Monday, December 29, 2008


I just got back from florida. a natural wonderland and also a playground for an interesting breed of materialism. I do think that the more lush the land, the potentially greedier the people. for how or why should humans resist luxury if it is so readily available? and yet. . .in this place all you need are flip flops and a fishing hook to survive. oh, well, so is the fate of beautiful places . . .that they'll be smothered in commercialism.

This is a scan of a christmas card given to my friend skip by his older brother. I think if it survives (and perhaps I have increased its chances) into the future, it will make a good image for art history. I had noticed the photo on that quintessential glass side table of framed photos at skip's dad's. . .snapshots galore, all following strict convention. this one stood out among the bunch of 'em. (later when skip showed me his personal copy, I asked if I could scan it and publish it because I thought it was so exceptional.)

I love the professional lighting combined with the perfect sunset on the beach. the whole family dressed in planned casual white clothing. but it's the expressions on their faces that really make this a valuable image beyond initial family use. this family is oozing confidence and happiness and florida privilege at a crashing moment in history! its rather intoxicating, even if it's fiction. . .and that I'll never know. mom looks fit and beaming, dad too. . .skip said they both worked on their tans in preparation for the photo. but the expression of the children are especially delightful. the little girl's gesture of embrace seems so fresh and authentic. . .it is clear that the youngest boy is indeed dear to her. and yet, if you look at the parent's hand gestures, you can see each is pushing their children into each other for posterity. (I once had a friend who was a life coach. . .I traded some art for her services. . .she taught me that people will tell you what they mean with their hands, not their mouths) these people live in a cullture warp, a bubble of wealth that may or may not burst soon. either way, they are not aware of it.

my husband and I travelled with skip in his gigantic van (for band travels), stopping in winter park/orlando to see satchel's family circus, pic up skip's mom and then move on to sarasota key. we would have a quick vacation at his single dad, the diamond salesman's 70's condo on the water.

let me just say: I LOVE FLORIDA IN DECEMBER. traveling there in the 1960s--empty sand dunes, exotic blooming flowers, cocktails and clubhouses--would have been my ideal time to go, but I'll take it even in hyper weird 2008. the water is so unbelievably beautiful, like liquid diamonds in the sun, so forgiving and vibrant with wildlife, . . .and it's interesting to see the difference in culture between here (land-locked, forest-hwy materialism) and there (sun-drenched, oceaned-bleached materialism).

among the stories skip's mom told me in the back of the van on our way into deeper western florida was about the children in the photograph. . .her grandchildren who I had seen ravaging wrapped presents earlier in their white living room until boredom left piles unopened. when they travel, they are each fitted with their own dvd screens and headphones in the back seat, so their individual interests can be satiated while riding. they never even have to look out the windows and see the environments in between destinations. you have to wonder what might happen to them someday, if the greater world reality ever were to bust through.


Monday, December 22, 2008


non-commercial public spaces are disappearing from use. . .big boxes and parking lots are our social parks now, where we brush up against each other in person. now we create public spaces online. I want to know. . . what the architecture of Facebook really looks like ?

I was invited to participate in an architecture critique recently. the students were all redesigning a local I.M.Pei building as a museum of money. (very clever assignment by professor Tim Nichols. this historic building is only 2 stories high on a block greedy for skyscrapers. this is prime real estate. small buildings waste space that could be making money. it stands just around the corner from the 615 building, which they killed two years ago, and the space still sits empty.) The design I remember the most was from a very shy young korean student. in her model, she removed the bottom floor of the building, and preserved the top as is. . . and then, she put an empty space for temporary open markets on the first floor. She made a simple yet lovely shady piazza! A place I would love to see come to fruition, especially on that corner which has dramatic spatial choreography.

But from what I can see, the developers will collaborate with I.M.Pei himself to deface his own building into a mixed use, and of course "green" mega-building. They intent to preserve "a portion" of the original. well, of course I'm skeptical. . .but I guess one can't be too critical of any attempts at preservation at this point. . . . . . . .


it's such an odd juxtaposition. . .here we are in an economic avalanche, and also an avalanche of time. . .and yet upscale advertisers like the new york times still proliferate ads for diamonds (are forever) and men's high-end wrist watches. I think that wrist watches are a particularly curious choice for promotion by madison avenue. (. . .it's something I watch. . .pun intended. . . ) it may show we are worried that time is out of control.

common people don't really wear watches anymore, we wear phones with digital clocks, we work inside the grinding guts of clocks. perhaps wrist watches are becoming that symbolic piece of jewelry, a social marker like a top hat or white gloves or a family crest. perhaps a 21st century wrist watch is that contemporary time machine: if you can afford a decorative $5,000 watch, you can alter the speed with which you move through time. you wear the insignia of the leisure class.

of course, anyone with willpower can alter time if they wish. . .drop outs abound on both ends of the scales.

but back to mainstream american reality. . .or gossip girls, or something. . .
I heard it said once by a shrewd single woman: the mark of a poor man is that he's rushing all the time. hmmm. there's some truth to that.


