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stacked traffic cones, daylight shows through

hours later, another stack, another kind of luminescence

traffic cone dreams

well, i think about traffic cones daily pretty much, over ten years i think, at the beginning wondered if it was silly or serious and if i'd still think they were interesting down the road - eventually have come to the conclusion that you can say they embody the paradox i see in the nature of everything - so the answer would be "yes" (silly/serious).

anyway this past week cones very high priority art-thinking. want to make a proposal, trying to
distill so many projects (want to do) into one or a few (really want to do, more than the others) - it's been a very valuable exercise. what do you really want to do? what does an hour feel like, a morning feel like, a day feel like? if you say "i want to be an astronaut" that means much of your life spent studying math? or what? i don't know. but i bet it means very little time actually spent in space. if i want to make art, which i do, and it's going to involve traffic cones, which it usually does, what will my role be? painter? photographer? that is a big part of how i think. not just "i want to see this work" or "i want this art to get made" but "can i make this work?" and "what would i have to do to make this work? is that what i really want to do? is that the kind of artist i want to be, the kind of life i want to live?"

so i'm almost there. three projects could throw self (and hopefully others would want to be involved, or at least be willing to help) into, will figure out how to present to non-erik-humans over next fourty-eight hours or so.

in the meantime, let me tell you this: my sister-in-law had a dream in which i had made an experiencial art piece involving traffic cones. very much in line with some of the concentrated brainstorming i've been engaged in this week. now there's definitely a coincidental aspect, i babysat for my niece last saturday, and went and had breakfast with them, my brother and my mom today, and she knows i'm really into traffic cones, so i'm not saying "oh man we have this powerful psychic link." but i think it's neat that those things are connected in her mind at a non-waking-state level, and that she was dreaming about below and above cones, which is where the breakthroughs have been coming for me. i do find it an auspicious omen that she dreamed i had some sort of connection involving arranging experiencing traffic cones in an aesthetic manner in a very public place. i
believe this will give me confidence to submit a very achievable, unique, and exciting proposal.

also in the real world (was going to say "back to the real world" but let's face it dreams exist in this universe, this is part of the paradoxical nature of everything, dreams exist but they don't exist right?) there have been some very unique cone arrangements in midtown. here are two examples from a wednesday morning stroll. mentioned recently that there had been a sudden influx of yellowish-greenish cones in manhattan, here one is seen bound near some of its orange cousins:

and in central park, these cones seem destined to disappear, begging the question, when we walk around, or play frisbee, anywhere, how much of the earth beneath our feet contains, in addition to rocks, dirt, and worms, submerged traffic cones?

gift conduit

steph's uncle in california has an avocado tree. her pepere brought some avocados to maine. steph brought some to nyc and gave me this seed.

part of spring planting, people will see it in a piece of art. then i'll give it to someone with a yard, maybe christine or eugene/joann or jong/tim or toby or...

more seeds

from lunch, for spring planting

chess is happening

nathaniel used to live up the street when we were four, now he lives a few blocks away

steph i see all the time, christine i used to live upstairs from - i like it, a photographer and a glass sculptor painting on a chess board, for a video camera, using a timeclock

camcorder view

lucy (neighbor, first time meeting) with-and/or-versus ron

ron makes a move

brush and edge of board

walking = synchronicity

training for kisokaido, speed is not up, endurance not there, so have been taking the subway less. well, you see a lot, when you walk, things you wouldn't notice otherwise. but there have been several encounters over the past few days which - it's tough almost to say how bizarre (in a good way) it feels - ok no point in going on, just what happened - so, wednesday, 2.4 mile stroll:

meet les for coffee
(intentional) and it turns out this is another person who lived in tokyo in the late nineties, who lives here now, not so strange, but get this, is really into traffic cones. has exhibited traffic cone art before.

do you know how many times i have asked another person "do you consider yourself to be one of
the foremost experts in the world on traffic cone aesthetics?" not once, i don't think. to have the answer be "yes" and illustrate an obvioius appreciation a few minutes later as we happen across a particularly special cone and utter the words "sublime" - ok that was quite unexpected.

