Tuesday, November 25, 2008

what would you think?


I got this "friend request" from face book. And I sent Mr. Kaufman a message telling him how really great and hilarious he is! Turns out he wasn't trying to be funny.

I honestly thought that he was like a "Yes Man" or maybe a Baltimore Based Andrew Dickson, it made me think of the women's shelter confusion I had at the armory in New York (another post) or when I first saw the ads on Saturday Night Live, and how it was hard to tell which ones were satire and which ones were real.

I really didn't mean to insult Mr. Kaufman, he is obviously (as it turns out) very sincere in his efforts to recruit business. I finally figured that he had gotten my contact through toastmasters.

I have mixed feelings about my short and virtual encounter with Mr. Kaufman. On one hand I am honestly a little freaked out that someone would approach me this way (and assume I was interested) and on the other hand I think it is brilliant that he is so out there with his own bad self! And then on another hand (I know I already used two, but two are not enough) I wonder about my own fixations on the world, I am fairly new to face book, but before this everyone who has contacted me has been pretty "like minded" so I assumed that Mr. Kaufman was an artist, and assessed him as such. Is my assumption much different from Mr. Kaufman's seeing me through his lens of business opportunity? (ok I know he came on my turf and is obviously trolling, but lets forget about that) Really its not. I don't really know where I'm going with this, but it is somewhere in the direction of trying to figure out how we get out of our own heads and talk to (see) each other, but at the same time maintain and value "our own heads."

as always I welcome your thoughts.



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Friday, October 17, 2008

Is Socialism the New Communism?

Socialist (ecru?) is the new Communist (red)

I just finished watching the debates (the nine o clock version), and then good choir member that I am went to the Huffington Post to see what others were saying.

One of the links I went to there kept me up way later than I meant to be. It was a link to an hour long special on Fox about Obama, and all his really scary connections!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_HZMD97nMw&feature=related

It has six segments, please enjoy if you want to check it out.

The thing that really resonated with me was how the words socialist and socialism kept coming up. These terms were assumed to be, understood as equivalent to, …. I don’t know what but something that everyone would instinctively perceive as horrifying!

Now I personally don’t have a pet ideology. As far as I can see the problem with all of them is application, anything could work if we were all on the same page DUH! But we don’t even live in (or agree on) a Democracy, (as you know its a republic.)

My question is; what is so bad or scary about socialism? It seems like the word is being groomed to take the place of “communism” as the awful ogre, “there is no reason to think about it because it eats children and rapes widows,” and once the word is spoken all attention and energy must be spent deflecting association with it, instead of dealing with the real topic at hand.

I grant I may be over reacting, but I gotta say this is what I seeing coming down the pike. (where does that come from “come down the pike”?)

This post is my small attempt to say “hey lets not go there this time, lets stay focused on what matters and think about what makes sense, let’s not close up shop on an idea just because it gets called something (socialist, communist, conservative, radical, modernist, relational, abstract, intellectual, naïve… you get the idea! )

This last part of this post should be really neutral, and yet a call to action; very understated and at the same time poetic and moving. I don’t know how to write that, please feel free to send me your submissions!


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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Withina7minutewalkfromworksound


DAISYCHAIN


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video


I met some strangers out side of KW Printing and asked them to recommend me to some one else on my map. What you see here are all people and businesses’ that I was referred to in this daisy chain fashion. I wanted to hint visibly at the web of connections that make this a community.
Visitors to the gallery marked and described their connections to places on the map.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

One Day Residency At the Pancake Clubhouse



Cyrus facilitated my dream of installing a community vegetable garden (geurrilla style) on this 8 by 15 foot piece of abandoned parking strip near the clubhouse. It took us about 5 hours to complete the job! (with a little bit of clean up later

I'd like to thank participants, Gary, Cyrus, Mike, Sara, Nicole and Andrew!

The sign says, Community Garden, Plant something, Eat Something.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

not exactly a new project

Well I got the message loud and clear at my review that i need to pare down my activity and prioritize, however I was also told that I tend to take on things that involve a lot of work. Now this might look like a new project, but it is just recognition that something I have already been doing is worth sharing.

As you may know I am helping Linda Wysong with her Backyard Conversations project on the south river front. Before the tour on Thursday somehow (I think she mentioned that I looked really like a tour guide in the uniform she had provided) the conversation came around to a place where I told her that people often mistake me for an employee at random places I happen to be.

I've been asked how long the wait is or told how many a table is needed for at restaurants; I am regularly asked where certain merchandise can be located at retail stores, once at the Goodwill I was even asked by an upset customer to call the manager. It is a hobby of mine to try to fulfill people's requests when this happens. Now this doesn't happen every week, but it has happened often enough over the years. I have enjoyed trying to help people with what ever it is they need when it does.

After the tour I was able to come to the tail end of the PSU Art Auction. While there I ended up talking to a woman who I didn't immediately recognize, but when she told me her name I remembered meeting her several years ago. She is an artist. When she heard my name she told me how much she liked my work, (I was very flattered) she went on to explain to her partner what an amazing photographer I am!

Suddenly the previous conversation I'd had with Linda Wysong and my projected identity project collided. I did explain to the artist Thursday evening that I am not a photographer, however I offered to do a photo shoot with her, and she verbally agreed. I like the idea of not knowing when I will be mistaken for performing a role I don't usually perform, but taking on the "job" that has been projected onto me the best I can. I like this because it is simple, it is like the bus stories because I can not know when it will happen, but unlike the bus stories there is a good chance of follow up and further chapters to the stories.

Stay tuned.





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Monday, June 9, 2008

NYTimes article about Richard Reynolds

Hi all here is a link to an article in today's New York Times Magazine about Richard Reynolds, and guerrilla gardening. I hope you will enjoy it (there is even a seed bomb how to video clip!)

Click here!



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Monday, May 26, 2008

MEET AND GREET BBQ



Sunday Eric Steen and I hosted a meet and greet BBQ as part of the A lot of _____ series.
We were aided by Marco Frattaroli, a local restaurateur, and expert pig roaster. The food was amazing!

In looking at the photos I see at least 35 attendees (not including the boys who stopped by as we were cleaning up and took some food to go. Most were neighbors who came because of fliers we had passed out door to door, some just found us walking by. Several undergrads came as well.

A few highlights for me include, Michael and Karl, our first guests, ended up staying the whole time, except for a couple of trips home to get things to throw on the grill (and share.) Michael ended up manning the grill and cooking the veggie burgers for those so inclined. Taylor, his wife Rumi, and their two kids are new to the area, they live just across the street and had prepared some potato salad, sausage and corn for the grill in preparation of the event, which they worried would be canceled because of rain. Eric and I took turns manning the greeters station on the side walk where in addition to asking people to read the personal safety waiver, we gave out name tags. I personally witnessed many people shaking hands and introducing them selves. Several people said to me "thank you for doing this." Which felt really great.

I was really impressed by peoples willingness to truly meet and greet each other, many met and chatted with neighbors they hadn't known before.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Daisy Chain



Above is a picture of some connections I made between various artists, either by one artist referring me to another, or things I came upon from research of artist generated leads. I found strong thematic and conceptual connections between artists who came to me from disparate sources.

One over arching commonality between these artists, writers and organizations is an implicit challenge to the primacy of institutionally generated knowledge. By this I mean they challenge the assumption that information must be mediated by received science, or some other institutional body (or method) in order to create meaning.

Another common thread is an interdisciplinary approach. In addition to artistic skill, these artists all draw selectively on biology, archeology, sociology, technology, journalism, or history in the creation of their projects. None I talked to called themselves "social practice" artists, neither did they reject that label-as long as it was one among many.
All seemed uninterested, at best, in labeling their practices.

