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M&M&M Field Trip, Part I

M&M&M Field Trip, Part I

Posted by on Oct 24, 2013 in Featured, Fieldtrips, M&M&M |

A few years ago my mother took me on an educational tourist trip to Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. We got a private guide for the day in Moscow, and I requested that we visit the Bulgakov Museum. I had done a bit of research before we came, and knew that (according to Wikipedia) there were two competing Bulgakov museums taking up the upper and lower floors of his residence, each claiming to the the real Bulgakov Museum. Apparently I hadn’t done quite enough research, because we discovered that both of the museums were closed that day. I had heard for years about the fan-graffiti-covered walls of the staircase in one of the museums. The graffiti and the museum collection had been vandalized by a religious extremist a few years before, so I’m not sure how much I missed. I satisfied myself with a photo next to a bronze sculpture of a couple of the main characters and a very drizzly visit to the nearby Patriarch’s Ponds, the first scene in the novel. Of course Bulgakov’s memory would be presented by two fighting museums (one official, one not?). Of course the museum would be attacked by a crazy man calling it satanic. What would be more appropriate for the author of this book that examines Russia’s relationship with religion, power, and truth? FRC’s s. forwarded me a reference to a third Bulgakov museum located in Kiev in his childhood home: the Literature-Memorial Museum to Mikhail Bulgakov. I wish I had known about it when I was in Ukraine: it sounds wonderful. The Uncataloged Museum has a great description/review of the place, which blends historical/family items with fictional narrative in a way that looks like it would suit the subject...

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M&M&M: Prologue

M&M&M: Prologue

Posted by on Oct 13, 2013 in Featured, M&M&M |

Several years ago, I was one of four artists commissioned to create a design for a nearby town’s library card. My project manager let me know after I took the assignment that since the funding for the cards came from the city bus department, we were being asked to do a design on the theme of “books and alternate modes of transportation”. After puzzling over the silly assignment for a while, I tried to come up with scenes in classic literature that involved pubic transit. One popped into my head immediately: an early scene in Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita where a cat attempts to board a streetcar, pay the fare, gets kicked off, and jumps on the back for a free ride. It was one of my favorite books from a Modern Russian Literature course in college, and the scene had stuck with me. Thinking about the experience of being in two worlds at the same time when reading a book on a bus, I decided to blend the worlds of me on a city bus with the scene from the novel. The result was an image of me, sitting on a bus, reading M&M. The skyline of Moscow can be seen through the bus windows, and the cat looks in, peering over my shoulder at the book. The book’s library call number was printed at the bottom of the card. The public art committee met and approved the card design. The project manager then realized that she had shown the committee an unfinished version of the design, and asked me if I would be OK with using the unfinished version. I told her I would think about it over the weekend. She took the time to look up the book on Amazon, and found several reviews by Christians who called it blasphemous (I told her the general plot of the book before starting the design, but had framed it in terms of a political satire rather than a book about religion). On Monday she called, saying she was afraid that the card would draw protests at the library, and asked me to remove references to the book...

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Genius Child

Genius Child

Posted by on Sep 2, 2013 in Featured |

This is a song for the genius child. Sing it softly, for the song is wild. Sing it softly as ever you can – Lest the song get out of hand. Nobody loves a genius child. Can you love an eagle, Tame or wild? Can you love an eagle, Wild or tame? Can you love a monster Of frightening name? Nobody loves a genius child. Kill him – and let his soul run wild.                                           -Langston...

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Outside In

Outside In

Posted by on Aug 17, 2013 in Featured |

The Barbican in London (home to the Rain Room earlier this year) is trying something completely different: An open call to lots and lots of creative….whatever. Apparently the more random, the more hack-y the better. It’s on now through the end of August, which means that I’ll have to rely on others to tell me if the reality matches up to the rhetoric. Here’s the description from the Hack the Barbican website: Throughout August 2013 we are taking over the Barbican’s cavernous foyer spaces and filling them with 100 discipline-bending installations, performances, workshops and discussions. A half-size recreation of the Barbican’s biggest penthouse provides a social hub and stage for performances and talks. Site-specific projects are hijacking areas of the Barbican’s brutalist interior and converting them into games, performances and installations. The projects bring together theatre performers, computer scientists, sculptors, hardware hackers, teachers, musicians and everything in between. Marking a radical departure from conventional arts events Hack the Barbican has been organised without any central curation or commissioning. Taking inspiration from hacker culture the project has been developed over a period of six months through weekly sessions open to everyone. The project community has grown to 300 people spanning all disciplines, ages and backgrounds. Each project hosted at Hack the Barbican is completely self-resourced, with its creators acting entrepreneurially to secure the materials and skills they need. Think of it as a slowly growing city that is gradually taking over the Barbican’s public spaces, with many imperfections, but also many moments of unexpected magic. Here’s the open call (now [mostly] closed): Calling all artists, startups, musicians, hackers, dancers, film-makers, theatre performers, fashion designers and other creative types. What new work would you develop if you had your own workspace inside the world-famous Barbican Centre for a couple of days, a week or even a whole month? Now’s your chance! Applications are now invited for project residencies at Hack The Barbican, which will run from 5th to 31st August 2013. No matter if you’re a world-famous artist, a web startup, an engineering student or an accountant who makes things in their spare time. Every project will be considered on the same...

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Middle of Nowhere

Middle of Nowhere

Posted by on Aug 16, 2013 in Featured |

I’ve started reading Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, and a question popped into my head that I don’t think I’ve asked myself before: What’s the farthest away I’ve ever been from another person? A quick mental shuffle through my life left me with two possibilities: either somewhere along I-10 in West Texas on a solo road trip, or during a family hike in the Superstition Mountains during a summer hailstorm when I headed down the mountain angry and alone. I can’t be sure what the distance would be for either options 1 or 2, but I suspect it was no more than 2 or 3 miles at the most. If you take the US population as 310 million and the area of the country as 3.8 million square miles, that leaves each of us a little more than .1 acres each, so I was far beyond the average for the country, if not my state. This nifty US census map shows where we all live: That one question led to a list of other questions I’ll never be able to answer: Where is the place you can get that’s farthest away from another human? Is it in the middle of an ocean? What was the farthest away a person ever got from everyone else before motorized transit? What would a US vacation population map look like? What’s the farthest away from another person you can get in NYC? Is that place open to the public? What would a map of places people have been (set foot) look like? What would a real-time map of everyone’s location look like? (maybe this last one will have an answer) Abbey was (probably) buried in or around the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Southwest Arizona, which looks like one of the remotest and emptiest areas you’ll find anywhere in the lower 48, is now a major corridor for undocumented border crossings. The remoteness offers the possibility of an unnoticed passage and with it the danger of a solitary death from dehydration, heat, or injury. Recreational hikers are now warned away from the area because of the possibility of encountering interactions between drug runners and...

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