Tuesday, December 30, 2008

UTSA Commencement

Up until a couple weeks ago, the last commencement I attended was an intimate and informal rite held at the University of Michigan School of Art & Design in 1999 that I took my dad to while my mom was traveling in China, and after which we shared a bottle of champagne with my teacher Joseph Grigley and his wife Amy outside behind the Art Building, then directly after that my dad dropped me off at my house where I mowed the lawn until Jason came over in his orange van and we went on our first date which was a walk in the woods with our dogs.

On December 20th, I went to the UTSA Commencement, with my third and fourth New Media undergrad students graduating from our program. Neither of them were in attendance, but it was good for me to check it out, and think about the relevance and importance of group ritual. Art students are by nature outsider, status-quo-questioning entities. I relate personally to what I interpret as an aversion to mainstream mass-ritual, and at the same time couldn't help feeling the potential of what their presence could signify-- in a positive way for both them and their peers in the rest of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, and the Business School.

"If.." is a film by Lindsay Anderson, starring Malcom McDowell, that I watched recently. Depicted in it are traditional, self-important and overbearing customs of British public school. The story takes a turn at the very end, when McDowell's character violently rebels against the oppressive and stifling circumstance of his environs. The sudden turn of events is unexpected in its extremity, is effective because of it, and cuts a deep question into the facade of brainless, empty conventions. Made in 1968, around the time of the Situationist International, the student uprisings in France, race riots in the States, and other incidents of cultural unrest, the film is a clear reflection of its zeitgeist.

In the first chapter of The Audacity of Hope, our President Elect outlines a trajectory of political and cultural energy from that period (the Sixities) to the present day, illustrating a deterioration over time of the climate in which present day politics is practiced.  Part of Obama's political platform of change is the modification or reclamation of the political process, in the name of the citizens. I'm not sure why, but I see this moment in relation to my deep-felt belief that its time for artists to take up a more meaningful role in society. When most people don't feel any relationship to the art of our moment, I must question the validity of what we, as artists, are doing. Our currency is creativity, and I hope we can use it to find a way to be more socially responsible and connected to every day people. Fortunately, there are a few artists out there who are pioneering new models.

People need aesthetic experiences-- spaces that allow them to move outside of our mediated environment, an ecology designed to amplify our proclivity to consume.  This is a topic for another day...

Only to say, the Mariachi band concluded the ceremony on a most joyful and feisty note:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seigfried and Roy

Seigfried is Margaret & Scott's new parrot, who I had the pleasure of meeting at their recent sushi party. (YUM!) Here he is on Michele Monseau's shoulder.  

The door to his cage was opened up after dinner, so he hopped onto the table and wandered around saying hello to everyone, eating little scraps, trying to eat the wasabi...  we all thought thought it wouldn't be very good for him to eat the wasabi, except for our much-loved animal authority, Montana!  She reasoned that, unlike a canine, if Seigfried ate something that disagreed with him, he wouldn't keep eating it.

The very next animal that I met was this beautiful shepherd, Roy. Here he is with my friend Bree in her backyard. She was very involved with dog-training, taking Roy to school just about every morning when I was visiting her in LA, and shooting portraits of other person+dog student teams. I even got to meet their very dignified teacher-trainer, who came over to finish up a little drywall patch-job around a window he'd fixed at their place.

While I was in LA, there were big fires on the north side of the city. Serious enough for evacuation, road closures, and many people to lose their homes. This gentleman dog-trainer has a piece of property up there with two dozen of the meanest dogs living out on it, and he had to make a trip up there to evacuate them. I can only imagine a pickup truck brimming with the baddest of dawgs, carting them into the city... I wonder where he ended up putting them all.

Back in Time: AURORA (late October)

We made two trips to Houston at the end October.  The first was for the Aurora Picture Show 10th Anniversary Gala dinner, for which we completed a new single-channel piece, "Double Thunder." A few other artists were also asked to contribute new works to this celebration for a limited edition special DVD given to the guests...  interstingly, half of us were collaborating couples: Magsaman & Hillerbrand (Mary M. and Steve H.); Be Johnny (Bree Edwards and Johnny DeKam); and PBL. John Carrithers, Kara Hearn, and Eileen Maxson are the others.

a Franco Mondini-Ruiz paining occupies a special alcove space at the Fingers' new house

The "Celestial Event" took place at the recently acquired and renovated home of Martha & Richard Finger, backing up into the Buffalo Bayou... and I mean recent--the paint was practically still wet!  I know they worked incredibly hard towards completion, and it was a truly lovely setting for this special night.

