Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cruising With Elsie

After having Elsie serviced a few weeks ago, it's time to enjoy the warm January afternoon sun in California.  I drive her about 15 miles a week just so she's happy and runs well.  She loves the streets above Day Creek Blvd overlooking the cities of Etiwanda and Fontana.  Today was 80 deg F, the winds having died down and was just absolutely perfect.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In Search Of Language

I've always been interested in communciation between any two unique beings with enough cognitive skills as well as how a common language is developed.  The pool of beings who speak this language grows as time goes on and at some point, the origin of that language is lost in antiquity.  I also have long pondered the question of how we, earth creatures can communicate with extra-terrestrials if contact is made at some point.  I believe that the method that will work will need to have both a solid mathematical basis as well as a simple visual interface.  After all, language really is just a construct of symbols and combinations of symbols that a group of users share.  Language also exists to allow man to talk to machine.  Computer languages at the lowest level consists of simple binary instructions to electronic switches.  At the next level, groups of predefined binary instructions form a single available directive to accomplish a complex series of tasks.  Define enough of these stringed-directives and you have a words and soon enough, a complex vocabulary.  At the highest level, you end up with what you have in modern computers, GUIs.  Since I don't have any formal art training, I continually struggle to communicate my ideas to others who are versed in the language they teach at art school.  I am more comfortable when speaking in the language of the natural sciences and mathematics.  So I had come up with several constructs that are relatively simple ways of representing visually a number system.  The real beauty for me is the existence of hidden mathematical structure within the seemingly visual random image.  And unless the viewer is cognizant of the decoder ring, they will not see its inherent elegance.  This had always fascinated me in the natural world from Newtonian mechanics describing binary stars to statistics methods explaining gas behavior.  As with my series of frameworks, the observer needs to find that mathematical pattern in order to see that there is hidden order underneath all that mess.  (Above is a representation of the 16 unique numbers using permutations of diagonal lines over spatial compartments of two sizes.  A common start-of-series and end-of-series patterns bookend any possible series consisting of any combination of the inner 16.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Visual Mathematician

I've taken about half a dozen IQ tests as an adult and after every test, based on the sections I did OK in, I had been profiled as a "visual mathematician".  I'm not sure what that really means other than I have above average math skills as well as above average visual logic skills.  I hadn't really paid too much to that description of me until recently when I realized that a good percentage of the artwork I had produced lately have a very definite mathematical structure behind them.  It started a few years ago when I used to dial in to teleconferences for hours on end and I doodled on engineering graphing paper to keep my sanity.  Pretty soon, I had algorithms that generate specific non-decimal patterns and had consumed several pads of the pre-lined paper.  Years ago, I learned that math provides the elegance behind physics and the natural sciences but only lately have I come to realize that math can also be the basis of visual aesthetics.  Today, I make drawings executed on graphing paper.  What I like about my grid drawings is that fact that underneath all the apparent chaos of each drawing is a hidden mathematical structure.  They're not too terribly complex but it does take a bit of work to see the numerical basis of the visual.  (Above is a current work in progress titled "Number 0 Through 48 In A Spiral Progression")

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Five Landscape Paintings (2007)

Not that kind of landscape painting.  Conceptual art is something I don't necessarily relate to nor something I find remotely interesting.  However, as my form of protest, I think it's a fairly convenient medium due to its simplicity and ease of execution.  As a way of poking fun at the art establishment, in particular art critics, I think conceptual art is both fitting and ironic.  Why on earth do these people have to speak in such flowery, incomprehensible language and pseudo technical terms that only they and their colleagues can understand -- no, actually, I doubt they even understand each other when they speak.  So this series I did back in 2007 is my way of saying that I'm just got so sick of artists and art critic using and abusing the word "landscape".  At some point, someone needs to tell these people to please just speak in normal English that average person can understand.  Kill the pretentious.  Using some stencil, black and white enamel spray paint and some cheap poster boards from Target, I think my commentary on the whole absurdity of the language of art speaks for itself.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sam Playing Drums

I decided to capture this point in Sam's drumming.  After about a month of lessons at Alta Loma Music, he's progressed to the point where he can actually play a simple tune like Alice In Chains' "Would".  We ended up moving the drums, all the amps and guitars to the living room and will probably keep it there for a while until we get the spare bedroom downstairs all soundproofed.  Sam's always had a good aptitude for music and seems to get it naturally.  I just hope he keeps this up and maybe he and JJ (and maybe me) can form a band someday.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Painting

I didn't execute a single painting in 2011 but just finished this one on a four-panel canvas last night.  Is this a trend for 2012 or will this be my one and last painting of the year?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stingray Project Update 1/12/12