Sunday, December 7, 2008


well, it makes sense that we would arrive here sooner or later. I mean captialism has indeed conquered the world. just at the moment that we focus so entirely on material things and their possession (down to ideas & images & colors). . .we have subconsciously invented a cavernous virtual shadow world.

In this other world, we can horde infinite invisible space seemingly without consequence. . . build storages of thoughts and images, of alternative lives and architectures. . . all of which can be pulled up at will, much better than any human kind of memory. I dare say, artists no longer need canvas to secure their identity as leading communicators & image-makers & thinkers.

At first, we have found that mundane information no longer needs to take up space in our physical world. already we are free of a lot of our little things: photo albums, notebooks, music, list of contacts, bills, resumes, art portfolios. . .we now keep all that online. up there, no storm that can wipe it out, or so we believe. . . that virtual world floats above us somewhere, decentralized and uber-safe.

we can swap or sell or release all kinds of our junk through sites like craigslist and ebay. the unwanted trash is just flying through the air. unused spaces trade by seasons. (and, driving this over-production of trash is online shopping: the mail has never carried so much crap.)

there's also the added element of speed. For a common person, to be attached to things such as a house, or a neighborhood or a culture in a particular place and time. . .these notions are no longer stable in our rapidly changing physical world. large parts of our environment may change before our eyes at any given moment. the more we reconcile with this, the healthier we can be. so, perhaps there's a class of us forming who are free from a certain burden of materiality.

this of course, may not apply to some ruling elite (the wealthy who can own their own island, gate and make permanent a landmark or a community, build their own remote mega-city or protected wilderness). For they seem to be surging ahead into a mad materialism, despite an unpredictable world economy. this foolish and endulgent focus on bling things makes them especially deaf to the cries of the Earth itself, which seems to be instigating her own share of change and unpredictability. . .upon all of us ultimately material beings.

for most of us, making-do and fixing what we have, choosing our tech very shrewdly. . .it behooves us to move in the opposite direction from extreme materiality. the internet certainly can be of help here. the lighter we are, the more free to move around, and the less space we have to pay to occupy. perhaps, in time, this sort of resulting lifestyle might create the need for more "natural" as well as non-comercial public spaces. (one of my favorite ideas is: the transformed library space of our near future. its a sort of country-wide development of large, museum scale public living rooms of knowledge. . .these places would be as frequent to find in cities as coffee shops. diverse in environment, some full of plants as well as screens and glassed in discussion rooms, designed by local artists, interior designers and architects. some "libraries" would display actual books and archives of objects. other "libraries" might be solemn and sparse, with silence policies, like secular temples for contemplation or simple urban rest).

my friend carro (local artist lillian blades' husband, exceptional collector of objects) says that the one thing that high capitalism will always produce is waste. such a wise thing to say from a man who scourges the auctions and estate sales and thrift stores for modern furniture to resell. it will be a long time until we might really de-materialize. . .and get to be bodies on a more "natural" planet. . .all our materiality gloming up that other super developed virtual world. . .

for now we have tiers and tiers of garbage people (myself included), sifting through the streams of things and spaces falling apart and being thrown away. . .looking for diamonds.

two beloved references:
both called for the re-spiritualization of contemporary society
(two totally outsider perspectives):

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (critic of soviet russia)

Russell Means (American Indian activist and actor)


Saturday, December 6, 2008


I think criticism mostly hurts. I don' t like it so much myself when it's aimed at me. then again, if it's from someone I respect, I try to listen and see if it rings true. . .maybe it does and maybe it doesn't.

I do think that perhaps what's been getting under my skin lately about being social at this moment in time, is its unbearable lightness, and its speed . . .we're watching each other look at where we're going and what we're doing, who we're doing it with. we find ourselves in psychically tight corners. like a crowded elevator, this is not a place for intensity.

perhaps criticism is inappropriate in a communications world of immediate responses, of friend-building, easy feedback and close virtual quarters . . .this only makes us inclined to be more polite, or more coy. and perhaps that is the right response. . .with the potential to be unfair, to be on the record, to be harsh in a way that the target of the criticism does not return. . .why bother? but, then again what is a society that is not particularly critical--or honest-- with each other? at least sometimes? I suppose we have to look for appropriate places for criticality, and still be extra careful?

or have I just been living in the south too long?



