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in tokyo

we arrived in nihonbashi yesterday a little after 4:30. today plan to see the munch exhibit in ueno (think it`s the same one already saw (and loved) in moma x months ago) and, more importantly, hope to swing by julia`s nakaochiai gallery, also ben`s cafe, with brian, yamanote reminiscing.

oh, right, the bizarreness of yesterday, i used to live in nishi-sugamo, just off a street called jizo
dori, which is a famous shopping street for the silver-haired set. anyway, the nakasendo went right by my old apartment, where i lived for something like three-and-a-half years. never thought once, out shopping for groceries or whatever, that some of the people walking by were taking a stroll to kyoto.

also had to buy a train ticket at takadanobaba, and remembered that`s where i met mel for the first time, just smiling at each other while buying tickets, saying hi, striking up a conversation, going out all night, getting introduced to brian, so one cup senryu, yamanote, gomi, club ikebukuro, basically my life as it is wouldn`t have happened without brian, but that`s not something that usually occurs to me, just buying that ticket, looking around, really hit home. lots of tokyo memories, even just the subway ride from nihonbashi to takadanobaba on the tozai line, forgot how familiar everything is, i knew the stops coming up, iidabashi, omotesando, oh hey walking by mitsukoshi in nihonbashi, that`s where i used to meet marina for lunch sometimes, back in the day, so it was a trek through the more recent past yesterday, not hiroshige`s so much as my own.

some pics from day one (22nd october 2007, kyoto to kusatsu):

for mike renouard:

for mike renouard:

a week to tokyo

this time next week, if things go according to plan, which they will, we'll have arrived in nihonbashi.

nice routine, something like this:

oops, matthew is here, dinner time, hey that's part of the routine. dinner usually 6:00-6:30ish (start).

several business hotels coming up, won't be able to post pics but optimistic can blog.


frustrating not being able to upload pictures.

tired, each day long and full (even rest day today) - not only question of internet access, question of erik energy. walking is our primary task.

anyway, will attempt to super-briefly summarize a few experiences, it has already been a meaningful trip, about a quarter of the way in. not sure will blog more without pictures. so frustrating.

ok, leaving, board flight, sleep or try to sleep most of the time. person next to me looks familiar but that would be too much of a coincidence, right? nearing san francisco, for connection to osaka, finally start chatting, where are you headed, why, i say "actually i think i know you, didn`t we meet at a workshop?" and yes, it`s shisano, so we have during the descent to catch up before she heads to nagoya and i board a flight for osaka. feels like syncronicity, the odds are . . . not impossible, obviously, but the chances of being on the same flight, same day, then adjascent seats, i`m still surprised. happy, but surprised.

by the way every night here i`ve had strange dreams. last night there were people in the subway whose heads had been replaced by plants (growing out of their necks, where their heads used to be). they could "see" but not speak, very creepy. part of a government experiment i think.

ok so kyoto, mattew and i get together, we have a sit-down let`s-talk-about-the-art-project meeting at a coffee shop, and come up with a document:



- evening meeting to discuss prints relating to subsequent day`s trek

- if something is collected, it may not exceed the weight of the current pen nor the size of an A4 (8 1/2" x 11") piece of paper

[coffee stain] <- extraneous coffee (which was awful)

- meetings, as practical, ought to occurr in coffee shops (not hotels)

- trade/barter found objects, and share all photos at the end of each day and/or the end of the journey

- collect travel brochures, etc. for use as background graphics

- will each end up with one collage per walking day

- endeavor to find the literal elements in hiroshige`s prints (e.g., a threesome of women in light travelling garb)

- during evening meeting, choose tasks for following day including following evening


looking at this piece of paper now, most of it no longer applies. walking is the thing, and everything else, well, it isn:t quite fair to call it "secondary" - way down there, low low low priority.

