Wednesday, July 2, 2014

22 Lines To Make Them Yours

You're the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I'd be lost without you.

There would be no reason to live.

There isn't a day I don't think of you.

And...

There isn't a night I don't lose sleep thinking of you.

All I want to do is make you happy.

Your smile is all I need.

You are the world.


You make me crazy.  

Your company is all I want.  


The world around fades away when you are here.

You set a fire in me.

There isn't a thing I cannot do now.

You make me feel like I haven't felt in a long time.

I fall apart only to come back together when I hear you calling.

You make me crazy.

You really do.

The world ends as soon as you leave from here.

For everything, my everything.

There is no longer a past nor a future.

Just now.

Time stops with you.  

Did I say I was crazy.

For you.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

For Just One Moment

Just one.  Just one moment.

Months had passed, he was right there, working, carrying something that was too heavy and too much to bare.  The house was full of flowers and there was a sadness that seemed to ignore how wonderful the light was that filled each room.  There were words spoken then that were also very sad and were met with tears.  I remember those times and I remember my silence.

It wasn't until I left I was able to find the words.  But most importantly, it was the distance that I needed to separate myself from a response.  When the words came they were all familiar and had been with me for months.  It wasn't until I was away that they were able to become words, to take on form, and be given a structure that formed meaning through reflection.  I had lost sleep for many nights.  I had dreams of writing that letter.  And finally one night, with the silence that surrounded my parents' small house on a small island I left my bed, went into the study, and closed myself off.  I wrote by hand and carefully wrote, knowing that he had consideration for good penmanship, and so I tried very very hard. One page turned into two and where I began was where I ended.  Careful folds were made, a perfect fit in an envelop, and finally address and stamp.

With the moon just above and in the company of many stars I walked with a faint shadow to the mailbox. The sound of the screech of the mailbox door being opened then closed travelled down that silent street. It was done I told myself.  But that red flag on the mailbox was still up as I went to sleep and was still up by the time I woke up.  It would be hours in the day until finally I heard that mailbox door be opened then closed.  And even then that letter had to travel thousands of miles as I hoped it arrived well before I returned.  It was important then that that letter arrive without my presence there, that my face and my access was removed.  That the words written can just be read and need no response to their author.  They were words that needed to be said, simply just said.  No immediate response, no thank you, no exchange, but an understanding that words like that exists.

For no expectations, no need for a response, and to be listened to because there is something I needed to say.  These words, though I have to say them, aren't for me, but are for you.  They are my observations and my feelings that come as a response to you.  I need no more than what I have. Anything else is the unexpected but is always welcomed like a surprise.

Let the words exists.  Let them find a place somewhere out there.  Let them be free of their author.  Free from any one person.  Let them be shared.  Let them be heard.  This is what I have learned.  To tell stories, to speak from a position that is from my personal but is accessible, exchangeable with you and your own experience.  Let us share feelings, the places we've been, and recall of the people we have met.  And so and so.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

(Currently Untitled, from And Cheese, 2014)

There is no where safe and so I just stay up late.  I've been meeting strangers in my dreams, beautiful strangers.  I can't remember their faces exactly, only fragments, here and there, but nothing whole.  And if I think deep enough I can even remember their smell.
They came to be out of some well that rest somewhere far and forgotten in my mind.  They are the ghosts of beings not buried well, that haven't found rest.  They haunt me, even when it is day and the sun shines into my window making it too hot to sleep.  I don't give them names, just feelings, and those feelings are something I haven't felt in a long time.

L is in my arms, close enough that we exchange heat with our bodies.  Her neck rubs my cheek and I start nibbling her there.  She is silent, she doesn't stop me, to say what has gotten over me.  I know it is a dream but my body doesn't wake.  This is our first intimate moment and perhaps the last.

I think it is how chance seems to be too intentional.  How the planets seem to align themselves and part of Earth where this particular moment, this "chance" encounter happens suddenly goes into the shadow of a total solar eclipse.  Like lightning striking twice, like the secession of two miracles makes it a saint, and how you just feel connected to someone before you know what it is that makes that someone that someone.  Like the eye before blink, before the I is I, there are just two beings, souls if I may, that haven't arrived at one point with their ego but rather with thing that comes before.  That self meets that self and in that moment there isn't an I nor a her, but one.  Ideas, thoughts, and feelings all just flow as we become breathless.  And so we just dance.  And we leave our friends behind.





Sunday, January 26, 2014

I Believe in Miracles


(When Harry Met Sally, 2013)

Too young.  Too old.  Something that seems repetitive.  But it might not be.  Finding a hole with a rope sticking out of it.  You look into the hole and it is dark, you can't tell how deep it goes.  You throw the smallest denomination of change you have in your pocket into the hole.  There is no sound. You look at the rope and grab it with one hand (which ever you use most).  You start to reel in the rope.  After a minute you start to realize how strange it is that the rope hasn't come to an end, either by the end of the rope or that it stops giving abruptly.  None of that happens, it just keeps on giving and never ends.  You start getting really into it, using two hands now, and on your forehead beads of sweat appear.

My mother looks back at me from the passenger seat and tells me about how we are going pass this place where aliens run about.  We shouldn't stop there, they might come running after us.  There's some secret laboratory somewhere out there in the desert.  My mind wandered and all I can see was this yellowish white sand everywhere.  The shimmer of hot air to anything in the distance.  This shrub and this cactus, some yuccas, and endless desert.  At the time aliens were the thing I most feared, and at the same time was most curious about.  I lived in the epicentre of alien activity as well as myth.  From that backseat I wrote poems.  One, two, three, four to the hundred I wrote already in that notebook.  I remember them all being sad, about heartbreak, about the reality that was then.

The rope forms piles and you stop a passerby and ask for help.  "Will you help me pile this rope?"  The stranger helps, looking curious herself into what lies at the end of this comically long rope.  Hours go by, a routine has been formed, there is a system of organizing the rope, how much you take before you need to rest your hands.  The sun sets, night rolls on, you and the stranger both take shifts of pulling the rope.  The sun rises.  The rope turns black and at first you are startled.  It suddenly feels heavier, you look down into the hole and for one brief moment you see a flicker of light.

I often wonder if my mother ever found those poems, if she ever read them, and if so how did she see her son after that.  Did she decide to give me more attention, to bring herself closer to me?  Without her I'm not sure how I would've gotten through those years.  How she would devise a road trip to here and to there, to see The Array, to go to White Sands, Roswell, Joshua Tree National Park, this ancient city and this, to an alien abductee meeting downtown, to some many countless things that were the best things a child like me could witness, to experience.  Without that I wouldn't be here.  I would not be I, it would be different, something with all the creativity in the world I couldn't imagine who was.  All I know is who is I that has seen those things, felt those things, and lived to tell those things.

