Sunday, December 7, 2008

puppet party

It's cold, it's Sunday: buy some socks at Walgreens and go crazy with some thread! Dog + Space Princess.

Hope the kids in Indiana will like them.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

lost n found

I retrieved two video pieces from a dusty folder on my hard drive today. Enjoy the pixelated party of digi-fish schools or five observations wrapped together into a simultaneous view.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

galling critters

I picked a leaves off a tree in front of the art institute and had students pick open the nodules on the leaf surface. A tiny surprise package of baby bug (Order: Hemiptera) living inside. It was a shame to disturb this one for the sake of "science," but it was extraordinary.

details on cloudness

I think only the flatness of the midwest allows for this particular sort of sky freakout/atmosphere singalong.

As for clouds, this piece by Aspen Mays recently blew my mind. Just the idea a balloon could bring you to that edge of outer space & air....

The passenger jet is a mere mote racing to the the vertex. who knew the edge of space as so clean!

Friday, October 17, 2008

in the sky, out of the sky

Last night the air was funny. Moonlight and sodium-lamp light pollution mixed like some poorly considered cocktail and yet produced quite a sight in the sky - this sort of orange, billowly, clear, immanent-ness. I felt like I was certainly underwater. I made me think of this book I read as a kid that I've never found anyone else has read or even heard of called "Under Plum Lake." This felt like that.

Maybe this kind of light is too much for delicate things. Or maybe it is just the season and the actuary tables that dictate the lives of small creatures: downtown at the corner of State and Monroe was this little wren lying on the ground, still very soft.

Kobayashi Issa:

That wren--

looking here, looking there.

You lose something?

Dale M. Kushner:
.....Her small body is dense with a radiance
she doesn't have to earn.
All that's required
is to live the ancestral life
over again
without any urge to change it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

insects abound/around town

The inaugural insect trip of the fall insect course went well. Dragonflies were the welcoming committee, hundreds flying all over acres and acres of Montrose Beach Park and the bird sanctuary as well. What was with this swarming? Theories are out there and there as numerous as dragonflies themselves (and of course obligatory YouTube footage is as well) but the jury may still be out.

They were still hard to catch, but the sheer number made it more possible than usual - like the endless herds of bison out on the western range back in the late 1800's, getting one was simply a matter of time to bag one.

The weird caterpillars were out in force too - very well dressed (much like many of students, I might add). I think stripes are in, regardless if you are a vertebrate or invertebrate.

It should also be noted that the milkweed bugs were out in full force (you would have loved them, Yui), enjoying a Sunday with there comrades. The monarch butterflies were in lower numbers, but perhaps it was just the way the wind was blowing this Sunday?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

contemporary architecture

Ah, milkweeds in the summertime & their white plant sap.

Yui and I found ample insects in the field the other day. The Oncopeltus love this plant as much as the Papilio. I'm taken with the filigree of the circulatory, trusses and braces. Buckminster ain't got nothing on that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

prevencion de accidentes (armas de fuego)

As an addendum to the last post involving firearms, I want to just add two cautionary images from a didactic sheet meant for children in Mexico called "Prevencion de Accidentes" that I picked up in a stationary store down in Guanajuato this summer.

There are many accidents given as examples in these sheets: skateboarding in the street, playing with gasoline, cutting towards rather than away from you, etc., but the gun ones seemed apropos to the moment in the Various Stream.

In the one, the mother looks concerned she might in fact be getting done in by her teenage son, who has a particularly unsettling look on his face. In the other,the father almost seems to be inviting a certain form of disaster - although maybe he always has his kid load in pistol before starting the work day?

The recent Supreme Court ruling overturning the historical ban on handguns in DC is worrying enough that perhaps we should be distributing similar accident prevention sheets around - plastering them everywhere next to ones that also read something like "shooting people is for sissies."

