Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heidegger, Hide a grrr, Hi da girl, ugh can't twist free of Heidegger

The past few weeks of movement from Philadelphia to Georgia, starting graduate school, learning egos, and finding new avenues for myself. . . I keep thinking about escaping the effects of WWII, and the philosophies of the early 20th century.   As the baby boomer generation is peaking like maple leaves in fall, I find myself suddenly surrounded by the aftermath of their experiences and continuing experience.  Even the later half of the boomers born in the 50's exude the opportunity/loss dichotomy of a world built on large scale war.  Even, and for a third time even, even now I hear beating drums for war, while the same drum beaters scream we are in a moral crisis, a down trodden economy, and its because we are losing wars.  Crisis.  Crisis. Crisis.  And this all goes back to some penis in a vagina.  But who knows besides me what I'm ranting on about.  I am waiting for a power shift.  I am bidding my time.  There are many of us that are. 

I imagine death, the reasoning of it, evolutionarily speaking, (because cells split on indefinitely down the animal tree) is for the benefit of the young.  We have a limited opportunity to learn from our elders, but are also limited in the world of their psychosis.  And for the later part, I don't mind that one day down the road, (hopefully a long time from now for my own sake), I'll leave the younger generations in peace.  The most moral thing to do is end morality?  Think about that.  No one with any morality.  Don't let your own get in the way of you thinking about it. 

It seems at time that as we go through the centuries, people seemed happier, we have their histories, things we think horrible.  But, each generation had tools that the other did not.  Buckminster Fuller was quoted as saying,(with out footnote) "you can't change people, only the tools that they use."  Can we only hope to do worse to ourselves as our access to tools increases?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

102% One hundred percent

Having cleared the fund raising goal in my quest to reach Japan, I owe my backers my sincerest gratitude!  Their efforts and patronage will extend for years in my own life and I hope to be able to act as a magnifying glass, exponentially distributing their contribution through this project.  My expectations of funding this project have been exceeded through a long three months.  I am trying not to have any expectations for the end result and hope that it leads to new roads and avenues of learning.  I have had a fair share of dissenters an naysayers concerning my intentions but it is to be expected. 
Its interesting how unwanted conflict can create beneficial results.

Within symptoms of disease and sickness silver linings may be found and exploited.  As a result of the myriad mines laid out during the Vietnam War, tracts of land have become re-forested and species near extinction are thriving.  It is a game of loaded dice: countless human limbs and lives lost, genetic traits wiped out and new ones formed, and the animals filling in the niche pried open by killing do so on a razors edge.  Philanthropic organizations have sprouted to deal with the ordinances still killing after a third of a century, their goals are to plant trees where mines are removed, but as they do so they may disturb agent orange and other herbicides that destroy foliage and poison the population once again.  I am not against a tree being planted nor am I for armed conflict, I aim to only illustrate that our actions have weight and we can only do the best we can and learn from past decisions.

Ideas don't always bring what we think they will bring and there is always the danger of them being turned back onto themselves in ways we can't imagine.   In educating myself about view points of place and landscape I've started to read about Heidegger and topology.  Its a task I didn't see myself in  at the start of my project with Japan.  His view points on being and place can lead to an overblown sense of nationalism; the Nazi Party used it as rationalization to dehumanize Romani, "Gypsy",  and other nomadic people viewing them as less than human as they saw them with no physical place to create an identity.
 We must be aware that what we do has outcomes we can't predict.  I believe that Heidegger's philosophy on place and being can be beneficial in creating a localized/familial identity that strengthens and shares within a larger world community.  I believe that through a philosophy of place and being we can bring together ideas peacefully that would otherwise only be exchanged through conflict as Macedonia or The Huns exemplified in our pasts.   I believe that our myths, legends, and folklore are our entry ways into a more understanding future.  It all may end up being wrong, but not as wrong as before.  Its still a process.  I'm looking forward to investigating; I thank you backers for helping me reach this critical step in achieving my goal.

