; the man who set himself up as a school disgusts me, he gives his gonorrhea to artists for nothing and sells it as clearly as possible to amateurs. Actually, writers, painters, and other idiots have passed on the word to fight against the 'monsters', monsters who, naturally, do not exist, who are pure inventions, of man.

Artists are afraid; they whisper in each other's ears about a boogey man which might well prevent them from playing their dirty little tricks! No age, I believe, has been more imbecilic than ours. These gentlemen would have us believe that nothing is happening anymore; the train reversing its engines, it seems, is very pretty to look at, cows are no longer enough! The travelers to this backward Decanville are named: Matisse, Morandi, Braque, Picasso, Léger, de Segonzac, etc., etc. ... What is funniest of all is that they accept, as stationmaster, Louis Vauxcelles, whose great black napkin contains only a foetus!

Since the war, a ponderous and half-witted sentiment of morality rules the entire world. The moralists never discern the moral facts of appearances, the Church for them is a morality like the morality of drinking water, or of not daring to wash one's ass in front of a parrot! All that is arbitrary; people with morals are badly informed, and those who are informed know that the others will not inform themselves.

There is no such thing as a moral problem; morality like modesty is one of the greatest stupidities. The asshole of morality should take the form of a chamber-pot, that's all the objectivity I ask of it.

This contagious disease called morality has succeeded in contaminating all of the so-called artistic milieux; writers and painters become serious people, and soon we shall have a minister of painting and literature; I don't doubt that there will be still more frightful assininities. The poets no longer know what to say, so some are becoming Catholics, others believers; these men manufacture their little scribblings as Félix Potin does his cold chicken preserves; people say that Dada is the end of romanticism, that I am a clown, and they cry long live classicism which will save the pure souls and their ambitions, the simple souls so dear to those afflicted by dreams of grandeur!

However, I don not abandon the hope that nothing is finished yet, I am here, and so are several friends who have a love of life, a life we do not know and which interests us for that very reason.

originally published in Littérature, new series no. 8, Paris, January 1923 as 'Francis Merci!'






"the radical artists' manifesto"
by arp, baumann, eggeling, giacometti, helbig, henning, janco, morach, richter
11th april 1919

A clear, straightforward gaze must predominate if decisions of great import are to be taken. Spiritually and materially, we demand our right: representatives of an essential part of culture, we, the artists, want to take part in the ideological development of the State; we want to exist in the State and take our full share of responsibilities. We declare that the artistic laws of our time are already formulated in their main outline. The spirit of abstract art represents an enormous extension in man's feeling of freedom. Our faith is fraternal art: art's new mission in society. Art imposes clarity; should serve as a basis for the new man. He should belong to everyone without class distinction. We want to channel the conscious production-strength of each individual into the completion of the communal undertaking. We are fighting lack of system, destroyer of strength. Our highest aspiration is to realise a spiritual basis of understanding for all men. This is our duty. This work ensures the greatest vitality for all people. The initiative for this is ours. We shall direct its course and give expression to its wishes by joining into a harmonious whole its most disparate elements.

11 April 1919.
arp, baumann, eggeling, giacometti, helbig, henning, janco, morach, richter









"Extropic Art Manifesto 
of
Transhumanist Arts"
____________________

We are transhumans.

Our art integrates the most eminent progression
of creativity and sensibility
merged by discovery.

I am the architect of my existence. My art reflects my vision and represents my values. 
It conveys the very essence of my being—coalescing imagination and insight, challenging all limits.

We are exploring how current and future technologies affect our senses, our cognition and our lives. 
Our attention to these relationships become fields of art as we participate in the most immediate and 
vital issues for transhumanity—extending life, augmenting intelligence and creativity, exploring the universe. 

Artists, as communicators, bring together the passions, the dreams and the hopes of transhumanity and 
express these emotions in ways that touch us deeply. 
Transhumanist Arts reflects an extropic appreciation of aesthetics in a technologically enhanced world.

We are voices of transhumanity. Our voices are a synthesis, rhythm and exploration of imagination.

The Transhumanist Arts movement and its genres regard art as more than an artifact. 
Art influences social and cultural change: how we live and who we are. 
It creates a sense of self, art as being, autonomous yet connected to culture’s 
continuum. How we accomplish our intentions is a matter of selective individual choice—
whether abstract or representational, whether artifact or conceptual. 
Our criteria for art remain open and we welcome cross-disciplinary innovations.

As we move into the 21st Century, 
Transhumanist Arts and Extropic Art will suffuse the universe around us. 
Our unique ingenuity will spread far out into the capillaries of our culture. 
We are active participants in our own evolution from human to posthuman. 
We are shaping the image—the design and the essence—of what we are becoming.


Natasha Vita-More
Authored January 1, 1997 ©
2003 ©

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Spy...


Through My Bionic Eye...






















So, another science non-fiction. 
What will we see with extra-sensing eyes?
How will it change our understanding of the world?
...Do we need special lenses to expand our perceptive capacities?
Does our ability to "see" reside in the circuitry?
Or does it depend on our cognitive capacity of understanding?
Is a mechanical improvement really what we are looking for?
As humans, aren't we always looking for an expanded vision that reaches beyond mechanics into meaning?
What blind-spots will be created by a constant 3rd party analysis of what we perceive?
Computers are not omnipotent voices from on high, they are created and programmed by a select group of humans.