Monday, August 11, 2008


Summer + rural Illinois = a rare opportunity this last weekend. Visiting with friends downstate means new things, and the thing this time was skeet shooting. Walter was kind and generous enough to take me out. My feeling about firearms can be mixed, but I did enjoy shooting at the fluorescent "clay pigeons" as the flew about in the air - apparently these things are supposed to be "fragile as eggs" - I'd say they are even moreso.

Skeet, or "trap," is also a Olympic sport including at the current Beijing Games. Oh yes, and the newest event this time around? > here

The video below shows that my aim wasn't always spot on - I guess that is what makes it a sport, after all?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July 23rd proposition: red and small

It may very well be a series or a one off fluke, but gave myself a simple assignment - a visual proposition for July 23, 2008 - find six objects in the house that fit in the palm of my hand. Rightly so, I filed them under "Various" on the website.

Most of them I spotted quickly were tchokes and/pleasant junk: the small replica of the porsche that a person I briefly knew owned (seems like a bit of a vain gift, but it is very cute all the same - even the same color as the his actual car), a plastic fork from a birthday party I couldn't bring myself to throw away, now sitting in my key & change bowl (maybe a little unsanitary), and a lion-dog my parents probably bought in Taiwan many years ago , but that I have coveted since my early teens. Perhaps the next proposition to set myself will be "blue and makes me cringe" or "orange and feels wet" - so many possibilities.

Friday, July 18, 2008

weather or not

The clouds have been very showy the last few days in Chicago. Rich in loft, puff in mist - and sort of amoeba-like in the way they've been playing around the sky. Yes, I know there is a whole taxonomy of clouds, and even a book that plays off that notion (highly recommended to me, but haven't read it yet). The Cloud Appreciation Society is alwasy a nice place to ogle some vapor if you are feeling lonely and the sky around you at the moment is decidedly too clear.

The recent past found me on a place from Leon, Mexico to Houston, Texas. There was a cute couple of Mexican kids sitting behind Xa and I and the boy of the pair was positively over the top with it all. He kept yelling in spanish at that early hour "we are in the clouds! look! Look, now we are above the clouds!. Look!" His excitement felt almost unreal - like on was on a TV show about a boy flying through the clouds for the first time. Though he shok my seat a little too much, it was charming for sure, and a reminder of how CRAZY AMAZING it actually is to fly through the clouds. In the movie Afterlife by Hirokazu Koreeda there is a scene where they try to recreate a moment from a man's life when we is flying through the clouds while piloting a little Cessna. The clouds are fashioned from cotton and they discuss at length with those (shooting the scene to film) if the the clouds feel right and true to the experience he had had. The memory of flight becomes as wonderful as flying itself as you watch the quiet man talk about them.

Speaking of the "afterlife," I submit that it is mildly creepy to think that stock photo companies actually have this as a classification category in their image banks. The cloud theme is dominant in the afterlife images from the site linked above, and of course devils and flames make their obligatory appearance as well. That seems in line with cultural tropes and our collective psychology maybe. Then again, other things also make an appearance, like a blind kitten with angel wings as well as a woman in a bikini spelunking. Hmm. Perhaps there is a religion out their offering a variation of the 72 virgins promised in a paradise after death?

Anyway - clouds. I think it is best to enjoy them now, even if there are really nice ones in the afterlife too. Even if after looking at them they rain on you, you can at least feel pleasure in having a bunch of liquid cloud poured all over yourself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the "andrew yang" update

Today I got a surprise email from Andrew Yang - not a common occurrence (about as common as when I receive a letter from Andrew Yang - another story for another time). Luckily for me and my sanity, the email wasn't from myself, but rather from another Andrew Yang out there.

He writes:

I've always been impressed with how many of us there are, but you're the first to embrace that fact. I'm kinda jealous you got the coveted domain. So here I am, reaching out for the first time to one of us.

I'm a biomedical engineer, studied in NYC. I work for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewing medical devices. I'm on my way to getting a professional engineering license, hence the EIT at the end of my name. Oh right, I'm Korean. And... I'm 26.

