How do you feel being back in London!? How's things at the houseboat?
"...long hours speaking..."
OMG! How did that happen!?
We talked late into Saturday night, and then talked Sunday for seven hours! When I got up at 9am I think you'd already been up for a while. We talked about Vietnamese lunch, Bergamot Station, Robertson-Melrose & WeHo (West Hollywood) or maybe heading up to the CalArts graduate Open Studios.
And then we talked.
And then it was 4pm and time to go to the airport for your flight home! IDK how the 7 hours went by so fast! I'm sorry you didn't get to see a bit more of the art scene here in LA. I guess one or more of us is a big blabbermouth! :P
Laguna is a bit south of Newport Beach. I mostly kayak at Newport. I keep my surf ski at the Newport Aquatic Center (NAC). From the Aquatic Center you can paddle through Newport Harbor, past the ferry where I dropped you and Yulia off that day, and then out the Newport Breakwater. At the end of the breakwater is a a buoy. North from there is a famous surf spot, The Wedge. South from there is Corona Del Mar (CDM) and Little Corona and after some more stretches of beach finally Laguna.
From NAC to the buoy is 4 miles. I usually loop around the buoy, say Hey guys! to the ever present sea lions and then head south to an area called Keyhole or past it to The Steps. All summer long you'll see peeps on top of a huge rock at the steps and leaping off it after a wave comes in.
From the buoy to The Steps and back to the breakwater is about 2 miles and then another 4 back to NAC, so a total paddle of 10 miles (16k). 8 miles in the harbor and 2 in the ocean is a nice mix.
A surf ski is a fast, sort of tippy, sit-on-top kayak. Fiberglass or carbon fiber or both. Narrow and long. Mine is 19 inches wide and 19 feet long (48cm wide x 5.8m long) More advanced skis are even narrower and longer. The choppy ocean is a lot more fun than the flat harbor. But for a novice like me, it's also a lot more challenging. So I get a nice stretch to focus on technique and then some fun in the middle where I try not to wipe out.
It's an interesting experience. If the water's a little rough I might feel a bit of stress. But then when I get back inside the breakwater I'll laugh and say that was fun!
Anyway! I don't paddle all the way down to Laguna. The pix I sent you from there were after paddling. I drove the short way down and waked around.
Yes Marta! What you said! They're amazing places. I used to think about them a lot more. Laguna is a nice SoCal place for them, but if you drive up to Central California places like Shell Beach or Monterey, they tend to be even more spectacular. And then there's snorkeling and scuba diving.
Speaking of the Pacific Coast, in 2011 I drove Highway US 101 from end to end. From Downtown Los Angeles to Olympia, Washington. The Redwoods and coast of NorCal are stunning. Washington is beautiful. But nothing struck me so powerfully as the Oregon Coast.
Yes! What an artist. What vision. I think I'll save him for the next letter. I think there's just so much to say.
In that long conversation with Kyle that I told you about, he talked about wanting to really focus on "art" and not so much on "culture." That too is a big conversation. The vision of art vs, if you will, the banality of culture. Of course this is also an elitist perspective. I once had a conversation with my friends Jeff, Jun & June: how to be elitist without thinking that you're better than everybody.
I do love social practice. Perhaps it's a space where you can focus on fine art ideas, and be culturally inclusive at the same time. I'm really drawn to work like Kiyomi's Green Thumb project which you saw. Or Brian Davis' juicing, or many others.
I've always thought of Allan Kaprow as a performance artist. But now that Marina Abramovic is calling herself the grandmother of performance art, maybe we should start calling Allan Kaprow the grandfather of social practice. More on Kaprow to come! Including,
What would Allan do?
I might move out. Or pass away. The house I now live in might be torn down for something else. The human race might persevere. Or come to its own end. Yet in spite of any of these things, a thousand, or million, or billion years from now the GPS coordinates of where I took this photograph will still have meaning. An intelligent being could go to the spot marked by these coordinates, my future former bedroom, and see what is there. With the XYZ Compass data also attached to this image, this future being could position a camera with the exact same view. Something about the almost eternal specificity of these coordinates juxtaposes so powerfully with the ephemerality of our presence. Of our presence in time. In space. At a particular place. In the view of a particular lens for a short moment. Perhaps human moments are always short. Even 7 hour conversations have a way of quickly becoming the past. People embroiled in conversation quickly find themselves separated by the breadth of The Atlantic.