jidai matsuri, festival in kyoto, more of a parade, goes backward in time, further and further away from the present, people dressed as historical figures, fitting to see before we started out (one of the main reasons we chose to walk to tokyo from kyoto rather than vice-versa was so we`d be walking forward through time, from the ancient capital to the new capital, the other biggest reasons being that kyoto is at a higher altitude than tokyo so it`s ultimately a down-hill journey, and also greater chance of seeing autumn leaves changing color since we`re heading north should therefore hit them at some point, rather then missing them and chasing them the whole way, or leading them and the leaves are changing behind us - this way, we should see some. already a few, but still just a few.)

then meeting up with john wells, a significant person in my life - friend, guru, collaborator, object of worship, enigma, bringer of friends. anyway he seemed to grasp what we`re doing better then we do, basically an "assault on convenience." not sure if those are his exact words, which i have written down on a scrap of paper somewhere (up in my room, hopefully, standing here at a lobby in the comfort inn opposite gifu station typing this) but that`s how we remember/interperet his message, and it comes up at least once a day.

next morning, on the way to matthew`s hotel i pass men painting the street, which i consider to be a good omen. we ask a taxi driver to drop us off prior to crossing the sanjo bridge so we do it on foot, and begin our journey. lots of hills, narrow roads. all this is days ago, amazing how much longer it feels, we see so much walking, time seems to extend, if that makes any sense.

right, so the art, we changed it after the second or third day, we were too tired to complete our tasks and matthew was frustrated by the travel brochure selection in [wherever day one was]. not much local, everything the same, national tours. as for me, couldn`t imagine bending over to pick up something, or add a single scrap of paper to our loads. in fact, threw out a garbage bag in an attempt to lighten my not-very-heavy pack (but it feels heavy after say mile seven, and then still thirteen miles to go). anyway, the current plan is, we take pictures. especially me. lots and lots of pictures (i`ve started shooting short video clips more, but any still frame can be taken as a pictorial image). we`ve each promised to share all our photos with each other. then, we each make collages, using our images. then, there are some other things i think we want to do, anyway i want to do them, but i'll get to that in a minute. the tasks, i don't know if we're going to keep talking about those, the ones we managed to complete the first couple of days (easy ones like "viewing the moon") i have written down, again, on a scrap of paper upstairs in my room.

in the mornings, though, we do look at hiroshige's prints, over breakfast, before setting out. the prints matching the spots we`re passing that day. and we do refer to them occasionally throughout the day, but my hands are usually busy, camera in one and feeding self snacks with the other. constant clicking, constant chewing.

right, so the next day, more walking, and that`s how it has gone. a lot of walking. the rain made it harder to keep shooting pictures, or write anything down, there were two days of it, but this week should be sunny, according to the weather forecast.

what we have seen, it`s better for me to upload pictures in the future. but we saw a troupe of monkeys crossing a mountain road two days ago.

today, rest day, we went to nagoya, and i was able to introduce shisano to our good friend hitomi. ate hitsu mabushi for the first time. properly.

think better for me to go to sleep rather than blog. not sure if this is coherent, if that matters. mentioned the can`t-share-the-pictures frustration? that`s all i need to share for the rest of the trip, really. incredibly frustrating not being able to share the pictures.

rest day

as the sun was setting, we arrived in gifu, first moment of blue sky after roughly two days of rain. trek has been often small roads, sometimes highways and a couple of trails through fields or woods. we often walk single file so cars can get by, frequently elbow-to-bumper with trucks.

before leaving kyoto we had a stimulating, productive meeting in which we clarified our approach to the art project. we`ll talk about it more today, and i`ll post related thoughts later, internet availability pending of course.

long time no blog

arrived kyoto yesterday. matthew is standing here, tomorrow we set out, first day, excited.

have seen orange, blue, green, yellow, and white traffic cones, maybe can`t upload pics until return. also orange-and-black striped, and other colors with white stripes.

weather fantastic. food amazing. shoes comfortable.