Eventually the rope reaches infinity in your mind.  You ask the stranger if they have anything sharp in their bag.  The stranger strangely enough has a pair of scissors.  You ask the stranger for them, they hand them over, and you hold them open with the black rope in-between the blades.  Both you and the stranger look closely at that rope.  Your eyes say a farewell speech, that it was good knowing you, rope, that I have learned a lot from you, rope, that I am ready to leave you, rope.  The rope doesn't look back, it doesn't look at all, it just sits there, without judgement and waits, waits for whatever to come of it.  You press the scissors closed and one by one the strands that make the rope break free of each other.  The last strand breaks and a miniature cloud of dust forms.  You lay the rope to rest by the hole as you and the stranger hold another passerby's truck with rope.  You sell the rope for $1 a yard and soon sell out.  You soon forget where the hole and the rope was, and years later you try to hunt them down but find no success.  Even the stranger who helped you is no where to be found.  You wonder what her name was, what they did for a living, if they had kids.  You saved every cent you made from that rope in a series of jars.  They grow dusty and the same with you.  You forget all about that rope, that hope, that stranger, but never those jars.  They too eventually lose their memory and your grandchildren ask, "Dear Grand(ma or pa), why do you have all that old paper and metal money in jars?"  You can't remember and so you give them the jars, telling your rosy-faced grandson that has an appetite for trouble to smash them.  He looks worried, wanting to smash them to pieces but knows he might get an earful from Momma and Papa bear.  You assure them it will be a secret.

SMASH!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

HERE I AM

(Lava Tube, from And Cheese, 2013)

I go to the small places, if the party scene is too loud for me I find spaces underneath furniture, behind the fridge, under the covers of some one's bed and make myself as small as possible and wait.

During the time I was most afraid of Satan and demons possessing my soul I was out in this field stretched between my friend Ben's house and the Episcopalian church my mother would take me four times a year.  It was dark and a few of us were playing hide and seek.  It was my turn and I was determined to stay hidden for far longer than the others.  I found a nice hole in the ground that was surrounded by scrubs and yuccas and curled into a ball.  Time passed slowly in that hole and I could hear their voices holler in the distance, "Did you find him yet?""Where the hell is he?".  I kept at it, that human ball.  Their voices came closer and I grew excited, I didn't want to be found but at the same time I wanted to get out of that hole and join my friends again.  I kept quiet, someone even jumped over me.  What felt like half an hour passed by and I was sure I now held the record for longest hide-n-go-seek time ever.  When the second person jumped over me I immediately got up and yelled, "HERE I AM!"  Sean nearly tripped when he landed, they were all surprised to see me there, covered in dirt with thorns and all.

I had to run away that one night, my friend was leaving in the morning, all my things were there.  That was my bed for the weekend, the doors all locked behind him.  In some alternative universe I would've gotten to know someone better, create more inside jokes with a stranger, and let a moment carry on into the next.  The door closed and drunkenly I returned to the norm.  Over time those moments are all acknowledged and perhaps I grew too used to the saying, What happens happens: everything has meaning but most of it is meaningless to us, especially in the moment.

That saying came out of this one encounter and has haunted me since.  I was living in Chinatown at the time and I was going to art school.  I was across the street of the school where this religious paraphilia shop was (that doesn't exist anymore) when all of a sudden this stranger approached me, looked me in the eyes, and gave me the most beautiful smile.  I was catch off guard, and almost frozen in the scene as she carried on wherever she was going.  I could've ran after her, made something up in one or two seconds that declares that I'm not a weirdo, nor creep, just curious, curious like a boy but man enough to do something.  I couldn't think of anything and so I let it pass me.  Deep down I knew something, that that moment was too significant, that that person wasn't just a passerby, and that I will end up seeing them again and again.  I also told myself I won't let her slip away.  Damnit, I won't.
Months passed by and as I was walking with a group of friends there she was again, at the same school I was going to, and that eye contact, that smile, and this time I mustered a smile and she smiled harder.  She is playing a game I imagine.  Months passed and spring was on its way.  One day, I went to meet a friend and there she is, trapped in a room and that would be the last time we saw each other as strangers.  And that would be the last time we saw each other as strangers, as strangers, as strangers.

A letter was written years later.  I said everything I had to say on one US Letter standard, typed on a typewriter, then corrected by pen by hand and given in a moment that was carefully orchestrated, a trap was set, a scheme schemed, and I made things happen.

And that was the last time we saw each other as strangers.

Then another letter was written (there were several in fact but this one was very particular).  It said a lot of stuff in it and it summed up everything from the first letter to that particular moment.  It was also handwritten, corrected by pen by hand but this time it had instructions.  Like the first letter it was read with my presence in the room and like that first one I wanted to run away, never more awkward of a moment.

And that was the last time we saw each other as strangers.

Under some pile of winter coats, scarves, and beanies is a blanket and under that blanket is a full-grown man that appears to be sleeping but is completely awake with eyes open.  He doesn't look you in the eyes but just stares off, perhaps in shock that he was discovered.  He is still in the dirt, curled up in a human ball, surrounded by scrubs and yuccas in a dark night somewhere in New Mexico fearing the devil and wanting to be with friends again.  At the same time he wants to disappear.  He is neither and eventually he looks you in the eyes and the movie ends with a suggestion that the two hook up.

And that was the very last time we saw each other as strangers.





Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Y'Knot

(Yu Sum and Denn, at their house, 2013)

I've lost count at the amount of times I have been asked why my parents moved to Hawai'i.  The most common answer I reply with is, spoken cooly: Why not?.

I have never tried to properly articulate the answer, nor had I really proposed the question to myself.  It just made sense that they moved there, or rather my mother's desire to be there.  There is no way to properly answer that question, at least not without saying, "Long story short...".  But there is no long story short, just long story.

The ocean has always been a significant place in my life.  From as far as I can remember I always found comfort in its presence.  I always wanted to live by it, it was always something that I had been reaching for.  Retracing my past it was always a destination.  When my family lived in Toronto, we would venture down south to Florida to stay by the Atlantic, when we lived in New Mexico it was California and the Pacific, in Texas it was either Galveston, South Padre, or Penescola for the Gulf.  The end of a journey was always marked by the arrival to the ocean and for my parents now they have finally arrived.

If one were seeking out the presence of the ocean their entire life what better place than a remote island.  There are few places in Hawai'i, especially Maui one can not know of the ocean's presence, let alone its sight.  It is so ubiquitous that there is a reversed proportioning of land to sea: where as on the mainland there is the ocean as a shoreline and opposite is a land that continues far greater than one can see to the horizon over the ocean.  In Hawai'i, the land rarely forms a horizon.  And when land does it is often a neighboring island in the horizon, to which one can always see how dwarfed it is by its scale in a vast infinite sea which surrounds its edges.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

God B'wy

(Sisters, 2013)

I can't say I lost you, at least not to your face.  I can write it here and I know there won't be any objections.  A distance has been growing between us for a while now and for the first time ever I feel like an adult, especially when I say goodbye.  

I remember that last night we shared together, how I left early knowing that there was no proper way to say goodbye.  I held in my mind many ways to do it, I tried to make one or two of those happen but they didn't.  I told myself it wasn't your fault, that you had people to see, and goodbyes to say.  We had dinner one last time and in the amber glow of a street at night we hugged.  I whispered something I can't remember into your ear and we held each other for some time.  Michelle was there, looking at us.  I didn't see her with my eyes as they were closed but I could feel her presence.  I can't remember the last time we were alone.  I said it sincerely then I had to be a joker and say, as my final words to you, "Smell ya later."  