On a different note, If you are in Philadelphia b/n this posting and August 28th, please visit Rodger LaPelle Galleries as a few of my pieces are on the walls.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Squeaky Wheel

Uh oh, I've been reading again.  I've been reading more about the history of Japan, its mythology, and their relation to mainland Asia, in order to understand the people better.  There are not many good books out there but I've found a couple to keep me busy for the summer while I try to become more familiar with the language as well.  My kickstarter project, Send An Artist to Japan is now 36% funded which is good news, but I only have about 40 days left to raise the remaining 64%If I am unable to find more backers then I do not receive any of it.  I've looked into "buying" out part of the project so I would be able to utilize the funds, but it seems kind of shady and the website does not make it possible anyway.  I don't want to cheapen, or change things on the people that have already backed this project.  Everyone that helps to back this project does receive something in exchange, most of which is artwork.  This is not money for nothing, and while I'm not quite in dire straights time is closing in. 

  I've traveled to different states to promote the project, approached businesses, and utilized communal networks.  As the deadline draws near, a final campaign will be pushed.  It is more about what I am learning and how it is informing my artwork, and how in doing so I am able to help others as well.  Combining the two is no easy task.

Exciting is that I have already been able to set up an exhibition for mid March of 2012 for the works if the project is funded for travel. 

As the Mississippi floods and tornadoes destroy towns, we are affected in our beliefs and daily lives.  I believe it is important to be aware of our folklore, myths, and religions in relation to geology and meteorology.  We can look at the modern history and back to the Mississippian Culture's mythology in how to better handle it cresting its banks.  Egyptian river myths and Osiris are easier to hunt down, but still retain the basic principles of life along mighty rivers. I believe that by looking at other cultures in relation to our own we can gain valuable insights that will save lives and bring new awareness to our daily lives.  In the past, different technologies were "shared" among nation states through warfare, as artisans and craftsman were made prisoners and relocated to the conquering states.  In today's world, this is very possible through peaceful exchange.  For those in the right positions, there are residencies and Fullbright scholarships.  For others like myself it is a much more difficult task, to create a project, find people that believe in it, and raise the money for its completion.

The Apocryphal Pecos Bill.
As tornadoes shred communities, not only may we prepare through drills and shelters, we can tell our children stories that not only will connect us culturally with the past but provide guidelines in parable to the youngest in our communities.  The information on how to prepare, act during, and deal with the aftermath can all be relayed through mediums while building a diverse and healthy culture.  I believe it is essential and beneficial to augment the culturally shared movies, television, and online experiences with our own in a tangibly bonding way.  An amalgamation of theories and processes are needed to deal with and understand the processes of the planet we live on.  It is folly to believe that we have at this time the ability to completely control our Earth's geological processes even though we definitely affect them.  By building levees along the Mississippi River, sediment isn't allowed to rebuild the southern marshes that help shield the state of Louisiana from Hurricanes.  The differences in sediment deposits can affect algae blooms which affects carbon and oxygen levels in the ocean which can affect fish populations which affects what we eat.  And so on and so forth.  Everything affects everything and if anybody digs through my past artist statements, chaos theory has led me to this.

CERN Searching for Building Blocks of The Universe

This project is more than preachy environmentalism, I am looking to understand a part of humanity that is often overlooked culturally except what is made popular through an importation of cartoon's and film.  Not that I have anything against them.  I can dork out on some of them, but I wouldn't want to be represented by "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid" to the rest of the world even though its an awesome movie.

I am trying to dispel my own bias and rhetoric, in order to become something more than I am and share this with others.  In order to do so it is imperative that I immerse myself within the Japanese culture whenever possible.

The first step to fully understanding a culture and language has to be an understanding of their mythology, folklore and religion.  Can you imagine someone trying to read Shakespeare without any Christian referential points to rely on?  So I delve into mythology to understand language.  I try to understand language to become aware of landscape.  I try to understand concepts and perception of landscape to explore geology.  I try to understand perceptions of geology to understand people, and I try to understand people to understand myself.   If I understand myself then I can change myself.  If I can change myself I can change the world, right?  I've heard that its easier to change yourself than it is the world, so I'll start there first.

While I try to keep all of that straight in my head, I'll be creating artwork that deals with all of these questions and tries to serve a larger community with out compromising.  The question is, do people have a belief in what I am doing?  Is this project viable, and interesting?  Will this project happen this year or will it be postponed for a couple of years?  If it is postponed will it ever happen?   If you would like to help back my project please visit its main page by clicking HERE, and please journey back through the archives of my blog for more detailed information.  For each Backer level there are awards!  And they are well worth your venture.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Progression and Geomythology

As the kickstarter project is 10% funded at the time of this posting I thought I might share a little about the beginnings of the grand tradition of "The Eight Views."  To catch up on this topic just look back through the posts proceeding this one. For almost two thousand years now the tradition of interspersing landscape images with poetry has helped to provide distinction and tourism to regions throughout Asia.

