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.

Friday, July 04, 2008

TOUR: Northern California (Northbound Leg)

Catching the 1:30am bus to Bakersfield for the 4am Coast Starlight saddled with an illness that I'm all-too-happy to forget about was fairly challenging. Jymn and his 20-month-old daughter were at the station when our train pulled up to Oakland in the morning. Mr. Mom, long-longtime friend of Jay, was our perfect facilitator, carting us around town wherever we needed to go in his GPS-enhanced hybrid with the amazing baby Ruby in the back. For me this meant a trip to the health-food store for medicine, dropping me and our luggage at Chris and Anne's open and airy apartment where I promptly laid down on the couch, and a specially delivered steaming-hot phó from the best Vietnamese joint in OK-Town.


Chris Kubick performing at the Fractal Mind Hut

After sleeping all day, we went to Ben's place for our gig. Ben sometimes hosts events at his uber-excellent industrial live-work space, known as The Totally Intense Fractal Mind Gaze Hut. I know him from a couple years back when Chris Kubick set up a show at 21 Grand with a bunch of electronic music improvisers from Mills, with whom I mixed set after set on my Videonics MX-1. It's hard to imagine traveling with that old analog set-up, now that my new digital rig fits entirely in one backpack.

Alfonso manning his projector array.

This gig felt like coming home because the audience was already speaking our language. Also on the bill with us were a team made up of electronically modified flute and a custom suitcase-bound electronics array; Chris Kubick; and Alfonso Alvarez (Ann Arbor School) with Suki O'Kane (Ill Corral).

I imagine that experiencing experimental music is easier for more people than taking in experimental film. If so, why? Music is abstract by nature, and there is a willingness to experience and accept that sound can create an emotional and dynamic experience without having to deconstruct it. On the other hand, mainstream moving image media is everywhere (movies, television, internet), filling our field of vision with a very specific visual language that we deeply and intuitively accept. When we are challenged with moving images that diverge from this standard, we become confused and caught up in looking for the "meaning." This is similar to representational vs. abstract painting. Whereas most people can accept a traditional landscape painting as art, faced with a Jackson Pollack they might say: "My two-year old can do that." Or, in response to Barnett Newman's "Be I (second version)," at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, I actually heard: "Someone hangs a ping-pong table on the wall and calls it art."


Our good friend Julian Stark carted Jay and our gear over to the other side of the bay to set up at the ATA while me and my virus remained horizontal for the better part of the day. I was sorry to have to miss an afternoon with Craig Baldwin and his whirlwind of energies. My feeble state was accentuated climbing out of the BART station onto 16th Street, as I leaned for a few minutes to regain some breath and strength before embarking on a slow-motion hike over to 992 Valencia Street.

The gig was cooked up by Carl Diehl from Portland to showcase Fortian and similar scientific anomalies in relation to the glitch of the circuit-bender. Craig Baldwin says it was "my best show pic of [the] 08 calendar."

Filmmaker Sam Green engrossed in show-and-tell about a plaster cast of Bigfoot's foot that he'd mail-ordered as a kid (and still possessed).

News from home by way of this powerpoint presentation on UFO current events.

Here's a rare appearance by Son of Sasquatch, who is about to jump up on the table with our laptops and mixers. Notice the lit candelabra with 7 dripping hot-wax generators. We became tense and disturbed for a few moments until he got down.

Circuit-bender Jeff Donaldson, known as noteNdo, in from Brooklyn.

It was a real honor to be live on the Other Cinema bill, with an audience hooked into the deep experimental cinema and culture-jamming traditions of the Bay Area. If our show at the Mind Hut felt like coming home, this was more like connecting back up to the Mothership.

TOUR: Southern California (Northbound Leg)

Nina took us to the train station after we got rid of the rental car, and hung out long enough to absorb the depot vibe before we said our goodbyes. I love the relaxed atmosphere of train travel. We settled into our sleeperette on the Southwest Chief and soon were off. In this first moment of the 108+ hours we would be spending on the train over the next few weeks, I did a little dance in the small space between our seats.

elray on the train

Our train pulled in an hour early the next morning at LA Union Station. It wasn't long before Vera Bruner-Sung, another comrade from the Ann Arbor Film Festival (from now on referred to as "The Ann Arbor School"), scooped us up. Vera is one thesis film away from her masters at Cal Arts, was just completing a review of James Benning's new book, doing lots of yoga, and glowing in the swoon of young love.

It was gray and rainy, and Vera took excellent care of us for the day, helping us to laundry, naps, a ride to the movies (Errol Morris' "Standard Operating Proceedure"), good dialogue, and more.


We made our way out to Venice beach by way of a ride to the Center for Land Use Interpretation (where we said hello to Matt Coolidge, albeit briefly as he was ensconced in tax forms), then bus, then foot. It was one of those gorgeous sunny and mild southern California days. We walked up the boardwalk to Dudley Street and found the 7Dudley Cinema in the middle of the first block in from the beach. Gerry Fialka, also of the Ann Arbor School, was arranging chairs and setting up the projector.

The space was cozy, and our audience an intimate one. Quintessential Venice Beach, there were at least two people present with bare feet.

Deep Venice - Gerry generously offered us the futon-couch at his & Suzy's cozy bungalow, a home-cooked gourmet breakfast, and a ride out to Silver Lake the next day. It was a real treat. Neighborhood locales are essential to life in LA, and Gerry prepared for what seemed to be a major excursion by gathering up a big stack of trash-picked LPs to haul inland to Amoeba Records.

This embroidery on felt is one of the many treasures discovered inside at Gerry & Suzy's place.

Gerry interviewing Jay

one of the many treasures discovered outside at Gerry & Suzy's place


The next thing I remember is going on a bike ride to downtown LA, then a rapid decline into illness just before and during a great meal prepared by my old friend Jenna. I spent the next several days in bed, making my way to and performing at whichever next gig.

After months in flat Texas, I'm excited about the verticality of the LA cityscape.

The Echo Park Film Center was hopping with the energy of numerous kids in tight quarters editing videos when we walked in. This wonderful little community film center, lovingly run by the beautiful couple Lisa and Paolo, is an oasis of real and effective hands-on grass-roots media making. Although I was fairly wiped out from the viral occupation, we truly enjoyed the audience and our show there. Much respect and love to those folks! And long-live the EPFC!