10.31.2001

from an interview with Richard Serra
Mark Simmons: ...In an interview in 1993 you said you wanted architecture to be a neutral background. How has the Geffen Contemporary here at MOCA in Los Angeles fit in with what you said you wanted?


Richard Serra: Well, I basically think this (building's) architecture is like industrial shit and there are two of them (buildings which comprise the GC at MOCA)...

...The way that they've used this building I think in the past for the most part is a little disappointing and what they do is they kind of egg crate containers of sheetrock walls. And the sheetrock walls act as frames in here and usually tend to neutralize everything that's within the box. So basically what they do is they cut this place up make little boxes or whatever but it reduces it it's even worse than a car show if you went to see a car show. At least you get more open space at a car show. What I decided to do when I came here is to strip out all of that notion of the neutralized space. The frame of sheetrock.

MS: Right. As opposed to Out of Action which made the Geffen (Contemporary) look like a honeycomb.

RS: Yes, I saw the Out of Action. I thought Out of Action was better as a catalogue than the honeycomb because the honeycomb was like walking into one compartment and then another compartment. You might as well turn the pages of a book. And that's how the show was, like a book laid out. Like a grid. What I'm trying to do is return the building to its primary use. Function. And bring another function into that function. Its primary use, before it had sculpture and art in it, was to repair police cars. I think that's what this was. Right? So I tried to use it as the kind of industrial gesture that it was made for. And try to use the scale of it to try accommodate my work so the scale and the scale of the building would have some relationship that seemed apparent.

So you kind of know things amongst things. You don't know things independently of things. If these pieces didn't have the kind of scale they have, I think you'd have an Easter Egg hunt. And if you had an Easter egg hunt in here you were going to get lost in the space. And then you'd probably want to confine the space into some sort of box. But that's not what we had to do. We've used the shit as the container. Both shits as the container. And having said that I'm not disappointed with how the interrelated spaces between the pieces function as well as the internal pieces of the vessels or the elongated pieces.


MS: ...One last question. Do you have any advice for sculptors and artists?

RS: Work out of your work. Don't work out of anybody else's work.


Arata Isozaki and Frank Gehry: MOCA and the Geffen (originally called the Temporary Contemporary)

10.25.2001

RECORD :
- n. an account, set down as a means of preserving knowledge.
- tr.v. to set down for preservation in writing or other permanent form; to register.
[ME recorden : OFr. recorder : Lat. recordari, to remember :
re-, again + cor, heart]

REGISTER :
[ME registre : OFr. : Me.Lat. registrum : LLat. regesta : Lat. neuter pl. or regestus, p.part. of regerere, to record:
re-, back + gerere, to carry.]

vs.
DOCUMENT :
- n. something serving as evidence or proof
- tr.v. to support with evidence or decisive information; to annotate.
[ME, precept : OFr. : Lat. documentum, lesson < docere, to teach.]

The American Heritage Edition, Second College Edition




Dan Hoffman, on Michael Williams' Necessary Frictions
+ text
The Architecture Studio, Cranbrook, May 1991
"The surface upon which the movement is recorded is a layer of grease spread upon a steel sheet. Like felt, the choice of the grease as a recording surface reveals a precise understanding of the poetic function latent in the recording act. As a material, grease is used to reduce the friction between surfaces in motion. As such, it is a sensitive indicator to any inscription placed upon it. Its use is also a sign for the inevitable frictions that a recording process produces. For a recording inevitably involves the transfer of a phenomenon from one surface to another. The presence of grease recognizes the entropy latent in the expenditure of the recording act.

A recording is a transfer from one surface to another over time. This may be understood more clearly when we compare recording to measurement which occurs in time but always with reference to a specific point outside of time. This point outside of time is the end to which the means of measurement are organized. The ends of a recording are not fixed; its point, if this metaphor holds, is to produce an exact reproduction of the phenomenon, an end is transparent to itself, a simultaneous reproduction of phenomena over time.