The truth is I'm not sure if we will ever see each other again.  See, as in see each other the same way.  Nor do I claim to know what the future holds, how we will feel, how we will see, and the matter of all of that.  All I know is now: that I stopped carrying Liam on my shoulders, speaking for his absence, and acting like he was still in the room with us.  The other day I came across an old recording I had made, one that I recorded right after a certain phone call with you.  I remember that moment very well as I didn't have the strength to talk to you, I was afraid your voice would break my heart and that my voice grew more burdensome to you.  Instead of talking I just played, I Need You by America.  Hearing your silence and the song playing felt like forever passing, eventually after the second chorus I hung up.
***

The phone rang, it wasn't the usual ring but a distinct ring tune I programmed just for you.  I answered and waited, I heard nothing on the other side; I would've preferred heavy breathing from some serial murder to the silence.  Eventually your voice broke the silence, it was that fragile side to your voice, the one that worked like a key to some deep crevice within me.   

I used to have this gut feeling about you.  I franticly been looking for it everywhere like a mother lost child.  For years, for a long time I kept piling up fuel for a fire that had long been extinct.  I used you as a reason why my heart wasn't in it with others.  It was easier that way, but perhaps easy is the wrong word here.  There is no other way of explaining it.  I had always been lost, as well as I have always been alone.  What I tried hard to forget in those Infinite Moments we shared was that fact, but the truth is I never felt like I belonged (to you, and who I was to you).  The heartbreak that followed our falling out wasn't losing you and that place you gave me in your life but realizing that fact was fact, proven by trial and rectified by failure.  

To say something that shimmers with the warmth of hope here: All the love I have ever known, which has been many, with many faces, was all my own.  To those I thought it was for, they may have helped that grow, may have helped me discover it, but it had always been there, within me, and it took me believing in it and in myself for it to have ever been realized.  It took me a while but I finally have it.  There aren't faces nor names to place with this love, no this one is uncomplicated, never runs away (here one day and not the other), this one stays, it has picked me up time after time, and it hasn't never done me wrong, no, never, ever, ever, FOREVER, EVER-EVER.

TILL THE BREAK OF DAWN, TILL THE BREAK OF DAWN.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Madness pt.3

(Something in the Works, 2013)

That feeling of missing becomes something without a shape. I can recall details: a smile, a face that holds that smile, scent, the shimmer in the eyes, and the feeling of being around this person and that person.  But something feels missing from the missing, that it is hard to imagine that person right now and here, that there are no caveats to the memory of that person around me in the scenery that is this place.  All there is is no lived experience of a place that only holds reference to Jackie Chan and kung-fu movies, a slight resemblance to Chinatown back home, and the few memories my father recalling of his homeland.  After that everything is new, and perhaps that is the excitement of being here.
Before arriving people would tell me about China, about how they knew someone that went and had changed.  Some of those people even returned to live there.  It is too earlier to point out what has changed in me, to acknowledge an alternative self, or if it was China that had the majority of the affect on me or if it was the experience of being with my entire family for the first time in over a decade.  Witnessing how we have changed, how we have grown apart, situated in a different circumstance from each other seemed to be an analogy to what China has become.  From my father's notion of the China, the China he had escaped, the Red China, the Mao China, the one that seemed too hard to speak of, the one that recalls memories of struggle and violent change.  That China was gone and in the void was a man in his late-60's seeing a new country from fifty years of being away.
Eventually the things I thought were strange, different, and even this notion of madness would subside to the everyday.  A child naked from the waist down is being held by his mother as he pees on to the street, the strong smell of urine in particular spots on the street, the cutest dogs ever, the massive crowds, the part of the street where cars, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycle, and people all struggle to move in each of their directions, the honking, the hawking, the spitting, the mixture of music, and the street sounds eventually fade to the opposite of white noise, a pattern from the chaos of everything happening all at once.  From how people looked here, communicating, selling, and buying, how it did not seem to phase them, that understanding of their everyday made it normal to me, or at least closer to understanding it.
Arriving in Shanghai was something else, I was still in mainland and yet I felt like I was somewhere far from the past ten days.  The same sense of order I knew from North America was here, walking was less challenged, the eyes need not pan and scan the surrounding in search of a steadily approaching vehicle, the sidewalks without vendors, the spitting down to a minimal, and the order of the buildings, of the overall was something I understood from the experience of living in a cosmopolitan city.  I had a good feeling about this place, as if I was searching for something, that something was just about to be found.  It was so close I could smell it.  And then I heard it, a whisper from the wind, "Are you ready?".

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Madness pt.2

(Michelle and Maya in Dundas, 2013)

Early morning and there was that light blue hue to everything around.  Just behind the tuk-tuk driver I watched his hair flap and dance in the wind as the street scene unfolded.  It looked like a place that hadn't changed in a long time, everything fixed, old advertisement covered second story walls, and plastic burned in designated spots.  This was the old my mind told me, comparing it to the modernized Beijing I had seen the day before.  There again, yesterday felt like a while ago.  So-so-so long ago that song went.

I looked like an idiot.  A complete fool.  The dogs were barking at me as I got closer with my camera.  All around me were locals watching me get closer and reading the signs of the dogs.  The dogs were wild and had their own place in Pingyao.  There were puppies there and I cannot resist the charm of puppies.  Dogs were barking by my legs and yet I stay there, even getting closer until one came real close, its fur touching my fur.  I started to run out of there and I felt being chased as what was directly behind was obscured by my imagination and fear of possibility getting rabies.  I must have outrun them or they just didn't care to keep chase as the sun set.
We rode tuk-tuks again, packing my entire family while the other carried all of our luggage.  Imagine two motorized rickshaws: one carrying five adult human beings while the other was devoted to carrying all their possessions.  This image seemed to carry with me the entire trip, and even before the journey started the notion of "mental weight" was dawning on me.  It came up on a hike after a friend of mine lost a precious bracelet, we were all high out of our minds in the middle of the woods and she lost that thing.  We spent time looking for it but no success, it had become part of the woods.  Eventually we had to push on as the sun was getting to that place in the sky.  Though the physical weight of the bracelet passed by day to day undetected its mental weight lingers; its significance, its sentimental value, its memory were all too important to keep on travels and yet she carried it with her, as a keepsake and a reminder.  We tend to leave things at home we wish not to lose but there are some special things we keep with us to represent something or someone as we are away.  There was a book buried deep in the backpack I was living out of for the trip.  It is sealed in a ziplock bag and it is very old.  I had no immediate plans to read it it just had to come along.  There is something in an object that has been places and has been owned by people, who also took it places as well.  It is usually objects that only find value to us and that they lack exchangeable value, such as used shoes (these are my magic shoes), an old camera that your father or mother shot with when they were your age, a book, a hat, and lucky jewelry.  When those things are lost there is a release of mental weight, but because it has been weighing down for so long the gravity is missed and so it is we can often forget we are lighter and no longer have to bare the weight of the past.  That bracelet was buried somewhere in Dundas, Ontario, where it will never get more lost than it is found in those woods.
A piece of luggage falls from the tuk-tuk ahead and our driver laughs and yells at his friend driving.  We carry on and make it to the train station late at night.  They're playing a Jackie Chan movie on an old television set and this is the first and only time I will see Jackie Chan on my trip.  The train arrives, first appearing as a distant light floating in the darkness of a small town, then it grows and creates silhouettes of guards on wait.  On board everyone appears to be asleep, occasional someone peeks over and then acts like they were sleeping.  I quickly climbed up to the third bunk and passed out.  No window to fall asleep to, no way to see if the moon was shining, just snores and coughs and the sound of a train rolling on tracks.  Sleep-sleep-sleep.

