Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pointing (The Giant Finger)

It happens as soon as you could forget, and just that moment the deal is made, you are in love.
The index finger is the largest of all fingers when seen for its meaning and discrepancy. And some even say the index finger has been as revolutionary as the thumb, I beg to differ.
In the caves of what we call modern America, we see a young, strong, and large-boned family of cavemen and cavewomen. They are discovering fire for first time as they sit on square wheels; keep hitting that flint. It has been days since the cavefather has discovered the spark, which sparked the idea of throwing sparks on something dry. Later he will discover the fire to which has yet to be extinguished; he is our greatest grandfather, with his mammoth drape over his body and his spear. He never dragged his cavewife by the hair of her head; he made the fire for her. This is where I was most fascinated; the act of devotion, and furthermore, the emotion of love.
The fire was invented at the same time as love, for a man had no control of his will, his inner fire to his desire. His eyes, shaded by the slope of his brow, were determined to create what his strange dreams had foreseen.
I would like to talk of the times before the invention of the fire, and of love. The cavepeople would travel, nomadically, throughout the country side, only stopping at bodies of water and continuing along their coast. The times could not get anymore simpler for the people, they cared only for hunting, eating, and then sleeping, and having kids for some unexplained reason that still exist today in modern day men and women, in a certain time in their lives. Things almost had no meaning without the fire or love, everything was just like it should and without reason to explain. This was a time of few emotions as well. The invention of fear was given to the hunters facing the giant mammoth and saber-tooth tigers of their time. It was upon the face of the enemy, in this case, the giant animal, the caveman decided he could die from this creature, his heart raced and his eyes dilated, and he didn’t even really feel hungry anymore either. But to spite all these changes in his body he charged forwards and conquered the creature. When he was walking home, or rather, the home before his family decided to move again, …and then again, he thought he had challenged something greater, not just a giant, but something that could’ve killed him. He decided to invent fear to explain his challenges as a hunter; the hunter who hunts against fear. Over the mammoth-size meal, the hunter told his story, and his children listened dearly with watery eyes of fresh discovery. And so they grew older and told the story of fear to their children, and so on and so forth until the origins of the story were lost in time. Today we only feel fear, and have no concept of a life without the feeling, but there were days where fear wasn’t a factor.
Soon after, almost instantly after, on another part of the land, which was very far from the origins of fear, a cavewomen invented love. She had birthed her fifth child, and decided to name him. The name given was Cough, and was the most beautiful baby she had ever seen. She cared for her other children but there was something very much different with Cough, as if he wasn’t from this world. Cough was smaller than his cavebrothers and cavesisters, and never really grew as muscular as them as well. But to spite his physical disadvantage he was smart, taking the spear of sharpened wood and decided to use the flint stone as an arrowhead for the tip. This made the spear sharper, and since it didn’t need as much wood, it also made the spear lighter. Later on Cough would be the grandfather to certain indigenous tribes who adapted the Cough spear into small handheld arrows. Cough didn’t know what to feel about his mother, she would care for him the most because he was the smallest, and though his siblings didn’t like him much, he cared deeply for them. Seeing Cough grow to Cough’s mother was the greatest thing she had ever felt and decided to invent the feeling of love to explain this to her other offspring and to her cavehusband. And to spite their jealousy over Cough, they all understood then and there, that love conquers all.
It wasn’t long after the invention of love, and the “spreading” of love occurred that the invention of hope came about. It was invented by a few cavepeople, and miraculously instantanously. The word of love carried on the backs of many nomadic people, telling them of this great thing that happened to them, but there were a sum of few who did not know of that feeling of love. They struggled to understand, as they carried on their cave drawings with the diming light. There was no fire for their hearts. The only thing they could do for others as they struggled to understand what love was to invent something that complements it. These cavepeople, all instantly, invented Hope. With hope they were able to coup with the emptiness or rather, the lack of, love in their hearts, and hoped to find love one day. This later grew on many others, and over the generations became essential to life itself amongst humans. Without love there is hope, without hope there is nothing but hunting and gathering.
The index finger comes into this story after the invention of fear, love, and hope. The index finder was used for selection of who you are and who that person is, and as a general identification device. Without the index finger the cavemen and cavewomen would not know who one was talking about. They had to point the finger, to tell that person he was in love with her, or that she had hope for the future, which was him as she pointed out the cave to an endless desert, far away there was her love; faceless and lost without her as he pointed out to that same desert in her direction. But soon after the use of the index finger as identification, there was discrimination, where loving someone who did not love you was feared. The mixture of fear and love is a rather complex story and I will try to explain this without losing you in the process.
Originally fear was invented to mark a larger obstacle than the physical challenge of hunting a certain creature. When hope was invented those who were without love were either seen as crazy or sad, with a taste of sympathy, which was invented as by-product of hope. The cavepeople who had found love were intoxicated with this new take on life that they could not imagine their lives before this feeling, and were lost to meaning of the lives of others, those who had not found this feeling called love. The cavepeople without love, but had hope, spoke to their friends and family members, telling them they were not lost, that they were not crazy, but waiting for something unseen. But they were granted little attention in the audience of love as they pointed their index fingers first to themselves then to the endless void. It was this very endless void that provoked fear in those who were comfortable, even complacent, in their natural landscape. The lands beyond their knowledge were even more of challenge, and more death-threatening than the mammoths and the saber-tooth tigers, for they, at least, were understood, little could be said for lands beyond one’s eyes. And so those with love told those without to carry on, to find their loves that were in the endless void and to never return. The hopeful were casted from their native lands to seek their hope. And the once friends, and the family members would watch them leave, without saying anything, just pointing their index finger to the void, as they watched their histories walk away until they disappeared into the setting sun, or a hill, and maybe even a forest. The love-filled towns grew smaller and smaller as they realized less and less knew of love, and this itself apposed a fear. They were slowly losing their communities to the unknown. And they also longed to know what had happened to their hopeful friends and family members, for even the hopeful were loved themselves. If only they shared this love with those who loved them, they would be together still. And so the index finger had been abused for its power, and later banned to be use against a person. Today we no longer have to ban the use of the index finger towards another, but regard it as rude and impolite.
And so everyone decided to leave their caves to seek the unknown in hopes to find what had been in front of their eyes this whole time. They had lost the most important thing to them; their families and a part of their history. They only had hope to find, and it was hope that found them like the many before them as they too walked into the unknown with nothing on their backs, alone on a journey for something they cannot describe. We never chose our fates; to be born as, and we have never felt more alone until we found each other and saw the same fear we all share.