The earliest known "Eight Views of Xiaoxiang," are of what is now modern Hunan Province, China, made by Song Di.  As far as I can find out Song Di was a poet, painter, and government official during the Song Dynasty.  His "Eight Views of Xiaoxiang" are embedded with deep symbolism referencing exile and enlightenment with references to other poets, plays on place names, and the cosmology of the time.  The titles for the pieces were of as much importance as the poetry and paintings providing a frame of reference and deepening the levels of meanings within the pieces.  Something to think about the next time an artist's titles a piece, "untitled."  Is that to lose all point of reference, has Untitled now become a reference to other pieces untitled or a deflection of biased opinion?  Any good opinion is biased isn't it?  But back to the point.

During this time landscape painting reached new developments with the "Shan shui"  movement.  Meaning "mountain" and "river" paintings which had become a popular genre.  As in many cultures mountains were viewed as home to the gods and immortals and were considered sacred.  What a connection though, the Greece had Olympus; the Incans' had Machu Pichu; Mt. Ararat for Christians, Kharsag for the Babalonians; the aboriginal Guanches of Spain have, Teide; Mt. Killaraus for the Irish; Mt. Meru for Hindus and Buddhists who also have Sumeru.  And then the rivers. . .  I'm not even going to get into a list for those.   But from these foothills of investigation is Geomythology, which only recently, in 2007, has published peer reviewed papers.  Geomythology, strives to provide clues and information about past geological events alluded to in mythology: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, impact events, and other events, which are otherwise scientifically unknown or difficult to trace otherwise.
A Namazu, representing the earthquake of Edo (modern Tokyo) in October 1855, is attacked by peasants and concubines in the background help for the catfish is approaching - craftsmen, who will take profit of the reconstruction of the city.

Geomythology is seperated from Etiological myths, which provide mythological reasons why things occur such as Namazu, the earthquake causing catfish, of Japanese mythology vs. naming of the constellations and their positions.  It isn't scientifically proven, but is generally accepted within Japanese culture that erratic catfish behavior such as swimming near the surface and thrashing about proceed seismic events.  The ways in which we are affected by geology are varied and deep for sure.  It roots itself on both sides of our legends and myths.  In our past it molded the stories for the catastrophes we experienced and we attributed the events to the mountains, waters, and mysterious creatures that dwelt within them.  The gods, immortals, and heroes of our folkloric history provide us with archtypes to strive for or turn from.  We are reaching further into our human potential to meet the deeds of these beings through earthworks and manipulations of our landscape.  The question becomes: what aspects, presented to us by and through these storied beings,  of the mountains and rivers are we striving to emulate or immolate?
Nanabozho in Ojibwe flood story from an illustration by R.C. Armour, in his book North American Indian Fairy Tales, Folklore and Legends, (1905).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hidden Landscapes: Sympathetic Magic in a Post-Colonial World

My interest in the "Eight views of Omi” is from a personal attachment to the people of Shiga, formerly known as Omi, Japan.  I married into this wor(l)d two years ago this April, and have had a deep desire to investigate and understand my wife’s and new family’s culture and background in a direct and immersed way, assuming a state of alterity on different levels. It is a means to understand myself through others that had recently become close to me.  I have met my wife’s parents and sister on three separate occasions in the past five years two of which were for short periods of time in Japan.  They were open and generous, more than I thought my reception with them would ever be.  Their attitudes determined me to become a better person for their sake and my own family’s and I’m sure its something that I’ll have to keep at for a while.  During both visits I became drawn to, what seemed to me, extremes in the landscape.  I felt childlike with everything glowing and shinning.   

 Shiga prefecture is mainly water and mountains with strips of land sandwiched between the two.  The center of the prefecture is taken up by Japan’s largest lake, Lake Biwa, and the land outside of the lake is surrounded by mountains, some of which are “dead” volcanoes that still lend their heat to the many hot springs in the area. It’s quite a different experience than what I was used to growing up on the Piedmont of Georgia, and living in the urban clutter of Philadelphia.