The considerations given to the instrumentality of recording should indicate that, by definition, a recording involves interference of a phenomenon with a surface. A recording involves the extension and expenditure of means. The recording instrument is always between the phenomena and its reproduction. The transparency between the phenomena and the reproduction exists in the lure of the multiple mirrors of reflexivity where reading and interpretation become simultaneous, when the object and its interpretation are collapsed."

note : see also Architecture Studio 1986-1993
................................

my thoughts -

: The etymology of terms, especially the notions of re- (again) -cor (heart), and re- (back) -gerere (to carry). Combined, these describe a process wherein "the heart" is "returned", in a recording and "carried back" through registration. The heart, the essence, the nature of the experience, is actually, physically brought to bear. This, as different than a document, docere (to teach), where something serves as evidence or proof for something else, is representantive (metaphor).

this IS this, as opposed to this means that.

: And the aspect that "recording instrument is always between the phenomena and its reproduction" can be applied on a number of levels, I believe. I have been working with my students on the notion that we, in the design process, are also recording instruments, and that we, then, are what provides for the transfer of a phenomenon from one surface to another. That there should be inevitable frictions that occur; a strong recording will register (carry back) the experience (the heart) to the surface and materials engaged in the recording act. That a drawing could be thought of as a recording, or a construction, of an idea, as opposed to a representation of an idea. This begins to explore how drawings and models can also be read through "multiple mirrors of reflexivity" allowing for the collapse of object and interpretation (drawing and concept).

10.22.2001

EVOLUTION:
THE INFLUENCE OF NEW TOOLS ON CONTEMPORARY CONCEPTIONS OF FILM LANGUAGE AS A MODE OF EXPRESSION
a project paper by Maria Dora Genis Mourão
and Joel Yamaji (assistant)

interviews with ARTHUR OMAR, GIANNI TOTI, and others,
along with
PETER GREENAWAY:

Will the use of computers supporting video and film techniques determine a new language?

"...I suppose that ever since the 1850's when notions of color and form divorced from content, there has been an enormous explosion in the business of visual manipulation. The new technological inventions, the post-tele-visual technologies have enabled me again to become a painter, a painter not just with the freedom, should we say, of Leonardo da Vinci or David, but the freedom of a Picasso or a post Picasso. So now anything is possible. I am absolutely delighted about that.

Another situation which is very important to me is the idea of a multiplicity of screens. There are two great filmmakers, both French who used multiple screens, one Abel Gance used them in Napoleon right back in 1929, and the other was Alain Resnais in the late 1950's and 1960's who played around with a confabulation of tents. Both filmmakers in some sense, have not been followed up. They created a circumstance, and then there seems to be a drying up of a technology. But now Abel Gance' Napoleon and all the ideas that are associated with Last year at Marienbad, Muriel, etc., can now be picked up, and we can all run with those ideas after an interlude of forty or fifty years..."

comment upon the electronic cinema, and the crisis of representation:

"...I would like to make some analogies. So, if we have this one monoculture, everybody is upset, politically, economically. I am constantly asked to serve on boards to protest against the American cinema, but I think is a little bit like the evolutionary situation of the dinosaurs, or even like salon painting at the end of the nineteen century. The formulaic presentation of a cinematic monoculture produces a bland cinema which is highly predictable. You know virtually all the plots, you know all the circumstances, you know the vested interests. I just feel like making the evolutionary parallel, and also remembering how the Salon refused the Impressionists at the end of the nineteenth century. It is the little animals, the independent, working in new specializations, new technologies, that create a new cinema. After all, Twentieth-century painting, which has seen so huge an explosion of language, didn't came from the salon painting in the middle of the 19th century. It came from the impressionists, the people who were working on the grass underneath the feet of the dinosaur. We know that salon painting completely disappeared, and I am quite certain that, maybe in a couple of decades, Hollywood too will completely disappear. It will collapse under its own weight. It will become too bland, too widely assimilated. It will not satisfy the human imagination. And out of, as it were, the small grasses, underneath the rocks, just like the mammals developed, the whole age of mammals will have developed while dinosaurs disappeared. It's those animals, those marginal technologies, those new inventive spirits, that will very largely be responsible, for the post-cinema of the twenty-first century. Cinema is dead. Long live the cinema!"



