Monthly Archives: April 2012

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A promise to a friend, a restless determination, a close call and a life altering decision, a failed relationship, a mother’s guidance and the idea she seeded, a clairvoyant foresight, landing a dream job, a lone trip around a new city, a phone that doesn’t work, a friend that lacks punctuality, unpatience, and a lack of communication.

A Friday morning walk, jumping in the right train, getting off at the right station, marching to the same exit, thinking of going home without saying a word, changing my mind in a heartbeat, having the guts to ask a stupid question, looking for a second entrance, a working phone, and a free afternoon ahead. Green Park, the sculpture’s tits, fuck the double decker, Big Ben and the invisible air hostess, googling the name of that statue (it’s called Boudica), repeating directions to North Acton, and long slow goodbye at Westminster Station.

Getting your mojo back, drunk rants at nights, sleepobg in Zurich, hot tips in Kuala Lumpur, the birth of Fred, the spanish classes, the skype marathons, murdering “Las Mañanitas” on the phone, the Time-to-wake-up-pretty alarm-message, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Hola from Paradise, the useless ashtray, that birthday e-mail, the bunny hats chat, a Unicorn landing in the garden, a comeback to London, meeting 90A, the never-ending walk, a spoiled picnic, pints at an english pub, midnight kebab, a Tube ride back home, pictures in front of a purple door, purple underwear, cheap arse wine, the unmatchable first kiss, that night, the birth of the Galaxy, singing the Australian National Anthem, effing Matilda, the Aeroplane Jelly Tv ad, the nakedness of it all, my favourite mole, the red toenails, caressing in disguise the morning after, chocolate fingers, pink lady apples, the killer hangover, the one and only breakfast, a walk through Soho, cake at Princi, the massive burgers, crashing on a cafe’s corner, drinking water, saving energy, fucktardness, the playlist, and singing The Pick of Destiny.

Directions to Paris, starting a blog, a tribute to your Gramps, mine dying shortly after, the drawing challenge, missing Vintage Trouble live, the story of Carl, correcting that awful ending until you got it right, Ben Harper paintings, cockroaches pictures on a Queens of The Stone Age gig, the patts on the butt, writing arrival dates on a whiteboard, watching Spiderman fall over and over again, drunken drawing competition at The Champion, walking hand in hand looking for a Tube station, laughing at the innocent geek-looking kid on the Tube, giving me that notebook, Wish You Were Here banners on the Southbank, the Galaxy painting and the peach one you never did for me, ins and ons, mental hi fives, asking that idiot to pick a side on the airport, the note with the Daisies, Bonita and Yoda, flying on September 11, Thames Fair, hot dogs and cold beers, riding a wooden pony,  buying lesbian art, Shoot You Down sharing headphones, standing on the stairs near the river thinking of that kiss you didn’t deliver, waiting for fireworks that never arrived, stopping at a restaurant to pee in the middle of the night, watching that Foo Fighters documentary, a failed Vegemite sandwich, the bedtime stories, those wings, the 16 Galactic Commandments, that colour we choose and never bought, the 100% perfect girl, and the shagging songs.

A trip to Amsterdam, cold dutch beer in the afternoon, a yellow poncho, drawing elephants, taking pictures, hide and seek in the square, gay-looking scarf, the Red Light District, conquering the Galaxy one porn shop at a time, kissing self-portraits, drunk grocery shopping, that damn blocked-crotch upskirt picture, the best train ride ever, the birth of Layla and Roxanne, Wild Pig, a morning crevasse, Ben Harper impersonations, laughing in bed until we cried, the cheeky pics, The Bedroom Philosopher, Babe at the door, the Amy painting, hair up, dead leaves in the park, the pinkish short that got lost with that dress, my first poem, my debut painting; The Black Keys, Elvis and The Stone Roses; Pirates, Kick-ass and Stranger Than Fiction, a christmas hand-writen letter, the London postcards you loved, the Galaxy in the forest, the Yes You’re a Mess but You’re More Than Less drawing, candles for Brad, sunday ritual plans, vinyl records-wine-picnic, and all the things that might be escaping my memory now… none of that can ever be put in boxes, locked down and thrown away. You know that.

But most important, no one had to work hard and give their best to make any of this work, it just did. And always will. Better than with anyone else.

That’s how the Galaxy rolls. Never forget.

