Friday, December 21, 2012

New Artwork- Commissioned Sculpture

As I've been busy working on pieces for my upcoming solo exhibition I've also been working on a sculptural wall installation piece commissioned by the Deborah Hankinson Lawfirm in Dallas. After a few hundred hours of prep work and then a twenty hour install on location last weekend, the piece is finally finished and I can now get back to my work on the solo show. Here are a few shots of it.
Current: Red Rectangles    2012,    Ink, Lexan, Steel Pins

Detail- Side View

Scott Walker - 'Epizootics!'

'Epizootics' is the first song on Scott Walker's new 2012 album, 'Bish Bosch', released just a few weeks ago. Although a bit less bleak than his 2006 bleaker-than-bleak album 'The Drift', this new album is no less bizarre and leaves the listener wondering what strange universe this guy now inhabits, especially given his earlier music from the 1960's. One of the best Youtube comments I've ever seen came with this video. Nitewars says:
I used to put "The Drift" on at dinner parties, just to see the moment where the conversation stops and everyone collectively asks, "what the hell is this?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Glenn Beck Fancies Himself an Art Critic

Yes, in this clip he fancies himself an art critic, an art historian and... an artist? This was too good not to post. He reminds me of the dumbest kid in the class who also happens to be the loudest. Why is it that the stupidest amongst us are always the most confident of their own mental faculties? If the bluster and bad french accent are too much for you to bear, at least forward it to the 6 minute mark where he thinks he's an artist. Thanks Rob for the find.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Intelligence Squared: Science Refutes God - Full Debate

Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer debate Dinesh D'Souza and Ian Hutchinson over the question of whether science refutes god. IQ2-Science Refutes God - Full Debate from Intelligence Squared U.S. on Vimeo.
On the fundamental question--evolution or creation?--Americans are on the fence. According to one survey, while 61% of Americans believe we have evolved over time, 22% believe this evolution was guided by a higher power, with another 31% on the side of creationism. For some, modern science debunks many of religion's core beliefs, but for others, questions like "Why are we here?" and "How did it all come about?" can only be answered through a belief in the existence of God. Can science and religion co-exist?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ray Kurzweil "How to Create a Mind", Authors at Google

I thought this was a great lecture by the futurist, Ray Kurzweil. I have yet to read his new book, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, which might be my next purchase.

About the book:

In How to Create a Mind, The Secret of Human Thought Revealed, the bold futurist and author of The New York Times bestseller The Singularity Is Near explores the limitless potential of reverse engineering the human brain. Ray Kurzweil is arguably today's most influential—and often controversial—futurist. In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization—reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines. Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world's problems. He thoughtfully examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating. Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil's previous classics.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Legalize Drugs: A Debate from Intelligence Squared U.S.

An interesting debate from the Intellegence Squared series.
Intelligence Squared U.S. Presents "Legalize Drugs" with Paul Butler and Nick Gillespie for the motion, Asa Hutchinson and Theodore Dalrymple against the motion. Moderated by John Donvan. It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared a "war on drugs." $2.5 trillion dollars later, drug use is half of what it was 30 years ago, and thousands of offenders are successfully diverted to treatment instead of jail. And yet, 22 million Americans-9% of the population-still uses illegal drugs, and with the highest incarceration rate in the world, we continue to fill our prisons with drug offenders. Decimated families and communities are left in the wake. Is it time to legalize drugs or is this a war that we're winning?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

RIP David S. Ware

One of the most unique tenor sax players to emerge in the post-Coltrane era has died at age 62. Here he is with his quartet: Matthew Shipp on piano, William Parker on bass and Guillermo E. Brown on drums. Parker is laying down this amazingly bizarre bass line. I counted out the beat and I believe the song is written in a 10/4 time signature...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Watch a Facebook Photo Go Viral

Beautiful fractal data visualizations of a Facebook photo going viral. From Hyperallergic:
There are now more than one billion people using Facebook every month, and there’s no doubt that a huge number of them are sharing photos. To help illustrate what that means, the company teamed up with design studio Stamen to create animated visualizations of three different pictures going viral. The results are totally mesmerizing. In the short videos, the photos spread in branches, each one starting from a different person. As the pictures are shared by more people, new branches sprout off from the previous ones, with each color representing a different gender and the colors fading to white as time passes. The forms look wonderfully organic, like groups of tiny organisms moving under a microscope. There are periodic, pulsing bursts of activity that remind me of fireworks, and meanwhile, the tendrils of the photo maps spread out as if they were time-lapse videos of plants growing.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cities at Night Seen From Space

Images such as this are a big influence on my artwork. Be sure to watch this one full screen.

Narrated by Dr. Justin Wilkinson to help make sense of exactly what is passing by down there.

