Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Earthbound Moon news from Texas

(That's Jon opening a fence so we can go four-wheeling!)
Well thank goodness for Jon and Danielle Whitfill.
They are my hosts here in Lubbock, Texas. They and their three kids are putting me up, feeding me, and ferrying me all over West Texas. Jon has introduced Earthbound Moon to a slew of amazing people in Lubbock, and scared up a ludicrous amount of in-kind goods to make our install possible this September. They are freaking art heroes!
I got into Lubbock Monday night, and Jon and I were on the road at 8am sharp the next morning to visit an artist and farmer in Plainview, Texas. He is using only a small portion of his farmland to grow these days (producing just for farmer's markets), and has been considering ways to set the remainder up as a sculpture garden with attached residency program. He has several old farm buildings that could be converted to studios and residences.

I am incredibly pleased to say that EbM is now planning a September 2011 install for the property. And will soon begin writing five and ten year plans to help set-up and manage a residency program and sculpture garden there. This is very similar to SG-23E, the proposal we made for Parsons Hall in Holyoke, MA. SG-23E gave birth to EbM less than a year ago. For its own part, SG-23E is moving along at a relaxed New England pace. The sculpture garden/residency combo is also similar to what we hope to do in Lebanon, NH.
Some of you may have thought I was joking when I said I see only the Louvre, the Getty, and the Guggenheim as 23E's competition in the art world. I was not.

After Plainview we headed to Bledsoe, Texas where we are installing our first work this September. Jon and I took his truck off-roading in an effort to find our property. But without a GPS, and with a week of rain transforming the desert since our last visit, we couldn't actually find it in the sea of green. D'oh!
We did establish, however, that there is absolutely no way we are going to be able to create a path from the road to our site that is safe enough for Carol-Anne's truck to transit. (Have I mentioned that the amazing Carol-Anne McChrystal is one of 23E's primary patrons and heroes? I should have by now.) Fortunately, our new plan is vastly superior to building our own road (we'll do that in 2011/2012) - we are borrowing an ATV (or two)! That's right, picture it my friends: me, Alex Clausen, Amy Sampson, Heidi Hove, Libby Reed, Jon Whitfiill, Carson Murdach, and Benoit Coeuret in the Texas desert for two weeks with ATVs, a shotgun, rattlesnakes, wild boar, mosquitos, a giant solar powered "Welcome" sign, an augur, and scaffolding.

Did I not mention the scaffolding before? Oh, sorry. After visiting slaughter ranch (where our property is located) we spent a little time chatting with Priscilla, the co-owner of the only business in Bledsoe. Then we visited HD where we confirmed that we can rent a 15' scaffold very affordably. Let's face it, the very best part of Disembody was the scaffolding. It was pure unadulterated excitement trapped in vibrating yellow tubing.
And now, yes, now we are going to set up 15' scaffolding in the freaking desert. I could explode just whispering it to you here and now. I have butterflies in my stomach, and my heart rate is dangerously elevated thinking about it.
We're going to wrap it in tarps (an homage to Jean-Claude and Christo?) to create shade for working. We will keep our supplies elevated on it. We will sleep in its metal and plastic womb. This may be the sexiest thing ever achieved in America.

Yes, yesterday was exceptional, and the thrill of it will keep me adrenalized for weeks to come!


Saturday, March 15, 2008

New Crew and budget

Well, my first big foray into excel seems successful. We have a detailed line item budget. And it was surprisingly good news. The show can be pulled off for $23,000, I believe. Which puts us within $8,000, which is very doable. I'm quite confident we can raise that money in the coming months.

As well, I had been concerned about what our maximum budget might be, if everything I dream of comes to fruition. That absolutely can not exceed $40,000, if the investment break-down is to work. The good news is that we are still several thousand dollars under 40K, even when I dream extravagantly.

Okay, so that's all good news. But now do you want the frickin' great news?!

It looks like we have ourselves an arcade game designer. Yeah, that's right, straight up, we are going to have our very own Disembody flash game that is playable online at our website and on a stand-alone arcade machine in the theater.
Oh my heck! Could I be more excited? I don't think so. This is going to be fabulous.
Our designer is a gentleman named Mitch Cichocki. I hope to have bio info up for him on the site soon.
In the meantime, if I'm not mistaken, his myspace page (if I'm not mistaken that it is indeed his) suggests he's right up the 23E alley: his musical selection is Xenakis.

What else has happened this week?

The website is growing and getting stronger.
My interior designers gave me a budget for the theater interior and it is very reasonable. Have I mentioned how fabulous they are?

