Whoa! Look at all these clowns. We all worked hard over the weekend to get ready for our public show next week. So far it’s impressively stupid in parts, in other parts head-slappingly ludicrous, and in still other parts it’s full hearted and funny. If you happen to be in or around Florence this Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, you’ll have to stop in and see us.
A few weeks ago we performed a few public shows in half-masks. We had a photographer come, Stefano Borghi, and I just got the photos back. I’m happy to finally have something to share of the wild work I’ve been doing here the past months.
These first to are of me and my friend Anja Završnik in a piece we made called The Box or Identity Card. Rosie was expecting a nice vacation was stopped at the border by a very eager border agent. On the border the consequences are steep and decisions are made in an instant.
The night was full of tragic and funny short plays. A stolen crown, a dead cat, a deranged pizza man. This last photo is of the second piece I made with Cynthia Kneen, The High Wire. The mask work is over now and I’m on a two week vacation, when we all get back together we’ll jump into some of my favorite work from the first year, red nose clown. In the meantime, rest, relaxation, and anticipation!
For a few weeks now I’ve been enjoying taking photos with my iPod. I use two pieces of software to make taking them more fun. Photosynth stitches photos together to create extreme wide angle collages. If you move the camera too much when you capture one of these panoramas the software struggles to put the image together just right and the results are sometimes surprising. I’ve been playing with Instagram too, that’s the photo sharing web-service that Facebook just bought for a billion dollars.
I added a feed to these photos I’m making to the column on the right.
Kottke.org had a post of intelligent comments on the closed economies that websites like Facebook and Instagram strive to create, he likens them to company towns:
Like all good producers, the workers are also consumers. They immediately spend their entire wage, and their wages is only good in Instagram-town. What they buy is the likes and comments of the photos they produce (what? You think it’s free? Of course it’s not free, it feels good so you have to pay for it. And you did, by being a producer), and access to the public spaces of Instagram-town to communicate with other consumers. It’s not the first time that factory workers have been housed in factory homes and spent their money in factory stores.
I may have sold out to these big companies by giving them real estate on this little site, cross linking, posing photos I’ve taken to them and all that, but damn it, they make it so compelling.
I’m right in the middle of reading the great historical whodunit, medieval mystery, Dominican detective novel The Name of the Rose. In part, it’s a book about books. “Books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told,” says William of Baskerville, a surely Sherlockian character to his Watson, Adso. Curiosity has been killing certain illuminatiors one of whom is guilty of drawing diabolic doodles in the margins of his manuscript.
…I know what torment it is for the scribe, the rubricator, the scholar to spend the long winter hours at his desk, his fingers numb around the stylus (when even in a normal temperature, after six hours of writing, the fingers are seized by the terrible monk’s cramp and the thumb aches as if it had been trodden on). And this explains why we often find in the margins of a manuscript phrases left by the scribe as testimony to his suffering (and his impatience), such as “Thank God it will soon be dark,” or “Oh, if I had a good glass of wine,” or also “Today it is cold, the light is dim, this vellum is hairy, something is wrong.” As an ancient proverb says, three fingers hold the pen, but the whole body works. And aches.
-Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
I was reading another hypertext when I came across another reference to these complaints and doodles. Here is a little article on this very subject from a new issue of Lapham’s Quarterly. It’s worth a look.
Mary Lee called me at nine on Saturday morning with an idea. Why don’t I come for a visit in Verona for the night? She and Doug visit Italy every year and at Christmas time we had talked about meeting here in Florence, but when it came right down to it it made more sense for me to head north to visit them and stay at the apartment they rent there. I’m glad I did!
As we were walking up a narrow street from their apartment to the Castel San Pietro it stuck me that I was already familiar with the color and mood of the city, I remembered from seeing so many of Doug’s paintings. I saw scraps of them all over. Arches, scrolls, columns, vines, washes of rich color; nothing is hidden but it all exists behind a diffused veil of light that makes it impossible to grab hold of.
This Sunday a few of us went to a performance in the small Tuscan town Bucine. My friend Casey took us. He knew the guy who was performing and operated the lights. The performance was OK, what I really enjoyed was the countryside. Gene and I played Durak on the train ride there, te stars were out in full force, and the aperitivo in Montevarchi was glorious.
In bed too late on Sunday morning I thought to myself, “get up now and get on the train otherwise you’ll never do it.” I threw off the covers and threw on my clothes and took myself on a day trip to the Picasso exhibit in Pisa.
After printing a train ticket to Pisa Centrale from one of the big green automatic ticket machines I took a few steps and validated it in the small yellow ticket stamper machine and stepped up into the second class train car. A group of four Gabriel García Márquez reading German girls dressed in Renaissance costumes rode across the aisle from me for the ninety minute journey.
Pisa is charming. I walked north in a straight line out of the train station doors to the river, stopping once to check a map taped-up in a cafe window to be sure I was heading in the right direction. When I turned around to set off again I was standing right in front of a huge and beautiful Keith Herring mural. I don’t think I have ever seen a piece of his in person. The mural in Pisa is huge, vibrant and delightful, but be careful, it’ll sneak up on you.
There were no celebrity paintings among the prints and pots in the temporary exhibit. Maybe paintings don’t travel as well or they were afraid of being stolen à la Mona, but what they had on display was impressive. I was inspired by the levels of detail and gray-scale in the essential bull lithographs and the curatorial wallop of a long hallway of vivid book illustrations dead-ending with this goat’s head. There were a huge series of beautiful copperplate etchings of minotaurs, bull fighters, Bacchanalias, and loungey women that were overwhelming in their number and variety and gave me the sense his balance of skill and production. It was definitely worth the trip.
By the time I was out of the museum it was getting dark and chilly. I headed right to the train a little ashamed that I’d return without getting a picture kicking the the tipping tower. But I’d let go of that by the time I rolled into Florence, happy at least that I’d gotten my lazy bones up and out.
Postcards aren’t what they used to be, but they’re still a lot of fun to make. Thanks to his mom, Bannack and I have traded a few videos like this one in the past few days. It’s such a treat to be able to have a little album of videos to carry around with me too. It means that if anyone is halfway interested I get to perform my proud uncle ritual of pulling out my iPod and showing off Bannack’s cuteness.