What could we accomplish if this type of creativity, innovation, and intellectual prowess was applied to the world crises in communication and distribution of resources?
What would happen if we invested in those issues?


More Bionic Eyes:




Related Articles:

"Bionic" Contact Lens May Create Tiny Personal Displays; National Geographic

Bionics: The Six Million Dollar Question; Scienceagogo.com

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Twilight Zone












This is a picture of a mouse that has been frozen for 16 years. Why are we looking at this? Scientists have successfully cloned a healthy mouse from the cells of this mouse-sicle. Scary.

What's next, Woolly Mammoths? Saber Tooth Tigers? Or how about we bring to life some of our ancient relatives, like our dear friend the Neanderthal Man or Turkana Boy, so we can imprison them in laboratories, stick electrodes in them, and study ourselves!

Who are the aliens that are abducting people and probing them in scientific experiments? WE ARE!

(read the article)

Holy Amazing-ness Batman! (website)

Okay, this website, and the projects on it, are INCREDIBLE!

Here is some info about the group:

"Bestiario is a small Barcelona/Lisbon based company, which was founded two years ago. We are dedicated to data dynamic representation and to the creation of digital spaces for the collective creation of knowledge. Our slogan is: 'making the complex comprehensible.' We combine art and science to design and create interactive information spaces. We developed a powerful framework based on graph theory, topological algorithms, physic models, geometrical and geographical representations."


The Masterminds are:

Jose Aguirre
Santiago Ortiz
Andrés Ortiz

and here is their site:

bestiario.org

You MUST check it out! It will blow your mind.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Personal Service Announcements


Laurie Anderson: Personal Service Announcements

I think these are from the late 80's early 90's. It was actually hard to find information about them (resources anyone?). They are amazing.


PSA: "National Anthem"





PSA: "Women and Money"





PSA: "Television"





PSA: "National Debt"





PSA: "Military Research"






PSA: "Jerry Rigging"

Dreaming of L.A.


I dreamt about Laurie Anderson last night. 

We had a moment. 

I was in a large warehouse style room. Gigantic really. Everything was white, metal, clean. There were enormous storage bins suspended from the ceiling which held different ingredients. It was some kind of backstage for a restaurant. A kitchen. I was managing a team. Restaurant workers? We were preparing something, cleaning, putting things in order. Something was spilling. Maple Syrup leaking out onto the floor, overflowing from a dish on a table onto the floor. No problem, just clean it up. Then drip drip drip, leaking from above. The bin, a bedroom-sized box filled with Maple Syrup, is busting at the seams. Streams of Maple Syrup running down its sides. And then it "goes" - and there is a Maple Syrupy mess everywhere. We are startled. We step back and clear the space, and then the bin next to it goes. Large rigatoni pour from above, crashing over the sterile kitchen architecture. Another bin goes. More pasta. Click clackety tap. Click clackety-tappity-clackety-tappity-clackety-tappity-clackety-tappity-clackety-tappity-tap. Raining percussion . There is no anxiety, only suprise. We retreat.

I left a note for Laurie Anderson. I told her about the uncontrollable cascades of food items and ingredients.  She and I exchange words in whispers. She is like an aunt, who is not really my aunt. Wise, Experienced, Gentle. 


Monday, October 27, 2008

"I'm a snob"



This is one of my favorite things that Laurie Anderson said at UC Berkeley on Saturday afternoon. She was answering a question that a member of the audience had asked. He had inquired about the kind of feedback that she received about her work; were people ever confused? Did people misread her work? --- Her answer was great. "Sometimes," she said, "people don't like it at all. They get it and they don't like it." She went on to explain that she didn't really care. That she was coming from the culture of the New York art world where: the less someone understands it the better. She mentioned that when her hit single from 1981, "O Superman," topped the charts, her peers were the opposite of impressed. Being famous was not the goal, being cheered by the masses meant that you were doing something wrong. "I'm a snob," she said. 

I'm not usually a fan of snobbery but whatever her angle was really worked. It was liberating to hear that one didn't have to make art that everyone could understand. It helped that she didn't seem like a snob at all. She just seemed like someone with a lot of confidence and integrity. She was polite and respectful to everyone, even the wacko types who asked her weird personal questions (which she maneuvered artfully).

"O Superman":




A few other favorite Laurie Andersonisms from Saturday:

- a hint for something to do when feeling blocked: set out to make the absolute worst piece of art that you can imagine. She says that this is helpful because it shows your limitations, the places that you are labeling for yourself as "off limits". (it also probably helps just to get you going. It must be easier to attempt making the worst art ever, than the best -- heck, I do it all the time without even trying!).

- she doesn't think that art has to change the world or make it a better place. She explains that it's not bad if art does this, and certainly it does from time to time. However, it shouldn't be the burden of artists to fix everything. She says that we should all be doing that.

- she doesn't like blogging. She refers to it as "mesearch" and says that she doesn't care that much about other people's personal lives.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For You
















The first project that I started working on was a mini-vigil operation. I came into grad-school being very interested in creating positive experiences for people and facilitating reaffirming moments. A central focus in this theme was the power of positive thinking. I felt that by creating a positive intention in our minds, we are creating positivity in our lives. I guess I thought that being an artist would give me an excuse to go around doing good deeds and adding a drop of sunshine to the lives of the people that I encounter. -- When I write it out like that it is no wonder that most of the people I've told these ideas to think that I am naive. Maybe I am/have been. The naivete, however, is not to believe in these things, but to assume that one can present them so bluntly. -- So I'm working on a spit-shine for my naivete.  -- 

The candles were my first attempt at the mini-vigil. I made little clay candle holders for them and then they sat in my studio for weeks because I couldn't decide how to send them out into the world. Finally, I found an entry point. Although I had wanted to approach people directly and invite them to join me for a vigil, I didn't feel ready for that. So, I decided to leave the candles randomly in different spots around the neighborhood (Potrero Hill, SF).  I wrote the words "for you" on the candle-holders so that the "finder" would understand that they were intentionally left to be found. -- I hope that a few people noticed them, and that curiosity was inspired. I wonder if anyone took the candle home, and I wonder if any of them were lit and meditated upon. 

