Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Inventions that I wish someone could make for me:

  • A 4 mm thick see-through plastic ruler that had a metal edge for cutting with an exacto knife, where the numbers are printed backwards to be seen through onto the other side and the metal strip on the edge has a nice lip making it less easy for the blade to slip onto the ruler...
  • A scanner that's as thin as the iPad that can slip between the pages in a book without having to bend down its spine that can scan in detail two opposite pages at the same time clearly. Flatbed scanners would be a thing of the past.
  • You know how you can rent a tux for a nice event, what if you could rent beautiful art frames that would cost too much to own for a month and a half, the length of a show, I don't even mind if it has fake pockets, but I'd love if I could walk into a store, get it sized and walk out with a tailored wooden frame.
  • A DIY kit for making a steadycam holder for an iphone to take video
  • Pants with built in or insert-able wool leg warmers near your ankles
  • This isn't so much an invention as a business plan, but what if there were bars (restaurants would be pushing it) where you could only stand, but booths and everything else was still the same? As annoying as it may seem, most of us do that in crowded bars anyways.
Yeah, I just want stuff that will help me do other stuff.

Also, I just learned about the Xcode environment that uses PhoneGap to make my own apps, both are free!
But you may just need a developer account for $100 a year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More wishful thinking, what if there was a reference guide for MFAs?

I think I love making lists, something to represent the opposite of how my mind actually works, tangible, orderly, something I can reference.

So just like the list of lectures that I wish existed, here are chapters for a book I wish existed and some of the people, places and things that might be listed in them. Seriously look through the Artists Book of Lists if you ever get a chance, it's fascinating to see all of that information in one place.

Main chapters:
  • Getting rid of baggage and pushing new boundaries for yourself
    • Top twenty-five of the most radical and experimental art programs (including graduate schools, low-residencies and others)
    • All of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies
    • Constraints that artists use to distill or direct work
      • Oubapo
    • Top art libraries and resource centers by country
    • List of Experimental Films from 1920 - 1980 by country
    • Archives/museums that allow artists to interpret their collection
    • 50 myths of the lives of artists as portrayed in popular culture
    • Artists and their alter-egos/pen names
    • A list of all the people who were involved with Black Mountain College
    • Important writing reflecting on having the confidence to make art
      • Letter to a Young Artist
  • Sustainable practices
    • The different types of artists and their different audiences/venues
    • The wheel of diversifying the ways of supporting the production of work
      • grants
      • residencies
      • low-overhead
      • fiscal sponsorship
    • Top 50 most prestigious artist collections private and corporate
    • List of artists who died young due to their materials
    • List of artists who quit going to college and started a band or another interesting field of work 
    • History of artist lawsuits
      • Shepard Fairey
      • Whistler
  • Concepts
    • Books and quotes that reference how fictional memories are as important as notated history in getting the feel just right (and reference it directly by breaking the narrative while telling the story)
      • The Things They Carried
      • Girl Interrupted
    • Artworks and quotes that references the infinite or feedback loops
    • Different ways that artists understand and use the term "The Body"
    • Names of philosophers and philosophical ideas important to the changes and development in art
    • Artworks referenced in philosophy or by scholars
      • Walter Benjamin referencing Paul Klee's Angelus Novus to describe history's relationship to progress.
  • Materials and Techniques
    • List of painters who became installation artists
    • As of 2011 a list of most useful and newest manufacturing techniques and mediums 
    • Companies that hire artists to promote their new art products
    • 50 different ways to frame a single work of art
    • Art materials that are banned in California but not yet in other places
    • List of resources to fair use free archived sounds
    • List of historical and non-graffiti forms of defacement
    • Artists who use humans as a medium
    • Works where the medium was the message
  • Attaching art to other causes, issues and topics
    • List of TED talks that combine art with another social science or hard science
    • Artists who started off at a high level in another profession before turning to the arts
      • Anthropologists who wrote fictional novels
    • Names of artists who engage in a social practice
    • Organizations/Residencies that seek artists for creating social works
    • Artists who have been censored and the list of the institutions that censored them 
    • Scientists and mathematicians who collaborated with artists or did art themselves
      • Buckminster Fuller

That would be a start...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Possible newspaper headlines if Dads wrote the news:

My Son is Awesome! (Probably Because I Helped Him Out Quite a Bit)

The Government is Stupid and Inefficient and Doomed Because of This One Thing They Did Wrong In My Opinion

I Know She Just Said She'd Leave You Out in the Street to Die, but You Know, Your Mom is Sensitive

This Just In: Everything Will Work Out in the End

My fears and my ideals

A theme in my work:
Tension between optimism and my observation of the inherent flaws in how we have tried to move forward so far…

I seem to employ 2 natural modes working that produce something naturally, organically:

1. Pointing out/investigating the inherent philosophical and rhetorical flaws in education because we know that there’s a problem, we know the problems in addressing that problem and given the ability to have a kind of clarity we might actually just have a chance at changing something in our lifetime.
2. Producing an art object that has no purpose than to be enjoyed for its aesthetic value.