Lucky us, we got to stay in the guest room at the Aurora Library! Super-awesome to have access to all of the videos there, with two built-in screening spaces. It reminded me of when I was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I'd spend my spare time in the Video Data Bank stacks watching everything that seemed remotely interesting! At Aurora I watched documentation from past Media Archeology events like TV Sheriff, Wet Gate, Paper Rad and Cory Arcangel, and single channel works of Takeshi Murata, Joel Schlemowitz, Jackie Goss, and others.

The night after the gala we had the pleasure of seeing Bill Morrision and his work at the Aurora Theater. Bill was in town working on the "Lightning at our Feet" production, in collaboration with the University of Houston Mitchell Center. Best known for his feature-length avant-garde film "Decasia," we were fortunate to see this rare collection of works he had created over the years in cooperation with various of theatrical projects.

We made our return to Houston on Halloween to present Fortune at the Aurora Picture Show Theater, and lots of people came in costume. Aurora Picture Show fickr pix. After the show, we ended up at some nondescript-on-the-outside bar, notorious as a place bosses take their secretaries for a little undercover nookie.  The upstairs was a room filled with vinyl couch-booths. Ew. We hung out downstairs in costume. Matt Coolidge was in town, and having him in the mix was the cherry on the sundae.

The next day, we tooled around Houston bit, and were pleasantly surprised to run into our friend James Craig, who had recently relocated to Houston from San Antonio to work for Deborah Colton at her new
gallery space... he eventually sent us over to the project space (where the prior incarnation of her gallery had been) and we were treated to David Adickes presidential busts-- another truly wonderful surprise! The recent hurricane had blown Beatle Paul McCartney over-- somewhat apparent in the picture above.  

here's Jay next to one of his favorite presidents

The rest of our visit passed quickly by way of brunch with cousins, meeting Meg Poissant and her dogs at her gallery space and showing her some of my video work, breakfast with our good friend Tish Stringer and her chip-off-the-old-block daughter (sharp as her mom!), dinner with Patrick Kwaitikowski and his beautiful family, and generally paying witness to hurricane damage in the physical realm and through everyone's stories.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Back In Time: ANTIMATTER (September 26)

It took two days to travel to the Antimatter Film Festival. We flew to Seattle, stayed overnight in the Moore Hotel downtown, then walked down to the pier early in the morning to catch the Victoria Clipper high-speed ferry to the island of Victoria, British Columbia, where we performed Fortune and participated in a panel discussion on Live Cinema.

Autumn weather in charming downtown Victoria was a real treat. 10,000 thank-yous go to festival director Todd Eacrett and curator Deborah De Boer, who ensured that our stay was fantastic. We were put up at Paul's Motor Inn, in a room off the secret courtyard in the back, a very cozy hideout. We could and did walk everywhere. We visited the Victoria Bug Zoo, where I held all kinds of large bugs, from the most regal and sentient praying mantis to the gigantic exotic cockroach, and saw a colony of the amazing leaf-cutter ants. We imbibed at Big Bad John's, where you can throw your peanut shells on the ground, and be startled by phony tarantulas lowered down on your table by the staff.  We ate lots of awesome asian food, and generally just celebrated with the festival folks, including lots of other visiting and local filmmakers and artists.  

photo by Steven Masuch

Here we are with artist/panel moderator John Boehme, and San Francisco filmmaker Kerry Laitala, after the Live Cinema panel. John led us through a lively discussion about filmmaking, performance with the moving image, and art making in contemporary times. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

We saw some great work including Craig Baldwin's new film "Mock Up on Mu," which incorporates a lot more original film into his signature found-footage montage style, solidifying the narrative undercurrent in a positive way. It was also a treat to see "We will live to see these things, or, five pictures of what may come to pass," by Julian Metzer and David Thorne. Our friend Chris Kubick has been working on the soundtrack for many months-- what a nice surprise to see/hear this experimental documentary shot in Syria, in its finished state. "Frank & Cindy" by G.J. Echternkamp is also a very worthwhile feature-length personal documentary about the filmmaker's mother and stepfather, and active relations amongst the three of them influenced by and during the making of the film.