     

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Doubt


"The only sensible way to regard the art life is that it is a privilege you are willing to pay for.... You may cite honors and attentions and even money paid, but I would have you note that these were paid a long time after the creator had gone through his struggles.
1865 - 1929

"Finishing a painting demands a heart of steel: everything requires a decision, and I find difficulties where I least expect them.... It is at such moments that one fully realizes one's own weaknesses."
1796 - 1863

"Even at this late date, I go into my studio, and I think 'Is this going to be it? Is it the end?' You see, nearly everything terrorizes me. I think that when an artist loses that terror, he's through."
1925 - 2008

"I believe in listening to cycles. I listen by not forcing. If I am in a dead working period, I wait, though these periods are hard to deal with. For the future, I'll see what happens. I'll be content if I get started again. If I feel that alive again. If I find myself working with the old intensity again."
1908 - 1983

"I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that didn't matter --- that would be my life."
1930 -

"I was discouraged about life, discouraged about people being blind, but I don't think I had a day that I ever questioned creativity. There has never been a day like that."
1900 - 1988

Monday, October 13, 2008

$5.20

Five Dollars and Twenty Cents

That is approximately what I am paying every hour of every day that I am enrolled in graduate school (not including the extra loan I took out to cover living expenses). Yes, I think about this, probably more often than I should. I'm thrifty person, and it seems very counter intuitive to spend more money than I have - isn't that the first commandment of personal finance that is not to be broken. But school is different right? It's an investment... 

Is an advanced art degree really worth $60,000? You know what I've learned so far? That only 10% of MFA grads continue to make any art at all after they graduate (note: 5 a's in a row!). Now a statistic like that doesn't actually discourage me, but the question is still to be explored: Why are my professors teaching me that statistic? I've also heard that the MFA degree is the most popular advanced degree to be awarded; again, not very encouraging. 

$120 a day for 9 months. That would cover regular yoga classes for the rest of my life.

Doubt. All artists have doubt. Do I doubt whether or not I will continue to make art? No. Do I doubt whether this degree is really going to help me get where I want to be? Yes. Do I know exactly where I want to be? No.

Ahh, sweet unknowing, your scent fills the night air and intoxicates. 

Even though I know it is not fruitful to  dwell on the anxiety, it is easy to indulge in doubts when there are challenges. Doubts offer a way out, and they always buy time. Hesitation, the difference between a tourist and a local. 

The best response to this question, I've decided, is that: since I've already laid down the money for this adventure, it would be silly to waste time I've already paid for by re-weighing a decision I've already made. The best thing to do is to get the most out of it until the point when I am faced with the decision again, at which point I can re-evaluate.

Oh! The exciting life of spending ridiculous amounts of money!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bikes, History, and Keepin' It Real


A bike tour of Dissent in San Francisco.

That's how I spent my afternoon. I've recently come into contact with a great local activist named Chris Carlsson. He's been involved in activism and culture making for a LONG time. He's a historian, and a dreamer. He's written a utopian sci-fi novel, After The Deluge,  of what a post economic San Francisco would be like in the future, and he recently came out with another new book: Nowtopia. His new book examines how we, in American society, occupy our time, specifically, how we "work". The book examines a new push in our culture to spend enormous amounts of time engaged in voluntary community activities and projects which feed our souls in a way that our "day jobs" cannot. Nowtopia is filled with examples of people "doing it for themselves". It's really informative and inspiring.

So Chris led our group of about 10 cyclists around the streets of San Francisco stopping at sites of protest, activism, alternative community initiatives, and the like. It was great to be biking through the streets as a group, and hearing this important community history was really wonderful. 

Among Chris' many other projects is his involvement in CounterPulse which is a local performance space and grassroots organizing hub (where I might be volunteering soon!).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Already Here

So many people out there saying the same thing. So what?!

This idea that somehow we all have to be different. Somehow uniquely unlike anyone we know, or anyone else knows, is ridiculous. Art school is full of people trying to be different. Our careers depend on it. We have to have "new" ideas and say things in "new" ways. Well, I don't think there are any NEW ideas, only OLD ideas. Everything we "discover" is just a process of remembering, or waking up. "NEW" is narcissistic, "new" is ownership, "new" is "mine". I, me, my name should go next to that. The colonization of mental space. Stick your flag in the next new theory. From now till the end of time, that's a "jackson pollack paint splatter," a "freudian perspective," a "(I wish I could think of lady culture-maker to insert here, alas)". I don't believe in the new. I believe in the "already here".

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Utopia & Eutopia

The word "utopia" translates to "no place". (Thank you Thomas More)

There is a flaw built in to our collective imagining of the future if nonexistence is built into the most commonly used word for a positive and idealistic projections. 


The word "eutopia", on the other hand, translates to "good place". Not an illusion, not impossible. Just good.