Madness pt.1

(Some works in the works, 2013)

Just when the days were getting longer they're turned upside down. They were just as long but they started earlier and ended when things were just getting started.  And it being twelve hour of time difference I never knew what time it was as the actual time competed with my mental notion of time, and so for three weeks in China I looked at my watch with an abstract understanding and forgot what day it was completely.  I still don't know what day it is.

I remember seeing open doors for the first time, walking through the crowded streets in Beijing, there, open, families interacting, and I being able to see what they were doing, who they were, and them not giving me any mind as what they were seeing, me on the street, this staring and lost outsider fades into their everyday.  Often single lights would hang from the center of small rooms lighting everyone in as much golden light as shadow.  Where the room ended was only suggested by the lack of what could be seen, and the scene itself would soon pass as I carried on down the street.  Apartment after apartment mixed with smells that would vary each few feet and the moving crowd's configuration that would shift making my walking motions move me to the left, to the right, stop, and hurry up.
In all the rambling around me in a language I did not understand the only interruptions would be in English and would not be informative or delightful to hear as it was always someone trying to sell me something, these refreshments, these souvenirs, this mode of transport, or this place to eat.  Some were more aggressive than others while some could see a cheapskate right away.  I wondered if this is what you meant by "madness", that word that introduced me to this place, and something I had been looking for since I arrived (maybe even earlier than that).
We met a long-haired man that reminded me of my father, perhaps because he looked very Chinese, young, and always had a smile on his face.  It is those traits I saw in the long-haired man that owned the Quiet Bar by the river that my image of my father no longer possessed, whose hair was shorter and no longer looked foreign, different, but just a familiar stranger that hardly ever smiled.  We drank Tsing Tao's while watching tourists and locals interact below: tuk-tuks carrying white visitors in their tourist uniforms and an ancient bell tower just beyond, what change that lonely tower must have seen over the years.  Later we were walking down an alleyway full of shops and American Rock & Roll, every time I saw a white person look at me I wondered if they knew they could hold a conversation with me, that I came from somewhere similar to where they came from.  I don't know why I thought this each and every time a white person looked at me and perhaps I just wondered what they saw, if I blended in or if they knew I was half them, and all of them (being a visitor and an outsider to understanding all of this (points to any busy street in China)).
Walking alone a British girl looked at me reading on the curb with locals and smiled.  I wondered if I should have followed her, asking her where she was from, wanting to learn anything about this stranger just to have a conversation.  In my head I couldn't get past the first few motions in a preemptive conversation to declare I wasn't selling her something, that I just wanted to speak in my native tongue with someone who I wasn't travelling with.  She passed by and soon disappeared into the crowd and I never saw her again in my life.
We rented bikes on our last night in Beijing and got drunk.  Riding drunk through Beijing was just like riding drunk back home, and even though it has been a few days into this trip home felt like a long way away right then and there.  Perhaps it was me seeing the future for the past, that I knew this trip was long and it had just started, with many more places, people, moments, and emotions to go through before I can start thinking of home again.  So each passing day made the previous two seem like weeks ago as we carried on via train, bus, tuk-tuk, small van, bike, ferry, and airplane.  Where and what was this madness you were talking about, I was beginning to think that I could only understand that if I were to replace my eyeballs with your eyeballs and spent some time in your shoes doing what you do and seeing what you see.  Eventually I would come to realized the madness, but by then I'd be consumed by it...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Withrow

(United (from Withrow), from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2013)

Both the background character and the subject of reality television share a relationship to the real as well as to the viewer.  With Extras we see a living color filling scenes with life and with the subjects of reality television we often see an ordinary person stimulate interest through its observation and framing.  Both depict the everyday, the intra-ordinary, the impossible nothingness from ordinary actions and ordinary-looking people.  In films they orient us to the scene as well as our reactions as they form a mass, a micro-democracy.  And on television they are presented to us with flaws and imperfections, dressed ordinarily, living a life not too different from our own, and this only brings us closer to this subject of the everyday.  It is their obtainability and the notion that they are just like someone you know or even yourself.

With Withrow, a house on Withrow Avenue becomes the subject to a series of incidents between a family of four.  The narrative within the household is both a parody of reality television (Intervention) and of biographical fiction based on my own experiences growing up in an environment similar to the one depicted.  The presentation of the film is split into three channels, with two that split narrative into two perspectives and with the third forming a background that depicts the surrounding neighborhood.  In its installation it is impossible to view the narrative from one vantage point alone, forcing the viewer to move between screens.  

The dialogue that happens between each character conflicts the depiction of a filmic reality.  Though their actions are realistic, the tone and intensity in their voices true to the human condition, their words form an absurdity to the film as they speak in Walla.  They are saying nothing but they are saying everything all at the same time.  From all the arguments I have witnessed, from my own family to reality television and cinema, they all say the same things, reaching the same levels of intensity and tension, someone cries, someone is broken, and their repetition is so constant that I tend to forget why they are arguing in the first place.  The question I place before the viewer is whether the subject of reality television or the real-life situation differ from those characters found in the background, performing actions of the everyday so well they are undetected by the viewer.  When the ordinary appears to be nothing...

Walking down any given street, I wonder to what might be going on in any given household.  Is that same wonder so far off from the same interest and attraction that reality television and Extras provide?  A splice of life and a complete disregard to the integrity of reality, whether something is constructed, scripted, or real it seems to matter not as the representation and mimicry have replaced the real.    

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lizard

(Summer 2006)

Perhaps too much could be said with silence, and perhaps too much can be seen with distance.

That voice, she really had a sexy voice, but not sexy like Hollywood: red lipstick smoking (she did smoke), blonde hair, and looking dangerous sexy, no, it was something that had no uniform and words to form a crude substitute for something that had it going on.  I fell forwards and nestled my boyish face in her American flag shirt and just rested there for an entire summer.  Or I wished I had...

Her name was Lizard, she didn't have scales nor did she need the warmth of the sun to disgust.  She was bad for all the best reasons and she walked without an attitude, she just simply was.  We had made up stories of how we actually met, one was that I was getting off work when I saw her and pointed to her shirt and then to mine, we both sported the American flag.  That would be the story we'd tell people, as if the truth was so bad it could not be known.  Her eyes would stare right into mine and I'd look down, hiding from the brilliance.  I was older than her but she could see I was still a boy.  She smoked.  My mother told me she would avoid dating smokers in her day, she never told me exactly why but it seemed to imply it was because of a bit of attitude, a bit of smell, and bad taste in your mouth if you kissed them.  She wrote poetry and when she read her stuff I was surprised it was good, not that I was an expert nor great at it myself but she had talent.  She danced and had that dancer's figure, her hair would cover her eyes and they'd bleed through.  I still couldn't look for too long.

