Dec 1, 2011

Slapdash Mexican casserole

The idea for this came to me when a friend mentioned he had breakfast casserole.
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1/2 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 jar salsa, any flavor or spiciness. Though I'm not sure how well mango salsa would taste.
Small bag of corn tortillas
8 oz bag of shredded yellow cheese - I like Colby
Green onions or cilantro as garnish
4 eggs
Cayenne pepper and chili powder to taste
Preheat oven to 375.
In a bowl, beat eggs and mix in salsa.  In a larger bowl, combine corn, beans, and half the tomato can.  Mix in the egg and salsa mixture. Add chili powder and cayenne pepper, if desired. I put about taespoon cayenne and a half tablespoon chili.
In an 8x8 pan, cover the bottom with a layer of tortillas. Pour 1/3 of the mixture on top. Cover liberally with cheese. Sprinkle on chopped greens. Repeat layering until pan is full ending on a cheese and greens layer.
Bake for forty five minutes covered with foil, or until egg solidifies.
Ole!

Nov 29, 2011

TSA

Pronounced ZAH.  Like the zah in Huzzah (huh? - ZAH).  Or the zah in tsar.

Otherwise known as The Sadistic Aircops.

(bah-tsinga)


Nov 26, 2011

Oil, on canvas

She had her paint box out again.  She had left the easel in the closet though; I doubt that it had ever been used.  Instead, she often painted her masterpieces on the floor, polished mahogany with a dark stain, a color approaching burnt fuchsia.

Purple was her favourite colour.  She used it on her dolls hair and her mother's toe nails.  Her brother John's sense of appreciation met, chaotically, his just as equal sense of indignation when her creative talents turned themselves onto his bike seat.

Today's color was black.  Canvas abandoned on the table, she instead applied her paintbrush to every living thing within her reach.

The pet terrier, Jake the yardman, Melissa her friend from fourth grade, Dennis who messaged her on Facebook yesterday, Elizabeth her mother, Dad, Robert the boy from school with the corduroy jeans.

From afar, they blended in to the background hues of charcoal gray, but up close you could see the whites of their eyes, their gleaming, sharp, teeth, displayed between tight, glossy black lips.

It would be her masterpiece.

Nov 12, 2011

Seguranca de nada

Sempre pensei que algum dia alguém teria que me amar.  Que eu nao teria opcao, que cairia em amor sem dar assento.  Que para cair no amor voce so precisava existir.  E seria bastante.

Mas aprendi que a existencia nao necesita o amor.  Que e possivel existir, respirar, ser -- sem um outro que te ama.  E que nada vai garantizar que o amor vem para voce.

Nessa existencia, temos a seguranca de nada, meu.  Nada vem, meu, nada vem.

Oct 28, 2011

Amazon shipping

Small secret - amazon's free shipping is about as fast as Amazon prime.
Of the past 4 orders from Amazon over the last four months, nothing has taken longer than three days to arrive.
My latest order will be here in less than two days.
Yes, for xmas, its probably better to get the guarantee, but just for general shipping, you can't do better than free.

Oct 18, 2011

Best chips ever.

I found what I'm giving away for Halloween!  Maybe. If I can keep my hands off them.

Oct 17, 2011

Ginger and Scrambled Eggs

By far, the hands down favorite added ingredient in eggs.  When I'm being super lazy and don't want to add anything (it even renders that pinch of salt less than mandatory).

Per tonight's experimentation, ANY (really I mean any) amount of ginger tastes delicious.  

Though honestly, you'll probably have to lean on the heavier side to be able to taste it. 

SO recipe:
- eggs.  2 if large, 3 if medium/grass-fed organic raised
- ginger (1/2 to 2 tsp)
- butter (about 3/4 tbs)
- salt (if desired, pinch/sprinkle)

Crack eggs in bowl.  Beat with fork until are one yellow color (not patchy, unless you like it that way).
Turn on stovetop to high, medium-high.
Add ginger and salt to eggs. Beat until mixed (ish.  The ginger tends to clump.  This is fine.)
Pan should be hot now.  Add butter, swishing around in the pan as it melts to coat the entire bottom.
Add eggs.  
Serve.

