To Draw the Flow of Time

Henri Michaux, 1957

. . . I was myself to discover what an awful, convulsive experience it is to change one's tempo, to lose it suddenly, to find another in its place, an unknown terribly fast tempo  that one does not know how to handle, thank makes everything different, unrecognizable, insane, that causes everything to overshoot itself and flash by, that cannot be followed, that must be followed, where thoughts and feelings now proceed like projectiles, where inner images, as much as accentuated as accelerated, bore and drill with violent, unbearable insistence, objects of an inner vision from which it is no longer possible to detach oneself, luminous like burning magnesium, agitated by a to-and-fro movement like the slide of a machine too, infinitesimal, and which vibrate, shudder and zig-zag, caught up in in an incessant Brownian motion, images where the straight lines invested with an upward momentum are naturally vertical, cathedral lines, that have no upper limit but go on mounting indefinitely, where the broken lines in a continual seism crack, divide, crumble and shred, where the curved lines get lost in extravagant loops, twists and twirls, infinitely intricate lacework patternings, where objects seem set in tiny, dashing, troughs of boiling iron, where parallel lines and parallel objects indefinitely repeated all the more forceful the more one observes it, shatter the mind of whim who vainly wishes to get back to himself in the general pullulation. 

Images marked by streaming, sparking, extreme seething, in which all remains ambiguous and, although glaringly evident, escapes being determined once and for all, and in which, although the frolics remain circumvented within the visual field, one knows that one is under the sway of berserk trills, piercing whistles, grotesque cacophonies and scales run amok as though berserk. 

Torn from one's tempo, in the storm of infinitesimal frenzied waves, or in the hell of equally sudden, smasmodic and insane impulses, one cannot imagine the inhuman speed of ever ceasing . . . 

(writing about being on psychedelics)

On "The Demon-Haunted World" & Art Making + Education

Recently, I have been re-reading Carl Sagan's classic The Demon Haunted World; I had read it several years ago for my thesis show at Rutgers, but I wanted to dive into it again when I wasn't on a fixed schedule to get through it. There is so much in there that, while written in 1995, is relevant to today's current socio-political climate. In the book, Sagan talks about the need for everyday people to employ the scientific method to weed out what is true and what is false in media, politics and general culture. He calls on everyone to be skeptics of what information they encounter, not for the sake of being annoyingly contrary, but for the need of critical thinking. To question an idea, he says, is not to dislike it, but to make it stronger by providing conclusive results that support it. If an idea fails, then it's time to abandon that idea for something new, something perhaps even better. This obviously has much connotation in the Trump era, something Sagan saw coming many years ago. 

Towards the end of the book, after employing all of us to question everything we see, hear, read and watch, he asks us to do one more thing: to wonder. I often tell my students that one of the most striking things that I see in many of my classes is often a lack of general curiosity among them. Even in creative classes, students want to check things off a list, to get them done and to get an A. They want to be told what to produce so that I, as the instructor, will "like" whatever they do and therefore score them accordingly to my subjective judgements. I do my best to squash this idea early in the semester, but sometimes it pervades; I have many requests to produce a concrete grading rubric, keep scores up to date on things like Blackboard or Moodle and to give definitive outlines of what constitutes an A. Of course, I do some of this the best that I can - I obviously give them guidelines and goals while telling them the correct sequence of steps to produce what they need to in order to satisfy requirements. And, of course, to help them achieve their vision for the work. But that vision is something I can't give them. They have to produce that idea all on their own. I tell them right off that the quality of work they produce for my classes should be a direct reflection of how far they push themselves. Each student is graded individually, according to their own abilities. I get that not everyone wants to be a professional artist; but the drive, ambition and perseverance needed to sustain a creative practice are skills needed in any field. And often times, I find that students have been previously taught to push those qualities aside in order to do what pleases an instructor to pass. 

I bring all this up because Sagan talks about the need "to wonder" as in relation to the sciences, but there is so much crossover here with the arts. He quite literally says in the chapter "Maxwell and the Nerds", "to do science for science's sake". (That whole chapter is generally wonderful.) This discussion of doing something for the sake of doing it often comes up in the arts as a detriment to its standing in academia. Artists and art programs are viewed as producing wishy-washy flower hippies, who go out and do watercolor plein air paintings (not that there's anything specifically wrong with that) and try to visualize their feelings. Or, more succinctly, that art is a hobby, not a career; or to be a catch-all for those who do not know what to do with their lives. I actually had an advisor tell me once that they suggested a student become an art major because the advisor felt that the student wasn't cut out for other rigorous academic subjects. Art, they think of course, is easy.  