next evening finally heading up to meet ira for coffee on way home from location one (8.6 miles walking for the day):

and hear "erik" and there, in a large vehicle, are aaron and satoko - so the thing is, i don't see ira often. and i pretty much never see aaron and satoko. but i met them all at pretty much the same time, back in the day, and they belong in that temporal clump in my mind, those people i knew at that time, like susan and kanji and matthew and keiko - really, to see them a block away from
meeting ira, after all this time, was a big connection-hammer.

that's a lot - finding out you share something in common which is exceedingly rare (traffic cone appreciation), running into old friends after ages - ok so the next day walked over 6
miles, here's some of it:

and along the way start calling people, because yeah i'm in training, physically, but have put the taking tons of photos for the collages trying to match things i see up with elements of hiroshige's prints on hold for a little while, as think harder about video etc., and want to do chess, in the park, this weekend (tomorrow actually) because all of a sudden the weather is warm and beautiful.

so i call rob. and he doesn't answer. which happens, right? and i keep walking. and twenty minutes later, there's rob. on a bench. by the river. in intense conversation with whatsername. (of course he didn't answer his phone). after the other stuff this felt distinctly weirder than maybe it merits. on the other hand, he works about three blocks from my apartment and we never run into each other in midtown. now i'm down in tribeca and call him and he's not there and i keep walking and hey, there's rob, down here in tribeca, while i want to talk to him.

oh and whatsername, by the way, our first conversation ever, here's how it goes, pretty much:
me: do you paint?
her: yeah, i do.
me: do you like chess?
her: it's my favorite game.

ok so how many girls have you ever asked "do you play chess," first meeting ever, friend-of-friend, and they say "it's my favorite game?" frankly this has never happened to me before. i hope she will participate in the chess project. really.

so this would be plenty of synchronicity. plenty.

so i'm standing there trying to recover from the "favorite game" she paints and plays chess and i was trying to see if rob wanted to paint on chess boards together, and i hear "erik?" and there's allison. the deal with allison is, i really never have contact with her, and surely part of the reason for that is she has lived in austin for the past year, but i did actually email her a few days ago because i couldn't find owen's email address. she emails back she's in a uhaul returning. but this is by the river, days later, unplanned, me having stumbled across rob, and met the chess-loving girl who paints, and here's allison with her dog -

so this blog really my purpose is to keep track of art projects, if anyone wants to know how i think or what i do, it's not all instinct but a lot of it is - anyway not about personal blah blah blah
necessarily right? not "you'll never guess who i ran into at the grocery store today." but so much of this, these people, i want or wanted to involve them in these projects - i mean, the reason i was meeting less was because he had written that using black and white paint (chess project) sounded interesting - yet he's into traffic cones. and traffic cone observation is definitely going to continue to appear, in various forms, in my art, as it has for about a decade. nothing to do with chess, very relevant (especially with the lmcc open call mentioned a few posts ago).

one last map, today (6.8 miles):

nothing too weird happened, i mean alisa who lives in georgia called and we want to collaborate so maybe chess is a first step for us, she's in town, but maybe the holy-moley this feels a bit surreal this particular coincidence, maybe that's over for the moment.

excited, though. i mean, what more do you want? i figure i know maybe 500 people in the world - ok maybe it's a lot more than that - still - in just a few days - to see these particular people, at these goofy times... just awesome.

looking forward to chess tomorrow.


slice of lemon came with my lunch, added component to spring planting


the chess project, that's the one i got a grant for. which involved applying for a grant. so the foundation of this project is split. there were the years of vaguely wanting to do a chess project, involving other people, and painting on chess boards. then there was the descent into bureaucracy and paperwork. well, thank you lower manhattan cultural council for helping me buy the paint and the chessboards, and presumably that endorsement of this project by an institution will make it easy to get permission to do the things in the park i want to do -

ok long story short started the contracts urged in last year's volunteer lawyers for the arts bootcamp, i mean, i want to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding or displeasure right? so vla recommends contracts if you're collaborating, so today i started writing a bit about what some of the issues are (i want to be able to use this footage, basically, and i want the work to stay together as a body of work, i think, although that's something which will likely change as the project evolves)

anyway here's the beginning of what i'm going to ask participants to look at and hopefully agree to, hope you enjoy

points of view

funny how our memories work and we can argue about what happened or what someone said or meant or didn't say... we can share this discontinuity of experience real-time, because it's not just when you look back that things are perceived and understood differently by different people, it's as it's happening, whatever it is, we might inhabit the same external universe but no way do we share our life-living sensations, do we?