I am interested in making a kind of “activist art” or even “utopian art” (for lack of a better word) that questions, makes someone reflect, and is possibly a catalyst for change, a la Mel Chin.
Right now I can image a body of works titled "The Best Education" all based on my distaste for what's called "The Mcdonaldization of Education" There is my one digital poster and then there's the book that counts everyone that opens the book (currently having a mockup finished) and then there's the idea at the bottom... But I feel like this is the start of my series of works about this topic.

Healthy skepticism of my own practice (similar to my agnosticism in life) My Fears:

·      I do believe that there is a right way as long as you don’t imagine that there’s one right way, but that’s a kind of utopian paradox…
·      I fear that everything might collapse because of the nature that I do believe in a kind of utopia, I have faith in a better society (I’m a big believe and staunch advocate of “fake it until you make it”)
·      I have fear of being caught for doing the “fake it until you make it” tactic, because I am in a graduate program for making art, am I still faking it? (My art definitely fakes something, but reveals a kind of reflection that changes how we might see reality, but doesn’t faking something to reveal the truth debunk conflict with my other sentiments, that trying to exercise our "truth" onto others is problematic?)
·      Much of my confidence comes from “fake it until you make it”, what if this is taken away from me? It's the only practice that has ever worked for me!
·      I fear that I will be lost trying using my “fake it until you make it method” if I compare myself to others (just had 3 anxiety dreams last night about other people in my program making really interesting work and feeling excited for them but also feeling extremely intimidated)
·      I fear being misguiding or misguided
·      I fear producing quantity over quality throughout my art practice 
·      I fear getting caught up in trying to make a statement will create disappointing results that no one will care about
·      I fear being discounted for having more privileges than others
"What do you fear?" - Sarah Tripp
The art concept that launched the thinking process:
(I woke up this morning from a dream that I was struggling to pay attention to a movie that was being screened in Detroit, it was very important and it had everyone's attention, but I kept meandering around, trying to find something to eat or drink, casually talking with whoever wasn't paying attention to the movie. When I woke up I realized that whenever I create a social critique, it starts with imagining the ways that I am part of the problem.)
The work would be people sitting in a room watching themselves sitting in a room watching a documentary about global warming. Titled “Living with our investment in the environment”
This work is about questioning, if environmentalism was so important to people, why is this the way that most of us become aware that there’s a problem? Why aren’t we taking field trips to dumps, questioning the censorship of these kinds of field trips? Why are we distancing ourselves from seeing the trash in the landscape and opting for a stroll through a park to “get it”? We are constantly mediating our experience of what is truly important to us rather than coming up with ways to have more one on one experiences with each other and with an issue, if something is deeply personal it needs to be addressed this way. Americans show how much they care through their actions, this applies to a lot of other issues, from consumption to relationships between us and other people.
(I would probably use that technology that superimposes images inside of a video, but is there something like a live Adobe after effects to do this?)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Following Radical thoughts to radical conclusions.

I have been having flashbacks now and then to Dr. Puhek's courses including Society and the Individual and War and Revolution.

Here's an excerpt:
"It is through this intelligence that the god of religions is present to and in us. The error of religions is to conceptualize god as an external object that directs life from the outside. God is not an alien being who rules on lives.  God is not a thing to us and we are not a thing to god.  This false image of estrangement is implicit in any and every positive concept of god. No concept can capture god for god is infinite and must remain ultimately nameless, but so is the second side of the universal intelligence we possess. At our core is the chaos of our nothingness and god is the Nothingness it knows. This infinite divine is the ground that all life rests on – the source of inspiration and the heart of what we humans take to be our individual and personal self."

Those are the beginning and last paragraphs of a short essay: Life, Intelligence, & Fringe Ideas

But I was just thinking about his talk about Justice, law and order...

"Just as physics is under the illusion that the opposite of matter is anti-matter, so we are under the illusion that the opposite of law and order is lawlessness and disorder. Nothingness as the ground of being is neither law and order nor lawlessness and disorder. It is, indeed, the source of both. Singularity and nothingness are that out of which all things their order and disorder arise. It is the greatest of the errors to think that something cannot come from nothing; there is nowhere else from which something could arise.

Let us learn how we can about life from physics. But let physics learn what it can only learn from the direct experience of life."

I agreed with Puhek on almost everything, with the exception of his take on art, but I kept thinking about his way of debunking how we go from A to B, or specifically how good intentions paved the road to hell so to speak. I've always wondered what kind of conclusion I could draw theoretically if I followed my own thoughts about certain topics. Justice is definitely one that I think is particularly revealing. Here are some of the truth that I hold evident that dictates the following thoughts:

1. Every moment is a good moment to face yourself, and to learn. (this comes from a kind of philosophy that my dad espouses, his other ones I'm not to keen on such as "it always works out in the end")
2. Choices are easier to make when there are less of them, unless it's down to two which in reality is extremely rare compared to how often we're told that something is binary, only this or that.
3. "Terrible or not, difficult or not, the only thing that is beautiful, noble, religious, and mystical is to be happy." - Arnaud Desjardins
4. "We work to become not to acquire" - Elbert Hubbard (or at least this should be the point)
5. You can't force anyone to learn anything, you can only present models, opportunities, support, structure, placebos, expectations, and feedback.

