synthetic zero


February 28, 2007

It was strange and pleasant to see Miranda perform tonight --- we used to see each other very frequently, and it's been quite a while since I last saw her in person. It was, in an odd way, hard to believe she was really there, physically present, in front of us. I spoke with her, briefly, afterwards; she said she had much to say to me but was waiting for the right moment to say it. I really don't mind if she takes as long as she likes to say it, or even just thinks it. I was simply glad to see her, and I wish her well.

February 27, 2007

Heather Woodbury saw Miranda's latest performance piece and told me she thought it was best described by a new word: "metascopic."

February 26, 2007

Most people, I think, live sort of in some conscious relationship to "normality", that is to say, the way most people behave in their culture --- either going along with it, or in some sort of opposition to it --- at the very least in a very direct relation to it. But there are those rare individuals who manage to follow their own inner direction while neither embracing nor rejecting "normality" --- but, rather, simply observing it without judgement while not buying into it. It's a powerfully enigmatic way of being, yet it is so rich with possibility. This is the way Alyse lives, I believe ... it is, I think, one of the main reasons I am interested in making this film "around" her.

February 25, 2007

Picked up Bruce Mau's Life Style at the Rubell Family Collection museum in Miami today. Speaking of the museum ... I was really quite impressed. The Rubell family (husband, wife, son, and daughter) have amassed a remarkable and vast collection of contemporary art. They have a keen sensibility --- the family does a better job, I think, of selecting artwork than most curators of many major museums in New York. Well worth a visit if you're in Miami.

February 24, 2007

The water is very warm on the beach in Florida...

February 23, 2007

I am in Florida, about to visit Alyse Emdur, she's living (at least part of the time, right now) in a treehouse... I will be working on my film about her --- not exactly about her as much as around her (she won't be appearing in the film herself, but what she sees and does, where she goes ... that will be the film). I will be staying in the treehouse, too, at least couple of nights... got my sleeping bag and camping pad... Florida, so far, is humid, warm, and somehow familiar, though I've never been here before.

February 22, 2007

Ate dinner with Sue, Max, and Iris at this place called Shanghai Bistro in Williamsburg. Max described it as "hipster Chinese" (of course, everything in Williamsburg seems to be hipster--- Sue and I were joking that the giant backhoe parked, incongruously, on the street, because it was in Williamsburg, seemed, somehow, a "hipster backhoe"...) The place serves excellent steamed veggie dumplings and plays loud punk music amidt a funky decor of stereotypically Chinese restaurant symbols and artwork.

February 21, 2007

For some reason, when I am trying to remember what happened on a given day, I sometimes find it helpful to look at the calendar, even if it doesn't have any written indication of what I am trying to remember. It is as though I can "see" the events of the day stored in the cubbyhole of the spot on the calendar as I peer at it.

February 20, 2007

From Monty Zukowski (my longtime friend and now coworker): Lifelong Kindergarten; he particularly points out Scratch, a programming environment for kids; potentially a place to learn about new interfaces to make it easier to program.

February 19, 2007

Space is not just a volume of "empty." It is all of the possibilities inherent in the space, all of the different things that can happen, the movements and counter-movements. Even a small physical space has a vastness of possibility inherent in it. Depth isn't merely the volume beneath the surface; it is all of the possible ways the surface itself can change, interact, deflect, inspire, inform, etc... There's much more to a surface than what you see spread out, statically, in a frozen snapshot. To really see a surface, you see everything that the surface implies, not only in time, but in many versions of possible times in many possible futures (and past).

February 18, 2007

Sally Squires, who attended my synthetic zero event last night, suggests that people check out Sparky Quano, performing on Thursday, February 22, at the Knitting Factory Tap Bar. From what she says of him it sounds like it could well be a very good show.

Meanwhile... last night's event was fun. Some glitches, but overall not bad. People seemed inspired, somehow, by it, based on the feedback I got. Curating is really quite interesting, in many ways. It's not just curating, but creating the dynamic space of interactions. That's what I was after, and it seemed to work.

February 17, 2007

Please come to my synthetic zero event in Tribeca tonight, if you are in New York. 7pm, 104 Franklin Street, 4th Floor.

February 16, 2007

The funny thing is, fear often precipitates the very thing you were trying to guard against. One should be cautious and careful, but not let fear and reactivity dictate your actions.