[sub]culture has also been looking at Greenaway lately....

and see other notes on the Greenaway short : "The Man in the Bath"

10.19.2001

from a friend:
Subject: lovely little story
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2001 01:25:45 +0000
To: circa@jump.net

"....A philosophy professor stood before his class with some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about 2" in diameter. Then he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar of rocks. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the spaces between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full. They said yes, it was. The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. They laughed again.

"Now," said the professor, "I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things - your family, your partner, your health, your dearest friends. Anything that is so important to you that if it were to be lost, you would be nearly destroyed. The pebbles are the other things in life that still matter, but on a different, smaller scale. They are things like your job, your home, your clothes, your essential "stuff." The sand is everything else. The small stuff. Your luxuries. Your conveniences.

If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important.

Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Go on a long walk with your partner. Read something. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, do your hair, or fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand."

a timely reminder, and a reminder for all time -- though this story seems to be a lesson for those who have the luxury of forgetting. And there are people for whom shelter, clothing, food are first priorities, for survival.

An additional thought: There are "small things" -- the photo of my father at age 10, grinning defiantly into the camera, the separate stack I have of books that have been most influential in my life -- that are indeed very precious to me, and the thought of losing them is awful. They are part of who I am. But they are symbols of the rocks -- my family, my mental/intellectual health -- and not rocks in and of themselves. These symbols serve very powerfully as talismans of the things that matter most, which is why so many returning to their homes NYC have been dramatically affected by the site of their things, their precious things, covered in layer upon layer of dust and debris. It seems that it is not the actual loss of these things that is so upsetting; but as symbolic items, they represent the subconscious -- and for many the conscious -- recognition of the destruction of the things that matter most. Family. Health. Happiness.

Imagine living this way all the time, living with the constant destruction, or at least disruption of both the real and the symbolic aspects of life. Whether in South Central LA or the West Bank.... or Afghanistan.

For many in the "developed world," though, this is an anomaly, an aberration, and so we have the luxury -- and therefore the responsibility -- to actually focus upon what the important things are. I would rather that than have terror do the reminding for me.

There are many reports of Americans being "friendlier" and more patient with each other, allowing others to pass through a long line, holding doors, welcoming a merging car. When much has been -- and is being -- reduced to rubble and dust, we are, of course, forced to see the rocks more clearly. However, I find that I wish pebbles and sand for all the people of the world. When conditions allow for the addition, and proliferation, of the "smaller things" (for many this would be clothing and shelter!) then the rocks can at last gain a solidity and nestle into one another -- and begin to form something resembling a foundation....

10.12.2001

got an email today regarding yesterday's post on "little-boy threats," which prompts a clarification:

it was a reaction to one man, though applicable to many. And the threats are only the tip of the bloody iceberg, obviously. More accurately : make them all stop!

my post was in reaction to the press conference Bush gave yesterday, in which he could barely keep his thoughts together as he moved from one garbled mouthful of "evil-doers" to another. I believe that clarity of craft (in words, in deeds) reflects a clarity of thought. And name-calling never got anyone anywhere. There are times for passionate, incoherent emotion, and a press conference, broadcast to the world, is not one of those times. Emotion, yes, but incoherency, and ham-handed table pounding of sensitive issues like missile treaties is not going to help us keep the amazing coalition that we have. The most frightening thing I have seen lately is Bin Laden's broadcast, where he spoke clearly and methodically, though still passionately, and moved systematically through all his points, without teleprompter, probably without speechwriters. NOT that we should in anyway respect him for this, but when the terrorist state has this capability, and we don't, I think it is something to be worried about.

