Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I got my dirt

My dirt

View from the roof parking lot of the Old Navy store in Astoria, Queens (or is it Long Island City? I'm not sure)

I got the top soil I need in a weird, Only-in-New-York kind of way. A guy who is helping one of the other artists at Socrates also works in landscaping, luckily, it turned out that he needed to get rid of several cubic yards of top soil from the Upper East Side, roof top terrace of a deceased opera singer. So we again borrowed the pickup truck that took forever to get yesterday, and made two trips across the 59th Street Bridge to get the incredibly heavy dirt.

The Long Build

The state of my pieces as of Monday (day four)

Jade Townsend & Michael Peterson, these dudes are ahead of the game

The view from the shore of Socrates Sculpture Park during Monday's relentless rain.

View of the congested BQE from a borrowed pick-up truck

For me, there is always a low point in the process of installing a show. Sometimes it comes when the opening is 24 hours away and it seems like there is no way I can finish on time, sometimes it is brought on by frustrating technical problems, and sometimes I just start to think that I am crazy for putting so much energy into an activity that is, on one level, ridiculous.

I have not yet hit that point in my Socrates installation, but yesterday was pretty frustrating. It rained the entire day and a trip to borrow a friends pickup truck and buy plywood at home depot turned into a five hour odyssey. I have a feeling the low point is going to be related to either the painting of the exteriors of the pieces or to the trouble I am having procuring the amount of soil I need to fill the boxes.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bobbie Gentry, Bing Crosby, Tiny Tim

The depth of material on Youtube never ceases to amaze me. I love Bobbie Gentry and Tiny Tim (seriously), so seeing them together is cool. I'm neutral on Bing Crosby.

The Slow Install

I'm in Long Island City, Queens, building my Three Shopping Cart Situations pieces at Socrates Sculpture Park. Things are off to a slow start, hopefully today will be more productive.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fantastic Damage

This is one of the carts I will be using in Three Shopping Cart Situations, my soon-to-be-built shopping cart installation at Socrates Sculpture Park. I love this specimen, it's an amazing object by any measure. Even though I have created a set of terms to describe shopping carts, when I look at profoundly wrecked carts like this one I always think of the phrase "Fantastic Damage" which is the title of Definitive Jux founder El-P's 2002 album. I wish I had thought of it first.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Stray Shopping Carts at Socrates Sculpture Park

Later this week I'll be heading to NYC to build three large shopping cart pieces at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City. My plan is to re-stage situations where damaged shopping carts have transitioned to B/21 Naturalization. I'm going to build three 6'x6'x6' boxes, half wood, half Plexiglas that will be open to the elements and contain living plants. There will also be the kind of trash and debris you would normally find at such scenes. I am hoping that the plants will grow in and around the carts as the Summer progresses. The timing of this project is both good and bad, the fact that is overlaps with my solo show at Black & White Gallery (June 5 - July 12), is great, but getting both shows together at once is somewhat stressful. I'm hiring a friend to help me build the Socrates pieces (I have a grant that covers this), if I had to do it on my own it would take forever.

I've been checking out the work of the other artists involved, and it looks like it is going to a pretty cool show.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Macro Gold

Colette spotted this jumping spider eating an insect on a bag. We were in a picnic area, about to start a hike into Niagara Gorge. I don't have the proper flash set up for macro photography so I am a bit limited in what I can do on the fly. Unfortunately the top image is out of focus except for the eyes.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Another Japanese Acquisition

I'm going to give this one to a friend. Presumably this figure is based on a character from anime or manga. It's a bit hard to imagine the convoluted story that would require an armed cat woman (note the ears, the tail is not visible in this picture) with WWII airplane fuselages for legs.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cedar Waxwings in the Front Yard

I saw a flock of Cedar Waxwings in the front yard today. I had never knowingly seen one before.

Rare Giant Turtle found in Vietnam

Story here. How strange that this should come right on the heels of my Gamera post.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Fantastic Purchases from Japan

I bought the above figures in Akihabara, the nerd district in Tokyo, last week (the top one is 5" tall and the bottom one is 2.5" high). On top is Pestar, a monster from the Ultraman TV series. Ultraman was a show with the exact same aesthetic and production values of the Godzilla films. When I first saw the Pestar figure I was hoping he was some kind of mushroom, but apparently he is conjoined starfish twins with a bat's head, who lives in the sea and devours oil. I could find almost no references in English to Pestar on the web, but the ones I did find, seemed to think that he was one of the lamest Ultraman monsters ever.

The second monster should be easily recognizable to any culturally literate person, it is Gamera the 200 ft long, jet powered turtle. Gamera was introduced by the Daiei Motion Picture Company to rival the success of Godzilla. I've always liked Gamera, even though I have probably only ever seen half of one movie. What got me was a scene where a boy and girl in school uniforms are watching Gamera fly overhead and the little girl yells "Gamera's my boyfriend!" This trailer tells you what you need to know.