Yet, when it comes to science, what I would think most of us call a "respectable" profession (at least I was raised to), I wonder (no pun intended) how often doing science for the sake of doing it is now reflected upon. In art academia on the other hand, I feel as if I have this discussion quite often - the notion of art for art's sake and its place in the university. With Sagan, I think, there is a happy balance between the two. After talking about stereotypes, quite useful in the afore mentioned judgements of artists, Sagan then goes on to talk about James Clerk Maxwell, a British scientist who would eventually discover and document the combinations of electromagnetic fields that surround everything in the universe, allowing the ability for simple tasks like picking something up, or broadcasting television and radio. But, Sagan says, even though he essentially ushered in modern physics, Maxwell had no intention of finding out any of this. It was only through the space and ability to try, to experiment and to fail that he discovered what he did. In fact, at that same time, unknown to both parties, Queen Victoria commissioned other scientists to figure out how to do that very same thing: of finding a way to get voices of the monarchy into every British home, what we now call broadcasting. But when tasked, those scientists came up empty. Why, Sagan argues? Because they did not have the freedom Maxwell had to let the ideas simmer, to see what directions the work could go in and to ultimately follow what he proved to be true through experimentation. 

As I read that more and more humanities departments are getting shut down in favor of the promotion of engineering or business programs - which I agree we definitely need - I can't help but feel the same uneasy caution that I imagine Sagan must have felt while writing this part of The Demon-Haunted World. There needs to exist in society a space - either physical or psychic - to allow for absolute creative freedom. And, more importantly, that freedom needs to be funded. Sagan goes on to talk about how congress, in 1993, pulled the funding for SETI, or "the search for extraterrestrial intelligence" because they thought the endeavor useless and expensive. And as such is often the case, the areas of human knowledge that tell us who we are and why we are, perhaps the most important questions of all, get pushed aside to pay for another military endeavor - or, perhaps, to build a southern wall around the US. We are now living in an era where the consequences of Sagan's warnings are coming true: our natural environment is in deep decay, there are political divisions based on incorrect information, and those in power capitalize on ill-informed voters to propel themselves to power using fear and empty promises. The only want to counter all of this, as I see it, is to allow for humans to think - perhaps of solutions, but also just to think - and then, as a society, give them the money to try out those thoughts. (I should note I'm not advocating for a willy-nilly free for all in idea spending - but there has to be something better than what exists today, which is essentially very little.)

Here are a few paragraph's from this chapter: 

"The government has been pressuring the National Science Foundation to move away from basic scientific research and to support technology, engineering, applications. Congress is suggesting doing away with the U.S. Geological Survey, and slashing support for study of the Earth's fragile environment. NASA support for research and analysis of data already obtained is increasingly constrained. Many young scientists are not only unable to find grants to support their research; they are unable to find jobs." (Should sound familiar to any of us currently searching for academic work.) 

He goes on: 

"Basic research is where scientists are free to pursue their curiosity and interrogate Nature, not with any short-term practical end in view, but to seek knowledge for its own sake. Scientists of course have a vested interest in basic research. It's what they like to do, in many cases why they became scientists in the first place. But it is in society's interest to support such research. This is how the major discoveries that benefit humanity are largely made." 

Further down:

"Giving money to someone like Maxwell might have seemed the most absurd encouragement of mere 'curiosity-driven' science, and an imprudent judgement for practical legislators. Why grant money now, so nerdish scientists talking incomprehensible gibberish can indulge their hobbies, when there are more urgent unmet national needs? From this point of view, it's easy to understand the contention that science is just another hobby, another pressure group anxious to keep the grant money rolling in so the scientists don't ever have to do a hard day's work or meet a payroll. (I could comment much, much more on this notion - the correlation to art making is extraordinary.)

Maxwell wasn't thinking of radio, radar or television when he firsts scratched out the fundamental equations of electromagnetism; Newton wasn't dreaming of space flight or communications satellites when he first understood the motion of the Moon; Roentgen wasn't contemplating medial diagnosis when he investigated a penetrating radiation so mysterious he called it 'X-ray'; Curie wasn't thinking of cancer therapy when she painstakingly extracted minute amounts of radium from tons of pitchblende; Fleming wasn't planning on saving the lives of millions with antibiotics when he noticed a circle free of bacteria around a growth of mold; Watson and Molina weren't planning to implicate CFC's in ozone depletion when they began studying the role of halogens in stratospheric photochemistry. 

Members of congress and other political leaders have from time to time found it irresistible to poke fun at seemingly obscure scientific research proposals that the government is asked to fund. Even as bright a senator as William Proxmire, a Harvard graduate, was given to making episodic 'Golden Fleece' awards - many commemorating ostensibly useless scientific projects - including SETI. I imagine the same spirit in previous governments - a Mr. Fleming wishes to study bugs in smelly cheese; a Polish woman wishes to sift through tons of Central African ore to find minute quantities of a substance she says will glow in the dark; a Mr. Kepler wants to hear songs the planets sing." 