Grab yourself a fun pass

Every now and then, life makes me feel that dreamers are highly overrated. All these people holding on to hopes, pouring every ounce of their energy to make things happen, taking punches over and over again only because they know there’s nothing else they rather be doing but chasing this damn thing that make their hearts beat loudly; fighting against adversity, uncertainty and fatalistic foretellings armed only with a dauntless spirit and a loving ambition… what are they getting out of it, anyway? Sometimes events in life lead me to believe these people are just a bunch of ingenuous fools who sooner or later will suffer the painful disillusions of the dreams they dearly treasure and die victims of the merciless by-products of their own hippie creation.

But then, just when you’re on the brink of deeming that innocent desire as a big disheartening waste of time, someone shows up on your doorstep and restores your faith in everything you were about to give up on…

Red is the new black

Friday saw me going on my first british road trip ever. I went with Ross and Jimmy to Reading, just an hour drive from London, to have a look at the Reading International Mammoth Fair, which is nothing but a medium-size gathering of loonies obsessed with records, DVDs and CDs. We got there around 11am and spent the next 3 hours browsing through hundreds of thousands of vinyls, most of them priced quite reasonably. This time around, I got one of my all-time favourite records: The Stone Roses’ homonymous album, on red vinyl, which I’ve been playing since I got home. It’s a beauty.

I also got my favourite Led Zeppelin record (Led Zeppelin II) as a present from Jimmy, which was really nice of him. It’s a mexican copy, also on red vinyl, and although he didn’t sign it or anything (I rarely ask for autographs or pictures), it still means a lot simply because it was a gift from the man himself. When he was buying it, I remember thinking: “wait a minute, did Jimmy Page just treat me with a Led Zeppelin record? Sweet”.

After the fair, we went to Jimmy’s house to sort out the records we have bought (they were all mixed up in different bags) and it was there where I found sitting on a big shelf, along with other stuff, a glow-in-the-dark figure of José Gregorio Hernández. I was a bit shocked. I asked Jimmy if he knew who the guy was but he didn’t. He couldn’t even remember where he had gotten it, which is totally acceptable (I’m not even half his age and have already forgotten my debit card pin number, twice). I explained him that José Gregorio Hernández had been a Venezuelan physician who went to reach legendary status after his death due to people claiming to have been granted miracles after praying to him. I think Jimmy was quite surprised, maybe as much as I was to find that little figure in his house, on a Good Friday. It was a strange moment.

Anyway, we bid him goodbye and drove back to London listening to an amazing Pink Floyd record which name I can’t remember (for a change), I only know it featured live recordings from a show they did in Birmingham, back in 1969. I will ask Ross and post an update here, just in case you’re interested.

Meanwhile, the housemates are cooking lunch, my nose is running again (spring flu has arrived) and this red circle placidly spins in my room, filling the air with killer riffs and powerful beats that remind me why I fell in love with the mighty Zep in the first place.

Happy Easter, everybody.

Screw you, comfort

“Comfort came in with the middle classes”
Clive Bell 

A couple of years ago, while being back in Venezuela, I went out for lunch one day and bought a traditional sweetcorn pancake we called “Cachapa”, only that instead of sitting in the restaurant to eat it as I normally did, I decided to have it to take away. The guy at the counter placed the pancake on a foam plate, wrapped it with paper and put it in a bag. Not long after, I found myself at home eating it on that very same foam plate I was given, with the usual fork and knife. When I was finished, I became aware of something that has fascinated me ever since: I was struck by the traces left by the fork and knife on that soft surface; a random pattern of dots and lines unwittingly generated by the natural act of eating with these familiar utensils that, up to that day, had gone completely unnoticed.

The traces hadn’t been evident to me before probably because I usually consume food served on hard surfaces, such as porcelain or ceramic plates, so discovering this arrangement of dots and lines made me think that every day, millions of people around the world are constantly generating random hidden patterns that could be perceived as “gastronomic footprints”; unconscious personal trails that vary depending on the kind of food we eat; the texture, level of hardness and way the food is placed on our plates, and most important, our own individual way to use forks and knives.