It is hard to tell if America's "deeds" with the bombings in Afghanistan have a clarity of deed. Right now, all we can go on is what is broadcast, and the reassurances from our own government. At some point, all I see is people dying, and in misery, and I only see more of that to come. Something needed to be done, however, and I will stand among the many who agree with that. Of all the possible options, the approach our government is taking may indeed be the lesser of all the necessary evils. I am willing to accept that things progressed to such a state of affairs that we had to take military action.

But how did we get here? Why are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people dying, in these attacks, and in all of the ongoing conflicts between the ideologies of christian, muslim, jew. The "little boys" haven't been able to prevent this from coming to such a horrific state, though warning signs have been plenty. Even now, a Saudi Prince comes to America, gives a $10 million dollar check, and says, "by the way... maybe America should think a little harder about their policies in the Middle East," which results in Giuliani promptly rejecting the offer. NOT that he should immediately say "ok, sure, whatever you want, thanks for the cash." But we cannot exist in a vacuum of our own beliefs. We must at least engage in talks with as much openness and honesty about our own policies as we look for in others.

I don't think, as some do, that America is a tyrannical state. I have a belief, despite political differences with some of our past and present leaders, that we largely do have the desire for peace and freedom at the heart of our actions. But I think we have to at least consider that we have made mistakes, and be willing to REALLY address them, because there are many good people in the world who do not see us as optimistically as I do. It is these people for whom the name-calling and little boy threats need to stop. For all sides. I know it never will, it's human nature to be passionate and illogical at times. But we have to start somewhere.

I am so grateful to see the education people are getting about Islam, and the troubles of the Afghan people. Many have asked, where were we before the attacks? I suppose I must rely on the "better late than never" crutch, and I hope we will continue to open our minds to the lives and cultures of the rest of the world.

Work, play -- "going about our daily business" -- is the living proof that there are things stronger than disagreements in ideology, that there are many, many who share lives in peace everyday, despite differences.



10.10.2001

Just when you thought things couldn't get any stanger.... All over the internet is some version of this: from caterina:

I had to post this. Have a look at the guy behind Osama's ear. It's a pro-bin Laden poster photographed in Bangladesh, and, I assume, it's completely in earnest. And that's Bert from Bert is Evil, though the image that was used to make the poster is no longer on that site, you can find it here. And here's the second sighting. And the third. Sesame Street is apparently not aired in Bangladesh, so we can only assume either they didn't know who Bert was, or some graphic designer in Bangladesh has a perverse sense of humor. Follow the Metafilter thread as we get to the bottom of this surreality.


the Bert image in the poster is in every poster that has been broadcast, on multiple news sources. It is not just a single image re-touched for the internet. Either the conspiracy is a vast one, across the media, or it is isolated, but located at the source -- the poster-creator. Either way, it only seems to parallel the absurdity of this whole situation... i.e: the "frogs falling" scene of Magnolia -- as things become so absurd, anything becomes possible, including muppets.


here is an "occam's razor" theory by hipstertrash

10.06.2001

a strange duality, a clustering of everything into two frameworks:
1. THE ATTACKS;
EXPERIENCES OF, THINGS AFFECTED BY, REACTIONS TO, REFLECTIONS UPON, POLITICAL, CULTURAL AND SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF...

2. ALL OTHER THINGS




a long passage from Paul Ford, of Ftrain, describing his particular swirl of emotions. He was in Israel at the time of the attacks, and his emotions careened swiftly and unpredictably through the different "stages of grief" that many have been experiencing:
denial and isolation
"...Around then I mentally left Israel for New York. I went out in Tel Aviv and couldn't hear what my friends were saying to me. I thought about getting off the train at Penn Station at night, right by Macy's, the way the lights come off the buildings. When asked questions I nodded, smiled...."