There's isn't much more to me that I'd be willing to share with a stranger. No picture or website. I just wanted to be cataloged with the rest of your collection of Andrew/Andy Yang profiles.

So I guess just picture this Andrew Yang in your head, looking over the latest medical device to make sure you might ever want to put it in your body, while also curiously searching the web as Andrew Yang's occasionally do - for themselves.

Thanks for being in touch, Andrew - solidarity!

Addendum: Some more Andrew Yang's not included on the original list, but which Google tells me now also have a presence in the webosphere:

the British Columbian dentist

the Hong Kong life insurance agent

the Regional Manager, North China for an international mail outfit

the senior property account for a real estate firm based in LA

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

getting food-on with u-don

I have been a fan of Japanese thick noodles for a long time but never considered making them myself until my friend Rachel - culinary expert and baker - suggested it to Xa and I .

Rachel made the dough and brought it over. In an attempt to mimic some traditional manner in which this dough is needed to be kneaded at a certain stage, Xa proceeded to stomp on the dough (wrapped in paper) with her feet - here pictured. We then cut the dough up into noodles - also shown here, but representing someone else's noodle cutting efforts & skills. I can assure you our noodles were even more beautiful.

Last time I was in Japan they were going through a bit of an Udon craze. "Sanuki Udon" from the island of Shikoku had just become the new Hot Thing. I like this guide to eating udon noodles posted by a Tetsutaro Okada - Economics Professor in Kagawa. He writes:

"Good udon" means cheap and delicious one. How do we look for good udon noodle restaurants? It's easy. All you have to do is to walk (or ride a bicycle if possible) around near your place in Kagawa at 12:00 on week days. You will see the local people queuing in front of a good noodle restaurant. They are queuing from 12:00 until 12:30 or 12:45.

This sounds like very reasonable advice. At the same time, people are always lined up outside of Garrett's Popcorn in downtown Chicago, and I would never recommend that to anybody - lemming running off the popcorn cliff if you ask me. Go to their website linked right above and you can watch a video clip of Halle Barry actually *hugging* a huge tin of this popcorn. I guess it is a matter of whose taste you trusts more - me or Halle?

The Udon was delicious and the tempura that Xa and I made was too. The tempura eggs (no, not egg tempera) that Rachel introduced us to were mindblowingly tasty, and worth all the cholesterol medication we'll have to take 10 years from now because of it.

p.s. Professor Okada also has a nice step-by-step about making sanuki udon in the US! In Japanese only, it is still fun to see the photos of him making the dough.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cupcake Update

Cupcakes are causing trouble: yet another piece, many argue, of the growing obesity problem in the US. I never ate a good nor healthy school lunch that I can recall in my too-many school years; that said, I never considered cupcakes part of that problem, though many schools now are. Apparently it is an issue that has been gaining steam over the last year. Some have even argued that "antifreeze and cupcakes have a lot in common" in terms of their danger to human health. Maybe though, that is just a matter of the frosting?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

the Slides of March

Yesterday was the Ides of March. For Julius Caeser, it wasn't the best day and it was gotten a bad rap ever since. What better solution then to turn the ides into SLides?

Anne E.M. hosted a nice "Slides of March" together-getting at her place, and slides were had by all - projected on a sheet from a manual one-at-a-time vintage TDC slide project.

Alana showed just a sampling of some 5000 vacation slides documenting the various trips of Pauline, Betty and Louise - travel buddies from Grand Rapids in the early 1970's, each slide meticulously annotated and archived to place, time and subject. Native Americas, Lake Powell, endless motel rooms and the endless ways they decorate so that the bedsheets might match the curtains. Their suitcases lined up in on a curb.

