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