Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Street Couch

Here is a film I directed back on November 9th and 10th, 2010 with a few drunk photo students after a long day in the lab. All of it was pulled together spontaneously with a generous dose of free association and mutual love of David Lynch.

The footage sat around a while, I had no idea how to edit a movie or any confidence my computer would even be able to handle the task. Recording some music for Vince McAley's “The Only Picture Of Us”, I felt inspired to throw our little movie together.

The theme, “Leah”, was a melody I would wail alone in my car at the time. On the third day of editing, I remembered the odd time signature I would originally sing the tune to. I didn't think anyone would want to hear my voice, so I whistled instead. Its much more weird and menacing now than longing and heartbroken, so I guess its perfect for this particular “romantic comedy”.

To ensure the highest quality viewing experience, I divided the film into four parts.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

eBay Taxidermy

Dr. SEUSS Unorthodox Taxidermy, circa 1938

Do yourself a favor and look up taxidermy on eBay. For most insane results, list highest price first. There's a lot more of those Dr. Seuss trophies, by the way.

Where better to place half a coffee table than on the skinned husk of a majestic royal beast?

There's always money in the shark stand.

Come for the meat furniture, stay for the awkward racial politics.

I'll leave you with this. Vintage lifelike goat wiggles ear, shakes head. Eerily realistic. Taxidermy?

Thursday, February 2, 2012


If you did not know, a beeowep is when cartoon logic suddenly becomes manifest in the real world. This is sort of a national anthem/mating call for my best friends.

Last night, at 8:09 CST, Rachel Maddow beeowept.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Actually it was more of a doowip, but she's a California girl.


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Metaphysical Pictures of Wadsworth and White

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been thinking a lot about the distortion of space in the imagination. Recently, I discovered a contemporary painter that seems to be dabbling in a few of the ideas I was writing about.

Eric White creates collages of remembered characters from old pictures, trapped in impossible rooms; sometimes impossible cars. I feel a little embarrassed to be so obsessed with someone so closely associated with the Lowbrow movement, but I think his good work is accomplishing very different goals than the cute plastic toys of his bicoastal friends.

White often talks about the "metaphysical" nature of his paintings, something I recognize in the works of De Chirico or Edward Wadsworth. I think Wadsworth's later surrealist landscapes are notable because they deal exclusively in matters of a kind of heightened awareness that makes ordinary objects inexplicably present and significant. It would be easy to dismiss his seashells if you've never had a lucid dream. What we see that isn't shown— the irrational, the metaphysical; is the true content of his paintings.

The misfits of veristic surrealism: De Chirico, Balthus, Magritte, Delvaux, Wadsworth (even Freud and Hopper); employ an innate grammar of paranoid recognition. First, there is psychologically potent content with little regard to the pretenses of automatic techniques. We are dealing with images of things; things that are irrational but understood. And secondly, maybe most importantly, we see a focus on the intimate experiences of paying attention. Metaphysical painting is about the excitement that comes with simple perception, and its habitual faults.

Eric White's best work has a similar fetish for lucidity, along with the waking daymare quality that seems to occupy the other side of the coin. The cropping and segmentation of space in his collages suggest the same logic that the mind employs to make sense of the chaos of dreams, or transcend the limitations of linear time. I suppose what he is doing could be called Pop Surrealism. I feel that he sometimes teeters on inspiration, falling back from time to time on the tired conventions of his hipster colleagues. But as far as his ability to successfully wield the subconscious toward serious surreal work is concerned, he is without peer in his time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Day In The Life of the Four Zen Emotions

I was driving in my car in a thunderstorm and was lucky enough to catch "A Day In The Life" on the radio. Something caught me this time listening to it; the unstuck-in-time quality of the song's structure. John Lennon sleepwalks through the news, with a kind of sadness whose clarity is only really grasped once someone close to you has died. In those weeks afterward when the line between life and not life is for a time, tangible.