Note, eggs should quick super quickly.  This makes them fluffier. (Thanks Julia!)

Oct 9, 2011

Ramen, Version 2.4

I'm not anti-recipe, but I've definitely moved away from using them as of late.
Here's one of my latest concoctions. Main credit goes to Meizi Mao, my roommate at Wal-Mart during the summer of 2010, who introduced me to my first variation on ramen. A recent discovery that Siracha sauce has sugar as the second ingredient had me getting creative with the spices. Tonight's version was definitely my favorite so far, as the lime added a nice fresh kick.

Spicy chicken ramen with lime
  • a handful of fresh spinach leaves, washed and de-stemmed
  • chicken flavored ramen (the block shaped stuff that comes in an orange package)
  • half a lime
  • cayenne pepper
  • chili pepper flakes
  • 2 large eggs or 3 small ones (this time I put in 3 smaller ones)
Bring about 1cup and a half of water to a boil. (We're talking about two inches of water in a medium/small pot). Add ramen noodles, saving the packet of chicken flavoring for later. Add the washed and de-stemmed spinach leaves Crack the eggs into the pot.
Cook for about three minutes, boiling.
Squeeze in the juice from half the lime, add about 3/4 teaspoon cayenne powder, and a couple of shakes of the red chili pepper flakes.
Add in half to 3/4 of the chicken flavoring packet.
Stir carefully, so as not to break up the eggs. For best results, don't stir until you've got to about this point (at the end of cooking).
Enjoy! I serve my first bowl over a few pieces of ice, but I'm impatient.

Sep 11, 2011

Writing is a waste of time

How often is it just a meditation? How much of it is an exposition, a PR show?

How do you find the bottom of a sphere? By weight, by length, by bounce?

There is nothing interesting in self-explanation. Even psychologists, who's profession is that of self-explaining, make you pay for the privilege of divulging yourself.

Let's play a game. It's called conversation. I'll say a word, and then you say one that's related. And then I'll say one that's unrelated. Then you say one that's related to the the first relation. Then I'll repeat the iteration of relation. Then you relate the iteration to the nonrelation. And we'll iterate that iteration until the iterated iteration is completely unrelated to the game concatentation.

I hate games. Games are for players. I play the piano. The game can't be played by non-players. I hate games. Playing the piano is an odious game.

Jun 18, 2011

okEros

i write riveting messages to potential mates:

i read you smoke cigars. i smoked a cigar for the first time with my grandpa last week. i picked the smallest one he had - it was still too much tobacco. but i finished it, like a champ. i didn't want him to think he had a wimp for a granddaughter.

May 18, 2011

Things I Learned While in College

A uncomprehensive list:

- How to pull an all nighter (PHL 610QB, Smith)
- How to bake the best chocolate chip cookies known to mankind (J. Feldman)
- How to roll a cigarette (F. Pernet & M. Wenzel)
- How to eat like a vegetarian (A. Upstill)
- Dancing (still a work in progress)
- When to stop drinking (Emily)
- Good paperwork is key to making a success of a failed project (MIS 374)
- The difference between coding and thinking you know how to code (aka Computer Science vs. MIS)
- How to write bullet lists (BA 324)
- Other people's interest levels in personal projects is exceedingly variable. Usually positive. Use with care. (Hosteling Int'l)
- Craigslist is the one stop shop for all housing and furnishing needs
- People don't care what you got on the SAT, your class rank upon graduation, how many yoga positions you can *almost* nail, how fast you've ran a mile, what the make of your first car was, how old you were when you got your letter jacket, the number of times you've been asked on a date, the number of dates you've been on, how many people are in your family, how old you are

Things I wished I had learned in college:
- Being good at school is just a skill.
- Laughing.

