Recently in Digital Art Category

Food and Media are Deeply Connected

Food is direct cultural memory;
it nourishes as it keeps us alive and connects us to the past -- our own, our families,' our communities.'

Our media is also direct cultural memory.
It has the fierce ability to nourish our consciousness just as powerfully and to keep us alive to imagine realities other than our own. -- -- Helen De Michiel

carrotsinjeans.jpgWell said! 

This quote is from Helen De Michiel's article, "Toward A Slow Media Practice," in which she outlines the relationships between food and media.  Her ideas are a good platform from which to explore the many ways in which our daily immersion in food and media can make sense as unifying experiences, one nurturing the other. 

Both presenting the same choices about how we choose to address corporate control, local food and media independence, transnational yet grassroots collaborations, fair trade.  And what I like best:  both offering joy.

Michiel goes on to say that "Both Slow Food and Media Arts represent significant niches in our cultural landscape.They are quiet movements built on the ideals of self-determination, community empowerment, and preservation of legacy in a throwaway milieu. While neither valued nor well understood by the mainstream, they both are sustaining individuals and communities with imaginative practices that transform consciousness in a slow and steady flow.

While Slow Food defends endangered foods, we struggle to carve out and protect a public space where independent media arts practices can thrive."

Now I'm going to make a nice breakfast!

A wonderfully severe, sinister humor video art piece about food and cooking.  Don't expect the approach that:  "Video, like TV,  is a tool whose purpose is deliver food and cooks prancing about as entertainers or "stars."  Nope that would be the Food Network.  Here, the video itself is the content.  And it is a sharp critique.

The artist, Martha Rosler says "An anti-Julia child replaces the domesticated 'meaning' of tools with a lexicon of rage and frustration."

She takes kitchen utensils, one by one, in perfectly dead-pan delivery, and changes their meaning.  You won't use an ice pick in the same way again,,,nor a ladle!  Ms. Rosler made this in 1975. I think the critique speaks to today.  I think, we need more.  Let me know your reaction. 


Facundo Cabral Q.P.D

Facundo CabralFacundoCabral.jpg"I am not from here, nor am I from there. No age have I, nor future time, and being happy is the color of my identity." R.I.P.

My poor translation of his great words)

It was good to hear the words.  "A great poem is one that resonates with us, that challenges us and that teaches us something about ourselves and the world that we live in."
President Obama, in a relaxed, amiable mood, delivered those opening remarks at An Evening of Poetry at the White House  that I attended last month. (He and the first lady seemed to be energized during the entire evening of poetry.) The event underscored the importance of poetry, music and, unintentionally, food. I'll comment on two moments.

First, the sounds generated by DJ Daniel Musisi (aka moose) during the reception in the East Wing foyer were a combination of digital and vinyl.Musisisml.jpg I loved the street/club/urban pop music feel that he gave to the space and schmooze-chatter.  To me it ratified the importance of  the everyday.
Listen to the entire track of that opening reception, thanks to Daniel who recorded it and uploaded it here:

The second comment is about my favorite food in the sumptuous buffet following the performances. 
WatermelnTwrsml.jpgThe Intense Red of Watermelon!
It was brilliant to  "Techno" the watermelon
slices using the sous-vide technique that vacuums each slice with high precision.
This makes the color shout-out red and also
compresses the flesh slightly.

As you can see from the pic, each devilish slice was topped with white cheese.

The Prosciutto was a nod to the classic past -- but clearly it played a muted secondary, (tertiary after the cheese) role.

I chose these two elements of the whole wonderful evening to say simply that modern techniques always find their way into the sphere of the beautiful and delicious if they are in the hands of true artists.

I'm enjoying the delicious cool pool water as I listen to a CD by Chris Becker, "Saints and Devils." SaintsandDevilscover.jpgThe music uses nat sound collected over the years, Louisianna musicians, archival data and layers them, arranges them beautifully. It has danceable rhythms, beautiful soulful pieces, jazzy songs. The music is complex, energizing, just really beautiful... and addictive to listen to.
It reminds me of Olivier Messiaen's beautiful compositions, especially those where he attempted to mimic, on the piano, the trilling of birds. Chris Becker doesn't mimic but actually records nat sounds (his dog barking! bells tolling, candid conversations) and musicalizes them. The CD has 10 tracks. It's a symphonic experience.

Go here to listen to some of the tracks and also to buy the CD.

I'll write more after the holidays.

Inspired Food For Train Passengers

"El Tren de las Moscas" is a 14-minute video that truly grips. One of those gems of art that keeps hope alive that art is well and growing.
It's about rice, beans, braised vegetables and bottled water. Tied to sturdy string so that passengers on passing trains can grab the food at high speed. The indigent immigrants are from Central Amerca, on a dangerous trek to find food "up north."