So I'm going to throw out 5 examples of according to my logic, what would be my idea of appropriate Justice having the kinds of assumptions that I have.

Serial Killer or school shooter: Confinement away from people and psychological treatment with loss of having media attention privileges. Their access to having their words or viewpoints published in the media would be abolished for their own privacy. The death penalty only ensures that their idea of immortality will last forever, all theatrics would be stripped down to highlighting moments when this person was considered well, and not sick.

Running a red light: Work as paid traffic police for a week for the minimum wage with a vest that distinguishes this person from a cop as a person who ran a red light.

Accidental killing:
Depending on the ability of the victim's family, the accused would be enforced to produce a gesture of good will (such as making dinner) and live with the family for the period of a month to help with errands and attend grief counsels. 

Taking bribes: Besides a fine in the exact amount accepted, paid every 5 years, the funds would be transferred to a charity/non-profit whose mission matches the victim of what went unregulated. On top of this, like a hacker, this person would lose all privileges to use a computer for a year.

Corporate Greed: Death Penalty. Due to the nature of a global economy where money can be moved or  extracted at an astonishing rate, this crime must have a consequence that deters mass stealing over 500,000 dollars. It will send the message that acquiring this much wealth illegally is not worth your life. Those who are accomplices in the crime but may not have made this much money will have to watch the proceedings. There would be no warnings if the amount stolen is over five million dollars, the death penalty would be scheduled within the year. Money that is among family and friends can be raised to delay the death penalty, but the same amount considered stolen would have to be raised every year to put it off a year. The money raised would also go to a charity/non-profit whose mission matches the victim of what went unregulated.

In a sense reading back over these, I can tell that I believe that consequences should highlight experiencing something from another perspective, and that somehow what I would consider fair deals with distributing the money to where it belongs not to the agency enforcing the laws but to people and organizations that may have been wronged. It's also seems to touch on cultural ideas of what is taboo or moral and how societies might account to preventing such actions in the future... I think my conclusions are interesting, but difficult to implement, but only possibly because they don't fit today's idea of what is culturally acceptable.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I have no idea what I'm about to do...

What if secretly I want…
to be…
making the best artwork I could possibly make, something that would not make me envious of anyone else’s method, tools or style, a message that can’t come from anyone but my loudspeaker. Boom. A cult following, a folk hero, an anomaly against all odds, part of a lineage of bad-asses.
What I want is nothing short of changing how you, me and them inhabit and experience reality from every point forward. Imagine that at stake is that we’re all going to die and we won’t know any other present or future that we don’t make ourselves, right-fucking-now. There’s no breaks, no balance, no regrets, no second-guessing, no dancing around it:
Gut Roulette.
Epic-ness will not be measured in size, scale, money or documentation, it will be felt like an orgasm, it will leave you gasping for breath, needing some hydration, but hungry for more.
Pleasure, Ecstacy, Total awareness
We will become what we thought was beyond us, what we thought was the job for someone else, we will be confidently achieving our demands, we won’t just be heard, we will be running the show and letting everyone know where to go if they wish to volunteer.
We’re not building permanence, we’re not building comfort or satisfaction, we’re building change in ourselves through everyday moments of revolution that can take a shove, fire a gun straight and maneuver deep cuts like a razor.
If you’re scared there’s a good chance you’ve got your head on straight, if you think you know what I’m talking about, you wouldn’t be smiling, I’m talking about meeting a side of you that you don’t let out because it can do a lot of damage if it's not focused, it can make you want to kill yourself if you’re left alone with it for too long.
I’m talking about the confidence to achieve your own high expectations, the ultimate life you can never quite describe, like drugs without the taking anything into your body, it’s the nuclear core in you,
burning clean.
Make your plans, plot the points, because tomorrow could be the first day you forget how you used to live.
Face your fear, break a leg, whatever doesn’t kill you, was meant for the other guy that was right next to you. Every obstacle is meant for you for leverage, so bid your time well, calculated risks. Goodluck. Have fun.

(I'm attempting creating writing stream of conscious text based on whatever I'm feeling at the moment, which currently is that I'm not taking as many risks as I'd imagine I'd try in grad school... but I think I know what the feeling is, and I want it.) This text is dedicated to a fond memory of being around Duke Greene, Graham Hannah, Walt (shop tech) Janine Surma and David Blunk.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2 of 7 projects at the GSA, #1 and #2 in preparation for my first graduate school crit

Here is verbatim what I am thinking of presenting at my first graduate school crit:

This semester I took advantage of the printmaking studios and have created two bodies of work that have always had a relationship.
1. Work created out of an interest of mine in another field (In this case bartering economies, behavorial economics, and Mauss' concept of "The Gift")
2. Work made intuitively out of the research that occurs when trying to make that, an accidental product that is just fun to make.