anger
"....Somewhere in there I was in my room sitting on my bed and I began to cry out in rapid animal pulses and I tried to get myself under control, but it was merciless, and I thought of the buildings falling and began to shout through clenched teeth, conscious of being overheard, and then I found myself kneeling with my face pushed into an ottoman, so I stayed there for a few minutes, crying out into the fabric, all muffled, until my throat hurt...."

bargaining?
"...Then today all I thought about was sex and touch, how good any human contact would feel right now. But I am not sure if there will be much touch for me in NYC, not to mention sex....if she would justsit quietly by me for a few minutes, and she agreed, so at least there will be that, something I can count on and know is there for me..." see also Mitsu's post on the increase in need for human contact, and for sex.

aknowledgment and depression
"...And what I really need is for someone to just tell me how sorry they for me, just me, me alone, me in my fucking aloneness in this tiny country and my stupid lost job and my meaningless trivial bullshit life, even in comparison to the horrid, horrid things that happened. I need some sympathy, and I may not get that for an extremely long time, because I don't want to ask for it, don't fully know how..."

acknowledgment and acceptance
"...I am scared of the sudden grieving punctuating a quiet, tranquil persona, the madness of my reactions to small triggers. But somewhere in there I'll figure it out for myself....

... cannot bear any more shrill annotations added to the footage of the falling buildings by newspaper writers and anchorpersons. Everyone wants ownership, to stake their claim, to link to the most Web sites, to make the most accurate predictions, to criticize every possible leader, to cast blame, to matter. But they don't matter. The dead matter. The grieving matter. The war matters. The media is throwing up walls of content, filled with instructions on how to feel, when there is absolutely no right way to feel, when this will not be going away, when there is no way to own what happened, to way to possess the misery for yourself. Why would you want to?

...I am telling you all this not so that you pity me, because it is clearly a privilege to grieve and feel emotional pain, at this point. Some people have spaces in their lives as great as those in the skyline. Those people will need help.... I am telling you this because I figure you might be feeling just as stupid, hopeless, and helpless, confused, and lonely. And I'll never meet you, but at least you'll know that you're not alone....

...It was like the oceans calmed, when I learned I could go home, like tornadoes stopped and loud cannons stopped blasting... I will take the train back to my apartment. I will transfer a few times, then get off the F train at Smith and 9th St and look out, if it not raining, and I will see what is gone from the platform, which has an amazing view of downtown Manhattan, and I will spend some time looking at that, and then I will take my bags down 90 steps and walk the block to my apartment, and turn three keys in their locks, and go inside and put my bags down and then I don't know what I'll do, but hopefully it will be something useful, something decent, something that moves the world forward."


Thank you, Paul. As Arhundati Roy in The God of Small Things might have put it, there is a heart-shaped hole in the universe now. For all of us.



Elizabeth Kubler-Ross : the woman who first began seriously looking at the processes humans have for coping, and dealing with death. She proposed the five stages of grief that I employed above, though her theories have also come under criticism. Be skeptical of attempts to sum emotions up into neat packages... yet let us not deny the range of Paul's emotions, and how closely they mirrored mine.






10.05.2001

Philip on Film : New Shorts, a screening of 5 works with live accompanyment by the Philip Glass Ensemble.

On a whim, I stopped by after a meeting to see if there were still tickets available, just 15 minutes before the start. Ended up seated third row center, maybe 10 feet from Mr. Glass himself. Half price, faculty, orchestra seating. All the headaches are sometimes worth it. I hadn't planned on going; seeing him play from the back of the balcony seemed a little fetishistic to me. But the descriptions of the films kept whispering in my head, and then the fortunate seating turned this into one of those experiences that felt specially concocted just for me, at that moment, in that way, on that day. serendipity, eh Bruce? I scribbled in the back of my class roster book. Here it is, without translation:
- peter greenaway : "THE MAN IN THE BATH"
...when a body is wholly or partly immersed in a fluid, the fluid exerts upon the body an upthrust which is equal to the amount of water displaced...
willfulness
atomization of image
text as fluid, tugging at images
lines that weave and fold and become themselves again
p.glass ensemble?:
are all his musicians mathematicians?