the point of this is, matthew has started a blog, which is great, because if you really care about kisokaido things you can ask him, or read him, and furthermore, with two of us going at it, it'll be like stereo, you'll read things coming from two sources which should provide a more lifelike or comprehensible understanding of whatever it is we're trying to do.

basically i think everyone has the potential to feel like they're on a mission. not everyone wants to be on a mission, or chooses to accept it. i think when matthew decided he wanted to walk from kyoto to tokyo, he was saying - something. and for me, i want to explore. for example, the paradox that imagination is bigger than universe yet universe must contain imagination (thank you soseki natsume), and keep travelling (which equals learning in my consciousness), and explore the nature of things, the qualities of aesthetics... anyway it was an obvious tie-in with yamanote, shikoku, what i'm doing now - a way to really face up to great work of a hero-ancestor of ours and say "what could i possibly add?"


wasn't really sure, when thinking about chess, if people would want to participate, if there would be interest. something have wanted to do for many years.

anyway, today first two pieces complete (of sixty-four). t used to be my neighbor, maya is his neighbor now, both paint.

a few things seemed significant:

- i didn't paint today. in a way, this project, and many of my ideas, are really excuses so i can paint in a post-painting age. but i defined my role as facilitator/referee/recorder.

- there is interest. it was fun for them, fun for me, fun for innocent bystanders. can see more people wanting to get involved in this project, which is very encouraging.

- which is more important, the art or the rules? this is a project about art and rules, basically. well, the answer, today anyway, is beauty wins, aesthetic sensation wins. the first painting had an agreed-upon twenty-minute time limit which was then abolished as neither "player" felt it was finished, didn't feel done to me either, and the timeclock was relegated to neat-idea status.

- improvisation happened, that was a big hope, but you can't tell anyone what to do or how to think. rather, if you do those things, what are you doing? anyway i don't want to tell anyone what to do. certainly not when it comes to creation. none of us had ever painted on a chess board before (i still haven't) or seen it done (although i'm sure it has been done in spades). and there were ample chances before matches to set guidelines. well, they changed, and it was pretty amicable, and obvious to all of us, if something would be more interesting another way - ok an example. during the first piece, color swap - black for white, white for black. very unusual in a chess match for one player to say "ok i want to play white now, let's switch sides or flip the board around." yeah, chess teachers do that, but honest-to-goodness players, not so much i don't think. certainly not in a serious high-stakes game right? but we have two people painting, very sincere, still playful, and they decide to just swap colors. that's what a lot of art is right? making up the rules as you go along? not even the rules, just figuring out whatever you're doing? one of the things i love most about any creative practice is the improvisational element. if i already know what's going to happen or what it will look like, i don't want to do it. both the creator and the viewer can enjoy some kind of surprise, i think, something unexpected - that is very important to me, each day, to try to find something new, or to feel something new, anyway to long for that, and the fluid nature of the way each piece developed, was deeply satisfying.

so thank you t and thank you maya and josh, christine, michael, harley, very much looking forward to doing some of the things we've talked/emailed about, and also people who aren't yet in or interested or aware, i'm so much looking forward to seeing how all this plays out. even if i'm just a bystander, can't think of a better way to make art, today, this month. when all this gets combined into a piece, it's going to be a pretty complex moving painting, with a lot of visible and invisible thoughts underpining it. no idea what it will look like, i hope. i hope whatever i'm imagining is wrong. i don't want to know how this thing will go. i'm pretty excited about seeing it.

he's in

matthew is now open to collaboration (eager, even). which means... everything will change. this is a good thing. best news all day.