the moon was breathtaking

have fallen out of the habit of carrying my camera with me at all times, just over the past couple weeks. think it started with water fear. yes have special case but bulkier than just-camera-in-pocket, enough so that necessitates carrying backpack. and yes, have been carrying backpack, want to get used to some weight, but think the real reason is to free up my mind a little bit. i think it's to try to imagine ways of sharing the kisokaido experience. we're talking about making collages and taking pictures. is what we're seeing going to be the most important part? are there other ways to convey what we experience, maybe more effective? not sure if anything else would suit us more. in the meantime, equipment gathering (got the rain jacket yesterday) and getting into shape are most pressing, nice to just focus on that, somehow.

so i can't show you the moon.

yesterday was really hot, only did about eight or nine miles. today, though, think was sufficient.

oh, i can show you this, michael found and gave me some luck.

and you can believe i appreciate the support. merci.

the temporariness of priorities

so, short-term, my focus has shifted quite drastically, and it's going to hopefully shift somewhere new in a couple of months. can't know that now, of course. but expect, anticipate.

it's the morning of august 25th. the first walk, from kyoto to wherever (it's all in the wiki) (details) is october 23rd. so, thursday made a commitment, let's see if i keep it, a priority. want to be in shape. want to succeed in our walk. want to see what hiroshige saw (or rather would see today) (although today he'd take a train or fly so this is all a bit silly perhaps but hopefully we get that and are ok with it). training, therefore, is the biggest thing for me right now. want to get injured? want to flake out and hop on a bus? no, and no. walking, without pain, being able to concentrate on what we're looking at, and thinking about, and talking about, that's part of the kisokaido goal. entails, right now, significant investment of time and effort. the intention is to walk at least ten miles per day every day until we leave. will probably miss a few. but at this point would rather miss an art experience or meeting up with friends than miss a walk.

so august 23rd (thursday) did twelve miles

and yesterday (august 24th friday) eighteen miles

today the ongoing quest for a rain jacket will continue, did get pants, and more shoes

what about finishing chess before i leave? had intended to show it next week, then mid-october - now thinking it can wait. as nice as it would be to declare self "finished" and move onto something else, want it to be as good as i can make it. don't think that can happen before fly-to-japan-day.

what about video experiments, programming experiments, painting, drawing, taking pictures, more art creation? it's nutty, very weird feeling, saying all of those things are secondary right now. can't remember feeling that way. maybe when i moved last. the hope is that the kisokaido project will push all those things forward. matthew and i will likely collage together. who knows what we'll come up with. but it won't happen if i can't make each day's trek, and that won't happen without sincere, dedicated training now.

after a month of wandering, away from my life here, what will seem most important?

what will the-art-i-want-to-engage-in-making look like, in my imagination?

the living room

brainstorming session tonight, a few of us think there are some connections worth exploring and are putting together a group show. inspiring to look at work, figure out what's already there, waiting to be related. quick scouting trip up to boston next weekend? repainting (from unpainting)? chess? tea? domesticity = ?

biggest wake-up jolt was "continuum" exhibition method - distinct separate bodies of works (by individual artists, not collaboration) but we show them in such a way that it's a seamless transition from viewing one work to the next, placing props in the space?

we all seem to fit, it's fascinating, when things go so well together that you might not necessarily think would go well together. i think all of my art has been like that, maybe. or should have been, or strove to be.

reaching out

super-cool space

one of the things they offer is advice

today my twenty minutes with curator meredith stretched to forty, very supportive, gave me a boost

everyone at creative time works under a halo

chess = real

set up current version of chess in my studio today, just need to finish the video rendering (maybe two weeks), bigger issue is getting it seen, still working on where to show...

landmark day

big thing, chess programming is complete. yeah i had a version ready for e32 a few weeks ago, but that was "hey, this is along the lines of what i was thinking, and it's a piece, still a work in progress but it works." now is "this goes a little bit beyond what i originally set out to create" (which is of course how you want it, when you start a project, it should grow, or is there any point in pursuing it?).

and in primate reinforcement was told if there were grades, i'd have received an a. today was final class, archways into nowhere.

