Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lists


It seems that this summer has blown by without figuring out what to work on next semester and last week I figured out the topic for my writing portion of the MFA: Lists in contemporary art, especially the kind that are absurd or foster a kind of 'nothingness'

I've always written lots of lists, partly because I'm so forgetful, and also because they're quite useful when one wants to procrastinate, but also because they put me in a focused creative fill-in-the-blank kind of headspace, and I'm really good at that. Thanks Odyssey of the Mind! 

But really a lot of the advice I've been getting about where to start for writing my "dissertation" (it's only 6,000 words mind you.) has to do with having fun with it, narrowing sources so that it's clear and also to do something that relates to my practice so that it's not about 'getting it out of the way' but actually considering how it could really add to my practice.

With all that in mind I realised I would love to find out more about lists. What is are the cultural origins of making lists? Are lists simply ways of organising chaos or is it all a ruse to represent information that's not actually there much like how Powerpoints, marketing selling points and infographics are almost always misleading, contextual-less, or generalisations? Is it possible that lists are actually ironically about not actually doing anything, as they are helpful in that they organise thoughts externally  while at the same time the time it takes to make a list takes away from the time available to do what the list is demanding. Have lists evolved to have a specific tone, voice or metaphor? (Rachel noted, quite acutely that my work as of late, has had an authoritative tone to it, which is an interesting by product of me trying to make work about how we make meaning...) If the internet is one big hyperlinked list is this represented well in any works of art?

Different takes on the "list" as absurdity in various genres of contemporary artwork:


 I'm very interested in finding out if there are any examples of lists in women's art works/literature...
(So far I've only found Jennifer Krasinski's list of fake Collective Nouns in a very random book of 365 works made in a single day by 365 different artists) (Also if I include instructional lists then there may be more, such as Yoko Ono's 'Grapefruit' book as well as perhaps Miranda July?




And lastly, I'll end with 10 lists of 4 that are a summation of how my summer has been so far and what I look forward to with the future and things I have realised recently.

4 Projects I'd like some help with if anyone would like to lend a hand:

  1. Anyone's Idea.com (anyonesidea.com) A project that archives and details projects in which we wouldn't mind losing the authorship over the idea if it meant that it would have a better chance of being actualised. (I will be mailing people individual letters to get their responses, so send on your address if you don't think I have it already)
  2. Looking for more national/international venues that would be interested in doing Brixels or perhaps doing it on their own without my help!
  3. Taking people's used painting palettes to make them into paintings, only working from other artists' studios detritus (a la Andy T)
  4. Building a gigantic concrete play structure based off of this Moroccan Tile that I've been obsessed with all summer.

The 4 elements that make me the most prolific:

  1. Freedom and access to resources or a studio 24/7
  2. Technicians that are interested in finding the most elegant or creative ways of making things work.
  3. Creating work while I know I have an audience watching the process
  4. Structure
4 Things that seem amazing to me even until today:


  1. When I first got into undergrad I was friends with both Janine Surma, David Blunk, Amy Rauner, Crystal Palmer, Ryan Hunt, Callie Wright, Duke Greene, Graham Hannah, and Rachel Yezbick all at the same time. (All such interestingly specific personalities)
  2. Some of my most successful work was large sculptures, I've always considered myself a painter and ceramicist who as a backup did a ton of art education and graphic design...
  3. I'm actually paying for my own graduate school through money I've made through my art. Bye bye hard earned money...
  4. At every point in my life I've always thought that I could/will be making better art than I'm making right now...


4 Things I realize I'll miss about living on the Southside of Glasgow:

  1. Walking past mansions and pretty streets just down from Nithsdale Street
  2. It feels like an edgy stance to live on the Southside
  3. I'll actually miss running for the bus and then reading once I got on.
  4. Having our own nice sized private space just for Rach and I, not to mention our nice sized kitchen!

4 Things that I'm looking forward to most when I'm living at our new place (Flat 1/1, 312 West Prince's Street, G4 9HA):

  1. Wonderfully short walk between home and school as well as living with another person from the MFA and nearby classmates (although I was next door to Stephen Murray)
  2. Botanic Gardens walks
  3. Having a separate office space for serious quiet space work
  4. Nice part of the neighbourhood and I've heard that our neighbours are also pleasant enough. Again, another great Landlord as well.

4 Past art projects that in retrospect were both fun, gruelling (satisfying/flow) and meaningful that I almost forgot about:

  1. A large knot made out of bottles and cans I collected from a single month of football games at Michigan State
  2. Thinking about making an abstract painting about how American abstract painters were looking at Asian artwork for inspiration. It actually was one of my first paintings and it was reflecting on my relationship between my identity as an Asian American artist and abstract painting...
  3. A strange retro feeling painting...
  4. The time I hung out with a stranger for 12 hours.


4 things that I do need to get into work mode:

  1. blank empty work space
  2. A fake deadline I can actually meet
  3. Food/snacks/drinks already prepared and available
  4. Something to procrastinate against 

4 types of places where my ideas come from whether I like it or not:

  1. My desire to say fuck you to certain ideals
  2. My desire to have artwork enlighten the viewer 
  3. My desire to be immersed in craft or understanding how something is crafted
  4. My desire to challenge myself to design my way out of something that is ugly

4 most dissapointing things from the past year:

  1. Anything I did that was too 'forced' - Friendships, meaningful artwork, trying to do a solo show quickly etc. And at the same time not taking enough risks where I could actually fail and be embarrassed if it didn't go well.
  2. Not winding up at enough gatherings where I only knew 1, 2 or 3 people. As well as not doing enough music with other people
  3. Not being disciplined enough to wake up early, sign up for the gym, reading the few required readings on time as well as writing critical notes to make sure I could go back to it to understand its importance...
  4. Not taking some of my 'research methods' seriously enough, and not getting 'out there' enough.

4 things I am looking forward to the most:

  1. Going to Berlin & Documenta
  2. Possibly either making a very large installation, or a complicated kinetic print work or a collaboration with creative people other than visual artists
  3. What I don't know I will be doing in six months from now...
  4. Knowing what my dissertation might be about and having more fun writing.

Quantified Self

In case I haven't let people know about my upcoming show:
"Quantified Self" will be a group exhibition featuring two of my latest works since starting the MFA at the Glasgow School of Art

The show is in Ann Arbor at the Gallery Project from the 30th of August until the 7th of October
but the reception is on August 31, 6-9 p.m.