Also in the book, Sagan talks a lot about pseudoscience and the inability of the general public to separate superstition from fact-based truths. Among one of these pseudosciences that I imagine he would have an opinion on is this idea of the "Law of Attraction", or what made The Secret so popular many years ago: it's this idea (admittedly based on incorrect or unfounded "science") that one can attract things into their lives by thinking about them, both psychic and physical. You think positive things, positive things come into your life. Same with the negative. The trick, according to the belief, is to get your unconscious mind to start thinking about the positive things while having your conscious mind do the work to get there. I'm not saying this is true, but I do think there is something to the notion that what ideas we collectively put out into the world is what we get back. I often see articles saying things like "man makes functioning Star-Trek tricorder" or "how scientists say we'll accomplish warp drive" or "how to physically make lightsabers". And while I don't think that our cultural consciousness magically brought these things to manifest, what I do believe is that it took much time and space for creative people - like Gene Roddenberry or George Lucas - to come up with these ideas in the first place. It is through the creative arts - visual, literary, musical, theatrical -  that fantastical ideas are born. It is through years of revision and rethinking that Lin Manuel Miranda wrote Hamilton. It took Jackson Pollock years of making what he thought were "bad paintings" before he would come up with what we now consider his masterpieces. It took Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams their entire lives to produce some of our greatest stage plays or literary works that get to the heart of human mentality. Without the time and space (and perseverance, willingness to sacrifice and downright luck) they would have never have been able to produce what they did. Now imagine if they had the financial and intellectual support of a society wanting them to make these efforts. 

Sagan goes on to say, that in addition to these ideas that these scientists came up with, they often were no longer around to see the idea's true fruition. Indeed, science is a practice that builds off of the previous generation's work, with the newer researchers trying to find which blocks of prior information to fit where, and sometimes needing to reshape the old blocks. It is often not the creator's responsibility to see their idea through - it often isn't until someone comes along and picks up that idea that they find what it is really capable of. The same is true for art. While our culture is obsessed with originality despite being way past the post-modern, it is really the notion of picking up where others left off. Elizabeth Gilbert says that she is often more interested in people's authenticity than she is in their originality. There's truth to that, even though authenticity is a dirty word in the art world. We need to stop being so focused this unattainable standard of the new and realize what we already have in front of us. If one comes up with something totally new, great. But work that often changes the way we currently do things takes way longer than one human life; it takes a team. That team is built over generations, and as with most things that have revolutionized our world, it takes time, space and money to begin to try. 

Along with that team, it takes a culture willing to embrace the next steps and then support the creators as they take their journey. We no longer can hold onto ideas that clearly do not work (things like fossil fuels, for example) and move towards what will bring about a healthier, and in the end, more lucrative possibility. The people who think up those ideas are creatives, and they need the support to do so, starting with our educational systems. The place where we begin to dream about possibilities - and find the skills needed to articulate them to others - starts in the arts.  Sagan goes on to talk about the economic benefits of creativity and of the US getting outpaced by other countries who are ready to embrace the new. Indeed, the enormous amount of technology that has been developed in order to aid scientists as they seek to better understand the universe has led to incredible advancements that we now take for granted in our everyday lives. Through allowing and encouraging this creative process to occur and unfold, we not only allow for the development of embryos of new ideas to happen, but if anything, also for new potential business opportunities. It's the way we make a future for ourselves and it's a way to think about what we are capable of. This is the power of art, of writing, of music, of theater. As Sagan reminds us from over 20 years ago, that's why we need them now more than ever.. 


Quotes about Twin Peaks: The Return (Ongoing)


This is all sad, but not surprising. The movie industry has changed radically over the past decade, and while we nerds rejoice at the amount of big budget comic book, fantasy, and sci-fi blockbusters with brand recognition getting released that we love, the very risk averse Hollywood studios are pretty much only making those kinds of movies, unless you happen to be a Christopher Nolan or a Steven Spielberg who has the clout to get the studios to spend serious money on making something different.

Of course, quirkier indie fare does still get made, but it’s usually made for peanuts. The mid-range budget art house film, which since the ’80s has been the bread and butter of directors like Lynch and John Waters, has all but vanished. Waters is another example of a quirk-filled indie writer/director whose last film was made a decade ago, and who has become an author/lecturer because no one will give him money for a film. Like Lynch, he doesn’t want to make a movie for $1 or $2 million dollars at this point in his career. You can hardly blame them.

The silver lining to this bummer news is that while movie studios only seem to want “four quadrant” branded content for the big screen, television — specifically, cable television and streaming — are eager for more challenging material. Recent water cooler shows like 13 Reasons Why and Feud would probably never get greenlit as movies in today’s environment. But they flourish in long format TV. The paradigm has shifted, and Lynch has shifted with it. So while we can be sad that a new, two hour Lynch production might never see a movie house again, it is very likely that the new Twin Peaks heralds a new age of the auteur’s vision on cable television.

Eric Diaz for Nerdist, May 5, 2017

Part 8:

The Return has made a habit of unpredictability, eschewing fan service for the exurban wilds of Las Vegas and adding mournful meditations on aging and the passage of time. “Part 8,” however, takes that departure to another level entirely, immersing us more fully than ever before in the nightmarish unreality of the Black Lodge’s alternate dimension. The result is almost purely sensory storytelling; there’s a reason the credits give Lynch attribution for the sound design. The Return is no longer just unrecognizable as an iteration of Twin Peaks. It’s unrecognizable as TV, a fact as thrilling as the series itself is confounding . . .

. . . Lynch has returned to the aesthetic signatures he established with his first film: monochrome stillness undercut by an omnipresent rumble; an obsession with industry and modernity desecrating a lost idyll; and above all, a conviction that intuition is a more-than-adequate substitute for explanation. That last part especially seems tailor-made to upend a medium as notoriously plot-dependent as television, which is why no one but Lynch has had the temerity to even try.

