Hellow

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

18 December 2013

Tweetable Poems Unfit for Twitter

Glowing blue carrot
a digging ferret
finds in yellow dirt
where Earthworms were hurt

Aladdin's lamp
is rusting
from the iron
in my tears

04 December 2013

Is Your Blue My Green?

Imagine a conversation with an alien. An extra-terrestrial. A being foreign to your universe and nonexistent before this encounter. How would you communicate? Certainly he/she/it would not speak your language. Perhaps this being would not even understand the concept of verbal communication or be able to form words or perceive sound? Certainly you would struggle with these motor operations. Which gestures would you use? Could certain expressions be misleadingly inaccurate or unintentionally threatening? You would struggle to see eye to eye, assuming he/she/it even had one.
Perception is a pivotal stepping stone in establishing communication or forming a connection. In order to interact with the unknown, one must form an understanding of ignorance. A logical oxymoron, which is an oxymoron in itself, is coming to accept that one will never fully understand the perception of another. This acceptance helps to lay a cornerstone for a relationship to be built, as it is the only neutral ground in a sea of unknowns. There are many things that one cannot sense, and although one cannot perceive them, it does not mean they are nonexistent.
Light, for instance, is a matter only perceptible from certain sensory details. From radio waves to gamma rays, the electromagnetic spectrum of light leaves only a thin streak perceptible to the human eye. Between infrared and ultraviolet waves, the band of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet is all that is visible in the vast spectrum. These various waves operate across several frequencies, and from what science has given us, this is all we have been able to detect and understand.
But how can we be confident in our perceptions? Although, according to science, we, as humans, are of the same species, this does not mean that our perceptions are equal. Certainly we can examine the lens of our eyes, noting the curvature and ability to perceive labeled frequencies, but what if our sense of one color is different on an individual basis? For instance, what if my perception of green is your perception of blue? Plants trade color with the sky and it is perceived as normal. We both see the same in a different light, but can speak of it in the same sense. Of course, we can try to categorize visibility, by breaking it into pigment percentages or hexadecimals values, but that does not alter the initial sense.
In order to communicate and connect, two beings must find a sensory medium. As humans, that medium is primarily language–be it auditory or visual–but in order to connect with beings other than our species, we must be willing to move into new mediums, where we can come to understand that our perceptions will change and be different. We must learn to see, not just with the sensory feelings we possess, but in a manner that can be shared with the unknown. It is the ability to look beyond the physical, to put a finger on an abstract thought and follow a feeling.
It’s in the eye of the beholder.
Well, the perception of the beholder.

20 November 2013

An Icelandic Audio Odyssey, Finally We Are No One

Before I understood maps or geothermal currents, I pictured Greenland as a land of trees, plants, and vegetation--greenery--and Iceland to be a frozen tundra, frigid and white--icy. This naivety led me to believe the opposite. The namesake of Greenland and Iceland are almost polar opposites, for while they are both near the North Pole, their climates are immensely varied. Iceland is a land of extremes--from volcanic thermal heat to icy glacial coldness. Despite the extremes, the small island has a fairly moderate and consistent temperature. It is a beautiful place filled with many natural wonders. It is a place for the imagination to wander and reflect. It is only appropriate that the nation has produced artists representing this personality.

múm is an Icelandic experimental music group. Adopting a dreamlike quality with their unique concoction of sounds creates a refreshing brand of music that resonates with an imaginative spirit. In their 2002 album, Loksins Erum Við Engin (Finally We Are No One), this creative sound pushes the listeners' thoughts to places often untouched or forgotten, such as the ability to truly imagine and reflect from within oneself. Finally We Are No One is a playful odyssey of the subconscious. As as a whole, the simple but unique form of the art and music is found in the sound. The childlike voices reflect the peaceful innocence of exploratory thoughts. Like the naivety of a child, such as my ignorance surrounding the ecological states of Greenland and Iceland, the album celebrates these virgin thoughts, not tampered by adult actions and concerns.

When listening, the album elicits a unique feeling that is not often excited by music. It is not a "pump up" sound or nostalgic tune or bluesy act of sad emotions, but a gentle touch on more tender feelings. It draws upon the small things, subtle details and little sounds. It is pure and difficult to express in another medium. While the soft voices convey the pureness of innocence, the pattering of varied sounds embodies the minimal amount of emotion necessary to touch the listener. The slow cadence of the music is calming, putting the listener at peace to encourage introspection. It balances delicately on a small wave of feeling that moves between the small troubles and ripples of hope. It is ideal for reflection and cannot fit in varied forms, which leaves it appropriately perfect.

Finally We Are No One strips away the titles that  border one's subconscious. Removing the clutter from the mind, it lets a gentle wave wash over tender thoughts and carry them to new shores.

13 November 2013

A Style is No Means to a [Tr]end

Not only in fashion, but in technology, language, behavior, and design, there is a clear distinction between trends and style. Trends are always changing, but style is timeless. Specifically in fashion, trends change with the seasons. New lines of clothing roll out in advertisements as the trees lose their leaves. As celebrities set new bars and companies put out new lines, trends dictate the decisions of society. Perhaps a ploy of a consumerism, trends keep people spending their time and money on conforming to the latest change. New smart phones slip into our pockets with trivial changes in speed or new aesthetic value to the interface, new shoes slip onto our feet as the laces make minuscule alterations, and new words slip between our lips as Internet and TV icons develop fresh lingo. There are stages to this construct, from ignition to burning out. Initially, influential members of society, be them celebrities or anonymous people we cross paths with, set the trend. They update the ever-changing indicators of what is relevant. These individuals or groups hold an incredible power of suasion, and once they define the new “in”–be it with intention or not–the new line is set for the masses. The second stage in the life-cycle of the trend is acceptance. Once adopted by the general public–or a specific community–the trend becomes commonplace. Those who embrace it are seen as aware, and those who do not are irrelevant. The third stage of the trend is death. Trends typically have a short life, but the process of death may vary in length. Sometimes, trends may perish overnight, but in others, the death may be a slow process of decay. Those who are trendy know when a trend is on the decline and jump ship to avoid the look of ignorance. This is the stigma trends create.
Style deflects this.
Styles is a matter of personal choice. True style can withstand the test of time and conditions, and while it may be influenced by both, it is dependent on neither. Style, be it in any industry–fashion, behavior, or design–is a form of expression and art and something that is eternal. It is an outward display of personality and originality and gives a unique edge over the masses who conform to the current trends. Styles cannot be “out,” and therefore, cannot ruin an image. In a broader sense, it is an immortality and speaks louder and stronger than any trend. While trends are means to an end, style is a sustained source of identity. Developing a style is a practice of developing character and forming something that cannot be destroyed. Although many styles may be created in physical mediums–things that can be lost or destroyed–the spirit behind the idea lives on.
Invest in style, it doesn't go "out."