I am interested in the way that different people relate to these ideas. I am interested in hearing personal visions of eutopia/utopia. I want to know what fits in to these ideal environments. And I want to know what obstructions there are to contemplating optimistic possibilities. Does it feel silly? Does it feel unrealistic or irresponsible? Why? 

To Anyone,
If you are reading this blog, post your thoughts! What does your eutopia look like? What does it feel like to imagine it? When does it happen? 100 years? 1000 years? Next week? Who/What is out there leading us toward that vision? Who/What is standing in the way or pulling us in the opposite direction?

Eutopia


The future. What does it hold? Is it possible that our society can evolve and learn to solve the problems we are now facing? Can we all learn to get along? What would we do if our lives were not spent in solving conflicts? Would we spend our time avoiding conflicts? Would we create and experience new wonders? Sustainable wonders?

Will the entire world run out of water, oil, food? Or can we do something now to prevent that from happening? Isn't "pre-emptive action" the specialty of the times? 

The future is now. Who said that? At least 126,000 people. It's not a secret. 

The future. If the future is now, then we have the power to change the future. By the decisions that we make in our individual lives, and the decisions we make collectively. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Tonight I'll be summarizing theory: Maurice Merleau-Ponty. - "The Intertwining -- The Chiasm" from The Visible and the Invisible.

This work is incredibly dense. We are reading it in our Contemporary Art History class, and it has inspired rage in several people. "Intellectual masturbation," it has been called by some, "bullshit," by others. I, personally, didn't mind it that much. As an exercise, a jaunt into the bog of abstract ideas and exploratory thinking, I found it relatively entertaining. It did take a frickin' long time to read (Truth: I didn't actually read the whole thing, but I've been assured that nothing startling happens in the second half). So, yes, it is very abstract. It has to do with perception and the relationship of the subject and object. 

Okay, here we go:

"The Intertwining -- The Chiasm," by Merleau-Ponty is an exploration, in thought, of our subjective experience; our relationship with our senses, and our relationship, through our senses, to objects and beings outside of ourselves. Through an analysis of visibility and the visual experience, touch, speech, thought, and language, Merleau-Ponty attempts to show that there is no real separation between the observer, and that which is being observed; that perception is limited by the body (the means of perception), and that there is a true essence/substance of all things, ourselves included, the understanding of which, is not attainable. 

According to his view, the individual is connected to all other individuals, and to objects, through his/her similarity in tissue; in actual physical matter. However, the individual is also forever separated by his/her lack of ability to see/sense beyond the skin of appearances.

Through a rigorous mental investigation, Merleau-Ponty examines age-old questions of, "How do we understand our world?", and "How do we understand ourselves?". His answer to these questions is that we are fated, by our material selves. to accept only a nominal grasp of the substance of our existence. He seems to suggest, through his analytical approach, that the best we can do is to understand the complexities and contradictions of our perception, and to remember that everything is us, and also, not as it seems.




Friday, September 5, 2008

Mingling


I met Brian Conley tonight. 

(Aside)
I actually went to high-school with someone named Brian Connely (spelled differently, pronounced the same). The one I went to high-school with was an all-around great guy. He was nice, smart, funny, athletic. He was an achiever and he was modest. I think he ended up marrying a girl that we went to high-school with, Liz Strauss. Anyway, he's not the one I met tonight. 

The one I met tonight is the former chair of the Fine Art Program at CCA. He was nice, interesting, I enjoyed talking with him. He's an artist that used to live in NYC. The story is that he came out here 3 years ago to do an artist talk and CCA ended up offering him the job as chair of the MFA program. He's not the chair anymore, he's teaching two classes. He's happy to have more time to be making artwork. We talked about the importance of understanding contemporary theory, and how we both enjoy allowing our concepts to decide our materials rather than the other way around. He currently has work,  Miniature Iraq War in Las Vegas, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Monday, September 1, 2008

First Days of School

I moved into our shared studio today. It feels so good to have a home for my art materials. Now the work can begin. The space is relatively small, to share between 13 people at least, but it will have to do. The official first day of classes is tomorrow but I don't have my first class until Wednesday.  "Strategies in Public Art" will be my first breath of grad-school air. My impression of the instructor, John Leaños, is that he is not one to adhere to prescribed academic structures, but we'll see. I guess one (namely, "me") would hope that all art school educators, especially ones at the higher level, would think outside the box, but, damn, there are so many boxes!

So my first class is not until Wednesday but I think I'll go into the studio tomorrow anyway. I want to set up a little bit. I have some reading to do also: Walter Benjamin, Greenberg, an article about the Avant-Garde, + some others. Yes!!! Let it begin! I've already read the Benjamin and I remember it to be baffling-ly dense. I look forward to giving it a second go. 

I'm also going into the studio because I need to give the curators of PlaySpace (our student run gallery) some labels to go along with my penny collection. They are including part of my penny collection in their upcoming show about collections/collecting (I'm actually not quite sure what it is about, but, hey, it's good to participate, and my pennies are cool!). I gave them 4 small jars of pennies. There are "Found Pennies", "Canadian Pennies", "Wheat-backed Pennies", and "Smashed Pennies". I'm curious to see the exhibition all together, the opening is next week sometime.

Openings, Articles, and Artwork... Let The Games Begin!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Questions

I had hoped that the minute I settled into my new life I would be writing every day and spewing art from my pores. I had anticipated that August would be my most prolific blog-posting month yet. Apparently I was wrong. 