Jennifer Steinkamp: Video Installation Artist

Here are a few videos by a digital artist I've just been introduced to.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Neil DeGrasse Tyson - Greatest (Secular) Sermon Ever

Neil deGrasse Tyson has the knack of making the seemingly dry scientific subjects of astronomy, physics, chemistry and humanism come to life with his words almost like a Disney animator can captivate an audience in pictures... Science has the facts on its side, now all it needs is more storytellers of facts to make those facts interesting and captivating...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

TIM BURTON'S VINCENT: featuring Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven

Beautiful animation that makes my inner goth smile... Directed by Tim Burton and narrated by Vincent Price.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Junk King

Only in Austin... I have no idea where in Austin this place is, but I'd love to see it in person. It reminds me a little bit of being a kid on my grandfather's farm. He was a junk hoarder on a massive scale. After my grandfather died they towed 39 cars and trucks off of his property in various states of decomposition.

Vince Hannemann, A.K.A. the Junk King, has spent much of his life constructing the Cathedral of Junk in Austin, TX.
In 2010, the city of Austin requested a building permit and Vince was forced to tear down nearly half of his creation.
Despite this traumatic event and with the help of many supporters, Vince was still able to keep the Cathedral alive and continue its legacy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Like, you know what I'm sayin'?... I'm just sayin'...

Here are a few clips by Taylor Mali, one of my favorite new poets. This one is on the most aggressively inarticulate generation.
The poem, "Like, you know"

A few other choice poems of his:
"What Teachers Make"

"The The Impotence of Proofreading"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bill Harley - Stories Out Loud

As a teacher, keeping students from falling asleep while you're talking is a craft... But getting them to remember your points intuitively is a fine art known by the best storytellers...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chris Sharma Climbing "Pachamama" 5.15

Climbing grades generally start at 5.5 (which is as easy as climbing a ladder) and get more difficult as the holds get smaller and fewer...
I currently climb at about a 5.10 grade and my climbing gym bolts routes that go up to 5.13 in difficulty as its most strenuous climbs. This might give you some idea as to how insanely difficult a 5.15 climb is... And by the way, the there is no such thing as a 5.16 climb... At least not yet....

Friday, August 10, 2012

Alchemists Of Sound

The BBC's Radiophonic Workshop was set up in 1958, born out of a desire to create 'new kinds of sounds'. Alchemists of Sound looks at this creative group from its inception, through its golden age when it was supplying music and effects for cult classics like Doctor Who, Blake's Seven and Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and charts its fading away in 1995 when, due to budget cuts, it was no longer able to survive.

There are interviews with composers from the Workshop, as well as musicians and writers who have been inspired by the output. Great archive footage of the Workshop and its machinery is accompanied by excerpts of the, now cult, TV programmes that featured these sounds.

RSA Animate - The Power of Networks

In this new RSA Animate, Manuel Lima, senior UX design lead at Microsoft Bing, explores the power of network visualisation to help navigate our complex modern world.

Soft Autonomous Earthworm Robot at MIT

Mr. Deity & The Marriage

Reinventing the Toilet

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is pouring lots of money into completely reinventing the design of the toilet, which has remained largely unchanged for 200 years. The toilet of the future would require no water or sewage infrastructure, no electricity and may actually generate energy or fertilizer.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Challenges of Getting to Mars: Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror

If this actually works it will be a gigantic milestone in human ingenuity.

Team members at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory share the challenges of the Curiosity Mars rover's final minutes to landing on the surface of Mars.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bouldering in Tulsa

I had no idea there was this much good climbing in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area. Got a spare couch Rob?

SendNation: Tulsa from LadyHawk productions on Vimeo.

Located around Tulsa, Oklahoma are five different bouldering areas. This video showcases some of the more classic lines in these areas. With problems ranging from V1-V13, you're sure to find one the gets you psyched.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

CRASS | There Is No Authority But Yourself

From Wikipedia:
There is No Authority But Yourself is a Dutch film directed by Alexander Oey documenting the history of anarchist punk band Crass. The film features archive footage of the band and interviews with former members Steve Ignorant, Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher. As well as reflecting on the band's past, the film focuses on their current activities, and includes footage of Rimbaud performing with Last Amendment at the Vortex jazz club in Hackney, a compost toilet building workshop and a permaculture course held at Dial House in the spring of 2006.

The title of the film is derived from the final lines of the Crass album Yes Sir, I Will; "You must learn to live with your own conscience, your own morality, your own decision, your own self. You alone can do it. There is no authority but yourself."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Aaron Koblin: Artfully visualizing our humanity Artist Aaron Koblin takes vast amounts of data -- and at times vast numbers of people -- and weaves them into stunning visualizations. From elegant lines tracing airline flights to landscapes of cell phone data, from a Johnny Cash video assembled from crowd-sourced drawings to the "Wilderness Downtown" video that customizes for the user, his works brilliantly explore how modern technology can make us more human.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mr. Deity and the Hitch

I'm a big fan of Christopher Hitchens and I still had a tough time getting all the inside jokes.