During that summer I must've written a hundred poems for her, along with at least two mixtapes, and took many photographs but years later, once I am more than twice removed all I can remember is what happened once summer ended.  And so the rest goes, somewhere in Markham or was it Richmond, at a particular Chinese food restaurant, with my two sisters, and my uncle and his family, I remember receiving a text message followed by another.  I let them come, one by one and returned to the table, and fell silent in thought.  I did a lot of thinking that summer, I lost hours of sleep almost every night just thinking, and all with one cause.  Lizard.  That and I was really making progress in my fourth attempt at Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  And eventually I got a call, my pocket vibrated and I looked around the table, I had to get it, and so I left the restaurant, and listened to the voice coming from within my hand.  Her voice wasn't the same, that sexy beyond words was the same, she wasn't the same, and yet her voice wasn't different from how I remember it nor was she.  She wanted to see me, after failed attempts to meet, after I had waited long hours at this meeting point and that, and going home after an hour sometimes two, and having nothing to vent my frustration, just some tears into a pillow, perhaps a few punches to my mattress before falling asleep.  That voice on the line asked and I can't remember what I said and I would like to think I said nothing and that she knew I was done. I remember the pillar, the warmth of summer, that bush-like plant in a planter looking over a strip mall parking lot.  The clap of my flip phone echos till today.  I hadn't stopped caring for her, nor did I never want to see her again, I had transcended my need to be the boy who fell in love with her.

That night I finished Zen and was left with a great accomplishment.  I wonder today which one was harder, ending a sad story or finishing that book.  The person that was born by that pillar on the warm summer, with Chinese food on his breath still lives on today, and never has a moment been so sharp in my memory of how I came into being.

For long after that summer of the Lizard I wondered if I could ever love, if it existed within me, and if there was such a human being to help me find it.  I think deep down inside me there was a voice that hadn't been listened to in a long time saying, "Yes, YOU WILL.  YOU WILL FIND LOVE, AND BE OVERWHELMED BY IT, AND IT WILL END ONLY TO BEGIN AGAIN, AND IT WILL END, YES, ONLY TO BEGIN AGAIN, AGAIN, AGAIN (echo-echo-echo)...I'LL BE BACCCCKKKK".

Sunday, February 3, 2013

THE WAR ON MORE


(That Foggy Night in Galveston, TX, 2004)

Something in the falling time where all is quiet and shut into small little boxes.  Each moment passes, and it is all too fleeting to wonder right then, what is the meaning behind this?  There is that sand covered smile, interrupted with spitting and hair in the eyes.  The air is just right, the crashing waves, the sober gone and replaced with a stupor welcoming me.  My hands don't know me anymore and they just let go, dangling without dangling, holding on to something, and I watch myself from far away.  People pass us by and we carry on uninterrupted.  The sunsets and the glow of fire is all around.  Nothing.  Dig a hole in the sand, and bury us deep, and so we go.
Deep.

I can't repeat this.  With each it's unique, and with each is only the once.  I wonder what my grandpa used to say when something fell over and someone was reaching over to pick it up.  I never knew him well but I'd imagine him saying, "What has fallen can fall no more than it has already."  And so the broom would just rest there, the photo album on the ground, the chair tipped over and unbroken in one piece, resting there too, on the ground.  Once the sound of the crash echoes down the hall and into the ears of whoever is around, after all that whatever damage was made is made and can no longer grow or recede. 

It took five months to find every bottle and flask my grandpa hid in his house.  My uncle shown me one of his father's flask and told me it was his father’s favorite.  Out of all the flasks he owned this ordinary one, dull from being in his breast pocket for decades, dull from being thrown around and taken to this place and to that, and perhaps was even as old as my grandfather's time in Ireland was his favorite.  I often wonder how much liquor that flask carried over the years, where it had been, but most importantly how it looks from inside as I searched for the light outside reflecting from within.  Like the legs of a pier the salt of the sea along with the motion of ocean have taken their toll on anything man-made.

Not. This. One.  Repeated each and every time.  Not this one.  Sometimes a please is added.  Who was I talking to (God, myself, the person that made those words within me?)  When I act cool, when I appear to be relaxed, contemplative and composed I am at best a good liar.  When I fail to speak when I had so much to say prior to that fall in silence it means I want to say something honest, that has been on my mind a long time, just now, or maybe a few days, and everything but that thing I wanted to say is irrelevant, small talk to the big-big talk.  I lock up, the brakes kiss the machined surface, as I try to figure out how to say it.  Eventually the silence fades, I either say what I needed to say and carry on embracing the future, or you pick up the pieces and carry on for us.  It's just when you look at me like I haven't been looked at in a long time, that attention, that depth, and then...

We get out of here.  We take to the road to meet up with Buggaboo out on an island three hours north. There is something about that car you drive that just seems to scream good times.  Good times beyond the times we had in it, that I know you are constantly having good times in it with every trip, even when the good times are bad times, good times (if that makes any sense).  We share various fruits and drink one giant Arizona and we forget about it and it spills over my camera.  We stop to run on some old country road by a water tower, marked with wherever we are's name.  Passing cars slow down, first seeing the car doors open wide and then me running at full speed and finally finishing the narrative with you running ahead.  What is the meaning behind this? 
I remember the sunset coming in through your window and it was one of those images that cannot be photographed; red glowing sunlight bleeding through your hair, the reflection bouncing off the rearview mirror and on to your eyes, the tree line breaking up the sun rapidly.  You looking off to the road ahead unaware of the beauty of the moment, looking like you're used to this sort of thing, or maybe it’s just all me.  We stop for food along the way and I see you eat meat for the first time.  Night falls by the time we arrive at the ferry.  The moon is out and I can see that famous shrine of a portopotty by the port station house.  There in the distance is the ferry, the car is quiet now that the engine is off, we look to see the moon hovering close enough to the sea to see the ripples of moonlight.  And in that moment I see many others: there is Galveston on those many evening rides out there but most of all I remember that one time in particular when the fog came in and swallowed southern Texas whole.  The crew and I drove throw the fog with only a few feet of visibility in front of us, Beck's Sea Change was playing, I was glad Shea let me switch up the Sublime for that ride.  When we arrived at the seawall it was like there was nothing beyond the fog, as if the world ended there, an impossible distance.  
There was that time I was with my father waiting for hours for the ferry in South Padre and when we finally got on the ferry at 1am the moon also hovered low.  The ocean met with darkness and that darkness was breached by the moon creating these shiny ripples.  Now there was this, the ferry arrived, we drove on and parked and went upstairs.  For a moment we held each other like an old couple, the moon and us.  There was this feeling of knowing that there was this beautiful and indescribable moment about to happen, happening, and I knew it was coming, and I knew it was here, and I couldn't tell when it started but all I knew is I never wanted it to end.  We threw pennies on the lip of the ferry in hopes it will join the many others that have landed there and somehow managed to stay.  We wondered what the "Muster Station" was and soon the island was amongst us.  On the island the sky was illuminated with a yellow glow as clouds passed over the moon, taking their time.  We finally arrived, and yet I wished we could've kept on going, from one moment into the next, and other things indescribable.  