06 November 2013

Arachnid Architecture

A small part of me dies when I see something being destroyed. Watching a vase shatter, a tree being cut down, a city laid to waste. When hiking through a forest, where spiders have woven their webs between branches, letting them dangle overhead or in my face, I cannot bring myself to tear them down.
Spiderwebs are spun to capture insects, to entangle them in their adhesive silk until the weaver of the web comes to devour them. It is essentially a death trap, a weapon, and a prison, but so beautiful. Perhaps the purpose of the spiderweb is not important, but the design and construction of it are what matter. Spiderwebs are an architectural feat of natural art. A sturdy and intricate web is spun by dozens of tiny threads, coordinated to enact a single purpose of entanglement. The beauty of all these small parts working together, orchestrated by an eight-legged mastermind, is spectacular. To me, it is like a wonderfully-designed building,  but a living and breathing monument artistically crafted with intention.
Spiderwebs are not cobwebs. Rather, cobwebs are former spiderwebs gone dormant. Merriam Webster defines a cobweb as “the threads of old spider webs that are found in areas that have not been cleaned for a long time.” Cobwebs are ancient  structures built and abandoned by spiders. To compare, spiderwebs are like modern structures–such as the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building–whereas cobwebs are ancient ruins, such as the Mayan Pyramids or Great Wall of China. As these webs are strung with individual threads to create a collective piece, when these pieces are combined, entire metropolises can be formed.
spiderwebs
As networked beings, spiderwebs should appeal to our natural tendencies. Our bodies are a system of complex networks–with veins and blood-vessels, complex organ systems, muscles, etc–we travel across lands on networked routes–highway systems, rail-lines, flight paths–and most of our world is a series of webbed connections–water pipes, electric wires, cable lines. It is only logical that we are drawn to interact in webs, especially in the Information Age and opportunities created by the Internet, the world’s largest web. Social networking sites embrace our webs of social connections–our networks. Spiders embrace networks as well. They take advantage of the potential power provided by their webs and rely on them for survival. As humans, we must also rely on our networks. We need to be connected with others, not only for physical support–such as transport, utilities, etc–but for social and emotional fulfillment. Webs are beautiful things, and it is a travesty to lose them. Even if they are spiderwebs.

30 October 2013

The Colortocracy (A Sexier Shade of Grey)

Shades of Grey is one of my favorite contemporary novels. And no, I am not talking about the raunchy and wildly infamous 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James, but the absurdly beautiful novel by Jasper Fforde. It is the tale of a society in which one’s class is determined by the pigment of natural color they can detect. The “Spectrum” of colors determines where one falls, and one’s family name and subsequent rank is of highest priority. In this world, uniquely painted like no other work I have read before, Fforde illustrates a daring tale that is riveting in both its characters, plot, and overall thematic elements. It is truly a work of literary art, and the risks Fforde has undertaken in writing a story such as this is should be empowering to novelists across genres.
Known for his bizarre series dealing with “Nursery Crime” and literary mystery, Jasper Fforde is one of the most unique writers I have read. Specifically in Shades of Grey, the tale follows the life of Edward Russet–a red–who is currently gathering “merits”–points of value for doing a variety of odd and “virtuous” things–so that he may marry “up-Spectrum” to bring value to his family’s name. While this situation may be akin to a variety of societal issues, such as the pressure to achieve goals for the sake of loved ones, Fforde frames the ideaartistically. That is, in a means that is both aesthetically pleasing and unique to convey something in a light unseen by others. In this realm, many other glorious details reside–such as a commonplace and crippling fear of giant swans and ball lightning and the brilliant idea of “perpetulite” roadways that are self-repairing and move like water in a river. These details are original. That is artistic. That is sexy.
So many contemporary works seem to write to an audience, giving them exactly what they wish to hear. They add the desired amount of quirks to make it “unique” enough to receive copyright protection, but they rarely take the risks necessary to create a truly thought-provoking work. 50 Shades of Grey is stereotypical in its appeal to people’s crude sense of entertainment, and it is largely representative of most works created with an audience in mind. Fforde’s work embodies a spirit of adventure and ingenuity that many contemporary works of literature lack. It is a representation of wholesome strangeness–with barcoded megafauna, overly-valued spoons, and unicycle loopholes–that is rare to find in modern times. This nature should not be rare in the literary world, or in any form of artistic expression, but rather, it should be commonplace. While it is an oxymoron to have a commonplace uniqueness, those works that embrace an individuality are the rare diamonds in the slush-pile of similarly stereotypical pieces. Perhaps that rarity is what makes them sexy? The few streaks of color in an otherwise grey world. Become part of the Colortocracy.