Apr 28, 2011

Riding in Trains with Brazilians

One can tell where they are in the São Paulo's Metrô (techincally Metrô and CPTM, but for simplicity's sake let's stick with just calling the entire 12 line system the Metrô) based loosely on the content of the PSAs being broadcast over the public announcement system. On the core Metrô lines, those that run along Paulista and into downtown São Paulo, announcements urge passengers to give the right of way to the elderly, be civilized in the boarding process, not to block the doors, allow others to board the train if you're not taking this one, or stand to the correct side so that those in a hurry can get past you. The focus is speed, courtesy for your fellow passengers, and respect for the boarding rules.
On the other hand, the trains (alright, CPTMs) that provide access to the further out suburbs and São Paulo's Vida Loka offerings, the content of the messages change. The focus on speed and allowing others to reach their destinations on time seems to be lost - no one that's riding these trains has business that is that urgently important. Instead, it's don't leave a mess in the cars, don't sit on the floor, don't play your music speakers too loudly - it disturbs the other passengers. CPTM riders, like rowdy school children, are provided a list of "don'ts". The outer Metrô messages give an instructions on how to become civilized subway riders - clean, quiet, and out of the way of others.
Admittedly, the central metro lines are more crowded, and you're less likely to run into someone playing their pint sized boom box on these lines. The messages make sense for the problems that each of the respective lines have. However, the tonal difference between the two sets of messages, to me, is a larger reflection of the hierarchy of Brazilian society. The attitude towards the lower classes is that they're "uneducated, uncivilized", and need to be instructed as to how to conduct themselves in a clean and polite manner. The attitude towards the upper classes is one of social cohesion and respect - let's all work together to make this city function smoothly. Real Brazilian citizens ride the inner city Metrô - São Paulo is proud of these classy subway riders. Whereas the outskirts of the city are home to the masses, the faceless crowds that need to be herded from place to place within the city, that should keep the trains clean and ready for the next boxful of riders, heading to work and keeping the city, en masse, moving forward.

NOTE: To date, I've ridden on 10 of the 11 lines. They are numbered from 1 to 12, but in reality there are only 11 lines - there is no line 6.

Apr 27, 2011

America's God's Army?

As a, although lazy, professedly atheist American, it's a tad disconcerting to realize that at least 70% of our armed forces are Christians. (As per this New York Times article.) Who said the Holy Wars were over? Better yet, why did I think they were? No one did, it's just assumed when you study history that the things you're discussing belong in the past.

I realize I'm super late to the party, but suddenly the Iraqi war has an entirely different look to it. And you can make a far more compelling story out of it. I can almost read the textbook explanation, a hundred years from now: the USA, like all religious oligarchies, created a holy war on a trumped up 'threat', and allowed the government to extend it's control over the citizenry to a level not seen since the McCarthy era, or possibly never before, what with the proliferation of electronic tracking capabilities. Combined with the greatest economic decline since the Great Depression of 1929, this marked the end of the US's dominance in world politics, as the powerful elites and corporations in the US concentrated on building their personal wealth and spheres of influence within the states, largely leaving a power vacuum in the greater world political scene. During this period, US political corruption raised to the highest levels seen since the era of the Robber Barons. The loss of the US ethical corporate culture lead to a worldwide rise in corruption, particularly in the US's main trade partners. The two decades following, before the Middle Eastern democracies (MEds) rose to power and reimposed a level ethics in world trade, rolled back two centuries of progress in poverty reduction and human equity. They are also considered the most dangerous period in civilized history since the invention of the steam engine.

Apr 24, 2011

Praça do Papa Photoshoot

Some of the best photos that I took at Praça do Papa with Gabi in late March 2011.















Apr 1, 2011

Marx, meet Niemeyer

I had a long conversation with my Brazilian roommate this week about Marx and the definition of alienation. It was spurred in large part by a debate I got into with his social economics professor. The idea of alienation has been on my mind ever since.



I really want to discuss how landscapes can alienate, and show some examples from a museum here in São Paulo, the Museu de América Latina (Latin American Museum), but first I need to write through my misunderstandings and doubts that I have with regards to Marx's concept of alienation.

Based on the conversation that I had with my roommate and the debate that I entered into with his professor, I understand alienation to be the tendnecy humans have to see other human beings as objects instead of as fully realized human individuals. In other words, when you look at me, all you see is the skirt I'm wearing, the fact that I'm probably North American or Western European, that I've got dandruff on my shoulders, that the shoes I'm wearing are last year's Blue Light special, and that I'm hopelessly lost. What you don't, necessarily, see is the inside color of my soul (it's deep fuschia, fyi), the fact that I decided and then promptly undecided ten times this morning to get out of bed, the fact that I enjoy watching other people. In order to understand me on this level, without taking any of my physcial appearance or culturally imposed mannerisms (I said hello when I saw you, how polite! But I didn't hold the door, how rude!) into account, you would successfully be seeing me in an unalienated manner.