Timmy tells Mr. Deity that Hitch has arrived at the Pearly Gates.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Climate Change Deniers

During an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on March 2, 2012, Dr. Tyson explains the stages that deniers of scientific fact must go through.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Freeclimber Dean Potter on the Subject of Death

A friend and I were talking today about the insanity of freeclimbing. Ironically, to say "I would never do that if my life depended on it" means nothing here...But I do understand a climber getting to know their own strengths and weaknesses to such an extent that they are completely confident in their capabilities and have an acute understanding of every move in the particular route they are climbing. But still, for me, my fear of falling is only tempered by my trust in the gear that is keeping me from being a big bloody spot on the ground.
Case in point: check out this climber who took a huge drop before an anchor broke his fall.

Friday, July 6, 2012


An hour of pure eye candy for fans of the insect world. I didn't expect the film to be quite this beautiful. You can stream the entire thing high-definition on Netflix (the narration is translated to English).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lip Sync of Screamin' Jay Hawkins- I Put A Spell On You

Screamin' Jay Hawkins always puts a smile on your face...This is possibly the best lip sync ever...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

11 Months, 3000 pictures and a lot of coffee.

Amazing stop-action animation I found on This is Colossal.

Description from Youtube:
Started out as just a collection of snaps as I stripped down an engine bought off ebay. (To replace my old engine, which had suffered catastrophic failure). The snaps were so that I remembered how everything went, so I could put it back together again.

Then I realised it'd be quite cool to make it an animation. found some suitable music, rekindled my ancient knowledge of Premiere, storyboarded it, shot it as I worked on the engine (my poor DSLR got covered in engine oil), this was the result.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Bill Ramsey climbs a 5.14b at 52 years old

I was feeling old this week. I pulled a back muscle at the climbing gym trying to make a sideways reach that was just a little too far for comfort. I went ahead and climbed for two days after the injury hoping it would work itself out, and of course it got worse. Now my ribcage hurts when I breath deep and the pain is excruciating when I sneeze or cough. I'll take it easy this weekend and be back on Monday.
 At 41 years old, I've got back into climbing after ten years. I don't have any kind of expectations of greatness, or even mediocrity. I am only trying to stave off the oncoming glacier of old age. We all know it's coming, but if we're healthy, active and lucky we might hold back that glacier a little bit longer.

This video is pure inspiration... Bill Ramsey, who is a philosophy professor at the University of LasVegas, did a 5.14b climb a week before his 52nd birthday. To give you some idea of the incredible difficulty of this climb, the original Yosemite grading system stopped at 5.10 as the most difficult climbs. But then as the years passed it added 5.11, 5.12, etc. as climbers continued to mount more and more technically difficult climbs. I think the current record is set at about 5.15...
 My current best is still at a mere 5.10.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Susumu Yokota - Secret Garden

Susumu Yokota's videos are always as visually delicious as they are musically.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Alfred Schnittke: Concerto Grosso no.1 (1977), V. Rondo: Agitato

I would rank this among the top five pieces of music that have influenced me the most. I first heard the piece by Schnittke when I was about twenty years old and it floored me how effortlessly it went back and forth between musical styles and eras. It's almost as if he took a hatchet to Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky and Cage and then meticulously stitched the broken pieces back together one note at a time into a hauntingly beautiful Frankenstein symphony.

For the attention-deficit among you, here is the spectacular final seven minutes of the concerto.

But I would highly suggest watching the entire thing here because there are themes that are introduced early in the piece which surface again and again in various forms like inside jokes.

A Far Cry - Schnittke: Concerto Grosso no.1 (1977) from Cosmos Lee on Vimeo.

Some Folks Call It A Sling Blade

The short film that inspired the Oscar Winning film, Sling Blade.
Part 1:

Part 2:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris & Ayaan Hirsi Ali

In 2007, when The Four Horsemen was filmed, Ayaan Hirsi Ali was originally supposed to take part in the discussion but had to cancel at the last moment due to a personal emergency. Now in 2012, the discussion continues without the late Christopher Hitchens but includes Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The climber, Dai Koyamada, travelled from Japan to the Swiss alps four times between 2010 and 2012 to work on this particular bouldering problem. Bouldering problems are climbs that don't require ropes because they remain close to the ground, but rank in difficulty between V0 (easiest) and V16 (impossibly difficult)... I, myself, can do somewhere around a V2 or V3 climb... But Dai Koyamada here solves a V16 climb...Notice how, at certain points, his entire body is hanging from two fingertips and a single toe-hook.
It's a long video, so if you get impatient, his final ascent begins around the 12:00 minute mark.