Matt Kessler (who recently did a wonderful slide show at Chicago Pecha Kucha vol. 4 on the ridiculous logos DARPA has for their overly acronymed and often failed multi-million $$$ projects, like PANDA) presented an ongoing project with his collaborator Zach that was based on a book called "C D B" in which the sound of letters take the place of phonetic syllables of words, albeit sometimes in a unintuitive sort of way. Matt and Zach came up with several clever original ones with drawing included, such as:

"HTML is easy for Jesus"...and he adds parenthetically "I am OK in C++, too!"

This was just the tip of the word-sound iceberg that they exhibited that evening, as well as some four other slide shows covering everything from online confessions sites to the architectural oddities of otherwise unremarkable old apartments in Bridgeport.

Next slide, please.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

SAIC = the School of Art Institute of Cupcake

The opening of this year's BFA show was a treat. I get I get to see the work of many of my students in the graphic, painterly, performative craft, and insanely clever ways you can only hope for. I get to meet people's parents and partners, which illuminates and fulfills base-level curiosities in equal measure. . I could mention my former student Mark and his apparent flying mountain project, in Second Life and embodied. Or all the tinsel that C. found herself swimming through at one point in a exhibit of works in glass.

Their are too many interesting things to potentially talk about, so I won't talk about them all at risk of saying too little about any one thing. Instead, just one observation. About: cupcakes.

Cupcakes are in. We knew about this as exclusive cupcake bakeries proliferated over the last couple years, from the west, to the midwest, and of course, the east. I've eaten some of these cupcakes, and I tell you, they are good. I myself have taken to making brownies in the shape of cupcakes because they seem more delicious that way. There was the band Cake, and then Cake on Cake, so it is only natural that given current interest in cupcakes that there is a band named that too. They have even made it into the obscure but thriving market of Rebus dishware. I can attest to this because I was given the plate below just this Christmas by my brother.

It was only a matter of time then that cupcakes made there way to the fine art world. On the first floor of the BFA show C. and I came across this very elaborate cupcake wall display. Cupcakes were for the taking, as were the toppings. Whipped cream on top of your already frosted cupcake? Yes, anything is possible. Is this sort of a 'sweetened relational aesthetics' in the spirit of Rirkrit Tiravanija kind of thing?

As much as cupcakes are in, though, there is also the possibility of simply being in a cupcake! And so why not do that. Why not have three of you in your underwear sit within a huge pink-frosted chocolate cupcake and hang out and eat and call the piece "Ms. Otis regrets she will be unable to lunch today"? You can have your (cup)cakes and eat them too quite simultaneously, then perhaps even go for the Guinness Book of World Record's to boot. Whatever feminist critique may or may not be happening here, it was a popular spectacle and I suspect only the beginning of a more extensive snack cake discourse/consumption looming on the horizon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

silent planets

The other day I found an anonymous manila envelope in my mailbox. Inside I found this book. A gift from K.! I wonder if he saw this part of my website and felt inspired to add to the collection? The edition will be a lovely addition.

The first book in C.S. Lewis' Space Triology, it is the story of a man kidnapped to Mars and all the hijinx that occurs thereafter. Apparently the religious themes are pretty heavy and I am intrigued by the idea of space Sci-Fi Chrisitianity parables. Could it be as compelling as the Chronicles of Narnia I grew up with as a kid? K. , is ths a subtle way of trying to save my soul?

The only science fiction I've ever gotten into has been that of Stanislaw Lem,but maybe silent planets deserve a chance too, especially if that creepy eye on the cover is there to peer at you.

Still, I've always fancied myself as Lem's character Pirx the Pilot - a space captain as mediocre talent that manages to live an interesting life all the same. In the linked video it is eerie how much the outfits in this (Polish?) show match to what I had always imagine; the music is also great.

I love in this clip in which robot laser beams sound a lot like chirping crickets in mid-summer.

All that said, I'm grateful for the new book. It fits in so well with the others in my stacks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

the Small Science Collective 2.0

Hey all, just a shameless plug for a blog I work with - the Small Science Collective just got itself a facelift!

