August 7, 2010

A lot of discussion amongst the Saturday night pool hall regulars seemed to be devoted to the Beijing bikini. In Beijing, and elsewhere in the north of China, in the summertime, local men have a propensity for rolling up their shirts so that their stomachs are fully exposed to the elements while their shirts still cover their chestal area, making for a makeshift man-bikini. As taking your shirt off for men is entirely acceptable and a normal practice, it's a little difficult to understand the reason for the Beijing bikini.

August 7, 2010

Hat off to Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker for overturning California's Prop 8 ban on gay marriages.

Ethically, the ban is akin to the old racist bans on inter-racial marriages. Committed couples are families in and of themselves and have been raising and do raise families, whether or not the law recognizes them as such. This will give both "partners" the rights to act as parents, which they both are, for their children. Not to mention the other benefits that go with being a spouse for those employed at companies that still offer spousal benefits, like health insurance.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out when it finally reaches the Supreme Court. I hope the Justices look at this as the civil rights issue that it is, rather than a state's rights argument, the likes of which kept Jim Crow in place for far too long.


August 6, 2010

1. 90% through "Vertov: From A to Z" (Ediciones de Calavera, 2007). The Editors' (Peggy Ahwesh and Keith Sanborn) idea was to take a still from Vertov's 1929 film "Man With a Movie Camera" and get 40 contributors to write about a single frame of a landmark (Soviet) film. The contributions run on the short side (usually less than 5 pages) but are packed with many different "Ways of Seeing" and interacting with this single image. Interesting. Although, the editors let multiple contributors introduce some of the same historical or physical facts (for example, that it was a shot of a spool of wire is repeated several times, as if it were new news the third time. It reads like these multiple mentions of a single aspect of the still could have been edited out if they weren't followed with analyses). Overall, a great idea.

This seems like it could easily be transferred/translated into a perfectly valid grad school theory exercise. Not to reduce the effect of the book, I think that it would be fun and useful to take any still from any film and then assign schools of thought for the analysis of the image removed from the narrative/filmic structure. This type of analysis is what I tend to play with in my video work. So it was nice to see artists, writers (Walter Benjamin from beyond the grave?), and critics I respect grapple, process and analyze this single, perplexing movie frame.

2. Going to Kashgar next week. This is a spoiler for some people with letters in the mail, sorry. I'm spending 7 days in the heart of Chinese Muslim country. The Pakistan border is nearby, and from what I can tell, Han Chinese (ie, Beijing) hegemony hasn't yet *completely* ruined the local culture. This isn't really the forum for me to go into recent initiatives, like banning the local language in the schools, so I'll save that for another time and place.

3. Looked at the website the other other day, and I have to take my hat off to Stephanie Young for continuing to do such a good job with Deep Oakland. Check it out if you haven't been in a while: .

4. "Other other day" being grammar I heard during my long stay in Georgia in the 90s: It means "kinda recently, but not really recent", like maybe two weeks ago. I also like "Tuesday next" which I heard a lot from artist Nat Harris (native Georgian), which means not "next Tuesday" but the Tuesday after that, so two Tuesday's from now. I, of course, can't teach this to ESL students as it's non-standard and regional, but I do use it in social occasions with coworkers from other parts of America, teachers from different countries, and the few students who have become my friends. The latter also seem to be the ones who usually ask about things said on the Big Bang Theory, Gossip Girl or whatever foreign TV show they are currently streaming on to increase their fluency.

5. 100 Letters is behind schedule, but still on track. I'm happy to say the Ultraman project is also on track. It's seems that in the very near future, I will be regularly writing art criticism again. There are two projects in the works but very close to go that would have me regularly contributing exhibition reviews and criticism. I am very excited about this.

6. Dan Godston interviewed me here: .

6B. The typos and misspeaking in the interview are all me. My concern about the document (trace) trumping, in fact displacing, the actual performance (event) does worry me. More on this later.