- shirin neshat : "PASSAGE"
people walking in groups
movement : natural correlation to glass music?
gliding over rocks in field of desert
: same correlation
men and sand and shadows, child clearing rocks
bass pushing, (pulling?) like undertow
music as manifold

- atom egoyan : "DIASPORA"
sheep, many, multiples, movement
again, a manifold
movement back with camera forward
blues, splitting, layering, with solo red panel

- godfrey reggio : "EVIDENCE
extreme closeup -- flattening of face?
the insistence of children
the flute!

- michal rovner : "NOTES"
people and their movements
2 becomes 1 and 1 becomes 2
groups become individuals become groups again
and snow!
stretch and expand and collapse
coming, going, turning, shapes our bodies make
(when standing, when bending over)
(with hands in pockets)
(holding arms out for equal spacing)
humans: the world's most naturally random generators

- godfrey reggio : "ANIMA MUNDI"
more, and more, and more manifolds!
light upon water, swelling of ocean
swaying of a body
glass' sounds are as if pushed by a force
(he sways with each insistence...)
stretch, collapse, stretch
teeming throngs
smoke billowing
volcanic eruption
lava flow
rock slides
raindrops
waterfalls
amoebas, cell generation
fish in schools
birds in flight
air bubbles, blood
seals
kelp
quick, quick, slow
quick, slow, quick, quick

manifold of forms implies difference within sameness
manifold of movement is also possible
(with the addition of time?)



this led to thinking about how a multiplicity of manifolds forms a field but it is the individuality of each manifold that creates the evolution of form (ie: movement) within that field..........



10.02.2001

women
The Taliban's Bravest Opponents

also : The Afghan Women's Mission
Interestingly, they are also opposed to the Northern Alliance, which has been lauded as the just and rightful opposition to the Taliban. The women of RAWA call them the "other Taliban."

on a redirect page for RAWA, there is a greeting that says :
"thank you for visiting the homepage of the most oppressed women in the world."

a DoubleSpace of simultaneous forward-backward-ness. Like fish-market peddlers with cell phones, these women have an amazingly sophisticated website, with links and scolling pages and buttons and pop-up windows, yet the content is of executions and rape, of sobbing in the streets as an everyday occurance.




And, in the same breath, I think of men.

firefighters, policemen, rescue workers, welcomed to the stage of Saturday Night Live; men who went into the buildings even as they were coming down, men who carried others from the upper floors; construction workers, steel men. Their faces : tired, and rough, and manly. I know these men, for I work with them on jobsites, we joke and tease each other, both enjoying the friendly flirtation that seems to take place. The guys I know (Mike, with Waterloo Welding, known as "the cowboy poet," singing his poems from the top of the girders as loud as he can so I am sure to hear it; Ted, with Bach Brother's Construction, keeps asking if he can come visit my students to see what they are working on), they would also have been some of the first to the scene, hardhat in hand, ready to do whatever it takes to "get the job done..."

The faces of these men, and the faces of many men, these days -- the men in the legislative chambers, the suits -- while manly and determined, seem openly vulnerable, and tender. You can see it.

And then, again, the women,
whose faces, though vulnerable, are strong, and full of passion.

My good friends, Harvey and Holly, gave birth to Weatherly Clare, at 3:15 on that afternoon, Tuesday, September 11th. (as ye reap, so shall ye sow...) Harvey's face held the same vulnerability, in his new role as a father, and Holly's was strong, and willful in her new role as mother.

       tragedy and joy scratch the same surfaces.

Leave behind the priveleged, (almost) "gender-blind" academic and professional design world. This is much more interesting :
    the humanity -- "...human beings collectively..." --
the inter-dependent, simultaneous and balancing poles of men and women, in concert with each other. Each with a particular presence of character, each different from the other, supplement and complement.

(REMINDER: find again John Hejduk on "the woman's breath")