For 15 years a group of women, "Las Patronas," in Veracruz, Mexico, have been cooking and feeding the growing number of immigrants who ride atop trains enroute to the USA. This video is an inside view and feel for their actions, their view of the world. They never meet the "moscas" (flies) hanging on the trains. They touch their lives only fleetingly to relieve their hunger for that day.

Roger Castillo
told me about this 14-minute video. Thanks.

El Payaso

David Rosales works with bright colors in his digital art figures. His take on aliens, being a Chicano, is funny and also rueful. His website has other digital art using Flash.
His "Chicano Art for Dummies" critiques spray paint.

Francesca Talenti and Emily Dickinson

Francesca Talenti made a one-minute video in 2000 that has a poem by
Emily Dickinson, "I Reason," as the audio. It is a haunting combination of intellectual clarity and transcendental searching.

It provokes mediating about 9/11 with implied questions, deep questions.

You can see this poem and others at the website (also on air) of KLRU Community TV station in Austin, Texas.

Ornamention on web pages

This highly decorative personal page is full of information about Ecuadorian Catholic religious practices. What strikes me is the frequent use of animated gifs, coloring and ornamentation that is European-American rather than indigenous Ecuadorian. This is especially evident on this "Rosary" page that explains how to pray the rosary.

They are personal pages of Cecill Torres Villar.


Sonic Arts and Hearing Impaired

I am constantly impressed by the number and quality of media arts centers across the US. These centers are dedicated to community and the aesthetics of beauty and justice.
In Seattle, serving the Pacific Nortwhest, is Jack Straw Productions, devoted to sound art.
They've just announced a "Blind Technology Access Initiative."

Audio technology is becoming predominantly computer-based, and requires sight to navigate a mouse and read the visual sound waves on a monitor. This limits access to audio production for the visually impaired, and requires the help of a sighted person. Jack Straw Productions recently acquired audio production equipment and software that makes it possible for visually impaired musicians, composers, radio producers, and audio engineers to independently record and produce their own work. It is the only blind accessible audio production equipment and software setup available for public use in the Pacific Northwest.


Media that Matters

Novela, Novela"is a 7- minute report won a women's rights project award from the Media That Matters Film Fest. Watching the streaming video, it tells the story of a telenovela airing in Nicaragua about violence against women in the home. The broadcast TV series looks exciting, penetrating. Called "Sexto Sentido"(Sixth Sense) it is produced by Virginia Lacayo and Amy Bank who are the directors of a not-for-profit center, "Puntos de Encuentro." doing exciting things with homophobia and other issues central but disturbing in Nicaraguan society. I like their motto: "We are Different, We Are The Same."


Photo ethics?

Alberto sent me this link about a debate regarding the ethics of manipulating photo images with photoshop or other means. The article by Pedro Meyer in Mexico takes issue with the rescinding of a photo award given by the North Carolina Press Photographers Association in the United States to Patrick Schneider. It places photojournalism within the context of corporate news gathering. Very intriguing because the argument gets away from the the approach that tries to simply apply some sort of rules to a text. This type of ethics belongs to a few "erudites" who pretend to be in control of some authoritative formal aesthetic. The argument of Meyer brings in the systemic failures of corporate news gathering within which photo-journalists work.

Chicano Macho Identity

Found these images about Chicano daily life and the Passion of Christ. The second slide from the top, title unknown, strikes me as a provocative study of Macho sports and Jesus as identity constructions made from our body parts. I'm using this image as a background wallpaper on my computer screen.

new directions in video/film

Was with Mary Lampe in NYC where we presented samples of new media work, new directions in microcinema and video art. Mary is executive director of SWAMP, Southwest Alternate Media Project in Houston. She is exec. producer of "The Territory," which is a great show. It features recent video/film works by innovative artists. If it is not in your local pbs afilliate, i recommend you ask your local PBS station to inquire into getting the show for your area. there are strong connections between this type of artwork and church programming needs in liturgy, religious ed, prayer and study groups.

Truth and Bush

I love the new 30 second spot about truth that is going to start running.


Copyright with no insight

I find it helpful to try to understand and keep abreast of movements and ideas with which I disagree. This essay by Douglas Spotted Eagle outlines the parameters of current copyright law and includes comments regarding churches and schools. If one were bounded by the way this essay recommends compliance of the copyright law in the US, churches and schools would definitely have lost not only their voice, but their ability to act as a leaven in society.

Thanks, Alberto, for the link.


La Calaca

This Spanish-language Chicano poem, "Desesperaci�n" is a terribly haunting image of the dangers that we face, that are inside of us. published by Calacapress,a family-owned publishing house in San Diego that "strives to bring about change through the literary arts." Here's a work on "Calacas" by Christina Cardenas who adds to the skeleton the tradition of praying. And Alejandro Corpe�o Dub�n re-interprests the "Calaca" with these wonderful digital works.