Antimatter is a highly respected and well funded festival due to outstanding programming. The British Columbia Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts are just two of their many sponsors. I admit that I was surprised at the size of the audience.  Quality trumped quantity, however, with the small crowds comprised of many video and film makers, professors, and students. This could be due to the smallness of Victoria, and/or the fact that there was a student-worker strike going on that took down one of the two venues with Antimatter programming, forcing lots of grueling, last-second rescheduling. Another reason may be the tiny festival staff-- it's amazing to witness how much can actually accomplished by such a small group. If they operate like I do, though, publicity is the last hat that I can manage to put on after all of the other important responsibilities.  Whatever the case may be, I wish we had been able to afford (both financially and temporally) to stay for the duration of this exceptional 10-day episode, honoring the cream of the experimental moving-image crop.

Back In Time: LANDSCAPES (September 4)

Whenever school starts, time magically evaporates, and I push to find some even keel for teaching and producing work.   Intense involvement in a project followed by some down-time to recuperate is typical, but I'd gladly trade for a more steady kind of progress.  This writing is a way for me to digest the events of my life, and it typically gets put on hold until the tranquil moment comes.

These images are from way back at the beginning of the term-- Blue Star Contemporary, September First Thursday, at my opening of new video works: LANDSCAPES.

From my press release:
Leslie Raymond's new show LANDSCAPES puts the focus on the tired and true theme of the landscape.  A primary genre in painting, landscapes generally depict views from nature.  Here, Raymond presents a contemporary take on the subject.  Broadening the vocabulary of the picture-plane through the use of the moving image, she incorporates video's inevitable language of time.  This group of landscape images embodies artifacts of the passage of time (including lapsed time, movement through time and space, and time pressure) while simultaneously considering composition, color, shape and form.  Each video loop composition in this series is displayed on its own flat-panel monitor, and each is an edition of four.

Emily Morrison expanded on these thoughts beautifully in an essay that she wrote for the show, published as a short-run brochure by Blue Star.  If you want one, get in touch with me & I'll happily pass it on.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back In Time: Collaborating With My Mom (September)

Many months ago, my mom told me about a dream she'd had. In it, I was projecting video images onto a wall of clay. More than a few years ago she described another dream in which I was coming to her, trying to balance a big, wet slab of clay. How fascinating for an artist mother to dream about her artist daughter in relation to her medium.

When she relayed her more recent dream, my mom invited me to collaborate on a something for her upcoming retrospective at the Birmingham Art Center. She is pictured below, in the middle of the extremely well-attended reception of her show, practically dead-center... though its hard to see her in this small image. My brother took these snapshots. He's the one in the family who did not pursue any kind of career in the arts, and at the same time has an amazing eye for composition. Must be the genes from our architect dad and potter mom. Could also have to do with growing up within an environment that expressed their quintessential modernist sensibilities.

So when I was up in Michigan over the summer, I made a video component for this large wall-piece (approx 55" x 68"). It was a projection of digitally manipulated, somewhat abstracted footage of my mom throwing at the wheel.

An installation-shot.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

chocolate and teamwork

It's been such a busy semester. I put up the previous post while working on my materials for the Chocolate Alice fundraiser project at San Antonio Museum of Art.  This was a vjFutureWorkerGirl gig, although I can't find any mention of this online or in print, including the announcement cards. Maybe I'm some kind of egomaniac, but my own identity as an artist apart from my work in Potter-Belmar Labs is so important to me. Collaborating is wonderfully rewarding, and also incredibly challenging at times. Compromise is key. Its enables one to transcend the bounds of the ego. And, as in an any relationship, growth comes out a commitment to the Third Thing-- that thing that is the alchemical combination of the Two.

