Saturday, May 30, 2009

stepping back a bit

So much has happened in the past week. I completed my Qualifying Exams and now have the title of "All But Dissertation," which is making me take stock of who what I am and what of that is represented in the work that I produce. Becoming aware of and supporting my areas of expertise is an interesting question and one that I have just begun to contemplate in depth. The dissertation of course being largely a defense of my position. I suppose I will begin by finding out what the formula is and then decide on how it meets and disagrees with my notions.

The exam was three days of writing for six hours, eventually having answered twelve questions, a take home project which I did an installation for and finally a two hour oral exam. The best part of the process was having to read so much and really deal with a lot of information, I finally feel like I can read a bunch of other things that I have been wanting to read. The take home project was something that I realized with Alejandro Casazi and it involved a video (projected on three walls), 18 channels of sound and 3 sound sculptures (white beach balls that were used as speakers). Here is a picture of me inside the interaction space, the notion being that the audience interacts with the balls in order to experience the sound by touching, in addition to what they hear.

After that just over a week long process, Christine and I both completed our work and decided to run away to wine country. She has 5 days left at the hospital here in SB, so we were celebrating the completion of my exams and her first year of residency. We went up to San Luis Obiispo where we stayed in a place that was a former Sanitarium (rather fitting eh?). Here is an image that I will carry with me for years.

We woke up to have breakfast with a couple who was also up from Goleta, "The Good Land" and discussed music and thermal shielding of the space shuttle, it was really a lot of fun. From there we went on to do some wine tasting and olive tasting. Driving down the road we came across this vineyard that stood out simply for the architecture (without even being complete).

To make a long story short, we spent about two hours there and fell in love with the wine. It turns out that Denner is a vineyard that makes a wine that balances our differing pallets.

So, this is the part for my nephews and grandmother. This video reminded me of the wonder of art and engineering married in promotional material. What I love about this 1939 Worlds Fair stop motion production is that it is quite well formed in terms of being a piece of art. The recurring motive of the inner tube, which articulates that even this lowly component serves a vital role, comes again and again. This was shot originally with Polaroid 3D film, hence they keep thrusting things toward the camera. Actually, I find it telling that there is a pedestal and most of the activity happens in that space, while things do fly out at you, this is clearly not informed by the immersive reality vocabulary that is so prevalent in today's computer graphics world. The visual and sound material reminds me of an era and an aesthetic that I love and is something that reminds me of my grandmothers eyes lighting up each time she and I speak about it.

Now I sit on the couch on a lazy Saturday afternoon, having just woke up after a long and enjoyable evening at Clarence Barlow's end of the year party. There is a concert going on in the main court yard and things that sound like the Grateful Dead waft in through my window. Today I will write some music and pack some boxes. Ah, the good land.


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