My objection to this criticism is that yes, we're all shallow creatures, we read what you're wearing for social clues. But it wasn't capitalism that made us this way - kings and princes have always worn crowns, monkeys have silverbacks, peacocks have rainbow plumes. Marx successfully points out how our human instincts correspond with the animal world - we make judgements on first sight. But Marx goes further to insist that we should be able to eventually overcome these limiting instincts and be able to understand each and every human, to recognize and acknowledge each's individual desires, the essential nature of every human being.


Marx, one question: what if the guy I just met yesterday, the one who's smelly breath and greasy shirt gave me shudders, at his essential nature, wants to eat me for dinner? This view there is enough space in the world for each and every man to achieve his own desires, that is that the desires of an individual exist in a vacuum. Or in other words, that I can express and enact my essential nature without limiting or infringing upon the expression and enaction of another's essential nature.

Unfortunately for Marx, human being desires and "essences" are often based in and around other human beings - the same relationships that we all have with one another are the underlying cause for our fetishism with objects, our need to display wealth and power. Someone is always going to want to be a Bonaparte, a Cesar Agustus, a Barak Obama - to have power over others. The essential nature of people is to want and desire things of other people, be it power, love, understanding, atention - and we use objects, our money, storytelling, our personalities to do so.

Let's return for the moment to my classroom debate with the professor on Tuesday. His point was that we cannot overcome alienation. So let's say that I decided that the essence of my being was such that I desired, desperately, to never wear shirts. So I remove my shirt in the middle of class. In this hypothetical situation, let's say that the site of a shirtless girl in the middle of his classroom greatly disturbs the professor, to the point where he is no longer able to conduct class. He has a great desire... to have me put my shirt back on so that he may finish his lecture. In this situation there is a conflict of desires, of essential natures. I don't want to give up my ablity to air off my torso; my professor wants to finish his class. A third student comes up with a compromise: the professor will pay me $50 to put my shirt back on. I'm trading my desire to remain shirtless for $50.

Desires, these essential natures of ourselves, are an expression of our personal power or force of will. We use the desires of others to get what we want - money often acting as the intermediary. In the above example, the student traded her power over the sentiments of the professor (a form of sexual power) for cold hard cash (economic power). Without monetary power ($50), the professor would have been unable to get what he wanted - finishing his class on time.

To conclude, the assertion that alienation is a product of a capitalist system is bull. Marx couldn't figure out how to manipulate his human desires and connections into actual power that would get him what he wanted - so he called everyone that was aware of these powers of desires and successfully (or unsuccessfully) used them "alienated". From this perspective, Marx's alienated individuals are in fact wiser than Marx himself: instead of writing a long critique of human nature, they used their knowledge of the very same human nature to accomplish what they wanted. (or at least tried to).

Marx's personal life aside, alienation as an emotion exists: at times we feel distant, isolated, cut off from all emotional contact and acknowledgement. Landscapes, often our surroundings, can be the greatest provocatuer of alienated feelings. Being the last car in an empty Wal-Mart parking lot on a Tuesday afternoon. Walking alone down a badly lit business district in the depths of a Sunday night. Or, in my case this week, visiting the Latin American Museum in São Paulo.

Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil's most notable Modern architect, the musuem is another classic example of the architect that influenced the design of Brazilian buildings to this day.

This was not my first Niemeyer - I had made it my goal while in São Paulo to track down as many of his works in the city as possible. I've already visited his famous church at Pampulha in Belo, seen the eastern most building in Brazil (also his) in João Pessoa. I've seen pictures of Brasília.



Oscar Niemeyer makes alienation palpible. White and arching, cement and steel structures - Niemeyer's style comes straight from Disney's Tomorrowland. Perhaps a tomorrow that, like Marx's definition of human essence, makes a better ideal than practical reality.

Niemeyer's sweeping curves of concrete, vast empty plazas, and glass arches must be beautiful on paper. And within the first few weeks of completed construction. But the wear and tear that acid rain and grass runners wreak on these ideals is often less than desireable.