fatigue is inevitable. on the thirty-block walk home, with the sketchbook and t-square and textbook and newspaper in the portfolio bag, laptop plus one hardcover and one paperback in backpack, did project my feelings a bit onto this cone a few blocks from my place

it got worse, though. sometimes people leave stuff on the landings of my building. i do it too. a day or so, and then the sidewalk or the trash, but first see if anyone wants it. lamps, scarves, magazines, there's a new york post most days, i got a really nice grater once - anyway, today it was depressing, original art pieces.

thought briefly about trying to do something with them, but feel pretty much that the projects i'm involved in (chess and kisokaido mostly, plus other stuff on my brain for after they finish) are pushing me to my limits. thought about doing something with guenter again, but the walking, and i need to be doing a lot more of it, it takes time.

started researching hiroshige a bit, for all my fandom really don't know anything about him, not reading a biography yet just seeing what's on the web - anyway, he walked it, and did his work, apparently, from memory. i don't know if he sketched or what. i was taught corot could glimpse a wooded glade from a train window as it sped past, and then in his studio paint the scene exactly as it appeared.

point? after you see art abandoned, you think, try harder. and then you remember your heroes, who tried harder. and then with the mild breeze in the plaza, hearing the fountain back up the keys clicking, relaxing after a full day, you might, if you're me, be really excited, far more than exhausted, to see what might be possible, in the evolving realm of artmaking.

so close

no remaining feasibility hurdles (i don't think), just a bit of work (not too much) and some decisions (aesthetic).

finally got this part working (dynamic mask, each of the sixty-four squares will decide whether or not to show what's under it)

which was part of my original vision, enabling this (so, the squares which aren't showing one thing, are showing something else, either a different point in time of the same game, or a point in time of a different game, that's one of the decisions).

the aesthetic choices: show translucent layers? had this idea that a ghost before for positive squares and post now-time for negative squares would illustrate the light-vs-shadow worlds a bit. that's the main one, use translucencies or not? biggest sticky issue is, think really slows down speed, video not smooth already. but again, that's something that could change with a different machine. other pause = this is already a bit confusing, maybe, to the eye, a lot of things happening at once. might look really neat but might push it into what-the-hell-am-i-looking-at instead of hey-cool oh-i-get-it. quite prefer a bit of mystery, but if it doesn't need it, it's overdone and that becomes a problem. remember part of my original concept was to avoid translucencies, had been leaning on them quite heavily for the always-looks-different expression of my goal to make work which feels new to me. since the chess board is so broken up by nature, seems like that's more suitable. ok, no translucency, dilemma solved.

show two or three games at once? early idea was three. also flirted with two different times of one game. well, chess is a game with two players, two colors of squares - it's two. that idea of three, that was before making half the squares negative, and projecting onto a chess-patterned surface, those only arose into the project a ways. i think with those things going on, three falls into the "yeah confusing and yeah more complex but does it add anything no" category. another dilemma solved. actually that's both, the two different points in time of the same game, i want to show more, i think that will be a bit more. more = what? fuller. powerful. interesting. engaging. whatever. more.

ok sticking with these choices and hope to complete the programming phase tomorrow. editing (rendering actually) still under way.

the way is clearer

frustrated with some choppy (slow) dynamic video, and wondering if some visual effects were really doing the right thing, today tried some different methods of getting chess to do what i want it to do. each time i had something work a new way, it performed exactly as well (or as poorly) as before.

so, now the choice is an aesthetic one. do i want more points in time playing simultaneously, and different transparent layers, or nice smooth video and a maximum of two points in time, all flat? since my hunch is it's going to be slightly rough anyway, i'm leaning towards doing it exactly as intended. there's still one possible way to smooth it out, i think, and there's also the hope that it can get shown on faster machines than i've been using. probably i'll end up with two versions, and make a last-minute decision on which to use. even if the problem disappears, i still need to make that choice. it's a tough one, i was wrestling quite a bit today. the expression of an idea isn't always best expressed by exact illustration of that idea. you might show something similar and convey that thought/feeling more clearly, more immediately. just a few smoldering embers at the edge of a vast black pit and we imagine what the inferno must have looked like.