This observation led to further research on food and its possible relationship with dots and lines. As a first step, I realized that points and lines are tightly connected with the arts, particularly to any form of pictorial expression (Wassily Kadinski wrote loads about it on “Point and Line to Plane”, back in 1979), and maybe in a less evident way to music and the notation system that it’s commonly used to represent it on paper. However, while fact-finding on the subject, I discovered there were actually exciting structural similarities between food and music, as suggested by Simon Kilshaw“eating a meal in 3 movements, one might find a parallel with the classic sonata structure. Indeed there is a certain rhythm to eating, to cooking, to the whole experience”.

All this was very exciting to me so when the time to choose the topic for my MA final project, it became reasonable to me to explore the path of “taste to sound” synesthetic experiences as I was already familiar with the synesthesia phenomenon. According to research, “1 out of 778 synesthesia case reports (0.1%) was related to ‘taste into sound’ synesthesia”, which suggested me this type of synesthetic experiences were fairly rare, a valuable finding as I wanted to move away from the “sound to color” experiments that have been so recurrent in the past.

With this considerations in mind, and reflecting on the predictions of Dr. Hugo Heyrman, who claims that “as a consequence of the new interactive media (the explosion of information and knowledge), our consciousness, senses and body will emerge into new experiences with unlimited synesthetical qualities: Tele-synesthesia —instant, global and multi-sensory”, I decided to work on the creation of an interactive installation within the context of experimental art, that draws inspiration from synesthesia, metaphor and surveillance, to explore the relationship between food and sound using digital media as a medium to translate the traces left by the use of fork and knife on a circular foam plate (as a representation of the act of eating, and therefore, taste) into noises, to finally create an unusual cross-sense experience.

The installation is intended to feature three (3) pieces: “Breakfast”, “Lunch” and “Dinner”, each of them corresponding to a particular real cooking recipe, although for the purposes of this particular project, I will narrow it down to just one piece: “Lunch”, the most important meal of the day :-)

The piece will feature:

1. A photograph of the cooked dish, as served before it was consumed.
2. A “poetic” description of dish.
3. The circular foam plate showing the traces of fork and knife on its surface as a result of an individual act of food consumption (which will be carried out by a unaware volunteer during the development stage of the project, for practical reasons).
4. A control unit (most likely a laptop) running the software that enables the translation of the traces of fork and knife (taking as an input a digital black and white image of the empty plate) into an aural representation of the dish.
5. An HD webcam mounted on a portable turntable
6. A pair of speakers and audio cables.
7. An 4-channel USB mixer.
8. A set of guitar effect pedals that will allow the user to interact with the installation by manipulating the outcoming sound as they please, therefore creating a unique personal experience.

It all sounds pretty exciting, yeah, but here’s the thing: I have no idea how I’m supposed to do this.

Seriously, I have no clue. I’ve been asking here and there and it seems I can develop the software using Processing but guess what: I don’t know how to code. I bought a book a couple of years ago and just last month I started learning the basics, hoping I can get really good at it pretty soon because time is running out and this installation needs to be ready by the end of July, which means I only have 4 months to put everything together and make it work.

Now, you must be wondering: if you didn’t have the right skills to carry out a project like this, why the fuck did you choose to make it your final project then? Well, I know it seems all pretty moronic to leave the most important assignment of my entire Masters in the hands of autodidacticism and luck but that’s how I roll, for better or worse. Of course, it would be very convenient and reasonable to choose to do something I feel confident about, something I know I could do well, that wouldn’t require any struggle or late nights of hard work or stress or uncertainty… but would THAT be any fun at all? Would that be something I’ll end up feeling incredibly excited about when I’m done with it? Would that be something I’d like to share with my grandchildren when I sit with them in front of the fireplace to tell them stories on a sunday night? Eh no, I don’t think so.

And don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I love to dive head first into suicide missions just for the sake of it, it’s just that sometimes I feel we’re so scared to fuck up, that by holding back we end up missing out amazing opportunities. Sure, my installation could end up being a massive disaster, it could be embarrassing and disappointing, but it also has the potential to become something I could feel very proud of; it could be an opportunity to challenge myself and learn something that otherwise I would probably never learn, to celebrate the open-endedness of experiment, to move forward, and most important, to push myself out of my comfort zone and venture into less safe and familiar alleys, which is usually where extraordinary things happen. It all sounds very New Age and shit, but I do feel life would be much more exciting and meaningful if we could leave aside that sense of trepidation that usually accompanies the unknown and just grow some balls to step into it and see what it could bring.

After all, isn’t that why we call it the Great Unknown?