「The Story of Two Worlds low start V16」 from project_daihold on Vimeo.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Super technical skateboarding tricks (1000 fps slow motion)

I'll admit it, I am totally out of touch on the subtle nuances of contemporary skateboarding. It used to be that the kick flip, the heel flip, the nollie, the varial flip and the pop-shove it were all you needed to know with street skateboarding... But wow, these super slow-motion shots show just how technical the sport has become.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Richard Dawkins & Daniel Dennett. Oxford, 9 May 2012

A discussion between evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins and neuroscientist/philosopher, Daniel Dennett on the similarities between biological evolution and the evolution of culturally contagious ideas, or "memes", such as religion.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Proteus- The Art of Earnst Haeckel

I watched this documentary on Netflix tonight and I'm happy to see that youtube has portions of it available.The beautiful interpretations of nature in Earnst Haeckel's zoological illustrations remain to be some of the biggest influences on my work. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Margaret Wertheim: The beautiful math of coral (and crochet)

I am no mathematician, but the mathematics of nature and its visual outcomes are very interesting to me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Church member defends Pastor Worley's Anti-Gay Rant

People from the south get a bad rap, especially those of us with southern accents... People tend to think that everyone with a southern accent is a bigoted ignoramus. That is especially irritating to southerners such as myself, who try to show that many of us are educated, intelligent people... But like Jeff Foxworthy says, "It seems that the stupidest amongst us always end up on the television"... This very awkward train wreck of an interview is a case in point.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fred Tomaselli

This video from 2005 does a good job of showing Fred Tomaselli's laborious processes using collage and poured resin.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

ART THOUGHTZ: The Studio Visit

Another installment of Art Thoughtz by my favorite internet critic, Hennessy Youngman.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A History of John Baldessari as Narrated by Tom Waits

The epic life of a world-class artist, jammed into six minutes.
Narrated by Tom Waits.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Christian Marclay

Cristian Marclay is one of those artists who seems to have experimented with almost every medium out there. In the 1980's he was pioneering the use of the turntable as an experimental musical instrument by playing intentionally scratched or skipping records on multiple turntables simultaneously. He has performed with some of the giants of avant garde music such as John Zorn and the Kronos Quartet.

 He is also a sculptor and installation artist who works with found materials that always involve the idea of sound.

Tape Fall, Reel-to-Reel, Ladder, Magnetic Tape, 1989
Moebius Loop, Cassette Tapes, Zip Ties, 1994

Virtuoso, Altered Accordion, 2000
He is a collage artist who uses album covers as his medium.

And most recently, he is a video artist who obsessively cuts and splices together scenes from existing films of similar everyday actions such as telephone conversations or people checking the time on a clock or a watch.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Craig Stecyk: The Inventor of Skateboarding as an Artform Rather Than a Fad

What I have always loved about skateboarding is the individual expression involved in the sport... Whereas other sports involve statistics and records based on a set of strict guidelines, skateboarding literally makes up  the rules as it goes... In other words, there are no rules... and that is what is so beautiful about the sport. I tend to think that it is more art than it is sport...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eric Dolphy

When I was nineteen or twenty years old, I had a friend who repeatedly tried to introduce me to jazz. I was interested in experimental rock at the time, but jazz just never interested me. That all changed one Spring day about twenty years ago on a drive down to Austin from Dallas when we listened to Eric Dolphy's seminal 1960's album, "Out to Lunch". Not many epiphanies happen in one's lifetime, but that is an experience that is still crystal clear in my mind as a turning point... I'm not sure if it was helped by the beautiful day with the Spring bluebonnets along the highway, or by the fact that we were riding in a mid-sixties Ford Galaxie 500, or by the joint we smoked along the way... It was most likely all three, but it was one of those rare moments when you realize that you actually "get" something that you didn't get before.
This is a beautiful performance by Eric Dolphy on solo bass clarinet, an instrument he almost singlehandedly resurrected from obscurity.

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Ghost" caught on surveillance camera

I promise this is not one of those "zombie pops up and scares the daylights out of you" videos.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sam Harris on The Illusion of Free Will: Lecture at Caltech

The idea that we do not have our own free will is a notion that runs so deeply and disturbingly counter-intuitive to the way we tend to think of ourselves that it seems completely absurd... I mean, I choose to do something and then I do it, right? It seems like a no-brainer.

But in his new book titled, Free Will, and in this lecture, Sam Harris describes how that is most likely an illusion. From what I gather from his lecture, the genes that were passed down from your parents that make up your body, the millions of neurons in your brain, and the sum total of your experiences and influences all work together to create a picture of yourself that feels very much like "I" or "me". But since this "I" is not separate from the brain and its individual chemistry thanks to its genes, this "I" will act exactly how its individual brain is wired to act and shaped to act through experiences.

If that sounds like complete nonsense, watch the lecture and Sam Harris describes it much more eloquently. The lecture itself runs about 55 minutes and the Q&A afterwards runs about 20 minutes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Damned Tornadoes Interfereing with my Art

All I wanted to do today was to go to Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas and install about 700 arrows in the ceiling of a hallway there for an exhibition at the school called "Temporary Occupants". My piece is called "Inhale-Exhale" and it involves the arrows interacting with the intake and output air vents in the ceiling of the hallway...