Guadalupe keeps appearing

Last night on "24" when Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) is about to inject himself with heroine, his arm reveals a HUGE tatoo of The Virgin of Guadalupe. He apparently got this (tattoo and heroine) from infiltrating the group of Latino drug dealers.

Guadalupe is still identity and power. She appears everywhere. What an amazingly interesting image. Sometimes I just like to browse at the luminous guadalupe images like these because they are just good to look at. They are indeed the way of identity and otherness, as Jacalyn Lopez Garc�a explains in this one page of a series of screens. I first saw her use the Guadalupe image in a 1999 multimedia work, "chicanolandia" (scroll down pretty far).

The virgin of Guadalupe has made it to prime time TV!


Liturgy Spanish language videos

I've mentioned Diakon�a before. If you are looking for short videos, in Spanish, on a range of topics like human dignity, abandoned children, the eucharist, write to the director, Fr. Hugo Ara, and ask for a a vhs tape containing some of this material that the students have produced. Tell him you read about it here. It is very interesting stuff, much of it already broadcast throughout Bolivia.


digital and cheap

Alberto Pigola has been working with me here in houston for two weeks. Yesterday he returned to Montevideo, Uruguay. While here, he made me realize more clearly that technologies are moving so fast toward smallness, efficiency and ubiquity. On my little computer, we were able to capture and edit a broadcast quality digital TV program. Using the same little computer (cost is $1,500) we designed and formatted a high-quality, high-resolution DVD using digital video that looks fantastic on television. I'm not going to link to those technologies so as not to promote one maker over another, but would welcome sharing of ideas about what everyone is using.

Parishes can relocate their liturgy or religious education planning and creative dreaming. Don't do it in the parish office or classroom. Instead, go to homes where computers like mine exist. Young Catholics can take charge and create wonderful psalms on video. The exchange between them and the older generations who are not so computer literate can be very healthy in promoting equilibrium.

If church policy toward media and broadcasting can break away from the metaphor of the centralized TV studio, it will discover the many voices of faith that can find expression through this digital technology.

It's Sunday, let's worship in and with digital culture.


Cesar Mart�nez and Chicano/a art

I've been editing a DVD project and that is why I've been absent these many days. Toward the end of the week I'll be finished with it, a 20 minute reflection about Catholics who live Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic. More on this later. Now, just to say hi and share this art work by Chicanos/as. The first piece that you will see is by Cesar Mart�nez, who settled in my home town, San Antonio. The interview of him by Jacinto Quirarte is revealing and good background of Chicano philosophy.

CD-ROM for pastoral training

During the meeting in Santiago, (Creadores de Im�genes Cristianas), Arturo Reynoso, sj, presented two CD-ROMs that he has made for trainning. They are very nice and are in Spanish. One is an introduction to the bible and the other one is an introduction to Christology. You can write him and ask about getting a copy. Arturo directs the Centro Cuarto Intermedio in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Tel: (591-4)4232477


Micro Cinema and Community

The Aurora Picture Show in Houston is an example of meaning-making with art that is counter-cultural. I think churches would find it exciting to explore how to link programmatically with places like this one.

chicano clowning w/religion

I found this strange collage by David Rosales, "The History of Religion in Latin America." Something is turned upside down here with irreverence next to solemnity.

I am interested in finding other provocative images like this one, so share some links if you know of any.

Media Arts Community & Copyright

I woke up remembering friendships of 23 years ago, when I was at the founding meeting of NAMAC and want to recommend it as an important community with whom churches can build relationships. The National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture does represent the grassroots media arts community in the US. Media Arts organizations are in many cities.

You can search their website "hot topics" for resources useable for group discussions regarding art and community. Featured on that site right now is a succinct, layperson-friendly, explanation of the copyright issue and its humanistic/ethical importance. I plan to use it as a handout in my next class.


Latino Internet Art

Chicano art is fun and little by little getting digital. On-site is slowly moving into on-line. This store, Self Help Graphics, onsite, has a children's book, "A New Sun/Un Nuevo Sol," that I am buying for my godson. If you'd like to shop for hot Chicano art, here is a listing of other stores, some on-line.

Wayne Dunkley

Mary Hess'weblog reminded me of Wayne Dunkley, an artist who is great to follow. He is Canadian. Go to his long-running interactive site: sharemyworld.

Mary makes a link to another of his works that I thought was enjoyable, a collection of poems, with a visual design that I think is playful, peaceful, joyful. --to coin a phrase, very nice. Go to Horizon Zero. The title of his piece is 07: Feel.


Chicano digital art

Am in Notre Dame where tomorrow I'll be speaking on media and religion in the Latino community. The conference, " Raices y Alas," is hosted by the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry,
Being here is fun, a combination of serious thought and fiesta. Reminds me of the need to poke fun and take time to laugh .....when trying to work for justice.

Here's some interesting Chicano work by a collective of digital artists, "Smokin Mirrors."

And makes great fun, sometimes over the edge.

Nice to laugh during times like these.

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