FYI (July 30th, 2009) Cavepeople is now accepted over Cavemen.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Force: Fed

(Grange, The Great Escape, 2008)

Flying high above a dish of forest greens, mount mashed-potato, and gravy river my mother's hand soared in the sky, occasional descending and ascending just before approach. I was stubborn as a child when it came to eating. There was so much happening around me then that eating was never numbero uno, it was just a requirement, plus greens were gross. I wanted to run, I wanted to play, see Danielle and Andrew and run really really fast with them. If only for a little while...Then I'll settle down and eat my greens if it made my mommy happy, but not right now.
My feet were surging with all types of energies that I could not even try to describe, I just had to go. But here I was, stuck, in a big chair with my favorite books beneath my bottom and I knew, and my mom knew, I had to finish everything. I HAD to become a big boy one day, and that wouldn't happen until I eat it all up, all the forests and all of the river's gravy, and then deconstruct mount mashed-potato. Each night I had to challenge this all, as the nights came quickly if I hadn't eatten fast enough, I wanted to go out one more time, just before it turns dark blue outside and the orange of street lights start to flicker. I wanted to be a kid forever. I wanted a cape and aviator goggles. I wanted to dream of flying, and then I wanted to really fly, with big gloves on and my rain boots, high above my sisters and my daddy. I would go up and up until they turned to ants, and then just like that, they disappear. My mommy would pack a lunch for me, everyday, and everyday a new sandwich and a new snack, and I would fly off to work. She'll kiss my cheek and tell me to be safe, her lipstick will rub off and I'll have one rosy cheek that smelled like the most beautiful flower ever. I want to fly to remember, to see everything and tell everyone I know of my journeys, of the adventures I have had. I wanted my mom to know how much I missed her while away. I think she knows exactly what I had seen on my adventures, because she probably knew how to fly herself when she was my age. I decided then and there I never wanted to grow up. And so since then I have been flying, I have grown older and into a man, but there are things that will never change, for the skies will always be blue and the clouds of white and grey, for days like this it is just a moment in a moment. And I still have to force myself to eat my greens as my hand descends and ascends the skies above the forest of greens, river gravy, and mount mashed-potato.

In other news: my official website will be launching soon, hopefully I'll be free enough to continue keeping this blog updated atleast weekly.

Friday, November 21, 2008


(Here We Go, Reminiscene, 2008, 11x14; Untitled, Reminiscene, 2008, 11x14)

Today is exactly one week away from Photorama at TPW Gallery. This exhibition is a fundraiser for the gallery, and this year I was invited to present work. So I'll be presenting two pieces for the first time in a gallery space, in addition with one I have never shown anywhere, including this blog, for the very first time...
For more information on the exhibition:
I hope to see some of you there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


(Here We Go, Reminiscence, 2008, 30x40 inch c-print)

By Brendan George Ko

“And now I see what the glass door is. It is the door of a coffin-mine. Not a coffin, a sarcophagus. I am in an enormous vault, dead, and they are paying their last respects.” (Pirsig, Zen)