The War on MORE.  It is a story about one person's encounters with things sad and things wonderful and how the sadness kept coming like a soft-serve ice cream machine that filled the cone but didn't stop, it just kept pouring and what was once delightful was a messy frustration.  Then there are wonderful moments such as the main character falling in love with a stranger off the street, they get to know each other, and at first they spend as much time with each other, dropping out of their social spheres and getting little sleep, but then they have to go back to their separate lives, getting a healthy amount of sleep, working, and seeing their friends from time to time.  The protagonist longs for this new thing that came into his life and that gave everything a glimmer of delight.  He longs for it, and soon forgets the wonderful things that lay fresh in his memory and to cherish them, to remember what he had gotten.  It is a bit of cheesy story, the romantic elements are predictable and you don't really like any of the characters enough to really relate to them but for what its worth it made me realized what I had.  Sometimes you need to have things shaken up, and that there are wonderful and sad moments to be had, we need to observe them, give them air to breathe and to let them be absorbed into us.  The sad moments help us realize the good times, but they also test our strength and keep us lean of baggage.  And then there are the wonderful moments that stay and stay and stay with us.  And though sometimes we might not realize at the time how wonderful they truly are, it is best to enjoy them as they happen, without thinking too much, and once they pass let them be, and be glad they ever visited.  That is when they becoming meaningful.  The story ends with this line: It is the same as it is better to have loved and lost than to never to have loved at all but to go further; to be graced, to have experienced, and to come out of that knowing, the new person is within you as a seed in time grows…love this person and not the memory.  




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gone Hunting

(Girl Chewing on Bubblegum, by John Smith, 1976)

On a bench looking towards the giant field in Prospect Park you can see a diverse collection of people from all sorts of category interact and traverse across the scene.  One can really "people watch" here while taking note of the commonalities of the scene.  From the ethnicities to the social groups to class the greater the diversity the more complex the community becomes.  One time I was interested in gender role shifts from then to now as I observed how many men were carrying their babies over women.  Then to further divide this group I noted how they were carrying their babies; were they using a stroller or was the baby attached to their chest or even back.  By observing how well are we able to gain insight into an area and its inhabitants?  Does observation tell us what kind of people live in this neighborhood or area and how do we classify this area.
In the representation of the real, one must gain a significant insight into the real.  Between interview and conversational exchange to silently observing I hope to conduct my research into two modes: one of approach and intervention and the other removed from my subject.  To observe without interferes I hope to create a representation of the outsider and to further this sense of being removed and outside the aesthetic will be in the matter of a certain type of documentary style.  The other representation, that of the case study will present the voice of the individual by video documentary to portraits of the subjects looking contemplative, the ideal image of the true self.  By splitting the approach into two modes and documentary styles the question of which one represents the everyday with more truth; the observation without voice or the documentary film and constructed portraiture.

(Abandoned Shelter, New York, 2012)
(Hideaway, from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2012)

Gone Hunting is the first phase in which the construction of an urbanized hide will be used to observe the urban environment.  Camouflaged with the aesthetics of the makeshift urban shelter, one which is a product of found objects, the hide will be placed on the street corner for the course of a day as a video camera documents the street activity in its removed position.  The port where the camera will observe from when seen from the outside will be shadowy and dark with the camera's lens hidden.  The necessity of the hide's hiddenness is paramount as it is in the wild, to become invisible so that observation can be done without notice of the subjects being observed.  The power of the lens on the subject's consciousness is able to shift the natural character of the subject into an exhibitionist –one which is aware of self image, the representation, and of the echo of the image captured which posses an infinitude of circulation.  After this phase comes the second portion which is to approach the subject and to give them a voice which in turns changes the perception of them, from anonymous to having a name and a story.  Their poses are dictated by the moment and by the director of the photographer.  Their facial expression is dictated between direction to a moment caught in-between, the nature of the subject coming into the moment for a moment.  The expression which is capture is not one of which poses anything natural but one that is constructed in collaboration between the subject and the documentarian.  The exchange between the two parties creates the dynamic in the image, and through editing ultimately the author is the master of the representation.  But regardless of how the image is handled or controlled there between the lines is a fragmented representation of the real, just as the hidden camera captures, both approaches question representation of the real.  And when replicated in a staged setting with actors this representation is then questioned further as what we see is uncanny in its resemblance to the real.  In some cases, such as watching a hollywood film or viewing a staged photograph, through relation to the image and the ability to interpellate to the subject and the subject matter we are able to connect with what we see better than real footage of the everyday, the photograph of a stranger from the street.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Wall

(Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, "Retiring Zhora"scene, 1982)

There is a particular scene from Ridley Scott's cyberpunk classic, Blade Runner, where the background actor isn't a passive object of the environment but the thing that creates the tension of the scene as well as the frustration of the character of the narrative.  As the character, Dreckard is chasing after his target, Zhora, they leave the privacy of a club into heavily populated area in a futuristic Los Angeles.  The compression of space is apparent as Dreckard tries to penetrate the crowd in order to "retire" Zhora.  The function of the crowd is less individualistic as they form a volume which creates a wall, or even a maze for Dreckard and Zhora to traverse –which ultimately leds the viewer through the scene.  The mass is able to move, but their shear volume obscures Dreckard from being able to see Zhora, or even use his gun.  All throughout this scene, Dreckard struggles with the crowd and pushes and sometimes knocks over a total of 19 people.  Zhora uses the crowd to camouflage herself from being seen.  And in the context of this film, Zhora being a "replicant", an artificial life-form that replicates human nature and is questionably separated from humans, creates a motif that questions what it is to be human, but in this case study of background actors, her character and its attention to the viewer is obscured into the thickness of the kinetic background.  She disappears in the invisibility plane.
(Citizens of the night scene from Blade Runner, 1982)

The aesthetics of the background actors is representative of both the futuristic vision of the film as well as the multiculturalism of the location depicted.  There are signifiers of slums, with street people, along with monks of mixed race, punks, masked individuals, fur-coat bearing bourgeoisie, and other characters that defy category and the trolley which seems to unite them all as they move throughout this fictional landscape.  Even with this heighten-sense of multiculturalism and the individuals it can make, they all seem to blend in as exactly what they are as a mass and conform to the term, "multiculturalism".  They reach their broadest of terms of identification as being the sum of its parts, the whole or without, the mass of the many as this word comes into repetition.  The scene seems to create a gathering of all stereotypes of cyberpunk culture and its characterization, with mixtures of streampunk, bright colors, street punks, slum dwellers, the freaks and mutates, ridiculous and impractical clothing of futuristic fashion (which often "dates" a film in retrospect).  It is an overwhelming sight, with one group or individual replaced by another, after another in this high production and peak of Hollywood's studio system.  And in the spectacle this vision of the future creates the background character is heighten in the process.  There is a symbiotic relationship that the scene/environment has with its inhabitants as if they were once introduced to the environment and had gone through the process of adaptation and through radical transformation and mutation they become the forms in which the viewer sees.  The notion of being a product of the environment is brought into question and as human being one of the most influential creatures of this planet on its environment, is it fact the humans which occupy the space which dictate the environment or is it the environment that creates the conditions of the creature?  The urban environment is at the forefront of this discussion as it is the furthest removed from the natural environment and represents the epicenter of human influence on the landscape.  This model of the urban landscape creates the herd mentality, the diffusion of individuality when placed within volume.  The job entitlement of the background actor in an urban landscape is to be a member of the crowd, to blend into the background and to operate as a whole.  Where does roleplaying and their job mix and differ when they are arranged in volume as background actors being a crowd and taking on the role of being a crowd?


