November 25, 2007

Sing the Museum Electric

Over Thanksgiving I visited the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. One of my favorite parts of the museum was an installation by David Altmejd. The show consisted of a large room with the walls covered mirrors, and 6 figurative statues whose surfaces were covered in mirror as well.


November 15, 2007

Poll Results

The Results are in from my blog-reading audience.

The MOST is trying to think of a list of people who might be good at teaching other artists about humor, or who might give us solid insights into what is funny. If you have ideas for other people, use the comments section of this blog to let me know.
Results after the jump!

Lone Twin - 7 votes
Amsterdam City Employee - 5 votes
4 Votes:
David Sidaris
Werner Herzog
John Cleese
Rudy's Jr. High friend
3 Votes:
Dr. Hoffenmittlerhymendorfenmutter
Nature Theater of Oklahoma
San Keller
Bob Obenkirk
2 Votes:
Andy Dickson
Geostationary Banana Over Texas
Royal Art Lodge
Michel Gondry
David Cross
Motivational Speaker
Carnival Barker
Steve Martin
1 Vote:
The Biggest Fags Ever
Wim Delvoye


Concretising Humor

The MOST has worked out a very loose framework for how participants in the Das Arts program will spend their time.

The information below is meant to give suggestions for the overall arc, daily and weekly content that the MOST would provide during the block with the intent that participants will take, amplify and modify the content to fit their needs and interests.

One of the M.O.S.T.'s strongest beliefs in the idea of mentoring the Humor in the Arts block is that humor – specifically, comedy – does not have to play a role in the day-to-day of the Block itself. By the nature of the name of the Block, the participants will know what they are expected to explore. We believe that the experiences presented within the course of the Block can encourage Humor in Art without necessarily being funny in their own right. We believe in the abilities of the participants to explore humor in their own art without being presented with ten weeks of stand-up routines, and that sometimes exploring completely humorless topics can open up new insights to really funny stuff.

Additionally, we believe that the visiting artists that we invite will play a large role in the creation how to explore the thematic presented, but also expect that we, as moderators, and the participants will be intimately involved in developing and modifying content for the block. We will consider the visiting artists as experts who bring with them their particular expertise and help shape the overall weekly themes/processes. A good example of the type of structure and spirit of working together is the format embraced by the American sketch program Saturday Night Live, where the host (i.e. visiting artist) is introduced to the participants at the beginning of the week. Over the course of 5 days, the visiting artist will be invited to help us explore themes such as humor, current events, personal histories, fears, etc. and to create some sort of project within the week. We will be suggesting this as a possible format to our visiting artists, although we intend to be flexible.

We envision that the beginning weeks of the block would be focused on activities that encourage everyone involved – the participants, the mentors, and the staff – to become very comfortable around each other, and to really learn the personalities of one another. In exploring the theme of humor, it is integral to be able to do it in an emotionally safe environment, and we would enable this by practicing group activities. Examples of such activities are:
• Making a seven-layer cake as a group
• Playing the card game Apples to Apples (where players have to guess each other's aesthetic tastes)
• Experimenting with something The MOST calls "Getting to Know You," which is a form of interpersonal show-and-tell. During this, participants would be invited to show and tell about current work, inspirations, fears, life stories, a photo, a story, a style, or a clip from a favorite movie etc.

These actions taken on their own may appear inconsequential but as a whole will form a common bond of camaraderie. We want to start by giving participants opportunities to try new things within the group that are less about struggling and more about opening up and sharing successes.

Starting with the first or second week, we will introduce the idea of "practices" where we would be setting up a context for working on these same activities throughout the duration of the term, even if they end up drastically morphing over time. Some possible examples of these are:
• Hosting a twice a week Mostlandian fancy dancing class, or other particularly difficult choreographed exercise
• Once a week band practice
• Walks along a specific path throughout downtown Amsterdam
• Afternoon writing hour (or half hour)
• Compilation of a reader of sorts with historical humor, images, projects, recipies, any research or writing we find or do
• Experimentation with improvisational acting
• Morning movement sections lead by us and participants
• Guided meditations
Having a regular weekly schedule of activities will reinforce the idea of togetherness as well as providing a repetitive structure that allows for surprising, absurd and possibly humorous deviations.