23 October 2013

do easy

Gus Van Sant, American screenwriter and director, created a short comedic film titled the Discipline of D.E. in 1982. The video explores the art of “do easy” living, which illustrates highly efficient means of completing daily and otherwise mundane tasks. This 16 mm film, while directed by Van Sant, is based on a story in William S. Burrough’s Exterminator! (1973). Both the film and the story resonate a very entertaining and informative take on the proper manner in which to complete simple tasks. According to the works, it is a lifestyle choice. A willingness to accept that there is a right way to do everything. A willingness to admit the error of normal ways. A willingness to relearn basic functions and master the simple things. A student of D.E. (do easy living) must learn–at the highest possible efficiency–to clear a plate. To shave. To brush their teeth. To walk. To do laundry. To iron a shirt. To sleep. To eat. To breathe. To
do easy.
Muscle memory is a powerfully beautiful thing. In order to master D.E., a student must devote their life to the discipline of repetition in order to build that kinetic memory. When moving through a space, for instance, one must be wary of the objects sharing that space and be willing to move through the same space multiple times if they fumble in a movement. If bumping a chair, one must start from the beginning of the room and walk deliberately around the chair to redo that movement and undo the inaccuracies to right the wrongs. While this may seem ridiculously silly, especially as the film was made with the intentions of comedy, the concept of this lifestyle should still be considered somewhat seriously. D.E. mimics a Buddhist mantra, an undertaking of a very gradual and precise lifestyle, where firm but gentle touches are central. This way of life focuses on leading clear and directed lives with careful and meaningful actions. It is a life devoted to mastering the little things.
In today’s fast-paced world, people often overlook the more humble components of life and do not take ample time to care for the parts that make daily life worth living. Always in a hurry to finish daily chores, but filled with ample time to spend on mindless activity–such as browsing news on social media–people can often forget how meaningful life can be. The act of living, and living efficiently, is a gift that all people should embrace. The crazy wisdom of Discipline of D.E. embodies the balanced ebullient and demanding spirit of Zen. Once mastered, do easy living can provide one with even more time to do the things they enjoy.
Please, sacrifice nine minutes of your time for a lifetime of time saving. View the film.

16 October 2013

It's and Ot's

I am sitting in a tree, a tall maple, whose leaves are preparing to leave. They have on their winter jackets of red, gold, and orange, drained of the chlorophyll that gave them a green pigment. I step tenderly on the thinner branches as I approach the top, where the more flexible limbs are brushing against the telephone line cutting between them. The branches shake with my movements, the browned seeds releasing their grip beneath the leaves and cascading slowly around me. Their wide plumes, like propellers, allow them to slowly descend through the air, spinning like helicopters as they fall through the myriad of limbs. Landing in the carpet of early-departed leaves, they fall to the earth. My hands hold the hardened bark as my feet rest in the nook where the branches stems from the trunk. Leaves and helicopters descend around me, shaken from their fragile holds by my disruption. I am a razor, gliding close along the surface, trimming away the dying hairs. As the shaved beard leaves a beautiful mess over the forest floor, the tight dark branches hold up the shattered remains of skinless limbs. The dead boughs, stripped of bark, fell away from the body, gone to atrophy as they hollowed out along the inside. The tree was going to sleep. It, like me, like you, like the chipmunk living inside the trunk, is on a cycle. We are not so different.
Last spring, as I wandered through the woods, taking in the bounty of life that was sprouting up from the freshly-thawed earth, my mind was distracted with the pronouns surrounding gender inequality. How “he” was one letter short of “she” in English, how all ‘men’ were created equal, and how, in Romantic languages, the default gender of a plural pronoun was masculine unless the group it pertained to consisted of entirely females. I recollected my third grade teacher redefining the denotation of a noun for my class with Schoolhouse Rock. She, as supplemented by the video, referred to a noun as a person,place, or thing–with plants and animals falling under the “thing” category. As I walked through the woods, where the trees and flowers were beginning to grow new buds, people were walking with their dogs, their tails flailing, tongues lolling as they were excited by the freshness of spring, I could not pair these “things” in the same category as listless rocks and the stagnant park bench. To me, those were “its”–”things,” “objects,” not life. They did not contain the sort of life that resonated between us, trees, and our four-legged friends. We were something else, something organic. Perhaps the line between “people” and “things” needed to be blurred? We were not so different from these organic things. The inequalities of gender in the specification of language could be erased by joining the organic things together under one pronoun–”ot.” Organic thing vs. inorganic thing–”it.” Life was sacred and the endless diversity of it need not be segregated. It’s were non-life. Ot’s were life.
As I am sitting in this tree, this fellow ot, I wonder what ot feels. Is this empathy a mirror or a window? Does this tree look at me, standing on ots arms and see an equal being of life or simply a razor shaving away ots dead leaves?

03 October 2013

Do Not Go Near The Dog Park

For many moons, I have wished to indulge myself in the realm of podcasts. For many moons, I have waited for the perfect podcast to jar my ears into listening. For many moons, I have looked up at the floating object in the sky and wondered what it thought about me. Up there, watching. Always watching.
Recently, my ears were robbed of their podcast virginity by the radio show of a fictional town–Night Vale. Welcome to Night Vale is a free podcast production by Commonplace Books. Narrated by Cecil Baldwin and written by Joseph Fink, it is an extremely strange but thought-provoking series of supernatural events occurring in the obscure desert town of Night Vale. The series features announcements about the local community, from weather reports to updates about the Sheriff’s Secret Police. It is saturated in dark humor and has a mysterious and haunting tone that continuously triggers the listener’s imagination. There are many tales of the “Hooded Figures” that lurk around town, participating in many unusual activities. The conversational voice of Cecil, the narrator, makes the absurd announcements of fantastical activities seem commonplace, just like one would report the score of a high school soccer game. What many would call conspiracies in this world are daily news announcements in Night Vale. The series is littered in stories of faceless old women in the corners of living rooms, glowing storm clouds that rain dead beavers, and floating cats in public restrooms. The surrealist nature of the show leads to a bottomless well of interesting tales that fails to disappoint.
When I first began listening, I was immediately told about the new dog park that was built in Night Vale and how it was a gathering place for Hooded Figures. Almost as instantly, I was told to not go near the dog park. While this peculiar statement was not only intriguing, as I wished to discover the dangers of going near the dog park and what was exactly going on there, but I was immensely drawn into the town, for I was addressed directly as one of the townspeople. This direct connection to listeners is a risky move, for it lends itself to vulnerability by making assumptions of the audience and setting up an expectation from then on. The expectation that Night Vale embraces is the acceptance of the unknown. It requires listeners to cope with the ridiculous and revel in that mystery. Like a conspiracy theory, the show lends itself to series of loose facts and speculations and then extrapolates upon them to illustrate the things we do not fully know or understand. In this sense, it encourages its audience to have an open mind and look forward to hearing about something new, regardless of its base in reality.
In a sense, the podcast is a petri dish of ideas. The story-lines, told almost like a series of Twitter updates, are incredibly unique, and they offer a novel insight into many facets of everyday life. For instance, the daily “weather report” is a great collection of music–of many different genres and independent artists–none of which I had listened to previously. This unlikely exposure allowed me to discover new interests in music and inspired me to explore more niche genres. Night Vale is a playground for the mind. It encourages an untamed imagination and willingness to not only accept, but embrace, the unknown.
If you wish to take a listen, beware.