. . . It’s unlikely that a director of Lynch’s sheer eccentricity will ever rise to such prominence in Hollywood again, let alone make a network TV series, let alone see that series gain enough of a second life on streaming to accrue demand for its unfiltered revival. Let’s treasure the convergence while it lasts, knowing that it won’t soon come again.

- Alison Herman for The Ringer, June 26, 2017

Rather, what Lynch shows us is a confluence. The evil that men do is at once spiritual and technological, and in the melding of the two emerges a rift allowing the forces of one to infect the other. The creation—or the seeding?—of BOB occurs in a fit of light and shadow and color, in a convenience store, in space, but not outer space, some other space, flung at us in the burning storm of an atomic explosion.

. . . "Part 8" brought to television screens a work of art that escapes narrative confines. Where other shows—and films, too—have used the weird and surreal as window dressing for straightforward storytelling, The Return brings the true avant-garde to bear on a story where clarity is beside the point, and perhaps impossible.

The reality of suffering is circular, feeding on itself, inevitable.

- Cory Atad for Esquire, June 26, 2017 (bolding mine)

But it’s the second half where “Part 8” claims its place as the most mind-expansive hour of TV this season. In a wordless interlude that evokes Kubrick’s “2001,” the repetition of Werner Herzog’s “Fata Morgana,” the piercing and chilling sounds of Penderecki and Hiroshima, Lynch dates the start of modern man’s doom to July 16, 1945: the date of the Trinity Test, the first detonation of a nuclear weapon near Socorro, N.M. The “2001” stargate sequence, with the psycho-colors and undulating choir, is the obvious point of comparison, but it’s a dissatisfying one. Kubrick’s stargate had a harmonic, digital wonder to it, 30 years before computers were what they are now; in 2017, thanks to the Internet and social media, Lynch’s Revelation montage reveals an abstracted disgust with where humans have gone.

In 30 minutes, Lynch gives us a testament of man’s ignorance — his blundering fall into disgrace, and how he has corrupted moral folk . . . It’s so sickening, and its suggestion so shocking, your mind is left numb in pain at life’s pain and sorrow.

Carlos Valladares for SF Gate, July 6, 2017


"With lacquerware there is a beauty in that moment between removing the lid and lifting the bowl to the mouth when one gazes at the still, silent liquid in the dark depths of the bowl, its color hardly differing from that of the bowl itself. What lies within the darkness one cannot distinguish, but the palm senses the gentle movements of the liquid, vapor rises from within forming droplets on the rim, and the fragrance carried upon the vapor brings a delicate anticipation. What a world of difference there is between this moment and the moment when soup is served Western style, in a pale, shallow bowl. A moment of mystery, it might almost be called, a moment of trance."

Junichirō Tanizaki in In Praise of Shadows

Who Owns Space and Time?

(Bolding for emphasis.)

“To explore the artistic, philosophical, and political questions raised by [Tomas] Saraceno’s work, it might be useful to turn to another locus classicus—not the sphere versus network debate, but the debate over who owns the space in which we live collectively. There is no better way to frame this question than the bungled dialog (well, not really a “dialogue,” but that’s the point) between Henri Bergson and Albert Einstein in Paris in 1922. Bergson had carefully studied Einstein’s theory of relativity and wrote a thick book about it, but Einstein had only a few dismissive comments about Bergson’s argument. After Bergson spoke for thirty minutes, Einstein made a terse two-minute remark, ending with this damning sentence: ‘Hence there is no philosopher’s time; there is only a psychological time different from the time of the physicist.’ While Bergson had argued that his notion of space and time had a cosmological import that was to be carefully meshed within Einstein’s remarkable discoveries, Einstein argued that there was only one time and space—that of physics—and that what Bergson was after was nothing more than subjective time—that of psychology. We recognize here the classical way for scientists to deal with philosophy, politics, and art: ‘What you say might be nice and interesting but it has no cosmological relevance because it only deals with the subjective elements, the lived world, not the real world.’ The funny thing is that everyone—including, in a way, Bergson—was convinced that he had lost, and that indeed the whole question was another episode in the gigantomachy of objective reality versus subjective illusion. To the scientists, the cosmos, and to the rest of us, the phenomenology of human intentionality. So the answer to the question “Which space do we live in?” is clearly: we live in a subjective world with no reality for physics. Einstein: winner. But this was the beginning of the twentieth century.

Can we do better at the beginning of the twenty-first century? In other words, is it possible to give Bergson another chance to make his case that, no, he is not talking about subjective time and space, but is rather proposing an alternative to Einstein’s cosmology? To explore such a possibility, I decided to rely on the fascinating genre of the reenactment. As many artists have shown, especially Rod Dickinson in the amazing staging of Milgram’s experiment, reenactment is not a mere facsimile of the original but a second version, or a second print of the first instance, allowing for the exploration of its originality. This is why, in a series of lectures at the Pompidou Center in June 2010, I invited, among many others, the artist Olafur Eliasson and two scholars, a historian of science, Jimena Canales, and a philosopher, Elie During, to reenact the famous debate by allowing the conclusion to shift somewhat, thus reopening a possibility that had been closed in the twentieth century.

