11.20.15

Adhit was going to come visit, across the world. I was so excited. I planned to show him as good of a time as he showed me in his country.

He messaged to say that his mum was in hospital, he couldn’t come. I replied that we could meet as international babes in 2021, age 31.

Adhit messaged to say his mum had died. I started crying at work (don’t check facebook at work). As I was driving home I thought about telling my mom about Anna (Adhit’s mum) and sobbed.

Anna made interesting and emotive art. She was a pisces, and when I met her I thought: “She would be a great mother in law.” Not that I would ever get married, but some moms make that a temptation. One morning, after feeling sheepish for making Adhit moan so loudly the night before,  Anna showed me her paintings.

She was timid to show her work, but the subject came up and I asked her about it. The paintings were neatly organized and she gave thoughtful, dreamy context for each one. They all embodied a subtle but forceful psychological space. There was one in particular I remember, which had a grouping of figures like ladders and people. It was in a series of planes with this interesting non-linear dimensionality.

I went to a show. Sarah asked how I was, I told her I was very sad for my friend. Later she asked how my interview had gone, I said I was going to Italy and we drank celebratory beers in the parking lot.

Christian said he loved mine and Sarah’s friendship. I love mine and Sarah’s friendship. I love Sarah.

Angelo said: “How are you? Tell me everything” and walked inside before I said anything.

But I told you everything, didn’t I? Dear blog.

Fauxpening

The Fauxpening was dreamy, makes sense because the paintings were by a fictional character who was channeling Brandon Benhing who was in turn channeling the fictional character. The work reminded me of Brandon and also of Enrique Martinez Celaya.

Brandon told me about his dream about Vince. I told Brandon about my dream about Brandon, Caity and her sister about my dream of their Grandma at Meow Wolf Prom, and John my dream about John.

My placid floating through cars on the Amtrak is interspersed with intense happiness. Feel-best neurochemical showers have punctuated the last several days, three of which were a marathon of slumber parties.

On Friday Christan rolled into town and went to Izanami with Angelo. John, Anaïs, Noah and I made vegan pizza. Sean and Mariah came and went, Sarah popped in from time to time and Karl arrived at around 2am. I snuck into Angelo’s room, participating in cross-futon pillow talk and skinny-jean sleeping.

Samantha Harmsworth

Samantha Harmsworth

My grandparents came to Currents and I had them over for dinner. Grandpa Obie and I sat in the back yard and discussed the age of the tree in the backyard. We talked about how watching the clouds float across the sky is better than going to see a new media art festival.

I played my gender set at “Queertopia.” People danced but mostly to the ironically placed dance songs and not to the noise – opposite of the crowd I’m used to. Spacesuits was the multifaceted happening of the night. Dirt Girl played one of the best sets I’ve ever heard and I remembered how to dance, multitasking by showering in my own sweat. I toned it down with “cerebral dance jams” as Benji dubbed them. Angelo played gentle and dark. One minimal 4/4 beast had me and Benji jumping continuously for 15 minutes.

I snuck into Angelo’s bed again. We looked at his books, in describing photos by Aaron McElroy Angelo illuminated how he is essentially romantic. We listened to records and smoked out the second story window, talking with fleeting, sparkly eye contact. Our foreheads and hands touched as we slept.

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Not to brag, but I am adept at maintaining my work ethic without much sleep. I ran into Juliet Meyers at work while fetching water, she asked if I had stayed up late. I mentioned that my set didn’t begin until well after midnight. LizzE, who works the floor, was surprised by this double life. In the evening of course I repeated the process.

Benji’s video for spacesuits was my favorite part. Christian rattled the furniture with bass and chugged water while wearing leather gloves. Axl Contemporary was outside and we offered Juliet Meyers a treat from the gas station. Standing around the bonfire Karl outlined his project, trees with various positions in society enacting their positions in society: a cop tree, a doctor tree, a lumberjack tree…

Anaïs brought coconut bliss. Standing in the kitchen eggs came up. “Yeah, chicks are gross” I said. Karl countered that an egg would only be half a chick, or the empty potential of a chick. I meant to draw a parallel between the cultural thought that human periods are gross, but enforced chicken periods are nutritious. Laughs all around.