I have been thinking about posting, about my lack of posting, about wanting to keep up with a certain quota; but I guess I've also been procrastinating. Why? I've certainly been having lots of new experiences which are relative to my artistic process and professional development. I guess I'm a little culture shocked. I'm in a new context and maybe I'm a little afraid to reveal myself. I want this forum to be accessible, but to whom? Who are my audience? Who am I talking to? Am I talking to my friends and family? Am I talking to my peers: art students, developing artists, those concerned with a creative process? Who should I be considering when I post my thoughts and opinions online?

My new flat-mate mentioned to me at one point this concern in art of "who your audience is". This was kind of a new idea for me. I'd like to think that everyone is my audience, but are they? 
This question of listening ears and seeing eyes has stopped me for a bit. I've been thinking, instead of writing; wondering, instead of acting. This approach, however, is not helping.
Upon reflection, I think it's important to keep working, even if a new idea/question throws you onto a  different path. Nothing happens if the process stops. So I suppose the thing to do is let it change, stay alert, and to try to keep up!

So, I guess there will be some more posts coming from me soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Art Buzz


Talking about art while sitting on the couch, over a few beers, while walking down the street, during the movie, with the artist at her opening. This has been my experience during the last week and a half since I've become a resident of Oakland, CA. I love it! 
It is not my geographical location that has inspired this richness and frequency of dialogue; it is my entrance into a society and culture of people with whom I share very similar concerns. This cultural location I refer to is, of course, grad-school. Actually, a lot of the credit for my satisfying conversations go to my new flat-mate. We are in the same program, although he'll be starting his second year. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Future?


It's a quiet morning. I'm sitting in my kitchen, listening to the hum of the refrigerator (it's a loud hum). - I finished packing all my art supplies yesterday. The only things I left out are my sketchbooks and a travel set of watercolors. - I'm not sure what I'll do when I arrive in Oakland, but as long as I've got my tools I can always explore and make some pictures.
I wonder what kind of art I'll be making after I move. Will I continue with the same projects I've been working on? Will I actualize the projects that have been swimming around patiently in my head? Will I begin work on those projects only to realize that they don't withstand the elements of my new context? Will my mind and heart and creativity move in an entirely new direction?
I will have to wait. It is impossible to see, with the mind that I have now, what will be. What I do know is that things are going to be very different, and that I am ready.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Quit My Day Job


Today was my last day of work at my "day job": waitressing. I like to joke that working as a waitress, or a barista in a coffee shop, or a bartender, are the entry level positions for fine artists.

I've declared in the past that I'd never work in a restaurant or coffee shop again, but, so far, I've made a liar out of myself. - I guess I can't say, for sure, that I'll never again serve food and beverages for a living, but I hope not. I always think it'll be great and I always end up loathing it. - That's why I'm going to grad-school. I need credentials. I need witnesses. I need those 3 capital letters to put on my resume that impress the skeptics enough to make them cooperative. 

Without credentials, street-based or otherwise, why should anyone believe you, and why should they pay you, or support you otherwise, to do your work? It is not enough that the work is good. Most people aren't educated or sensitive enough to recognize that the work is good, or even what "good" is and why it is valuable. And more than any of that, most people are afraid of truly creative work. - Unless... someone that they respect tells them it's okay. And that brings us back to credentials.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Watercolor - Ketubah with Details


I finally finished the Ketubah on Thursday the 17th. I'm really happy with how it came out. I think that it is very appropriate for a wedding.  The bright colors give it a cheery, celebratory feel. 

The image is imbued with many layers of symbolism. My favorite parts are the rake and the shovel which symbolize the couple's love of farming and agriculture, and also the effort necessary to cultivate and maintain a lasting relationship; the flowers in the tree canopy (some of the couple's favorites) which are used decoratively and give the whole piece a joyful, vital quality; and the gold in the leaves and on the roots. The gold watercolor that was used in the piece is actually real gold. I used it in the two places where the trees mingle with each other and become connected. Gold has a special radiance and value that transcends the two dimensions of the art piece.






Text will occupy the center area. A professional calligrapher will scribe the couple's eternal vows. Then they will both sign the document at the wedding (I think).













Details:





Shovel, Garlic Scapes (peeking out from behind the tree), Tomatoes

















Rake, Sunflowers, Agrostemma














Intertwining Roots, Lake



















Poppies, leaves, and bachelor buttons (note the gold in the leaves).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One Last Project


During the last week I've been focused on creating artwork for my stepsister's Ketubah. A ketubah is a traditional Jewish marriage contract. They are a very special document which is illustrated and which contains a text, sometimes traditional, sometimes chosen by the couple, to reinforce their vows. I am illustrating the ketubah with symbols that are both timeless, and specific to the couple's experience and values. This is my wedding present to them. It's special because they are going to have this in their house for the rest of their lives. When they look at it they will remember their wedding vows and the things that brought them together. I feel very honored to be contributing to their lives in this way. 
I'm doing the piece on 18"x24" watercolor paper. I drew everything out beforehand and now I am in the process of painting and filling in. I'm really enjoying it.

This is the last art project I will do before I move. After this is finished I am going to pack up all of my supplies (and everything else I own) and get ready for the trek. I've already moved everything out of my studio, so I'm working at home for this project.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Open Studio


The open studio was a great success. 
Loads of materials were passed on to inspired creative types.
Artwork was available for viewing.
The first version of the "Can Project" was erected, in all it's 3D glory.