Before teaching art, my wife taught college level Japanese for a couple of years while she was in graduate school for Fiber Arts. So, I’ve been studying her old text books and along with her corrections learning to speak Japanese.  I am lucky for her patience and try not to tax her.  

As an autodidact of history and science I have always been interested in connections, in relationships between events, concerning myself with manifestations and transformation of energy.  As an artist I am interested in energy on both the metaphysical and physical planes; interpersonal relationships, communication, seismic events, cosmic collisions are all well within my interest and compete for my attention to their threads of connectivity. I suppose the psychology of how we perceive different types of energy is a close description of where my mind treads.  

I had been searching and thinking for some time about how I could use my skills and find a way to investigate those interests within my wife’s culture.  In the past I worked on a project that involved the 36 views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai, trying to trace the influence of Macedonia upon Japanese art and Japanese art upon the European and American arts as their influence went back into Japan and in turn Japan’s influence on our pop-culture.  So again I started looking at Ukiyo-e and Hiroshige’s “53 Station’s of the Tokaido.”  

 The Tokaido was a trade route in Japan and the stations were resting-points or towns along the road.  I started talking to my wife about it and she told me five of the stations were in the prefecture where she grew up.  I searched through the titles in my book and couldn’t find "Shiga", and asked her about it, and that is when I found out Shiga used to be called Omi.  From there I found the Eight Views and inspiration to revisit those sites. 

Otsu, from Hiroshige's 53 Stations of the Tokaido.

Otsu, from Hiroshige's 69 Stations of the Kisokaido.

  About that time the recent Japanese earthquake and resultant tsunami occurred.  In Otsu, close to Kyoto, my wife’s parents experienced tremors above 6.0, and while it was scary no damage occurred in the area.  Most buildings are built to withstand up to mid 7 scale earthquakes in Japan.  My sister-in-law lives and works in Tokyo.  We were concerned for her well being and kept NHK on tracking the direction of the wind and the different nuclear power stations statuses.  We were relieved to learn that Tokyo was safe from radiation that it was in the immediate area of the reactors that was facing problems.  People all over Japan are affected, and not only by the terrible loss of life.  Japan’s economy still hasn’t recovered from the bubble it experienced in the 1990’s and I know that businesses all over the country have seen at least a 50% drop in sales and commerce.  People are afraid to visit any part of Japan,  mostly due to news agencies which haven’t been as responsible as they once were, now mainly looking for ways to increase revenue from commercials.  Scare tactics seem to sell pharmaceuticals.  I began to see how much was going to be affected by this occurrence. 

I want to do more than just make a t-shirt for the "Hope of Japan."  As the saying goes, "Hope is a good breakfast, but a poor supper."  I want to affect things on a deeper longer lasting level.  Robert Frost supposedly said, "Poetry is what is lost in translation.  It is what is lost in interpretation."    I aim to prove wrong this xenophobic statement.  Poetry IS the translation, it IS the interpretation.  The way in which we choose to view the world, is the poetry we understand. Francis Bacon espoused that anything can mean anything.   Immersing myself into the landscape and culture I can translate to an audience what is veiled within mass pop-culture.  The audience in return will interpret the encounters we will experience together.  This will be more than a tangible artifact for my collaborators, this project will become as much a part of their life as mine.  That is my hope.  Now lets set the dinner table with something else. 

There have been many catastrophic and extreme geological events in humanities history.  The Toba super-eruption may have left only 3,000-10,000 humans alive on the planet.  In recent historical memory, Krakatoa (less than fifty years after the publication of Hiroshige’s Eight Views of Omi) erupted in the loudest explosion ever recorded. 

1883 explosion of Krakatoa.
Geology has affected us in so many ways from clearing out genetic evolutionary possibilities, guiding new genetic combinations, the distribution and form of language and wealth, sports, computers, I may as well start at the letter A in the dictionary and work by way to Z.  Now as we become more populous we have started to affect the geological processes.  Individually on small scales perhaps, but small things can lead to big differences on what we think of as geological time scales. Geological events can also happen more quickly than we usually imagine them to.  Stress released in an Earthquake can change a part of the world in minutes or hours.  Our world is dynamic and always changing, and we are caught in the process.