I note that all the projects I have looked at are time based, however I think there is something more specifically defining about them than that. All these projects deal with living things in ways that are cognizant of and, dependent on, the dynamics of change in one way or another. Whether you look at Mark Dion's Vivarium, or Anna Callahan's Irish Stories project; the time based element is intrinsic to the work.

This observation can be unpacked to include what is to me one of the most interesting issues addressed in my interviews and research; namely activism. If (as some claim) there is an element of activism, or pedagogy in these artist's works, then where does the work end? For example, I have planted an “edible estate” in my front yard, inspired by Fritz Haeg's work. He has moved on to Animal Estates now; is my front garden a continuation of his earlier work? My point being that even with a project that appears to be finite in time; if there is an educational or activist intent that becomes manifest then the work becomes time based in an extended way.*(see read more below)

Another extension stemming from the idea that all these artists are working with living things is the idea that social systems (communities and interpersonal relationships), even histories are also living things. Which puts for me a new slant on my own definition of social practice.

I've participated in discussions around social practice where one idea of a criteria would be collaboration with the public as a medium. I'm wondering for my self if “collaboration with dynamic entities as a medium” wouldn't be more apt. I say this because I think it implies more strongly a lack of control. I have discovered though this research my own proclivity to appreciate most, projects that do not presume specific out comes. This could be more simply put as I admire work that is open ended.

I began this research with the question of context, what context do these artists put them selves in? As it turns out my daisy chain method for this research is a microcosmic link in a larger chain. I now realize that what I want to understand more than context is process and resulting aesthetic. I want to understand how people I admire translate their varied motivations and interests into work. I am now aware that aesthetics (for me) are best an organic result of process, rather than the other way around.

Here is a list of the names on this chart, each is followed with a link.
Andrea Bowers LINK
Suzanne Lacey LINK
Anna Callahan LINK
Community Art Lab LINK
Augusto Boal LINK
Theater of the Oppressed LINK
Fritz Haeg LINK
Chip Lord LINK
Jeremy Deller LINK
Richard Reynolds LINK
Dave McKenzie LINK
Pierre Bourdieu LINK
Mark Dion LINK



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Monday, May 19, 2008

Anna Callahan

I heard about Anna Callahan's "Encyclopedia of Danville" project from Harrell Fletcher. That was my first encounter. I started looking into her further and found her website. In exploring her other projects I learned that she and I share a strong interest in other people and their un-mediated knowledge.

Anna agreed to meet with me and let me record our conversation. She shared a lot of wisdom (she might cringe at me calling it that) with me about her process. I hope you will benefit from this short interview as much as I did. (I strongly suggest you check out her website before watching the video.)
video
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

heavy industries

Its late, so this is just a book mark to write more about the lecture tonight later, but one thing we all promised to blog about was the moment when Shelby described Mark as being James dean like in his coolness. so note that and consider it blogged! One other thing I will try to expand on later, is how they have set them selves up like a swanky Japanese Boutique with no merchandise.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another bus story

I know I usually make these posts about someone approaching me, but this is about a conversation I started on the east bound 12 last Thursday afternoon.

Catching the bus at the top of 4th usually means getting on a nearly empty bus and having my choice of seats. But Thursday the bus was already full. As I went to the back to make room for others getting on, a fellow at the very back moved over and signaled me non verbally that there was room. I sat down, thanked him and started annoying him with conversation. He works at OHSU and is from Ethiopia, he has been here for one year. I asked him what was his mother tongue (we were having a hard time understanding each other, which is probably why he wasn't overly eager to talk to me.) He didn't really answer me except to say that they spoke a lot of english in Ethiopia except that is is "english english" he explained that they finished thier words out in front of their mouths so that one could understand, but that in america we talk inside of our mouths which makes it hard to understand. I told him that several years ago I met an older Ethiopian man who spoke Italian, this man told me that many Ethiopians spoke italian because of the occupation. (I was hoping to speak italian with him) he didn't know what I was talking about. Then a fellow sitting in front of us said, it was Mussolini who invaded Ethiopia to avenge the humiliation of an earlier Italian attempt that failed, but then the British came in and pushed the Italians out.

I was hopeful that this fellow would join our conversation, but he didn't and I suddenly became very self conscious and embarrassed that I'd been bugging this guy who was just trying to get home from work. So I uncharacteristically shut up!

What happened next was lovely. "Facil" seemed to understand what I was feeling and introduced himself to me. We carried on with a much more two sided conversation. I asked him how he happened to end up in Portland, I couldn't understand what he was saying, it sounded like, "like" or "life", and then he said, like powerball, AH I said, like lotto like chance, like life! He said Yes! and we both cracked up- it doesn't sound that funny, but maybe you had to be there.

This was my best ride all week.

An update...
Francesca and I went out canvasing for Obama (really just making sure registered democratic voters had received their ballots and were aware of the time line to turn them in- obviously if someone was undecided we were happy to give them some information.) We were assigned to a very scattered collection of houses out by marine drive (an area I was completely unfamiliar with.)

One house we went to the woman was undecided, and we had a pretty interesting conversation. After the politics were over she offered up that she was from Ethiopia. I said that I never meet anyone from Ethiopia, but had met someone else just last week. Turns out she knows Facil, and was happy to pass on my hello. This was a great thing for my daughter to witness

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

A little help from my friends!



As I mentioned in my last post I had a gardening injury over spring break which put a damper on my plans for not only our vacant lot improvement project but also my own project of turning my front patch into an "edible estate". All of the plants for the vacant lot were perennials I dug out of said front patch, and it was left in a big muddy mess with nothing but the weeds left for a couple of weeks! Last Friday (my finger splint free and mostly healed) I decided to dedicate three days to finishing the project. I had a good 8 hours of it on Friday, it was heaven, and then I was at it again early Saturday until I found my self on my knees in the mud, I'd thrown my back out errrgH!

Monday night at Marie Watt's lecture I met David Cook (a visitor from the Art Institute of Chigago), and Tuey Burns, recently back in town from Arizona. They agreed to work on my "estate" so the last three days they have been doing my dirty work, and I now have a terraced front patch ready to receive seeds. These guys did a lot more than just help me with my garden, they stimulated me with great conversation on topics ranging from clocks and time, to our shared love of words. They also made the suggestion that since I didn't have enough paintings to cut up for the whole retaining wall and we had to use some plain scrap that we write something on it. Franny always has a lot of random facts in her head, so we asked her for one. She said "43.5% of all percentages are made up on the spot." So that is our message. Tuey has invited Francesca and I to apply to be part of her Chinese family!

Ralph and Steve pitched in by taking some more plants over to the vacant lot and planting them.




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Geurilla Gardening in SE Portland


On the evening of March 28th, some of the troops came out to start the transformation of the vacant lot at 24th and SE Ankeny (sp?) There is still more to be done - due to a small gardening injury progress has been postponed, however the transformation we made in one evening was pretty profound! We hauled quite a bit of really skanky garbage out of there too!

Special thanks to: Amber, Ralph, Laurel, Bethany, Hollis, Shelby, Sean, Juliet, and Sam!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Complicated Tango at the Back Room


Tonight at the Back Room the guest panelists were Amoreen Armetta, Molly Dilworth, and Alex (Kreb?) aka "the tango master"- a title he resists.

The loose theme of the evening was 'searching' and an inquiry based in the mind and the body. Alex was a surprise guest that Stephanie Snyder provided as a gift to Amoreen and Molly, relieving them of any pressure to plan a dialog. Stephanie really is a most gracious host!

Sean, Andy, Chelsea, and several other of our PNCA colleagues were there. As were Rita, Pat, and Susan Harlan.

The evening started with a brass gypsy band, and for the first time ever dancing at a back room event! I love to dance and don't do enough so this was definitely a bonus for me. And after a delicious and substantial dinner we had a tango lesson. Well Pat and I had part of a tango lesson, we ended up being partners and were unable to master the "careful listening" involved in the relationship of non passive submission. Apparently we are both alpha dogs.

