the rewards of music....

The learning of a musical instrument is a great metaphor to our shifting world. An instrument by its nature is difficult. You learn it through discipline, one small step after another, till one day, many years later, you feel comfortable holding it and skilled at playing; it but still, the nagging feeling that you know absolutely nothing about it persists.  A guitar, piano, the trumpet, the tabla, they're infinite in regards to mastery.

Now, as we shift from an analog world to a digital one in all aspects of life, we also change the relationships of process with regards to analog tools. Our traditional instruments are analog. Our most recent instruments however are software (and in fact, they don't have to represent an analog doppelgänger), and as is the nature of digital tools, constantly changing and updating. Although the base of said software might remain the same through the course of its development, it is in continual iterations. Software instrumentation is also non-linear, automated, capable of interacting with many inputs and outputs and sometimes capable of creating its own musicality with just a set of parameters without even being "played" (a theremin on binary steroids). Our analog instruments do not work in this capacity, for the most part.  

The other key difference is that often, the actual recording software (DAW) is the instrument. This mixes both the instrument(s), and the recording, in one space. This obvious insight might not seem important, but think it through. When I first picked up a guitar, I had no idea that one day I might learn how to record music. But, kids with an iphone or ipad start recording immediately. The instrument is just one piece of the recording puzzle. And we are now handed the recording capability first (without even asking for it in many cases), then the instrument.  This is a complete flip of process. This gives precedent to the making of music, as opposed to the playing of music. 

So, the process is different. Software is by it's nature, much easier to understand, and the brevity of it's learning curve makes proficiency come at a much swifter rate. People do not spend a decade learning a piece of software and then suddenly coming to an "aw haw", a moment of absolute clarity that happens periodically to players of analog instruments.  Mostly because software gives a much swifter response to hardship. With software, you are ready to go after browsing a manual, checking some tutorials, and chugging a huge cup of coffee blended. Of course it helps to have a musical background, but its not a necessity to get started. Sure it gets more difficult when you expand your range and tools, but, it wants you to learn it fast. Your muscle memory is never tested. 

This is a non-judgmental observation.  This is the reality. If you are a teenager thinking about music, a small investment (or, ripping) will get you started, almost immediately. In fact, an intro software is probably included on your phone or computer already for free.  In roughly two years, with some tenacity, talent and luck, you might have uploaded a song on Youtube or Soundcloud and have thousands of people hear it.  In the old world, two years on a guitar might not even be enough time to get you in front of 10 people at your local open mic'd coffee shop. Just look at the ultra youngster electronic producers who are making hit songs, all by themselves and in record time.  

Just like everything else in this new world; we are glued to our screens and creating everything inside a little box with a backlight.

Astonishing Experience Box Set (2006 Video Installation)

I've been sitting on a couple pieces from yesteryear never really sure what to do with them anymore.  Two video pieces in particular have stood in the vault since their premieres, both with context specific deliveries.

One particular piece, 2006's ASTONISHING EXPERIENCE BOX SET was a video installation that had its run at the Seed Gallery space in Santa Ana, California, and after, was boxed away indefinitely.  Only one DVD was made at the time (as was the plan), and was bid on, but me being overtly idealist at the time, refused to sell.  The money wasn't that great anyways, if i remember correctly.  

Now, a good many years have passed, and, in due course, the source materials been transferred into digital binary, making it's indefinite disappearance kind of disingenuous these days. My thinking is that, yes, it's stripped of its context in a pure sense, and with that, what kind of a video installation is it, when the installation is gone? And the simple answer is, a video of course. Here below is the description, and some instructions into how to make it work.  Or, just press play. I provided some context on its original form below.

_______________________________________

Installation Premiere: 10-7-2006
Online Premiere: 9-19-14
Instructions: Headphones and a dark room preferable.  In fact, a pseudo living room would be best (of course, I can't force you to do anything in a virtual space).

Performance Notes: 
On Oct 7, 2006, the Astonishing Experience Box Set installation premiered at the Seed Gallery at the artist village in Santa Ana California. The show ran from Oct 7 - Dec 2, 2006. The show was billed as "Light. Shadow and Motion: exploring the way light alter our environments".