Randomness from my Holga

I'd forgotten about this roll of film that I shot last Fall with my Holga camera. I just had it developed and the results are fairly unspectacular. The pictures were taken on a six week spider hunting road trip through the South. The picture of the MacDonald's sign reminds me of work by my Chicago friend Matt Siber. The bottom picture is of my grandmother and at least 2 other exposures.


Believe it or not these bathrooms are not part of some showroom, but actual bathrooms for residences! (I spotted these from the 7-11 parking lot previously mentioned in the Black Kite Post) I assume that there is some sort of shade that goes down when one enters the room, but still, it seems a bit much.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Back in B-Lo

I got back from Tokyo yesterday afternoon, it was a 22 hour trip from door to door, incredibly short considering the distances involved. I still have a few more Japan related blog posts to put up before I get back into Occidental concerns. Above is a label that I cut off a Dr. Pepper bottle, it looks like they have a slightly different marketing strategy in Japan. Make sure you click to enlarge the picture, there is a lot of dripping Dr. Peppery detail in there. It's hard to say what I like best about the illustration, is it the phallic guns that squirt Dr. Pepper or the tiny purple top hat she is wearing?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Art Fair Tokyo 2008

Masashi, Yuka and I went to Art Fair Tokyo 2008 last Friday evening. I had wanted to check out contemporary art here, so it was good luck that this was happening during my visit. Compared to the European and American fairs, Tokyo is very small, local and conservative. Half of the work was from galleries that specialize in a sort of faux traditional Japanese style. There were some cool galleries there, and some interesting work, I would be interested to see how it develops over the next couple of years. In one of the book publisher's stalls we found a Japan-only postcard book of work from our home town gallery the Albright-Knox. Masashi (an 8 year B-lo resident) bought one.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Black Kites

Black Kite over Kamakura

Black Kites over a 7-11 parking lot
Last weekend I took a lot of pictures of Black Kites. They behave a bit like gulls or vultures, Wikipedia describes their behaviour thusly:
Black Kites will take small live prey as well as fish, household refuse and carrion. They are attracted to fires and smoke where they seek escaping insect prey. They are well adapted to living in cities and are found even in densely populated areas. Large numbers may be seen soaring in thermals over cities. In some places they will readily swoop to take to food offered by humans, their habit of swooping to pick up dead rodents from roads often leads to them being hit by vehicles. They are also a major nuisance at some airports where they are considered important birdstrike hazards.
I watched one swoop down and hit the heads of two teenage girls who were eating a snack in a 7-11 parking lot. With a wingspan of about four feet it was pretty intimidating. I was urged by my companions to retreat to the safety of the car.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shopping Cart Cowboys

James McCormick of Mississippi sent me a link to a song he has written about the men and women who round up shopping carts. I think it's great. Listen HERE.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Stray Shopping Cart Activity in Tokyo

As far as I can tell, Stray Shopping Cart Activity in Tokyo is practically non-existent. There are most likely a number reasons for this, but I expect that it is mostly cultural. There is very little graffiti here and you rarely see litter. For shopping cart activity you need more open space and a higher level of disorder.

Pimped out Japanese Trucks

PingMag has an interview with photographer Masuru Tatsuki about his decade long project of photographing elaborately decorated Japanese trucks (Decotora in Japanese).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday in Kamakura/Chigasaki

Huge Medieval Buddha

Typical open-jawed train sleeping

Coy in the temple gardens

Masashi & Yuka

My first (and hopefully not last) view of Mount Fuji.

A few more pictures here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Another Bird on its Back

I found this graphic at the zoo as part of a bird display. I initially thought it related to some dire disappearing habitat situation, but it actually indicates the length of the bird.

Chicken on a Chain

Most Japanese restaurants have perfectly made models of the food they serve on display in the window or set outside. Masashi and I were in a really nice building in Akihabara and we found this model chicken on a chain. I guess they have a problem with people taking them. Too bad, it really detracts from the presentation.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Erotic Electronic Bubble Wrap (the Future is Now)

These are little gadgets meant to simulate the popping of bubble wrap. But every once in a while, instead of making the popping sound, a girl's voice says something suggestive. The maid character on the right says "welcome home master" and the one on the left, who is supposed to be a "bitch" character, says "Don't touch me!" There was even one who is supposed to be a younger sister who says "brother, don't touch me." I would hope that most people who purchase these are people like me, who find them funny, and not people with dual interests in bubble wrap popping and incest.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Don't Feed the Monkeys

I like the ice pack on the monkey's head.

Projects Library #8

This cover combines two things I really like, Cooper Black and Hiroshige prints.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Meguro Parasitological Museum

On Sunday we went to the Meguro Parasitological Museum. It was cool and fairly disturbing. The museum is very small, but since most parasites are pretty small, it all works out. The exhibits and graphics are nicely designed. The best known item in the collection is a 30 foot tape worm (not small).