(There will be probably 32 total clips holding prints and some prints will have been obviously replaced with written explanations of what the prints were traded for, namely: shared food, people who providing a writing sample for this project and one for someone who helped me transport my work that got into the RCA Open show in Edinburgh) There will be 2 groupings of 16 because I get 16 prints from one sheet of this paper.

The set of prints you see here are half lithography (top two circles) and half silk-screening (bottom two circles) that have the words:
Zen, Flow, Acceptance, Low Expectations, Absurdity, Love, Sharing, Generosity, Investment, Trust
See where those words originated

I meant to have editions as I thought I would be printing multiples of different versions, but actually each print is unique due to the number of handwriting samples I collected from some of the other MFA students.

The title of the works are called "Defining Happiness" although sometimes it changes depending on if all 4 circles are present. I believe that the works are "complete" when they are handed to someone to thank them for a favor they have done for me, they were meant to be used in barters but they in actuality have served as Thank You manifested into something of a bank note (especially since the detail from a Lithography stone print is impossible to replicate)

This started as an experiment with the idea of the cultural value we give art works since I became much more interested in how art and artists have cultural capital when I bartered my works on acrylic and Plexiglas.

3 hours preparing stones
2 hours preparing a silkscreen to the stone
2 hours testing mark making on the stones
3 hours to get 16 good prints off of one stone (times two if the prints have both litho prints)
2 hours adding silkscreen to the
So far I have about approximately 64 prints which is from 16 prints that I can get off of one sheet, the goal perhaps is to have about 250 printed by the end of the year. Which should only take about 93 more hours of work. Or 23 days in the print studio for 4 hours at a time)

40 pounds for the fees to use the printmaking facilities

24 pounds in buying scrap paper and final paper
20 pounds in buying ink for silkscreening

137 hours will be put in total, where I pay myself 15.625 pounds per hour: 2,140
(I will have to pay another 40 pounds for next semester and probably pay 25 more pounds for the paper...)
Plus I might as well add in the cost of part of graduate school, I see this as one seventh of the work I'll be doing at school so that makes it possibly 1/7th of 22,560 (tuition for 2 years) which is 
40+24+20+2,140+40+25+3,223+ pounds... 5,512 divided by 250 prints: Means that each is roughly worth 22.048 pounds.

If these were actual currency or even sold as art works in a commercial gallery, I would apply the formula of material costs + time + and take in account the number of editions, at market value they would each be worth about 22 pounds.

However at this point, I don't know how I would sell them, but they do look good in multiples as some can be harder to decipher than others...

My most recent transaction went like this: An old man waiting for a bus (that never came) offered me a bag of crisps, which I kindly took and talked to me about how he was becoming a minister and was currently 2 years or so from retiring from being a firefighter. After eating the chips I gave him a print to which he replied, "Which church do you go to, do you go to church?" after we talked about what the print was about he folded it and set it down next to him on the bench, I ended up walking home before I ever found out if he ever took it with him. December 4th. 2:30 am.

What happens when I give these away are unexpected on my part and sometimes I have to remember to fish them out so that someone can pick one that they like.

So I wouldn't say this was a failure, but it is a bit "preachy", a little too cold to be used in bartering since it lacks the individual quality that my paintings had, it has an audience of one which makes it much more difficult to represent it to a larger group of people for the work to have meaning, it's a bit too complex for what is there to be admired, and it can come off as a kind of branded corporate logo... all of which I understand how I have come to make this kind of work, but it is lacking a kind of beauty and mystery that the other prints have... that I'll show you next.

Printmaking project #2,

A close up of the silkscreen on top of the lithograph print

This is a black and white print, there is a photographic quality to this work that is interestingly similar to my other paintings. (Not to mention the same use of silk-screened imagery)

Usually in the process of making something that I'm dead set on, I figure out works intuitively since many things go wrong in the process of doing something exactly the way you want to see it. In the case of the lithography, I wanted the words to be clear, while achieving marks that can only be achieved with a litho stone, what I figured out was to silkscreen gum arabic onto the lithography stone to create a resist to make the letters and the circle. (Also I found out that you can't add litho ink to a silkscreen print because the water-based silkscreen ink sticks to the stone ripping the paper, but at least with my method of using a stencil, it embosses it a little, which is a nice touch.) So what to me was the next logical conclusion was to make the biggest silkscreened image on the biggest litho stone and see what fun could be had!

this is a print that has watercolor pencils and a silkscreen added to it to bring in color to the piece.

I just wanted to play around with the process that has probably never been done before because it's quite confusing, although it does allow for tonal ranges within lithography and graphic edges that are created through silk-screening... hybrid printing processes are very interesting to me, although they only serve an aesthetic-of-clever-design function right now.