This is ironic as this idea of "duende" achieved by mutual submission and letting go of thought became a metaphor for the discussion afterwards. Alex described very eloquently the place that two dancers -strangers- can achieve when they are able to be in perfect communication, he stressed the equal pressure exchanged between the bodies as a "listening tool" so that in perfect communication the leader is as submissive to the follower, as the follower is to the leader. A total union as it were. He explained that when he first experienced this he was very young and the day after the dance wondered if he was in love, or dating the girl, should he call her? Now he understands that it is not sexual, it is a moment that is made though the connection (it takes two to tango) but the experience is generated and experienced equally. I don't know how to put this exactly so I will clumsily say that there is no residue of personal obligation after the dance. However I can not believe that there is not some lingering connection or knowledge.

Stephanie asked if this might play out in a civic way? The question was never really answered to my satisfaction, at least the question I understood her to be asking. I thought she might be suggesting the possibility of a civic duende. To me the metaphor would go something like this, just as in tango (per Alex) you can learn the steps in 6 months, and it takes a lifetime to still not finish learning the dance, but one has moments after learning the steps of being able to forget them and achieve that feeling of duende, and that is what keeps one dancing. Maybe after learning the basics of ... social interaction, one begins to "dance with them and occasionally has moments of duende that compel one forward to learn more and practice more. To me this would be an example of civic tango.

As it happens at any really good dinner party, the conversation veered from a direction some found more promising and went off into areas that others were most interested in. (that's really obvious code for, I wanted to take another trajectory, but since I didn't speak up I can't really say anything about it) But it came back around too. Amoreen asked the audience if anyone could think of an example in life that was similar to what we had experienced in our tango lesson, of moving together while also experiencing and negotiating a relationship with others around us. (bad paraphrase) Someone mentioned negotiating public transportation (turns out he was talking about crowded trains in Japan) and the wordless communication that he experienced with people, the example he gave was something like asking for just a couple more inches and the other person agreeing and giving him those inches, all with out words.

Amoreen brought up how she actually finds it hard to walk in Portland. She likes to walk when she is frustrated (not the right word) with her writing. She misses the jostling and more aggressive walking style required by the crowds on the streets of New York. Pat then brought up the point that we had been talking a lot about finding this unity this “duende” and she admitted that it is a good thing to experience, but that in fact for her it is the discord and the oppositions that move her forward, they are the things that interest and compel her forward (my paraphrase). Amoreen agreed with this as did Molly. Molly went as far as to say that utopia didn't exist and couldn't. There was then a volley of words about the roots of the word “utopia”.

At some point when Amoreen was asked if writing for her was similar to tango for Alex, she said that really it was more like always chasing after something that was just almost in reach.

At this moment (or at some point including this response) I realized what I thought about the idea that the discord is what is most interesting. I agree, it is the discord and things not being resolved that move me forward too, but I think we are conflating the private with the public. The discord I find valuable (unpleasant but valuable) is internal. I don't personally benefit from discord in the world around me. I have no fear that even if everyone else on the planet were suddenly to find themselves in total accord I would be any less internally conflicted- ok maybe a little, but I'd still have plenty of angst to motivate myself. I think there is a huge value in trying to make, or perceive even fleetingly profound connections with others.

Tango is an interesting metaphor for this to me for a couple of reasons. The idea that a “transcendent” moment can be achieved between strangers, and the concept of this mutually achieved transcendence not mandating any future obligation. This last bit may seem a little cold, but I think not. I think it is honest. I think that one reason we are all so hesitant to engage with each other (strangers especially) is because we fear we will enter into some sort of implicit undefined contract.

Now to shift the focus slightly; during dinner I had a conversation with someone at my table about social practice. She said that the problem with social practice is that it was undefined thus there is no way to have a dialog about it. She said that there is no common language for it, no way to critique it. I am not explaining her point very well so far. I think what she was saying is that from the point of view of an educator, how can you help a student fill in something that is missing if you don't understand what the whole should look like. She said that social practice needs to put its self in a context so that it can be discussed. She also had some very convincing examples of “bad” social practice art. And she said that if we were to do “social practice” it should have a political or social intent/result.

I explained that from my point of view it was unfair to judge the whole genre by a few bad examples. After all there are plenty of bad studio artists as well. Also I suggested that the very nature of collaborating, trying to learn how to best collaborate with people outside of the self selected art world had the potential to make as much difference as working only within it. And the main thing I said was that, from my point of view, what we are doing as students in this program at PSU is really difficult, we are trying to define the parameters of our own practice within a field that we are spending equal amounts of energy defining and not constricting. I told her how much time and energy we spend thinking about and discussing topics such as responsibility, relevance, audience, not to mention our own projects and how they intersect with these topics. We are also concerned with the same things as every other MFA student, such as how can we support our selves as artists, what is ethical etc. It is really a very challenging pursuit that like other art forms requires integrity, intentionality and persistence in order to progress.

Later a man suggested that what all true art has in common (all art, including science etc..) is rigor. My friend who I had been discussing social practice with earlier leaned over and said “you see that's my point”, and I said “no that's my point!”

This all seems really wild (ironic?) as I talked to Pat this morning over coffee about how tired I am of oppositions. I really think framing different approaches oppositionally is not only futile, it reinforces conflict and is lazy. Pat told me something someone told her-no she read it in an obituary- this woman, a painter and teacher told her students "For you to be right doesn't mean that everyone else has to be wrong."

So check it out I tell Pat just this morning that I hate “opposition”, she tells me this really great quote that validates my sentiments, (even though she values opposition) I go to the back room, and make a completely “oppositional” response to my friend about the topic of social practice!

It was an interesting evening and a very complicated tango - but then there were more than two dancing.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

KUMBAYA

At my group critique last monday I presented some research I had done on the word and song “Kumbaya” which means “come by me”.

I became interested in this because of a comment made about us when we were in New York. Someone said in response to our sitting in a circle on the floor that we were very “West Coast” and they wondered if we would start singing “Kumbaya”?

When I heard about this later my immediate response was, we should send them a video of us sitting in a circle singing kumbaya! The person making the comment was certainly not being complementary, however my initial response wasn't meant to be vindictive. Rather I think I thought it was funny and a way to open a dialogue, or at least cause some thought.

Some interesting things I learned about the song were first that it is credited to a Portlander see wikipedia entry (there is some dispute around this.) I also found a lot of recent editorials where the word kumbaya is being used as an adjective, and a slam. It is invoked to denote weakness generally and more specifically a weak grasp of serious realities. This reminds me of the (not so) old days when politicians would accuse each other of being communist and thus effectively hijack the trajectory of the conversation, as the accused then spent all his or her rhetorical skill denying the claim.

After looking at this research it seemed to me that I could happily accept the label of “kumbaya”, I would be interested to hear why it is a bad thing to exhibit a belief in possibility and unity. I say this even though I am not religious so “some ones crying my lord -come by me” might seem an odd sentiment for me to embrace, however I see it as a call for strength and wisdom generally. I guess that is why it is considered weak; it is admits that one doesn't have all the answers or that one lacks the total personal power necessary to effect change alone (unilaterally).

I also put together this collage of other people's utube videos of the song being sung. I think this video shows how diverse are the relationships that people have to this song. I personally don't think any of these clips are trying to be ironic. Some come from and understanding of the song as a spiritual prayer, some from growing up with it at camp, some simply as a song that everyone knows, and some almost documentary about pain in the world. As I assembled these clips I was struck by the cacophony created by layering so many performances of this one song, and also by the randomly occurring unity that emerged in some moments.
Listen carefully to the opening audio clip, it is Katherine Hepburn from "The Lion in Winter."


Kumbaya from sanone on Vimeo.