And still, my creative drive requires unfettered access to the Flow. Sometimes this can be achieved in collaboration, but I find that the negotiating process interrupts it more often than not. And I also find myself more willing more often to concede than to wage war for my ideas, but its part of the reality of our creative enterprise, and something I struggle to overcome.

Chocolate Alice was a lot of fun. When I find some images from the outdoor installations I'll post them and make some more comments. Also looking forward to updating this blog on the myriad of other gigs from these past few months...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art Guys Talk at UTSA

The Art Guys visited from Houston earlier this week to talk about their work, currently on exhibit in the UTSA Art Gallery at the 1604 campus. This nationally recognized duo has their game down, and they got it down good-- a complex sense of humor, an admirable DIY attitude, ability to effortlessly talk the talk, and they admitted that socializing in the moneyed branch of the art scene comes easily to them. Their broad creative skill-set and refined sense of craft coupled with strong ability in the conceptual arena make this team an effective art force to be reckoned with.

But my question is: effective to what end?

The 20th century showed us two things, generally speaking, concerning art. First, anything can be art, beginning with Duchamp's urinal. And second, that and the individual, self-absorbed artist can be a godlike figure, beholden to nobody but himself. The Art Guys are a pinnacle of this lineage.

The Art Guys take pride in the public nature of much their work, a pride derived from the act of simply putting themselves on display in public space. During the Q&A, I asked what their hope was for the public audience-- for someone who didn't know who the Art Guys were, or who may not look at art at all. They answered that their aim is to challenge the sense of what is normal or allowed. Bravo, let's move on to the 21st century now.

This is the kind of work (and attitude) that has led to a public that is alienated from contemporary art. The last instance, that comes to my mind, of a kind of pride in citizenship amongst artists in the States is the WPA. Somewhere in the middle of the 20th century, artists turned inward and focused on making art for other artists (in addition to that cultured elite with a growing sophistication in trophy-collecting). Is it any wonder that the National Endowment for the Arts went away? Why is everyone so surprised?

The Art Guys are old-fashioned not only because they don't have any sense of commitment to a public audience, but also because they say that the work is fundamentally about the relationship of the two of them. Multiplying the individual artist-as-god premise resonates with an attitude of gross conceit. It is my hope that this stance will die out as artists step up more and more to the challenge of actualizing a better world through a positive evolution of our physical, psychological, and social environments. Look to Beuys for the root of this ideology.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bearded Child Film Festival, Minneapolis

The good life. Six blocks away from the bike trail system is where we landed in Minneapolis. Our friend David Pitman, a man with many bikes, hosted us at his place in the Seward neighborhood, HQ of the Monoplex and K-ICE. It rained several times, but was mostly cool (compared to San Antonio) and sunny (though not oppressively so, as in south Texas). I biked around a lot. Riding on the Midtown Greenway was like Utopia.

My bike gang, me (not pictured) David and Jay, riding through the Seward neighborhood to breakfast on Sunday morning.

It was a real treat to attend and perform at The Bearded Child Film Festival. After eight years, director Dan Anderson took his Grand Rapids MN experimental film festival for a run in Minneapolis, at the Bedlam Theater. I'm glad he did-- it's time to share the bounty of his unique vision somewhere with the potential for a larger audience.

I was super impressed with the programming-- lots of new talent I'd never seen before, high-quality work selected with a keen eye for the absurd, odd, and/or personal film that challenges the norm. The Bearded Child was awarded an Arrowhead Regional Arts Council grant this year (which is McKnight Foundation money), allowing them to bring in several special guest artists (including PBL), and this was a major component that enriched the wonderful time I was already having.

I had the pleasure of VJ-ing at the opening night after-party just across the light-rail tracks at Medusa with DJ Danny Seligman. We hit a good groove, and it was a lot of fun improvising to his mix of reggae and film soundtrack samples. Before we went on as the closing act, however, I was treated to some really interesting solo acts that combined the hardcore punk energy of my younger days with digital tools. This is a logical evolution, as computers are so integrated with our daily existence nowadays.