05 September 2013

Your Tube Socks Are Tacky

She’s standing by the window
In nothing but her tube socks and lingerie
Its price tag on the floor
Hair pulled up in a messy bun
Arms crossed over her naked breasts
With her glasses and perfect vision
Bare back to me and the stack of books
She never reads and talks so highly of
Disheveled sheets of her bed about my legs
Saying how the world is hers
So many places to explore
Things to experience
People to talk to
Photos to be taken with her expensive camera
Whose woven strap matches her purse
That’s lying on the floor beside the vintage record player
The scented candles and orange spice tea on the window sill
Mix together and collide in my nostrils
As she talks about the Louvre in her acquired French accent
How her professor knows how to wear a scarf
How this artistic life is fueled by hardships and broken hearts
When I opened doors for her
And paid for her Italian gelato
My selfish misogyny bound her like chains
And she needed to break free
To travel
Always to travel
Her pain and virgin sexual odysseys
Would drive the paint into her empty canvasses
Scattered about the room
She would write poetry in her favorite coffee shops
Fueled by the loss of love
Nine months long
Enlightened by her effeminate freedom
She breathed in the colliding scents and closed her eyes
Imagining the possibilities
As I slipped out of the bed and into my pants
Tipping over the king on the chessboard she rearranged
But never played
Its mahogany crown bouncing off the floor
She’s staring at me, forcing tears to her eyes
And I leave her with the only words
She will fabricate no meaning from


Your tube socks are tacky.

26 June 2013

Dewinterizing Trees

Jackets dangle from the knob by the door
Moist and frigid from winter’s grace
Cotton and nylon clothe the people
Skin gone dormant, awaiting the vernal wake
Snow and ice conceal the ground
Grass gone dormant, until the Spring rays
Winter departs and the coats fade away
Back in their closet
Or dripping into the soil
To nourish new life
Bare
Exposed
While the trees look on
Silently burning in sightless heat
Cover does not dissipate
Overheating in their woody coats
Without zippers, buttons, or straps
Caged in winter jackets
That return to no closet
Nor melt away into the roots
Trees living in vernal limbo
And solstice hell
Humanity does not extend its arm
To peel back the incidental prison
To save the floral towers
Trees must be dewinterized
Peel away the bark

12 June 2013

Crafty Penguins

Dear Rain,

            Go away. Come again another day.
            Just make sure to wash the sock afterward.
            I’m sure you’ve never heard that one before. All you kids these days with weird-ass names like Rain and Blue and September Breeze. You should see the shit that’s on my list. Your parents are assholes for naming you after Jesus piss. That’s the sort of shit that gets people on the naughty list. Not like your parents weren’t already on it, sorry for the image. It’s good to hear from you. I’m glad your laptop is virus-free. That malware scanner I gave you last year is doing its job I see. My apologies for all the updates. If you’re good, I’ll send you version 6.0.4. Big bribe, huh?
            Not sure if the “How are you?” in your message was rhetorically courteous, but I’m going to spend the rest of this letter answering that question. Didn’t know you were opening the Pandora’s box, did you? Never know what I’m going stick under your tree.
            Anyway. Lo were the days my work was done up north. I miss it in a way, like an unwanted dosage of commercials between episodes of your favorite sitcoms. After too many years of channel flipping, fast-forwarding live television and snoring through clever insurance ads with talking lizards, you start to miss seeing ads for over-the-counter sleeping drugs. That’s where my profession lies now. Stuck in an ephemeral realm of nostalgia and ill-conceived abandonment for infrastructure. Moving south was a challenging experience for all of us, especially the Mrs.
            My reindeer are long gone, turned into Christmas sausages I suppose, maybe sent to a glue factory, I’m not quite certain, nor do I wish to be. Amazon Marketplace is my new means of delivering gifts. Kids send me their virtual shopping carts now. All I have to do is punch in my credit card number.
            The ice down here is sub-par and there are no colorful lights from the aurora borealis. The snow doesn’t glisten quite the same nor is the work anything close to satisfying. I miss my underpaid midget minions especially. The crafty penguins I have aren’t quite the same. They’re just slaves with white collars and lack the ingenuity of my past workers. Their flippers are annoying, always clapping on the inadequate ice, their beaks are stupid and I don’t respect them, like women. CEO Santa sold his sleigh for a server farm. Damn connection rates are through the roof. I don’t get out much. I don’t get to paint upon the canvas of the sky. Metaphors and shit. We don’t even have a legit pole down here. Where’s a Merry Christmas for the Big Man when the Mrs. can’t even do her routine?
            I’m sorry, Rain. You’ve always been a good boy. No obscenities on your Facebook Timeline. No porn on your Tumblr. Although you’ve been trolling with Hitler jokes on YouTube, I’ll cut you a break because I’ve really enjoyed your Instagram this past month. I apologize your virtual cows for that new farming game came in late, so I’ll send one of the birds to create a bot-net for your Twitter following.
            Hopefully that satisfies all your wishes. If not, CC my executive penguin in the response. The stupid bird will take care of it.
            Happy Holidays, Rain. Hopefully you freeze and turn to snow for the season.