After my presentation and my request that we make a movie, there was a very lively discussion. What I had seen in the various utube videos was actually reflected in the opinions we all had. I mean by this that there was a huge range of interpretation. We did sing the song together, but I will not be submitting anything to anyone just yet. This is mainly for two reasons. First it was pointed out that unless we could send it to exactly the person who made the comment it would have no resonance what so ever, and in fact might seem so odd as to reinforce the stereotype of the west coast, and secondly it was suggested that it might be perceived by some as offensive or racist because the word kumbaya was imported/appropriated from Africa. Also, it now seems a project worth investigating with a lot more thought.

Thanks to everyone who participated for making this a really great and though provoking critique.
It was really fortunate that Storm Tharp was our visiting artist, he had a similar experience in Seattle, and the word kumbaya was used pejoratively then as well. I am really interested in questions around sincerity, hipness, and authenticity to mention a few, that this topic brought up. I never dreamed that kumbaya would be so contentious!

I am looking forward to further dialog about this, and it may end up that I do a project that is inspired by the overheard comment in New York, yet is not a direct response to it.

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Private showing at the Armory


I ended up going to the Armory by myself in New York, as I was really slow going through the whitney and then stopped by NPR to participate in the radio show that Katy organized.

A couple of people told me that I should definitely see the video of the trees falling down, so I kept searching for it. When finally it seemed I had looked into every room, even some that were not meant to be looked in I was about to give up. Then I saw another staircase at the end of the hall and I assumed that their must be more on the floors above. I started up the stairs and met a couple of other people coming down, these people seemed to work there and in retrospect I think felt encouraged that I was headed in the right direction since they didn't seem to see a problem with me going up the stairs.

I went all the way up, as I came through the doors onto the 5th floor I was struck by the bright florescent
lighting and the dingy white walls. This was a big contrast to the dark mystery of the first two floors. But it seemed fitting as there were 5 or 6 big empty canvas laundry hampers on wheels lined up on the middle of the floor in front of me. Directly behind them there was an open door leading into a room that looked like a large break room, or a small cafeteria. there was a wall covered in posters to my right, it was a mix of informational, community type flyers, and art announcements. The one that stood out immediately was a day glow orange advertisement for employment as a telephone market researcher. The only activity in the room was a large TV playing news at the far end and a woman sitting too close in front of it watching.



I took this one photo and then went out of the room to another long long empty hall. At the very end of the hall there was one of those old fashioned full length mirrors, the kind that is shaped like a cameo and rotates on a pin through the middle. It was angled perfectly in the corner so that it reflected that same day glow advertisement posted on a wall around the corner. I ventured down the hall really intrigued and thinking that this was a hugely ambitious project. as I turned the corner I found that it was the very same poster, and turning completely around I saw two fairly large institutional style swinging doors (the kind with the little porthole windows) One of them was propped wide open giving me a clear view of what seemed to be an ocean of cubicles all about 4 and a half feet high. I thought this must be the calling center, then I noticed that the two cubes open towards me had platforms filled with cloth, but when I looked closer I realized they were beds with large women wearing many layers of clothing laying on them. Exactly as I was trying to make sense of this and recoiling with thoughts of slave labor and exploitation, a woman who was talking on long sprung corded wall phone mounted just inside the doors came around the corner and saw me. She didn't even say hang on a minute to the person she was talking to, she just barked at me “what do you want!” I said I thought i was in the wrong place, she then said “I can't be responsible for what happens to you here.” I started to leave, but then came back to look at the poster again to see if I could get a clue to what was going on. She saw me again and repeated “I can't be responsible for what happens to you.”
I asked her what this place was, and she said it was a women's shelter.

Feeling a little shaken I headed back to the stairs I was going to the 4th floor, I knew for a fact that there was an event taking place there the next evening so I figured maybe that's where I could find the trees falling down. (please see the read more section for more about trees falling down) I went though the doors and the space was half way between the institutionality of the 5th floor and the grand decay of those below. there was a long dark wood bar lining the left side of the large hall, and on the right a long dark bench. On the bench very close to me were two women, one of them with official looking tags around her neck. She asked me I wanted, and not in the friendliest tone, I lied and told her I was looking for the calling center. She softened very slightly and told me to ask the people down stairs. I asked her if this were part of the women's shelter and she said it was.

At this point I was feeling pretty confused, what had I seen, how was it that the first floors of this grand building hosted a rotating schedule of high class art events, and just up above were living all these destitute women, what kind of shelter was this, were these battered women? If so why did they have them staying in a place where the public could roam around and a batterer could easily get at them? Or if they were dangerous (as the woman with the phone seemed to imply) why were they not being helped more, why were they being warehoused in this freakish place?

As I went down the stairs I was met by about 20 older african american women coming up both sides of the split staircase. The stairs were very steep and some of them were having a hard time and taking a break every few steps. It was really uncomfortable because most of them seemed so tired as to be completely out of it, almost like zombies they didn't even see me. And those few that did glared at me as though they still hadn't forgiven some awful act of betrayal I had committed.

This was the most intense experience I had in New York, and for a lot of reasons. I thought I was experiencing an installation long after I should have understood that this was real life. I also feel like I had an experience that was even more intense because of this confusion on my part. I still haven't sorted this all out, but It raises many questions for me.

I asked at the front desk about the women's shelter and they said that it had been there for a long time and was run by Lennox Hospital, but they didn't know what the reasons were that these women needed shelter.

I have since found out that the shelter is run by Lennox Hill, which is a charity, and these women are homeless.

Even though I never did find the video, I did come across several trees that had fallen down while in New York, and I didn't hear any of them.

Read More...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

WHAT HAPPENENS IN VEGAS



What Happened in Vegas?

I have been learning a lot lately about communities from an Urban Planning point of view. One of the ideas that is most interesting to me is how history of a place, or people's knowledge of local history can create an emotional connection with the place that enhances community. And in this context I think of community the way that is most natural to me, which is less focused on the built environment and more about people. When I reflect on my own connection to my community, history does indeed come into play, but I have acquired my knowledge of this place via people's personal stories as much as (or more than) learning about its physical history in more institutionally mediated ways.

As you might imagine when reading about urban planning/community, Las Vegas comes up a lot. It is held up as the poster child for all that is evil! The strip in particular seems designed to distort any sense of history, and any sense of place. Think about it, you can go to Paris, Venice, Egypt, and New York all in an hour! However Las Vegas is more than the strip.

I thought about the marketing phrase “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas!” I have a proclivity to think of words and phrases as having almost physical/literal meaning attached. So this slogan put though my filter really resonated. If everything that happens in Vegas stays there, and their are millions of visitors every year (I don't know the number now, but its a lot!) and they are all encouraged to do things they normally wouldn't do at home. Then Las Vegas holds an enormous amount of history!

So... My idea at this early stage of development is to go to Vegas, set up at the air port and the bus station and ask people who are leaving to tell me a story about something that happened during their visit.

I am thinking to make a zine (or a series of small zines) that include these stories along with some more traditional local history, and stories given to me by people who live and work in Las Vegas, not necessarily on the strip.

I have several ideas for distribution. My first idea was to pass out the zines on the strip in the same way that the porno and sex show people do, I understand this custom has changed somewhat, but I still want to explore this strategy.

Another idea is to perhaps distribute them to out going visitors at the air port, in this case it would be like smuggling what happened in Vegas out... it could be called the smuggler! Maybe I could get an airline “onboard” to distribute them on flights in and out of Vegas.

Another possibility is to partner with a local radio station to tell “a story a day”. I remembered what was one of the most comical memories I had from when I turned 40 and a friend took me to Vegas. We stayed at the Tropicana (chosen for the best vintage movie star pool-side ambiance) and every time we got in the elevator going up to or down from our room there was a sonorous message repeated over and over, always preceded by a long smooth low ...dong... “Las Vegas, the city of dreams where players win and winners play” HA!!!! I loved it! Anyhow I thought maybe I could partner with the tropicana to play Vegas history and local stories in the elevators instead...... Actually there were several other experiences like this, where one is being advertised to about where they already are. For example, the side walks on the strip are so far away from some of the casinos that the casinos provide moving walkways to take you in. While you are on the walk way you are shown video and/or audio extolling the virtues of where you are inevitably headed! This was hilarious to me, why describe the benefits of the belly of the whale to Jacob when he is already in the throat! Perhaps this would be another venue to disseminate Vegas' history.