Lepercaves, for example, billed as a "spastic blast from Boulder," screached menacingly into a mic over a heavy, grounded beat that was emanating from his laptop. When he started tossing chairs around the room, in traditional combative male rocker style, there was a real tension created (for me) by the fact that his 2000$ laptop was sitting nearby. At one point, his software crashed and he called out to the audience "Ya gotta' love computers-- raise your hand if you have a computer!" Everyone raised their hand and cheered, as he scoffed while waiting for the thing to reboot. I enjoyed his performance, and experiencing the perilousness of his testosterone flailings in such close proximity to that delicate and vulnerable piece of machinery.

Here is the dynamic Matthew Silver (New Jersey) during the performance before a screening of his videos, which are nearly as high-energy as he is in person. He was frantically relaying a bizarre story about being in a plane-crash due to a chicken getting sucked into the engine. He is a doctor, and he discovers a cure for cancer (which both of his parents are afflicted with) while stranded on a tropical island. The whole time, he's running around the room, vigorously flinging his body in dynamic contortions that reflect the absurdity of the story he was telling. He pulled if off brilliantly.

It was a real treat to take in Brent Coughenour's (Milwaukee) live cinema performance "The Indomitable Human Spirit." Over the course of the piece, stunning, pulsating, abstract images that were like a moving painting, very, very slowly shed the extremity of their pixilization and became recognizable forms. Brent manipulated his digital files with what appeared to be a Guitar Hero video game controller. It was a satisfying descent into a zone of relaxed ambience.

Other stand-outs from the week include:

Jodie Mack (Chicago) - "Yard Work is Hard Work," and earlier works

Andrew Wilson (San Francisco) - Spider House

Nate Callahan (St. Louis) - i!

Eric Patrick (Evanston) - Ablution in the "Best Of" screening

Judith Zdesar (Austria) - Images of a Diary of Waiting

Check out this preview article that Minneapolis writer Cindy Collins wrote about our show.

PBL goes to NYC

It's always fantasitc to be in The City. Last year when we did the Lab at the Roger Smith Hotel gig, Eric Dunlap of Forward Motion Theater came by and hung out with us one night. We met Eric several years ago in Detroit when he was in town with some dance gig. He knew the Disassembler, AKA Deon Foster who, along with Jim Ryan, is of one of my all-time favorite AV acts: the Shenanigans and we were there together to play the JOMAS DVD release party at Gallery 555.

When we saw Eric last year, he invited us to play Eyewash, a highly respected showcase for AV artists booked by he and his creative partner, the awesome Holly Daggers. The series is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts. I have nothing but high praise for Eric and Holly. These two are serious Do-ers who are not only excelling at their own art, but are producing a comprehensive and legitimate context for its consideration.

photo by Noelia Santos

Eyewash goes down once a month at Monkeytown in Brooklyn. There's a room in the back which has a big projection screen on each wall, low couches against the walls around the whole room, with low coffee tables so that people can order and eat the excellent food prepared in the Monkeytown kitchen. The artists set up in the middle, playing in-the-round act by act. This is one of the mosts exceptional rooms that we have ever played, and we were in good company with Wetcircuit, Luke DuBois (pictured below), and Guiaumetrix.

I met Sean LaFleur of djnyc after the early set, and he enthusiastically commented about the organic, human feel of our work in comparision with the cool-technological quality of the other acts. "It was like slipping on a pair of worn jeans," he said. And I like that.

This was the first time we got in on Share, the regular meet-up and jam session of AV geeks who produce music, visuals, and code. I was the only female participant, although there was another woman with a laptop, she was checking her email.

The picture above looks like it could have been shot at the library, but I had fun playing with my images and talking with others about what they were doing, the hardware and software they were using, and projects they were developing.

special guests from Europe: Alex Gunia, Knut Sævik, Tore Brevik

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dignowity Pushcart Revelry

Here's me with the svelte Ed Saavedra, pushcart driver of the "Lil’ General y La Familia" for 1906. I was a little under-the-weather and had to depart early, but I knew this was the only photo I had to get-- the allegedly "First to Finish" team was first again this year.

You can see it in their form-- Regan with their dark-horse pusher (who joined on only hours before the race) are perfectly in-sync. They could slaughter any 3-legged race team in a heartbeat.

These guys mean business. It's no contest.