And speaking of fabulous, have I mentioned how fabulous Amy Sampson is? She not only hooked us up with Mitch, but also with her friend Jean who is submitting a trailer for the show. She also has supplied us with a fair amount of clothing. This will be going out to our embroiderer next week to be branded with our logos.
And she has been invaluable in finding investors.
Hence her executive producer status on the project. This could not happen without her enthusiastic assistance.

Jonny and I have also been talking a lot lately about a couple of additional aspects of the project. He suggested an online time clock so that we can actually track the amount of time that goes into a contemporary art work. This is a brilliant idea. And even though I'm a little concerned about where it could lead (jealousy), I think it's too brilliant an idea not to play around with.
As well, he's counseling me on making a slight change to the crew payout system. It would be an optional change that people could make. For now, that's all I'll say about that.

Finally, this is still in the air, but we have the possibility of bringing a puppeteer onboard for the week of the shoot. Skye and I are super excited by the idea, but still ahve to work out a lot of details.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

We have a website

Friday night Erin uploaded She and Jonny have been busily tweaking it over the last day or so.

It's quite beautiful. There's still a lot of content waiting to go up, but having this up in place of the old site I had tossed together, I am now much more confident in contacting potential investors. I shot off one meeting request on Friday.

We still need to get the architectural fly-through up, along with design ephemera and the like, but, regardless, I encourage you to go poke around and send any feedback our way.

This afternoon Alex and I are gong to take a tour of digital video projectors at UC Berkeley. He's going to show me my range of options, from the 800 lumens LCD to the 7000 lumens DLP. And then we'll begin weighing quality against price.

Afterwards, were' meeting Skye, Elise and Marcella for a production meeting. I've asked Hanif to be there, as he and I need to really catch up on the composition of text for the piece.
Han is currently critiquing the drafts for all the text on 23E, tightening it up, and making it less emotional and rant-like. That's my style, and it is not (as my thesis folk will tell you) appropriate in critical discussions.
Hence my conceptual personal trainers, Han and Hanif.

Blogger is having trouble with uploads today, so I can't share the new, colored logos Erin made. But I'll do so later this week.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Power

Something I neglected to mention in an early post, when discussing how amazing this project is for me:

how important it is that this project be more than just my joy.

Though I think that is part of the power of art and music, of anything humans dedicate themselves to doing, I also think that Disembody must try and demonstrate (act as a proof of concept of, if you will) what Fine Art is and can be.

I do believe that contemporary art is collaborative by nature. I think a lot of artists (the whole social practice movement; as well as contemporary artists like Christian Jankowski and Ryan Gander) address this. But I think a lot of this work focuses on, or tries to demonstrate how, contemporary art is a collaboration between artist and viewer. It neglects how contemporary art is a collaboration long before it reaches the viewer.
Institutional critique perhaps addresses that issue to a small degree. But it looks at it as a capitalistic corruption of Art. Rather, I'd like to suggest that artists try to see the complex ecology of the art world as a community of collaborators. The many visible egos within the art world cover the far more numerous people who actually make the art world possible. And who I'd like to draw attention to with Disembody.
As complex as Disembody may be, it is no more complex than many contemporary art works.

I want to create a spectacle that engages people inside and outside of the art world, and proclaims to them that art is a practice of many skilled people working together to create critical, but also hopeful, and often entertaining and beautiful and confounding, environments. And though it may seem a stretch, I think this is true of contemporary painting and photography and sculpture as much as it is about installation and video and performance.

Contemporary art is a shared work.

I think it's important to try and make a work that focuses on how art is a collaborative practice between artists and the many people we often think of as merely support. I think it is important because of the power art has in our lives.
Art is powerful. It is, for many people, a lifeline, a connection, to something greater than their own lives. The youthful promise of art, as a zone of permission, where self-expression reigns supreme and a person may be whoever they really want to be, may be a naive, utopian fantasy of youth. It is also the myth, the Aura, art crafts for itself to try and retain its position and status in society.
That promise is powerful. It is why many people go into art in the first place. Because it offers a tribe with whom they identify. It offers like-minds. It is a refuge for many who feel they do not belong.

Ultimately, that mythic place does not exist.
Art is a business. It is about who you know, etc, etc.

We all know this. I have no desire to repeat the litany of ways art can disappoint.
Quite the opposite, I want to celebrate the ways in which art can (or might) fulfill the promise of inclusion.