The plaza for the MAL felt like an abandonded parking lot. A few, unoccupied concrete benches were the only thing filling the vacant space; they looked misplaced, as though the truck on the way to the neighborhood park had forgotten where it had left them. The buildings white exteriors were marred with greenish
streaks - eiher algae growth or acid rain stains. The fountain around the Sala das Artes had a faint organic smell wafting off of it. There were no trees, no shrubs, no foliage except the weeds growing at the bases of the benches and in the cracks between the enormous concrete slabs that formed the plaza. There was a passarela (walkway), an out of place grandiose curl of concrete, unused since the Phantom Tollbooth closed its doors.



Niemeyer, perhaps not unlike Marx, designed and planned his ideal buildings in a world without nature. On paper, arches stay white and plazas always have that Modern couple on heading towards a packed auditorium. In drawings, you have perspective on the building, on the space. In reality, you must confront these spaces as an individual, on two feet, consciously aware of every solitary instant that you cross a weed-edged plaza. Ironically, perhaps it's here that Marx's "unalienated" individuals would feel most at home.


Mar 27, 2011

Degas' Obsession - MASP II

Edgar Degas was obsessed with the female form. This much was obvious just from the few works that they had from him at MASP. I would go further and say that more specifically, Edgar Degas was obsessed with the form of the female back.

Bending, leaning women fill Degas' frames, each one showing off a brilliant, muscular back. The focal point, they are often offset by heavy outlines, low cut ballerina leotards, or illuminated by bright colors. The faces of his subjects are often positioned away from the artist, with unfocused gazes or looking into the distance. Like all men with obsessions, he's not interested in the personailities of his subjects, but merely the object of his obsession: the various forms that a female back can take.

Some of his paintings do not show a woman's back, but her bosom. Though in these images the women are typically in the act of bending over or down, thrusting out their chests as they do. One could use these to question my hypothesis, claiming that he was just as obsessed with bosoms, as when a chest is thrust out in this manner it shows off these assets as well, so to speak. I acknowledge this interpretation, but would suggest that the manner in which the women are pushing out their bosoms and leaning down is, in fact, the best way to display a human back, adding muscle definition as you extend out the spinal column. It's a lot like bending over in a yoga sun saluation - you're extending and working out your back muscles by pushing your scapula forward and pulling your shoulder blades back. Degas paints women in this manner because it's merely another perspective of a woman's back - that from the front. Like a burlesque dancer that merely hints at what's under her corset, Degas' front facing subjects are seductive suggestions of what they would look like from behind.

So why ballerinas and bathing women? Because ballerinas and women in the act of bending over to wash are the few or only examples in Degas' time that you would have of women in the act of displaying their backs. Ballerinas, like modern yogis, bend and extend their backs, displaying them in leotards with low cut backs that would have been hard to find in other situations. Similarly, women who are seated and washing their feet are the best exposition of a woman's naked back.

No one at MASP seems to have figured this out - in their exhibition on Obsessão da Forma, his sculpture of woman bathing was positioned so that we could see her front bent over a wash basin: her detailed, perfectly scuplted back was facing away from the viewer, towards the center of the collection of sculptures.

What do you think?








The Art of Portraiture - Olhar e Ser Visto - MASP I (Or how you'll never want to have your picture taken ever again Or Facebook is Evil Infotoate)

Tuesday is free day at the MASP (Museu de Arte de São Paulo). So I went.

The MASP building is impressive but compact, which makes sense for a building that's on Paulista, home to some of the skinniest office buildings I've ever seen. The building itself is a huge concrete block that rests on four large red concrete posts. Currently, the outside of the block is covered with a cloudscape, a work of art called Tramazul. The ground floor level is open, a plaza that at night serves home to several of the street-wanderers. Sundays, it's an antique market.

The museum itself has four actual floors, but only 3 of art exhibitions. The top two floors, that reside in the concrete block above the plaza, hold paintings, sculptures, and prints of the current permanent and temporary exhibitions. The top floor (2) holds the permanent exhibitions, currently Olhar e Ser Visto, Romanticismo, and Arte do Sagrado. The first floor (one up from street level) holds a tribute to Brazilian print art, Papeis Brasileiros. The first subterranean level holds a café, library, and gift shop. The second subterranean level: a por-kilo restaurant (must come back to try this out!) and the last exhibit in the museum: a collection of statues showing "Obsession with Form" (Obsessão da Forma).