It is located at 215 South Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI

I'll post photos after the opening, I hope some people come and see it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Four short stanzas about being feeling puzzled.


Four short stanzas about being feeling puzzled.

1. I love those vibrant periods of time when we realise how new everything can feel either after waking up before your alarm clock rings, after reading a book, or when you're visiting a city for the first time. It's a feeling as if you're looking for something, which is not to say you feel like you've lost anything, but it's as if you realise that people have left enough clues to make you realise that there's something there to discover. It could be above your head, around a corner, or somewhere buried deep in your own memories, even if it never really happened, even if you couldn't have possibly been there to witness it.

2. In some places in the world, there are people that make things but don't use any materials, but it does take up space. In this space other people feel like they have a stake in this place. They co-create rules and some people are known for showing up on time consistently, but even with varying degrees from creating to enjoying they all agree that it's theirs collectively. 

3. I want to be one of those people that will never feel like they're working. I don't think I believe in work, but then again I don't think I have figured out how to not worry about it, so that will take some work, some goals and some work. I think that there are times when I know working will do something for me, so I do that work, but the other kinds of work, the work that binds you to something monotonously detached, when you could be challenging yourself, fosters a despicable ennui.

4. Who am I making art for? Is it for the technicians whose expertise is legitimised by my curiosity of the possibilities within their studios? Is it for my friends who do me so many favors and offer so many gifts that I am trying in vain to pay them all back? Is it for myself who like all other artists, uses art to construct the kind of reality that helps me understand the world? Or is it for the people I'd like to meet, who see things that I myself didn't realise was within the work? Well, maybe that last one was for me as well.

I just finished reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, I liked the writing style a lot, and it has me thinking about how we deal with the unknown and sometimes embrace it and how writers have an interesting way of describing the powers that be. This was really interesting to read after Lanark, there's not a lot of similarities, but I do enjoy the fact that I had bad eczema when I was reading about dragonskin hide in Lanark and then after I hurt my shoulder which created a dull pain, while I was reading about Toru Okada having being stabbed in the shoulder.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Finally made a nice short artist statement! Thanks to someone requesting a succinct one!

Artist Statement: My work thrives on discovering the essence of a particular thing. I do this with paint, clay, light, people, sawdust, inks, expectations, and ideas because I’m interested in how to create momentum with a strict set of limitations. Some of these strategies include combining processes to exploit their innate properties or creating feedback loops in order to distill or reinforce a certain perspective. In my art practice I strive to have many opportunities to quench my curiosity and to even be forced to explore in different ways. Most recently I have created a drawing machine that traces the perimeter of a room, like a child’s Spiralgraph toy, where the folds of the design come back to itself. Sometimes the best work is the kind that doesn’t have a destination, we don’t know where it fits in, but it represents itself honestly.
"Drawing Machine Inspired by Ross Byers With Troubleshooting by Alan Keane", Wood, bike tire, cardboard, paper, electric toothbrushes, sawdust  - 2012
"Drawing Machine Inspired by Ross Byers With Troubleshooting by Alan Keane", Wood, bike tire, cardboard, paper, electric toothbrushes, sawdust  - 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Writing vs. Visual Art

I have been reading a lot of quotes from different creative thinkers and I have realised something interesting about how writers talk about 'work' that is distinctly different from how visual artists talk about 'work'.

Writers tend to describe work as something that simply must be done, whereas visual artists tend describe work as a matter of context, i.e. this process is the real 'work' and the resulting object is simply a by-product. For the latter, these artists believe that good art is not necessarily born out of effort or a direct focus of chipping away at something, rather it's about a nuanced way of paying attention to when 'the work' reveals itself to the artist. Another MFA student Jay Mosher described his process as if there is a reservoir of ideas that will flow over in good time that will encourage him to take action. Another way to put this is that artists don't consider hard work as a given as much as 'work' is something that is to be framed appropriately by the artists in order to communicate their ideas, their idea of reality, to an audience.

During a time with John and Graham they were asking me about how I seemed to ascribe to a design sensibility of making art because I believed that a 'painter paints everyday' as I recall my past painting professor Alisa Henriquez say. And so if my new medium was conceptual work, I believed that I should be coming up with a different conceptual idea everyday.

And I actually followed through on this (and in some ways continue to do so), that to make my day calendar I attempted to write 10 good ideas every day for about three months. And for the most part, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. In the end now I'm looking for a places to put all of these ideas and sort them out. Some are good and made it into the day calendar and partly convinced me that I do in fact enjoy writing in whatever form, and some aren't necessarily bad, but they just don't seem pertinant to be made, not just not this moment, but not ever, by me. This is kindof leading to me talking about a project that I'm working on with Minka Stoyanova, that I'll keep a little hush hush because we are working on a grant together for that project.

So back to this difference about how creative individuals approach work, here are the quotes that have been floating around about work in general:


This is from writers:


"Make Good Work" - Neil Gaiman

"I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: ‘Am I being joyful?’ And if you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject." - Ray Bradbury

"We work to become, not to acquire" - Elbert Hubbard

"Creativity comes form trust, trust your instinct, and never hope more than you work" - Rita Mae Weems

Again, all of these quotes describe a belief in that work is inherently a good thing when paradoxically, it is 'good'.



And these are quotes discussing the idea of 'work ethic' in regards to the visual arts:

"As curator Helen Molesworth suggest in her written introduction, the craft of art-making functions within our economic system, where labor roles have changed dramatically since the second World War. "Hard work" is defined by context. The joke inherent in some of this exhibition is not jovial, but cynical. What does a viewer expect from an artist and a museum? What does an artist expect? Tom Friedman stared at a blank sheet of white paper for 1000 hours, and the product is simply that: a blank sheet of paper. The museum deems it worthwhile—the art is in the act itself." - Radar 7 review of "Work Ethic"


"If technology has a role in all this it is less to automate work out of existence than to open up new realms for re/creation. To some extent we may want to return to handicrafts, which William Morris considered a probable and desirable upshot of communist revolution. Art would be taken back from the snobs and collectors, abolished as a specialized department catering to an elite audience, and its qualities of beauty and creation restored to integral life from which they were stolen by work. It's a sobering thought that the grecian urns we write odes about and showcase in museums were used in their own time to store olive oil... ...The situationists — as represented by Vaneigem’s Revolution of Everyday Life and in the Situationist International Anthology — are so ruthlessly lucid as to be exhilarating, even if they never did quite square the endorsement of the rule of the workers’ councils with the abolition of work." - Abolition of Work



TUNAFISH SANDWICH PIECE
Imagine one thousand suns in the
sky at the same time.
Let them shine for one hour.
Then, let them gradually melt
into the sky.
Make one tunafish sandwich and eat.

