Friday, August 3, 2012


Work in Progress. Prepping for a silkscreened book and cassette tape about everything we've seen and done in the past four years, spanning Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Sicily, New Mexico, Old Mexico, Morocco, Spain, Estonia, rural eastern Germany, Tennessee. Rough categories for sounds and motifs are MOUNDS, CAVES and HOLES, PODS and ENCLOSURES, INTERSECTIONS, ROWS and COLLECTIONS, LIMBS and EXTREMITIES, and EM3W. What we've learned so far: organizing experience by shape & form is easy; paginating for a limited number of silk screens is a bitch.

The Greens of Tartu

As anticipated, can't keep up with this thing. I'm running about two weeks behind. Will do dribblings.

So,,,,, been almost two weeks since I went to Tartu to pick up Max before bringing him back to Mooste. We were taken by the variety of subtle and unique (mostly non-nature) greens there. 

Tartu is also the historic home of the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School. More to come. (((Another empty promise.))))

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ants, Ants, Ants! [There's no ME in TEAM]

I cycled out to the Laho lake a couple of days ago. On the way I saw a series of ant hills which were a lot bigger than the ant hills I remember growing up in Pennsylvania, which were volcano-shaped mounds of sand between 2 and 4 inches high. These Estonian ones start at about 2 feet high and seem to get up to 5.

Now that's what I call TEAMWORK.The Pyramids of Giza are diddly squat comparatively. I mean, even if Moses' people didn't have the wheel, dude, these little guys don't even have arms and they're building something that's, I dunno, a million times their size?

Apparently there is an ant "Kingdom" not far from here in which there are are nearly 1800 nests on 188 hectares of forest. Bordered by the Valgesoo Bog (oh! the name mixes memory with desire), it's reportedly the largest colony of Formica Aquilonia (red wood ant) in all of Europe.

Picked up a book on the bookshelf here about this area (sorry don't know the title in English, that seems to be the one part they didn't translate)... the Bog apparently has a bloody history:

The ant way of life, including their warfare, is astoundingly familiar to that of humans. One such war took place in 1998. A logging concession was issued for a spruce wood situated by the Valgesoo Bog. However, this forest was a home to numerous ant nests and after completion of the logging, these starving ants migrated to new areas where they met militant resistance by local ants who fiercely fought for their food supply. Johannes Martin, a myrmecologist, has witnessed a mass grave of ants: 15 meters in length and about 30 cm in width, covered with a thick layer of empty ant shells. According to estimations made by researchers, up to 50 million ants were killed in the war. 

Delightfully droll...

These were some postcards I picked up at a paper store in a dog-eared mall by the bus station in Tartu. 

Sorting through my pictures from the past days it occurred to me how postcard-esque the scenery is here in Southern Estonia. Thinking about taking some of these gently tufted landscapes, sprinkling some glitter and a twittering sparrow on top. 


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Last night I was rummaging through the MoKS library and found this book/zine. It's called Dream Whip #12. In simple hand-written block lettering it tells vignettes about all the scummy bus stations, flop-houses and cul-de-sacs of middle and western America. Totally engrossing.

Why I gotta make it so complicated, I thought; all this yammering on about deconstructing the narrative. This is what I love about travel and place... or at least the memory of travel and place ... how things flatten out a bit into these sorts of tableaux. Bits and pieces of what people say, the smell of the grass, newspaper clippings.

There was no name on the zine, so I googled around and turns out it's created by this famous respected zinester Bill Brown... who's also hooked up with Microcosmos publishing and Cult Dead Cow, two things I'm glad to have discovered ....

This being my first official "residency", I'm trying to understand what the time-spent fiddling to actual production ratio is. The first thing I'm learning, I guess, is to accept that the process is the work; I'm not going to just shit out perfection.

It's just that... I always thought that if I had 6+ hours a day, minimal distractions and adequate space to work on art, after just a few days I would have a pile of stuff. But it spreads itself thin like peanut butter. Wide, but thin. Not a lot of sandwiches to report just yet I'm afraid.

But I thought perhaps posting about what I’m at—regardless of how much I’ve finished— would establish some sort of trajectory for where I am and where I'm going, now that I'm about 10 days in.

To give a context, here’s what I proposed to the MoKS people when Max wasn’t going to be able to come for most of the residency and I had to say what I would do myself….

I would focus on the travel narrative/non-narrative side of the SOFAR Channel. As I think we talked about in the proposal, we conduct photographic and sonic-recording expeditions and later look for clues in the aleatory results of double- and triple-exposure photographic techniques and random audio recordings. We are looking for the non-narrative story below the surface.
As a writer, painter, radio-dj and dynamic reader, I'm interested in this place that exists between the narrative and the non-narrative. I am often searching for it in my sound work and hand-made books. How can you stretch and manipulate time and frustrate chronology in time-based media like sound, or in linearly-conceived techniques such as prose? What I would like to do is excavate and investigate some of my recent travels and work on a sonic-graphic book. The idea is to locate this place – or perhaps the better word is landscape -- that exists between the places I have seen, the unpredictable memories of them -- and the places that I read about/experience virtually. I would do so using sound and images acquired in my actual travels, and those virtual and imaginary ones that haunt me.Though I can't predict the exact product just yet – that will depend on my meditations while there -- I can say that I would like to produce an actual book (short, given the amount of time) that is complemented by sound. Both will be "-scapes" that are however not static, they will move without being linear or chronological.

So above some action shots from the 'book' I sortof said I'd work on. The shapes here are extracted from photos from Baku, which you can see in the brown-paper research slips in the last photo. Trying to somehow assemble like with like. Lots of mounds, arches, curves and bumps.

Aforementioned nouns that become images...

Meanwhile I've been doing the sort of surfing on the web that I suppose can be classified as artistic research. Spelunking the depths.... But hang on, maybe I'll do that in another post. For now, behold, studio in-progress-shots -- and voila, document it and I'm no longer doing nothing, nuh?

Dear blog. What did I do today? My knee-jerk answer is "nothing". But just because it almost all happened on the computer, doesn't mean it wasn't something. DOCUMENT< DUMMY!

I dropped my fellow 'resident', sound artist Felicity Mangan off at the bus stop, and then took a swim in Mooste Lake, alone in the drizzle. Delicious and refreshing, only hearing the raindrops on the surface of the water. The last four or five times I've visited the lake it's been swarming with squealing, extremely blond children doing cannonballs off the crooked pier.

That was pretty much the last experience I had in the material world for while. I spent the afternoon doing lot of digital housecleaning which I can here share the results of, as this blog will soon take the place of my facebook page. I hope.

I finished my JETLAG ARCHIPELAGO radio broadcast for tomorrow night on (Tune in tomorrow (Sunday, July 15th, 2012) at 11PM Berlin time (CET) to or 88.4 on your FM dial in Berlin.) It's a mix of field recordings from my trip to Azerbaijan in June, done in collaboration with my SOFAR Channel partner and main squeeze Max. I also managed to get together my photos from this trip (one above).... and posted them on my flickr page.

So this is all the first stage I guess:: editing and gathering.

At the the Risotto-laden dinner table with MoKS members I found myself still a bit tongue-tied when asked about whatever it is I do; again my first thought was, "nothing". But isn't that the art friends? Reporting something out of nothing?

Speaking of which, I was able to visit MoKS resident girl friday Siiri's annex here in the house. She has a fascinating collection of colorfully aged plant material, as well as a gigantic wardrobe, inherited from her boyfriend's family. I found it terrifying and am still thinking about it. It is a portal, I think, to larger things --