And speaking of contest-- a lot of fun was missing this year without a round of all of the pushcarts racing the track together, all at the same time, in a dangerous mix of mayhem and ambition. I imagine the organizers are going for safety... but I say to those who aspire to compete in this punk-ass sport: if you can't deal with the rigor, get off the track.

check out the emvergeoning reportage

Arctic Blast From The North!

David Pitman and Stephen Rife rose to the challenge of the San Antonio summer climate of CAM. The two Northerners set off from the Twin Cities (St.Paul/Minneapolis), pointing their car south on I-35, and after a couple days, pulled up at PBL headquarters in San Antonio to join in the fun of Contemporary Art Month.

Rife, Pitman, and Jay checking out the wall for the second night of the Monoplex, beneath Josephine Street.

David Pitman is the director of the Art Shanty Project, a Northern counterpart to our Contemporary Art Month, only it happens in January and February on a frozen lake in Minnesota. Dozens of artists create small structures, inhabited by art projects for a 6-week stint, attracting thousands of visitors.

Steve Rife is a pyrotechnic artist and filmmaker. Also intensely DIY, like Pitman, these two are unstoppable-- in art-making and the construction biz both. We came to know each other in the early '90s when we all had studios in the infamous Rossmor Building in St.Paul MN.

In addition to an assortment of artists' videos they had in tow, our local community was invited to contribute to the two nights of screenings.

David collects some video by Michele Monseau at her shady abode....

while Michele's cat puts it's scent on Steve:

Mark Jones delivers the goods at PBL HQ, and shows us the broken part of his computer screen.

Rife, Justin Parr, and Pitman

AN ASIDE: The Northerners and PBL were having lunch at the Liberty Bar when Pitman noticed a wooden ketchup bottle affixed to the back of the crosswalk sign out the window on the corner of Josephine and Avenue A, and at that precise moment, Justin Parr called. This photo was taken right after lunch, as Justin let David select an artwork to hang somewhere up north.

K-ICE Monoplex renegade performance recap by Justin Parr

Big big thanks to Anjali Gupta and Michele Monseau for their assistance with preparations for the Saturday night show!

And to that person who atttended the Friday night show at PBL HQ & took all of our forks: you can keep them, but I just want the one brass fork with my Dad's name on it back.

Steve Rife, Mike Casey, and David Pitman after the show.

Mike Casey made sure that our guests were shown a really swell San Antonio time, making arrangements for us all to head over to the Compound where Chuck Ramirez' hospitality was in full swing. Thanks Mike!

Lyle and Me at Artpace 2 to Watch

photos by Kimberly Aubuchon

Artpace invited me to talk about my work as part of the "2 to Watch" bi-annual series in conjunction with Gemini Ink, San Antonio's premier center for the literary arts. I was honored and fortunate to be paired up with writer Lyle Rosdahl, who started the evening by reading from his in-progress and very engaging mystery novel.

Parameters of his writing process involve drawing from the tarot deck to inspire the evolution of the story. His project and the Potter-Belmar Labs Fortune project both borrow from this divination device as central components in the course of creating the form.

I talked about some large-scale site specific projections I had done, some of the Potter-Belmar Labs projects (the collaboration with my husband), my recent installation at Cactus Bra - "In The Garden," and showed a little preview of some of the work in my upcoming show at Blue Star Contemporary Arts Center in September.

The first question after the talk: Are people collecting video art?

Happily, I reported: Yes they are.

There are people in the States who collect, but Europe seems to be the hotbed for now. Last spring my eyes were opened when I attended the LOOP Barcelona Festival and Fair. LOOP claims to be "The place for video art lovers," and that they are. I was impressed by the high quality of the work in the fair, a three-day event involving 40+ gallerists from Europe, Canada, and the US, each occupying a room in the Hotel Catalonia Ramblas, each representing one or two video artists.

One very memorable event of the festival was a screening from the collection of Marc & Josée Gensollen at the Fundació Suñol. Seeing what these collectors loved enough to own was truly interesting, and this particular selection focused on the body in action, with a documentary-based subset of the long-take of a live subject within a live setting (a church, a cafeteria).