1964 Spring
- Yoko Ono






I've heard that after Tracey Emin was collected by Saatchi that she began to write much more than she made physical work. I find myself realising that I don't mind writing when I don't know what to do, but I actually seem to despise some of the work that I make that comes out of boredom, which is different from the work that comes out of procrastination. Even the work that I force myself to make because I know that they are good ideas are better than the works I make when I am bored. Perhaps procrastination is a form of work that resides in doing something for oneself that is the antithesis of what one is 'supposed to be doing'. The work that I force myself to do tends to be more poetic and will have a conceptual statement pre-attached to it. The work I make out of boredom is perhaps what my mind considers the minimum amount of effort needed to create something that looks enough like Art, but it's passionless and driven by the speculation that someone will mistake it for hard work and thus it will provide an opportunity for a real challenge to be excited about.


I don't know where my interest in work has come from necessarily, but I feel like I am passionate about my own written words and the very little resources needed for these kinds of ideas. I think that this is leading to perhaps what my 'dissertation' will be about.



As a person, not just as an artist, what is my relationship to my work, is it holistic or safe?


Is it worth finding the best conditions in which people can enjoy their work, or is a fulfilling job actually a trap?


What is more work, creating a complex question or a complex answer?


Just as hard work does not necessarily make good work, does the idea of something being overworked mean that it will always be a loss since one cannot continue to work on it to make it better?



As the essay "The Abolition of Work" by Bob Black promotes turning work into play, but he also goes as far as describing life as game, which after listening to a Radiolab episode about how games have more to do with the excitement of rooting for the underdog and creating rules that result in innumerable possibilities, when the game ends, the bigger picture is feeling like one has led a good life. So without resulting to believing that life is a game, is our modern life possible without work (or perhaps money), or just life as we know it?

I also just have to say that I've never thought much about when the one or two times someone mentioned to me that God or something bestowed me with a gift and in order to do it justice, I simply needed to keep working, and to do a lot of it and the rest will sort itself out. I'm incredulous of any philosophy where the ends justify the means, especially when religious attitudes are involved but there does seem to be a truth in the idea that we are not simply betting on luck but we are actively put our energy into activities that are meant to produce momentum with unknowable outcomes. How does the idea of thinking that we are working hard translate into opportunities that result from working hard? Is it simply coincidence or does this identity of being a 'reliable hard worker' mentality become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

I think that's as much as I can muster for right now, to come up with a really good summarization is just too much work.

While looking up Ray Bradbury's quote, I also found this great one that reminds me of my own personal feelings that I actually enjoy having conviction with non-factual opinions with the hopes that at least someone could always prove me wrong in the future, and I'm ok with that.


"If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn."


Faber in Fahrenheit 451


So from that, for no good reason, while procrastinating writing this entry, I wrote a short silly rhyming poem based on that:



If you don't know
say so


because if you just go


and don't let anyone know


you won't just be slow from the get go


but you'll be going against the flow


you're actually putting on a show


as if you know


when you should've stopped and said no.


so


when it's time for everyone to grow


you will have nowhere to go


you will be your own foe


and you'll have to start all over


do not pass go 
(do not collect 200 dollars)


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Revisiting the first concept of the first year of graduate school.

This is probably only interesting to me, but I finally debunked fully what was bothering me about my diagram about happiness. In a summation of the notes I wrote at 3 in the morning:

The diagram is not in its best form as a token of gratification, but an example of a failure of as a work of art.




I immediately understood something from John Cage's list of Rules:

RULE EIGHT: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.

Also, the work was a sincere attempt in depicting something that I was interested in, and although the direct route is not always the best, I found out something interesting in the creation of my chart.

Rather than the circles representing different interpretations of where happiness comes from, it is actually describing different facets of being in a good place, or as I titled it "The chart of I'm doing good". Compared to calling a print "Defining Happiness-Meaningfulness" it does reflect how personal of a place this research came from, while at the same time, it can be more universal in a way.

When we are in a good place we are either:
1. Embracing truth and/or nothingness (very existential)
2. Embracing life (based in pleasure and curiosity and challenges)
3. Embracing ourselves (which involves acceptance and giving up on relying on anything external)
4. Embracing responsibility (which I noted has a lot of knowing when to take the good with the bad)

I wouldn't call this an 'answer' to a 'question' I had, but I feel a lot more clear about what I think I was trying to do, and how to even clear up that what I was working on wasn't all for nothing.

Now all I have to do is to prove that I know how to talk about it in an academic way and I'll be ready to figure out how this will figure into doing research for my upcoming dissertation which starts next year! (starts now.)


Saturday, June 9, 2012


I talked with fellow MFA student Stephen Murray and he mentioned that sometimes he doesn’t get what I’m doing, I know that a month ago I felt distraught about not knowing what I’m trying to accomplish and then a couple of vacations and dinners later, I feel like I’ve got an artist statement that I like better than most. Fuck you “Doubt”, here goes nuthin:

My work is about being excited to see something take shape and gain momentum. If you sit with something for long enough, let’s say a bit of blue paint, you might create a lovely harmonious relationship with it from a distance. But I don’t care about letting things be. I want to know for myself what it’s properties are; what it looks like when you drop it from a certain height, what it can’t it be mixed with, and I like to get to know what the experts would say, ‘this is what blue paint is meant to do’ and ‘this is what we don’t know’. I have to say all that because I think you’d be disappointed if I just said: “My work is about play.”

Back to this idea of generating momentum, this applies to how I work with paint, clay, light, people, sawdust, inks, expectations, and ideas.

I can be a bit vague when I want to say “I do things with a given material put into a particular circumstance.” But that’s just me trying to be sincere and telling you that I’m not trying to put you on. Essentially, the idea is as old as science. How do we know how anything works if we don’t mess with it and see how it responds to different conditions?

(Here’s a recent example: my mural idea, called Brixels. The year I worked with Dan Marchwinski, I found out that he is a genius at coding. So I asked him make me a website (makebrixels.com) that would allow anyone, kids even, the ability to make a tessellating pattern, and here’s the pinch, to make it fit along the rigid structure of alternating brickwork. This is distinctly different from just working with pixels that form a grid, because bricks overlap. He made the whole site in a couple days or something like that. Once you have that pattern the fun really starts. In Detroit, at least, there are plenty of brick walls that have areas that may have been windows or just knocked out that have been filled in with more brick, but it disjoints the brickwork, and laying down this perfect pattern really brings out the hiccups that were previously invisible. Each time a mural goes up it’s such a great surprise to see what it turns out like in the end when you’ve been so focused the whole time on creating a system of counting bricks to make the process more efficient and more precise. By the time the wall is filled, we can imagine it still visually extending on, and on and on. Also you don’t get to enjoy the mess unless you see how boring it all looks in structured order.)