Our human potential can be seen in the gyres of trash through out our oceans, smog in our cities, and radiation leaks sterilizing environments.  We are changing the course of our environment.  Plastic ingested by fish may kill off a large population to produce an unusual layer of sediment that changes the movement or pressure of a fault-line by thousandths of an inch, which in a million years ends up affecting the formation of a new island chain that redirects the wind patterns, affecting the climate still.  This change can be seen in what scientists call "Induced Seismicity."  Earthquakes up to 7.2 on the Richter Scale have been attributed to the building of reservoirs, dams, mining, and geothermal extraction.  Human changes to the environment have even been attributed to the nineteenth most deadliest quake recorded in 2008.  Our potential for changing our world is very real, and while I don’t think we can undo the past I believe we can look to it for inspiration and understanding.
Simply because it is the largest in the world, the "The Three Gorges Dam" is a prime example. 
Vajont Dam in Italy

It is hard to imagine such large timescales as a million years or even yet care about things that far in the future.  Much of what we know becomes ephemeral at that scale.  Many structures in Japan have been preserved for almost one thousand years.  Festivals and traditions have been kept for over twelve hundred years in some areas. The Eight Views of Omi as printed by Hiroshige are now well over 150 years old.  We can understand that timescale a bit better I think.  We can evaluate change from then until now, and at least look forward into the future the same amount of time.  Things are going to change.  We only have now, and with drawings, paintings, and prints I can take a fragment of it and try to share.  I can use geology and time as a bridge between cultures and for new relationships, further increasing our human potential and understanding. 

Statue of Komukuten, in Nara Japan.   With his brush and prayer scroll, he overcomes ignorance, evil, and all obstacles.

I believe that by simply traveling to Japan we can make an impact on the economy there.  By me buying goods, most of which are manufactured there, or from here in the U.S., we will be changing an economic landscape.  By producing and bringing artwork back to the U.S. of my own and of the region we will be affecting a larger economic and cultural vista. The affect will be deep and embedded like a grain of a dream in the shell of consciousness, a future pearl.  By living with the people and deepening my understanding of their language I may be able to express to you their world in their terms and they may glimpse you through me.  I do not view this project as a “first aid” to save lives, although it may.  One never knows.  This is meant as an appreciation of our time, of people and landscapes hidden by the horizon.  By sending me to Japan you will change the course of our histories.  What else is history but the future telling of now? 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Octagon

As parts of my current projects unfold and manifest themselves in new ways I am scurrying to keep up with contemporary events in relation to what I am trying to accomplish.  I have been accepted to present my project through a resourceful and respected website and am refining what exactly it is I am working on, and don't wish to let to much go before things are set up.  I will be presenting my newest project through Kickstarter and hope that all of you will participate with me in making it happen.  I am trying to get back over to Japan for a new series of direct observation landscape paintings and prints, specifically dealing with Otsu, where my wife and in-laws are from.  Once I have spent my initial time in Otsu,(and funds lasting) I plan to travel eastward toward Tokyo stopping in at various towns along the way and sharing with all of you via a daily blog.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  I'm on my way to get a haircut tomorrow and to shoot a video for you all!  I also have to finish writing my presentation and study some more Japanese so I'll keep you guys up to date on the progress for the project.  In the upcoming week(s) I hope you keep me in mind and help me share my project with others.  More on all this later!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PostColonials Post Opening

The 18th of March followed a few days after the Ides and now we are into Spring.  Do yourself justice and put a spring in your step to view Postcolonials at Linda Matney Gallery.  You have until May to view stellar works by 9 different artists.  Aesthetics and works on par with its NYC Chelsea counter parts make this a "Don't Miss" exhibition (and don't all American Galleries strive to impart that feeling?).  The artists all have brought their "A" game and while they have come in peace, their art won't leave you without something to chew on or staring at your shoes.   The works are diverse in approach and subject matter but connect on a higher ground as suggested by the exhibitions title.

Brian Hitselberger's gouache and pigmented ink piece is dazzlingly frenetic with its obsessive mark making that fades as one steps back to soft pinks and purples washing away and relaxing you from the claustrophobic experience of close inspection, as one might recess from hunting for historical facts to appreciate history's stories.