My blog entries from last year: LOOP Fair, LOOP Festival

As for me, I've begun to dispense with my purist ways. Having avidly avoided the art marketplace in my own art practice for 20 years, believing that money is not a very good motivating factor for me to make art, I've finally come around to seeing that money and art do not necessarily have to be at odds. Over this past year I have developed my approach for video editions in DVD, and have had some success at selling! Time will tell whether this can be a thriving enterprise for me.

And finally, a link to Lyle's blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Allied Media Conference


There was smooth, balanced, and ongoing momentum to everybody's studio activities at my folks' place. Things were so mellow over there that it seemed as though nothing at all was happening. I wondered what I'd been up to, then was surprised at the effortlessness involved in accomplishing so much in two weeks. I'd helped my mom lay out her catalog, completed a new video loop to be projected on one of her giant wall-hanging pieces, and prepared for & delivered a talk at the Allied Media Conference at Wayne State University in Detroit.


My talk was called "Conversations: Appropriation in 20th Century Western Art." I defined various legal terms essential for a discussion of art, copyright and fair use, then illustrated an overall development of sampling in visual art from Duchamp to Shepard Fairey.

me with fellow presenter Sterling Toles

Artist Sterling Toles played portions of an audio collage artwork of his creation. His sound compositions were woven with audio samples from newscasts to describe his father's personal history as integrated with the history of Detroit from the time of the riots/revolution of the summer of 1967. Detroit has a story to tell, and the world needs to hear it. I envision amazing potential for community media to be broadcast out of Detroit.

The Allied Media crowd is sharp, eager, and feisty. We had a great discussion afterwards, with the audience contributing critical points such as the importance of teaching the other side of copyright law, that is copyright as protection for the artist; and that not only money can cause copyright lawsuits, but also political dissent.

It is such a relief to see so many young people learning about and engaged in independent media production. I love the Allied Media Conference.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Floating In The Timeless

I was in hiding up in the Northern Woods for about a month. Each morning, I secured myself in the discipline of framing two different time-lapse shots (one on the dcr-pc300, the other on the gl2). Then I would set about to help my mom on a couple projects for her upcoming show, a retrospective of her ceramic work.

One afternoon, my littlest niece was drawn to the nuvj mixer. I hooked it up and the three of us (littlest niece, biggest niece, and I) had all six hands on that thing, grooving to Dabrye! We cut a video called "The Mix-Up Disk." That was pretty rad.

Every day brought, without fail, exclamations of surprise about the time. (i.e. "It's 4:00!! ... Already!? ... Jeez!! ... ") The bird-clock plays a different birdsong every hour but the wrong bird was singing on the specified hour. We finally figured out it was off by 4, and fixed it. Birds come to eat seed at particular times of day. The littlest niece named the squirrels who clean up underneath the feeder Peanut and Coconut.

Weather. The history and stories of my folks' travels to foreign lands over the last sixty years. Shadows travel across the decking, across the gravel of the driveway, across the trees and the whole house. In residence in a timeless collaboration, a witnessing and shaping of the flow.

TOUR: California (Southbound Leg)

BAY AREA, Second Pass

Jymn, Ruby, Jay, Jeph

We enjoyed a solid couple days of down-time, powwowing with Jay's old clan from Kalamazoo, who have almost all relocated to the Bay Area over the years. We were a slow-moving, cheery organism, relaxing with only a few cultural objectives in our sights as we partook of awesome meals, went for various drives and walks, and hung-out with the amazing Ruby child.

We hit the SFMOMA for In Collaboration: Early Works from the Media Arts Collection. Highlights were: Steina's "Violin Power," Chris Burden's "Documentation of Selected Works 1971-74," Vito Acconci's "Home Movies," and a Doug Hall closed-circuit installation.

Kubick in his studio with Jay

a subject of Kubick's steady research

Keith Evans, Chris Kubick, Jay, and Anne Walsh

Keith Evans joined us and Chris Kubick for our gig at 21 Grand. He laid out a hybrid contraption of moving objects and small film projections, aimed a video camera at them and projected that image large, on the walls, while conjuring ambient sounds, captivating the audience deeply in his enchanted spell. I experienced that same magic a few years back when his collaborative, silt, came to the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor Film Festival for their last performances and exhibition project before one of their members moved to Europe. Sounds like he and the other California-based member Jeff Warrin may try something out together again soon. I hope so.