I would like to distribute the zines too in places where locals will find them, grocery stores, coffee shops etc.

Until I do some more research and start collecting stories I can't know what this will look like, however my intent is to catalyze a perception of Las Vegas as a real place, a more personal way of looking that employs and acknowledges spectacle in order to point away from it.


Read More...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nerves of steel


This is a picture of Matt, he is one of my mentor students, at last nights mentor session he was interviewed live on a local talk radio station, this picture is him doing the interview on speaker phone during the mentor session.

As you all know I have an intense discomfort with public speaking, and I am unsure how much of my discomfort is because of the "public" nature of it, and how much is the scripted, or anticipation that I am going to be speaking to a group (as opposed to a spontaneous act.)

The reason Matt was being interviewed by this sports station was that last Thursday when he went to the Blazers vs Sonics game he was randomly asked to do some kind of a half time shooting baskets thing. (I don't know a lot about this, but I suspect most people do.) Any how he agreed and the task was to make 4 or 5 specific kinds of baskets (lay up, college 3 point, nba 3 point... I don't remember the others, I'm just trying to remember what he said) anyhow if he could make all these shots with in 30 seconds he could then do a bonus shot- a half court (as I understand it that is really hard.) He made all the shots including the half court in under 30 seconds! I gather this is terrific. The reason the radio station wanted to interview him is that all he won was a ten day car rental, and someone else was trying the same shots for a car. Apparently he is a local hero, and the fans want him to get a better prize.

OK here is the deal, Matt did a great job with the interview, but he was shaking, and I could empathize with him completley- I could see him feeling just the way I do when I "have to speak" his body was having its own reaction. He was able to pretty much spontaneously perform an amazing skill based feat in front of thousands of people in an exceptional fashion, but a phone interview with a local radio station made him nervous.

This has me really thinking that maybe the nerves are less about the size of the group and more about the expectation of performance having time to fester.

Type rest of the post here

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kizzy


This is a different kind of bus story.

The stop I have gone to for years on 22nd is gone now, I forget and just walk up to it anyway.

On this particular morning I decided to walk down burnside to 20th and catch the bus there. As I was approaching 20th on the opposite side of the street I needed , I saw this guy at the bus stop pull out a pen and write something on a sign pasted up in the tailors shop by the stop.

Based on his body language, I made a little bet with my self... he wrote something nice.

When I finally got to the stop, I checked out the sign, it was an 8and a half inch paper saying "sorry we can't open today, we are sick" and what was "graffiti ed" on it was "get well soon", with a smilely face. I said to the guy I'd seen write it, woha that is so great, thank you. He said, "yeah I felt a little like I was maybe vandalizing but opposite, I hope when they come they see this they know we care, they are just these old people running this shop, they put the bus schedules up in the window for us, they don't have to do that, they are really cool." I put quotes around this but this is just what I remember, he said it all a lot better.

We ended up talking a lot on the bus together, he made me feel really good about life, and my day. He doesn't call himself a social practice artist, he is just living the way he does. He let me make him feel good too. When he got off the bus, he came over and gave me a hug. It didn't feel like reflexive gesture, it felt really right.

My meeting with Kizzy this morning really made me feel both validated about social practice, and also like an idiot. Kizzy works in a home for disabled people, and is studying music theory on the side, he is in into sampling and hip hop. He is living his life, and is a social art practitioner in the way he lives. I know that I have an "reasonable agenda" for getting a degree, but this really begs the question of how will I enhance in a proportionately meaningful way what I can contribute because of my MFA experience? I'm not meaning to dis the whole MFA thing at all, I am just wondering , or feeling a responsibility to define it for my self as something more. I'm really privileged to be in this place for what is a very short time. Meeting Kizzy today made me realize that I need to dig in or branch out in order to add something to this opportunity.

Type rest of the post here

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gas Station Kismet, maybe


I smoke, ok I know I shouldn't and I'm always just quitting, but I do. As it happens there is a small advantage, I end up going to the local gas station on a regular basis to buy cigarettes. I have over the years developed relationships with the people who work there, (I could tell a lot of stories here now, but I won't.)

Tonight when I went in to buy my smokes, Hannah (who works at the station) told me that it is really weird to her that there are three women who buy american spirits, yellow (me) orange and blue, and "its like you are all the same as each other and different from everybody else." She likes us all. I told her that I would love to meet these women. Hanna is totally comfortable facilitating a meeting between us all. I explained a little bit about social practice, and how if she wanted look at this as a project that she was doing, I would help, maybe host a dinner. She was totally game.

This image is Hannah's contact information. I've blacked most of it out, to protect her privacy.

Type rest of the post here

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USGS field trip.


This is a picture of ground water, really!



On Friday Varinthorn and I were taken by Karl Lee (a hydrologist with the USGS) on a 5 hour field trip. We accompanied him as he checked data at sites along Johnson Creek and Crystal Springs.

We learned how the BES contracted with the USGS to collect scientific data to help them understand how building on the flood planes, and past work done by the WPA to change the nature of this waterway has contributed to the flooding and problems around Johnson Creek. The BES is using this science to design new projects that will abate some of the flooding. We saw areas where BES has bought houses on the flood plane (through the willing sellers program) torn them down and planted these areas which can now function again as flood planes. We also saw a site where they have made the creek snake around so that more water encounters more earth for absorption, as well as plenty of room for flood plane. (I'm a still a little ignorant and I don't think that is exactly right, please be generous)

We learned about ground water (even saw some at Holgate Lake-see photo above) We saw both low and high tech equipment for measuring temperature, flow, and quantity. Our collective heads were reeling with new information.

Karl was an amazing tour guide, he not only took us out in the field, but also gave us a tour of the office, the lab and the storage room, where he showed us some of the equipment they use in the field ..... and a santa suit.


Type rest of the post here

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Words and Meanings

I used to have a "magic" dictionary. As you might know all dictionaries are not created equal. So often the word one is looking up is either not there, or is there with a definition that is too narrow, not worded well, or generally not helpful. The reason my dictionary was magic is that it always contained exactly the definition I needed to expand my thinking. I lost it in the fire and have never found another up to the job. In the read more section below I have cut and pasted definitions of words from our critical theory readings. I don't know how it is for the rest of you but I know that some of these words I have looked up several time before, but for some reason the meanings don't attach well, so I look them up again. Others were completely new to me.. "monad".

The list is not alphabetical, instead it is ordered chronologically (as I encounter these words in the readings.)

I will continue to add to this list through the term, and will not limit myself to the theory readings.

One thing I find very interesting is how many of the words I look up (in general) have definitions listed first that apply to science or medicine. It seems to me that this makes them metaphoric..... but I guess they're not if they are in the dictionary.... but then again... all dictionaries are not created equal....
I must say again; I love words, that isn't to suggest that I know a lot of them, or what they mean, but I love that we all use them almost as though they are solid and indisputable objects, when in fact they are components of a completely fluid medium, with infinite meanings. Perhaps I can describe the magic I see in words/language by making a rather lame and obvious comparison. If you are in my house and the lights go out and I offer you a torch, you might think that I am either a little reckless, or just dramatic, but if you are British you will understand I mean a flash light. I know this is a stupid example, but if you are to take on what I think about words and language being perceived as firm and almost physical things.... picture this, you are in my house the power goes out and I hand you an actual torch! This will color the way you think about me, my house that evening. I believe that even when there is a lingual miscommunication that is cleared up later, an image, or an experience has irrevocably happened. The way we interpret the words we hear or read, become part of our experience and history.