Who owns the concepts of space and time? Artists? Philosophers? Scientists? Do we live in the space-time of Einstein without realizing it, or, as Bergson vainly argued, does Einstein, the physicist, live in the time of what Bergson called duration? Those questions, it seemed to me, were just as important for physicists, historians, and philosophers as they are for an artist like Eliasson, who has populated museums and cities around the world by publicly demonstrating, through many artful connections between science, technology, and ecology, that there are many alternatives to the visual experience of common sense. The art form—or forum—that I chose consisted of asking the three of them to conjoin their forces in presenting films and photographs to set the stage for this famous debate, with Eliasson “refereeing” the debate through his own work.

It may seem silly to ask an artist to adjudicate a debate between a philosopher and a physicist—especially a debate whose pecking order had been historically settled once and for all: the physicist speaks of the real world, and the philosopher ‘does not understand physics’; the artist is irrelevant here. But that was precisely the point, a point shared by Saraceno’s heterarchy: that it is now possible to complicate the hierarchy of voices and make the conversation between disciplines move ahead in a way that is more representative of the twenty-first century than of the twentieth. No discipline is the final arbiter of any other.

That is exactly what Elie During did in a brilliant piece of philosophical fiction in which he entirely rewrote the 1922 dialogue as if Einstein had actually paid attention to what Bergson had told him. In the end, Zweistein—that is, the Einstein of 2010—was not, of course, convinced (that would have been a falsification, and no longer a fiction), but he had to admit that there might be more philosophy in his physics than he had claimed in 1922. Where Einstein had won, Zweistein had to settle for a draw. So now we have a more balanced situation: the space and time in which we live—experientially, phenomenologically—might not be a mere mistake of our subjective self, but might have some relevance for what the world is really like. Instead of accepting the divide between physics and philosophy, this reenactment was a means of answering Alfred North Whitehead’s famous question: ‘When red is found in nature, what else is found there also?’ Likewise, is it possible to imagine a world where scientific knowledge is able to add to the world instead of dismissing the experience of being in the world?”

- Bruno Latour, Some Experiments in Art and Politics via e-flux.

JRR Up+Coming, Fall 2015

This latter half of 2015 has been super busy, of which I am grateful for. From late June to mid-August, I spent 7 weeks at a residency at The Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York - the longest period of uninterrupted time I've had to spend on my work, ever. It was transformational. Coming back with a new body of work and into the fall, there are a couple exciting things to mention right now:

For one, if you happen to find yourselves in New York on October 17th and 18th, I encourage  all to stop by the ICPNY Printfest - of which I will I have some work included with several other current Rutgers peeps + alums. I am aiming to get there myself on Saturday from DC, so I will look forward to seeing you if you stop on by. 

(With many thanks to Maximiliano Ferro, Barb Madsen and Randy Hemminghaus for organizing this for Rutgers!)

Similarly, I have another large show coming up in coordination with the post-MFA residency I completed at the Torpedo Factory Art Center earlier this year. This year's residents - Stephanie BoothSteve SkowronJenny Wu and myself - will be showcasing the work we did while there in an exhibition starting October 24th and running through November 29th. 

An opening reception for this show will be Thursday, November 12th from 6-8pm at the Torpedo Factory's Target Gallery. 

For those outside of the DC area, if you happen to find yourselves in the DMV, I'd love for you to stop on by during the run of the show (and please let me know, I'd also love to walk you through it!). And for those of us around the beltway, I sincerely hope to see you all on November 12th!

A Week on the Internet, January 5th through 11th, 2015

Firstly, I spent the latter part of this past week in New Orleans with my very good friend Vina - with it being the first time I had been to the moody, sultry city. In true fashion to my continued habit of late blooming, the best day I had walking those moist streets was the last day I was there. Perhaps it was because it was the lord's day and it put a vice on some sins, but the city was quieter and calmer, except for the wonderful waves of jazz that hung in the humid, winter air. And I mean this quite literally, as the street performers were out in full force - and that's fine by me, as they quickly became one of my favorite things about the city.

With my own home, being from New York is a double-edged sword; on one hand, you grow up with all that the (arguably) most famous city in the world has to offer. But on the other, you're doomed to spend the rest of your life comparing every other city to it; once you have New York as your standard, it's hard to raise the bar.

Yet, I couldn't help but think of the street performers of New Orleans in relation to the many, many artists that inhabit New York. I left thinking that all of us New York artists should only be so grateful if we inhabit a just small portion of the unrecognized talent and passion that the musicians in New Orleans possess.

An Artist Residency Aboard a Cargo Ship (via Hyperallergic; For more information or to apply, go here)

“The port scenery at night was striking and almost surreal,” she remembered, “massive stacks of containers, heavy machinery, bells ringing, workers shouting, commotion that felt somewhat archaic.” They set sail toward New Jersey on a three-week trip with stops in Greece, Italy, and Spain. “Crossing the Atlantic took exactly one week — so every night you get an extra hour of sleep, which was delightful.”