The magic I find in my work is that what you see is exactly what it is, and I will present materials that people know well enough and I’ll still find a way to make us excited about it. The reality is and will always be that originality is renewable resource and that all it takes is to mix two disciplines that have never been mixed in a certain way and it’s a new frontier. I think that that approach is more powerful than spending my life mastering a single technique, or creating work to represent something else an overextended metaphor or perhaps, not realizing/utilizing what you have right in front of you.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if I do have an overall vision, the kind that makes the viewer understand where they’re going even if they don’t know where they’re coming from. But my disparate bits of work all deal with the substance of things. I tend to pick methods that are cyclical in nature. My work also reflects a knack for being attuned to the mood or the existence of multiple perspectives or the subtle actions and intricate things around me that I believe are just asking to be framed. I’m getting a little bit away from myself again, I don't even know what I mean by 'framed'. If I'd have to describe the resolution of framing something I would have to begin by explaining that the best art work is weird, (and a criticism I have of my own work is that it could always be weirder), but I know that you can start with something weird, and make it work. 

I shouldn’t do it, but I want to have a decent one-liner to explain to tie everything up, what I want to do:

I want to have many opportunities to explore something exciting and to even be forced to explore in different ways.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I just submitted this with a DVD of my work just from this semester.

Table of Contents:
  • Experimental Film Class – “Viewing Distance” – Feedback loop video with “An Inconvinient Truth” superimposed into the screen, the folder contains a 2-minute long mockup.


  • Interim Show
    • “The Speed of Learning” Counter, hand-made book – 5 photographs and two movies, one shows the process of making the work.

    • “Today” 365 pages, metal – 5 photographs of the work while it was in the show, 5 specific dates in JPG form, the actual PDF itself and some photographs of the process of making the work.




      • April 5th – An example of one of the subversive philosophical statements
      • August 5th – An example of one of the reflections talking about something profound that happens on an ‘everyday’ level
      • December 5th – An example of one of the entries that was inspired by the trip to Morocco, this particular quote written in Arabic by one of my hosts reads along the lines “The secret is not the house, but the owner of the house” which is a statement about speaking with confidence.
      • January 5th – Embedded on this date is another artwork which is an ironic take on the published book “What We Want is Free” which was scanned, uploaded onto the internet and made into a link to be downloaded for free illegally. Title of the work “What We Want is Free”, link to a download of the book “What We Want is Free.”
      • May 5th – An example of one of the statements meant to trigger an action, in this case, that date is my birthday.
  • Other

    • Art inspired by Morocco Photos of experiments that may be resolved into future artworks, including a remaking of the ceramic tiles found in our hosts’ home in Morocco to be re-made out of cement and installed either in my own home or outdoors. Photo Number 27 is one of many sand sculpture photographs that I found to be very captivating.
    • Artwork I helped photograph - Self-explanatory
    • Experimenting with composers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – I have been in talks with Thom Norman about collaborating to create a new language for both of us to work with, possibly in conjunction with an Opera that he and his friends are working on. I would be providing a visual component. The video included is an experiment where people from the audience would be allowed to grab chips and beers from a shopping cart which is rigged to a mouse that when it moves conducts the musicians that are playing the work. The digital videos are possible programs that will be used for the purpose of triggering a certain way that the musicians will be led.
    • Quick Quink Experiments - experiments on Plexiglas, paper, with tape, with cardboard, testing different color and densities with different materials.
    • Shape and Form Experiments – Some works out of cardboard that I used to try out some ideas I had about different forms that interested me.
    • Video for BRIEF – “Silence” is a video of the word drawing being written with water on a metal sieve that disappears when I blow on it, it was created for the assignment that month which was to create a work using a medium we are unfamiliar with under the theme “Calm”, I made this ephemeral work which was then shown in Gabriel Lueng’s one day video exhibition.
  • Paintings and Prints
    • 50 – “Telephone” ink, spraypaint, silkscreen and acrylic paint on acrylic plastic
    • 66 – “Nature’s Paranoia” ink, spraypaint, silkscreen and acrylic paint on acrylic plastic
    • 67 – “The Upside of Irrationality” Lithograph print, Ink
    • 68 – “Who Belongs to Glasgow” Lithograph print, Ink
    • 70 – “Predictably Irrational” Lithograph print, Ink
    • Paintings as thank you gifts
      • 28 - Hassan Filke – Marrakesh
      • 53 – Huda Murabit - Tangier
      • 54 – Shema – Fez
  • Proposal for Show at Studio 41 – Self explanatory
  • Solo Show – Concept Structure Torture Survival Title
    • “Drawing Machine inspired by Ross Byers with troubleshooting by Alan Keane” bike tire, cardboard, wood, paper cones, wood dust, vibrating toothbrushes (included are mockups, still images and video documentation) This is a kinetic work that was a metaphor for an art practice that always comes back to itself, I was surprised that the piece even functioned! Also Karla Black stole my sawdust.
    • “January 15th, 2012” 10 minute video. This work was to comment on the positive aspect of ‘community’ within an artist’s practice that involves working with other people and helping each other out. This is actually two works screened side by side. The other video “Night Bus” is taken from the inside of a darkened First bus as I was its only passenger as it went from nearby Glasgow School of Art to where I lived. The countdown is meant to make the viewer believe that the ‘art’ will start soon, when actually it is a piece itself, a journey, this video is 10 minutes long.
    • “Prepared for the Moment” 10 minute presentation, re-staged for recording purposes. I recount a past printmaking project and talk about if I thought the project worked or if it didn’t. In the end the fact that I used the prints as fliers for the show worked well and creating a performance out of a miniature artist talk was meant to comment on how artists talk about their work and present it to an audience, ironically, although it is very informational, I am mostly talking about happiness which is coldly referenced but not felt.

