Only Lovers Left Alive....

The most remarkable thing about Jim Jarmusch's modern vampire movie (the only non-Japanese movie I've seen all month) was the way in which street landscapes where represented. The nighttime photography from a moving vehicle, of Detroit, created an authentic awareness and respect of space. Similarly but with equal contrast, Tangiers was an opium infused hallucination, one that was a throwback to expressionist soundstage production design and mis-en-scene. 

Using what amounted to a spotlight as the car moved through the night was an interesting choice and certainly one born out of necessity. You could rather keep the scene very dark, or with a light on a moving vehicle, do what in essence, wedding videographers do with those small LED lights attached to a camera. Of course, this is not as simple, but that's probably what was going on.

On a Hollywood Production, the whole street would have to be lit to mimic the "feeling" of nighttime by making sure everything damn thing was completely visible and exposed "the right way".  Of course this is a generalization, but If you've ever scene a large production take up a block on Hollywood Blvd, or Downtown LA, you are keenly aware of the fact that enough amps are used to light up Kabul for a week.

The other peculiar thing I found about this movie is Jarmusch's subtle disdain of the internet and it's culture of accessibility. Most artist dealing with the enormous digitization of the world probably feel nostalgic about the old days, whereby we couldn't find every image ever created on Youtube or Tumblr. 

Memory is but a memory. But memory is often more beautiful then the real thing.

digital all the way baby!

digital all the way baby!



Drops in the Stream....

Launching a new single channel (for now) web project on Oct 1 2014 that runs daily until Dec 31st 2014, titled DROPS IN THE STREAM.  A set of instructions is available but is hidden from plain site. We drift through the binary, and reconciliation is not promised. 

You can be a visual participant by bookmarking this page which will feature a new video daily, or subscribe to the Youtube page , that hosts the videos.   

We also have a Tumblr page that gets pushed the same content from Youtube if you so happen to prefer that format.  

If you have any questions, please send them my way through the contact page. And remember, all of life is in beta now.
 

you are nothing but a stream of 01...

you are nothing but a stream of 01...

what kind of sleep is this pumkin....

Two or three times a year I am burdened by insomnia.  Actually, I'm not quite sure I can call it that because in my most natural state, I am of the species of animal that thrives in the night.  But, adulthood makes that a difficult condition.

All through my teens and college years I had a habit of staying awake almost right before the sun came through the horizon.  I always schedule my classes at UCLA to occur afternoon, and when I couldn't, those classes were hardly attended.  I learned to pass classes with technique instead of attendance.  

In high school, my senior year marine biology class attendance was under 20 days total that semester, because of the unbearable 8am start time. Most of those days where quiz or test days. The teacher whom I won't name lead the class with a round of applause everyday I would show up (terrible social reinforcement). At the time, I thought it was funny what I was able to get away with, but I can't imagine how any of this was helpful instruction. To my benefit, I did receive an A in class with the usage of my survival "technique".  This was also when I figured out that the educational system that I was receiving in the public schools was a sham.  This gut feeling, even though I continued through a similar system for many years afterwards, persisted.

As a first generation immigrant, schooling was a necessity, not a choice. It is almost impossible to describe what this feels like, but I can assure you, other immigrants of certain cultures understand this very well.

insomnia, can't quite shake this lovely feeling, oh baby.....

insomnia, can't quite shake this lovely feeling, oh baby.....

  

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".