I've been thinking about Trackable Things lately.
Lots of things are trackable.
A College Student from Pretoria, working as an au pair in Washington DC, and spending a weekend on the snowy rim of the Grand Canyon.
A GPS Camera tagging an image with its global position and XYZ compass data. Perhaps the position of where a CouchSurfer laid their head at night.
A Fuzzy Bear or "trackable coin" that gets handed from person to person as it travels.
A Red Book that never goes anywhere, but has visitors from around the globe sign in on it.
These are all Trackable Things.
Latitude: North 34.044208°
Longtitude: West -118.068864°
PDT: Wednesday 2016.04.27 09:48:26
My Feet. Again. This time in running shoes and out on a trail.
Web Logs (blogs) are also a sort of Trackable Thing. It's funny that you and I both so instinctively wanted to suggest to Yulia that she blog her amazing hitching adventures across remarkable distances like Moscow to Bangkok.
Yulia was clear that it wasn't her thing. Yet I think you and I have an impulse to document. This might partly be that being artists one needs to document work. But I think it is more than that.
We document experiences. To share them. To understand them. We document art. We document life. For someone like Allan Kaprow, art was life. Life was art.
In his 2014 film The Monuments Men, George Clooney's Frank Stokes offers a speech,
You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they'll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it's as if they never existed. That's what Hitler wants and that's exactly what we are fighting for.
I think art, culture, history, communication, language, they are at the heart of our humanity.
I've found that many CouchSurfing travelers share the impulse to immediacy and immersion that Yulia feels. Yet I also cherish the few who feel that call to document. To share. To scribble that message, place it in a bottle, and cast it off to some unknown, imagined future reader.
Latitude: North 34.044450°
Longtitude: West -118.068942°
PDT: Wednesday 2016.04.27 09:49:21
Latitude: North 34.052828°
Longtitude: West -118.071753°
PDT: Wednesday 2016.04.27 10:10:50
In Los Angeles the "rivers" tend to be concrete. In many cases I think they are the sites of former natural rivers. But today they are concrete flood control rivers. Every now and then someone has a proposal to return them to a more natural state. Graffiti Writers love the gigantic blank canvasses their banks represent.
Latitude: North 34.062580°
Longtitude: West -118.067846°
PDT: Wednesday 2016.04.27 10:24:14
Five of Hearts.
The River Trail goes under the Garvey Bridge. Garvey is the street that the 70 & 770 busses drop you off and pick you up on. Garvey's at the end of my tiny street, Willard. I run down Garvey and then down the river trail and back. Today on the return across the Garvey Bridge I spotted the 5 of Hearts on the ground.
Latitude: North 34.062577°
Longtitude: West -118.067856°
PDT: Wednesday 2016.04.27 10:24:23
Across the Garvey Bridge, on the bank of "the river" is a new construction site. I wonder what it will be.
I love structural steel! It's a bit like an artist's sketch. So often I like the sketch better than the finished painting. The painting is perfect and tight and in vibrant color. But that technical achievement so often comes at the price of the fluidity and power of the sketch. Buildings so often become relatively boring once you apply enough layering of walls on them. But the sketch, those powerful lines of structural steel, almost always inspire me.
Latitude: North 34.047157°
Longtitude: West -118.139742°
PDT: Wednesday 2016.04.27 12:49:13
Tiki, sunning herself by my mom's pool.
Latitude: North 34.047075°
Longtitude: West -118.139584°
PDT: Wednesday 2016.04.27 12:50:15
Latitude: North 33.785215°
Longtitude: West -118.119569°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 11:04:39
CSU Long Beach. Japanese Garden.
I took the class to the Japanese Garden today. We did a series of abstract and representational sketches there. They seemed to have a nice time.
Latitude: North 33.785284°
Longtitude: West -118.119526°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 11:04:53
Sketching in the Japanese Garden.