This is the biggest stone that they have

Conversations with Rachel

After talking with Rachel, it is in my best interest to pad people's expectations and to let them know that I am prone to a couple of conversational problems:
  • I rant and meander with my thoughts
  • I usually only want to have deep meaningful conversations one on one.
  • I love absurdity, if I can go there I will, it holds a special place in my heart
  • I like to push people to think critically with me but it's a fine line between being rude and upsetting and using conversation as a journey, being rude is the farthest thing from my mind.
  • I let loose whatever is on my mind, especially in that moment
  • I start thoughts out with broad generalizations that only at the end of a conversation reveals what I really meant to say
  • I have a short attention span and a terrible memory
  • If edited, I may actually come off as intelligent, otherwise, I am what I am, unedited.
I made an interesting metaphor today that I wanted to remember. It came after we made-up and became friendly again after antagonizing one another in the middle of each of us trying to get our point across.

When we realized what both of us were doing, I laughed that it was like I was building a bridge out of mines. I wanted her to get to the other side with me "come on, just go with me on this!" but she was well aware that most likely while trying to cross that bridge, it will blow up in our faces. (You know that feeling where you want someone to ignore the fact that you both know that in the moment you're not making rational sense, but that there's a gem at the end of that train of thoughts that requires going through the whole bit?) In our case specifically I wanted her to ignore the gross over-generalization that was part of my premise of an argument.

It was great.

I described to her that she does the mine-bridge when talking about people we know as examples of human behavior, and I do it whenever I'm talking about the society I'd want to live within.

oh well, back to being the best and worst person for each other to talk to. Tauruses are stubborn.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's official, I've hit the slowest point in grad school...

Just finished level 80 on A-breaker on the iPhone... let me tell you, I've just hit a new low.

In this time I just dreamed up 20-odd ways that my wishful thinking reveals extreme procrastination. (Procrastination if you didn't know is just one of many symptoms of a perfectionist dilemma)

Imagine... Every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 8 pm there is a 1-4 hour lecture/workshop, here is my dream programming:
  1. "A holistic interactive guide to learning complex art theory from the 1960s to today"
  2. "The artists' guide to navigating Glasgow through collaborating with an expert in performance/contemporary dance/book making/clowning/composing contemporary music/directing film/computer programming
  3. "The beginner's guide to successful and challenging interactive art, it's boundaries and its future"
  4. "Silence, storytelling and, historical reenactments: useful methods to start and stop time within a narrative structure"
  5. "Genuine exchange and subversion: a critical look at the economy today and why your consumption not production makes all the difference"
  6. "Radical Art Education today, everyday"
  7. "Given a choice... choosing the calculated risk and how to make your dreams bigger, bolder"
  8. "Minorities, women and the dirt poor: the best artwork/artists you probably missed because you were paying attention to the gigantic gold swinging dicks."
  9. "50 disruptive artists: artists whose sole mission is to destroy the art world as we know it."
  10. "Things that stopped being subversive 20 years ago: How art has expanded, while the definition has stayed the same, trends that became irrelevant through commercialization and the alternatives we still have"
  11. "Becoming a butterfly: how to digest your entire body from a pupae state and materialize into something that can take flight"
  12. "Artists connecting Artists: a comprehensive program pairing artists with MBA candidates, technicians, assistants and interns who share common interests and goals"
  13. "Computer Programming Today: some useful websites that give you the basics of interactive designs and a look at some of the insane new media projects that took advantage of them, with a follow up workshop to work with designers, programmers and coders that might be able to help you make a small piece."
  14. "I'm just glad it worked: astounding jigs, tricks and ingenious designs that famous artists have used to organize their work-spaces and create work efficiently albeit unorthodox"
  15. "The Future is Now! Conspiracy theorists, artists and science fiction writers that predicted activities, leisure and dilemmas that came true"
  16. "Delicious Glasgow: 20 secret foodie treasure troves that offer such things as: 24 hour salad bar, grocery stores that sell entire dinner ingredients that fit in a single bag and feed 6 people, and all you can eat organic soups"
  17. "Do whatever you want, we need it bad: 100 cities around the world that have the best offers to attract artists, you might be surprised where the money is"
  18. "You can do that? A case study of 17 of the most varied art practices and art jobs and the ways that they are all equally sustainable, unpacking the baggage of 'the successful artist'"
  19. "Now that's impressive: curating through the eyes of technicians, acts of craftsmanship in historical art and artifacts that evaded scientists that only became understood in the last 10 years that were discovered by, you guessed it, craftsmen"
  20. "Where's the money go? An interesting infographic on the breakdown of every dollar from every student in the Glasgow School of Art and the new postgraduate programs, construction and calculated use of each workshop on campus"
  21. "Here for now: A sneak peek into art collectors who collect the ephemeral and conceptual art and how they manage their collections"
  22. "Frames: a simple breakdown of the philosophy behind the concept of frames and the history of the frame as used in visual art and a guide to 10 under-appreciated ways to frame work that look better than the traditional method."
  23. "Anthropology for artists: 10 of the most useful tools that are used in the field that can help you see the world through power relations"
  24. "Wrapped up: Contemporary artists who utilize the storing, packaging and shipping aspects of artwork and the most elaborate new practices in shipping, protecting and releasing packaging as well as a hands on workshop on the best packing practices on the cheap.
  25. "Layers, filters and the invisible: nine experts from different scientific fields lecturing on what is visible, how they make things visible, and why they need artists"
  26. "You don't need that, in fact, you don't need anything: A history of artists creating profound work from barest of materials and the spiritual practices that have inspired them"
  27. "Existentialism Lite: How popular movies represent this way of living and the ones that get it (that didn't meant to) and the ones that don't pass the test."
  28. "Give Up: The psychology behind how everything good happens when you least expect it, comprehensive steps to how to let go and even enjoy failure."
  29. "Tenure adjuncts and disfunction: a look at how the higher education system is a bubble ready to burst and the new schools that have formed in resistance since Black Mountain College"

    Ugh... I just keep coming up with these... and it doesn't really help any...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A microcosm of my working method.