            Sincerely,
                        The South Pole Santa

08 June 2013

Sleepy Minds Meld Muck

Here are some mucky revelations my mind formulated in the half-conscious state of confusion it has recently been residing in





01 June 2013

Sign You Must, Method No Matter

Weary I am of signing my name for credit card authorizations. Unnecessary I feel for employing cursory handwriting with the single purpose of inscribing my name upon a confirming document. Boycott signing my legal name on paper documents perhaps. Inspired I am by Yoda, for reasons unbeknownst. Realign syntactical structure Yoda does, so realign the process of signing documents I mimic. This is my signature on a pledge to no longer inscribe my signature upon confirmations, validations, agreements, etc. In the words of T. Swift, standard signatures and I are never ever getting back together. Like ever.

Before the days when literacy was expected as commonplace, a large majority of illiterate individuals, upon signing a document, would inscribe their approval via the drawing of a single X in the signature field. While the anonymous X drawn was incredibly vague and looked akin to an X drawn by anyone else, the simple action of pressing pen to paper was seen as a binding statement of agreement. A paper contract could be brought back in times of dispute and the signature X, regardless of literature recognition, would still bind the signer to the agreement.

As literacy has become mainstream in first world nations, a customized signature pattern has developed, taking the notorious X a step further--inscribing one's name in swirling cursory handwriting. However, as increasingly more transactions are occurring online and e-signatures can take precedence, the value of these signatures lessens and focus ties back to the illiterate roots. Considering e-signatures take on a standardized look--via default text font--the actual look of a signature depreciates, regardless of its presence on a screen or paper. When the focus drops from a visual standpoint and back to the true emphasis on the action of signing, one can truly be freed from writing cursory signatures. One can draw a picture, dash a line, or simply scribble a dot.

To emphasize my belief in this slight societal/habit shift, I have adopted a new signature on all documents, receipts, formal agreements, etc. Instead of my cursive name, I now draw a cow. A simple circle and line drawing of a small cow. While this may take slightly longer than drawing a line or scribbling a name, it embodies the full extent of what a signature should be--a personal symbol of bonding. A cow picture can be unique as the slight extra effort to inscribe it makes it more personal and meaningful.

So let cows graze in signature fields.

16 May 2013

Killing Hiatus

After a rough month of exams, final projects, ending work, a trifecta of disease, and a full-body detoxification, I feel that I am now ready to leave the writing-free days of hiatus. For the past few months, I have let my writing go to atrophy while focusing on other areas of my life. Now that I seem to have gotten most things back in swing, I am ready to press pen to paper and fingers to keys and fill the gaping void in my life. Essentially, this brief post is my signing contract to get back in the habit and compose words (of some sort) daily. So here's to slaying the monstrous hiatus!

17 April 2013

Off The Screen

As we become increasingly more absorbed in technology and social media, the time we spend before screens becomes disproportionate to the time we spend IRL (in real life). We do not document our daily activities that exist off the screen and these, although mundane, can be the most important. We may live a screen lyfe, but we should not let the book of life gather dust. In this vlogumentary, a shortened attention span is mirrored and the cinematic flow (or lack thereof) plays a significant role in the overall piece.

Off The Screen [A Vlogumentary]

10 April 2013

Fabricating Fortitude in Geodesic Domes

A question often asked in technical interviews revolves around the shape of manhole covers. Piqued in order to engage one’s manner of thinking, this question can point at the power of circles and the ultrastrong nature of spheres. When there are no corners, no beginning or end, there is no singular point of weakness. The whole, gathered together, is strong. This is the idea behind geodesic domes–our potential homes and workplaces of the future.

But what is a geodesic dome?


This structure, while relatively simplistic, provides a much stronger support system than the majority of rectangular constructions. They contain a series of angled triangles that connect at pivotal points to offer a forcible strength. While they can embody a structure similar to a polyhedron, they represent an almost sphere-like quality similar to the shape of the globe, almost mimicking the skyline of the heavens. While the heyday of domes for residential purposes was back in the 1960s and early 1970s, the popularity of these domes has grown in recent years. With the rise of environmental awareness and the ever-increasing need to feel unique as populations expand, the idea of owning and/or operating out of a geodesic dome becomes appealing. They offer a lot of potential for both personal and communal use.

While using a geodesic dome to build a home is energy efficient, eco-friendly, and easy to build in comparison to a contemporary rectangular construction, the unique appeal of the design can set a residential home apart from its neighbors.  The possibilities for both the interior and exterior expressions with these domes is as limitless as their spherical design. Talk about curb appeal.


There are also a number of domes used for communal and commercial purposes, from Antarctica to Australia and from China to the United States. Many domes have the capacity to hold many more people than traditional large structures of a box shape. These often are seen from a distance as a landmark and unique specimen to an area. There are several sports complexes, such as the Superior Dome, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as well as botanical gardens and amusement parks (Disney’s Epcot). Entire communities could exist beneath the arch of a geodesic dome, and the idea is quite appealing. There is currently a complex, know as the Eden Project, that contains several large domes that are used as greenhouses for the purpose of containing thousands of floral life from around the globe. Perhaps we like mimicking or field of existence, our planet, on a smaller scale. The future relationship we could foster with these domes will speak volumes about the progression of architecture and man’s consciousness for both the planet and the human race.


Imagine entire cities of geodesic domes.

03 April 2013

Out of Our Pores

Hair is said to be stronger than rope. When wrapped together, strands of hair can become unbreakable bonds of keratin. Whether it be on our heads, faces, arms, legs, chests, toes, or any combination of these, most of us have this substance seeping out of our pores. It is strong, it is powerful, and it has potential. Whether or not we employ this potential for the sake of expression, it remains. We call it hair.