This time Angelo and I snuck upstairs together.

Currents + Proxies

In one slo-mo swoop I moved into new-old house (former Ghost Olympics) with Sean & Noah and built an experimental new media art installation. That + full time job + sparse parties took 12-18 hours a day for about two months. When the project was finished (ha ha, as if any project can be finished), Tristan and I stared at it, exhausted. “This is, cool? right?” Tristan asked. “I have no idea.” I replied.

Pepper's Ghost

Pepper’s ghost experiment with Margeux & Tristan

Tristan and I ran into each other at Skylight (also known as Cologne or Dick Village) when I was dropping off a fog chiller I made for their Halloween party. We talked about projecting onto fog and new media art and decided to create a proposal for Currents.

“Proxy” is essentially a joke about new media art:

A face floats on a screen of water vapor, it is not immediately clear whether is is interactive, if it is artificial, or if it is a live feed.

Proxy is comprised of duplicate stations. If both are occupied each person sees the other as a live hologram. Proxy tricks people into an immediate (mediated) human interaction within a context of new media art: artificial-artificial intelligence.

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Last December we experimented with a Pepper’s ghost rig and with projecting onto humidifer vapor. Water vapor was cooler. Tristan got busy with Meow Wolf so I designed and created the mechanics of the project, learning metal-working to fabricate a waterproof design and building a high output water vapor machine. We ran the Max Patch with a 30 day free trial for the course of the show ;)

After two old towers Dave Mcpherson generously offered us couldn’t run the piece we used my computer. The day of de-install I left for L.A. The train was 5 hours delayed so Noah and I went with our mom to her job sites in the area, talking about modern furniture with her client. Waiting for another hour for the train was one of the first enforced breaks I’ve had in several months. I sat down and wrote most of the application for CalArts.

A highlight of the Currents opening was when Erika Wannenmaker (Ditch Wytch) and her friend Tom said that Proxy was their favorite. Tom encouraged to apply for the Art and Technology MFA program at CalArts. I said that it would be too expensive. He said that he, and his friend (also Tom) are the directors of the program and they hope to fund one incoming student, again, he encouraged me to apply.

I met with Tom and Tom in L.A., eating Papaya salad at a strip mall, meeting Tom’s little dog, admiring resilient trees in face of draught. We talked about art and spectacle, about sociology, I saw Tom’s 19th century voltage tester. I think it is funny that I am not differentiating between the two Toms. One Benji refers to as “The biggest nerd we know.” It was his house in Echo Park, his voltage tester, his pointy-faced dog with cancer. “This is what grad school is like” the Toms said. Of course I want to go to graduate school.

Another highlight of Currents was Myriam. Her piece was my favorite. It referenced turntables with illuminated spinning tops that played slowed-down and sped-up vocal samples depending on velocity. I waited around after her performance to ask inane questions and invite her to “negronis on the terrace” (beer on front porch) but lost confidence and left. Bea and Leo made me go back and actually talk to her. I drove up the mountain to feed my boss’s dog and when I got home Cole and the gang iced me. It was the first time I have been “iced.” Very fun.

Myriam came over, we talked about paying rent, drinking coffee, and making art. She has a French accent and a boyfriend with curly blond hair. She left. Angelo and Jay arrived. We talked about minimalism and watched the lightning storm from the front porch. The sky is, and always will be a better artist than I.

Root Bound

My boss brought this NY Times article for us to read, I had seen it the day before. I understood its points but understood it to be fundamentally transphobic. I mentioned that the Laverne Cox’s writing was the most poignant I had read on the subject.

A sales associate was doing shipping in the background and piped in: “I don’t care, if you have a penis you ain’t a woman and Laverne Cox ain’t a woman.” I responded: “That is transphobic.” My boss asked us to define what a woman is and Noah said: “a woman is someone who identifies as a woman.”

Half the people in the room continued to define gender by genitalia and I came out as transgender.