As humor is not created in a vacuum, we would foster an environment where the participants work in groups to create finished products. The middle portion of the ten weeks would focus on participants working in pairs or small groups over longer periods of time to create pieces with the intent of going deeper and wider with our initial explorations. Examples of ideas for this portion of the block include:
• Working to make costumes or uniforms
• Inviting a trained facilitator to guide us in developing consensus on a subject or action plan
• Interventions at or further exploration of places discovered during our walks.
During this time projects would be guided by us, the moderators, but not developed by us.

Additionally, we would like to propose that on two weekends (possibly the 3rd and 7th weekends) we try to accomplish some sort of activity that is grand in scale and completely out of the ordinary. We haven't yet established what this might be, but have talked about the creation of a large puppet, a weekend "retreat" for reflection, writing or work-shopping actions and explorations or other event.

The very end of the program would culminate in final displays of our weekly explorations and attempts, such as:
• A final attempt at the difficult choreographed work
• A "best of," or reenactments of events developed in conjunction with the visiting artists
During the final 2 weeks, we would like to develop a very specific, "psychic" closing of the program, in order to acknowledge the finality of the experience. We feel that this would be lead primarily by participants, but would involve developing events towards a conscious ending of the program. We would be working towards acknowledging what we accomplished, discussing the meaning of our time together, displaying our work, and reflecting on how to take it forward into our future work.


November 9, 2007

Sci Fi and Robert Smithson

Eric, another SP student in the program keeps proposing that we all need to have a Science Fiction Movie night together.

I keep forgetting to tell him that this reminds me of the Robert Smithson essay Entropy and the New Monuments where he talks about Science Fiction movies as perceptive while horror films are emotive. Maybe Eric can pick some of the movies from the list suggested by Smithson.

In the meantime, I recommend this article to anyone who has an interest in how geology, minimalism, science fiction and horror films are interrelated.


November 8, 2007

Benchmark MOST-alogue

Here is a little rundown of some thoughts we are tossing around regarding the prospect of a Mostlandian benchmark:

Katy wrote:
I am interested in making the equivalent of a mostlandian geological benchmark: would it attach to hot air balloons? Would spectrometer surveyors use them to cast lots, or vote on whether a place is Mostlandic? Would they float, be carried in the pocket? Do they create portals or mark portal occurrences?

This is really interesting to me from my previous craft days - primarily, my interest in how a sculptural object can serve a purpose in an active and meaningful way. For examples, my favorite coffee mug is an object that has meaning to me, but it also carries liquids.

the benchmark or _____mark could mark something temporary, or something weighty, or something permanent that's not permanent.

Is anyone following me here? I'm trying to say I'm not totally invested in putting it in the ground forever, but I am interested in making the marker, because it carries a sort of significance about place being important. And Geologists use them also to track moments in time - moments in rock where something fossilized, or moments in elevation, or movement of glaciers.

This could lead to discussions about how long a place stays mostlandian after a person isn't there. or how some mostlandics and/or surveyors might place these in different places throughout their days to see where they move to, or disappear to.

Here are some links to images about benchmarks: (707 different benchmarks were located and posted in this database in the last 7 days)

Khris Wrote:

I should first disclaim that I have not investigated your links.

I don't believe that a Mostlandian Geologic Marker should be designed to be placed in any permanent location, except for maybe ones that denote (the exceedingly rare) fixed, permanent portal. The only fixed, permanent portal that I can think of is Paperville, Ohio.

Regular benchmarks are points of reference for measurement, which is something that is physically impossible in Mostlandia due to the fluid nature of space and time. Therefore, what things in Mostlandia can be used as permanent reference? I would say that personal experience is a permanent reference, but then that neglects collective experience. Collective experience can reference events, I suppose. Events can be utilised as benchmarks for the passage of time: three moons ago, a month of Sundays, etc.

What are other permanent things in Mostlandia that can be measured against?
Could the marker be like a roll of the dice?
Could the marker be shaped like the eight or twelve sided die inside of a magic eight ball, with different responses on each of the different sides? "Results hazy, please try again"? Or "Mostlandia: somewhere to your left?"