Here's some pics:






This is the Can Project version #1














Here is a close up of the labeled cans (version #1)
Part tin can telephone, part commercial product, part social commentary.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Response to Withdrawal of Proposal


"Thanks, ---.

We're just so swamped and it's a very unique proposal that requires more attention than we had been able to give it. It's a bit precedent-setting and could be perceived as political, and approving those sorts of things takes a lot of time. I'm sorry you don't have more time to schedule this, but I understand.

Thank you for being so patient.

Best in your future endeavors,

---"


This was the response that I received to the withdrawal of the proposal for the Can Project.  "precedent-setting" - that has a nice ring to it.
It reminds me of  a project I facilitated several years ago. I worked with realtors and graffiti artists to create peace-themed murals on a boarded up building in the local downtown area. When I originally went to pitch the idea to the realtors I remember that I made a point of bringing a recent article from the NY Times about how graffiti was respected as an art form and how people traveled from all over the world to  view, and contribute to, murals on a particular set of buildings in Brooklyn. I brought the article with me to the meeting in an effort to lend credibility to the project I was proposing; to show that my project wasn't that far outside the box, that in fact it was quite a popular concept. -- I neglected to make a similar effort when I approached the local market. As I reflect on the approach that I took, I realize that I made a big assumption. I thought that the market would be in favor of subversion, of stretching boundaries, of making  a splash, of taking chances. I made this assumption because the market, which is a co-op, seems to do so in many ways already. This however, was a silly move. It is wonderful to hope for unquestioning support, understanding, and camaraderie... but it is best to be prepared for resistance. Conservatism lurks in even the most unlikely of hosts. -- Another way to look at it is that it's important to remember that stretching boundaries brings up a lot of anxieties for people and can make them feel vulnerable and wary. Therefore, part of the process of engaging in this kind of project cooperatively with another entity is to support them through their uncertainties.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Video - Giallo Ballet




a windy day in San Francisco
walking in the park
fauna line the avenues
flora whisper "hark!"

(hint: try viewing with the volume turned all the way down)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Withdrawal of Market Proposal

I officially withdrew my proposal for the art installation at the local market. The time window was quickly becoming non-existent. I'm glad all those loose ends are wrapped up and now I can start focusing full-time on the open studio. "Full-time" really means any spare time I have between working a "normal" full-time job,  keeping up my social life from wilting and my home environment from falling to shambles (being a developing artist is like always working two jobs but not necessarily getting the credit for both of them!).  
I'm looking forward to the open studio. It's going to go ahead on the 25th. I'm planning to have the Can Project (Installation piece) all set up for that night, it's going to be great to see it materialize. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Can Project goes ahead with Open Studio

My last post was a week and a half ago. I did email my market contact on May 26th. I told her that I would be moving and asked if there was a possibility of doing the event at the end of June. She said that she would "...talk to some people this week and get back to you". That was one week ago today - I haven't heard from her. So, I'm going to let go of the market as a possible setting for my installation and interactive art event. I'll email her and let her know, it's polite to follow through, even when other people don't, it's just nice to have closure. 
As far as my "plan B"... I've decided not to organize a show/going-away-party at the gallery. It's just too much. First of all, I'd be committed to getting all the work done, which I plan on doing, but if I get insane with stress and moving/school details it would be nice to have the option of letting go of some goals. Second, organizing it all... posters, handouts, framing, transporting work, setting up, breaking down... that's a whole other project. So, I'm letting it go. It was a nice idea but, considering the big transition I have ahead of me, I think it's wise to take on less.
Instead of the market, or the gallery, I've decided to set up my installation at my open studio/studio sale. I usually do one of these when I move out of town. I put up old work and sell it, for sometimes ridiculously low prices. The point is to clean out the studio, pass on my work to people who will appreciate it and care for it, and make a wee bit of money for the move. Well, this time it is going to be the biggest studio event yet. I'm going to sell/get rid of a lot of supplies, I'm going to offer old work up for sale (or trade), and I'm going to show my new work. I think there will also be a bit of a party atmosphere, after-all, it's my send off. It may be the last studio I rent in Burlington. The projected date is Wednesday, June 25. That's 3 weeks from today. I've got a bunch of work to do before then. I think I will put a listing in the local paper, and make handouts. I've also been thinking about making V.I.P. invitations which would get you in the door an hour or two earlier for special mingling and deals on supplies. I've already given my notice to the studio manager. June is going to be my last month. After the open studio I'll start the moving out process. It's going to be hard to get rid of a lot of my materials, but realistically, I can't take all of these partial, unfinished projects with me. I need to let go. 
I have so many unfinished projects. So many explorations that I began, excited to reach into a new pool of meaning. But I didn't follow through with them. They sit in paper bags, rolled up in tubes, folded in the pages of books. It's sad. Each one of those projects had the potential to develop and blossom and reveal a message. Why didn't I finish them, what was missing? -- Something that I am learning about my process is that I have a tendency to get really excited about starting a project. I have a lot of ideas. I feel inspired all the time. That first impulse to create feels so good. It is a gift. It is easy. This burst of energy and confidence that points in a clear direction and says "GO!". There is a part of me that wants to follow each one of those trails that stretches out before me, each one of those leads. To do so, however, is a distraction from real productivity and creativity. 
What I have been learning lately is how to avoid over-committing myself to that first impulse. I have been learning that not every idea necessitates a big project, and I have started developing methods for screening my ideas. This is where my sketchbook comes in. The sketchbook is a fabulous tool for exploring ideas, and making plans without diving into materials and processes that require major maintenance and follow-through. The materials that I use in my sketchbook are mostly pen and ink, watercolor, collage, and pencil. These materials are immediate. They can transform the idea into visual form as fast as one can draw. Once the idea is out one has distance from it and can begin to evaluate it's importance. One might decide that it's cute and clever but that it doesn't need deeper exploration. Or, the translation into visual form may reveal a deeper significance and relevance. Either way, one can decide to pursue, or not pursue relatively quickly. This perspective has saved me a lot of time and helped me to stay focused on one theme. 
As for all those unfinished projects? We'll see... maybe I'll recycle them. Maybe I'll give them away, or throw them out. I'll probably document them all so I don't loose the threads of their stories (digital cameras are so great for keeping visual notes). It's hard to let them go. I feel a bit like a failure, and like a bad mother in a way, abandoning my children. But it's not really like that. All the pieces are connected. Each one is just a different way of trying to say the same thing. And like with any attempt to explain something it's hard to get it right the first time. One just has to keep on trying, and learning from the experiences one has, it's all about the process. -ation-