But just like every other time it seems like I have to install or transport artwork, mother nature just HAS to show me who's boss... Fifteen tornadoes were spotted in the DFW area this afternoon, many just miles from my location, and so two hours of my precious install-time were spent sitting in the basement awaiting the impending doom...
And if that image is not enough, here is a video from the same storm of some semi-trailers being tossed about like balloons... And THAT is the tornado that was still headed toward Mesquite, exactly where I was installing artwork.

Amazingly, we dodged that bullet and my truck survived without even a hail dent. I was finally allowed to continue my installation and I was finished by around 9:00 tonight. So at least mother nature was simply a road-block and not a wrecking ball for my artwork...In retrospect, the mechanics of fluid motion that are at play in a storm are exactly the things I am interested in with the air currents in this piece on a much smaller scale. Coincidence? I think not... ;) Here are some images I got of the finished work tonight.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn

I think I'll round off the evening with one of my all time favorite music videos by a band called Wolf Parade... The song is titled "I'll Believe in Anything". The line from that song, "nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn", is one of the most humbling, but also one of the most freeing lines from recent rock music...

You see, when people know you, they have expectations based on what you've done before... But when they don't know you, then you have nothing to lose and you are free to try anything and everything... I just wish that more established artists could realize this and get over their own success...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence Psychologist Jonathan Haidt asks a simple, but difficult question: why do we search for self-transcendence? Why do we attempt to lose ourselves? In a tour through the science of evolution by group selection, he proposes a provocative answer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kony 2012: The New Face of Christian Evangelism

By now you've probably seen the slickly produced and obviously well financed video called "Kony 2012". When you first see the video, it's hard not to be moved by it. But what is never discussed amid all of the heartstring plucking is that "Invisible Children", the group who produced the video, are financed in part by the National Christian Foundation, the very same group who funds anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family and The Family Research Council. This article in The Advocate has a deeper analysis and I thought this portion of 10 O'Clock Live with Charlie Brooker was also insightful on the subject.

Here is correspondent for The Advocate, Jim Morrison's take on it.

All of this could have never prepared me for the completely surreal and ironic turn of events within the last day or so. The seemingly angelic director of the "Kony 2012" video, Jason Russell, was detained by the San Diego police Thursday for being publicly naked, masturbating and obviously drug-induced (although his business partners claim it was stress related). The video is NSFW, so I will link to it and you can watch at your own discretion.

Copyright Math

It's been a while since I've posted a TED talk. This one is really good. Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lynn Hill at Hueco Tanks - Patagonia Ambassador goes Bouldering in Texas

Lynn Hill is one of the smoothest climbers I've ever seen. She makes these incredibly difficult climbs look easy.

I'm trying my best to get back into rock climbing. A few weeks ago I discovered that a climbing gym has opened very near where I live and I'm determined to get good at it again. I went there this week and quickly discovered how completely out of shape I've become since the last time I climbed. I got pretty good at it when I was a graduate student in the late 1990's. I could even do the steeply inverted climbs that are almost like climbing on the ceiling. But after I finished grad school I got too busy and didn't live anywhere near a gym, so I got out of the habit. After a few minutes at the gym the other day, it was painfully obvious how much upper body strength and grip strength I've lost in the last twelve years. It was embarrassing... At least I remembered most of the techniques such as flagging and keeping your arms straight, which are just as important as strength and kept me from making beginners mistakes. At least I wasn't a complete disgrace.

 So anyway, I'm on a mission to get back to where I can climb like a monkey again. It certainly won't be easy because I'm 41 years old now and not 29, but I think I should be able to at least regain most of the strength I had back then. Yesterday I picked up a training board, which is kind of a fancy pull-up bar with lots of finger holds so that climbers can build up grip strength in addition to building upper body strength. I've installed it above the doorway to my studio hoping that having to look at it all the time will encourage actually using it...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Most Astounding Fact (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?" This is his answer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jac Mac & Rad Boy

If it was the mid-1980's and you were up late and bored on a Friday night, you could probably find something interesting on Night Flight. I'm not going to go into specifics about the show here, but I think it's a goldmine for forgotten film shorts, music videos, interviews... and way-out animation such as this:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Artist Who Cut a House in Half- Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting, 1974

Both my sculpture and my painting have always been influenced by architecture, but my first exposure to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark changed the way I think about architecture fundamentally. His sculptural work was not only about architecture, but it used existing architecture as its medium much like a stone carver used a block of marble as a medium to carve a statue from. For Matta-Clark, the house itself was the medium to be used to create the work.

For some reason, my brain has always thought in terms of architectural spaces and I think that Matta-Clark’s rupturing of those spaces exposes a lot about the psychology of the public and the private. In all of the apartments I have ever lived in, I’ve realized that the layout had a utilitarian purpose. The bathrooms line up with other bathrooms and the bedrooms line up with other bedrooms. That means that in your apartment, on the other side of your bedroom wall, you may very well be sleeping literally two feet away from someone you don’t know, which has always been something I’ve had to tell myself is perfectly normal when I still think it’s creepy.