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Questioning Invisibility

(Yohance, "The Student" - "The Rapper", 2012)

How does one represent the invisible.  Though photography and its ability to show or to hide; the there and the not there, is it able to illustrate invisibility without it being a void left to vastly open intepretation.  The ambiguous lack of subject in a photograph seems to subtract more then it adds, leaving behind a vacuum the viewer is used into or avoids.  I question my work with the veil, which functions to cover, mask, or hide but doesn't create invisibility rather it hides identity and creates objectivity, –the human becomes the humanoid.  How does the individual or a group of people when put forth as the subject of a photograph without being seen?  Perhaps it is in the very nature being the subject that they are seen as well as being within the frame of the still image that subjectivity is reinforced.  This leads me to the question, through my interest in the background actor, why should the subject be invisible when I am focused on portraying that which has been placed back into the recesses of attention?
By bringing the background actor to the foreground and making this work a focus on what is being repressed to the boondocks of our attention perhaps the issue of invisibility is resolved.  By asking following questions I enter this investigation in order to understand the background actor through personal interviews.  Who is the background actor, what is he or she portraying, and what does their portrayal represent?  Do their actions and their appearance reenforce a representation?  And what happens when their employment typecasts people into reoccurring characters, stereotypes.  When casting directors select people for background work they do not hold casting calls, or have them deliver lines but instead just use a photograph to project the role on to them.  In this effect, the photograph represents them, gives them employment, and gives them their role.  There is a relationship between the singular image, as subjective and out of context it is, to its subject.  The headshot holds a duolistic ability to serve as well as betray.  And the importance of the headshot is the same as a mugshot is used to identify a suspect, it is the materialization of the mental image, whether that be for a role, or in the case of the mugshot, of the appearance of the suspect to a victim's memory.  The subjective nature of photography both represents and misrepresents, and is an attempt at the real, that ever-changing thing of motion and multiplicity of imagery.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Remoteness and The Invisible Plane

I'm putting myself into a routine of writing about my work and I hope by the use of this blog to be an informal discussion of my thoughts, process, and research in order to coop with the demands of grad school.

Introducing The Masters Series.  I hope to not fail this series of writings.

Remoteness and The Invisible Plane

(Snapshot of "Nine Eleven, 2011" on a display screen, 2012)

Contemplating the photograph, one which is based out of a constructed practice of image-making and another based out of an obsession to document experience traveling through the world and the everyday.  How they relate to each other besides from being born out of the same author is that they are both seen as documents to me.  The snapshot comes out of an obsession to document my everyday in order to expand but also complete my memory (which in turn can never be complete since the camera is flawed in perspective, the decision to photograph, and that the still frame is always, inherently out of context (without a beginning or an ending and within a frame)).  The constructed image which is staged is an afterthought of a moment, or a collection of moments and is a contemplation of the significance of a particular memory, a feeling, and an idea.  Where the snapshot is flawed in its aesthetics of being rough, out-of-focus, motion blur, mixed light sources, on-camera flash, and perhaps not the right focal length, the constructed image which comes from after the moment has passed is perfected in how the moment appears as a memory.  The flaw of the constructed image is that it isn't the moment that it is referencing and therefore is not real.  The argument I propose here is that what is real?  Reality is subjective, especially in a world that is divided by a social construction of reality which is in conflict with personal reality, one which is born from biographical experience.
I start my collection of images with a morning scene in a living room and in the center of the frame is a television set.  It is large unlike the television sets of today and is more furniture than an illuminated wall-mounted painting, and has become a piece of the domestic landscape, having photos, VHS tapes, and ornaments on top of it.  The television has the image of a CNN broadcast of two planes crashing into the World Trade Center buildings.  The room itself has a smoky atmosphere, dim with a bright world outside.  And though the photograph is completely staged it is as real as my memory of that moment is.  And since the moment has passed I cannot return to that morning of September 11, 2001, where I woke up for school, and my parents readily themselves for their day jobs as they watched the television.  Having just woke up there was a disorientating feeling when my parents tried to update me on what they had known from what they were given by the fanatic behavior of the broadcaster not knowing himself what had exactly happened other than the fact that one commercial airliner had
crashed into the financial epicenter of the nation.

(Nine Eleven, 2011)

The photograph of the staged living room with a television playing a pre-recorded image strikes the viewer with not a question of is this image real but recalls their own memory of that moment.  Even though it had been made ten years after reference point that image is still clear in the viewers mind, and what I claim to be as the clearest collective experience and image in recent memory.  And this is evident in the effect of the viewer when they see this image they are able to place themselves within the context of the image, recalling what they were doing that day and even how they felt.  This scene is not real, it is not the living room I had while I lived in Houston during the 9/11 attacks nor is it the viewers.  It is a generic representation of a collective experience.
An event seen through the camera's lens, then broadcast, and then seen through the television set we are perceiving an image out of context, through the frames of the camera, but ultimately through the ideology behind that broadcasting network.  Just as reality television differs from network to network, with TLC's obsession with abnormalities in our culture (ranging from conjoined twins, hoarding, large volume immediate families, and gypsies) to MTV's youth in conflict with reinforcement of stereotypes of college kids, Italian-American middle class youth, washed-out celebrities struggling with drug addiction and the public eye, these ideologies differ but are all part of multi-faceted ideology of a culture at whole.  Even though we are given the choice of view, from CNN's more liberal approach to Fox News' conservative view, both operate under the same system.  They are all representing reality within a specific cultural and regional ideology.  And this broadcast reality is not providing the lived experience but the simulation of it.  Through studying history we experience the Vietnam War as much as we experience youth drinking in a hot tub by the Jersey Shore or what it is to live in a house full of boxes and too many cats (some being lost or dead hidden away in some dark corner).  There is this remoteness that separates us from the moment's true experience to a controlled and simulated experience.  Cinema isn't far from this simulated experience of the real as it often depicts real events through a singular perspective.  Its heightening of the event is theatrical and relies on aesthetics, staging, and performance to create believability.  It places the viewer in a controlled environment of the cinema, a temple or cave-like setting that instructs the viewer to sit and to pay attention to the center piece, the silver screen in this case, and slowly dissolves the reality outside of the room for one which possess a flicker of motion and the omnipresence soundtrack.  And for two hours what is presented in front of our eyes is believed as a temporal reality, we start to interpellate ourselves into the characters and develop emotional connections as we start to "know" the characters, their scenarios, and the environments that surround them.