We are observers to our past, and through time the memory of our history changes as we change. When Robert M. Pirsig set out on his motorcycle journey across America with his son, Chris, and a couple, John and Sylvia, he wasn’t interested in the destination, but in the discovery along the road. He was investigating the history of someone who he once was; someone he had forgotten and was no longer, Phaedrus; his severed personality. Seeing everything around him; revisiting his past, Pirsig found his memory of who he once was. And as he investigated deeper and deeper he learned of who Phaedrus was to the people he once knew, and of his words that matched each terrain, recalling him of Phaedrus’ studies and later, of his insanity. I am searching for shades of myself, investigating my past, and finding captions that speak for each moment I had forgotten. Instead of a motorcycle, I use my feet for this journey; searching the terrain that surrounds me for my past self that has so rapidly changed over the course of half decade. And like the glass chamber that filled the dream of Phaedrus, I am only an observer to my history; completely powerless to influence change. But it is our history that makes who we are today, and it is who we are today that makes who we are tomorrow.
Through my own investigation, I am reading old journal entries, and biographical fiction I wrote in different times of my life. My words will find themselves on windows of places that hold a certain memory, and after they are documented they will remain as mementos to remind me of this act as well as to engage to others who pass by. The sceneries behind this windows will be out of focus like the memory of the captions have faded through time, becoming less clear and less real.

I was searching for my history, and I was learning who I was through my past, but I discovered my future in the process as I started a history with someone that was right in front of me this whole time.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig, 1974, excerpts from Chapter 23
There have been changes to this series, my investigation is no longer just of the past but of my future. And since then I have changed the title and have adapted a new artist statement I find more truthful to what I am saying with this body of work.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Favorite Things

(untitled, My Favorite Things, 2008)

I once had flashbacks. I saw memories of small details of my life that served not external purpose, nothing that built a sense of character or defined my life, but these almost meaningless details of things, such as a small grocery bag on the curb, or a brickwall of the house I grew up in.

To quote Oscar Hammerstein II, from his song, My Favorite Things,

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.
Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels;
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;
These are a few of my favorite things.
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes;
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes;
Silver-white winters that melt into springs;
These are a few of my favorite things.
When the dog bites,When the bee stings,
When I'm feeling sad,I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Taking portions of my favorite things of someone, and isolating them from the world in which they exist I find a new context for them. They are no longer an assembly of items or objects to someone as a whole but identified and redefined in their separation. Presenting these concentrations in a diptych format addresses the context the person they originate from. There is a sense of timelessness in the proximity in these isolations, that the world outside of these features is faded, beyond the optic and the sense of time and place. And through the process of identifying small features of someone, there is a lost of identity, making these portions the facet of anyone, but retaining the individuality (the small details that make the individual unique).
When I think of the song, My Favorite Things, I think of one of my favorite songs in the 1965 musical film, Sound of Music, how it speaks of these small details that are seen as meaningless until we present meaning to them as individuals. We define these meanings through our history with their significance, as pure and simple they are, it is these small things that make us unique ultimately, and these small things I would like to remember about a person.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Can't Stop*

(Here We Go, Reminiscene, 2008)

Over and over, rolling down the hall, into the stairway, out the door, passed my bike, through the alleyway, down the road, up the street, and at your doorstep, and it ends. I can't stop.
The jungle only existed in my mind but yet when I was awake I was seeing it, right there in front of my conscious eyes you and the everything I knew of you were just far enough to not be reached but close enough to smell. You called me George. George, no one calls me by that? You looked the same as in my dreams, with tropical eyes; the green coral reefs, the smile, the dark hair; as wavy as the waters of an estuary. I spoke and you spoke back, I moved my arm and my hand reached towards yours, and I felt your hand for the very first time, it felt the same too. My heart felt like a small bean rumbling around in the cavity of my chest; that magic bean growing and growing until I could not, I can't stop.
I fell to the ground, with my hand still anchored to yours. You never let go, and you even pulled me up. I felt lightheaded, I was breathing heavily, holding myself together. What was this, what was going on? You were a mystery, you didn't exist here, how could you? My eyes were fixed; they were telling me the truth, but I still didn't believe. I was twenty-two years into believing you were just something I could imagine, that my dreams were dreams; far from reality. But seeing you there, I didn't know what was real. My eyes turned glassy then tears formed, I didn't want to blink, thinking once they open again you'd disappear like some sort of magic trick.
There could never be an answer. There just was. And always. This moment. These lives. And all of it, to be real as the pain of it not being real, and how we tried to believe, but it wasn't our choice to believe or not, for something to be real. It just was. I can't stop thinking you'll disappear after I blink, after I believe in this is all happening, right here and right now. How can you disappear when I disappear with you.

Now for art talk...I was thinking of renaming this series to Helvetica on Glass. And if you were interested in my artistic references, here they are:

Lisa Hecht, Becky Comber, Virginia Mak, Kotama Bouabane, Danielle Bleackley, Uta Barth, and Roland Barthes (theoretical reference).