The Corvette finally got new wheels this week.  I got some replica Chevy rally wheels from Eckler's and had the rims painted Can-Am white at Avalon Collision in Rancho Cucamonga.  The period correct color for the rims is gray but I thought a matching color to the body would work better aesthetically.  To finish the retro look, I put them on a set of Firestone Firehawk radial tires.  This should be the last of the exterior work on the car.  The next focus is the interior upholstery and carpeting.  To think it took over 10 years to get the car to this point is frustrating but I'm finally there.  And by the way, this 69 Stingray is now officially named "Betty".  Vroom vroom.  For comparison purposes, this is what Betty looked like a little over a year ago as I rolled her out of the driveway in our Pasadena house.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Overheard At Starbucks (1/6/12 1030am)

At the Starbucks on Day Creek Blvd and Highland Ave today, it took me long enough to put 2 packets of sugar and cream in my decaf iced Americano to take note of this male in his early 20s recounting his New Year's Eve to another male and a female.

"I was mixing all sorts a drinks, you know.  I was kinda hangin' out cause all the old people went home early.  Then I was singing that song, you know, that lang syne, the one like Star Spangled Banner, you yeah, I kinda started the new year right, you know."

A few things came to mind besides wishing I had a tape recorder to capture his monologue.  First, I wonder if I am the "old people" who goes home early.  Not sure what early is these days anyway.  Second, I never thought Auld Lang Syne even remotely resembles our national anthem.  Either he is tone-deaf or just haven't heard either song enough to tell any melodic or harmonic distinction.  And speaking of starting the year right, I rode 1500 miles last year on my bike without a single flat.  And today, my first ride of 2012, I flatted on my way out, thankfully, less than a mile away from home.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Rediscovering Music

When the kids started taking bass and drum lessons in November last year, I knew that not only was an opportunity for them to learn new instruments, but also a chance for me to get back into playing guitar.  The last couple years, I tried hard to pick up the acoustic or electric but it was just to much of a time commitment that conflicted with work (and last year, cycling).  Good thing, both my kids share the same musical taste, more or less, as me.  That means they wanted to learn Radiohead, Pearl Jam, U2, Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd etc. -- stuff I pretty much know already but haven't played in years (but thanks to the internet, I can look up any song in seconds).  And most importantly, I'm playing all my guitars again from the Taylor acoustics to the Strat to the classical guitar.  Thinking back, the kids are about the same age I was when I learned to play the guitar and although I haven't played much lately, my guitars are always there like old friends waiting to be reacquainted.  With all of 2012 in front of us, I'm forecasting a fairly music-heavy year of lessons, jamming, recitals and a few concerts for the year.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Reflections And Formed Patterns

I took several of these Fuji Instax instant photos on Christmas eve and had them sitting in the studio table the following morning.  As I rolled out of bed, I noticed the morning sun's reflection on the wavy surface of each glossy instant print.  I took the camera (other, digital) and after playing around with the exposure settings, I was finally able to capture the patterns that I'm hoping will become the basis of a new drawing series for 2012.  What looks like diffraction patterns are in reality, just simple rays of light that can be traced geometrically, as they filter through the east-facing window blinds and reflect on the print surface.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Weegee In Los Angeles (Pacific Standard Time #7)

My seventh Pacific Standard Time visit was to MOCA Grand Ave yesterday, New Year's Eve.  It was one of those quick hour and a half visits because every LA institution closed at 3pm on the last day of the year.  I got there around 130pm just enough to ingest what the photographer Weegee (Usher Fellig) produced in his 4 years (1947-1951) in Los Angeles.  What the exhibit gave me more than anything is an appreciation for what we have today in compared to life in the late 40s.  Some quick thoughts as I was going from gallery to gallery:
1) Has there ever been a photographer who worked in Los Angeles who didn't take pictures of celebrities?  Bet Weegee would have done the Kardashians if he were alive today.
2) I wonder how Weegee would have appreciated Photoshop?  Several galleries showed his analog manipulation of images to produce more interesting composites except he used a variety of techniques primarily special lenses, filters, etc.
3) Whatever happened to all those men's magazines from the 50s?  The print sizes of those rags were such that they fit in a man's inside jacket pocket, somewhere between the size of an iPad and an iPhone.
4) I need to get a copy of Weegee's New York (1948) -- a movie that was shown but restored to opening day quality.
5) I still find it a real stretch to consider tabloid photography as art.  It's like saying TMZ is eligible for a Pulitzer prize.  Either way, who am I to decide what is or isn't art.
6) Now, I'm really curious how his work before and after working in LA looked like.  It would be interesting to contrast his work and see if it got better or worse.  Working in LA has that effect on anybody who has spent any extended period of time here.  Could be the filthy air or dirty sex or abundance of celebrities or some combination thereof.