The journey was a boon to Strauss’s artistic practice. She used the opportunity to take photographs that became Freight, a series of lush, moody photographs that capture life on the vessel. The experience also widened her perspective on so many things: the hugeness of the earth, the vastness of the ocean, the structure of contemporary cities, the importance of unplugging from the world every once in a while. And of course, the maritime shipping industry.

Luise Rainer, First Star to Win Consecutive Acting Oscars, Dead at 104 - via The Huffington Post. (First of all, this woman lived to be 104, god bless'er. Second of all, I always love reading about semi-forgotten Hollywood stars from the golden yesteryear. A, it gives me hope that the Kardashians will be forgotten some day soon, and B, there's a bit of a "circle of life" to it - a cyclical pattern of memory. It's a bittersweetness I always seem to long for.)

What it Really Takes to be an Artist: MacArthur Genius Teresita Fernández's Magngicent Commencement Address - via Brain Pickings

You are about to enter the much more difficult phase of unlearning everything you have learned in college, of questioning it, redefining it, challenging it, and reinventing it to call it your own. More than in any other vocation, being an artist means always starting from nothing. Our work as artists is courageous and scary. There is no brief that comes along with it, no problem solving that’s given as a task… An artist’s work is almost entirely inquiry based and self-regulated. It is a fragile process of teaching oneself to work alone, and focusing on how to hone your quirky creative obsessions so that they eventually become so oddly specific that they can only be your own . . .

. . . Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth, the size of the world you make for yourselves, your ability to influence the things you believe in, your obsessions, your failures — all of these components will also become the raw material for the art you make.

Mysterious Legendary Metal (from the lost city of Atlantis) Found in Ancient Shipwreck - via IFLScience

Mars Curiosity Photos Suggest Life May Have Existed on Red Planet - via NBC News


Ongoing List of Unexplained Events

January 12, 2015 2:59am - "Blackburn 'Ghost' Caught on Video as Angry Apparition Chases Car." (via The Huffington Post)

May 23, 2014 12:34pm - "Catching Your Past Life Murderer." (via Popular Science)

May 22, 2014 4:04am - "Aliens Are Almost Definitely Out There, SETI Astronomers Tell Congress." (via The Huffington Post)

April 23, 2014 2:54pm - "Footage Shows Ghostly Figure Sweep Across Soccer Stadium." (link)

April 21, 2014 12:48pm - "'Loch Ness Monster' Spotted on Apple Maps." (link)

April 14, 2014 8:38pm - "Weird Black Ring Appeared in the Sky in England and then Disappeared." (link)

April 9, 2014 5:32pm - "Caught in the Headlights? Experts Explain Deer-Cam UFO." (link)

April 7, 2014 4:06pm - "Rossendale Fairies: Skeptics Swarm Over Alleged 'Fairy' Photos." (link)

February 14, 2012 - "Enormous slow-moving UFO spotted in sky above Toronto." (link)


My week on the Internet, December 29, 2014 - January 4, 2015

Happy New Year!

The Cheap Airfare Loophole United Doesn't Want You to Know About - via Gothamist (This article is pretty much inconsequential - other than the fact that it's about, you know, huge, smarmy mega-conglomerates that want to rob consumers blind - Beyond that though, Gothomist has some really great writers working for them. Consider the following gem from that article: "The painted smiles and winking offers of an extra bag of pretzels are a sham: Airlines are not your friends. Recall that airline companies last year raked in nearly $32 billion in ancillary revenue by instating bullshit fees for stuff like checked bags, priority boarding and legroom that doesn't violate the Geneva Convention. This is a 1200 percent increase since 2007. With $32 billion in Popcorners you could build yourself an edible flotation device the size of Sri Lanka and drift anywhere you damn well please." Bravo, Lauren Evans. Bravo.

Susan Sontag on Aphorims and the Commodification of Wisdom - via Brain Pickings (Full disclosure, I absolutely love Susan Sontag. Despite that I may not always be 100% on board with what she says, more often than not, I do find myself searching for a ticket to her voyage of thought. In these small tidbits, assembled by Maria Popova, I found myself fully in support of a notion that I had been feeling bubbling upside me for a long while, but unable to articulate it as eloquently as Sontag. Part of this on my end may be that I'm still recovering from and still trying to purge a bad bout of academic bile. Many times in arts academia, both as an instructor and as a (perpetual) student, there is a feeling that much time is spent sparring with overly combative half-thoughts from peers in which judgement is then placed on the recipient if they failed to decipher accurately these half-assed notions of highly opinionated and self-referential aesthetic blah blah. My problem with that, I've realized, is very similar to what Sontag begins to lay out here - in that this kind of thinking, under the guise of knowledge, actually does not produce free-thinking or understanding - something that seems counter intuitive to an academic setting. Instead it produces group-think and narrowmindedness, a cycle that gets exemplified among a group of people who have no intention of believing anything other than their own opinions. Or as Sontag puts so well, "a wisdom of pessimism." A phrase that so accurately captures so much of what making art today can mean. Though "pessimism" may and can be so often interchangeable with "apathy." "Aphoristic thinking is impatient thinking: by its very brevity or concentratedness, it presupposes a superior standard . . . " Indeed. )

The Art World Circa 2015, As Explained By the Glory of Instagram - via New York Observer (Oh, snarky art world banter, how I love thee [as long as it's not referencing me, of course]. Nate Freeman wittingly and wittily comments on various NYC art world photos. A sample of my favorites below.)

