synthetic zero


July 31, 2006

I had a dream about flying to avoid tidal waves last night, and when I went to lunch with Heather Anne today, she said she had had that exact same dream, in the past. It makes me begin to think I am starting to have dreams from other people; a couple of months ago I wrote this to Alyse Emdur:

I had a dream this morning where you had done a workshop with these elementary school kids, and they had made a sort of musical out of it and were performing it. It was very simple and elegant; each child sang a short pithy phrase and walked in a circular arc towards the front and down the steps of the stage (I viewed this all from behind, as if standing at the back of the stage). It was brightly lit, the audience was also lit, not like a darkened theater. I remember thinking that this couldn't be a dream because I couldn't think up these lines the children were singing, you must have worked on it with them. At the end of the piece you had been standing on the side of the stage, also dressed up in costumes like the children, and you stepped forward and across the stage, and said a line and held up first one branch that blossomed with magenta leaves, then stepped forward again and said the next line and held up another branch that blossomed with gold-yellow leaves. The lines were about beauty, and it was so simple, yet so exquisitely beautiful.
To which she replied that, in fact, one of her ideas was to produce a school play musical with school children during her upcoming residency. She was so surprised that I'd dreamt about her idea that she thought she must have told me about it --- but she hadn't (she had told me about working with school kids on a show-and-tell project, but not about the musical, which is an idea that stands out so much I certainly wouldn't have forgotten it.) It's funny the way we are all connected.

July 30, 2006

As you've already heard, I'm sure: horrifying. I am moved to tears by this, and I hope this can only help lead to a cessation of this excessive violence.

July 29, 2006

If you stop and think about it for even a moment, it's obviously impossible for us to remotely know what our situation is, in full. What would that even mean? The cells of our bodies contain vast information that we have no direct knowledge of. Think of the reams of memories we have, our implicit knowledge, physical knowledge stored in our spinal cords, knowledge that can be inferred from what we know, the patterns of our own mental functioning which are not entirely explicit: just to name some aspects of ourselves we are normally unaware of, yet they all impinge on who we are at any given moment. We know so little of the totality of what makes us function, yet we seem to persist in a strange fiction, that we somehow know ourselves, we know what we're thinking, what is "happening" at a given instant. Take that further, to our relationships with people, with the world: think of the immensity of what we don't know versus what we do know, and our rather blithe assumption that we know what our situation is, how we are situated in the world; it's rather bizarre that we think this. We think we know who we are, what our problems are, yet we can be conscious of only an infinitesimal fragment of the whole.

Of course it would be impossible for it to be otherwise --- so there's no real problem here, except: assuming that we should make all decisions based on what is consciously and explicitly available to us at any given moment, it cuts you off from that open totality; there is knowledge which we're not explicitly aware of which we can allow to function, which gives us many degrees of freedom that go radically outside our small picture of our "situation". We actually must rely on this all the time anyway, but we often steer ourselves in painful and uncomfortable contortions based on our conscious conceptualization of who we are, what our history is, what our proper roles are, what other people think or expect; we don't give the radical unknown, the implicit, the unconscious, enough space to express itself. We borrow from that world, but we don't let ourselves be fully who we are, which includes that which is always outside of every picture.

July 28, 2006

Portland has that sort of quality that can't be appreciated fully unless you're actually there, breathing it in, from moment to moment; every time I visit I realize my memory can't do it justice. The taste of the food --- it doesn't just taste good but typically you feel better after you eat it. The attitudes of people you come across at random during your day. The way people take a certain care with their surroundings, particularly public places. The intelligence that goes into things, and the way this intelligence seems to spread. Even little things like the way decor is arranged in restaurants, or the sorts of colors people choose for their houses, or multimedia performances at clubs, or... People take care of things even when they don't have much money. It's not just a style, however --- it's an interwoven fabric of relationships that form a virtuous circle, reinforcing each other and spreading ideas of how to live better. It's a city that isn't afraid to try something new, to challenge the way things are done, to shake things up. It's a rainy, optimistic, mysterious, beautiful town. Even the light in the city seems different from other places; things seem to glow, very slightly, around the edges.