This thought itself has me searching around the room for Paul Schrader's "Transcendental Style in Film", in a near panic that I might have sold it. Here it is! And with it a passage that I think of nearly everyday:

Where the mood of the moment is solitary and quiet it is called sabi. When the artist is feeling depressed or sad, and this particular feeling of emptiness catches a glimpse of something rather ordinary and unpretentious in its incredible "suchness," the mood is called wabi. When the moment evokes a much more intense, nostalgic sadness connected with autumn and the vanishing away of the world, it is called aware. And when the vision is hinting at an unknown never to be discovered, the mood is called yugen.
From Alan W. Watts, The Way of Zen, p. 176.

Do you recognize these Zen emotions? This feels like a short summation of all the most profound moments of my life; minus the absurdist emotions that one finds exploring the Paranoid-Critical Method. Notice how strangely the definition of yugen matches that untranslatable German word sehnsucht. Sehnsucht being a word I tend to associate with C. S. Lewis, and the feeling one gets while reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and the children first hear the phrase, "Aslan is on the move." I remember that profound moment when the curtain was pulled back and, decades between us, feeling that unfathomable palpitation of the heart that comes with witnessing the miraculous world. Of course, C. S. Lewis and I have very different explanations for such experiences. This does not lessen the novelty of C. S. Lewis, Bruce Cockburn, and I wondering where the lion's are.

Let's step back one quantum leap from yugen and contemplate the aware of "A Day In The Life."

Let's imagine Lennon as the sleepwalker slowly treading his way through The Daily Mail, catching a glimpse of the transience of the world as it approaches the autumn of the late 60's, and above it all thinking, "I'd love to turn you on so you could see what I'm seeing." The feeling swells, becoming an apocalyptic cacophony.

Then suddenly, the alarm rings. And here we are waking to another day in the morass of conventional daily consciousness; the true sleepwalkers, imagining that our rat race has some prize of substance for us in the end. Leading to such a simple, beautiful line, "And somebody spoke and I went into a dream."

This does two things. It introduces to kids everywhere, in a tiny pop song, that "real life" is the fantasy. Every once and a while in this short life you will suddenly waken to the world; a deep wakefulness that will cast into doubt all previous notions of what consciousness really is. If you are lucky. It is a tragic realization, but one that has the potential of correcting you over and over again, and giving you the power to share that glimpse with others.

Secondly, it really nails why the cut-up, medley structure idiosyncratic of mature Beatles work is so powerful. It shows that the pop song, and all its conventions, can be a delivery system for sophisticated irony and a working language for the cinema of the mind. Of course, none of this is really surprising. Eisenstein's editing existed in Beethoven before the motion picture camera was ever invented. However, the Beatles seemed to use the cinematic power of music very self-consciously. Geoff Emerick's synesthetic engineering, the schizophrenic toggling between Lennon and McCartney's writing, George Martin's musique concrete contributions that he began while working with the Goon Show. "And somebody spoke and I went into a dream" is Bergman or Bunuel. So many of the psychedelic Beatles classics have this oneiric power. What is Revolution 9, if not an experimental film we can only see in our minds?

"A Day In The Life" has that Zen sense of aware that makes a person feel unstuck in time. That we are aware, in the English language sense, only sporadically. It is a wrinkle in time that connects us tenuously to the moments we are truly alive, when so often in time we are tossed about as if at sea. Lost in the woods. Sleepwalking.

Which is to say: The Beatles are fucking great.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Parajanov Biopic

Poking around the twitterverse and discovered there is a Parajanov biopic coming out by Armenian-French director Serge Avedikian. Hopefully, this will spread awareness of one of history's greatest directors. Can't wait!

Here is another link I found. Some short films by Parajanov. You can see him preparing for Sayat Nova, visually.

Friday, January 20, 2012

André Kertész, Satiric Dancer, 1929

There are so many disturbing things about this murky photograph. One, is that somehow her limbs do not look like her own. Her body twists into a swastika shape on a tina sofa, as viewed from somewhere in the air. Her porcelain contortions are mocked by no less than a statue, a framed portrait of the statue, possibly a scribbled drawing tacked to the wall. Is it a come on? The room is dark; bare but decrepit. She's wearing a silky black dress and an Elizabethan collar. The kind of cone around the neck dogs wear so as not to scratch, but black and covered in fur.