So what's happening in the actual world, where people don't speak in inflated aphorisms about their own work? Oh, that's right, art is selling for a shitload of money. In February, Sotheby's gavelmeister Oliver Barker is pictured here as he gets ready to hammer this Richter for $17.4 million. What goes through your head when you successfully sell some swirly colors on a canvas for more money that your entire family has ever possessed?

Christie's had a hit with "If I Live I'll See You Tuesday," a special auction put together by Loic Gouzer that had the audacity to spotlight young painters like members of The Still House Collective. Some gasped, some yawned, and you couldn't really tell the difference because it's just mouths opening and closing.

It's not cold in New York in May, but there is some Frieze for a few days.'s Koons time. We're finally back from Basel, land of the $80 cocktail, to explore the permutations of modesty at "Jeff Koons: A Retrospective."

Abortion Politics: Baby Talk - via The Economist (Another wonderfully written article)

A NORTH CAROLINA law enacted in 2011 requires every woman seeking an abortion to submit, between four and 72 hours before the procedure, to an ultrasound of her developing foetus. The Woman’s Right to Know Act (which, in less Orwellian terms, might be called the North Carolina Right to Harangue Act) . . .

Nearly two dozen states have some form of ultrasound law, but North Carolina is one of only three requiring doctors to continue speaking even as women are plugging their ears or averting their gaze from the monitor. The scene would be comical if it weren’t nightmarish.

Scientists discover that trees yelp when they're running out of water - via Inhabitat (Because that's not horrifying.)

Over this past weekend, I also finally got a chance to see The Theory of Everything, which I thoroughly enjoyed even if I did feel it was more of a romance story than I had anticipated. Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking is astonishingly all engrossing with Felicity Jones seemingly that much more elegant in her performance, contrasted as possessing a quiet and unshakable strength with an unfailing faith both in her husband and in her own ability to be the muscle of the family that Stephen so tragically lacks.

This was also serendipitous as I saw the above animation this past week as well, though it came out originally in 2013. In it, the theory of black holes is discussed, along with the presumption that it was the singularity of a black hole - the unfathomably dense center of a black hole collapsed in upon itself - that gave way to the big bang, the obvious creation of our own universe. I had heard this theory floating around before, though this was the first time I had heard of it being spoken of as a factual event. And that's not to say that I'm discounting it - for one, I'm obviously not a physicist and for two, I've always been atrociously abysmal at mathematics, finding the untamed philosophy behind its implications much more fascinating than actually having to prove anything with facts or data.  Yet, for this specific instance, if the singularity/big-bang theory is correct, I find it enthralling for the implications of how the universe (and beyond) work/s. If each black hole collapses into a singularity, resulting in a big-bang of sorts, the existence of a multiverse is implied as a highly logical possibility. I find that extremely exciting.

I often think about how if this information was more in the public discourse, how it might influence opinion and policy. In that light, I find the ensuing religious wars surrounding our faith-based government ludicrous, and not in the realm of trying to disprove that a "God" of sorts exists - but in the fact that most people believe in a very small and puny god if they think that all of what science discovers is outside a godly possibility from an infinitely wise consciousness as interpreted by the finite human mind.

A Week on the Internet, December 22 - December 28, 2014

FDA Decides You Shouldn't Be Banned From Blood Donations For A Limetime. Just A Year - via Queerty (As per my personal Facebook page, I wrote the following rant: What a half-assed attempt at passive-aggressive heteronormative tolerance. I'm often on the fence as to if gay sex is still revolutionary in an age of post-Will & Grace, but apparently it might just be if the FDA is still scared of and willing to still discriminate against it - even if only for a year.)

2 Futures Can Explain Time's Mysterious Past - via Scientific American (Or, here's the tagline if you really want your head to hurt: "New theories suggest the big bang was not the beginning, and that we may live in the past of a parallel universe." Insert confused Britney Spears side-eye gif here.)

Do Aliens Know It's Christmas? - via The New York Times (or, "How Possibilities of Life Elsewhere Might Alter Held Notions of Faith.)

Photographer Shares How He Spent Two Years Living on Photos Instead of Money - via Petapixel (Aka my new hero.)

The Messy Minds of Creative People - via Scientific American

"The Messy Minds of Creative People" comes with this wonderful graph that I sincerely cannot at all relate to whatsoever on my professional site where I always put my best self forward and reveal no flaws at all in order to show how organized and professional I am in all situations.

"The Messy Minds of Creative People" comes with this wonderful graph that I sincerely cannot at all relate to whatsoever on my professional site where I always put my best self forward and reveal no flaws at all in order to show how organized and professional I am in all situations.

Wolves Introduced To Park To Revitalize Ecosystem - via The San Francisco Globe (This is a really great, short video about how one simple act can send ripples of change through an environment. A wonderful lesson.)