February 15, 2007

As Dietrich Dorner pointed out in The Logic of Failure, human beings evolved to deal with relatively simple situations that did not involve a lot of complexity. In particular, people have a hard time dealing with things that change, with dynamic systems with a lot of possible choices and feedback loops: i.e., with the element of time. We want to view things as flat shapes, to think of processes with intricate dynamic structure in terms of their surface appearance. Processes in the real world involve many choices, cases where things go wrong, and changing contexts and states; what lies beneath the apparent simplicity of a system is a nearly endless variety of potential twists and turns.

The challenge is to capture this dynamic reality in terms of representations and concepts which are as simple and easy to grasp and use as possible, but no simpler.

February 14, 2007

(Good) chocolate is so much more than something to eat, or even dessert.

February 13, 2007

It's strange how great attempts at collaboration, with wonderful, smart, talented people, can still fall apart, even when they're on the verge of great success. The failure comes through myriad small mistakes, repeated over and over again, which culminate in that single moment which tips the scales to collapse. One thinks ... if only one had stepped here, zigged instead of zagged ... but then again, it's not the last straw which is the cause of the failure --- it's always a series of things that add up over a long time. Still, one cannot help but feel regret at the missed opportunity, especially when collapse had been entirely avoidable. But patience cannot last forever.

February 11, 2007

Caroline's theory is that anyone who talks to you about Faulkner is trying to get in your pants. Personally, I think Lakatos is better for that purpose.

February 10, 2007

Desire satisfied usually leads to more desire. So should we hope for the fulfillment of desire?

I love Katharine's January 4 post. An entire story.

February 9, 2007

One of my dad's mentors once told him that he should teach for ten years, and then ask himself whether he's beginning to take himself seriously or not. If he is, he ought to quit --- because that would be a sure sign that he's going crazy. It's hard to be proud enough to be forthright about one's capacity, but just as hard to remember not to take yourself seriously. Takes constant reminders.

February 8, 2007

Via www.superdeluxe.com: George Washington...

February 7, 2007

Oh my lord: good chocolate is GOOD.

February 6, 2007

I attempted to send rat food to Canada today. They refused to accept it, because it contains animal protein... still afraid of our mad cows, I guess.

February 5, 2007

After days and days of feeling bad, I feel good today. Bad and good, good and bad. A pox on both your houses.

February 4, 2007

My next Synthetic Zero event will be at February 17, 7pm, at 104 Frankin St., 4th Floor, in New York. We will have experimental films, visual art, music by César Alvarez, a puppet show by Imagination Explosion, and a live improvised multimedia performance by Potter-Belmar Labs. Please tell your friends!

February 3, 2007

This week was filled with unspecified dread about a fate that doesn't seem necessary yet I am not sure averting it is something that has anything to do with me. The only strategy I can think of to change this fate is to do the opposite of what I would ordinarily do. I don't actually have any specific information about what the problem is. It could be anything.

Meanwhile, there are people I have lost track of whom I would very much like to hear from. Sarah Brown. Natalie Schulhofer. I used to think in the Internet era it was impossible to lose track of people. But this is obviously not the case.

February 2, 2007

Slate writes: Iraq's future: "Gradual decline" or "rapid deterioration"?...

This reminds me a little of Douglas Adams' depressed robot Marvin, whom I will paraphrase: "The first year was the worst. And the second, that was the worst, too. The third I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline..."

February 1, 2007

This is horrifying yet funny --- what was a relatively amusing story has turned into a truly ridiculous, horrific tale, as Boston's police attempt to cover up their stupidity and incompetence by arresting the artist responsible for this harmless guerrila marketing campaign.

"It had a very sinister appearance," Coakley told reporters. "It had a battery behind it, and wires."
How stupid can people get? Ooh, there are WIRES! How sinister! What's next, blowing up billboards because they look threatening? Words cannot express my anger at the actions of not only the Boston police, but now the politicians who are grandstanding on this issue. These "sinister" devices that were no more than Lite Brite boxes with batteries hooked to them had been in place for weeks in cities around the country without anyone going crazy over them. Any idiot should have been able to see that these things were harmless. Furthermore, to persecute the poor artist who set up this perfectly ordinary marketing campaign is truly the height of vile --- watching politicians and the police trying to cover up their own stupidity and incompetence by blaming the artist rather than blaming themselves for so ridiculously overreacting to nothing --- it is really a sad commentary on our times. I hope thes politicians realize the chilling message this sends to the American public: if the police decide that your innocent speech or display looks "sinister" to them, regardless of how obviously harmless it is --- YOU, supposedly free American, will pay with the ending of your career and potentially a felony criminal record. Good going.