totally unrelated to any project, got to meet theo jansen this afternoon, inspiring as all get out. (suggest clicking on "film" and seeing some of those clips if you haven't ever)

makes all the stuff i think about seem like a piece of cake. from the bakery. a croissant maybe, but definitely from a bakery...

spring planting

that's the working title, not growth or buds, to autumn leaves and winter branches sequel. process still in process (like that?). first bit is coating some of those wooden stretcher frames with pva, attempting to prevent the wood from rotting when it gets wet. other bits, various seeds...

so chess, tomorrow first brushstrokes on that, excited. got timeclock today, brushes, boards, paint. more in mail.

haven't done a walk longer than a few miles since sunday, but about to skype matthew, we'll talk kisokaido.

some very nice traffic cones out there today.

still thinking

if i'm not working on something maybe it needs to change. the kisokaido concept, would be a lot stronger with video, the problem is, if i'm walking, the camera needs to keep moving with me, have been practicing not-stopping as taking pictures on training walks, won't have over three months to sit there for an hour or more at each spot with a tripod and get lots of footage i want, maybe recruit high school students in advance to meet along the way and they send me tapes? or pick from available webcams (people still shoot out of their backyards?) and get in touch with those people and ask for permission, do frequent grabs from web for timelapse effect? or start searching archival copyright-free footage?

totally different direction also occurred, ok maybe not totally different - anyway tactileness feels missing, something involving "paint" or "collage" and yes that could be taken from virtual piece or raw-created in our physical environment, then added or digicaptured to change what virtual piece consists of? but it's about five days with no progress on that mockup, and lots of little "what about changing" thoughts occurring, nagging sense of dissatisfaction with current trajectory, must change

ok, after some further thought, more options = thirty seconds enough video? will carry tripod next practice walk and see how the experience is (wanted to avoid having a tripod in my hand the entire journey but if that's the best solution, fine) as well as the result; another option would be some sort of disposable camera, hope that kind souls would mail? want to avoid asking for help but anyway we'll see. best to start with the tripod, and look forward to the days when i can plant a little camera which will fly to me an hour later. maybe that technology exists and is reasonably priced and i need to get in touch with someone from the spy world, or university labs, or do some research...


tim when are you coming to nyc next? if no plan, how about this spring? remember when i said "want to do something"? that project is starting, still interested? steph months ago said she was into exploring, maybe you and me do something, you two do something else, she and i do something else, the three of us do something, that sounds like a four-thing interest-packed day think?

how much do i let hang out?

too many details = too much to sort through? well, this is how the project is going, and i figured this blog would focus on the projects - so, assuming you're reading this, you can skim or skip, right? let's say, then, that for now, i'm going to not worry so much about the posting of anything chess-related because the correspondence may be mundane but it's probably also where little decisions that end up really forming the end-game of the project get made. another email:

bonjour! have heard from jim and will call or email him soon. but you, you. first time (maybe only time? but who knows?) have three enticing options for your chesserific paintyness:
- your place, indoors
- your place, outdoors
- the park near my place (my first choice)
- my place

what would you like to do the most? i mean, where would you like to paint on a chessboard while a video camera looks down at the chessboard and records our every sure and false move?

hello and good night

"playing" "chess"

got a few (extremely high-quality) responses from the initial "any interest?" query. it's me, scattered with one thing one day and another thing the next day, who have been a little slow moving forward.

but made a phone call (to t's "agent") and sent an email (to montclair, new jersey) and just reached out to michael (and believe we're going to do something so cool together), here's that email, for, umm, reading:

hey michael, how are you? so this is what i'm thinking, for us, to start - and want to stress anything i say is totally malleable by both of us ok?

what i'm envisioning as of 2007 april 09 is that you come over, with your "painter" program (you have a laptop?) and your wacom (if you're comfortable toting it, but i have one, we can of course share) tablet

i hang a big canvas with a chessboard on it, or maybe chessboard-patterned something (saw contact paper at hardware store near here) on the wall, projector faces that. we start with a black or white or grey background on your painter program. we paint, taking turns, with wacom. if can use two wacoms at once, wow, that would be cool - not sure if the machine can be set up that way. i only have one projector, if you have another one and could bring, would be amazing, but that's usually a rare situation.