Yes after a long time in "idle" the blog is now back to being updated, with a whole slew of new titles to be posted over the next few months on topics as various as entomophobia, spirals, and moths that drink the tears of birds for sustenance.

science zines for the science scenes...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Four Blogs of the (anti) Apocalypse

With global warming, the world economic recession, carbonated yogurt**

Given this state of affairs, it is essential for us to avoid URLs that spell D.O.O.M. in any sort of subtle way (CNN, Alternet, FoxNews, etc.) and instead focus on those things that very well might provide us with some small measure of boost - spiritual, intellectual, visual, or otherwise. Here are four blogs along those lines and of late by dear friends:

Dread Naught - Tokyo observations on kids, media, skateboarding, anthropology and the Global Imagination

What is it like t be a Chicago media activist living and working in a women's dormitory for two months? Read Camb(l)o(g)dia and find out the remarkable truth to the matter.

Stencils and spaces, ink and wall faces - the a blog which documents a course - Silk Screen and Social Spaces - running at two universities simultaneously. Yes, spray paint is illegal in
Chicago, but silkscreen ink isn't!

Physics, Fugazi, new life in SF - Instrument is a random sample.


**Carbonated yogurt? Yes, well there are three ways to think about it. Firstly, as a matter of scientific and consumer studies, as we see in this peer-reviewed publication in the Journal of Diary Science or his one in the Journal of Food Science aka: how much fizz can yous take, fool?

How might you appeal to me as a yogurt consumer, with such a product? The internet is a good start, sure, but I DARE you go to the "Tongue Test Facility" at this frightening Yoplait site. Viewing may cause sterility or other side effects.

Whose brain child is this? Dr. Ogden. How Mormonism or the landscape of Utah might relate to this invention, I wouldn't even contrive to speculate about. One doesn't question a food product 24 years in the making.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Doing we research for something biologic, I came across the site of a biologist I knew some time ago named Andre. In common was our interest in cabbage white butterflies. He raised them by the thousands for research. I caught them if I wasn't feeling lazy.

I noticed he had photos up on his site - travel pictures, friends, social potest, and the like. Although archived too was an odd little page called "bellybuttons"

Yes, simple as that! 28 "umbigos" which is apparently what bellybutton translates to in Portuguese, where Andre lives. So I assume they are all Portuguese bellybuttons, even the dog ones (no cats?). The composite shot (for the love of god, I hope that is what it is) is a little creepy, but I appreciate to for its creepy quality all the same and the fantastical mental image of a baby connected to 28 mothers.

But riddle me this - no outties?

Thinking back on it after noticing the dearth, I actually can't recall the last time I either seen nor heard to one referred to. Where have they gone? I should know the answer but I don't. Perhaps that particular knot has gone out of fashion or something. Maybe with the advent of velcro we don't need buttons.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

that picTure there

My student Karly pointed out on our class Wiki that the Library of Congress has its own Flickr site = wonderful.

Wonderful like this photo by Jack Delano of kids picking potatoes in Aroostook Co. Maine. The comment tags on the image are really interesting, including testimonials of growing up in that part of the world, as well as the unsettling possibility that the child on the right is crying?

She also pointed out that COLORS 58 is themed on portrait studios...

How many us of from "generation X" had their pictures taken at Sears photo studio? Do they even exist anymore, I'm not sure.

Friday, January 25, 2008

and too, rogue file

I think I took this inside a Frank Serra piece at Dia Beacon two years back. I don't know how it snuck out of its unlabeled folder and onto the desktop. I guess it was making a break for it.

Various from the desktop

As the semester begins, the need to clean-up ones desktop a bit becomes pressing. In the spirit of variousness: a random samples of images lurking there with informative titles like"394rf596.jpg" that I downloaded or took for whatever reason - for many I' am no longer even certain. I do know the pal fish is one named after the current Emperor of Japan, but why I found that relevant a couple months ago, the mystery persists....