Anthony Wislar's works are pasted and painted oils on paper which at first glance seem sloppy and effortless except for what must have been countless attempts to make the marks just so in a first attempt, the effort re-appearing in pastiche, collage, and palimpsest images to culminate in a manner like reliving moments until you perfect them in your mind; until you have just the right come-back or successful explanation of facts to make your point.

Judith McWillie's monumental piece "Winter Sky North" is a rapturous work of glow in the dark pigment upon a Navy Blue field at least twelve feet wide and tall.  As I think about the movements/migrations we've made on this earth, the different peoples looking at the same stars, and our foray into outer-space you can't help but be filled with wonder as a child might starring up at the stars glued to the ceiling casting off into sleep.  "Winter Sky North" both transports you into the cosmos and grounds you with its referential points of direction and cosmic compass wrapping you in its monumental stature.

Photo courtesy of Lee Matney

Jeremy Hughes who co-curated the exhibition with Paul Thomas, is showing paintings that are brightly colored and full of sloppy bombastic paint which is confident enough that one can forgive a laziness of detail.  Jeremy is a colorist at heart and it shows through in these works that exhibit a rainbow he has pulled out of his subconscious.

Zuzka Vaclavik's watercolors are mouthwatering and sensuous, begging to be looked upon and will colonize any ambitions you may have of collecting solid art work.  Passages of the pieces perform like a lover's selective eye, or a mirror in which youth recognizes its own passions introspectively.

Hope Hilton's pieces are calm studies of plant life that may be found around the Williamsburg area from which her ancestors hail.  Each print has been given loving attention to detail with quirky heartfelt line work.  You would not find depictions like these in a field manual but perhaps in a personal manual of someone close to the land with an understanding of the plants personalities.  They exude a patience that you would expect someone to cultivate over years of practice.  If you make it out to the show you will want to purchase these works for your reading area or study.

Zachary Herrmann's glass pieces remind me of ice sculptures but with out the coldness and leaving you only with the mystery and sparkle of a winter night.  Illuminated from the bottom the pieces seem like single malt scotch in a crystal glass through which you might stare at a fire and think.  I never have done that, but it seems like something George Clooney would do and I imagine he enjoys it as I do those pieces.  Herrmann has provided us with severed fish and human heads, that pulled my brain in the direction of Greek mythology, the works of a Medusa turning flesh to clear glass and stopping it up with wax as a bottler of fine spirits might seal his best brew.

Teddy Johnson's works depict urban landscapes with figures balancing or finding balance on top of high and low rooftops.  The quality of the paint is reminiscent of a Hopper city-scape but the figures are playful as they seek balance; the city full of possibilities and habitable unlike the psychology of Edward Hopper.  The buildings and streets in Teddy's paintings are alive with color and paint strokes that emphasize a playground for its inhabitants.  His paintings are filled with a lust for life and we just hope no-one gets hurt on the monkey-bars.

Tyrus Lytton's work. . . wait, isn't that me? Ahem. . .  Tyrus Lytton's work is brooding and mysterious.  His images are appropriated from thrillers and mysteries of television and film that seem searching as they play with late night broadcasts and shared experiences to express difficult emotions extrapolated from B-movies and base entertainment that one might take for their own interpretation.

Having the opening weekend done and finished, I was/am more than thrilled to exhibit with these artists in such a nice space.  We had a good turn out for opening night and expect more people through out the next month and a half.  Paul and Jeremy did a fine job with the exhibition and the Linda Matney Gallery has much to promise in the future as a leading contemporary gallery in its area.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

That Vagabond Narcissus the Hunter and Horseman of the Apocalypse

After viewing Mike Calway-Fagen's art work at Vox Populi I decided to delve a little bit into his self myth and went through his website and read his artist statement there.  I came across a word that I hadn't seen before: anthropocentric.  Loosely it is the idea that humanity is the center of the universe and that everything is here to benefit man, be it at the expense of other lifeforms.  To distill it further, that as a race we are egocentric.   Mike states that this is the cause of our past, current, and future apocalypse.  In a quick effort to bring us to a similar vein of thought and into my first assumption. . . I don't believe Mike means apocalypse in, what most of us associate the word with, the biblical sense.  I assume he is using the term as "a major misconception of ourselves", a "veil to be lifted" from our metaphysical egos.

