yesterday there was video, sure. here's the setup.
all the camera saw was paint, hands, brushes - less than you see here.
i often use video as a painting tool. when you see a painting, you don't see the expression on the painter's face, you only see the result of the process. i might capture the process and that might augment the result, but it doesn't feel like video to me, it's conceptualized as paint, defined as color arranged on a two-dimensional plane. if i wanted to capture the emotions of the painters, it becomes narrative, it becomes different. it would be more filmic, it's not treated as paint. this doesn't feel like paint to me, this feels like documentary footage. video is still a tool - but now it's video.
so why am i talking about yesterday? the chess methodology, not changing it. video will be used as a time-based color-arrangement technology, a recent addition to the palette and brush.
what about kisokaido? what is the project going to be? that's what's on my mind. today and tomorrow, some considerable time spent walking. did over fourteen miles, gearing up for about twenty-five, back-to-back days important because when matthew and i are in j-land, it will be every day, roughly walking a marathon each day, none of this "oh man i can barely move" the morning after. we'll need to get up and check out and get to the next stop in the sunlight.
and nothing is clear yet, what we're doing. this is ok, i like letting things evolve, or searching for what we really want to do, however you want to think about it. between 12:35pm and 3:45pm, i saw a lot of things. i didn't shoot one second of video. jotted down some notes, never once turned on my camera. here's the route, upper west side through midtown and a bit of central park, across the bridge and then a sometimes-empty sometimes-crowded walk to the queens museum of art. destination was this nifty scale model inside.
one idea which keeps suggesting itself is to video the entire kisokaido walk. so, say eight hours a day, fourteen days, that's... doable. desirable? today thought hard about that. made a rule as i set out: no picture-taking. no video, no stills, no stopping, just walking and trying to get in shape and thinking hard about what our project will be, what do we really want to do.
the first thought i had was to get more serious about figuring out what is analogous right now to woodblock printing in hiroshige's time. i think video is closer than some sort of dynamic online collage. and then i did end up stopping occasionally to jot down some notes.
when i set out, still in my neighborhood, i walked by the spectacular hearst building, across the street from it, and noticed a woman passed out under a bench. her shorts were pulled halfway down - it looked like she had gotten very drunk, fallen asleep, woke up to pee, couldn't quite work out how to get her shorts down far enough to do that, end up falling off the bench and sleeping under it in a puddle of her own making. that's what it looked like, anyway. not an old woman, not a particularly poor-looking woman, didn't look abused or raped, just somehow ended up under a park bench. maybe it's an awful story of how she got to be there. anyway all of that was a split second, me an observer right, on my training trek, just passing by, thinking "wow, that would be on video" and then a security guard is pouring water over her and saying "get up" and she's emitting this "whaaaaaaaa" moaning noise, and i'm now out of sight or hearing. and frankly it reminded me a bit of "blackbook" (recent paul verhoeven movie) and episodes from my life and from other real and fictional people i know or don't, not literally "ah, yes, the time i pissed all over myself and was awoken abruptly by a security guard" but in a more general when-we-lose control kind of way, and now i'm in central park, trying to figure out what i would do with video footage like that, and what the potential legal risk might be. wouldn't want to ask either of them for a release, wouldn't want to stop or slow down, we need to cover our twenty-five miles.
a bright fuscia petal fell, near katagiri, where i got some itoen oolong tea, and i thought "that would have been filmed." it was beautiful - ordinary maybe, but unexpected.
matthew's toe has been on my mind quite a bit. he's having a nail removed, hopefully it will grow in and not be a bother, so our walk can be as painless as possible. surgery in a couple hours. didn't jot it down, but maybe making my mood more serious. what is our project, really? what do we really want to do, or accomplish, or experience, or share?
incredible traffic cones. arrangements of various states of wear, several colors, spatially (in relation to each other and in relation to their surroundings) composed with such distinctiveness... i did stop, twice, once for over a minute. fumbled around in my pocket and held my camera, before resolutely leaving that, and staring, and thinking "could i sketch this? could i remember and describe it to someone? what is so special about it?"