I just did 11 quick exercises in composition that really highlight my current artistic practice:

The premise:
  1. Find a large scan of someone's sketchbook that is posted on the internet.
  2. Open in in Photoshop CS5
  3. Use the selection tool in areas you want to make new shapes, where you want to fill negative space
  4. Hit Delete and choose Content-Aware (this is a tool meant for filling in a realistic image)
  5. Continue as much as you like, you can even hit delete again if you don't like the composition that it created as many times as you like, it will generally go back to 3 main compositions (I don't know the algorithm used, but it's very fascinating)


  • It's easy enough to do (not many steps) that I reveal how it's done with an interest in having others try it themselves, like a set of instructions
  • The ability to create interesting products still remains on the part of the creative individual to make it have interest or starting from interesting material.
  • Misuse a tool from its original intent to reveal something about how the tool works
  • It was made when I thought a little about what I have access to and what I can do right now
  • Something is automated
  • Something is generated that is organic while at the same time appears calculated
  • It fulfills a subconscious desire for instant gratification
  • It involves stealing/referencing/remixing of existing work
    I can do it in a series to discover the range of possibilities and therefore create a new language and rules
  • The format of its presentation matches that of its origin (taken from online portfolios in a set)
    It subverts an aspect of how most people think about art (in this case mark making with other people's marks to subvert the idea of the artist's hand while still achieving this quality)
  • It's inspired by information I just encountered or just read (Everything is a Remix)
  • I created as many as I could until I felt bored or that I wouldn't find anything new before things looked too much like each other
  • The whole exercise took me around 2.5 hours
  • I come up with ideas and then only act on them when something 'hits me', in this case, I stumbled upon sketches and thought that work could be better, and that there's something that I didn't like about other sketches that I found that seemed to highlight style or cultural cliches in graphic design over any conceptual concerns (I am aware that it's a sketchbook, but the fact that sketchbooks are put on display on the same level of finished works makes me want to critique them in a similar way)
  • I can use them to consider different new works that might not involve aspects of the exercise that  I didn't like.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I am charting territory that gets murkier the closer one gets to the center

I felt compelled to make this for a presentation about why I make art and the theoretical concerns I have about my art practice. This diagram was up for only about 5 seconds while I moved towards explaining the context of my work in terms of other artists, but now I think I want to make a four color litho of this, where the words are white (clear) and each circle is a different layered color... anyways we just learned today how litho works so I'm excited and this is the only diagram I feel like is worth printing over and over right now.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Top 10 unexpected places to see impressive art in Detroit

Now that I'm leaving I'm even getting nostalgic about the tours I would give people to see what kind of interesting art happens in Detroit. This definitely takes far more than a day to see all of this (and to get a proper tour) but here's my list!

1. Belle Isle (if it's winter, show them the ice fountain/sculpture)
2. Heidelburg Projects
3. Hamtramck Disneyland
4. Dabl's African Bead Museum
5.The houses on Klinger facilitated by Mitch and Gina
6. The Poloroid Liquor Store
7. Hot Wheel City
8. The People Mover Stations
9. The Dequindre Cut
10. Motorcity Brewing Works if it's a Wednesday night

11. My Brixels

Notice most of the links go to the Knight Arts Blog? Matthew Piper's been doing a kickass job.

I'll try to post my favorite things about Detroit once every other day before I take off...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Environmental Art...

I'm starting to have dreams about gradschool!

I just had a dream where for the first show, I filled two entire rooms with mushrooms that grew faster if they get cut down, (almost like whack a mole?) they were as big as columns, but light.
And so for my first piece, I created a bunch of what looked like rooms whose walls were Doric columns with inflatable furniture inside (all made of this secret type of mushroom) and while people sat inside of them, I kept throwing cds to cut the mushrooms, which would make the structures topple but also instantly grow underneath them. It looked really cool.

I turned into an asshole at some point though, when I started yelling at people for tearing the things down by hand without using the cds and screaming at my dad to keep filming even though he was trying to talk with some people...

So that part sucks, but now I have to figure out what made that so interesting and to try to make it myself!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wow... again.

Finally Art X is over and now I'm back being busy making new paintings, working on commissions and getting back on horse, making sure I catch seeing Bruce High Quality Foundation and band practice... all of this kind of being 'busy' seems like nothing, it's so easy compared to Art X Detroit...