Although this video is filmed in silent Super 8, it does capture the hard work involved in cutting an actual house in half and then lowering the back half a few inches so that the entire thing opens up. Another thing that I find interesting about this piece is  the fact that he cut the four corners out of the house before it was finally demolished... The major point of the entire artwork is the fact that it existed outside the museum, but these were the the few things that the museum could keep as souvenirs, or possibly the "scalps" of the house that was to be demolished within weeks of the completion of the work. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rush Limbaugh's Commercial Breaks Peppered by Long Beautiful Silences

Speaking of John Cage, I had no idea that Rush Limbaugh was such a fan that he spent a good portion of his advertising time on Wednesday with dedications and variations on John Cage's infamous piece, 4 Minutes 33 Seconds of Silence, otherwise known as simply 4'33".
Here is one portion in all its glory.

John Cage and Morton Feldman In Conversation, 1967

This is a wonderful two-hour conversation between two giants of twentieth century music composition. It's hard to think of two music composers who influenced my artwork more than these two did. By the time this conversation was recorded in 1967, both of them were already highly regarded in the canonical history of music, so it is interesting to hear how each of them looked back on their own careers, but also looked forward as to how they could keep their music fresh despite the expectations.

One thing that I found particularly interesting was how completely contemporary their dialogue sounded except, that is, whenever they mentioned technology... It was at those points in a conversation recorded only 45 years ago, that you realize that we live in a world that is almost light years apart from the technology these two geniuses had access to. If you are a fan, this is well worth your time.

Part 1 (39:25): The segment begins with Cage and Feldman discussing the various ways people perceive intrusion in their lives. The composers then spend some time on the occupation of the artist as "being deep in thought," and what the goals or purposes of "being deep in thought" might be.
Part 2 (49:41): Cage and Feldman look at how everyday tasks such as correpsondence are affected by the artist's desire to not disappoint the public once the public has recognized the artist. Cage and Feldman engage in a fairly philosophical discussion regarding the telephone, and recount some anecdotes about using the phone book.
Part 3 (43:48): Cage seems fascinated by the idea that the large and small scale is becoming ever more prominent in society, while the importance of the mid-scale is dwindling. Some serious debate ensues when Cage expresses the opinion that we already have quality in the world, and what we are truly seeking is quantity. The two also touch on the role of artists in reaction to the Vietnam War, and how musicians seem frequently absent from the political dialogue. The conversation ends with Cage hypothesizing that the printing press changed the course of life activity toward material

Friday, February 24, 2012

ART THOUGHTZ: Performance Art

A new installment of “ART THOUGHTZ” on the subject of performance art by my favorite internet art critic, Hennesy Youngman.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization

From TED:
Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that's only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).
Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing a set of blueprints for 50 farming tools that can be built cheaply from scratch. Call it a "civilization starter kit."

I don't know if it's specifically a product of the recession or if it's a periodic generational thing, but I find it very encouraging to see more and more young college-educated people going into these very idealistic endeavors such as sustainable farming at exactly a time when small family owned farms are being put out of business left and right by large corporate owned farms.

I contrast this "be the change you want to see" kind of idealism with the cynicism of my own generation and it makes us Gen X'ers seem like a bunch of pessimistic blowhards. While I do think that the spirit of DIY was very much a part of Generation X, that spirit always seemed to be aimed at criticism and destruction rather than optimism and construction. We had the bad luck of being born at the ass end of a previous age of optimism, idealism and great social change, but the party of the 1960's was over and Gen X was the hangover.

Recently though, it does seem like there has been another sea-change in the general mood of the entire world. People are angry, certainly, and things are bad, yes, but there is also this feeling that the tiny individual can actually change the world for the better. This is the feeling that was almost completely absent during the formative years for many people from my generation X and I am glad to see it here once more. Whether it be the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement, or these young college-educated people buying small farms, I am really glad to see a return of the idea that the individual can make a difference.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Covers, Oddities and Separated at Birth: The Jesus Lizard conjures the spirit of Miles Davis

I might file this one under the ​Separated at Birth​ category... Because when The Jesus Lizard wrote Then Comes Dudley, they were certainly not out to write a cover song of a Miles Davis tune, but nevertheless, the similarity in the melody is unmistakable. Here is the Miles Davis song, ​Great Expectations, from the Bitches Brew sessions: And then here is The Jesus Lizard song, ​Then Comes Dudley. Stealing melodies has a long and generous tradition in the history of music... It is through theft and theft alone that we actually have melodies handed down to us from historical periods which would have otherwise been completely lost... It is only in the last forty years or so that record companies have begun thinking of these melodies as "property" which can be prosecuted if stolen. Much like Darwinian evolution, melody theft is literally how music evolves...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something From Nothing ? A Discussion between Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss

It is definitely worth your time this weekend to sit down with this discussion. Two of my favorite thinkers hold a two-hour discussion on the really big topics of life and the universe, as well as thoughts on the ever-expanding frontiers of those two hefty subjects.
Join critically-acclaimed author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and world-renowned theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss as they discuss biology, cosmology, religion, and a host of other topics.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New Rule: Atheism is not a religion! - Bill Maher

Bill Maher was on fire with this segment. My favorite quote from it: "Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position."