The sales associate left and my boss said we needed to respect his opinion, because it was probably hard for him to come out as gay, and that there were differing generational perspectives in the dialogue. Noah, Bea, and I argued we didn’t need to respect transphobia.

The rest of the day was weird and tired. In the afternoon Bea offered to correct people when they mis-gender me.

Bea gave us a ride home. I ate a lentil burger and installed vapor-screens at Currents. Noah and I bought water, onions, and six pluots. We went to K Mart to get a pot for our root-bound split-leaf philodendron, but the gardening section was closed so Noah bought Magic Cards.

River’s mom, who we affectionately refer to as “Kibby” came over. She said the laundry room was creepy. Exclaiming at the charm of the rest of the house she came back to the laundry room again, saying it felt like animals, like that animals had been killed in there, or maybe butchered. I noted that the ceilings are very high for an old adobe, and this may not have been built as a house originally.

They left to go to the Cowgirl, presumably to eat animal corpses.

I felt blue and started the 45 that had ended over again. It is entirely weird that people still eat animals, that the brutalization of non-human species is socially acceptable. It’s not only illogical on massive environmental and health levels but also clearly unpleasant. Who wants to eat the fear-adrenaline of mistreated creatures?

To return to earlier points, it is also weird that people don’t respect other people’s identities. The other night, after mine and Bea’s art opening the marketing director for the project mis-gendered me and I gently explained that I don’t identify with binary gender. She cried and thanked me for sharing. Later she said: “Actually, I really don’t see you as genderqueer.”

Sorry for any inconvenience. I realize now that my identity is invalid.

Conceptual Kisses

I would hug a tree made out of newspaper. I ended up with tenfold hugs from the artist of said newspaper-ceiba, post beer/champagne/trampoline/fire/dance-party.

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Bea, John, and I have formed a triad of giggly pretense. John house-sat for Lucy Lippard and drove her car, taking on the ideals of her bumper stickers:  “Keep your theology off my biology” “Save the Galisteo Basin”  “Women make great leaders – you’re following one.”

Unsettled Landscapes is good. Everyone likes it. For the member’s opening Ric Lum made hors d’ oeuvres with foods gathered around the rio grande. Site Guides missed out on snacks and after the show we were to help clean up the event section. Bea and I collected all the decorative legumes/corn/quinoa that were to be wasted in Slatko jars leftover from the last exhibit.

At the Public opening Bea and I came up with pick-up lines related to the show: “Let me settle the landscape of your body”- “I’m interested in the post-industrial colonization of pheromones” – We can get transcendental with non-figurate maps if you know what I mean.”

The Radical Abacus threw a party after the opening. Miller brought beer. Everyone else also brought beer. Merril (king-boss of exhibitions) brought an ax for the “hot wood” John bought at Smith’s. I made chile with a fraction of the aforementioned decorative legumes.  Gianfranco Focshino DJ’d. SITE staff/artists danced – more than I would have expected.

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Blue Curry has a piece connected to a live-stream of the sculptures created when ships come into harbor in the Bahamas. Corresponding to their arrival are beach towels hung on a flag pole outside the museum. Tourists claim beach space with towels: they are flags. At the after party we were going to play dice. We needed floorspace on which to roll so I laid out a towel. I mentioned this to Blue and he said he knew people would make fun of his piece. Little does he know Bea and I want to (do a project where we) kiss conceptual artists on the cheek.

As we were informing guests the museum was closing, I told Miller, who was near his sculpture: “don’t touch the art.” He looked startled and I felt bad for the joke. By 4am at the party we had reconciled any miscommunication. There were endless cheek-kisses before he caught a taxi to a hotel to an airport to Columbia.

I was trapped in fun and left after 5AM. At work the next day Bill had made apple crisp, which he assured me was vegan. “What a beautiful day” I said, to quote an earlier post-party-work-self.

That day two guests commented that I had changed the show for them. I should get a bonus for every time I am working while sleep deprived.