As humans, we are mammals, and unlike many of our kind, evolution has carried us to become significantly less hairy creatures over time. Despite the fact that we have so little hair in comparison to our comparable animal species, such as dogs, gorillas, and woolly mammoths, much time and management goes into the industry of caring for and dealing with hair. We care about the color, the length, the texture, the way its shaped, its thickness, its volume, its body--and how it represents us as members of a civilized culture. The social constructs behind hair, this natural part of our bodies, are pointlessly complex and restrictive. Women are expected to shave their legs and wax their bodies, becoming relatively hairless besides the hair on the top of their heads--of which they are expected to keep well-maintained and styled. Men are typically viewed in the opposite sense--to have hair on their bodies but short hair on their heads. While modern times have been able to minimize the stigma behind this constructed "rule," as women are typically seen to have hair of any length while some men sport long hair, there is still a clear distinction between the hair lengths and styles of men and women. Regardless of length, women are expected to have their hair styled and well-maintained, while there is no expectation for men. Breaking from this gender normative lens, additional constructs and expectations are formed for people who may be gender non-conformist. Also, despite this U.S.-centric lens, other cultures have different values behind body hair and acceptable hair styles. With all these factors playing into the boundaries for style, true expression over the artistic medium stemming from our bodies is censored by the culture we live in. In order to truly express oneself via hair, the individual must be willing to break the mold and not fear the snap judgments of other members of society who may fear this deviation from the norm.


Whether it be a woman letting her leg hair run wild or a man taking a curling iron to his beard, hair can become an expressive medium if given the chance to grow.

27 March 2013

Azuma Makoto & Pushing Plant Potential

 
Gardens are not the only venues to exhibit plants as a work of art. While many houseplants exist and conservatories with indoor botanical exhibits are growing in popularity, the true artistic potential of plants as a living medium for creative works is rarely expounded upon. The traditional display of plants can become tiring and uninspiring, as a single specimen of a series of plants is grouped together in an array of contrasting or complementary colors to elicit a desired aesthetic. Rather than display plants in potted soil or the natural setting of growing up from the earth, we should push for a radical change in display, pushing flora to its limits and expanding its potential as an artistic medium in a way not found in the natural world. Azuma Makoto cultivates the fullness of this idea.


Owner of JARDINS des FLEURS, a haute couture flower shop in Tokyo, Makoto specializes in both the artistic practice and client work of using trees, leaves, flowers, and moss to construct various pieces of art. While his customers receive state-of-the-art, highly customized floral arrangements to fit any form of their imagination, the embodiment of what Makoto can envision for his plants exists within his private work. Dozens of his displays have appeared around the world, each with a unique intent, from suspended trees to floral body suits. It can be considered among the most beautiful and unique practices in the world.

One of the most fascinating displays has been in suspending plants. Using the metal frame of a cube and a series of thin wires, Makoto strings up a variety of plants, giving them the effect of floating. Considering we rarely see a full plant—that is, we mainly notice the leaves and flowers and features of the plant above the soil—suspending the plant in open space allows us to visually explore the roots and finer points of the specimen from several perspectives, unbound by the earth. Like the ancient Japanese art of bonsai, Makoto incorporates small trees into his display, bending them in unnatural directions or exposing them to frozen environments for the sake of aesthetics and exploration.


In exploring the potential of the plant medium, it is interesting to dissect the human relationship with flora. While we are, in fact, fauna—animals—looking into the connection we have with our counterparts can incite many ideas. Makoto, in his “Leaf Man” exhibit, displays a metaphorical symbiotic relationship we can hold with our little green friends. Through employing plants, specifically leaves, as means of covering our bodies, we see that plants offer us shelter and cover. While we exhale carbon dioxide and they inhale it, they in turn fill our lungs with oxygen and offer the boughs we need to build homes. They conceal us, and we support them. Also, this display strangely mirrors the Garden of Eden and the Biblical need to conceal one’s body.


Makoto’s art does not end with the use of suspension and human coverage. In his “Collapsible Leaves” exhibit, Makoto limits his medium to only leaves, folding them in intricate patterns and combining them in ways to create a naturally-appearing product. He goes so far as to invert his plane of growth and direction by having bonsai trees grow out of a lush surface on a wall. Turning dimensions askew, Makoto challenges our perceptions of what plants can be and where they can be found. Altering the state of plants is an idea Makoto has whole-heartedly embraced. Via his work, he has pushed the potential of plants and unlocked greater avenues for future floral art.

19 March 2013

On the Mainstream and Tributaries

Fish swimming down a river are all going in the same direction. We are living beings coasting through existence toward a parallel end--death. Like salmon traveling upstream to spawn and perish, we follow along the routine path toward our final destination.  While segments of this stream may branch off into smaller tributaries and lead to slightly altered versions of the same thing--whether that be landing in a puddle of muck and suffocating in flapping gills or being crushed against rocks or pulled up by fishing nets--we end in death. The destination is fixed and final and only our means of getting there is what deviates on the individual level. Each journey is a story to be documented, although in the end it is the all the same book, just with lightly altered covers. Bound or unbound, we will end up as corpses on the shore and what will we have to show for it? The physical body is nothing in the end and no legacy can be traced into immortality. In order to achieve longevity we need a purpose, a meaningful reason to enjoy the deviations of tributaries. While we may bask in the waves of the mainstream like all the others, we can explore no individual pursuits when too afraid to take the side-stream or downplay those trying to avoid the current by labeling them as 'weird' or 'starved for attention.' We all need a chance to explore and take a side current, whether that be a daily ritual of personal expression or a lifestyle of homemade ambitions. Be sidestream. Not hipster, not flowing into the 'other' mainstream, but deviating into a winding tributary of unknown meanderings. Then embrace the end in open arms.

13 March 2013

Rooks, Knights, and Bishops, Oh My!

The greatest game of all time garners its beauty not only from the intricacy of its elegant design but from its variety of tastefully styled constructions. Chess derives from several ancient games intended to simulate war across the globe, and each contributes to the miraculous game that we all know and love. Specifically, chess draws its origins from the Indian chaturaṅga—a game containing pieces with similar movements to modern rooks, knights, bishops, and pawns, but called chariotry, cavalry, elephants, and infantry—and the Muslim shatranj—which has many similarities to both modern Western chess and the Japanese variant shogi. After chess was adopted into European culture, it fully became the standard F.I.D.E. (World Chess Federation) version we know today. While the game is an abstraction of war tactics and strategy, the design of its pieces gives it a classic and elegant feel that mirrors the brilliance of thought required to succeed in the game. In this regard, there are quite literally hundreds of variants in existence, which attempt to embody and exploit different aspects of the game and explore its further intricacies, whether that be increasing the number of players, the movements of pieces, or the shape and size of the board. Many of these deviations from standard F.I.D.E. chess are wonderfully amusing, and I strongly suggest exploring them at the Chess Variant Pages.