Neil Young on Music in the Digital Age

It's interesting to see Neil Young weigh in on issues such as the degradation of sound quality in music heard as compressed MP3 files compared to the original uncompressed versions. But he also has some progressive ideas on how to deal with music piracy.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Very Best of Jazz Club

Why on earth have I never seen this television show??? Well, the fact that I haven't owned a television set since 1993 could have something to do with it... But at any rate, it's a really funny parody of both avant garde jazz as well as the annoying hosts on TV music shows. What's great about it is that it's even more funny if you are actually a jazz fan because you get all the little inside jokes they throw in.

After a bit of research on the Wikipedia, I've discovered that Jazz Club was a regular sketch on the BBC comedy show called The Fast Show. The format as well as the host were meant to parody the classic British music show, The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bowerbird builds a house of illusions to improve his chances of mating

I have been a fan of Mo Costandi's blog called Neurophilosophy for a while now. His blog has recently been picked up by The Guardian, so congratulations to him. As a visual artist interested in why people began making art in the first place, his recent post struck a chord with me. Check out the entire post here. But here is a bait to attract your attention:
Male bowerbirds use their intelligence to impress the females, constructing elaborate structures called bowers to attract mates. They are not only master builders, but also accomplished artists. Males of some species decorate their bowers lavishly with flower petals and sparkly manmade objects. The Satin bowerbird even paints the walls of his bower with charcoal or chewed up berries. Male Great bowerbirds are even more remarkable. Their bowers, which are among the most complex of all, are true marvels of avian architecture. But as well as being builders and artists, males of this species are also magicians – the bowers they build are like a house of illusions, with built-in visual tricks that manipulate females' perceptions and increase their likelihood of choosing the builder as their mate. Bowerbirds are a family of twenty species that are native to Australia and New Guinea that are renowned for their unusually complex mating behaviour. The Great bowerbird of northern Australia is the largest species in the family. Males sport brownish-grey plumage build bowers, and spend many months building their bowers. The bowers consist of a thatched twig tunnel forming an avenue of approximately half a metre in length, opening out onto a court whose floor is covered with bones, shells and stones. When a potential mate steps into the avenue, the male stands in the court just by the avenue's exit, displaying to her the colourful objects he has collected, one after the other. Two years ago, John Endler of Deakin University and his colleagues reported that the males use visual illusions when constructing their bowers. They do so by arranging the objects covering the floor of the court in a particular way, so that they increase in size as the distance from the bower increases. This positive size-distance gradient creates a forced perspective which results in false perceptions of the geometry of the bower, which is visible only to the female when she is standing in the avenue. From her point of view, all of the objects in the court appear to be the same size. Consequently, she may perceive the court as being smaller than it actually is, and the male to be bigger.

Conlon Nancarrow: Studies for player piano

I’ve been thinking about Conlon Nancarrow recently. His use of the player piano as a compositional device in the 1940′s and 50′s allowed him to imagine piano compositions that no human hands could ever duplicate. In a way, his work predated MIDI sequencing by at least thirty years. From Wikipedia:
Conlon Nancarrow (October 27, 1912 – August 10, 1997) was a United States-born composer who lived and worked in Mexico for most of his life. Nancarrow is best remembered for the pieces he wrote for the player piano. He was one of the first composers to use musical instruments as mechanical machines, making them play far beyond human performance ability. He lived most of his life in relative isolation, not becoming widely known until the 1980s.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The music of a tree ring wood-playing turntable

A modified record player that is designed to read the subtle variations in tree rings on thin slices of wood in much the same way a record needle reads the grooves on a vinyl record.

YEARS from Bartholomäus Traubeck on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fotoshop by Adobé

Fotoshop by Adobé from Jesse Rosten on Vimeo.

This commercial isn't real, neither are society's standards of beauty.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Metropolis II by Chris Burden

Chris Burden seems to have had two very distinct artistic selves… Those two selves would be Chris Burden the Younger and then Chris Burden the Elder. He has gone from the extreme self-mutilating performance artist of his early years in the 1970′s into his current incarnation as the Willy Wonka artist who brings to reality the wildest dreams of many pre-adolescent children.
A short doc about a kinetic sculpture that took four years to build. We had the honor of spending three days in Chris Burden's studio filming this sculpture before it was moved to the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) where it is being reinstalled.