I had a really good day! Had great interactions one after another... Josh-Zeb-Mike-Adrian-Crystal-Daniel-Simone-Dooligan-Chazz-Lou-Sean-Cassidy-Dorota-Dan Tartanian-Rachel-Corrie-myself

It all began with me sitting in my room staring at my iPhone realizing that I needed to get out of the house, especially since I wanted to write my thank you letters to everyone who helped me with my Brixel project. (I imagined a fantasy studio where other people were busy working on their own projects and some of them would bring up their heads to see who just entered as Caribou softly plays in the background... Large open tables are still available although many are covered in projects that have to be finished before the end of the week. There are many tools, rulers, various neatly organized pencils, watercolor pencils, pens, replenished as they become used or tucked away in someone's pocket. To the side of this warm area lit entirely by the sun coming in is a closed off area that is practically sound proof, where people can relax and talk with each other, there are no TVs, no microwaves that need be cleaned, but there are various snack foods, kale chips, hummus as well as veggies that are in a deep round orange plastic container, three pizza slices are also left, not to mention the unhealthy snacks there too... ) I have to get out of this house and FIND THAT PLACE!

I immediately called my Vitamin Water boss Josh and arranged to deliver the trophies I had made for the Music Awards, we talked about meeting in an hour, easy enough, but somehow I was still 10 minutes late... I just hope I'm not going to be like Aero Saarinen who was practically late for everything and hated being early.

Once out of the house I had intention to get into my ritual which involves sending off Netflix in the hopes of getting it back to copy it onto my computer to watch it in the future. It is one of the few routines I actually have in my life.

From there it was a whirlwind of chance encounters in this small town and enjoying every second of not getting any 'art' done but definitely just being in a 'Detroit' moment.

Chatted it up with Zeb about how much can 500 dollars pay for in terms of a sign for 'HATCH'

while he downloaded and we played Oregon Trail on his iPhone, turns out he's an expert at what things will cost... everything. 500 dollars is feasibly a good amount for cutting out 2D letters out of marine grade plywood painting them and then sealing them, and affixing them to the building. Ideas of making a full on sculpture out of the word 'HATCH' or a birdfeeder or making them a neon sign... not so much...

This makes me very aware of how much of a novice I am as an artist in this aspect, I'm losing about 300 dollars from taking on the Art X Detroit project from my original 1,500 dollar budget, no one got paid enough... although it's not like everyone wanted to be paid a bundle, I definitely didn't get paid... I should've actually asked for 5,000 in order to accomplish what I actually am about to 'finish', 3 large murals in Midtown. Me and my friends have put in so many hours that I don't want to calculate because it will just remind me how much money I didn't budget for... But then again I think about how crazy my expectations were.

from one brixel to another from Cedric Tai on Vimeo.

Imagine yourself and a slew of your friends and you're all asked to make the best work of art you can with a loose budget of perhaps 2,000 dollars and it will be put on display in a museum, you have 1 month to make it happen, 4 days to install and 3 months to plan it. If I was to ever do this again, I think I'd shit a brick... it's so stressful, it doesn't seem like nearly enough money and on top of that imagine not having enough time to see all of your friends work when everything actually opens. And yet it doesn't really seem like it's all over...

[To remind myself of what I would've done differently I'm going to take a moment to rewrite my own budget.

Pay myself $25 an hour when I'm 'working' and $10 dollars an hour when I'm just figuring shit out. Keep track of my hours somehow, perhaps tally it up every two days.
Pay for an assistant to keep me on track where I need to be at any given time and what needs to happen and when.
Pay for a coordinator to keep people on track for where they need to be and make sure everything's running as smooth as possible.

Pay for people to hang out in my 'Research Studio' and show people how to get involved.
Pay 2 professional painters to give advice about the best locations, color schemes, how to apply the paint the best, how to get supplies at the best price and lastly pay them to help organize the paint job

And if whoever worked for free/very little would have gotten every penny they deserved.

That would be on top of what I actually did pay for, but in the end this whole project reminds me of what everyone was willing to give me... for no cost, just for wanting to help me with my project. It was like I was given $2,800 worth of favors from friends... I don't know what the hell I would've done!

Leaving MOCAD to meetup with Mike at the Dagleish Garage I stepped inside immediately setting off the alarm... That building is a perfect location for Brixels, but also once we went up the stairs, bringing scaffolding to hang off of the roof there seemed practically impossible. I realized... the only way I can get it done is if I actually have a cherry picker... poop.

I happened to run into Adrian Hatfield bringing his class to MOCAD. It was a great happenstance because I got to bring in the largest group yet at a given time to see my Research Studio.

The best hairstylist in Detroit is in that class, Crystal! So I talked with Crystal and Daniel about making them crepes and having them see the cat, but they have to bring what the crepes will be filled with! Daniel's getting new glasses and hopefully a class to teach in the Fall... funny to me how changing your hairstyle, or glasses will change how people perceive you, how you navigate the world, it can change your life!