(Hoodlumz, 2012)

Rather than focusing on what is in focus, I would like to contemplate not the characters of the narrative but what is in the background.  The background actor's role is to be there, to camouflage itself to the background and to be commonly found object in the environment, such as trees in the forest.  In a sense they are a kinetic background like graffiti jumping from the walls and possessing life.  What they are meant to not possess is individuality, they are a mass of many, and are more caricature than character.  In the contemplation of the background actor being a walking, breathing, and living background is to observed and brought into the foreground, –they now hold our conscious attention.  Through observation they often create error to the simulated reality of cinema, as they are not necessarily trained professionals such as the main characters, but they are often real people there for volume and aesthetics.  Occasionally a background actor can be seen doing a cycling movement that repeats in a shot, or they accidental or purposely look into the lens which gives way to the existence of a camera as our viewing point.  And in some cases the background actors are real people that are untrained and are not volunteering to be background actors but are simply there in a real environment that is being used to represent one that is constructed.  It is in these cases that the control of the filmmaker is removed and there are elements of the real the conflict with the simulation through comparison.  The so-called, Fourth Wall, is breached and in these minor and often hidden nuances bring into question where the audience is.  It is a lucid experience but rather gaining control one realizes the lack of control over the narrative.


(James Woods as Max Renn amongst background actors portraying the homeless in Cronenberg's Videodrome, 1983)

In further contemplation of the background actor is questioning what they represent.  If they are appointed to be a mass of many and are not to have individuality such as the characters of the narrative then they are representations.  It is in their attention or rather their lack of attention that they fall back to a role, and this role being that of "type".  They are performing in the subconscious space of the film and are playing out roles based off of their appearance.  There isn't any introduction to the background actor and their character, they simply appear there in front of us on the screen, –the word, "front", does not define their position within the planes of existence in the film.  They are neither background as they are not affixed such as a wall of a building or a tree in a forest nor are they in same the plane as the characters of the narrative.  If they are neither back nor fore then where are they?
They exist in the simulacrum removed from reality and exist as a sort of transparent being in the cinematic reality.  Art directors in their pursuit to maintain the background actor in the background make them as real as possible, –the realer the less the contradiction is apparent to the viewer.  The word seamless is an ideal description of their aesthetics but being as this is film their actions also must be as real to the viewer and as convenient to the filmmaker as their aesthetics.  One could not imagine having to train individually each background actor to perform a specific role but rather an instruction via a megaphone addressing a mass or a second or third A.D. directing singular groups of background actors to perform a specific task.  These task ranging anywhere from walking across the scene, to appearing to be reading, or talking amongst themselves set in a cycle.  For example a background actor instructed to walk across the scene will perform this task identically for each take.  Or a group of background actors dancing in a circle and to no rhythm in particular.  The more real their everyday actions are the less apparent they become.  They existence on an invisible plane which is right before us but we dismiss them from our attention as the individual is lost to volume and the volume is lost to representation of a representation.  For what the background actor represents is a stereotype, a generality of a specific group of people.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

(The Bluffs Earlier This Summer, 2012)

Look at that fool, he's a goner.  He keeps on taking her photograph, saving each memory, year after year, touching her hand, saying soft things, making moments happen, even if they took many tries and a lot patience.  At it again, when will he learn.

I'm watching a moment pass me like the wind passes me with a cool breath.  And then it is leaves me and by the time it is gone I realize a wind had passed.  I watch it rustle against the trees ahead, I see it kick things up, I watch it destroy lives, make them, move someone high above and leave them stranded on the top of some great peak.  I've seen it do these things over and over and yet I drove in, sipping my feet into the rivers that no man can ever imagine taming.
I can't remember the last time I went swimming, I can't remember the feeling.  I wish it all lost meaning and I could leave it be.  I wanted it to stop but it never stopped bugging me, asking me, come out and play.  There's a knife behind your back I say, and it don't matter, I still go, I move forwards and I know it is a trap, and that's how foolish I be.  And all of a sudden-like, and out of the blue, and all of the foolish things I've done cannot be reversed, I know I am a grown man, I know I am above all of this, that time, experience, and understanding how I work moves me away from this, and yet, by golly there I am.  I don't know how it is done, I don't know why it always happens, captain, but there it be.  Once again, my friend, you got me.

And all the hot-damns and hot-dogs won't settle my soul, won't settle the feeling, that I wish I was born cold for, that I never felt, that pandora stayed shut.  Damn shut, bolted, and never even thought of.  It is beyond regret, it sure is, and sometimes, and sometimes it is better to not then to ever, and to shiver the past, and do it full and full ass, because half-ass don't cut the muster.  Now this time nor the next, and you can cut them out but you can't leave them.  They'll be your curse, and the cursed love to curse like anchors love to drag the ship to the bottom.

And now I learn how to disappear, and now I learn to walk the other way.  Sing it with me.  Aaaand Now I'hhhhhh l'ern how-woah to dissssapppppearrr, Aaaaand Now I'hhhhh l'ern ta walk thee ootthher wa-aayyyee.

I'm too old to run away so I'll leave it up to you.  You can after all and you will, and I'll still be here.  And when we say hello again, call me a stranger, call me nothing, and don't call at all.  From the sea of swollen to the pits of hells, the soft sounds of a man, and the woman's hand, memories and memoirs, a broken floor, and loose belt, the cat's dead, I mean, really the cat's dead, the other cats are chasing its ghost.
Don't leave this place with a smile nor a frown, just leave.  (Slams door, the window cracks, and the little miniature cars fall from the shelf and on to the carpet.)  I go to pick up the pieces and see I'm wearing no pants, and look up again and see that no one's home.  I close my eyes and imagine

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Death In The City



Tonight is the Pilot X launch as well as exhibition of a fantastic group of artists who all came together to create work about, "Death In The City" –a projected started by Amanda Nedham.

This is a group of some of my favorite artists and it fills my heart with great joy to be exhibiting with them all in one gallery and including one publication.

Tonight at LE Gallery (1183 Dundas St. W) from 7-11pm the show opens and will continue until September 1st.

The LIST:
Alex McLeod
Amanda Nedham
Braden Labonte
Brendan George Ko
Dan Rocca
Derek Liddington
Jamiyla Lowe
Jennie Suddick
Julia Martin
Lisa Neighbour
Luke Painter
Luke Siemens
Tristram Lansdowne

with writing by:
Amanda Nedham
Dipika Mukherjee
Edward Brown
Julia Martin
Kathleen MacFarlane
Kris Bertin
Lee Sheppard

Friday, August 10, 2012

OVERKILLING THE UNDERCURRENT OF...

(Nine Eleven from We Soon Be Nigh!, 2011)

My dearest friend of wonderful talent curated a group show of some of the hottest young artists in Toronto and it all goes down tonight and continues for a week or so...



WITH
MICHELLE BELLEMARE
MIKE BILLINGTON
GEORGIA DICKIE
MAGGIE GROAT
REID JAMES JENKINS
FELIX KALMENSON
ADRIENNE KAMMERER
BRENDAN GEORGE KO
MICHELLE KURANCID
ANDREW B MYERS
TIBI TIBI NEUSPIEL
MARK PECKMEZIAN
DAN ROCCA

SHOW RUNS AUGUST 9 - AUGUST 19 2012
RECEPTION FRIDAY AUGUST 10, 7 - 11
444 DUFFERIN UNIT S (JUST NORTH OF QUEEN)
OPEN THURSDAY - SUNDAY, 12 - 6
CURATED BY MICHELLE KURANCID






MORE INFO CLICK HERE

Thursday, July 12, 2012

EYEBUYART


Now available are the two last images to The Barking Wall.  Sizes may vary, but the images are all scary...