The installation included an old television, a dvd player, optional headphones, a chair, and a faux living room setup. In some ways, similar to the old Maxell tape commercials, although the living space was more archaic. On the television, the Astonishing Experience Box Set played as a loop.

This was the only time that this particular installation was made available to the public, and the DVD that hosts the Astonishing Experience Box Set was never played again. The total run time of the video from start to finish was 6:52, and was broken up into 6 distinct experiences. But, in direct conflict with the installation setup, there was no restriction to the viewing of the the video in linear terms, and the option of sound (headphones) was the direct responsibility of the viewer.

those failing bullet points....

The mind and body work in mysterious ways in the "projects" realm.  One of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten about life in the arts is that, "your story is never linear".  You cannot force your idea of plot unto the real thing.  And when you do, life is a constant and consistent burden, one that always fails to satisfy, along with falling short of these preexisting narratives.

 

creatives in a world of more creatives....

It's hard to imagine sustaining the creative class as the numbers inflate and the capital diminishes.  But, we are also in the throws of the chopped hierarchical tree, in which a select few where given the whole share of resources and attention for their creative endeavors.

Length, size, genre, mediums, fidelity, production values are just some of the things that seem to matter less and less, as ultimately, attention becomes the trophy creatives seek, sometimes in the most desperate ways.

The death of the critical class is inevitable because the distribution of the voice is constant. An opinion is an opinion after all, and control of content doesn't exist.  What you ultimately get is the good with the bad.  Then this naturally follows, "what is good and what is bad". Nobody gets to decide for you anymore. 

9.7.14 - 9.14.14 - THE LIST

Film list from the previous week:

1. Steamboy - Kazahuro Otomo 
2. Metropolis - Rintaro 
3. Battles Without Honor and Humanity - Kinji Fukasaku
4. Dodes'ka-den - Akira Kurosawa
5. Galaxy Express 999 - Rintaro (the film version)

This was an anime heavy month for me, as I had to reexamine the form for various purposes. The sensibilities at times are out of sync with what I personally enjoy, but in other moments and depending on direction, the works are spellbinding.  

Some of my favorite films of all time are "anime", although most of those titles fall unto the Ghibli team, which mostly functions in a separate category then "anime" in it's most common associations. It's almost impossible to dislike what Ghibli produces, but I feel hesitant to even write about those works, because to do so feels heavily redundant. If you don't enjoy what Ghibil has to offer, you're probably not interesting in movies in general.  

But there are some other anime classics that remain deeply integrated into my psyche.  The sheer weight of imagery in AKIRA, the collective works of Satoshi Kon, and Shinichirō Watanabe's Cowboy Bebop series are some examples.  Yes, these examples are generally the touchstones for the genre, but again, I'm far from an expert in this subject.   

just gander at the insanity of this image....

just gander at the insanity of this image....


Japanese cinema, "now" now, and then....

I've been on a Japanese kick of late.  I happen to return to this culture, frequently, for a vast bouquet of inspiration.  Simply, the well is never dry.

The last five films I've watched this week were Japanese. One observation I've made is that the Western Cinematic tradition has lifted heavily from this world, and Akira Kurosawa ( i feel silly leaving a link here, but I'm going to assume that a good percentage of people are not that familiar with him, and do not give the same unwavering adulation to say, Stanley Kubrick) being on the receiving end of this homage ripping, while also being the most universally influential. But aside from the good type of artistic stealing which is mostly an "influential" lifting, there has been a much more malignant form of culture appropriation, which comprises of the more serious form of perjury. And yes, this bad form of stealing is rampant in cinema.

In the prior decades, distribution was the real barrier to familiarity with international cinema. The world, before NETFLIX and the web was a localized arena.  So localized in fact, that believe it or not, you'd have to go to a movie theater to see a movie (perhaps a film festival, or art-house theater, school, etc).  And, if you didn't catch it, then you'd have to hope for some form of taped distribution.  It wasn't till the late 70's whereby people were actually renting and buying movies.  At this juncture in the space time continuum, the selection was incredible limited.