The fact that we all use words means to me that we are all artists and social sculptors, via this fact alone! Joseph Beuys expressed a strong belief in the power/importance of language, and I agree. But my feelings about this predate my knowledge of him. Language is so abstract and fundamentally creative, the public at large is considered to be uncomfortable with abstraction and creativity, but in fact they are fluent in both when they use language!

By the way, all the definitions in the read more section were taken from the web, mostly from encarta, but also wikapedia.





dialectic
noun
Definition:
1. tension between conflicting ideas: the tension that exists between two conflicting or interacting forces, elements, or ideas
2. investigation of truth through discussion: the investigation of the truth through discussion, or the art of investigating truths through discussion
3. debate resolving conflict: debate intended to resolve a conflict between two contradictory or apparently contradictory ideas or parts logically, establishing truths on both sides rather than disproving one argument ( takes a singular verb )
4. Hegelian process: the process, in Hegelian and Marxist thought, in which two apparently opposed ideas, the thesis and antithesis, become combined in a unified whole, the synthesis
5. Socratic method for revealing truth: the methods used in Socratic philosophy to reveal truth through disputation
[Late 16th century. Via Latin dialectica Greek dialektikē (tekhnē) "(art) of discussion or debate" dialektikos "of conversation" dialektos (see dialect)]


semiotic
- study of signs: the study of signs and symbols of all kinds, what they mean, and how they relate to the things or ideas they refer to
study of symptoms of diseases: the study of identifying the ways that various symptoms indicate the diseases that underlie them


mnemonic
mne·mon·ic [ ni mónnik ]
noun (plural mne·mon·ics)
Definition:
memory aid: a short rhyme, phrase, or other mental technique for making information easier to memorize
adjective
Definition:
1. acting as mnemonic: acting as a memory aid
2. relating to mnemonics: relating to the practice of improving the memory, or to systems designed to improve the memory
[Mid-18th century. mnemonics, or Greek mnēmonikos "relating to memory" mnēmon- "mindful"]
mne·mon·i·cal·ly adverb


antinomy
an·tin·o·my [ an tínnəmee ] (plural an·tin·o·mies)
noun
Definition:
1. philosophy paradoxical result: a contradictory and illogical conclusion produced by two apparently correct and reasonable statements or facts
2. law legal discrepancy: a contradiction between two laws, principles, or authorities
[Late 16th century. Via Latin antinomia Greek, literally "against law" nomos "law, rule"]
an·ti·nom·ic [ ànti nómmik ] adjective


diacritical
di·a·crit·i·cal [ d ə kríttik'l ]
adjective
Definition:
marking a change or modification: indicating a change or modification in something, especially in the way a printed letter is to be pronounced or stressed
di·a·crit·i·cal·ly adverb


pathos
pa·thos [ páy thòss, páy thàwss ]
noun
Definition:
1. quality that arouses pity: the quality in something that makes people feel pity or sadness
2. expression of pity: feelings of pity, especially when they are expressed in some way
[Late 16th century. Greek, "feeling, disease"]



epistemology
e·pis·te·mol·o·gy [ i pìstə mólləjee ]
noun
Definition:
theory of knowledge: the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, in particular its foundations, scope, and validity
[Mid-19th century. Greek epistēmē (see epistemic)]
e·pis·te·mo·log·i·cal [ i pìstəmə lójjik'l ] adjective
e·pis·te·mo·log·i·cal·ly adverb
e·pis·te·mol·o·gist noun


simulacrum
sim·u·la·crum [ sìmmyə láykrəm, sìmmyə lákrəm ] (plural sim·u·la·cra [ sìmmyə lákrə ])
noun
Definition:
1. representation or image: a representation or image of something
2. something vaguely similar: something that has a vague, tentative, or shadowy resemblance to something else
[Late 16th century. Latin simulare (see simulate)]

imbricate
im·bri·cate [ ímbrə kàyt ]
adjective
Definition:
1. architecture made of overlapping tiles: consisting of overlapping tiles or slates
2. botany zoology overlapping like roof tiles: describes plant or animal parts that overlap in a regular pattern
transitive and intransitive verb (past and past participle im·bri·cat·ed, present participle im·bri·cat·ing, 3rd person present singular im·bri·cates)
Definition:
overlap or be overlapping: to lay things so that they overlap in layers in a similar way to roof tiles, or be laid in this way
[Mid-17th century. Latin imbricat-, past participle of imbricare "cover with pantiles" imbric- "roof tile" imber "rain"]
im·bri·cat·ed adjective
im·bri·ca·tion [ ìmbrə káysh'n ] noun

The Heresy of Paraphrase" is the title of a chapter in The Well-Wrought Urn, a seminal work of the New Criticism by Cleanth Brooks. Brooks argued that meaning in poetry is irreducible, because "a true poem is a simulacrum of reality...an experience rather than any mere statement about experience or any mere abstraction from experience." Brooks emphasized structure, tension, balance, and irony over meaning, statement, and subject matter. He relied on comparisons with non-verbal arts in order to shift discussion away from summarizable content:

The essential structure of a poem (as distinguished from the rational or logical structure of the 'statement' which we abstract from it) resembles that of architecture or painting: it is a pattern of resolved stresses. Or, to move closer still to poetry by considering the temporal arts, the structure of a poem resembles that of a ballet or musical composition. It is a pattern of resolutions and balances and harmonizations, developed through a temporal scheme.

Proper criticism responds with suppleness and delicacy to such patterns, rather than paraphrasing their propositional content.

Central to "The Heresy of Paraphrase" was a vigorous critique of conventional distinctions between form and content:

The structure meant is certainly not 'form' in the conventional sense in which we think of form as a kind of envelope which 'contains' the 'content.' The structure obviously is everywhere conditioned by the nature of the material which goes into the poem. The nature of the material sets the problem to be solved, and the solution is the ordering of the material...The relationship between the intellectual and the non-intellectual elements in a poem is actually far more intimate than the conventional accounts would represent it to be: the relationship is not that of an idea 'wrapped in emotion' or a 'prose-sense decorated by sensuous imagery.

Though Brooks applied this theory to his reading of poetry from many periods, subsequent literary scholars have suggested that the doctrine was shaped by the aesthetics of modernist literature. They point out that the New Criticism emerged at the peak of T.S. Eliot's influence as both poet and critic. Archibald Macleish's "Ars Poetica" (written eleven years before The Well Wrought Urn) is often cited as prefiguring Brooks' doctrine:

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind -

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -

A poem should not mean
But be.

Though many of the aesthetic assumptions of the New Criticism are now challenged or dismissed, the "heresy of paraphrase" is still commonly used to refer to reductive or utilitarian approaches to poetry.



materialist
ma·te·ri·al·ist [ mə tree əlist ]
noun (plural ma·te·ri·al·ists)
Definition:
1. somebody concerned about possessions: somebody who values material wealth and possessions rather than spiritual or intellectual things
2. supporter of philosophical materialism: a supporter of the philosophical theory that physical matter is the only reality and that psychological states can be explained as physical functions
adjective
Definition:
Same as materialistic

Althusserianism:
(Pronunciation: altuˡseʁ) (October 16, 1918 – October 22, 1990) was a Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy.

Althusser was a lifelong member and sometimes strong critic of the French Communist Party. His arguments and theses were set against the threats that he saw attacking the theoretical foundations of Marxism. These included both the influence of empiricism on Marxist theory, and humanist and reformist socialist orientations which manifested as divisions in the European Communist Parties, as well as the problem of the 'cult of personality' and of ideology itself.