LA, Second Pass

Robert Martin, Donna, Jay, and elray at the Getty

We spent a morning at the Getty with fellow displaced-Detroiters Robert Martin and his wife Donna, checking out the California Video exhibition. Robert left Wayne State University to be the chair of the California State University/LA Department of Art around the same time I left Ann Arbor for San Antonio, and he also works with moving image and sound in performance. I met him through my old comrade Julie Meitz, who had been his student, when she invited the both of us to vj with her at Movement/the Detroit Electronic Music Fesitval in 2005. It was a real treat to get to spend a little time together again.

Memorable work from the California Video show includes early B/W Tony Oursler; a 5-channel Diana Thater digital video installation and a Bruce Nauman closed-circuit installation.

Our Materials & Applications show was great close out to the tour.

view from atop the module, the mobile cinema on the sidewalk below.

Giacomo Castagnola brought his mobile cinema, the ABCmobile, from Tijuana. We had fun making new friends and seeing old ones.

The Lady Didier in charge at M&A, with the Lil' Piunisher at her side.

Claire Didier and Jay inside Jimenez Lai's Phalanstery Module


The longest delay of our entire train journey was pulling into the station in San Antonio. We waited for over an hour sitting about 100 yards from the platform. I didn’t mind.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

TOUR: Pacific NW

Jay looking at the announcement for our show in the DIVA window

Eugene was peaceful. We stayed downtown. I took baths at the hotel. It was gray and rainy. Flowers were busting out. We walked everywhere, to the natural foods store, to dinner, to the train station to look for Jason's lost phone, to our gig at the Downtown Initiative for the Arts.


Something about Portland had Jay floating on a cloud of most genial enchantment. His temperament was of unsurpassed conviviality, most likely due to nostalgia brought on by his having lived there for a couple years, and it put him in the sweetest mood.

Portland was a marvelous convergence of people from different times and places in both our lives. We stayed with the 2 Gyrlz, Llewyn Maire and Lisa Newman, who I met during a residency at Hotel Pupik last year.

Llewyn and Lisa flank their comrade Noah Mickins, who set up our gig at Rotture.

We got to see Vihn Nguyen, our old friend from Ann Arbor who masterminded the av-battles that we were a part of back in 2005.

Me and Vihn

noteNdo (Jeff Donaldson) came out to play with us, as he'd been traveling around the west coast with Portland-based Carl Diehl, and so did Chris Kubick who was impelled to make the Portland journey to visit an old friend from high school. The sound system was awesome, and noteNdo's set was forceful and tough-- what had been difficult to hear at the ATA show now unfurled in true form. (This youtube clip from a different noteNdo gig gives an indication of his sound.)

Kubick's set evolves significantly each time. His piece renders many recorded sounds of clapping both audibly as well as visually. Chris' live claps into a microphone trigger audio and video samples. As far as I know, the piece was first performed as a work-in-progress when he was our Visiting Artist for the spring 2007 term at UTSA.

Mike, Jay, Noah

A local VJ (Mark?) who accompanied the DJ between the acts had some really striking black-and-white interludes that I found to be quite beautiful. Dancing with Vihn and Kubick was superb. It was truly satisfying to get such a deep dose of Llewyn's DJ groove, and we carried on until they kicked us out.


The weather was amazing. One day grey, and the next one uncharacteristically sunny. Everybody seemed to be taking advantage, hanging around outside by the water... or, at least I was, and there were many others there too.

Central Cinema is special cozy neighborhood microcinema sporting a small but excellent menu of food, beer, wine, and movies. We enjoyed the program the night before our gig, STORY by the Seattle Neutrino Society, which alternated between live storytellers and videos of storytellers (sometimes a straight head-shot, but often expanded beyond this), a live cinema experience very different from what we've seen before.

On the way back down the coast, the Cascades made a 35-minute stopover in Portland. We de-boarded and ran through the market under the Burnside Bridge and Chinatown shops, managing to find a little embroidered pouch for the fortune cards and get back on the train before it pulled out of the station. This ride through the Pacific Northwest was stunning.