Hands down favorite was definitely the exhibition on portraiture, Olhar e Ser Visto. In this exhibit, the curators had divided the portraits that they had on hand into several different categories, demonstrating the rise of portaits in the 13th century, mostly busts or full length photos of the wealthiest class of European cities. The exhibit then moves from these full length portraits with no background to, gasp, full length portraits with backgrounds and scenery. From there, the exhibit jumps forward to more modern portraits: two or three of Modigliani's women, a couple of Van Gogh's, Picasso's Athelete.

The idea of the entire exhibit was to demonstrate how art went from representing reality to representing an idea or an image. Using portraits to show this contrast was clever, but I disagree with the premise that the original portraits, from the 13th to 15th century, were necessarily attempting to "reflect reality" more or less than the portraits that they had on display by Picasso, Van Gogh, or Modigliani.

Based on my observations, the portraits from the 13th century only attempted to be an accurate representation of a person's face - more specifically their eyes, brow, nose, and perhaps mouth. Anything outside of these four key facial features was left to the discretion of the artist and/or patron who was paying for the picture. In other words, the only actual portion of the photo that was "depicting reality" was the face - it had to actually look like the person that it was attempting to replicate. But only their facial features - beyond the face was the realm of the imagination. This contrast was easily seen in many of the portraits: the brush strokes used for facial characteristics were small and concise. These parts of the portraits looked the most real, had the most life out of any of the canvas. The rest of the work of art was often painted in with larger brush strokes, unclear lines. Buttons that lack shine, hems painted on in broad strokes, bushes that fade away on the edges. The most obvious indication of a facial focus: necks bent at strange angles, noses and eyes that appear to float above and off of the face that they're supposedly attached to.

This same detail to facial features persisted throughout the paintings, regardless if they were modern or older. Let's call this the "Can you see me now?" game. In the older form of portriature, "Can you see me now?" was done in order to please the patrons - failure to accurately represent the facial features of your boss most likely would result in starvation and the end to a relatively short lived artistic career. In the modern age, "Can you see me now" became an attempt to depict a person through the lens of an artist - rather how badly can I distort a person and you still see that person? In other words, how far would reality bend before you lost all connection to reality entirely? Modigliani's portraits of women are impressive in this regard: even with the vacant eye expressions, and the childish coloring job that looks as though it could have been done by a two year old with crayons, you can still get a feeling for the subject's personality and attitude.


The portrait that best expresses this idea of "Can you see me now?", Modern Edition, was the Athelete by Picasso (see above). Following the tradition of older portraits, the face is the focal point in the painting - that is to say that the background and even the torso of the man have been neglected with respect to the detail of the strokes and the accuracy of representation. The face of the man, however, appears to be made steel planes and plates, fused together with human flesh - the first Terminator, perhaps? This fusion STILL MANAGES TO MAINTAIN the essence of the man himself: he's old, he's tired. This athelete has seen better days. Picasso has taken a man, distorted him with metal plates and cubist looks, but has still maintained the agony of age and the weathering of years on his face.

So what is a portrait? A piece of art modeled after a person that attempts to reflect their presence and personality, both as felt by themselves as by the people in the world around them. A portrait must be recognizable both to the subject and to those that are familiar with the subject. As such, portraits are fascinating revelations both of who we see ourselves as and how others perceive us.

Thinking beyond the portraits at MASP, my realization of what a portrait attempts to capture led me back to my current relationship with photographs of myself - I'm largely unhappy with them.

(CAUTION: If you're currently a fairly happy, non-introspective individual with a good relationship with your personal Facebook page and who likes to have their picture taken with and by friends, proceed with caution. The following might forever alter how you view yourself and your relationships with others.)

Cameras and photography bring an interesting angle into the question posited by the MASP curators: does art reflect reality or merely our interpretaion of it? By design, cameras can only reflect reality. They make impressions and record what actually happened: that facial expression would not exist in that photo if you at some point had not been making it. That happy grin, those angry eyes, that sleepy expression: all of them at some point flashed across your facial features.