Friday, January 13, 2012

ART THOUGHTZ: Damien Hirst

 Hennessy Youngman has become one of my favorite commentators on the art world at large.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ferrofluid- Liquid Magnetic Sculpture

I've never seen anything quite like this. I am normally a bit skeptical of artwork that relies too heavily on new technologies. After the wow-factor wears off, you are left with something that is purely decorative. But I have to throw all that skepticism aside with this one and just sit mesmerized after I pick my jaw up off the floor. The sculpture apparently uses electromagnets to control an iron/oil-based liquid called ferrofluid.

From the website:
The body of the tower was made by a new technique called “ferrofluid sculpture” that enables artists to create dynamic sculptures with fluid materials. This technique uses one electromagnet, and its iron core is extended and sculpted. The ferrofluid covers the sculpted surface of a three-dimensional iron shape that was made on an electronic NC lathe. The movement of the spikes in the fluid is controlled dynamically on the surface by adjusting the power of the electromagnet. The shape of the iron body is designed as helical so that the fluid can move to the top of the helical tower when the magnetic field is strong enough.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant [1 of 3]

An Interview with Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat/Fugazi/Dischord Records

If you've got some extra time, sit down this weekend and listen to this excellent lecture by Ian MacKaye given in the form of a Q&A session for the music business students at Loyola University.

Don't get discouraged when you hear the annoying first question, "Why straight edge?". Ian seems as annoyed by that question as I was, but he gives a very thoughtful answer and moves on.

The rest of the questions focus mainly on the history of the various bands he has been part of and the DIY mentality and work ethic that he and Dischord records are famous for. He's got some great stories about the sordid business tactics of the music industry (Ticketmaster specifically) that would make even the most chipper idealist cry. I'm not exactly sure when this was filmed, but it must have been a few years back because he also questions the validity of, and correctly predicts the demise of Myspace as a springboard for new bands.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Nine weeks of weather in three minutes.

 Weather radar rarely shows more than six hours of movement at a time. I have always wanted to see what it looks like as a continuum over a long period of time.

Over 3500 individual infrared images from the GOES East weather satellite, collected between October 28,2011 to January 1, 2012 and made into a movie.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why Creative People are Eccentric

I've recently read an article from The Scientific American called The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric. I have always intuited a bridge between creative thought and schizophrenic thought patterns; just look at the music of Captain Beefheart, the writing of James Joyce or the artwork of Max Ernst.  But I have never known exactly why nor have I had any evidence to back up that claim. This article does a great job in explaining why our most creative thinkers are also often ill-fitted to blend in with society at large.
Apparently, our brains are equipped with neurological filters designed to overlook the vast majority of information coming in through our sense organs and to look for only the things necessary for survival. But these filters vary from person to person and sometimes allow completely irrelevant information into our brain, most often associated with schizophrenic or schizotypical behavior. But this irrelevant information can sometimes lead a person to make connections that we often associate with creativity or even  genius.
Shelley Carson says it much more eloquently than me. Here is a portion of the article:
How could weird thoughts and behaviors enhance a person’s ability to think creatively? My research suggests that these manifestations of schizotypal personality in and of themselves do not promote creativity; certain cognitive mechanisms that may underlie eccentricity could also promote creative thinking, however. In my “shared vulnerability” model of how creativity and eccentricity are related, I theorize that one of these underlying mechanisms is a propensity for cognitive disinhibition.
Too Much Information
Cognitive disinhibition is the failure to ignore information that is irrelevant to current goals or to survival. We are all equipped with mental filters that hide most of the processing that goes on in our brains behind the scenes. So many signals come in through our sensory organs, for example, that if we paid attention to all of them we would be overwhelmed. Furthermore, our brains are constantly accessing imagery and memories stored in our mental files to process and decode incoming infor­mation. Thanks to cognitive filters, most of this input never reaches conscious awareness.
There are individual differences in how much information we block out, however; both schizotypal and schizophrenic individuals have been shown to have reduced functioning of one of these cognitive filters, called latent inhibition (LI). Reduced LI appears to increase the amount of unfiltered stimuli reaching our conscious awareness and is associated with offbeat thoughts and hallucinations. It is easy to see that allowing unfiltered information into consciousness could lead to strange perceptual experiences, such as hearing voices or seeing imaginary people.
Cognitive disinhibition is also likely at the heart of what we think of as the aha! experience. During moments of insight, cognitive filters relax momentarily and allow ideas that are on the brain’s back burners to leap forward into conscious awareness, in the same manner that bizarre thoughts surface in the mind of the psychotic individual. Consider this example from Sylvia Nasar’s 1998 book A Beautiful Mind, about Nobel Prize winner (and diagnosed with schizophrenia) John Forbes Nash. When asked why he believed that aliens from outer space were contacting him, he responded: “Because the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously.” (Nash’s case illustrates how the cognitive mechanism of the eureka moment is similar to the delusional experience called thought insertion, in which individuals suffering from psychosis believe that outside forces have placed thoughts in their brains. Most people suffering from psychosis or schizophrenia do not produce ideas that are considered creative, however. The ability to use cognitive disinhibition in a creative way depends on the presence of additional cognitive abilities associated with a high level of functioning.)