    • “The Art Prize” Settlers of Catan, customized board, chairs, players, money. This was done in the spirit of Fluxus games meeting a sociological experiment. I invited two artists, one a past MFA grad and the other a musician that I am collaborating with, as well as two people from the couchsurfing community in Glasgow. I asked two of the players (Alex who hosted Rachel and I in our first week in Glasgow and Jason Mathis) to teach the other two players (Thom Norman and a stranger who I invited through the couchsurfing website) how to play the game. There was a practice round and I used a computer program to fairly distribute the odds across the board. In the final game, money would be given to the winner (in four equal amounts hidden in four envelopes to suggest that they could either share the winnings or keep it all for themselves) however they would be able to decide on any rules. When they started Jason suggested that it wouldn’t be necessary to use the computer program and they ‘randomized’ the board themselves. I catered to whenever they needed food or drink until the game ended. At one point during the game everyone thought that something may be going on since the winnings were divided up and everyone except for Jason said that they would probably split the winnings. Jason ended up winning and kept the money, but he gave the other players a choice. He said that they could either take the envelope themselves or take one of his comics that he had just finished printing (this was definitely not planned as part of my art piece, but I found it fascinating that not only did he keep the money, but he advertised his own artwork as well). Everyone happily took his artwork (which was valued less than the 5 pounds that was in the envelope) and later talked with each other about the cultural capital that art has and how it swayed their decision not to take the money. My initial intent was to see if the players would internalize the competitive spirit of the game, much I find is similar to how artists are trained to think of the profession as a competitive one as well, even though this is a cultural construction. In the end, the results of this interactive work went far better than I expected.
    • “Today” 365 pages, plastic holder Read its description in the ‘Description of Works’ section of the DVD, there are subtle differences between this piece and what I submitted to the Interim show. For one, an entire month was replaced since I had referenced Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies for an entire month. Also I updated it to reflect my travels to Oban as well as Morocco. Also this piece may have worked the best in this environment as it was overlooked easily as it was on display in a domestic space. Each day the calendar was updated by ripping off the past days’ page so that the calendar would function as a real calendar.

Works Cited
Albus, Anita. The art of arts: rediscovering painting. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000. Print.
Ariely, Dan. Predictably irrational: the hidden forces that shape our decisions. New York, NY: Harper, 2008. Print.
Bishop, Claire. Participation. London: Whitechapel ;, 2006. Print.
Bourdieu, Pierre, and Hans Haacke. Free exchange. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995. Print.
Bruce, Katie, and Victoria Hollows. Towards an engaged gallery: contemporary art and human rights : GoMA's social justice programmes. Glasgow: Culture & Sport Glasgow (Museums), 2007. Print.
BuÃàchler, Pavel. Decadent: public art : contentious term and contested practice. Glasgow: Foulis Press, 1997. Print.
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Flow. S.l.: Harpercollins, 1991. Print.
Deller, Jeremy. Folk archive: contemporary popular art from the UK. London: Book Works, 2005. Print.
Edward, Mary. Who belongs to Glasgow?. Glasgow: Glasgow City Libraries, 1993. Print.
Fletcher, Harrell, Miranda July, Julia Wilson, Laura Lark, and Jacinda Russell. Learning to love you more. Munich: Prestel, 2007. Print.
Gray, Alasdair. Lanark: a life in four books. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2007. Print.
Hooks, Bell. Teaching community: a pedagogy of hope. New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.
How To Draw a Bunny. Dir. John Walter. Perf. Ray Johnson, Christo, Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, Frances Beatty, . Palm Pictures LLC, 2002. DVD.
Johnson, Steven. Where good ideas come from: the natural history of innovation. New York: Riverhead Books, 2010. Print.
Mauss, Marcel. The gift: forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies. New York: Norton, 1967. Print.
Merewether, Charles. The archive. London: Whitechapel ;, 2006. Print.
Purves, Ted. What we want is free: generosity and exchange in recent art. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005. Print.
Radical Culture Research Collective. "A Very Short Critique of Relational Aesthetics." Transform.eipcp.net 1 (2007): n. pag. Correspondence. Web. 29 Nov. 2007.
Ryan, David. Talking painting: dialogues with twelve contemporary abstract painters. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.
Chappell, Duncan. "The Book as Object." Core Research Skills for Postgraduates: Archives and Historical Resources. Glasgow School of Art. Glasgow School of Art Library, Glasgow. 19 Oct. 2011. Lecture.
Davis, Glyn. "The Politics of the Archive." Core Research Skills for Postgraduates: Archives and Historical Resources. Glasgow School of Art. PG Studies Department Offices, Glasgow. 12 Oct. 2011. Lecture.
Tierney, John. "A New Gauge to See What’s Beyond Happiness." New York Times 17 May 2011, New York Edition ed., sec. Findings: D2. Print.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I can't help it, losing track of things is part of my life.

Being in the moment is a double edged sword.
I lose stuff all the time, most people who know me know that this happens to me, but really they have no idea in the sense of how hard I work to counteract this thing that I know about myself.  There are moments when I am furious with how my brain works, but I'm trying to appreciate that this absent-mindedness comes with other ways that I engage in a eccentric and unique way with reality and I also have a sense of awareness and sensitivity that brings about the kinds of ideas that could make for some interesting artwork.

I'm working on convincing myself that being able to keep track of the things that I misplace has nothing to do with not taking 'adulthood' and responsibility seriously (I beat myself up about it enough already) and that although I'll never get used to how hard life seems to be once I lose something I really needed or liked this is just who I am.

Here is a rundown of what is depressing me, I have lost something different every day for a week.

Tuesday May 1st: left iPhone on bus (it was found and returned using the Find My Phone feature)
Wednesday: Missed my alarm for getting to the last class on time (You can't makeup lost time)
Thursday:
Missed an induction scheduled for me and one other person (won't be rescheduled for me)
Friday: Forgot my watch for giving a tour (found it later, but after I needed it)
Saturday: Forgot my bag at Ross and Amy's place (Amy returned it to me)
Sunday: Artist tape (still missing)
Monday: Missing the grey cloth I had ordered on the phone (I couldn't tell what I had ordered, but didn't check until it was too late)
Tuesday: My exacto knives (retrieved from where I left them but a day later)
Wednesday: Missed meeting up with Jim, also I left my drill (was handed to me before I realized I had lost it)
Thursday: Jacket with my keys and bus pass inside (someone retrieved it for me)
Friday:
My drill bits (found them with other hardware packed away)
Saturday: Phone charger and converter (recently went missing at work)

this month's biggest forgetful moment: 
left iPhone on bus (it was found and returned)
before that: The cable that would connect the video camera to the computer (still missing)
previous month's big loss: left my SLR and duty-free bag in Edinburgh coming back from Morocco at a T-mobile store (it was retrieved by Rachel)

before that: my warm fuzzy hat (gone)
before that: I left my wallet coming back from London on the bus (returned with all of its money still in it)
before that: this beautiful double thick llama scarf that Rachel had knit for me (gone)


This is going to sound quite absurd and funny to other people, but I'm very serious about my understanding of what I think needs to happen because many other strategies of mine have failed, so this is my current plan of attack for the future:

1. Working hard enough to earn enough money to be able to buy 2 perhaps 3 of the same thing so that it's not so bad if I misplace one of them. (I've done this with cheap sunglasses, and I find myself doing it more and more subconsciously, and surprisingly this works better than everything else to keep from feeling awful when I lose something, I actually feel clever once I realize I've lost it but I can quickly recover.)

