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.
If you still can’t get enough, check out this interview from the New Victory Theater, with some clowns I met last summer in NYC at the Brick International Clown Theatre Festival. Enjoy reading what Billy and Summer say about this world of working clowns.
Read this excellent New Yorker profile on professional pickpocket Apollo Robbins. He’s a fascinating performer to watch. Here is a link to a video introducing his techniques.
What I particularly like about the profile is what he says about the choreography of people’s attention, a particularly important principal in telling stories or making theater. He says, “attention is like water. It flows. It’s liquid. You create channels to divert it, and you hope that it flows the right way.”
“It’s stepping outside yourself and seeing through the other person’s eyes, thinking through the other person’s mind, but it’s happening on a subconscious level.” He went on, “I can analyze how I do things, but the actual doing it—when the synapses just start firing—I can’t explain.”
“A lot of magic is designed to appeal to people visually, but what I’m trying to affect is their minds, their moods, their perceptions,” he told me. “My goal isn’t to hurt them or to bewilder them with a puzzle but to challenge their maps of reality.”
Challenging a person’s map of reality is a tall order. It necessarily means getting up close to your audience, and in a pickpocket’s case litterally encroaching on their personal space. Approaching a person head-on will make them immediately uncomfortable. “So, what I do is I give you a point of focus, say a coin. Then I break eye contact by looking down, and I pivot around the point of focus, stepping forward in an arc, or a semicircle, till I’m in your space.”
In this case the fixed point is the channel that diverts attention and allows the artist to swoop in undetected and get very close. Close enough to rifle around in the someone’s pocket and do some rearranging. “Not to hurt them or to bewilder them, but to challenge their maps of reality.”
Photographer Eric Valli. I love the color quality of these photos. They remind me of the glossy pages of old National Geographics. Click through some of the other stories on his page, I liked Honey Hunters too.
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.
After being overwhelmed by the tight weave of the Paris Metro system, I dug in a little and found this great comparison of major world city’s rail systems mapped to the same scale.
Here are Chicago and Paris mapped in a way that makes me feel a little better. Living in Chicago I’ve gotten used to fewer lines covering a wider area, where the Paris system is complex, it’s more dense.
In just a few days now I’ll take the RER to Chatelet les Halles, transfer to the 11 (Brown) and take it to the Pyrenees stop. Which is not so bad! After all, I know my way around the Brown line already.
My roommate Bannack and I have been throwing a sheet over his little table and chairs to make forts in the early morning. He likes being inside the tiny space we make and I like that I get to lay down for a few minutes more, even if it’s on the floor. So I was delighted to read my friend Marissa’s fort-centric how-to post on her new blog.
…Finally, you will want to photograph your fort when complete. If you’re feeling real-estatey, create a walk-thru video of your own, OR hire a third party production company that can create a 360 virtual tour of your fort. This is all good to share using social media. Your friends and family will enjoy seeing something you built, but scaled to fit a small person. You will get comments like, “ummm, that’s amazing and beautiful/luxurious!” and “Nice moat!.” These are all great things to hear, but you know that once you’ve finished this fort, it must be destroyed and replaced by a better one.
The subject immediately reminded me of the delightful architectural criticism parody: Couch Cushion Architecture; A Critical Analysis Part One and Part Two
At first glance the composition appears unintentional and the construction shoddy. But further investigation reveals a clear delineation between indoor/outdoor space with a design focus on protection through the use of barrier. Planes are shifted off the orthogonal to accommodate function; as a side effect it relieves inhabitants from a harsh Euclidian geometry. Grade B
If you’d like to know more, here is a very expensive book: Ottoman Forts
Chris’ brother Mike told us about this great series of music videos produced by a French music blog called La Blogotheque. They produce wonderfully casual videos like this one of Andrew Bird walking through Montmartre.
You might have to sit through a 15 second long commercial to see the embedded video. Here’s a link if you don’t want to wait.
Artists Sarah Cockings and Laurence Symonds created this whimsical balloon they call Is Land. They presented it at a UK art and music festival and had intended to show it off at this year’s Burning Man, but some dudes had another idea for it.
Witnesses saw a small group of malicious festival goers, two in a dingy, cut all five tether ropes holding the helium structure at 3am on the Sunday morning of the Secret Garden festival allowing it to float away. The daring £9000, six month project by RCA graduates Sarah Cockings and Laurence Symonds simply floated off into the atmosphere, leaving them completely deflated.”
The good news is, a replacement balloon has been sponsored, but I can’t help but wish that that one gets let go as well. But maybe version two will have a GPS beacon?
On a related note we’re still running out of helium.
Maybe you’ve seen this before. It looks like it’s from 2006. But the images below are made up of 500 responses from a survey that asked people to draw where an how they experienced five broad emotions. From left to right, anger, joy, fear, sadness and love. A beautiful kind of map is formed when all the images are superimposed. Check out more of the project here.
Can people describe their visceral feelings of emotion visually, and if so, would any patterns arise? In order to answer this, I had to develop some way of asking people to reflect on and describe their private feelings in a simple, repeatable manner, the results of which could be correlated visually and demographically.