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Archives for July 2011

The Specious Present

The Photography of Alison Rosstier – Time is deceptive. It is always hiding something. The present is so fleeting that only the past and future may be comprehended. The nano-second of immediate event perception, the “specious present” is understood only in reflection. Every moment of consciousness is spent processing what has just past while constantly anticipating the future. The brain must contextualize each thought to make sense of the world, time-traveling relentlessly in an information-saturated world that threatens to overwhelm  the ceaseless internal dialogue that defines us to ourselves. “Time isn’t like the other senses. Sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing are relatively easy to isolate in the brain. They have discrete … [Read more...]

Weaving the World _ Part Two

The Politics of Internal Transformation –  The following is Part 2 of a two-part series. In this piece I take up the challenge of beginning to apply the theory of adaptive cycles to the processes by which we weave our perceptions into a coherent world. If Part 1 was on the academic side, this is decidedly more personal, exploring subjective states I have experienced, and their possible implications in terms of social history. Click here for Part 1 When I look out my window I see houses across a small valley, and the leafy tops of the trees that grow between the houses. The morning is hazy, and all the different surfaces of this landscape reflect the soft light toward me. The rays of light pass through my retina and become impulses … [Read more...]

Weaving the World _Part One

Human "Nature" and the Theory of Adaptive Cycles –  Part One of this post was written as part of the Master program in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University Los Angeles. I imagined a conversation between the Post-war Marxist critic Raymond Williams and the Marina Alberti, an urban design professor at the University of Washington who applies complex systems thinking to urban eco-sytems. Click here for Part Two I am meeting with Raymond Williams and Marina Alberti at the concrete picnic tables atop Mt. Hollywood. Mt. Hollywood is the crest of Griffith Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the world, and a crucial refuge for my wife and I since we moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s. These hills are vitally alive. We’ve … [Read more...]

Inside the Artist’s Studio – Nuttaphol Ma

Inside the Artist’s Studio is an-ongoing series exploring issues  on contemporary art through direct encounters with the artists themselves.  A River Runs Through It – Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest point in the continental US, is flat, empty, surrounded by desolate, desiccated mountains, and yet the near blinding whiteness of the valley floor symbolizes and enlarges upon the traditional ground zero for the artist—the vacant white studio wall. Or as Jean Baudrillard described the desert, it is the place of “superficial neutrality”, a “challenge to meaning and profundity.” Here on May Day this year Thai American multi-disciplinary artist Nuttaphol Ma began a 6 day, 138.3 mile documented … [Read more...]

Now It’s A Church

Rather than searching for exotic subjects in distant locations, I observe and document the uncharted subcultures of "next door." I aim to capture the majesty of the unexpected, often plain, center of the universe in which like-minded people find a place to belong. I've always been intrigued by handcrafted churches that were once stores or homes. A closer look at these places of worship in Los Angeles and Chicago reveals details often missed as they are passed on urban streets. Choices of colors, and/or words, meant to draw the seeker, are thought out and executed with various styles and degree of skill. These churches are often neighbored by empty lots, previously occupied by owners not blessed with the same tax-exempt status that … [Read more...]

Reading Truman Capote

Tap-Dancing Across Genres –  When a part of my bookshelf came off its hinges, I emptied the shelf, removed it from the wall and put a picture in its place. Looking at the odd assortment of books on the floor, I endeavored to expand the project. Soon great stacks had to be negotiated in order to move from one end of the room to another. It was during the weeding out process (antiquated nonfiction like the Encyclopedia Britannica, Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, texts on economics, perennial gardens and human health were to be boxed and donated ) that I came across In Cold Blood.  I had always meant to read In Cold Blood, but I was afraid of the material. Scary stuff, I thought. My edition was hardbound and dusty, the paper book sleeve … [Read more...]