not yet

yes chess programming is much further along, but there's still more i want to do

at 6:30 decided finishing it tonight was a false deadline, and went for a walk (11.2 miles), along the river while the sun was setting

but i didn't take any pictures of the sunset

incremental progress

yesterday, if you had told me "you'll be able to show different points in time, and positive or negative, in a patterned mask, in layers" i would have been thrilled, and thought yes, that's enough. but i would have been wrong. made that happen this morning, and all of a sudden, feel the lack of functioning transparency.

once you achieve whatever was blocking you and you push past it, there's something else, immediately following, which isn't quite the way you want it. is it solvable? all i can say is, by tomorrow night i should have a second working prototype of chess, constructed entirely differently, which should be a lot closer to what i want to do. if i can't get it all the way there by tomorrow night, maybe it will take another week, or maybe i have to build it differently. but i believe there's a way and i'm getting closer to finding it.


well, this might not look chess-related

but i'm still trying to figure some things out. none of this stuff necessarily comes naturally to me, it's not really what i long to do, but the result usually makes it worthwhile. definitely learning, so even if it's slow going, knowledge and skills being built.

if this stuff looks simple, let me know if you want me to explain some of it to me. if not, we're in the same boat, this is what i was working on today, trying to get some code-based things i want chess to be able to do working, trying to figure out what approach might actually work.

sometimes it's a bit of a struggle, knowing that there are more intuitive things i could be doing, but if this is what the art i want to make requires, it's part of the deal. try to appreciate that it pushes me, but there's a bit of yearning, to just paint something, or shoot some video, or take a picture...

title of post goes here

and if i wanted to write something, it would go here

but it would be superfluous


three point perspective

don't even think about the tools anymore

silence is good

a recent study found that brain activity increases dramatically when there's a pause in a piece of music. tonight's ape meeting (aesthetic purposes exploration) had fits and starts, quiet moments, and thoughts were churning. tough discussion sometimes equals learning.

not such clear notes, but feel gained some conviction, bad art often gets labeled gratuitous, lacking in purpose, senseless. so, good art must have a purpose, right? and "powerful" - eliciting an emotional/mental response - bad art can do that too, nausea, revulsion - that's pretty brief, seems a little obvious, we veered off into some side topics and there were many picky sticking points, trying to be honest and considered, is this really important? am i convinced this is what i believe?

what can something i make do for you?

lookin' for tasks

matthew and i had a little memory-based disagreement this evening. luckily the evidence was at hand.

back in the day, i'm guessing late ninety-six, he started teaching me about the situationists, and we talked a lot about art that wasn't art, or living in a way that was where art is meant to take you. i think. this is back in the day, after all.

anyway, the situationists used to do these wanders, i think they were called. very much about games, and living an aware life, and making the absurd apparent (i think).

matthew and i used to engage in some activities which seem overly mundane but became ritualistic, i think that was another part of it, we were already trying to do things, not just hang out and talk, but take silly or strange pictures, etc. anyway, i think, again this is all memory, as a result of both years of messing around with paint, drawing, collage, photography and video, and then the introduction of the situationalists, we decided to invent a "game" which was sort of a participatory art piece. most of this was probably his instigation.

it was called, eventually, lookin' for cats. it involved cards, and i forget what else. i do remember that if we saw a cat we all had to race back to home base (my apartment).

what sparked the memory, though, was our discussion of the art project aspect of our kisokaido journey. defining tasks to be completed each day is something we're both excited about, for a number of reasons. i like the "feels-like-work-yet-fun-and-absurd" aspect. matthew likes the "we're-not-necessarily-creating-a-product-or-engaged-in-artifact-making" feeling, rather the
sensation that it's something we're engaged in purely to enrich our experience (and perhaps other people's lives as well, particularly if we interact with them, or document and share the tasks). one task he proposed for consideration is helping someone every day. i think this is already done as a matter of course in some cultures. doesn't feel like art, but definitely feels like something we both want to do, so yes, this is a way we're very very likely to go (not excluding anything or committing to anything yet). as a high school student in china for a few weeks, out running one morning with two friends, we helped push a stone-laden cart up a long hill, i don't know how long it would have taken those guys otherwise, that's maybe my most enduring (and favorite) memory from that whole trip.