With so many varieties in existence, it is easy to see the impact chess has on the people subject to its addictive allure. Years are dedicating to exploring and mastering this game, and, as a result, it has become a quintessence of the human condition. At its heart, chess subsists of pure logic and rational thought. In this regard, it tends to employ the left-brain, which is often favored by society for the progression of accomplishment, in war, business, or development. However, while the game is mastered in understanding and applying this rational thought, the display of chess and the environment it operates in allows for creativity to play its part. Ergo, chess sets are some of the most brilliant pieces of art.


Many sets are traditionally beautiful, with hand-carved pieces or glass boards, many of which can be placed on display in homes for the sake of class and esteem. Some sets change the display of pieces, deviating from the traditional Staunton chess set which has been adopted by F.I.D.E. as the standard since 1924. These deviations can sometimes become more concrete, such as using figurines, which are designed as people or animals. Other times, they can become more abstract, such as finding a singular shape to stand for a known piece.


Not only are the pieces greatly altered, but the boards themselves can take on dynamic changes, whether that is scale or direction. There are several “life-sized” chess sets around that involve two to three foot pieces on a large ten-by-ten foot board. Also, the boards can have a variety of different colored pieces, separating from the standard black-and-white checkers. The most original design I have found incorporates a vertical board, where the game is played on a wall-hanging by moving pieces up and down a picture-framed surface.


Many variations of chess exist, from the concept of the game to the design of the pieces and board, but they all mirror the brilliance of the elegant game.

27 February 2013

A Call for Virtuous Video Games

I am not a fan of video games.

Mindlessly falling away into a realm of flashing lights and sounds of illusion is often a means to mental decay. Modern video games have become more concrete and closely parallel to society. People blast away at the avatars of others with artificial guns, peppering virtual bodies with imaginary bullets. The sights and sounds are brought to life before our eyes and the lack of abstraction takes us to a place we can perceive, without much thought, as reality. While this is often the basis for arguments against violent video games, I am not trying to debate against the content of these games, simply the premise and existence for them. At their core, they lack ingenuity. They are largely based off of war, sports, or racing, and while we typically may not  have access to the full extent of these activities in real life, the fact that these games are simply reflections of this reality does not aide in the mental development of players.

Video games need to be more intuitive, leaving more to the imagination and less to graphics. While technology becomes increasingly easier to use and manipulate, a higher creativity is required for furthering greater development. With fresh and innovative ideas, we can form technology as not only as a wondrous tool to eliminate grueling and grinding work (such as mindless data entry, etc) but a refreshing toy that teaches us how to think and learn.

We need technology to better our minds, not help them. VectorPark.com is a beautiful example of what improved technology can create. It breaks the mold for what video games have popularly become. It defines something new and strange, something that makes us think and learn, like children, developing a greater plasticity in which we can continue to learn and figure out the unknown. There is a small niche of these games in existence and they revolve around a philosophy of thought and intuition, rather than a dexterity of control. It challenges the mind by pushing the player into a flow state. If we, as a society, can learn to embrace the unique, the strange, and the challenging, we could develop a whole new line of video games and draw in a more intellectual audience that benefits society, rather than detract from it.


So start by playing Feed The Head, both for your intellectual and visual enjoyment. This game, like any form of art, holds the potential to inspire you.

25 February 2013

A Vlogumentary

Considering we spend so much time in front of screens, we might as well turn all of reality into screen life.
I have an idea for a long-term project. An ongoing documentary/vlog about the mundane aspects of reality that the Internet does not fully capture yet. Toothbrushing, showering, making the bed, walking, pressing elevator buttons, opening doors, tying shoes, preparing food, eating food, releasing food, talking, plugging in laptop chargers, breathing, zippering a backpack, folding sheets, pouring laundry detergent, drinking water, driving cars, filling cars with gasoline, opening cans, shaving, holding hands, buying groceries, mopping a floor, and smiling.
Each piece of this vlogumentary will highlight a different aspect of everyday living. There will be an entire segment focused on covering all aspects of trimming toe nails, for example, or swiping a Visa card at stores. Every time I clip a chunk of nail or fumble for my wallet, it will be recorded. The duration of each activity will vary on the topic. Toothbrushing may require 3-4 weeks of intensive filming while turning keys in locks may only require 48 hours.
I hope this project will help capture the fullness of what it means to be a modern day human. A 21st Century Homo Sapiens. Perhaps it will say something about the Do Easy method of living or the pointless amount of time we waste on simply surviving as opposed to prospering.
I think I will begin this project by filming myself eating. There is a lot to go off with this topic. Does the time of day I eat affect my appetite/mood? Does the food I consume affect my mental state, alertness, and/or emotions/personality? Is there a correlation between the type of food I consume and the time of day in which I consume said food?
I'm sure there is a proper scientific method for answering these questions and lots of thorough experiments I could apply to test and measure this, but I'll let more intelligent people do that job. I'll just start by recording.
The little red dot is blinking.

21 February 2013

Silicon Shuttles to a Synthetic State

On average, we spend <insert shockingly high but hopefully accurate statistic here> hours in front of a screen every day. These screens are windows to whatever we wish to see. The internet offers us places we’ve never been and people we’ve never met IRL. Our lives exist in front of them, our eyes scanning spreadsheets and two-dimensional newsfeeds when they were designed to perceive depth and location of prey we used to hunt. We have no reason to search after running animals when we can purchase preservative-pumped meat through online retailers. Computers take away our need to move beyond the glowing pixels in front of us.

