hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

13 December 2012

Pisco Sours

He was five-four, one-hundred and thirty-three pounds. A small belly peeked out under his child-sized XL salmon colored t-shirt. His khaki shorts hung a little above the knees, showing off his pale skinny legs. Keen-style water sandals covered his feet. Thick glasses sat on the bridge of his nose. He was sitting at the far table on the veranda, watching the straw umbrella sway in the ocean breeze.
            A man sat down across from him; six-two, two-hundred and fifteen pounds. A blue T-shirt with his dated logo stretched to contain his muscles.
            “It’s nice to meet you, Kent,” the small man said, holding out his small hand, “In person.”
            “A pleasure.”
            They shook hands and Kent sat down. His black hair was cropped and his eyes were blue.
            “Would you like a drink?”
            “I don’t drink.”
            The small man grinned and sipped his cocktail. He smacked his lips at the bitterness and set the glass on the table.
            “You never change, Kent,” he chuckled, “You never change.”
            “I see no reason to.”
            “Of course not. You’re perfect. Flawless, I might add. But where will you be when the Storm comes?”
            The palms between the veranda and the beach shuddered against the wind.
            “Things aren’t concrete anymore, Kent. Villains don’t run around with explosives and rob banks, at least in the physical sense. Criminals work undercover. Corrupt data miners can abstractly control this world. A crook with internet connection is more deadly than a mutated freak with firearms. Your fists of steel may have saved this rock for years, but you can’t punch data.”
            Kent leaned forward on the table.
            “You’re telling me you can?”
            The small man took a sip of his drink.
            “Me? Certainly not. I am singular,” he smiled, “But my group? Most certainly. We are plural.”
            Kent sat back in his chair, taking note of the people around him. Everyone was wearing large sunglasses and flowered shirts, laughing and sipping on their drinks.
            “You’ve been crowd-sourced,” he continued, “But you’ll never see your replacements.”
            Kent became agitated. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. There was something about this man that unnerved him. He was so calm, so matter-of-fact, like he was not a man.
            “You’re everywhere. Data is not lacking on you, Kent. An anomaly of your extent has highways of digital footprints. When the bureaucrats want you gone, all they need is one steel-piercing bullet, and they’ll know right where to place it. I fear for you.”
            The waves crashed lightly on the shore, one after another for as far as they eye could see.
            “A man so mighty, now so…”
            He paused, making eye contact with Kent across the table.
            He took another sip of his cocktail.
            “What are you drinking?”
            The small man smacked his lips, “Let me tell you a story.”
            Kent sat back in his chair and the brown-skinned waitress placed a glass of iceless water before him.

            “Once upon a time, in the great Pisco desert, there were two naked hermit crabs lying in the sand. They were the only living things for as far as the eye could see. In fact, they were the only things for as far as the eye could see. There were no cacti; no other crabs, no water, and certainly no shelter—save for the single grey shell between them. It was slightly too large for the smaller crab and slightly too small for the larger crab.
            ‘When the Storm comes, we will need shelter,’ said the larger crab.
            ‘He will provide it,’ said the smaller crab.
            ‘When He permits it.’
            The larger crab, displeased with this response, became angry with his friend. The Storm could occur at any moment, and he was entirely exposed. He could feel the sun beating down on his skin. Why should he die in the Storm while his weaker friend was covered? Decidedly, the larger crab reached out with his claws and snatched the shell. He forced himself inside. Even crabs understood Darwin.
            ‘I am sorry, friend,’ said the larger crab.
            ‘I am too,’ said the smaller crab.
            At this point, the ground ruptured beneath them and a pair of enormous silver claws tore up through the sand. Each of the crabs was enclosed by a claw. Almost immediately, the one containing the naked crab returned beneath the sands. The other, dropping the shelled crab back on the ground, descended beneath the surface after the first.
            ‘I have survived the Storm!’ the larger crab delighted as he fell back into the sand. Feeling safe in his shell, he started trekking across the desert.
            After a few days, the sky opened and rain showered down. This did not phase the crab. He continued to delight in his good fortune as the shell kept him dry. He continued his journey. As the hours passed, the rain did not let up. The sand soon became so inundated that water accumulated along its surface. The crab struggled to keep walking. Soon he struggled to keep afloat. As the rain continued to fall, the water levels rose and the crab realized he had misidentified the Storm. The Pisco desert filled with water and the crab cursed his sour luck. He drowned.
            When the rain ended and the desert drained, the gigantic silver claws rose up from the earth and dropped the smaller crab back in the sand. He walked across the desert until he found the emptied shell of his friend. Crawling inside, he began his trek across the desert, to live another day.”

            Kent stared at the small man across the table.
            “Who are you?”
            The man crossed his legs. “A vigilante, like you, Kent. But there’s a difference between us. They know too much about you.”
            “What are you talking about?”
            Setting down his drink, the small man crossed his arms.
            “You can settle here. It’s warm, relaxing, inconspicuous. The Storm won’t reach you, and we’ll cover your tracks. Let us protect you. Hang up the cape and we’ll finish the work.”
            Kent frowned and slid back his chair. Standing up, he looked to the sky.
            “I’ll be fine.”
            He turned and walked away. Shaking his head, the small man picked up his drink. It was so bitter. He watched Kent rise up through the clouds like a rocket. Tipping his glass, he finished his Pisco Sours and listened to the crashing waves.