2. Work hard enough to afford to pay an assistant who can fill in for the part of my brain that is engrossed in other activities.

I am coming to terms with the notion that some people are innately good at certain activities that it requires little practice for them to become sufficient than what we consider is the 'norm' and that conversely some people are innately not as good and need more practice to become sufficient than what we consider is the 'norm'. This means that I may already work harder than most people to keep track of things, but also I will continue to have to work harder than other people still. This isn't about developing a great work ethic, this is about understanding of my own limits and thinking about what I have control over in order to simply be ok, and at my best moments, happy.

Unfortunately my other options are thus (and they have been so far)

1. Own nothing and do not take on any responsibilities of any real importance in order to avoid conflicts with other people.

2. Beat myself up mentally until a nervous breakdown forces me into assisted care where my life is highly managed by hospital staff.

3. Practice remembering things by chanting the name of the object I have to keep track of and it's location throughout the day like a mantra.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

6 - 6 - 6


Current practice:

6 current parts of my arts practice

15% Fluxus - "do it yourself" aesthetic and impulsiveness

15% Generative art (creating problems to solve) - We make to become not to acquire, make a brick not a wall, creating conditions in which critical thinking will occur.

15% "Creativity comes from trust, trust your instincts and never hope more than you work", believing that working hard enough towards being happy will produce results and to prevent depression and foster leverage for more fun activities

15% "Idealistic Pessimist", philosopher side, questioning everything on one side and daydreaming on the other

15% Inspired by design as seen through the lens of Buckminister Fuller and other things like Space Collective, beauty + sharing + innovation + going against what we think we know

15% Being a part of a community, work is finished when I know where it will go, sometimes the work is within another person and the collaboration deems that the work is already ready to be finished because it has a home. (caring about what others think as well as caring about how to be a better partner)

10% ???

6 types of artist-for-life outcomes, that to me are still not ideal:

Working hard now in order to secure working hard in the future, this is picked up by institutional bodies as a kind of consistency or outcome that they can count on. Future looks like: Galleries-museums that may ask the artist to reproduce 'their' work in slightly varying contexts.

Reading and writing a lot about interesting connections that one finds as a part of their art practice, the 'making' of 'things' ends up being dependent on the quality of the thoughts. Future looks like: Academia where their job dictates that the quality of their work must also include a form of prestige to be fulfilled.

Doesn't find the need to take themselves too seriously and is working on multiple projects at the same time while taking on boring jobs that can pay for really fun hobbies, travel and making complex 'things' with friends. Future looks like: Hackerspaces and one-off projects that don't really belong in any art shows

Works well with coordinating a lot of important events that relate back to ones art practice and has a professional side that they understand well, art is made few and far between but their importance is widely felt within their community: Activist-Organizer that realizes their ideas are best suited to be put into the world by any means possible, even if that means that they're not the ones that are making the work.

As far as useful technical skills are concerned they are experts. They also land really good jobs as well as know how to have the best fun while in school. 
Future looks like: Technician for other artists to the point where their work is few and far between their full schedules.

Conceptually based maker but extremely poor, has the best ideas but no movement towards figuring out how to make a living. Never compromises on the quality of the work, but this is also means that everything costs a lot of money: Future looks like: Artists whose work relies on competitive rare grants and other sources of funding.

6 good problems I would like to have:

Struggling to repay all the generosity that has bestowed upon me in my life, feeling like one lucky fella that can't repay my friends...
Too many exciting collaborations that would all be interesting, however choices must be made and I can only pick one at a time...
Too much time spent laughing, playing music, seeing performances/lectures/workshops and enjoying life that I must work harder to schedule in time to work on the work…
Not sure what to do with this very open ended well-paid commission/having less choices and therefore working more efficiently...
This art piece is really beautiful as I'm making it even though it's fairly difficult to make and it's really really slow going, but it just keeps getting better and better, I don't know when to stop…
Having to adjust to when I am working with a completely new set of tools, and situations because I've abandoned what has worked for me in the past, every 6 years changing up my practice...

actually, I would like to come up with a longer list of good problems to have… 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finished this in 12 straight hours and missed everything else...

This is what happens when I get into my creative procrastination, I missed a meeting, and a performance I planned on going to, almost forgot dinner until 1 am...

I re-made a tile that was in Abdelilah's house in Fez, Morocco, it seemed so simple and complex at the same time, the current plans are to next get it laser cut, to be vacuum formed to create a mold so that I can start tiling these myself... I don't know how I figured it out, but it's A LOT harder than it looks to make it gridded out on Illustrator, this reminds me that I really need to learn the shortcuts...


Sunday, April 15, 2012

This is why I can never read things for long periods of time...

I started googling articles on happiness and genius and I gave up on articles on happiness because they all seemed problematic, whereas articles on genius were more interesting and didn't claim to "know" what it was for a fact but garnered whatever research they could come up with to show how little we know.

Also, I can't read for long periods of time (5 minutes) for shit.
I was reading this article and stopped by the 2nd paragraph: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/nov/24/improbable-research-genius-marc-abrahams


"JCM Garnett, in a study called General Ability, Cleverness and Purpose, offered a formula for genius. Measure a person's general ability; then measure their cleverness, then square both numbers and add them together, then take the square root. Genius."


By the 2nd paragraph I somehow couldn't find the will to continue to read, I realized that there might be simple math involved (using a calculator) and I got really excited to test it out and make my own irrational experiment. Once again, procrastination fires it's powerful cannons.



Even though I could probably do a tiny google search and lookup what his actual writing is, I'm going to go with what I think it talks about in terms of measuring these abilities, say out of 10. 