Disembody, the exhibit is meant to be a work that demonstrates the many ways an artist works with people to try and fulfill a vision. It is about the community of people who make up each artist's creative world: the gallerist, the assistants, the curators, the designers, the friends, to name a few.
It is about all the time and effort and people who work together to create something incredibly short-lived, like an installation.

Disembody, the film, is the document that lives on, to proselytize this idea, that contemporary art is a shared act.
I look at the work of Jean-Claude and Christo as an example of what I am talking about. They laid much of the groundwork for what I am doing here. Their work is a huge social collaboration.
I recently attended a Paul McCarthy lecture on his show, Low Life Slow Life: Part 1, at the Wattis Institute, and see that show as another example. In it he curates work by people who influenced him. It is only Part 1 because he could only get through one decade of influences.

It is easy to critique art. But it is more productive to look at what works in art, and try to celebrate and encourage and expand those areas, imho.
I am interested in an art of Utopia, of hope. In seeing if there is a way to make the artworld resemble that place of inclusion and challenge and faith, that so many people first believe it to be.
I think that art is both a cut-throat business and a tribal practice, a place of belonging, a possibility for hope in an alienated world.

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Our new logo!!!!!

OMG I totally neglected to mention that this fabulous graphic is the proposed logo from our amazingly brilliant designer, Erin!
It is loosely based on the Penrose angles.

Also, I have sched'ed a meeting with Alfonso Jr at A. Maciel Printing, my printers of choice. They created the catalogue for The Henry Wing last year. I'm going over there Monday to discuss printing the candy boxes, movie posters, pamphlets, business cards, postcards, one sheets, and other materials.

I'll find out what they can and can not do. And I'll find out what I can and can not afford.

The new website should be live today.

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Holy mackerel,

it's almost noon. I've been on email since 7:30am going over details with people. The logistics of this project are enormous. I spent most of yesterday writing copy for the website and the investor pamphlet, and discussing sound and composing and production details.

In many ways I really underestimated the amount of time I would need to put into this project. It's more than full time already, and we're four months out.
I cut back working to try and handle this and my thesis. Then I cut back my thesis (I'll finish in Fall now - I'm only doing 2/3 of the mandatory projects for graduation. I'll finish my thesis and do my defense of it come October or November.)

Not to complain. Disembody is amazing. To be able to work with so many of my favorite people on Earth is really something. I mean, think about it, as an artist, to have the opportunity to bring together people from across your life, from all three of my parents and my sister, to my friend Stel, who I've known for over 15 years, to Phil and Libby and Nobu, musicians I've played with for a decade, to many of my closest friends from grad school, to my current girlfriend, to an ex and her daughters who totally changed my outlook on life, to new friends like Susan, whose support has been simply unbelievable.

Really, this is a dream come true to have a chance to work with all of these people to try and create something that demonstrates the Utopian power of art, it's power to instill hope.

Having said that, holy mackerel, I really understimated the time commitment. ROFL.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Star sighting and costumes

Well, how unHollywood of me to not mention how Amy and I ran into Bruce Willis on Robertson and Melrose the other day.
We were coming back to DDCLab after Lunch and I was watching these two kids horse around in the crosswalk and ran into this tall, skinny brunette. Literally, ran into her.
I apologized and she apologized and then her and the man she was with followed the kids across the street, calling out to them to slowdown.
And then Amy said to me
"That was Bruce Willis"
And I said,
"What? Huh? What?"
And turned around and yeah sure enough it was Bruce willis.

Star sightings, they're just not that exciting.

In Disembody news, however, we have great excitement. My friends Honyo Ote (in Tokyo) and Kathryn Wood (in SF) are going to help out with the film.

Kathryn is a seamstress. She worked professionally making clothes for a decade before her wrists started to go. Now she does custom jobs, mostly for theater (she's an actress).
Kathryn wears a lot of clothes she made for herself and they are always superb.
She has agreed to make usher and usherette outfits for Jack and I.
I did mention my friend Jack is coming out for the 19th-26th to be my usherette, didn't I? She's 16 and will be a fabulous worker for Disembody.
And now she and I will have matching outfits for the big show!

Ote (pronounced oh-tay) is a graphics artist. His illustrations decorate all of Nobu's CDs. I am making a page for him on Vime. So you'll be able to find some of his work there soon. Until then if you go to the Stowe-Pembleton Project on Vime, Ote did the cover art for Confusion Bleue and Hommage An Klaus Kinski.
Anyway, Ote is going to do the illustrations for our Japanese distribution campaign.

So exciting.

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