Navajo version of Finding Nemo released to help keep the language alive - via Hulu #amazing

Linky Link Links, or "My Week on the Internet" - December 14 - 21, 2014

New UFO Hotspot: Medellin, Columbia (Video) - via Huffington Post
(colleagues of mine, the Floating Lab Collective, coincidentally traveled to Medellin within the past few years to do work there. Now, all makes sense.)

An Open Letter to Oprah, Whose 'Life You Want Tour' Asked Me to Work for Free - via Digital Music News

America's Police on Trial: The United States Needs to Overhaul its Law-Enforcement System - via The Economist

How one white mother talked to her two black children about racism in America - via The Washington Post

Q-Tip Schools Iggy Azalea on Hip Hop History And We're All Better For It - via Jezebel

Of course it's frustrating that one of the greatest lyricists has to take the time to teach a rapper about the genre of music she and some producers decided fit her best (like a piece of clothing she can take off), that this conversation had to happen in the first place.

What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to be Steve Jobs - via The New York Times
(There was an article I also read - which I now cannot remember where and when - that argued perhaps it's not entirely fair to push Mayer off a supposed "glass cliff" when she fails to clean up a mess that men had made and that subsequent men can't clean up any better. It was an position stated much more elegantly and eloquently than how I just attempted, if I can recollect the piece, I'll link to it.)

The Unidentified Queen of Torture - via The New Yorker

A former intelligence officer who worked directly with her is quoted by NBC, on background, as saying that she bears so much responsibility for so many intelligence failures that “she should be put on trial and put in jail for what she has done.”

Instead, however, she has been promoted to the rank of a general in the military, most recently working as the head of the C.I.A.’s global-jihad unit. In that perch, she oversees the targeting of terror suspects around the world. (She was also, in part, the model for the lead character in “Zero Dark Thirty.”)

U.S. Not Fully Prepared for Nuclear Terrorist Attack or Large Scale Natural Disaster, GAO says - via The Huffington Post

Dystopian Fiction's Popularity is a Warning Sign for the Future - via Wired (in full dialog with Naomi Klein and her latest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate)

“I think what these films tell us is that we’re taking a future of environmental catastrophe for granted . . . and that’s the hardest part of my work, actually convincing people that we’re capable of something other than this brutal response to disaster."
Keep on fighting the good fight, Ms. Klein.

Court Rules Orangutan Held In Argentina Zoo Is 'Non-Human Person' And Can Be Freed - via The Huffington Post/Reuters

Orangutan is a word from the Malay and Indonesian languages that means "forest man."

Defense Bill Passes, Giving Sacred Native American Site to Mining Company - via The Huffington Post
(In coordination with the Naomi Klein piece I referenced above, I would like to say - HELLO HAVE YOU PEOPLE NOT SEEN POLTERGEIST?!)

Santa's real workshop: the town in China that makes the world's Christmas decorations - via The Guardian

U.S. Weighs Response to Sony Cyberattack, with North Korea Confrontation Possible - via The New York Times

You don't protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heros deadens real democracy - and the subsequent - My week in the right wing lie machine; When Fox News, Twitchy and Montel Williams declared war on me - both via

The overwhelming majority of readers who reacted with rage to my article showed no evidence of actually reading it.

Best Physics Videos of 2014 - via Scientific American

A Lost Purple Pigment, Where Quantum Physics and the Terracotta Warriors Collide - via Hyperallergic

Art of Darkness

I was really fortunate to be a part of a show back in mid-September at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts out in Fridley, Minnesota, headed by the really wonderful Bethany Whitehead. I'm still working on putting together the documentation, but below was a call put out for people who had paranormal experiences within the gallery space. It was a really interesting show to be a part of. I also must thank Cory Miller and Twin Cities Paranormal Research and Investigation for allowing me to tag along and record much of their group investigation of the Banfill-Locke site. If you're in the Twin Cities area and need some paranormal advice, be sure to check them out! 

True Colors 2nd Annual Exhibition, Press Street Gallery, New Orleans

I am super excited to be included in the 2nd Annual True Colors Exhibition, which focuses on both emerging and established LGBTQ artists. The show runs from August 9th to 29th in New Orleans, with an opening and closing reception on those dates, respectively. If anyone is in the area, I highly encourage you to go check it out (partially so I can live vicariously through you)! I'm sorry I won't be able to make it down there myself.

There's more information here.

(I couldn't find a good True Colors gif, so this will have to do.)

(I couldn't find a good True Colors gif, so this will have to do.)

This trailer

deserves an award. It's easily the best trailer for a movie that I've ever seen - even more so because the actual trailer is so much better than the movie itself. The derelict alarm that is from the original Alien still gives me goosebumps and freaks me every time I watch it. 

On realness.

In other words, even though the lip sync is a form of pure artifice, there is an essential truth about the self to be conveyed through it — that by mouthing someone else’s words, you can give voice to your own. This, honey, is what we call realness.

Lip syncing as Baudrillardian simulacra.

From "The 10 Best Lip-Sync Battles From RuPaul's Drag Race," by E. Alex Jung for