Walked with them over to Re:View Contemporary where shortly after Adrian's class and talked with Simone for maybe an hour about the realness of forming a relationship between an artist and a gallery that represents the artist, but also the realities of what Detroit means for us as artists and the dreams we have for what it means to be an artist and how we really need to alter how people think about Detroit as a place to get art on the cheap. She said I made her realize that she's a cross between Barack Obama and Leo Castelli, but that's part of a larger conversation that you're not privy to, you just get the amusing one-liner. From there we went on to tackle the fresh concept of putting artwork in the hallways of Willy's Overland lofts and went to see the amazing views of Detroit from the 5th floor's unfinished development...

Willis overland lofts before dividing it into manageable spaces from Cedric Tai on Vimeo.

We share a very strong philosophy: Have a goal but be flexible. It's taking us so far and now that it's worked so much for us we are just taking bigger risks and digging deeper into what we truly believe and who we are and trusting our instincts.

Walking out of there I remembered that at a certain time loaves of bread are half off at Avalon Bakery and who's at the front of the line about to order and pay but Mike Dooligan getting his usual, a loaf of bread and a peanut butter brownie. He kindly walks and talks with me even though his bike is parked just outside of the place. We talk about how great Dan and Duke are as a couple and it make me so happy to imagine and pretend that it's has something to do with Miriah Carey.

We break off once I got back to MOCAD and I remembered that there's people I still need to talk to... open ends that need tying.
So I call up Chazz Miller and he happens to be ready to meet up with me and grab a poster from me that I used in my 'Research Studio' and I realize how badly I want to make him a Prezi presentation to talk about what he does because I want to imagine him doing what he does well, community art, and not having to worry about having to keep pitching the same thing over and over without engaging people visually.

He takes off just as Lou Casinelli and Sean Hages and their friend Sid and I can just feel the excitement that they all have hanging out with each other... And then it forced me to figure out when Lou, Vanessa, Andy and maybe even Piper can meetup and talk again about Access Arts... It's so odd that I saw the e-mail and worried that I wouldn't get in contact with him soon enough... I had that awful feeling that I was going to forget completely and here he was with that half-cocked grin and his sleepy eyes that match his voice so well. Some people seem to have wider mouths when they're mouths are closed, Frank Pahl is like that, actually sometimes he reminds me of a muppet.

So at this point I've realized that I've spent way too much time in that parking lot now so I finally figure I should start going somewhere... so since I'm on a really good 'not doing what I planned on doing' kick, I remember picking up the 944 magazine and seeing my paintings in the background so I decide to drive over to Mike and Kristin's place to pickup paintings from that Detroit Young Professionals party, since I'm in the area, and gas is high, I might as well try to see if they're around.

As I arrive right at their place I get a phone call, from an unknown number, some girl who is pretty surprised that I actually answered the phone and she quickly hangs up. She calls me back, to let me know that she's nervous because she's never talked to a 'real artist' before and she wants to help do the Brixels project! Part way through the conversation Dorota walks by! We chat about doing a performance on the people mover on Sunday and getting artwork ready to be in Team Detroit's building before I leave for Glasgow.

Wow another person I didn't think I'd run into, but it's a good thing that I did, clarifying things, moving forward... That was easy.

On my route back home I thought about stopping by Halima's place to drop off a check to her but she didn't answer her phone but I did notice that Showtime had its doors open! I stopped in and it was a quick hello and a 'so whaddya think of the brixels!' turned into a long talk about what it means to be present, what are the perspectives that we have way beyond just being in Detroit, what does it take to survive in a place that has seen the rugged days into today with the eventual push out of crime out of Midtown into areas just outside of Midtown... At some point we were talking about how he truly embraces not buying anything foreign, especially by not shopping at any generic chain stores, and then the importance of meditating, how to tell people's motivations and the funny stories that happen when you keep your wits about you.

I think I got there around maybe 6 and I left around 8:30? Time flies.

Back at home I find out that Rach has somehow realized her calling, she too had a great day, she feels on top of things, she's feeling she has a grasp on what she 'does' as an artist, she's interested in storytelling and depicting stories about the fear that we go through and the fears that are unique to particular people. It makes so much sense. It then also reminds me of Leon Johnston's artist talk about the conglomeration of objects and works in the N'namdi gallery as dealing with 'Masculine Fear'... I imagine his voice saying the word 'pleasure' and think about how wonderful it is to see all these interconnections playing out in a single day from one person to another to another, remembering what its like not to sit in front of a computer running to keep up with people but actually getting in contact with them... and even with new people... Adrian's students, friends of friends, unknown callers, what busy day I've had... not doing anything.

I have this bucket list of things to do now that I know I'm going to the Glasgow School of Art, everything seems like I'm just a tourist in Detroit, I'm understanding how much I'm going to miss everything spontaneous about this city, this house that I needed to leave so badly, the constant contact with the friends that like being around... It reminds me of the routines I begin tomorrow... walks once a week with Rachel as soon as we wake up, making a Tumblr with Corrie to keep in touch, Rachel reminding me to Skype Andy T... Checking on my studio and finding out how insane everything is changing at the Russell Industrial Center...