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Garden

I displayed Proxy in Raleigh at CAM. On top of setting up in air conditioning, Iceshelf received unlimited free microbrew and while I was installing my friends brought me food from a sort of fancy vegan restaurant. All the stereotypes of what I like. Unparalleled fortuity.

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The acoustics were great in the open concrete museum, formerly a produce warehouse. I used the little plastic compass-ring that signified my VIP status to get drinks for a journalist and watched people interact with Proxy.

A little kid was being told he couldn’t touch art and I told his parents he could touch my piece. This was one of those overly-cute moments of art education that involved a lot of the child saying: “WHOA!” His parents “look Stuart! Touch this part, it makes a sound, see?” He yelled: “I don’t like art” and ran away.

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At the end of the evening an artist wanted us to participate in his project of making a friend, having a portrait taken with the friend, and writing on the back of the polaroid where we would visit together and what we would do. I made friends with Fern, who owns part of a restaurant. I was peckish so I asked if his restaurant was open/had vegan options. It wasn’t/did not. Here is the back of our portrait.

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Rainland

We were underwater from Dallas until Louisiana.

We played catch in the field in the rain in Dallas, and drank lite beer with the gallery personal. We stayed in the luxury loft of a Santa Fe friend and made dhal for her and her boyfriend. The boyfriend makes  new media work with live video feedback of virtual topography.

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There was barely visibility in Iceberg, whose windows were foggy and tires were bare. I swam the ‘87 civic to Super Happy Funland, where we were stayed for two nights.

Super Happy Funland is as bad as it sounds. Hoarder-like piles of objects in a hugely dirty and dark warehouse with perpetual disco-lighting over a sea of dank couches. A nice but addled woman expressed her incoherent thoughts through pursed lips as we unloaded equipment and discussed dinner.

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The nice woman approached me repeatedly to explain that the pizza truck in the parking lot was out of vegan cheese, that the store was out of vegan cheese, and that the pizza maker was grumpy. I was like: “We can cook food, it is not a problem.” She was like: “You can’t cook food the pizza guy is grumpy.” I was like: “No, we can cook food, we have a butane stove.” She was like: “I will talk to the pizza guy again, here is the menu.” So my friends ate some kind of gummy-looking pizza as I made spaghetti/salad and we all drank Lone Star, which was a popular thing to do at SHFL.

We spent a quiet day drinking coffee and working on individual projects at the Lawndale Art Center. In the afternoon it rained and we went to a hardware store. One of the pals I made in Austin came to visit and joined us for Martinis at SHFL, where we mainly stood around outside, mosquito bites as payment for not being in someone else’s Super Shaken Psychological Space.

Blood Buddies w/Mosquitos

For breakfast in Marfa I fried the crumbling remainder of our tortillas into chips topped with avocado, caramelized tomatoes/onions, and green chile.

We bought more tortillas and upon arrival in Austin made habanero pineapple guacamole, fried potatoes, beans, and brown rice for our tacos. For dinner that night we were invited to the Mass Gallery owner’s house and he made us tacos. The next day we had tacos for breakfast.

When we were camping in West Texas we made curry though, and went swimming in the river, where we saw a snake. I did pull-ups on a mysterious metal structure. We looked at constellation apps on iphones, looked at the stars, and slept under them. I used the base of my installation as a sleeping pad and didn’t sleep much due to being cold.

Around sunrise I dreamed Hoku’s dad was suggesting that I scar the skin on my face to make geometric patterns in remembrance of Hoku.

A few days prior I dreamt that a group of people were sitting in a circle. Alex mentioned that his best friend was a ghost. Alex made jokes with the space beside him and it was like old times. The space beside him felt charged and different and that was what Hoku’s ghost was.

A woman with a bike in West Texas talked to us about how everyone should be sterilized to stop the swell of overpopulation.

Our main goal in Austin was to go swimming. We went to barton springs and to the original Whole Foods. We bought expensive chia. I made cashew cream to top spaghetti with zucchini-noodles and slow-cooked/spicy marinara with fried mushrooms.

My friends saw Godzilla while Cole played songs for me and I played songs for Cole.