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Can Project Update

 Last week I sent a follow-up email to my contact at the Market. She responded that she had been really busy and that she hadn't had a chance to show my images/project to the right people yet. She thanked me for the follow-up and assured me that I was on her "to do" list. -- I forget how much time you need to allow for other people's schedules and lives when you are collaborating on a project/anything. So, it's almost another week later and I still haven't heard from her. My concerns about timing are looking apt. - So... I have set in motion plan "B". - There is a local non-profit art gallery/housing coop where a few of my friends live. I have inquired about putting on a show there in the month of July. It turns out they have the entire month open. I know several of the people that live there and I'm fairly certain they'd be supportive of my project.  I wouldn't really be able to do all the performances that I've been thinking of, but maybe I could pick one and then just do sculptures and drawings of the rest. Is it a sculpture if what you are making is a fake commercial product? I think so. It's kind of like Warhol's product pieces, except different. Warhol took art constructs and coated them with a commercial skin: the Brillo Boxes were plywood boxes silk-screened with the "Brillo" label, The Campbell Soup Cans were on a canvas, the ultimate art construct. These are commercial products made nonfunctional, ushered into the realm of contemplation. Whereas my "products" use the convention of commercial exchange to invite the intangible, the abstract, and the personal into the functional, accessible realm of daily life. - I'll email my contact again on Monday. This will be the 2 week mark since I sent her the info and the 3 week mark since my initial contact. In this Monday's follow-up I'll mention my timeline. - I think the gallery is a good option though. It might be nice because I could have a big opening and it could simultaneously be a sort of going away party. It would be the best kind of going away party because I could show people what I've been working on so they'll have an idea of where it is that I am going. It's also a great space to take slides in.

 In other news, the group studio of which I am a part put on an extravaganza last night. There were three bands that played, vaudeville skits, and a preview from a local theater company. It was a lot of fun. I didn't do too much of the planning for the event but I did come up with the name and I helped make a stage set. It was called "The Big Bad Box Extravaganza" (our studio is called "The Box" ; my original name was "The Big Bad Box Bonanza", I love alliteration). The stage set that we made had a sci-fi clown theme, at the request of one of the main bands. So my studio-mate and I made a giant robot clown to sit behind the drum kit. It was kind of ridiculous but it looked great.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Watercolor



From the sketchbook:








This is the same tulip I wrote about in March.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Can Project Pitch

So, I have two major focuses right now. The Can Project and school related busy work. On the art front: I made contact with someone at the market. I left a voicemail, and then she left a voicemail, and then I called her back. I was nervous to describe my project to her over the phone. I like to think that, in person, I am capable of infecting people with enthusiasm so they'll be excited about doing a project with me. On the phone I have to appeal much more to people's intellect, and that can be tricky. Our conversation went well, though.  I did a good job of explaining what the project was about, what it would look like and how it would function. She was interested and told me that she'd like to talk to some other people about it. She asked me to send her some images that she could use to help explain the project. Well, my initial reaction was positive and excited. I planned to get together an impressive proposal email and send it off right away... then I got distracted by life. So, I procrastinated for a few days. I still got the info to her on time though. I sent her three pictures and my resume. I wrote descriptions for each of the photos, and a summary of the project. At this point, I'm still waiting to hear back from her (fingers crossed). I'm beginning to have a few doubts. I do think that I can convince the market to support the project, what I am concerned about is our timelines matching up. I'd like to do the piece at the end of June. When I was on the phone with my contact she casually mentioned that organizing this sort of thing would take quite a bit of time... we'll see. I'm going to focus on getting the project to a completed state anyway. I have so much work that I'd like to finish before I leave. I'm planning to move out west during the month of August, so that's only a few months. I have moved many times and it is my experience that my artwork shifts profoundly when I relocate. Maybe the muses change, maybe it's the resources, maybe it's the context, maybe it's my mental state. Whatever the reason, it happens consistently. I switch gears in the new locale, the projects I was working on begin to collect dust and my attention is drawn to a new pursuit. I don't know if it will happen this time or not. The thing is, I really like the ideas that I have right now, and right now is my opportunity to make them real, venue or no venue. It's hard to be disciplined without a deadline, and without the security of knowing your work will get out there into the world. I guess one just hopes, or trusts, that if it is the right thing to be working on (and your heart tells you that) than one just needs to do the work and something will come of it. Something will reveal itself and confirm for you that you have used your energy in the right way. This is the same sort of idea as Joseph Campbell's "Follow your Bliss". Your heart knows what to do before your brain can translate it into a communicable, or logical format. And you know that you are on the right path because when you begin to take those steps it is as if there is a wind pushing you from behind. There is not so much friction. You feel lighter, your effort accomplishes more. The difficult thing is to trust. Not to be afraid. When we are constantly battling in our lives, when we are always up against friction, a lack of friction can feel like falling. And that can be scary. But we do need to trust and to try and get used to movement without friction.  And when we do than we can enjoy the reward that comes with that freedom, the "Bliss".
On the school front it is a financial whirlwind. I am determined to get savvy with numbers and money. I don't believe in the idea that an artist has to be inept when it comes to business or the financial world. It's all about having the information, and it's out there. I just bought a great book: On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girls Guide To Personal Finance (Interview),(review). It's approachable and super helpful. It addresses the main areas of personal finance and gives simple, clear-cut advice for getting the system to work for you, instead of the other way around. It is definitely geared toward ladies but numbers are numbers, they work for everybody. 
So, there's the money piece and then there's the moving and housing piece. I don't have a place lined up yet but I want to be living in CA in august. Crazy. I'm mostly looking on Craigslist but my school has an online bulletin board as well. I'm also going to email some of the Realtors in the area with a short bio and a description of what I'm looking for. I'm aiming for the best place ever! We'll see. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May 1


