Saturday, August 26, 2006

modern primitives

Still thinking about the last events of my visit to Vancouver a week later. Last saturday I had the chance to meet the Godfather of modern primitivism, the man who along with Jim Ward, brought body piercing and other ideas to the West, Fakir Musafar . I also participated in the Spirit + Flesh workshop and ritual. I had been introduced to him reading the ReSearch book, Modern Primitives around 1988 or so and although I am not one for celebrity worship, when the chance to meet him came up, I signed up. The weekend was organized and hosted by the incredible Elwood and his merry crew. And what can I say... awesome!.. a once in a life time experience.....magical.... wonderful... how many more cliches can I dig up?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Vancouver daze....

Back in Vancouver, my second home. It's only 11 am and already my shirt is sticking to my body. The high humidity here is in direct contrast with the extremely low humidity experienced in San Jose. I spent the last weekend in San Jose checking out a bit more art and hanging out with as many friends as possible. I sat in on a very well done presentation about SoundCulture by Ed Osborne, Nigel Helyer and Shawn Decker. A bunch of us Solar/Polar Circuit people met up for a lunch. Later there was a big street party with multiple stages and events going on. I wandered about checking everything out but got bored and went back to the hotel. I was all peopled out, tired and a little worried about getting back to Canada. Sleep was good.

Overall the highlight of the week was seeing friends I haven't seen for awhile, in some cases almost ten years. We keep in touch with email but there's nothing like sharing a meal and a few laughs together under one roof or the open sky.

Monday was a travel day with a lot of hurry-up-and wait going on at San Jose and LAx airports. There was an orange security alert, but passing through all the lines was quick and smooth. The only delay was due to fog at the LAx airport. Got back to Vancouver but was all zoned out. Had a couple beers with friends but was barely able to converse. Sleep came quick and deep.

Tuesday was tattoo day. I had started a large back tattoo with Chad at Sacred Heart Tattoo and we needed to finish some line work up. I was little anxious about dealing with the pain as last time I had a hard time with it. I hit my wall several times and had to take a lot of breaks. This time was completely different. After about ten minutes I was in the groove and actually caught myself enjoying the experience a few times as Chad worked away. We have a lot of work left to do but I left feeling really good about the project and looking forward to next time. Pictures soon.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

" We do it because we love it..."

Survival Research Labratories performance last night


Friday, August 11, 2006

Kung Fu Vampire

The highlight on Wednesday was the talk given by Bill Viola , pioneer in the field of video art. He had a lot of great things to say and I hastily wrote out some notes which I thought I would reproduce here but ..hey I'd be typing all day, so hit me up over a beer. I was glad to hear how he felt about noise, artifacts, shakiness and unfocused video signals in the process of creating work, as my current video project has lots!

Later, I attended the party put on by the Canadian Consulate to celebrate the Canadian artists participating at the festival and of course promote Canadian culture. The place was packed and the free drinks and food went down good well with everyone. Did I say Canadian 3 times? Lots of 'foreigners' crashed the party too. There was lot of meet-n-greet, smiles and 'biz' going down between the beers and super yummy spicy wings and roasted artichokes. One conversation of many revolved around the role of artists as sort of unofficial cultural diplomats. I thought that if we artists could have a crack at running the world the world would be doing a lot better.

As the moon rose up into the sky I headed off into the night to catch my LRT back to the hotel feeling proud, honored, humbled and glad to be part of it all.

Took most of Thursday off from the symposium and festival to shop, look around San Jose, chill out and do some laundry. I had a great lunch at a Mexican restaurant, Don Pedro's. Not enough can be said about the quality of the food here, other than bring it on!... Burrito fest..yeesss!!

San Jose is the epicenter of the infamous Silicon Valley, home of many of the biggest computer hardware and software technologies that we/I have been using. As I walked by the massive and beautiful Adobe building at its palm tree street lined location, I thought about how much money, billions I suppose, that have passed through them in juxtaposition with my income as an artist occasionally using their products. I won't be jumping off a bridge anytime soon, but obviously there's a lot of work to be done to strike a balance.

Later, I missed hooking up with some friends for dinner so hit the street to look around so more. I had ditched my bag of laptop, camera, phone, notes, brochures, schedules and handbills back at the hotel and felt more myself without the load to carry around. I wandered around watching all the San Jose street night life as it bubbled, zoomed and rocked around me. I found a parking lot party near the festival venues. Although I didn't know anybody I didn't feel out of place as I wandered around checking out the vendors, watching people and eating a Conquesta Verde, a long hot dog smothered in melted cheese and guacamole. yumm... The event appeared to be some kind of free event organized as a party with a band as summer concert in the park program. Everyone from old folks to little kids, rappers, gangster wannabees, bikers, teens, geeks, assorted odd balls and police milled about enjoying the sounds of Kung Fu Vampire The band was tight and did a great show. Everyone was in good spirits.

