Where the f did Monday go?

Good evening, dear friends.

This week I was supposed to tell you about showing a one-minute film in cultural institutions around the globe in December, and, new looks in live projection, and, how cool it was to do a »radiantdevices« show on David Bowie’s birthday last Friday. How a few of us improvised a goofy cover of Ziggy Stardust and were so happy even though it was silly and Zack’s first mic failed. As Zack Violet [ the singer for that moment ] put it, “This is kindof rough, but, if there was no David Bowie there wouldn’t be a me!”

I lost Monday to a surprising number of tears, once I’d learned he’d died. I’ve listened to his music for over thirty years. At times his was the only music I listened to for months at a time. In many ways he made the world safer for me. His work invited me to take certain risks; his longevity, and his commitment to the artwork, to persist.

Aesthetically, for me his cutup/assemblage lyricism and archetype-roulette slots alongside that of William Burroughs. Both Bowie and Burroughs are important to me as pop culture links to DaDa and side doors to the dreamt, the sur-real, what I’ve nicknamed “the imaginarium”.

One artist-friend said he’s “considering what of the work Bowie’s left for us, that I can take up, that fits with what I do”.

This link is to the isolated vocal track of Bowie’s original recording of Ziggy Stardust.

The second link, to a concert I watched live on VH1 when I was in graduate school, a few weeks after September 11, 2001.http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=984_1315755315

Behind that second link I wonder if you might hear what I hear – a tremendous spirit of intimacy and connection, a big folk-hippy heart singing out from under the sleek, produced surface. He sang in a moment of our great darkness and difficulty. He knew that the audience looks for an image of itself in the media it consumes. He chose to cover “America” by Simon and Garfunkel. On some level he gave us an undamaged image of our country, instead of the smoky wound we’d all just fallen into.

This example is, I think, one of his challenges to artists.

Because I’m supposed to tell you, well, there’s another »radiantdevices« show coming up, February 12 at Chicago’s Metro.

But besides that, I’d love to hear from you, with links to your favorite Bowie thing – movie or music or interview etc – if you have one to share.

Thanks for being here, and reading my notes.

Jessica

PS: the subject line of this post quotes a lyric from DB’s newest album, Blackstar.

Change for Chicago : West Side School for the Desperate Takes A Bow

 

Chicago’s West Side School for the Desperate, a poetry collective living and working together in Logan Square for the last 2 years, hosted their final show Saturday April 13.  Lease issues and the collective’s need to grow in new directions mean they’re closing up shop and moving on.

Its been amazing to watch the regularly-attending open-mic poets grow since I’ve been photographing (& occasionally reading) at the Bad News Bible Church monthly event … All performances at that show were energized by an audience willing to play ‘net’ for every new poetic acrobat – every poet, musician, lyricist, or other experiment here surfed the crowd, at least in spirit.

 

 

Creative community for the sake of community is a sacred space. WSSD gave Chicago this for 2 years. I don’t think anything’s gonna come along very soon to take its place.

Photo gallery for the last installment of Bad News Bible Church over here.

transition : from analog to digital // Tony Balko

Last night I got to surprise an artist-colleague, someone I haven’t seen since he left Pittsburgh in the oughts. In the 412, Tony did projected video work. Sometimes he edited together film-like things, sometimes he improvised with multiple 8 or 16mm projectors. Much of it, for me, was threshold-recognition work, immersive stuff playing with the viewers perceptual equipment (i.e. our eyesight & optical processing system). Yes, fear of seizure could be part of the experience, and fear of flashbacks, if acid or mushrooms were ever one’s particular trip. Always I found an engaging sense of wonder in Tony’s work, wonder at playing with the illusions underneath all projected film.

 

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Balko packed the equipment for this installation into the pedestal supporting the piece. He created the software that manages the dilating, color-shifting projection using Processing.

I really enjoy watching Tony’s work make the shift to digital instrument creation. In Pittsburgh, I got to audience some of his collaborative video projection work. That content was created with existing video editing software, and was projected with live music performances with bands like Centipede Est. I also got to experience some of the pieces he made with analog projectors. Good stuff.

The leap to Processing deepens the instrumental improvisation. By building software, Tony creates the instrument projecting the work. His prior 8mm/16mm stuff worked, for me, as instrument/improvisation. The software made with Processing allows the art to respond to input during the show, a major departure from edited-together ‘finished films’ built on existing editing platforms.

Concerns with image flicker rate and abstraction unfolding over time certainly remain . . .

 

 

Check the flickr set, including video.

 

 

 

on finding “Mistake” in my mailbox

They sent Mistake on purpose. Mistake, the poetry chapbook they published, the title of the collection they chose.

Make stuff, send it out. Sometimes I send the stuff itself – poetry manuscripts, DVDs. Sometimes I send the plans to make it happen – descriptions, to do lists, sketches. A feedback loop of non-response, acceptance, rejection.

I keep a semipublic sketchbook on this blog, on flickr, bits and pieces go to google+, to the Facebook page. The undialogue of ‘like’ing and +1-ing. The undialogue of no negative feedback. People are afraid of hurt feelings, people are afraid of alienation.

I found Mistake in my mailbox. Meredith Stricker’s manuscript won the 2011 Caketrain poetry chapbook contest. My entry did not. Glancing at a poem here, a poem there, her manuscript won it worthily, the work looks excellent. Right up my alley, too. I’m looking forward to reading it.

The nice thing about submitting work to poetry markets? So often they send content to read later. Not so much with the art shows, or the galleries. What did they do with that proposal, I wonder? That’s the non-response black hole the polished, tightly edited paperwork and supporting documents and DVDs go to. I have the delivery receipts. Blank refusals of no answer.

The editors, curators, gallerists I have enjoyed working with most have a useful etiquette for critique, for saying ‘no’. They provide some insight into why – “the inconsistency of your punctuation use tells me you haven’t figured out what that communicates yet”, “we like to publish work with stronger emotional punch”. That provides some insight into how to adjust my approach. At least, my approach to them.

What do I want for the work? Do I want it to be that way? I fold the critique back into the dough, as it were, and keep making.

A young musician struggling with how to get his creative life moving asked me what to look for in a creative relationship. I said, “Find a bass player that can tell you ‘no’ in a way that works for you”. He thought about it pretty hard. Apparently the kids these days like to take their ball and go home when the friends they play with give critical feedback.

I found Mistake in my mailbox. I had the privilege of starting to learn how to make at a very, very young age. I was four. Violin is hard. I was lucky, I had really patient teachers who validated my person while teaching my clumsy hands and wrists. I was lucky. I decided that my hands made the mistake, not me, when I had a tough teacher from second through 7th grade. (Thanks Mrs. Brandenburger!)

Mistake. Does mistake carry blame so our hands don’t have to? Its cousin, Accident, also a common target for our negative emotions keeps our egos blameless. Both mean our skills lack, not us. They can be a common foil for not developing our skill. We have to come back to the workbench, the practice room, the studio, to keep making.

Keep practicing. Keep sending. Excellence will follow. Or, what is good will find the right pair of eyes, the right set of ears. Some day, I will find my chapbook in the mailbox.