Latitude: North 33.785351°
Longtitude: West -118.119642°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 11:11:13
Danielle's going to be studying in Amsterdam next semester. She's hoping to take the train down and visit you sometime. Danielle isn't even in the class! She just started coming to hang out with her former roommate Maddy. Now she shows up even when Maddy's absent!
Since Danielle will be in Amsterdam and Maddy will be in Long Beach, I tried to suggest they might create some sort of dialog project between them. I did my best not to make it just like our London::Los Angeles correspondence. They were not inspired by the idea. They thought that Amsterdam would be new, but nothing about Long Beach would be new or worth sharing. I offered that "September 2016" would be new. That no one has ever lived that before.
This may be another case where the impulse to correspond or interact isn't inspiring to others. But I'll at least try to suggest some form of bicontinental project to them once more. Of course it could take many forms. It feels like an opportunity to me.
Latitude: North 33.785263°
Longtitude: West -118.119707°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 11:15:45
Me. Photo by Danielle Dallas.
Latitude: North 33.785270°
Longtitude: West -118.119681°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 11:55:16
Glenda Castillo taking a photo of koi fish with her iPad, as classmates around her sketch.
Latitude: North 33.785241°
Longtitude: West -118.119884°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 12:00:43
The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at CSU Long Beach is actually quite a small place. Yet it is quite rich and robust. It includes a modest zen garden on one side.
Allan Kaprow's and Marina Abramovic's oeuvres are certainly quite different. Yet I feel at heart they are both invitations, or calls, to pay more attention than most of us normally do. I think that's the lesson that Kaprow took from John Cage at Black Mountain. I think it is a big part of the lesson I take from Kaprow.
Zen Gardens are also invitations to live slower and experience deeper.
Some people love entropy. I think entropy goes well with Abject art. Among other forms.
I have to confess I still hear from my inner Modernist. I think I understand the problems with Modernism. The failure of Modernism. All that Modernism failed to include. Yet I still dream of a better future.
If entropy represents, ultimately, the heat death of the universe. The universe ending not with a bang, but a whimper. Then I think intelligence represents a force in opposition to entropy. A force that just might write a different future for our progeny.
One of the pieces in my MFA thesis exhibition was Zen Entropy Garden. At the opening of the show there was a zen garden with black sand on one half and white sand on the other half. There were rakes for visitors to arrange things as they liked.
The idea was that as visitors played with the sand they would inexorably mix the black sand with the white sand.
The sands could never be separated again.
They would also create new configurations. Patterns. Sand castles. And so in the sandbox I thought that Entropy and Intelligence did battle with each other.
Looking at the Japanese Garden's Zen Garden today made me feel like I should set up a new Zen Garden. Perhaps with black and white sand. A backyard installation. It doesn't necessarily need to be in a gallery space since I've already done that. But it might be interesting to live with it.
Latitude: North 33.594670°
Longtitude: West -117.875560°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 17:00:33
Later in the day I went kayaking. As you go down the Newport Breakwater toward the sea lions and their harbor buoy, you come across this beach. It's the last beach inside the harbor and before the breakwater and the Pacific Ocean. It's a very pretty spot. Lots of rock climbers. Sometimes on my way back I'll stop here and eat an apple or orange.
Latitude: North 33.594946°
Longtitude: West -117.878371°
PDT: Thursday 2016.04.28 17:03:15
I did stop at the small beach and eat a couple of tangerines. I'm sure the beach has a name, but IDK what it is. Other than around the corner from Corona Del Mar.
The young girls, one with her confident stride, the other with her whale towel, walking toward me, remind me of my opening thoughts about the photo of my feet. That these GPS coordinates and XYZ camera orientation data will have spatial meaning virtually for all eternity. Yet if someone should come to this precise location and hold a camera with these precise orientation specs, tomorrow, or a million years from tomorrow, the view won't feature these two young girls. Not in this exact spot. And stride. And age.
This photograph with its eternal data and ephemeral life is so simple. And so conflicting with itself. And so sublime.
GPS / XYZ Compass images captured with Dioptra.