July 27, 2006

It's my birthday today. I never do anything particularly unusual on my birthday --- I feel every day ought to be treated specially, and most days ought to have a similar weight to the others. Expectations surrounding holidays, it seems to me, tend to ruin them --- I suppose that's often the case with expectations in general. Better to simply greet each new day with wonder and appreciation. Every day is a good day.

July 26, 2006

Met with Alyse and spent quite a while shooting footage in and around Anacortes for my little project. We tried to catch the ferry, but just missed it --- instead, went to Washington Park, then a thrift store, walked around the Department of Safety where Alyse is an artist in residence, then went to look at buildings and houses, and finally up to the top of a hill that overlooks Anacortes. Got a lot of material. It was a very pleasant and fun day.

One thing Alyse and I discussed was something I've been talking about with Susan recently as well: how terrible many young people look these days (Alyse not counted among the terrible looking). Sue and I chatted about this too, how when we were young, we looked a hell of a lot better --- in terms of basic health. I mean, we weren't ultra-healthy or anything, but so many young people today look pasty-faced, overweight, just generally kind of ill and out of shape, etc. Even many of the kids who don't look overweight still kind of look bad. The change has happened slowly and steadily over the years, so I hadn't really noticed it that much until recently, when the trend has reached an extreme. You see these unhealthy kids everywhere, it seems; on hiking trails is when I've noticed it most recently --- most of the kids on these day hiking trails look totally out of place: just awful. Meanwhile, corporate America continues to help out.

July 25, 2006

Drove to Anacortes tonight to visit Alyse Emdur. After work tomorrow I am going to do a little filming on a small project I'm working on with her. I'll post details about that some time later.

The "Grab Bag" went well, and saw some good performances by a lot of people. I showed some films (including one by Alyse).

Susan Ploetz performing a song on the piano.

July 24, 2006

I'm very sorry to say that my friend's son did not make it. My deepest sympathy for my friend George Weissmann and his entire family. It's the worst sort of tragedy when a child dies before the parents; no parents ever want that.

I once wrote the following to McBickle:

There is a Zen story which goes: A couple were celebrating the birth of their child, and the child's grandmother asked a Zen priest to compose a blessing. The Zen priest considered this request for some time, and finally presented the family with a beautiful calligraphic scroll with just this simple message: "Grandfather die, father die, son die." The grandmother was, initially, horrified, and demanded an explanation from the priest. The priest said, "Would you have it any other way?"
I'm so sorry about this, George. Words cannot even begin to express how tragic this is.

July 23, 2006

Spent today hiking around the Olympic National Park in the mountains.

My regular camera was low on battery so I took the above with my cell phone.

July 22, 2006

Our friend George Weissmann's son, who is a very talented doctor at Harvard, a young man with a family, is in critical condition after an unexplained sudden heart failure. George was with us when he heard the news, so we immediately made arrangements for him to fly to Boston and drove him to the Victoria airport. When such a thing happens, all other concerns seem trivial by comparison. It's quite a shock and we all hope he recovers fully.

July 21, 2006

I've linked to this before from my events page when I showed her work, but I wanted to mention it again here: check out Katharine's photography. She thinks of herself primarily as a writer, but I really love her images too.

My mind flooded with ideas today regarding my project, though they are difficult to write down. I want to challenge ordinary notions of time and space as we typically construct them (to find a way to create visual and other metaphors for alternative ways of relating to time and space) --- one idea that occurred to me is that the virtual world and its architecture can of course imply a nonlocality (though there is still limited space for attention, since attention cannot be spread nonlocally over more than a small area at a time). Nevertheless, is there a way to allude to the unconscious? Essentially, hyperlinks create a structure of nonlinear jumps (in a kind of hypertextual "space") but this isn't only what I want to describe --- nevertheless it's evocative, like Cortazar's Hopscotch, which creates a nonlinear structure for its elements, there's something even in a nonlinear story which can open up the mental image of nonlocal connectivity (I want to argue for a sort of nonlocality that informs our present existence in every way, and to evoke this via metaphor). I don't mean that hypertext as it is currently typically practiced really accomplishes this, but the medium itself could be opened up to create this sort of nonlocal connected world that I would like to depict --- and in a way, such a world, realized online, would be more than just a depiction, it would be itself an example of nonlocal connectivity (albeit in a nevertheless mostly ordinary embedding of time --- though even there, references to time jumps can perhaps bend this).

This is just one idea I had today; the others were more explicitly visual and therefore hard to write down here...

July 20, 2006

If you're in Portland this Sunday, come to "Grab Bag" where I will be showing some videos from my last event:

A new monthly performance/video/media/?? night co-curated by Susan Ploetz and Khaela Maricich. The purpose of Grab Bag is to give performers/artists a platform to try out new work in a low-pressure style, and give the audience something interesting....you never know just quite what you'll get.

The first grab Bag will have new stuff from:

Pash (Susan Ploetz), Sarah Shapiro (Sarah Shapiro, New England Roses) and Hooliganship (Peter Burr and Christopher Doulgeris), reading/performance by Sara Marcus (NYC), and videos selected/imported from all over the world by Mitsu Hadeishi (NYC, www.syntheticzero.com)

6303 NE 6th Ave (2 blocks north of Ainsworth, 1 block east of MLK)
dance party after?


July 19, 2006

More dreams about manipulating huge machines, steering starships, running World Cup soccer teams, etc. Clearly, my work is intruding a bit too much into my dream world...

July 18, 2006

I've been extremely remiss about posting for quite a while, a deficit which I have decided must end now --- I have resolved to post, as a discipline, daily or nearly so, from here on out.

An excellent place for experimental video: dvblog.org (via my friend Josh Weinstein)

I am currently in Canada on Pender Island for a meditation retreat... but have some internet access here.

I met Brianna Doby recently on a sadly curtailed visit to New York; we only had a chance to meet once. Hope to repeat that experience, however, as frequently as possible, in the future... She gave me a book, Bookend: Anatomies of a Virtual Self by her friend, Joe Amato, an engineer-turned-poet, which promises to be a quite interesting exploration. I bought a few recent books by Baudrillard, in search of his thoughts on the "post-9/11 reality" and gave her one of them (I am curious to hear her take on it), and kept two for myself to read. I've always found his commentary really interesting; and now, I am curious: how does his concept of the hyperreal function in an era dominated by the politics and rhetoric of terrorism?

Meanwhile, visited Caroline in Portland and had her fantastic (organic) spaghetti and spoke of many secrets.

Also, visited the empty (yet strangely full) loft of Khaela Maricich, who was kind enough to lend me her bed while she is away. Which reminds me, she will probably be involved in a show that Susan Ploetz is putting on this coming Sunday in Portland; I'll be showing some films from my last event --- however, I have no information on the exact time and place yet. Will post that soon.

The white light of an LCD screen is strangely cool --- reflecting off my black keyboard, it's RGB 255 255 255 but it feels like nighttime, not daylight.

I don't have an immediate reaction to the turmoil in the Middle East --- it is horrific yet strangely driven by symbols --- military incursions meant primarily to send "messages" (on both sides) yet hundreds of people dying in the name of the message. It's hard to think of these things in purely military terms --- war is always partly symbolic and political, but in this case it seems nearly exclusively so, as though neither side really wants open conflict yet neither are willing to appear to be unwilling to use force.

Jouke has started a new weblog.

Interesting site: toast crumb found among my referrers.

I keep having dreams of machines; either my body as a machine, or controlling machines. While I am emphatically opposed to the idea that mind and body are separate, there is something distressing about the idea of being a machine; it's stiff and uncomfortable. I need to remember that the body (and even machines) are dreams, not the other way around.

Reminds me of something my martial arts teacher often said to us while we were exerting ourselves on the field: "Remember to breathe."