Rudy wrote:

I read the link to the benchmark article/info that katy sent, i'd recommend reading it if you haven't. it makes the idea of using/making benchmarks, and benchmark "hunting", in mostlandia a very fun and applicable practice.
The first thing i noticed is how it can maintain the fluidity of Mostlandia's nature.
The appeal of making/placing benchmarks, or stamps, or portalmarks, is its documentation potential. The benchmarks can be invisible or missing or moving in the physical world but real in the record or database, where the story is told of how or where or what. And we, or participants in this knowledge/information, can add to it or subtract from it based on observations either with "hunting" or simply noticing something somewhere which may not have been noticed and would be helpful in the constant surveying Mostlandia. That's what i like about the article is that benchmarks are "official" business, but it invites anyone with a tape measure to participate. So I can see the permanent markers, in fact, be very temporary, shifting, fleeting, etc. Like a water tower that was once documented as a benchmark is now a maple tree.
And has moved four paces to the left.


Volcanoes, Portal Predictions & Benchmarks

The MFA students have the opportunity to do a bronze pour in the next couple of weeks, and I have been thinking a lot about what kind of object I might be interested in bringing into the world. Below are some thoughts about why the prospect of a pour interest me.

My grandfather, Dwight "Rocky" Crandell, worked as a USGS vulcanologist for most of his life. He predicted the eruption of Mt. St. Helens 5 years before it blew in 1980 (see publication, left), and was responsible for helping to identify where the Osceola mudflows flowed the last time Mt. Rainier erupted. (btw - they flowed into some areas of Washington state that are now being heavily developed, and his research suggests that people living in these areas should be aware of the danger of future devastating mudflows.) Something I learned at a young age was that my grandfather was able to predict the future due to his research into layers of rock, sediment and debris below the surface of the earth. These layers build up over time as they are deposited by wind and water. By looking at the layers, he would note changes in soil, such as a layer of ash or a certain kind of rock, and would measure when these layers were laid upon the earth surface using carbon dating techniques. I always imagined this technique to be something like counting rings on a tree, except counting vertically through layers of soil that were millions of years older than any tree. When he was working on Mt. St. Helens, he noticed layers of ash showing up in hillsides over cyclical periods of time and in this way came to predict that another eruption was due soon.

My connection to my grandfather and an interest in his work lead me to be interested in ceramics during my undergraduate studies, and more currently to ideas of how I might go about predicting the likelihood of Mostlandian portal occurrences.

In undergraduate school, I was drawn to ceramic materials' links to volcanoes and the rock cycle, especially to sedimentary rocks (clay) and metamorphic rocks (fired clay and glazes). I haven't worked with clay in several years, but the molten lava elements of a bronze pour are appealing to me in the same way as looking into the red glow of a fully heated kiln.

As for what this has to do with Mostlandia, one thing that I have been interested in for a while is trying to predict where portals to Mostlandia will occur in the future. For the uninformed, the way that people travel to and from Mostlandia is via portal.. Prior to my work as an ambassador at the Mostlandian Embassy, I headed a research and development team for the Spot-it Brand Portal Spectrometer Company attempting to more accurately predict portal occurrences. I am currently working with the MOST on locating a portal in the South Waterfront neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Essentially our work right now is to discover the equivalent of a layer of ash in space and time that shows the likelihood of Mostlandia being accessible from this place.

What I have been wondering about is whether or not a cast bronze benchmark (or modification thereof), such as those used for marking the elevation or latitude of a geological landmark might be helpful in predicting or documenting my surveys for Mostlandian portals. I am not at all interested in claiming the land within the proximity of this benchmark, but rather in documenting that the site was surveyed for the purpose of locating a Mostlandian portal. My questions are whether or not placing a mark of such permanence in land limits the way people perceive Mostlandia. After all, Mostlandia is in no way a fixed place, nor is it specifically associated with any "land." Mostlandia is and always shall be a place that happens via experience, and oftentimes the experience of Mostlandia ceases to exist in a particular place after its initial occurrence. Should I include language on the benchmark negating its permanency? Should a Mostlandian benchmark even be placed in soil? I'll include some emails to and from The MOST while discussing this in the next post.


November 1, 2007

New Efforts

Mostlandia is headed in a direction I never expected.
Certain factions have actually begun to embrace the possibility of using technology (such as computers and the world wide web) to communicate. I might be jumping the gun, but this trend does seem to be gathering some speed.

Does this have something to do with the ceremonial Computer Hacking we held earlier this summer as part of the Mostlandian Championships?

Hard to tell.

I present the following links as evidence:
Portal Spectrometry: South Waterfront
Land and Sky
Khris Soden
Junior Ambassadors