Althusser is commonly referred to as a Structural Marxist, although his relationship to other schools of French structuralism is not a simple affiliation and he is critical of many aspects of structuralism.
Contents


neologism
ne·ol·o·gism [ nee óllə jìzzəm ] (plural ne·ol·o·gisms) or ne·ol·o·gy [ nee ólləjee ] (plural ne·ol·o·gies)
noun
Definition:
1. new word or meaning: a recently coined word or phrase, or a recently extended meaning of an existing word or phrase
2. coinage of new words: the practice of coining new words or phrases, or of extending the meaning of existing words or phrases
[Early 19th century. French néologisme néo- "new" + Greek logos "word"]
ne·ol·o·gist noun
ne·ol·o·gis·tic [ nee òllə jístik ] adjective
ne·ol·o·gize intransitive verb


superstructure
su·per·struc·ture [ spər strùkchər ] (plural su·per·struc·tures)
noun
Definition:1. upper part of ship: the part of a ship above the main deck
2. visible part of building: the part of a building above its foundations
3. part developed on base: a physical or intellectual structure built on or developed from a fundamental form, base, or concept
4. politics institutions associated with particular economy: in Marxist theory, the complex of social, legal, and political institutions that are an extension and reflection of the type of economy operating in a particular society
su·per·struc·tur·al [ spər strúkchərəl ] adjective



valence
va·lence [ váylənss ] (plural va·lenc·es) or va·len·cy [ váylənssee ] (plural va·len·cies)
noun
Definition:
1. combining power of atoms: the combining power of atoms or groups measured by the number of electrons the atom or group will receive, give up, or share in forming a compound
2. combining antigenic determinants: the number of different antigenic determinants with which a single antibody molecule can combine
3. combining power of verb: the ability of a verb to combine grammatically with noun phrases in a given clause
[Late 19th century. Variant of valency]



telos
/telloss/
• noun (pl. teloi /telloy/) Philosophy or literary an ultimate object or aim.
ORIGIN Greek.

volatilize
Main Entry:
vol·a·til·ize Listen to the pronunciation of volatilize
Pronunciation:
\ˈvä-lə-tə-ˌlīz, British also və-ˈla-\
Function:
verb
Inflected Form(s):
vol·a·til·ized; vol·a·til·iz·ing
Date: 1657 transitive verb: to make volatile; especially : to cause to pass off in vaporintransitive verb: to pass off in vapor
— vol·a·til·iz·able Listen to the pronunciation of volatilizable \-ˌlī-zə-bəl\ adjective
vol·a·til·i·za·tion Listen to the pronunciation of volatilization \ˌvä-lə-tə-lə-ˈzā-shən, British also və-ˌla-\ noun

perennate
Main Entry:
pe·ren·nate
Pronunciation:
\ˈper-ə-ˌnāt, pə-ˈre-ˌnāt\
Function:
intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
pe·ren·nat·ed; pe·ren·nat·ing
Etymology:
Latin perennatus, past participle of perennare, from perennis
Date:
circa 1623
: to live over from one growing season to another a perennating rhizome
per·en·na·tion Listen to the pronunciation of perennation \ˌper-ə-ˈnā-shən\ noun

symp·to·ma·tol·o·gy [ sìmptəmə tólləjee ] (plural symp·to·ma·tol·o·gies)
noun
Definition:
1. study of symptoms: the study of the relationships between symptoms and diseases
2. set of symptoms: the set of symptoms that are associated with a disease or that affect a patient
[Late 18th century. Greek sumptōmat-, stem of sumptōma (see symptom)]


monad
mo·nad [ mṓ nàd ] (plural mo·nads [ mō méntə ])
noun
Definition:
1. microbiology single-celled microorganism: a microorganism consisting of just one cell, especially a flagellate protozoan. Genus Monas.
2. chemistry atom with valence of one: an atom or chemical group that has a valence of one
3. philosophy basic entity in metaphysics of Leibnitz: in the metaphysics of Leibnitz, an indivisible indestructible unit that is the basic element of reality and a microcosm of it
[Mid-16th century. Directly or via French monade late Latin monad- Greek monos "single"]
mo·nad·ic [ mō náddik ] adjective
mo·nad·i·cal [ mō náddək'l ] adjective
mo·nad·i·cal·ly [ mō náddəkəlee ] adverb
mo·nad·ism [ mṓnə dìzzəm ] noun


putative
pu·ta·tive [ pytətiv ]
adjective
Definition:
1. generally accepted: generally believed to be or regarded as being something
the putative father of the child

2. thought to exist: believed to exist now or to have existed at some time
[15th century. Directly or via French late Latin putativus putare "prune, think over"]
pu·ta·tive·ly adverb
Word History
The Latin word putare "to prune, think over," from which putative is derived, is also the source ofEnglishaccount,amputate,compute,count1 (of numbers),deputy,dispute,impute,recount, andreputation.

Kalos kagathos

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Kalos kagathos (καλὸς κἀγαθός, IPA: [kalos kaːgatʰos]), sometimes written kalokagathos or kalos kai agathos, is an idiomatic phrase used in ancient Greek literature (including philosophy and historiography), attested to since Herodotus and the classical period.[1] The phrase is adjectival, composed of two adjectives, καλός and ἀγαθός (of which κἀγαθός is the crasis with καί, "and"). The derived noun is kalokagathia (καλοκαγαθία)


[edit] Uses

The phrase could be used both in a generic sense, or with certain specific force. As a generic term, it may have been used as the combination of distinct virtues, which we might translate as "handsome and brave", or the intersection of the two words "good" or "upstanding". Translations such as "gentleman" or "knight" have traditionally been suggested to convey the social aspect of the phrase, while "war hero" or the more cynical "martyr" are more recent versions, and emphasise the military element.

It became a fixed phrase by which the Athenian aristocracy referred to itself; in the ethical philosophers, the first of whom were Athenian gentlemen, the term came to mean the ideal or perfect man.

kalos kai agathos, the singular balance of the good and the beautiful.

[edit] Καλός

The adjective καλός encompasses meanings equivalent to English "good", "noble", and "handsome". The form given by convention is the masculine, but it was equally used of women (the feminine form is καλή) and could also describe animals or inanimate objects.

Plato, in his work Republic, used the term τό καλόν (the neuter form) in his attempts to define ideals - although it should be noted that his protagonist (some would say 'mouthpiece') in the dialogue, Socrates, stated that he did not fully comprehend the nature of this καλόν.

[edit] Αγαθός

This second adjective had no particular physical or aesthetic connotations, but described a person's bravery or ethics. Again, around the 4th Century, it had become politically meaningful, and carried implications of dutiful citizenship.






historicism


his·tor·i·cism [ hi stáwrə sìzzəm ]


noun
Definition:

1. theory that natural laws govern history: the belief that natural laws beyond human control determine historical events

2. belief in uniqueness of historical periods: the theory that each period of history has its own unique beliefs and values and can only be understood in its historical context


his·tor·i·cist noun

positivism
pos·i·tiv·ism Listen to the pronunciation of positivism
Pronunciation:
\ˈpä-zə-ti-ˌvi-zəm, ˈpäz-ti-\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
French positivisme, from positif positive + -isme -ism
Date:
1847
1 a: a theory that theology and metaphysics are earlier imperfect modes of knowledge and that positive knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations as verified by the empirical sciences b: logical positivism2: the quality or state of being positive
— pos·i·tiv·ist Listen to the pronunciation of positivist \-vist\ adjective or noun
— pos·i·tiv·is·tic Listen to the pronunciation of positivistic \ˌpä-zə-ti-ˈvis-tik, ˌpäz-ti-\ adjective
pos·i·tiv·is·ti·cal·ly Listen to the pronunciation of positivistically \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

epistemology
Main Entry:
epis·te·mol·o·gy Listen to the pronunciation of epistemology
Pronunciation:
\i-ˌpis-tə-ˈmä-lə-jē\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Greek epistēmē knowledge, from epistanai to understand, know, from epi- + histanai to cause to stand — more at stand
Date:
circa 1856
: the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity
— epis·te·mo·log·i·cal Listen to the pronunciation of epistemological \-mə-ˈlä-ji-kəl\ adjective
— epis·te·mo·log·i·cal·ly Listen to the pronunciation of epistemologically \-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
epis·te·mol·o·gist Listen to the pronunciation of epistemologist \-ˈmä-lə-jist\ noun