anyway here's the kicker i want to do this a couple times because i'm also now thinking the one who isn't using the wacom computer paint could be using real paint, then we switch off, just need to be a wee-bit careful not to splatter paint on any new-tech equipment, sure that won't be a problem, just affirming we both feel the same way about keeping working stuff functioning (really trying just to assure you: michael i am not going to dump a can of paint on your laptop if you bring one over ok? do don't worry about this) (you can see i sometimes think in worst-case scenarios and build up from there)

anyway one more question can i have your permission to post pretty much any bit of our e-correspondence to my blog? and of course will remove anytime you want? but this goes up for starters? talk to you soon?

oh scheduling - this saturday is all-day bio-life-art discussion thing
and sunday i'm "playing" some "chess" in montclair i think (=hope) (although now it seems, would be fun for mr. montclair and team to come to nyc i bet) so maybe this sunday if you're free? otherwise, some evening would be ok? like, this friday (13th) or following wednesday (18th)? sun 22nd anytime?

this is a start right?

talk to you soon, call anytime tomorrow if you feel like it, hope you're well, spring is pretty much almost here


post-sending just realized duh, of course we should start (assuming "painter" program gives you background option) with either chess-pattern or even picture of whatever we're going to "paint" and paint on, whatever that chess-board option ends up being

in training

18.4 miles today. reasonably hefty pack as well - two bottles of wine, three pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear, two pairs of long pants, bottle of water, thermos of tea, scone (last three items consumed en route) - also delivered a painting, carried it for a couple miles at least, was flapping in the wind quite a bit, in one of those large flat portfolio bags - carried a bag of dirt for a couple pre-backpack miles, first stretch (potting soil for spring project, courtesy of steph) (merci)

one thing i had been worried about was the cold (don't like it - matthew was suggesting november, initially, and i was thinking "most people wouldn't worry about the cold but i really don't like being cold") - anyway, no longer care about the cold. pretty much constant snow flurries haunted me throughout the day but i was sweating away undistracted

matthew pointed me to this distance-calculating site, will try to keep better track of time now that i know it's easy to retrace the route

we're both conscious of wanting to get our speed up, so we've got a bit of time at stations, rather than in-between-points and just always trying to get to shelter - i figure eight hours a day, if we can get from one sleepspot to the next, would be confidence-giving, can always slow down and look at things super-intently, especially if you know you can speed up and get there no problem

after dinner my sister-in-law says "there are going to be mountains where you're going, right?" and i'm like "no way, we're strolling from hotel to hotel on sidewalks" but there will be a little bit of up-down it looks like, another matthew link (altitude shown in meters just below the map)

probably makes for a better view. didn't think i'd like being up on the bridge, not thrilled about heights in general, but no rain, fantastic (pictures not allowed, really strange feeling that the most beautiful part of the day not captured by a collaborating device)

work in progress

if you click on #56, you'll see the beginning of the beginning


last night sent out a link to this image

to a few people - and that was the next step in making "chess" happen - that picture has been in my head for a long time, years i guess, recently thinking things like "what if you sit with your backs to the table and throw paint over your shoulder behind you?" and "what if both 'players' have both black and white paint?" but that seems like later stuff, what you see is sort of the foundation thought

part of the reason i finally started blogging is that i'm receiving grant money for this project. so i figured it would be nice for new york city taxpayers to see what sort of work they're funding. yesterday created that illustration (which yes, took some time), wrote and sent this email:


does this like something you''d be interested in doing? or learning more about anyway, but gut reaction to that image, should be enough maybe? new project, will be blogging about it, want to invite you, it will evolve, you can have a role in that or not, would very much like for you to be involved at some point. if interested, please let me know. thank you.