It rained and we went to Barton Springs again. I fixed some electronics in the backyard, which had that summer-smell of sun-warmed cat shit.

We enjoyed alcohol-infused snow-cones at Mass gallery and made noise. Cole used his big lungs to fill the gallery.

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It was raining so much before the Raw Paw zine fest that I didn’t set up Proxy. I felt bored without much responsibility and walked back and forth through puddles to acquire free beer. I sat in Ice Shelf for a while, reading Aminadab and drinking Dos Equis. When I had to pee I walked to another art opening.

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I talked to a tall white dude in the beer-line for a while, and talked to the tall dude’s tall friend. We’re all friends now.

Cole was looking at art, looking put out, and I asked how he felt. He was sort of sad about people making fun of this art because “it was gay,” and sort of sad that the art was good, but not quite as good as it could have been, he felt like it was a “good draft.” I told him the art in question was my favorite at the show. He said that the artist had invited his right-wing family to see it, and was nervous because of the gay-content.

The two of us sat at an outdoor table, beneath fairy lights. An enthusiastic computer-engineer student talked about Oculus Rift and near-future/sci-fi immortality. A self-proclaimed “ignorant gay boy” asked me about my gender identity. I told him I am non-binary but live in 0s and 1s.

The gay boy expounded upon gender spectrum and gender fluidity “Like you can be a boy or a girl, or in between a boy and a girl.” I got excited: “Because “boy” and “girl” are fundamental constructed opposites and with your wider model there are 3 genders, with the third being purple – or a blend of the pink and blue of currently constructed gender binary. I continued on my diatribe to position the idea of gender spectrum as an extension of gender binary, and offer a more 3d model where any point in space could be gender identity, because gender is continually constructed, can be anything, and doesn’t even have to be “gender.” WE DECIDE! WE DECIDE! GENDER IS WHATEVER! THE COUCH IS NOW LAVA! THE FLOOR IS NO LONGER LAVA! EVERYTHING IS ACTUALLY LAVA AND NOTHING IS SAFE!

The computer engineer boy got it more than the gay boy. Later the gay boy said “We taught that clueless engineer-boy so much.” I drank another beer.

As of this point, there are obvious themes in this post. A sensory constant that I have not mentioned is that in every paragraph I was acquiring new mosquito bites.

Sunscreen Dust

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I Spent the last several weeks getting up at 6 or 7 and working on Stand In till 11pm or so, with food, beer, party, and going-to-work breaks in between. It went slowly. I have a real capacity to take my time.

SCUBA and I are on tour now, enjoying the luxury “no air conditioning” treatment of sitting in a metal box progressing at 55 MPH with sweat/sunscreen/dust facials.

We set up at the Tamarind Institute first, had a sleepover at the Tan gallery, and drove to Roswell the next day. Roswell is New Mexico’s dairy capital. It smells like shit.

“Why use pooping cows?” I wondered. “You non vegan assholes are the reason places smell like this.” I reminded my friends.

It was about 100 degrees in Roswell. We made salad with falafel/tahini dressing and hung out with a friendly orange cat. The person who had set up our visit at AMOCA warned us not to get our hopes up and said that the people in Roswell don’t like art. We thought that was pretty funny.

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The next day we went to Marfa, which was also hot. For entertainment on the drive Sophia read us papers on critical race studies. We talked about class/culture divide as represented by places like Marfa.

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I liked Marfa, probably because I like the idea of an intentionally designed art-centric community – this ideology is my white/culturally amnesic/hippy heritage. The southwestern landscape, mixed with the art movements represented in Marfa, made me feel at home.

El Cosmico put us up for the night in exchange for showing/playing there. They also offered unlimited free beer, a communal kitchen, and an outdoor bath.

Crocket and I made some noise, and Airplane Mode used my sculpture’s sounds in his electric cello set. Sophia and I went to an overpriced health food store. Chris and I made breaded and fried zucchini/mushroom sandwiches with salad. After the event was over I packed up my piece, got a nosebleed, and took a bath in the nice tub, listening to the drunken and sexist conversation of the people outside.