and then the big connections topic was launched. and everything started feeling super-connected. my life - the people that create it, the past, and this project, which you can define as existing in the future or the present or both. matthew, after all, was in the first ever traffic cone photo, the one that made me notice them, and it was a long time after that before i realized that the humans were entirely superfluous, the cones themselves were beckoning observation and indeed aesthetic appreciation. that picture and that story are best left for another time. but there it was, now, the human connections, the friends who have told me things that just stuck, day after day or popping in and out of mind sporacically, maybe years go by, but that stuff is in you, those things have impacted who you are.
why queens museum of art? original plan was williamsburg galleries. reason = final day of robert moses exhibit. ok connection = ? getting ready to go to japan, in the middle of reading "the power broker." 1993 late or early 1994. made a decision: leave the country for at least five years (wanted to get other perspectives, see and experience other ways of living), and spend no more than two years in a single country or region. would necessitate packing light right? so limited self to one suitcase. that power broker book, it's big. seemed too heavy. was more than two-thirds done. so ripped it, and just took the part hadn't read yet. this had unanticipated interpersonal repurcussions. i was just thinking about me, my requirements, my convenience, that was it. but new coworker dave made some comments about the sacredness of books or whatever, and that was one of many, many always-on-the-wrong-foot tension-additives in our (largely congenial but never buddy-buddy) relationships. matthew, on the other hand, heard from his wife, my manager, that the new teacher had shown up with just a part of a book, and somehow that made him curious. i wonder if he would have been as open talking to me, what course our friendship might have taken, if i hadn't been reading about robert moses.
tomorrow's a big day, need to print out the maps, need to get up and leave early, will try to wrap this up quickly, some other bits from notes on today's maps:
- heights = brian and i used to climb up things, yamanote, we were both scared, even crossing george washington bridge a few weeks ago there was a bit of vertigo, but today, woah, didn't really notice it. can't remember ever experiencing such a lack of awareness of heights. shocking.
- saw a marshall's and a home depot; bracing for mister donut etc. in japan
- older men with expansive guts without shirts playing bocce, echoes of gateball. how would it look on video?
- beautiful spool of paper unravelled, over a grate, and then a block further, a much narrower spool, also shorter, looked related, both somehow poetic
- a truly unique dead bird, and then a more subtle one, both of which reminded of the role sherri played in helping me have enough guts to draw and paint
- a very old car, some sort of volkswagon
- and another old car not super-old, but hulking, was just talking to ron about those cars from those days last night, would liked to have panned as it boated on by and took that turn in its own time
- remembered an early project idea was "traffic cones of the kisokaido" and wondered, can dead birds and floating petals fit into that? then saw on two separate street carts roasted pig heads
as far as audio goes, the high point was definitely inside the museum restroom, as i sat in one stall, the gentleman next door fielded queries from his daughters about "peepee" and "kaka" - they laughed quite a lot and seemed to really enjoy repeating those words, it would be nice to hear it again.
oh, there was a pennsylvania license plate with a picture of a tiger on it. yes it said save the animals. but it looked like there are tigers in pennsylvania.
i saw a fight. and i saw a few cop cars suddenly appearing, one of them had a pretty girl locked up in the back, but she seemed to be helping them out, giving them directions.
there was a man who looked just like gerspach. i mean, i think i saw gerspach.
and finally, the project, what is important about it? a month ago i would have said, if i'm tired at the end of the first day, i'll hop on a bus and meet matthew whenever he shows up at wherever we're slated to sleep that night - as long as the art gets made, the walk just isn't important. but the walk has ascended. it's as much about our experience as making something or trying to give someone else an experience. the buildings with the dots on them and the mini-dumpsters full of earth and grass out in front, that's wrapped up with aesthetics. for that building, those people, or for passersby? is it both, is it equal? so when i commit to the walk, am i committing to giving a viewer a different experience?
there was a bridal photoshoot right outside the museum. who is she dressed up for - him? her parents? herself?
what is art about, connecting us?
yesterday there was video, sure. here's the setup.