Jürgen Habermas
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Western Philosophy
20th century
Jürgen Habermas
June 18, 1929 (1929-06-18) (age 78)
Düsseldorf, Germany
School/tradition
Critical theory
Main interests Social theory · Epistemology
Political theory · Pragmatics
Notable ideas
Communicative rationality
Discourse ethics
Deliberative democracy
Universal pragmatics
Influenced by
Weber · Durkheim · Mead · Marx
Dilthey · Parsons · Kant
Heidegger · Piaget · Horkheimer
Adorno · Marcuse · Arendt · Peirce
Austin

Influenced
Benhabib · Forst · Fraser · Honneth
Mockus · Hoppe · Feenberg
Wingert ¤Georg Henrik von Wright

Jürgen Habermas (IPA: [ˈjʏʁgən ˈhaːbɐmaːs]; born June 18, 1929) is a German philosopher and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory and American pragmatism. He is best known for his work on the concept of the public sphere, which he has based in his theory of communicative action. His work has focused on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics -- particularly German politics. Habermas's theoretical system is devoted to revealing the possibility of reason, emancipation and rational-critical communication latent in modern institutions and in the human capacity to deliberate and pursue rational interests.


semantic
se·man·tic [ sə mántik ]
adjective
Definition:

1. linguistics relating to word meanings: relating to meaning or the differences between meanings of words or symbols

2. linguistics of semantics: relating to semantics

3. logic relating to truth: relating to the conditions in which a system or theory can be said to be true

[Mid-17th century. Via French Greek sēmantikos "significant" sēmainein "signify" sēma "sign, mark"]


interstice Show phonetics
noun [C usually plural] FORMAL
a very small crack or space:



somatic
so·mat·ic [ sō máttik ]
adjective
Definition:

1. affecting body as distinct from mind: relating to or affecting the body, especially the body as considered to be separate from the mind

2. anatomy relating to outer walls of body: relating to the outer walls of the body, not the inner organs

3.cell biology of somatic cell: relating to a somatic cell


illocutionary
il·lo·cu·tion·ary Listen to the pronunciation of illocutionary
Pronunciation:
\ˌi-lə-ˈkyü-shə-ˌner-ē, ˌi(l)-lō-\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
2in- + locution
Date:
1955
: relating to or being the communicative effect (as commanding or requesting) of an utterance “There's a snake under you” may have the illocutionary force of a warning


essentialism
Main Entry:
es·sen·tial·ism Listen to the pronunciation of essentialism
Pronunciation:
\-ˌli-zəm\
Function:
noun
Date:
1927
1 : an educational theory that ideas and skills basic to a culture should be taught to all alike by time-tested methods — compare progressivism 2 : a philosophical theory ascribing ultimate reality to essence embodied in a thing perceptible to the senses — compare nominalism 3 : the practice of regarding something (as a presumed human trait) as having innate existence or universal validity rather than as being a social, ideological, or intellectual construct
es·sen·tial·ist Listen to the pronunciation of essentialist \-list\ adjective or noun

Scylla
Scyl·la [ síllə ]
noun
Definition:

mythological sea monster: in Greek mythology, a sea monster who attacked sailors. In later times, Scylla was thought to be a rock on the Italian side of the Straits of Messina.

be between Scylla and Charybdis to be faced with the necessity of choosing between two equally undesirable or unpleasant things

Charybdis
Cha·ryb·dis [ kə ríbdiss ]
noun
Definition:
monster in Greek myth: in Greek mythology, a monster in the form of a dangerous whirlpool at the mouth of the cave of the sea monster Scylla




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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

May We Speak For YOU?


May We Speak For You? from sanone on Vimeo.
click read more for details


At the candle light after our presentations at the end of last term Laurel and I were expressing our shared relief that we made it through our presentations with out having heart attacks. We both hate public speaking. That is the genesis of this project. I told Laurel about a performance I did many years ago where I simply spoke for the artist who was actually performing. She just sat their fuming and I expressed what she was frustrated about for her. It was odd, I didn't feel shy at all, because I was speaking for her, not me. So we had the idea to go out in public and speak for other people, hoping that this might help us get over our fear of public speaking.

Ralph came along and videoed what happened. He has ever operated a video camera before.
We showed this to the SP group on Monday and got some really good critique. It is interesting that even though the video was less than ideal, the editing very slap dash and the project was just a first exploratory effort, I think because we had the video the group was able to give us a lot of valuable and specific criticism. Even the criticism of the documentation itself: meaningless shots, lots of moving around, bad sound (also using the low res of vimeo didn't help) gave me lots to think about more consciously before we do it again. As I said this was just our first exploration of this project, and we were both, well I'll just say I was (I shouldn't really speak for Laurel, though I think we are largely in agreement) really pleasantly surprised by some of the things that happened.

For instance the escalating enforcement of rules applied to us at pioneer courthouse square was not only comical and informative, but seemed to create a dynamic relationship between the guards, some people we were speaking for and ourselves. There was, for the hour or how ever long we were there, a relationship that evolved between us all. What was especially successful to me about the chain of events at the square was that even though we were frustrated, there was humor, and the guards seemed increasingly aware of the absurdity of the rules they were being asked to enforce, but never seemed to blame us for putting them in that position.

Another interesting thing that happened was us speaking for the protesters, who are not part of the union, but paid by the union to stand there four hours a day holding up their sign and passing out fliers. The irony of speaking for people who are speaking for someone else is a beautiful bit of theater. I am not sure exactly why this resonates so loudly for me, but I suspect it is just the idea of lots of communication and energy being expended to convey messages that the active participants have no personal stake in. This is really rich, and I think we accidentally touched on a potential lens to look at the media through. I will continue to ponder this.

Kind of along the same lines, but going the opposite direction; "Charles" asked us when we were in front of city hall to speak about his frustration that the civil union legislation was being held back. He and his boyfriend had gotten engaged and were hoping to follow through soon. As I paraphrased his statement through the megaphone he came towards me and then standing in front of me, he agreed! This seems an interesting other side of the media.... people feeling heartened by their own message, agreeing with them selves.

I feel like we learned a lot, and got a lot of good raw material the day we started this project. Laurel and I also talked about how we might expand it, kind of a how far can we follow up sort of idea. We think we might try to find Ben (our main "client" at the square). We might go to the seventh floor and meet the people who administer the square and look out the window they were watching us from. Maybe we will find out more about the working situation for the protesters and the union that hired them.

We also want to continue our original idea of public speaking. We talked afterwards about some ways we could fine tune it, one idea was a dry erase board with a "topic" posted. Another was having note cards and pens for people to write what they wanted us to talk about.

The most helpful criticism we received from our colleagues addressed the fact that it wasn't really clear that we were "public speaking". We were just conversing through the megaphones. Some things I wrote in my notes were: A more clear system (I think this is really true) to indicate that we are "broadcasting". Maybe a pirate radio sort of set up, or an LCD message board with transcribed projection of text. And as I mentioned there was a lot of criticism of our documentation. I am not sure exactly how we will want to design this going forward, but this is by far the best discussion I have had about anything I am doing since I started the program. I believe we got such good (negative) feedback because we had so much documentation to respond to. This is really interesting to me because I have mixed feelings about the importance of documentation, but I have never before considered its role as a tool for getting feedback and growing my practice.

One last thing I will say about this, I don't know how it will look going forward, but I feel it now has another purpose. It appears that "public speaking" can function as a serendipitous heuristic device that allows the community to plot the trajectory of our next move.

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