With several hours spent before screens each day, one begins to wonder the aesthetic appeal of such devices. Is it the great graphics that draw us in? New Apple products are perpetually improving upon display and interface design. Is it the simple appeal of the Internet and the indirect connections we can make with other humans? Constant improvements on social media sites and web browsers are adapting to make these experiences increasingly easier to access, speedier, and more enjoyable. Whatever the case may be, we are spending exponentially more time before screens as “better” technology continues to develop. In this sense, a significant portion of our minds and presence exists within this virtual realm. We take up residence in our homepages and online media sites, but when we exit out of our browsers, we are faced with an image that overtakes our field of vision—our desktop.



Most often, these pieces of art are beautiful depictions of the real world, whether it is a panoramic view of mountains or oceans or a photo of family or friends. These pictures can be cycled and rotate, becoming abstract shapes and designs, but in whatever case, they are what we perceive as visually pleasant. If these images are constructs of actuality, as art is most often based off inspiration found in the real world, why is it that they make such a dominant presence in our virtual existence? Perhaps we are setting up a home in the screen, a place to find peace or silence when the world is loud or find action and life when reality goes dim? If computers are the places for our minds to explore and wander, the world is left to be a simple provider. Rather than be enjoyed or explored as a primary passion, it is a place we are simply stuck in and thus escape to the virtual realm. Beautiful desktop images serve as enjoyable views when glued to the screen. These pieces of art can be seen as indirectly evil, as they are offering a Land of Lotus leaves to our visual senses, enticing them to spend more time before the screen. For this reason, I have set my desktop to the most atrocious scene I could spawn:
 

Rather than waste away my years before a screen, lulled into satisfaction by misleading visual art mimicking the true beauty of the real world, I hope to spend less time in front of the screen and more time in reality. Despite the many great tools it can provide, the computer is a double-edged sword. We ask it questions and it answers them. If we ask it why we should spend more time in reality, it will give us an answer, perhaps even a good one, but it will lure us back to our virtual desktops.

Google, why do I ask you my life questions? And how does Yahoo always have the answer?

Maybe that’s why I spend so much time in front of this screen?

20 February 2013

When I fall, you call it flying with style

My wings unfurl in an impressive display
Of privilege, of power, of perfection
Muscles trimmed to an angular array
Ideal for flight in any direction
You assume I can soar
Go above and beyond this door
Out the window into the sky
Beyond the clouds, where the heavens lie
You think I'm some celestial Seraphim
Since I hold myself confident and trim
A book with a pretty cover and empty pages
Born in beauty, lacking substance for ages
A sham, a fake
No fish, a lake
A con with fidence
A mis with guidance
You think I'm the Tooth Fairy
And Santa with a beard so hairy
Like some epic hero with perfect flaws
Not a half-assed demon with unsharp claws
When I step off the ledge and spread my wings
You think I'll fly
But really I die
Plucking my feathers of potential
I fall

18 February 2013

The Journey for a Journey

I find myself at a crossroads. An intersection of various paths, each leading down different roads on diverse vehicles. I ask myself the cliche question: where do I go?

I've always loved projects. The process of generating ideas, filling them out, making a plan, setting deadlines, putting my mind to work, and building. Various projects have come and gone from my life, from novel-writing to painting to woodworking to fitness goals and self-improvement. All of these were journeys, but they were treks to the peak of a mountain, singular and finite. Although the path to the top was often grueling, with many setbacks and trials, I knew there was a goal at the end. There was something to work toward, be that a finished manuscript, a pair of workable stilts, or a new sense of self-confidence. Mountain peaks are an end. Rather than only climbing to a summit, I want to travel through a mountain range. I am searching for a journey without an end.

In the past month, I have finished writing the second draft of my novel. As the result of an impassioned month of word-vomiting in November, I created a sloppy first draft that I was relatively proud of and a piece worthy of the dispassionate editing that would follow during December and January. Being a traditional-medium book, it was the product of my longstanding commitment to writing. While this book offers many outlets for me to improve upon as a project (as I will have several more drafts to come), it is a mountain-peak project. It has an end. A bound and printed, sitting on a bookshelf, end. It is an end I plan to pursue, but nonetheless, an end.

I have had several ideas cross my mind for future projects, such as board games, films, pieces of sculpture, etc, and I am trying to sort through which of these will be bound or unbound, finite or infinite. For several years I have wanted to program a highly complex variant of chess. As a result, I have been learning computer programming to one-day fulfill this. In satisfying this, no matter how long the process to complete, it will have an end. I have drawn out loose drafts of scripts and screenplays, and have played with video-editing software in the hopes of eventually creating a masterful piece of film. While this goal may not be as reachable today as I had originally envisioned, the final destination for this work will be death--the end of a project. I have practiced painting and drawn out designs for furniture or ideas for sculpture, and even after pursuing and completing a handful of these, I know that any pursuit of them will terminate in a finished product, an end. Yet again.

Therefore, I am on a journey for a journey. A quest to find an ongoing project. Something that savors the trek and envisions no end. Perhaps I wish to grow and foster a relationship, be it emotional or mental, for the sake of ongoing growth and development? Construct a passionate courtship with an idea and strive for continual movement. I want something that replicates life. I want to enjoy my quest, as I strive forward with no predetermined end, as that is death. Ergo, what can I continue to build throughout my life? A journal? A photo album? A daily video recording?

I keep a journal of ideas, and plan to write at least 15 minutes everyday, but this is a practice akin to brushing my teeth or eating. I am inconsistent with taking photos and find this process to be meaningless and unrepresentative of life. Things like Instagram have created a universal portfolio for the world to share these similar snippets of instances. It won't do. How about videos? I have seen an ingenious work created by taking a one-second video daily and compiling the quick flashes over time to create a film of one's life. This is simple and brilliant, and something that should be surely spread to others as a form of self-preservation. I plan to try this general idea out, but I am not sure if it is what I am looking for. The relationship I seek with a project is something that can fully engage me over time, something that will require more than a second a day.

It is difficult journey to find. The process of seeking this journey will result in an end, an end to a new beginning of a never-ending journey. But where will I find this path? It is hidden and I have much ground to cover.

So I seek.