Remember the following is completely arbitrary and made up based on a whim:  



Please take this test... (Out of 2, 0 if not really, 1 if kindof, 2 is true)
A person's general ability:
__/2     I can prepare an entire days worth of healthy meals for myself (this involves multiple fruits/vegetables)
__/2     I know that climate change is real and that we do not choose our circumstances in life.
__/2     I can walk and chew gum at the same time and have never once choked or almost choked.
__/2     I know how to be a good host/guest and I am not known for embarrassing myself or anyone else.
__/2     I am happy

Total __/10, square that number: __


A person's cleverness:
__/2     You learn and pick things up quite quickly and can transfer the mastery from one skill to another
__/2     You are considered one of the most talented people in your field
__/2     You know how to make someone believe that they came up with the idea you wanted them to come up with
__/2     You know how to (or know how you could) do something illegal without being caught
__/2     If you are caught you know how to talk your way out of it


Total __/10, square that number: __


Take the square root of both of those numbers after they have been added together: If the square root is over 10, that's how much of a genius you are, under 10 that just means you're not a genius, although you may be one smart cookie.

To speed up the math, if you got 7 out of 10 on both of them, guess what, you're still not quite a genius but close!
BUT if you got six in one grouping and eight in another, you in fact, are a genius, same goes with if you got five in one grouping and nine in another!

Being honest with yourself what number did you get?
I got 10.6301458, therefore I am in fact a genius by these standards!


Update: I just found out Google Docs has a way to make forms... the procrastination continues...

Friday, April 13, 2012

How was Morocco?

Merzouga - considered the door to the Saharan Desert



My studio is wherever there are ideas flying around, bouncing off of the walls. Unless you count the studio where I store stuff, even if I'm reading in there, that's not where I get into a flow. I mine for ideas within the mountains of thoughts revealing themselves in conversation. At times I found this inspiration while in Morocco, but to be honest, in the future I will only stick to couch surfing travel only, anything else is too exhausting, taxing and has the possibility of blowing a ton of money due to fear based decisions. Thankfully Morocco is cheap and we were couch surfing.

Ok, so I find life at times, quite overwhelming. Partly because I set myself up for some interesting challenges and also because I am scatter-brained. Right now I'm freaking out a little at a time to try to figure out how to make a video that will feedback, but about 1 minute after the live video has actually been shot. I'm also trying to build a counter into a book. I also still need to memorize about an hour long script that a new job depends on. Everything feels intense because I don't know how to do/make so many new things really well in a relatively short period of time.

I'm back to a normally overwhelming graduate school experience from a little bit of an overwhelming travelling experience. 
One of the many spanish/french speaking tourists in Morocco
What is travelling anyways? If it's the act of movement where no single place is home, then I am someone who really loves making a place feel like home, if it's about the thinking time you get when you en route, then I prefer it in consistent doses, preferably not overnight. If travelling is about seeing something new and changing what you're used to, then I think from the way that my mind works anyways, I'm always travelling.

The lunch that Abdelilah Kannari's mom made for us when we arrived in the medina (old walled city) in Fez


Starting in Malaga Spain to Tarifa backtracking to Algeciras to go across the Strait of Gibralter into Tanger-Med which is an hour bus ride away from Tanger, stayed a day then onwards to Fes for the most days in one place with an overnight bus to Rissani which is an hour away from Merzouga (the Saharan Desert) and after two nights back to Rissani to take a taxi about six hours with travel-mates into Ouarzazate so that we can take another overnight bus into Marrakech where we can stay for a night to make it back up to Tanger onwards to Sevilla. From Sevilla we took another night bus to finally arrive in Lisbon where our plane would fly to Edinburgh where we could get a train back towards where we live in Glasgow which would be about another hour of travel.

So in a short period of time we travelled a very long distance in a very short time.

One of the many many views around the Dades Gorges


I'll touch on my three favorite highlights of our trip.

1. Couchsurfing in the old medina of Fez, the oldest Medina in Morocco where we were told 80% of the people there create some form of crafts, whether its ceramics, mosaics, fibers or leather. There is something like 9,000 small labyrinth streets and everything still works just as it probably did thousands of years ago. There is a secret to Fez, and that is that although the walls look dusty and old and are barely being held up, almost every interior is decorated beautifully in tile-work, so much so that it's not really that big of a deal to the residents of Fez. Also I fully understand the idea of communal living as each little portion of the medina would always have its own tailor, a place where people welded metal, a place where people were dying clothing, a butcher shop, vegetable and fruit stands and a bakery (where people would wait for passersby to hand them the uncooked dough to bring to the bakery for them because no single home had a large oven) Everything you needed was a couple steps away and you personally knew who made it.

Dying by hand that was not too far from where we were staying
One of the many streets where no cars can get through (was it something like 9,000 little alleys?)


2. Hanging out with Camels and Abdu Giri Giri (spelling?) We paid for a very touristy experience of the desert but what we were dissatisfied in terms of what you pay for, it was made up by the enjoyment of how ridiculous camels are in general as well as the genuine friendship with made with our guide who the other people on our trip weren't nearly as fond of. We have a great audio recording from his point of view as his lead the camels: Abdu Giri Giri in Merzouga, Morocco

Abdu is taking the picture, but you can at least hear him when you click the audio link


3. Not making any decisions. We sat in a taxi listening to great music and seeing amazing scenere from Rissani to Ouarzazate with Guillaume and Christine who were able to get great bargains because they could speak fluent French and make the people who were trying to sell you a service or good offer much better deals than we were able to muster. Honestly though, I don't think Rachel or I really enjoy haggling that much, so it made for a difficult time. We could feel our brains resting from the lack of needing to make any big decisions that would exhaust us and devolve us into confused messes.

This doesn't look like the hotel... (somewhere in Ouarazate after being dropped off by a young taxi driver that also didn't know where he was)

Morocco had its fair share of people that we would say were "scamming" us, but I still see those people simply as business people who recognized an opportunity when they saw it and found it quite natural for either person to get a bargain, whether that's the buyer or the seller. Also the "scam" is completely relative to what we consider is a "good deal", being scammed might mean that an 8 minute taxi ride might cost you 2 dollars a person instead of 5 cents per person (which is what the average person will pay crammed in with 5 other people and only going to one general place). If you look at the percentage markup from 5 cents to 2 dollars, of course you'd feel like you're being treated with disrespect, but if you think about the overall cost of living, you really have to wonder if you should haggle down the price for the sake of business as usual since otherwise it's not that big of a deal. 
This was also all offset by the fact that those who didn't speak any English would actually stop to help us out through hand gestures telling us to keep our bags closer to us or giving us rides out of what they considered were dangerous areas (for free). The protocol there is usually if someone is aggressively friendly completely ignore them.