Setting those semantics aside for now I want to address the idea of anthropocentrism.  To start off many people consider this a negative trait.  That viewing the universe through an exclusively human experience is bad.  I believe that one should remain open to multiple view points but retain an opinion.  There have been many times I thought for sure that 2 + 2 = 5 to discover that the idea wasn't as solid as I thought.  However, its the thinking part that is important.  Instinct is to be respected, but thought furthers things a bit, huh?  I don't think that anthropocentrism is a negative trait.  I believe that it can lead to negative traits, but one can take cleanliness to a negative place as well.  We are in competition with other species for resources.  They more so than us, (ego?) but a natural competition anyway.  Jump.  Lets examine competition in a more facilitative way, say an Olympic foot race. . . and use this as an analogy for anthropocentism (and use an anthropocentric game to do so) In an Olympic race its fair to say that the athletes are in similar, if not the same, physical condition.  What separates the medalists from the non-medalists are their view points of themselves.  Winners tell themselves they are the best, the race losers tend to have nagging suspicions, lose focus.  In effect Ego wins the prize.  If you are running this race and a fellow sportsman falls, breaks an ankle, do you stop in the middle of the race to help or finish and come back to make sure he is tended to, or assume he will be attended to?

The crux.  In an effort to achieve is it not right to assume we are the best, to tell your self, "I can?"  be the little engine that could?  Exclusive and excess outlooks of anthropocentrism could very well lead to a biblical apocalypse in addition to the other definition earlier talked about.
In Mike's work I see the Hunter.  His pieces exude an outdoors man's, a huntsman's aesthetic including taxidermy, boats, animal motif's, weapons, and totems.   Is this what it boils down to?  An idealistic hunter who believes that he needs to manage his game population to continue both species well being?  Or to keep his resource from depleting? Does he wonder if the animals have a mind/soul?  Does he pick out their personalities and translate them into human terms?  I can't translate my thoughts into a sparrow's or a deer's.  Isn't that ego?  To bend the terms of their understanding into yours?  Colonialism at its worst?  Are we trying to colonize the psyche of the animal kingdom with our own agenda?  Of course we are.  Does PETA have their own agenda?

Have they consulted with the whales and seals, or do they rely on human data?  Maybe.  I don't know.  Its just a spur question.  Is it really the thinking and trying that matter?  Or is it only the actions?  Or is the original message/action irrelevant? Was Aleister Crowley correct? "Do what thou wilt?"  Is the only thing important the receiver's interpretation of the message?  Francis Bacon's "Anything can mean anything" relies upon an agreed code.  Can we alter the coding in our own nature or just how it is received?  Anything can mean nothing.  Are the veils of reality that we wear needed to be lifted?  Are we afraid of what we might see?  Would we sacrifice ourselves for beings separated/different from ourselves in order for our own apocalypse to happen? Mike Calway-Fagen's work is up for your own message receiving.  At least its asking questions.  I think.  For more discussions and work visiting questions in an aesthetic manner visit the PostColonials Show at Linda Matney Gallery in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Openings will take place on March 18th at 7 p.m.

Be there or be ^2.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

By the Old Sea Shore, Not as Conceptually Oblique as You Might Think

THERE were two sisters, they went playing,
      Refrain: With a hie downe downe a downe-a
To see their father’s ships come sayling in.
      Refrain: With a hy downe downe a downe-a
And when they came unto the sea-brym,
The elder did push the younger in.
‘O sister, O sister, take me by the gowne,
And drawe me up upon the dry ground.’
‘O sister, O sister, that may not bee,
Till salt and oatmeale grow both of a tree.’
Somtymes she sanke, somtymes she swam,
Until she came unto the mill-dam.
The miller runne hastily downe the cliffe,
And up he betook her withouten her life.
What did he doe with her brest-bone?
He made him a violl to play thereupon.
What did he doe with her fingers so small?
He made him peggs to his violl withall.
What did he doe with her nose-ridge?
Unto his violl he made him a bridge.
What did he doe with her veynes so blew?
He made him strings to his violl thereto.
What did he doe with her eyes so bright?
Upon his violl he played at first sight.
What did he doe with her tongue so rough?
Unto the violl it spake enough.
What did he doe with her two shinnes?
Unto the violl they danc’d Moll Syms.
Then bespake the treble string,
‘O yonder is my father the king.’
Then bespake the second string,
‘O yonder sitts my mother the queen.’
And then bespake the strings all three,
‘O yonder is my sister that drowned mee.’
‘Now pay the miller for his payne,
And let him bee gone in the divel’s name.’