With the explosion of VHS and the video store, more titles could be discovered. But, media was not ubiquitous, and our reference points were limited to stuff we heard about, or actually saw; which again, had serious limitations in breath, scope, and in memory. Image those days, in which Wikipedia, Google and Youtube were not at your beckon call, and did not serve as your assistant brain (soon to be, First Brain). Yes, scary indeed.       

Say you saw something really interesting in an obscure Japanese movie from the early 70's, and were a filmmaker in the 80's and even early 90's, and you happened to steal heavily from it.  In fact, even go so far as to purge it's images, its style, its flow.   People would hardly know.  Only a relative few.  And surprisingly, unlike music and other types of arts, this type of heavy lifting would not even be frowned upon critically, and certainly not by the general movie going audience.  For the most part.

The idea of originality in Western Cinema has long been a secondary by-product; a term Hollywood tried to bury (and successfully) in the 50's (purely conjecture here).  It's worked.  This is one of the only arts where familiarity gets a pass almost every-time.  And as the post-modern infiltrated movie making in the early nineties, it was even considered cool.  

But on a personal level, I always felt a more kindred liking to original works (herein I'm referring to a more direct style of moviemaking) then post modern assemblies of those styles.  But that was then, and now is now.      

But, "now" now, is not like the 90's now.  People dream up movement phrases like, "The New Sincerity", and while this might last for "now", it can never congeal into anything resembling the classical arts movements of a prior century.  Because we have moved past time oriented "movements".  We are in a post-movement world; better yet, post-mechanical-watch.  Human time doesn't neatly pack itself into bubbles anymore, because it's umbilical cord to our evolutionary clock has been cut.  

And "now" is like the scene from the Mel Brooks film SPACEBALLS:  Now "Now", Not "Then" Now.  This sentence above, however is not my own, i'll gladly admit.  In fact, I lifted it from a wonderful conversation between media theorist David Ryan Polgar and Douglas Rushoff.  If only cinema were so nice to attribute.

I'll leave you with this apropos image from Kinji Fukasaku's BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY

a quantum question....

a quantum question....

 

Mirs - Summer God Complex (Official Visualization 2014)

Here is the visual representation for the MIRS track SUMMER GOD COMPLEX. This video is a digital deconstruction of footage that originated from an infamous, lonely and appalling source.

That source was also the lead-in into the writing process, although it was just a jumping point, a kernel of story that evolved into something else.

The deconstruction of the source footage also plays into an internal, corrupt mind grasping at order, and at times seeing beauty in it's own destruction. The process involved the breaking down of codecs.

Birthdays & national tragedies....

Today is one of my best friends birthdays. His is never forgotten. Although I forget many other birthdays, a habit I am not proud of given the breadth of technology available to remind you, his is my second thought of the day.  The first is reserved to 911, the American Tragedy.

It's been 13 years, a fact equally astonishing to realize the unequivocal changes throughout the world since. Their was no youtube, iphones, gopros, twitter or facebook.  We didn't personally document everything like a desperate hoarder, grasping to no avail at a slipping life.

The memories now of that horrific date are living and breathing ones.  They feel tangible, and although they might not be accurate given our subjective and changing memory, they can be as raw as the real thing. In this case, that's a truth. It burns. The heart.

 

 

ical meets virus....

Sometimes we plan the week, in precise, efficient detail, and then, a cold comes knocking on the door changing everything.  Life is not linear.  

And if you force it as such, the joy and spontaneity of the game, the game of life vanishes.  Life is just one giant improvisational game, ephemeral and hardly meant for seriousness.  The mood of the moment or time might feel grave, but mortality is our constant reminder; this is fleeting, don't be a jerk about it.   

the future: a robot, the human....

Last night, towards the end of an intimate wedding, three men huddled together at the back of a fancy hotel courtyard, cocktails in hand, discussing THE SINGULARITY. An almost spontaneous conversation with very little pre-talk. Straight faced, and committed.     