So my discomfort with photos of myself is in fact a larger discomfort with the face that I present to the world. It's not the photos that I dislike but the self-portrait that comes back through them: I'm dissatisfied with the depiction of my personality, of my attitude, of the face that I give to others to see and perceive. So I've stopped taking as many photos of myself (though it's hard not to want to see, from time to time, what it is that I'm reflecting into reality. I'm curious by nature).

Though this discussion of obsession with photos of the self leads me to a deeper debate that I've been having with myself: how much of the expression and self that I show to a camera is a reflection of who I am in that moment, and what part of it is a reflection of my current relationship with, as a proxy, cameras and, by extension, myself? That is to say, knowing what I do about a camera's ability to display reality, to what extent to I show my loathing for that ability in my expressions that I give to a camera? Cameras make me nervous - I feel as though I must perform for them so that they will capture that which I wish to see myself as. I'm using them as a way to mold my understanding of myself, thus controlling and actively shaping how I define myself. It's like taking a badly written personality test - you don't end up finding out anything new about yourself but only a rough outline of what you want yourself to be like.

My problem with photographs is that I am unable to fake being what I want to be, at least for the camera.

Further mind-fuckage: for those of us who are not as deeply obsessed with their self-relationship as I am (when someone takes my picture, I'm largely focused on my future self that will be looking at the photo and attempting to represent for her the face that I think that she would most want to see in that situation, as opposed to being focused on the moment or on who's taking the picture), imagine what portraits tell us about the relationship between the person making the portrait and the person being represented.

There was an interesting notation on one of the portraits at MASP about the diversity of portraits, especially whether or not the subject was staring off into the distance or looking directly at the artist. Of course, part of this has to do with the person in the portrait: are they a person that tends to look others directly in the eyes, or someone that, on average, tends to avoid the eyes of others? Are they more introverted or extroverted, more of a dreamer or a practical person oriented person? Do they enjoy social interactions or do they avoid them?

But taken further, what kind of person is the artist? Is he or she someone that most people are used to looking at, the sort of person who draws attention from others and is comfortable with it? Are they used to calling attention to themselves?

And finally, what is the relationship between the artist and their subject? Is the subject able to relax around the person that is depicting them, are they comfortable looking at the artist in the face, are they willing to show who they are to the artist?

Now go look at your Facebook photos. Find the ones where you look the happiest, where you look the most relaxed. Who were you with? Who was taking the photo? How much of your expression, your revelation of who you are is affected by that other person? Now look at the photo's that you've taken of other people. Do they look relaxed and happy to see you? Are they looking you in the eye or looking away? Do they seem nervous or uncomfortable? How much of this is you and how much of it is them? Well, that's an easy question to answer: go look at their other Facebook photos. Are they always comfortable in photos? Who else makes them look the way that they look in the photos that you took togehter? What is their relationship like with that person?

So I'm shying away from cameras for the moment. I've turned off Facebook so that I no longer have access to that repository of photos of myself (all in various stages of understanding the power of a photo to reveal your personality! "Wow, look at this one from 200x, I was super happy then, just wait until I figured out what photographs can say about you" ... "Here it is! The first showing of that angry, suspicious expression, yup late 200x, just as I suspected...What a great 'Die Camera, Die' face!.. Man I was super unhappy at that party, look how much I wanted to be taken seriously...")

And thus, Facebook is Evil Infotoate.

Feb 26, 2011

Brilliant Misconceptions

I had always thought that my brains were the ticket, the legs, the whole hog of the operation, that they would take me wherever I needed/wanted to go with. There was nothing that I needed to do - they would do it all. I was just along for the ride.

I realized today that my brains lack rocket fuel. There is nothing in and of intelligence itself that will TAKE you anywhere. Brilliance is merely a key that opens doors - it is nothing without the feet that bring you to the door, nor will it walk you through the door.

Life's rocket fuel is passion, desire, vision, creativity.



Power on. :)

blank canvas

this canvas is blank. does that mean it's time for me to start afresh? that's one of the side effects of blank canvas -- it brings...