This morning my own realities swung around and gave me an up shot to the head. It's all well and good to be globe trotting around being an international artist on the move but a combination of the fast shrinking bank balance, high roaming service charges on my cell phone account and the question of what to do about my living/studio situation at the end of the summer floored me. Anxiety is ruling my morning as I do a quick summary of what I have left to do, pay my bills and pull up my attitude socks. Time to head over to the Crisis to Bliss lounge. And turn off the phone.

Nam Jun Paik's 21st Century Man at the San Jose Art Museum

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

crisis <> bliss

SRLs V-1 behind the South Hall pre-show setup.

Spent the last two days trying to keep from being over stimulated and dealing with the very hot and sunny weather conditions. Just getting a good WifFi connection has been tricky. Getting enough time to do this entry in the tiny slivers of time between catching up with friends, attending the festival events and checking out the San Jose environment has been tricky too. I am a slow typer and 'bleed' over these entries. So here it is.

The official opening of the exhibition was last night with quite a few venues to visit. The biggest venue is the South Hall where there are probably a hundred different interactive electronic digital robotic sound video network phone based artworks with an unusually pleasant mixed soundscape of beeps, buzzes, low murmurs, conversation and noise vying for your attention. There a little bit a of a convention/trade show feel in the structure and that feeling is amplified by several artists actively promoting their works with handbills and such. There's a lot of artists doing work in the public sphere with interventions in the city, something I enjoy a lot. A lot of other local art galleries had openings too. Hence the potential to hit the 'wall' with too much stimulation. There's lots of local color and culture to distract one so a healthy balance can be struck.

Spent most of Tuesday afternoon in the company of John Hopkins and Ed Osborne , artists I met a long time ago while participating at the Polar Circuit residencies in Northern Finland. It was a great pleasure to catch up with them, converse on a lot of topics of common interest and share a meal. We joined the Crisis to Bliss discussions and workshop being hosted by Beryl Graham and Sarah Cook. Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead led the discusion which was concerned with balancing art , work and life. Something we artists sometimes struggle with. I spoke up a bit which is totaly unlike my usual quiet panel discussion behavior. I think the tea and cookies, very friendly informal enviroment and overall project structure was very condusive to getting people to relax and participate. Thanks Sarah and Beryl.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"... I blew all the circuits.. "

... overheard at the C4f3 cafe at the San Jose Museum of Art on Monday morning.

Day two of attending ISEA in San Jose. A lot of artists are here running around doing the 'ineedthistechnothingycantfindit' pre-festival chicken-shaking voodo dance. I'm pretty familiar with the steps having participated at ISEA in 1995 Montreal and 1996 Rotterdam and am more than happy to take a break from it. It's hard to see the end when you are deep in an unforeseen problem and the stress levels rise dramatically when you have to solve it fast in an unknown environment. This time I'm just here observing and soaking up all that the festival and San Jose has to offer. The actual exhibition starts tomorrow night but I've already checked out what's up in the South Hall and behind it. The place is abuzzin with electricity and motion as everyone is doing last minute installation tasks. Behind the South Hall encircled with bright yellow caution tape, the SRL crew have already parked a few of their great hulking machines. I've only seen photos and videos of them in action so just looking at them in person was a highlight of the day . Later Daniel told me that the SRL crew didn't like people looking at the machines. No one said anything to me though.

Daniel relaxes with his mobile sound work.

Spent yesterday evening with most of the Vancouver crew. Vancouver is like a second home to me so it was great to see them all and catch up. Even better is that we are far away from home and hanging out in San Jose as if we were all back in Van. Art brought us all together way back when and art takes us places. Today I ran into some of the New Zealand folks that I just met a few weeks ago and found out they will be crashing the Canadian Consulates 'Canadian ' party on Weds... wooohoo..!! What a great bunch of folks. They took care of us down under and am glad to hear they will be joining us here. Artists are the best people in the world to hang out with.

Had a really great burrito for lunch today. Mexico is not far from where we are so the food in California has been improved by the influx of Mexican culture from across the border. all I can say now is... yum.....

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The last couple of weeks have been hectic. I've been working on a video at Video Pool using footage shot in New Zealand. I find myself thinking forward though to the rest of summer. The next couple of days are going to be be really busy as I get ready to head off to attend ISEA followed by a week in Vancouver.

At ISEA I'm going to see a lot of great friends that I haven't seen for awhile, plus some folks that I just met in New Zealand are going and a crew of friends from Vancouver will be presenting their work. AND I get to see a large scale performance by Survival Research Labratories! Not to mention checking out a lot of other great art work!

While in Vancouver I will continue getting inked by Chad at Sacred Heart Tattoo and participating in Fakirs Spirit + Flesh Ritual being hosted by the incredible Elwood.

At the end of the summer I'll have to come down from my cloud as the reality of not having a place to live starts creeping into my brain. I left my studio space of 7 years at the end of March due to the building getting sold to a developer and everybody getting evicted. Since I was going to be away for most of the summer I didn't really want to spend money on a new place nor did I have time to look for one.

The last two weeks has me also digesting everything that happened in New Zealand. So with that in mind I am going to keep putting up pictures from that trip.