Two days prior, in a small downtown bar, the patron and bartender sparked up several conversations. It was obvious that these talks happened quite regularly. As one conversation bounced to the next, THE SINGULARITY reared its once ambiguous head into the dialogue seconds before serialized Japanese Yakuza movies from the 70's.   

A week before this, in a large cafe with a direct path to the Hollywood sign, a man and a women, after a lemonade and espresso chatted about the robotic overlords; one part jest, one part contemplative certainty.  

THE SINGULARITY: no longer relegated to sci-fi dork-hood, or computer scientist savants and futurist with lots of time on their hands.  It is now part of the dialogue. Maybe not with the same rapidity as The Kardashians, but in enough minds to infer that it's manifestation is inevitable. Lets just make sure we can become friendly enough to make room, because our time as the top of the chain is limited.  As Douglas Rushkoff states, "I'm on team human".


what we notice, what evades...

I got into a discussion with my father yesterday about Downtown Los Angeles.  I happened to be watching some television with him while on one of my little retreats to Orange County.  I go there often to get away from among other things, the parking hassle in LA.  The stress of Trader Joe's I hear is soul crushing.  I'm immune because I don't step into grocery stores.  But, getting coffee at a Coffee Bean is a fucking ordeal.

Anyways, we were watching a movie staring the most underrated actor in American Cinema, Keanu Reeves (who just happened to turn 50 in an ode to Dorian Grey, and is by all accounts the nicest son of a bitch in Hollywood) and a tracking helicopter shot a moving car racing through a completely empty Time Square.  The next cut showed our hero (Keanu) with a few passengers including the beautifully eyebrowed Jennifer Connelly (is my memory eluding me) and my mothers favorite leading man, Jon Hamm racing through fake New York, which was in fact real Downtown Los Angeles.  Movies and commercials often do this.  Shoot exteriors of NY, film in dtla.  They look somewhat similar in what is called the Historic Core, but, with any scrutiny, the deceit becomes obvious.  Alright, here is the title of the film;  THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.  And a confession, this was my third time seeing it.

So, the discussion wasn't about the validity of using the two spaces.  When I made the observation of the two spaces being used in the cut, to my father, he replied that it wasn't possible because palm trees litter LA.  I argued that palm trees don't exist in downtown.  And we went back and fourth.  My argument was superior because, "I live and work in downtown".  And that was the end, he conceded.  

Now, cut to today; here I am looking at some shots I developed from my trustee Nikon One Touch, and lo and behold, a shot of the art's district in downtown LA.  What we can see in the back is a lovely group of palm trees.  I've passed by this area many times, and in a moment of argument, palm tree's where wiped from my memory.  As if all the palms in downtown where wiped off the landscape, in favor of a more urban LA, best used to create car commercials or Hollywood films that were meant to be NY.

Memory is an illusion.  Enjoy the rest of your day.  Never argue from a source of fantasy.

the never ending story....

Sometimes creative projects take a very long time to finish.  Especially in these modern times, when you can control the flow with new tools and without the same financial pressures of previous times.  Storage is cheap. Film stock and processing is not.

But, process changes with technology.  The context of creation is the factor.  Creativity is not an internal force exerted unto the outer realm.  It is a reaction to the outer realm.  This is our rebellion against the ambiguous rules set force, by unforeseen energy, into human order.  

We try to mimic nature, or in our esteem, to conquer its beauties in words and visuals, to make sense of the chaos.  But this chaos is our flame.  This chaos is our master.  

attention; the death of a day

Sometimes the list is too long and the being is forced to frantically jump from one thing to the next at such a rapid rate that it feels like the many has turned into nothing.  Not even one. A gloomy fog has set in.  

That an attention mechanism is forced to react to a circumstantial and technological evolution that it in no way was suited for.  

But, that statement cannot be true.  Because it is in fact adapted to the change.  There can be no other path.  That change is our doing.  We are the singularity.

Singularity; the robot

Singularity; the robot