anyway the disagreement. i remembered my favorite rule of the game (probably it was my rule right?). oh yes, in addition to cards and wandering, a clown nose was involved. i forget the rules involving the clown nose (wouldn't surprise me if i do have this notated somewhere, but want to go to sleep rather than hunt for it). anyway, whoever drew a certain card, or whatever happened that triggered the role-status or change of situation, one of the players was allowed to pose the other players as he wished and take a picture. (matthew had no memory of this part of the game. well, brother, hope this reminds you.)

saw this sign.

when it was my turn to wield the camera, i asked matthew and michie to strike the pose illustrated in the sign.

this task-definition is really feeling like something we're both going to get very involved in. it's the big question of everything, really. what exactly is it that you want to do? right now? every day? what do you want to do?

matthew even said asking for suggestions might be an interesting approach. anything you want us to do, taking less than one minute, once per day, while we walk from kyoto to tokyo? all ideas welcome, to be seized or deemed not-something-we-want-to-do. definitely open, though.

if you can figure out a way to relate it to hiroshige or woodblock prints, that's a bonus.


during chess rendering

was thinking about the nature of different activities, and how we define them. bob and bob used to set up rodeo rodeo, i read in a book. little plastic action figures, a rodeo, when they were living in i think beverly hills, rodeo drive. daily. matthew and i used to make lists. when i visited new zealand maybe two years ago, we would make up a list in the morning, and cross the things off during the day. maybe this will be something we're both keen about. sixty-nine tasks, something we need to do at each stop on the kisokaido. observe the sun for a minute, or pick up all the litter we see for five minutes, or do six thirty-second sketches - don't want to speculate about the nature of the
activity, but defining an activity, to be performed together, as a ritual maybe is one way to think of it, which will work towards developing a piece of art which we can create and share, might be something we're both keen on.

then i saw the shadow people.

this isn't photoshopped, the sun was hitting buildings beyond the reservoir while joggers ran by closer to me down below. we can all become as flat as we want, completely shallow, two-dimensional. if we want. or we can choose a different way, fill up ourselves, our lives, expand. find new dimensions. shadow people became shallow people. and i thought matthew and i are really going to want to make this trip meaningful. all this planning, training, feels fairly ambitious, what are we going to learn? i think it will be deepening no flattening no matter what. but a bit of thought and effort and the degree could increase. so variable. i don't want to be flat. i'm afraid of being defined by tasks, but i don't know how else to create something. maybe definition, which is limiting, is a precondition to further freethinking, which is enlightening. paradox. limits = freedom. we will do x, which will occasionally prevent us from doing y or z, but which will teach us about q and k, which we otherwise would never have considered. and years from now, we'll still benefit from the lessons of q and k. maybe someone else will as well. that's the hope of today.

more of the same

during chess rendering

was able to do some walking yesterday

and today

training again

leery of peaking too early, and unwilling to commit so much time, had cut back on the walking a bit. now we're under three months before beginning our trek, getting into shape and building up endurance a priority again. 10 miles yesterday, along with chess progress which will continue today and tomorrow.

last night, thought "beauty unimportant. truth and beauty no. truth important. beauty irrelevant." might free me up a bit (and result in something more beautiful).

technical challenges

spiral staircases last night, really tough at the beginning, but after a few attempts, started coming easier.

turns out i didn't forget to hit the export button before leaving for the weekend. for some reason it just no longer works. don't think i have done anything differently and can't imagine what changed - so, mysterious problem, in the meantime pushing on one-at-a-time instead of automating a bunch of them. may figure it out. ron posited the possibility that there is another way, an easier, more efficient, less time-consuming way, and one may have occurred to me, but that will involve testing/research to see if it's possible. either way, chess is still coming along, gracelessly.