there are other people i want to invite to do this, more details on what "this" will or could entail to come

if you were at the cue how-to-present-your-art workshop with nina katchadourian, john zinsser, and mister, and i mentioned "doing a big collaboration thing with a bunch of people in a few months" then this is it and i haven't been able to find my little list of "must invite" names based on what i experienced during your presentation, please send me an email, especially whatsyername, you, the lady who was already doing something "chess" (but quite different, a maze)

and if you weren't at cue but that image makes you want to lurch up out of your chair, well, this isn't at the "open call" stage i don't think, but let me know and i'll say "let's talk! and let's do something" so i guess it is


so saturday was a bit of a pre-test. if there are sixty-nine stations and we're planning on walking from kyoto to tokyo in about a two-week timespan, would need to average five pieces per day (photographing or videoing the elements, whatever we see there, which can later be placed into locations in the pieces).

chose four pieces (thought was random to start at 56 but later in day remembered only completed 55 of 88 temples on shikoku pilgrimage and think this a bit related to that)

printed them out

grabbed my camera

tried on some shoes but the only comfortable ones which fit and made me think "yeah, i can walk three hundred miles in these" (which is a bit of a nerve-wracking thought when shoe-shopping) also felt like mini-saunas and matthew had said "breathability is key" so i didn't feel like blowing ninety dollars on little foot-ovens

figured back in the day it was barefoot or sandals, anyway, right? started walking, print in one hand, camera in the other

at the embassy suites hotel (where diva has been held last couple of years at least anyway) and they had plants

if you look at #56, that's what i started with, you'll notice trees

so these will be an option for that lower-right part of that image

and i'll try to have a working test up by friday, to see if this is something i want to do, or keep working, evolving, changing this project

lucid writing

one-hundred words about the kisokaido project:

my project will involve walking from kyoto to tokyo, a trek of roughly 330 miles. hiroshige’s series of woodblock prints “the 69 stations of the kisokaido line” (1834-1842) set along the same route will provide the compositional basis for my work. i intend to make digital collages, replacing all the elements in each of his prints with photographic and video imagery of the same geography present day. the individual pieces will subsequently be combined through time. for example, the background of #43 could be paired with elements from foreground of #32. this dynamic collage will be viewable online.

under five-hundred words about the kisokaido project (you may notice some similarities in the opening paragraph):

my project will involve walking from kyoto (the ancient capital of japan) to tokyo (the modern capital), a trek of roughly 330 miles. hiroshige’s series of woodblock prints “the 69 stations of the kisokaido line” (1834-1842) set along the same route will provide the compositional basis for my work. i intend to make digital collages, replacing all the elements in each of his prints with photographic and video imagery of the same geography present day. the individual pieces will subsequently be combined through time. for example, the background of #43 could be paired with elements from foreground of #32. this dynamic collage will be viewable online.

when approaching artmaking in general, or any specific project, the questions “what is timeless?” and “what is contemporary?” are always considerations. how can i make something relevant to people today, interesting to me, which pays homage to artists of prior generations?

currently, when initiating any new project, i also have a few basic ground rules, which could be broken, but more often than not i adhere to: 1) it will be a two-dimensional piece of visual art; 2) it will utilize technology to create a work which would not have been feasible in 1971 (the year of my birth); 3) it will constantly change, so although the work will remain identifiable, any time it is seen the viewer will see something which has likely never been seen before (by anybody) and will likely never be seen again (by anybody). as far as we know nothing in the universe is static, and the same can be said about clouds or a waterfall, which do indeed provide me with inspiration, but this is part of my still-developing criteria which enable me to paint despite having grown up at a time when paint appeared to be marginal and irrelevant, an era of atari and star wars and m*a*s*h.

when considering the kisokaido trek, and hiroshige’s work, the following seemed pertinent:

- hiroshige’s work was largely accessible, mass-printed for widescale distribution, not hidden in galleries or museums seen only by a select few (which led me to say “this project will be viewable online”);

- what he basically did, i believe, is firstly observe, and secondly, present his observations (of what was there, what was beautiful) to those who couldn’t take that kind of time or pay that kind of attention;

- the method of woodblock printing involves blocking out very clearly-defined areas of form and color in space, layered one on top of the other.

it then occurred to me to use whatever is currently visible on the kisokaido trek as elements in collages based on the composition of his works.