12 December 2012

Yuriy Norshteyn’s Tale of Tales, 1979

Like a visual representation of literary nonsense, or Alice in Wonderland tripping on psychedelic mushrooms, Norshteyn’s film appears as purely aesthetic display of randomness. As the reels roll, viewers fall into the transit of a lullaby through time and LP vinyl of a memory skipping through sequences. These 29 minutes are often acclaimed as the ‘greatest animated film of all time,’ despite the numerous modern masterworks created by Pixar and other animators across the globe. This film originates from the Soviet Union and is technically written in Russian, yet, as it bears no visible plot and is stripped of any real dialogue, the potential language barrier is debunked, as it can still be viewed and appreciated by a speaker of any language. Norshteyn’s Tale of Tales offers an insightful glance into the true nature of memory. It is stubbed and fragmented, with splits in logic and sensible thought. It is a series of vignettes, a handful of sounds and images pieced in ways often unknown to us. In this sense, the narration of the story cannot be told chronologically. The events that occur are linked through a shared idea or feeling. Like the little grey wolf bent over a small fire, the film is the painting of patience, waiting out the winter of history.
It can be seen as a visualization of emotions on high during the World War II era on the Eastern Front. Pleasure can be discovered and embraced in mundane tasks of living, as a way of coping with the sadness and overarching gloom of reality that hovered over one’s life during the time of war. Powerful images, such as the male dancers individually evaporating from their women to convey the loss of companionship via war, reach their way into this short animation, taking on the nature of sheer minimalism. The film itself adheres to this simplicity, drawing its strength from the lack of density and higher order. The animations appear to be sketched fluidly and easily, free from a domineering refiner. This stark frugalness gives the film strength, which embodies the essence of the content—drawing strength from the act of living to keep on living. This basic sense capitulates a paramount position in the human condition. It captures a realness that many animations gloss over. It abandons the flashing lights and popping colors of cinema, as they paint over the rough surface of the content, hiding the very flaws and nature of what we are. Modern pictures revolve significantly more around production, which steals attention from the wholesome nature of what truly makes a work—the story. In lieu of a good tale, artfully crafted animation must also follow, as a proper container is necessary to enclose proper insides, but should not enable the container to overpower the content.
Akin to the holiday season, in celebrating Christmas, one may exchange gifts. Beautiful wrappings may surround the gift, but when those are torn off, they are forgotten. The thing that is kept and remembered is the contents of those wrappings. The true beauty of a tale lies in the tale itself. That is the tale of tales, and Norshteyn could not have captured it more beautifully.

05 December 2012

Modern Day Doodling

Boredom strikes in the midst of a most arid lecture. Abandoning this desert of interest, you vicariously dive into the seas of social media, but soon grow ill of surfing Tumblr. Twitter is no longer piquing your creative interest. You wish to build, to construct something clever; something more than a witty one liner and ironic hashtag. You search your backpack and find nothing by a laptop charger and a wireless mouse. There is a graphing calculator without games in the front pocket. Oh god! Oh pi! How could this be?
You find yourself paperless. You carry no notebook—the class notes are posted online. You bear no pen—your fingers type away anything else you have to say. You realize you no longer possess dexterous artistic ability, from all those hours staring at your computer and not setting pencil to sketchpad. But you have an undying desire to doodle. And no, creating an easy scheduling experience on www.Doodle.com does not suffice. Editing photos or scrawling random words into a .txt document is not the same. You need to draw pointless things in the corner of your document. But you don’t have a stylus with interactive digital ink. The ‘Draw Something’ app on your iPhone has simply lost appeal. Appeal…Your fingers, poised above the keyboard, become attractive to your eyes—the mirrors to your soul, the container of your ideas. The metaphorical light bulb goes off. You draw a stick man.
The idea incites you.
The symbols on your keyboard dissolve all meaning. Letters and numbers become new shapes. Various symbols become tools to be employed. You chuckle at your ingenuity and become absorbed in the possibilities. Your fingers dance across the keyboard and soon your mind is racing to discover new and clever ways to turn the text symbols into pictures. Slashes and bars become your best friends, O’s and underscores become your guilty pleasures.
Soon, the class empties and you remain in your seat. The absence of fellow man is barely recognized. You remain locked to the screen and your newly fabricated flow state continues. Seconds tick by and minutes melt into hours that go extinct. Before long, clever you has created several side-splitting variants of cows. You chuckle. You chortle. You gurgle and titter.
You have created a new art form.

This digital graffiti (Nyan Cat!), or modern doodling, is growing in brilliance around the web. With the evolution of online media, we transform the handful of characters and symbols we are bound to from shackles to tools. A new medium to paint images.