Eating with Hassan (Filke)

Hassan, Rachel and I preparing the meal that is seen in the video above, (shared by about 8 people?)


Three most common occurrences:
  • You pour tea wayyyy up high to make foam, and it doesn't matter how long it takes, it must be done correctly. Also every meal has bread that you are supposed to either eat with olives, dip in delicious oil or to be dipped into the tagine's delicious juices.

    With couchsurfing host Huda Murabit at a cafe in Tangier
    • Cats with strange noses that made them look like people.

      This was going to be one of many pictures of stray cats but instead this is proof that we brought rain to the desert
      • People calling out to me with "Chino! KneeHowMa! Chino!" and to Rachel "Hola! Hola!" and something else usually along the lines of how hot she looks. (I was also often told in front of me to Rachel that she could leave me and come be with them and it would be much better, more than one person went as far to say that they'd kill me if I didn't treat her right. Awesome.)
      Rachel and I trying to fit in while we were on our way to the Black Desert in Merzouga


      Best aspects of the trip:
      • Couchsurfing is in fact a way of life for me, I am naturally helplessly lost and therefore any guide seems like just short of a miracle.
      Meeting up with Abdu's friend on the way to hear another one of his friends play traditional music. He knew 50% of everyone in the medina in Fez and the other 50% he didn't know, knew him because they see him everyday.
      • Hanging out with Rachel where both of us happily munched on some of the best food we'll ever eat in our lives. (much of it home cooked traditionally!)

      I wasn't able to photograph the appetizers well at all but they came in something like 10 little tagines @ this restaurant.
      • Looking back at the photos, it's unbelievable how much of a reward it is for me to see in detail those things that were so fleeting as we had to rush from one place to another just to get away from someone trying to offer us something that is inevitably not free.
      Captured forever, the moment I actually split my pants up the crotch and then had to tie my hoodie around my waist


      What worked really well: 

      1. Being open to absolutely anything is the best thing you can do for a good experience travelling (and having a rigid set plan is a setup for disaster), it didn't mean that we were put into any extreme conditions when I say "up for anything", but some of the best moments in our trip were the moments where we let someone else be our guide and we just went with the flow, we did however set it up through couch surfing and other means so that this would happen more often, and that worked out wonderfully.
      Rachel was matched with the only camel with a nose ring, unfortunately it was a bit grumpy

      2. Having our own hand sanitizer, a jailbroken phone, soap, toilet paper, and even pillows
      Rachel loves eating with her hands


      3. Having a good book to read and also always having pen and paper on me to write down useful Arabic sayings such as:

      Salam (Hello)
      Le Bess (How are you/Fine)
      Shookran (Thank you)
      Merhaba (You're welcome)
      B'Seha (Cheers)
      En Shala (God Willing/Good luck)
      Kant'loof Dhuria (I get lost easily)
      K'aje-bonee Nekool (I like to eat)
      K'aje-bonee N'Jerrob Je'haja - J'dida (I like to learn new things)
      K'aje-bonee Le Wayej Lee M'sa Woobinh Bily'd (I like things that are hand-made)
      La xhoff (Peach)

      I'm sure I butchered the way one would actually say it phonetically in English, but this is what I wrote down after hearing it about 20 times and still not being able to get the right.
      The famous tanneries in Fez, that week's color was red and brown

      What I promise to do for myself in the future when it comes to travelling:

      Plan to be IN a given city (if there's more than 3 different points of interest to see that place) for at least four days, one day is for when we screw up figuring out how to get there, one day is to recuperate from that screw up and to plan the next day, the next day after that is to book a train for the following day and to enjoy ourselves, the last day is spent seeing whatever is nearby but also to travel to the next place. So within fourteen days, one would see three cities total, in about sixteen days I think we saw about nine cities... now I know why people don't usually do that (Although travelling in Morocco was fairly cheap. It cost about 40 pounds through Easy Jet to get to Malaga and as low as 20 pounds to get a train that would take you almost all the way, top to bottom in Morocco, also you could spend 1 pound for a single meal if you got a sandwich or if you shared a large amount of food with people)

      The sun trying to poke through as rain clouds cover the rest of the sky, it rained all night


      Bring money already converted into the cash of wherever we're going, a separate backpack for day trips, plenty of warm clothes/jackets if it gets unusually cold (I was so cold for more than half of the trip because it rained off and on for six days straight, even while we were in the DESERT!)

      No idea what this is or where this is, but it's hand carved wood in Fez


      Bring a dictionary and multiple maps that show where we are going and how we'll get to where we're going from where we're getting dropped off. (Someone was showing us these amazing Lonely Planet guides and maps he had loaded onto his iPod, I felt dumbfounded staring at it) Also really helpful would have been a list of where the internet cafes are and the best known restaurants. (We spent a lot of walking time doing things like that)
      This is how dense Fez is, you can see that it doesn't help that we get easily lost


      Lasting realizations:

      Squatting to poop is in fact much more enjoyable and easier, it is so convenient that I truly believe that it offsets the smell.

      Sitting on a chair is better for working, not necessarily best for pooping


      When money is involved, satisfaction is a game of luck, however when money isn't involved, it's much much more likely.

      Both side dishes were complimentary, and they tasted even better


      I am awful at travelling and I find it very overwhelming, but that's not to say I didn't have fun and that I wouldn't do it again, I just need to think of it as another life skill to practice. Travelling also made me realize not only do I want to get better at conversational spanish and try to learn Arabic proverbs, I also want to learn Chinese because it's almost as if people not only have different personalities when they switch languages but also multiple ways of seeing the world that highlights the positive aspects of a culture.

      Hassan holding the painting he chose. He is pursuing a Ph'D in Arabic, at the time he was spending the day readings lots of books and poems.
      As a side note there is a whole lot more to this that Rachel and I could tell you about, Seville, Lisbon, how authenticity in tourism revealed its manufactured-ness, unique Moroccan attitudes towards the Arab Spring and the Israel-Palestine conflict... Also I have actually found that I'm unsure whether or not I'm happy when I am asked in person, but when I write a blog entry, somehow I understand much more how I consider how it all felt. There are also hundreds more photos that are equally if not more amazing, but I thought I would try to stick to photos that fit my lists, let me know if you ever want to see them!