The first day of May (in this time zone). It's cold in the house. my feet are cold, my toes are cold, the table that my arm is resting on is cold, my arm is cold. But I don't mind. My heart is warm, the blood flowing through my veins is warm, my coffee is warm. Today is my Sunday, although it is Thursday for the majority of people in my zone. I'm doing busy work today, and I'm working in the studio. Today I will attempt to arrange a meeting with the person in charge of the space I need, to do the installation I want to do. This is part of the "can" project. I want to  set up an installation and create an event in our local grocery store. There is a good chance of this happening because the store is a co-op. When I was a kid, I used to go with my mom to this same co-op and help fulfill her "worker hours", the co-op member obligation. I would do simple tasks like filling bags of nuts and weighing out dried pineapple. The Co-op has since grown and expanded and is now more integrated into the city as more of a central market. It gets a lot of traffic so it's an ideal space to incarnate this art piece, which, in addition to centering on the theme of communication, refers to the consumer/product dynamic and the marketplace. It is very "grocery-store". 
This co-op is very community oriented, they even have a "Member Art Gallery" where they let members of the co-op display their paintings and drawings and other 2-D media. I'm hoping they'll let me set up the installation there. It's right by the registers, so it gets a lot of traffic, but hopefully it's out of the way enough that I wouldn't be a disturbance. I want to blend in and look natural. I want people to wonder whether I'm a normal grocery store fixture or not. So, we'll see what happens, I'm optimistic. It's going to be a great piece, and who can say no to greatness?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Found Pennies







I found these pennies yesterday. I don't really remember which is which. One of them I found next to a lamp post, outside of a bookshop. The other one... I think I just found it on the sidewalk, I don't really remember. They will go into a collection of found pennies that has been growing since 2005. 

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thought Pouring

Thought pouring is writing without editing; a documentary of thoughts as they run through the mind. Thought pouring can be done with a specific focus, in order to draw out and externalize relevant thoughts on a certain matter; or it can be done boundlessly in order to allow more personal revelations to occur. -- I use this technique when I have so many thoughts, ideas, concerns running through my mind that I don't know where to begin working on/with them. Also I find that this technique is very useful for revealing unacknowledged thoughts and feelings. The idea is not to judge. To write whatever comes into one's mind. To observe. Also, to let go and not be attached to focusing on one idea that might come up. Sometimes when I engage in thought pouring my writing fluctuates between all kinds of approaches: personal, intellectual, poetic, narrative, etc. I find this exercise very satisfying because I get to give attention to all the things that I am thinking about, instead of having to pick just one or two. 

So: Thought Pouring:

I watched Persepolis the other night. It was really great. Mostly black and white animation with a storybook quality rather than a fast-action type of animation. The story is of a Iranian girl coming of age in  a climate of war and political oppression. It had humor and heartache and beautiful visual elements. It was also educational, for me at least. I know very little about the political history of Iran. It would be helpful to know a bit more about that, these days, as those rumors of conflict, weapons, war are floating around in the breeze. Actually, I don't think rumors like that would float around in the breeze. I don't think the breeze would carry them. I think they must travel some other way...maybe in tiny invisible nuclear powered zeppelins. That sounds more like it. -- I've been doing some prep work for my "can" project. I haven't mentioned that yet. It is one of the things I am working on. A major theme in my work right now is communication. I think communicating is one of the most awesome things ever. It's about sharing ideas, exchange, bringing information and personal knowledge out into the commons. It is the process or action of making something common(shared). <--- That's a revolution right there.-- On a biological level communication is "activity by one organism that changes or has the potential to change the behavior of other organisms." Pretty fuckin' Rad! --
So, the project that I'm working on explores what communication is and how we engage in that experience on a personal and societal level. And yes, this is my "can" project. Why? Because one of the major visual metaphors I am utilizing is the tin can telephone.