     I've heard people claim America's culture is bland, without a long history, and commercial in nature.  While there are reasons and points to the previous claim, to make a general statement with out investigation is in no ones interest on this subject.  Modern migrations have brought old histories and culture to obscure the American "native" one and time has gone on to obscure our shared histories and amalgamated them to where we can't always decipher what came from where.  Modern Philosophies and "Avant Garde" art don't spring spontaneously from the ether and its easiest to be shocked by the things we choose to self censor.  Many of the contemporary art movements seek to distance themselves away from 1960's art history and the idea of the object and viewer in a private space. I believe this distancing is un-necessary as more community based projects and performance art began to grow then along with Folk Music making a revival into the popular scene (an unfinished thought).  At UnionDocs on February 10th and 11th you will have the opportunity to experience, with others, documentery films about the sharing of songs and stories, experience the songs performed live and artistic interpretations of the Child Ballads through paintings on exhibition.  
     Hey! Stay on track already. . .  So. . . Child Ballad no.10, known as "The Cruel Sister", and "Twa Sisters" is an old tune dating to the 1600's;  a song over 400 years old and still sung today; the Twa Sister's has been covered by Paul Clayton and even as late as Tom Waits in a 2006 recording.  If my memory serves me right, Art Rosenbaum, who worked with his son Neil on one of the documentaries being screened at UnionDocs, recorded Mary Lomax singing this song or part of it.  Whats important about Mary singing this song is that the song was passed to her by her father in a long line of oral tradition at which roots go back to the 1600's.  Even though the Child Ballads are not totally inclusive of every single ballad, they represent a hefty cross section of what we may consider an American cultural equivalent to Beowolf or even Homer's poems.   I'm sure if we dug deep enough both of those  form an influence upon the ballads somewhere.  The themes in the ballads are not necessarily restricted to Western, or European ideas and archetypes but can be found around the world in all cultures.  The "Twa Sisters" design I developed is based on a variation where the sister that has been wronged has been made into a violin.  When she is played before her parents, her sisters crime is found out.  We always hope justice finds those who wrong.  Unless sometimes its ourselves who are the cruel sister, perhaps then we wouldn't want "to face the music".  Paying people there dues, many thanks to Teddy Johnson and Heather Fares who have done a tremendous amount of work preparing for the Child Ballad shows in both Baltimore and New York.  They will be continuing to work together and are setting up a new exhibition for The Rotating History Project in Baltimore. . . ---> .

Freed From the Gallows, Or How I Stopped Fearing Led Zepplin and Love the Ballad

The new design I've been working on is Ballad No. 95, entitled "The Maid Freed From the Gallows", and is about a maid waiting for someone to buy her freedom from the executioner.  Variants have been recorded by Ledbelly, Bob Dylan (recorded as Seven Curses), and Led Zepplin, among many many other artists.   This design can be found HERE, as well as in New York, February 10th and 11th. . . at The Child Ballad Show at UnionDocs.  For More information please visit


O Hangman, stay thy hand,
And stay it for a while,
For I fancy I see my father
A coming across the yonder stile.

O, father, have you my gold?
And can you set me free?
Or are you come to see me hung?
All on the gallows tree?

No, I've not brought thee gold,
And I can't set thee free;
But I have come to see thee hung
All on the gallows tree.

Oh the briery bush,
That prickes my heart so sore
If I once get out of the briery bush,
I'll never get in any more.

O Hangman, stay thy hand,
And stay it for a while,
For I fancy I see my father
A coming across the yonder stile.

Repeat the verses above with
other relatives -
Mother, Brother, Sister, etc.
The song concludes with
The arrival of her "True Love" as below:

O Hangman, stay thy hand,
And stay it for a while
For I fancy I see my true love
A coming across the yonder stile.

O true-love, have you my gold?
And can you set me free?
Or are you come to see me hung
All on the gallows tree?

O yes, I've brought thee gold,
And I can set thee free;
And I've not come to see thee hung
All on the gallows tree.

O the briery bush,
That pricks my heart so sore;
Now I've got out of the briery bush,
I'll never get in any more. 

Analytica Tracking: