phdcomic1

Hello Family and Friends,

I can’t believe the semester is almost over. My research papers on the other hand have yet to be completed. I’m still working on them. Not to fear, they will get done. Feel free to send me messages of encouragement and a reminder to be kind to myself. I’m sure there will be instances in the next couple of weeks where I start hyperventilating because, sometimes, I do forget to do this thing called breathing. In any case, if you’re interested, these are the titles for my two research papers:

Engendered Rhizome: Explorations of Embodiment through the Machine

On the Margins: Comparative Analysis of Bohemian Paris and American Hacker Culture and the Emergence of New Media Arts and Computational Aesthetics

Good times! I’ll probably post excerpts when I’m done with the papers. This summer, I’ll be blogging a lot more (the good stuff). Promise. Thanks for reading and, again, feel free to ask me, “Ummm, what the hell is a rhizome?” Trust me, if I can explain it to you, I’ll be happy. 🙂

Cheers,

Dorothy

Dennis Oppenheim’s, Device to Root Out Evil, 1997
 

I just read something sad. An artist died. It was Dennis Oppenheim.

Mr. Oppenheim went to the California College of the Arts (Oakland, CA) and received his MFA at Stanford. Then, like many artists, he moved to New York to pursue his art career and practice. His art work is grandiose and forces you to move in the environment differently than you normally would. I heard of him but never had the opportunity to study his work more intimately. Now, I feel compelled to do so.

Perhaps, that’s why I’m saddened by the art world’s loss. Artists are always posthumously recognized by the the rest of the world. Even if you eat, sleep, and breath art, it’s difficult to know everything and everyone and all the art movements (yes, there are TONS). Yet, I feel consolation in the fact that artists are probably the only types of human beings that create the most substantial artifacts of our civiliations within a lifetime. With such large scale work that is undoubtedly present and created with such magnitude, well, that’s quite impressive.

You can read The New York Times article here.

The Master's Tools (decay goes both ways), 2008

I’ll write a little something today but not very long due to yesterday’s post on my impressions of the current exhibition, It’s All a Blur, at the SomArts Cultural Center. THAT, my friends, was A LOT.

Instead, I’ll recommend reading my dear friend, L.J. Roberts, interview with the Social Media Management for Contemporary Art organization. It’s a fantastic interview. LJ discusses her art practice, a ‘love affair’ with New York, and her thoughts regarding censorship in the arts (specifically the work of David Wojnarowicz being removed from the Smithsonian)! 

Great interview!!! Please click here to read the full interview!

Enjoy!

It’s been a flurry of activity on the art writing front! Although I have not been feeling well lately, I had to punch something out after recuperating from a tough morning. Yet, I was able to produce the write up below for the Critical Sources art writing workshop at The Lab. This is the “before” version.

**********************************

Writing offers readers archetypes and projections of the real world whether the writer intends for that or not. Like the curvaceous, long winding Mississippi river with tributaries flowing into the larger body of water; contemporary American life possesses an analogous structure and tendencies. From Allison Smith’s reproduction of historical artifacts serving as a narrative of the Antebellum South to Jason Meadow’s re-appropriating popular culture icons as an interpretation of Huck and Jim’s relationship throughout their journey; the wondrous, confluent effects of literature and visual arts on our perceptions and understanding of a complicated history permeates in the latest Huckleberry Finn exhibition at the Wattis Institute.

The wide-ranging collection inspired by Huck and Jim’s misadventures and voyage down the Mississippi River forge new ways of looking at the story and its portrayal of race relations and how environment can dictate one’s actions and reactions. In Sleeping by the Mississippi, a photographic series by Alex Soth, the river becomes a stage for the mind’s eye provoking the viewer to fathom a version of the tale. On the other end of the spectrum, Kireston Pieroth not only takes the actual story and presents it to the viewer; she preserves it in such a way that is tantamount to an American past time – jam and jelly making. With her presentation of the prose in an unorthodox way, Pieroth shows how the novel has become embedded and preserved in American history and culture.

While the lower gallery introduces us to the text, the upper gallery showcases the intricacies and intersections of racism and how the past affects our present day understanding of the classic prose. The exhibition goes to great lengths to remind patrons that a story not only mirrors what is relevant at a given time but it becomes perennial by its power to touch upon that which is universal – the human desire to understand ourselves through the Other.

Being a native San Franciscan, I’ve seen the cityscape change drastically over the years.  From the addition of the UCSF campus at China Basin to the 3rd Street Rail Line project, I’ve always been quite curious of the urban planning involved in such large-scale projects.  Although fanciful and whimsical ideas of making one’s commute more comfortable and accommodating (i.e., a sauna and gym conveniently located in a neighboring train car) are left up to dreamy planners and imaginative artists and designers, these innovative ideas were discussed during the Urban Visions panel discussion held at the California College of the Arts (CCA) on Monday, February 4, 2008.

Talented and humorously prophetic artists, Packard Jennings and Steve Lambert, collaborated with a multi-faceted group of panelists from transportation to urban development consulting and architecture.  The dialogue was specifically geared towards the city’s current concerns involving urban planning and transportation.  Based on existing conversations and research, Jennings and Lambert, created posters depicting a San Francisco urban plan where the possibilities were not bound by bureaucracy, public opinion, pecuniary hindrances, and physics.  The amusing takes on the San Francisco urban landscape were shown via Jennings and Lambert’s Market Street posters.  The surreal yet inventive depictions of human convenience aim to entertain the onlooker but present citizens with ideas for endless travel possibilities as potential reality.

The overall panel discussion was lively and rife with discussion that crossed over a broad range of issues within any cosmopolitan place.  Transportation consultant, Seleta Reynolds with Fehr & Peers Associates presented current projects that gave the audience a glimpse into what is entailed in her day-to-day job.  Basically, Fehr & Peers Associates look at a large number of transportation solutions that are both feasible and not so feasible (i.e., aerial tram way that would transport travelers from Alameda to Oakland).  Granted, much of what goes on the drawing and planning board may be deemed as virtually impossible, yet it is a way for people to engage in discourse of what is actually possible prior to disregarding rather realistic ideas that may other wise not make it to an urban planning meeting.

Peter Albert, Deputy Director of Planning with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) provided an overview of how creative thinking is implemented into practical solutions to improve and address the overall transportation issues and concerns.  Oddly enough, driving alongside the J line, I’ve always wondered why the train lets the passengers exit right out into open traffic and learned that the SFMTA addresses where these issues are occurring and how they can be remedied.  I also learned of ongoing projects for “Traffic Calming”.  Calming the streets of bustling and densely populated city incorporates tools that include but not limited to road narrowing, speed bumps, raised intersections, concrete islands, closures, and, yes, trees.

Principal, founder, and chair of Public Architecture, John Peterson of Peterson Architects, presented two polar opposite ends of the spectrum in regard to urban living.  Peterson showed the layout for a recently purchased home in one of the more affluent San Francisco neighborhoods that was once rented for $20,000 a month until escrow closed for an undisclosed amount to a wealthy dot com co-founder.  Well, undisclosed at the panel discussion.  The other example addressed the utilization of public space for a more egalitarian benefit – a day laborer station.  This station included multi-level benches for convenient seating and a kitchen to stimulate that particular community and bring in a shared revenue.

As mentioned by Tom Radulovich, Executive Director for Livable City and member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Directors, there are three primary factors that play an integral part in understanding and creating a livable space – the 3 Ms – Movement, Marketplace, and Meeting.  Radulovich drew comparisons of cities to San Francisco, which included Brussels, Granada, and London.  Although similar in density, there is still a disparity in the advancements and overall innovations in urban design.  Unfortunately, San Francisco falling a bit behind but catching up with the emergence of many sustainable living efforts.  He also emphasized the desire many people have for a walk-able urban environment integrated with natural elements (i.e., foliage, more trees, and all things natural).

Although I left the lecture with a tremendous amount of information and resources, it reminded me of how I define my space and what exactly comprises it.  There were tons of questions and comments after the discussion which dealt with the frustrations and the need to expand the conversation beyond a college theater.  Considering much of what San Franciscans see is already in the construction phase, the discussion reminded me of the importance around discourse and how community arts lends itself extremely well to communicating what citizens can do to create space as opposed to just living in it.

For more information on Packard Jennings, click here
To learn more about Steve Lambert, click here

Originally Posted: February 5, 2008