Wednesday, December 3, 2008


what is it going to feel like to be old in the 21st century? . . . well, I kinda already know. . .how it feels to let that next big wave of new technologies, of hyper online fashionistas crash overhead and leave you entirely behind. . . for to have longeivity in this system, one must be fluent in tech, a rapidly changing language of testosterone and youth, surface information, popularity, fast graphics, and accessibility. one must also have the patience and energy to learn how to do the things you already knew how to do, in an entirely new way, over, and over, and over. it's humbling and refreshing and exhausting. . .for as long as we're willing to play, it will keep us unusually young into old age.

( I'm wondering, then, how culture might divide into certain zones of maturity. . .where do those with overarching wisdom fit in to this glocal human situation? well, I certainly know, I'm always looking for good teachers. meaningful elder life advisors and actual role models are hard to come by. we are emancipated from the strict bindery of so many traditions, but it's also a lonely, demanding highway out there without firm voices of authority and guidance. although our bodies may become less relevant as we live more and more of our lives online, age & death is still an innevitability. we still look to those ahead of us to guide us along. age is not just a pejorative thing, it's a resource.

a first foreshadowing of death in our culture, is that moment when a participating citizen just completely stops making the effort to keep up with current tech. could happen for some at 20. . .others at 40, 60, 80. for some it's a slow process, for others gradual.

I suppose seniors of my generation will fill up significant virtual space with their nostalgic laments, their cheezy conformist snapshots, their endless 80s music. . . .will others lurk and laugh?

me, I hope that I'll be that old mountain lady, or desert-mountain lady: long hair, mystical eyes, tatered lace & cowboy boots, library full of kick-ass books and objects & plants, a fast computer at a large wooden desk, a view of the sunset, an eletromagnetic travel device. I'll be in communication with other contemporary edge dwellers around the globe, plus the spirits, the rocks, and the animals. its a nice dream. . .wonder what will actually happen?

(I like the description of that old lady katy thompson cory, life-long photographer of the hopi indians. she dropped out of high society nyc in her youth (1908), hopped on a train to the west and never came back. they say she wore ripped up dirty old lace. . .she was that old lady in donny darko checking the mail, that invented a time machine, she was a person elegently walking between radically different worlds, both oddly on the same planet.)


Monday, December 1, 2008


CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE, THE PLAY! from twinhead theatre played all weekend to full houses at the altered eyedrum space. because I was working the event, worried about the financial survival of the old eye, I saw the play 4 times, delightfully.

I must say that theatre productions are the things I have enjoyed the best at eyedrum this year.

a particular brand of atl actors keep showing up at eyedrum and bring a unique spirit to the place. this excites me. the play has multiple potential outcomes, was written and directed by quorum and as steve westdahl noted. . .the backstack area was equal in volume to the front stage.

I laughed out loud. . .I could tell the audience enjoyed the baffoonery, the un-pc costumes, the ridiculous adult content, the bad puns. it's my complaint that theatre in atlanta too often resorts to slapstick humor, which generally bores the shit out of me: it's a 2 year old standing up and falling down continuously cracking itself up while everyone watches laboriously. but the twinhead humor was more characer driven, although plenty juvenile, and the acting was generally very good, very direct. at times the content went beyond low-end entertainment and humorous mockery. . . it made comment on fundamentalist religion, the numbskull humanity of our historical past, misuse of power, fertility of high technology, and the tedious, random role of choicemaking in our contemporary existence.

again, talking to steve westdahl, the man with the best mustache in atlanta (he also makes a damn good clown, and does good yard art ). . .we mentioned the "downturn" (that much lighter, less permanant economic burp, not to be confused with a full blown culture-changing economic depression. . .) and its effect on local arts. we need art more now than ever, to be a relief from the professional reality of a "downturned" economy. . .and a reason to gather together under the protective distracting umbrella of human creativity. steve seems to think that this atmosphere of penny-pinching and economic stress will trigger a return to affordable art, out of necessity. . .of course, he's an actor, and is seeing how affordable local theatre has a new role to play. fine art may be a different story (more on that later). . .and frankly I'm inclined to jump on the bandwagon of artistic fiction (live theatre) for a while. I can see that it suits our times very well.