Thursday, May 31, 2012

"It is a muddled, intricate, spectacular film, but more or less in control of all its craziness and is very watchable. It lacks the central killer punch of Alien: it doesn't have its satirical brilliance and its tough, rationalist attack on human agency and guilt. But there's a driving narrative impulse, and, however silly, a kind of idealism, a sense that it's exciting to make contact with whatever's out there."

ANGLE THROUGH FRONT CANOPY ON a bizarre shape looming ahead.

An enormous bonelike mass projecting upward from the bed of ash.

The tractor slows.

Canted on its side and buckled against a rock outcropping by the lava flow, it is still recognizable as an EXTRATERRESTRIAL SHIP. Bio-mechanoid. Nonhuman design.
In 1932 in April a small boy and his mother and father waited on an Oakland, California, pier for the San Francisco ferry. The boy, who was almost four years old, noticed a blind beggar, huge and old with white hair and beard, standing with a tin cup. The little boy asked his father for a nickel, which the boy took over to the beggar and gave him. The beggar, in a surprisingly hearty voice, thanked him and gave him back a piece of paper, which the boy took to his father to see what it was.

"It tells about God," his father said.

The little boy did not know that the beggar was not actually a beggar but a supernatural entity visiting Earth to check up on people. Years later the little boy grew up and became a man. In the year 1974 that man found himself in terrible difficulties, facing disgrace, imprisonment, and possible death. There was no way for him to extricate himself. At that point the supernatural entity returned to Earth, loaned the man a part of his spirit, and saved him from his difficulties. The man never guessed why the supernatural entity came to rescue him. He had long ago forgotten the great bearded blind beggar and the nickel he had given him.

I speak now of these matters.

Ruth Qaulluaryuk, Baker Lake, framed embroidery depicting the foliage of the tundra
Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Empty landscape. Then Kane comes up over a rise startled by what he sees.

Suddenly the transmission is deafening.

KANE: Jesus Christ.

Dallas and Lambert join him equally startled.


A gargantuan construction rising from the rock. Clearly of nonhuman manufacture.


Noise still at shrill pitch. All members of the party shouting into their voice-amps.

KANE Some kind of spaceship.

LAMBERT: Are you sure. It's weird...

DALLAS: Ash, can you see this.


Ash looking at the craft on a screen.

ASH: Yeah. Never seen one like it. Neither has Mother.

DALLAS (voice over): Keep checking for enhancement.

ASH: Whatever the transmission is, it's inside that.

KANE (voice over): I'll go in and have a look.

Motor manufactured by the Riker Electric Motor Co., Brooklyn, NY, under 1891 patents

"An all exposed skeletal model of a 110 volt single amp 1800 RPM DC motor clearly illustrating the rotating armature, the commutator, field coil and frame borne on four corner-mounted lion's paw feet. Riker pioneered the use of electrical motors in transportation."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

They looked around the forest
They made their house from cedars
They made their house from stones

Oh, they're a little like you, and

They're a little like me
When they're falling me

Thought we were devoid

A change or two
Around this place
(This place)
(This place)

When they get back they're all mixed up with no one to stay with

(When they get back they're all mixed up with no one to stay with)

"It takes a while to find it, but if you are a Facebook user, there is a small settings button entitled 'deactivate account.' If you click, Facebook displays the faces of people 'who will miss you.' If you are determined nonetheless to depart, and scroll further down, you are required to choose a 'reason for leaving' before you are permitted to go. Unfortunately, 'inadequate citizen rule' or 'doubts about corporate governance' are not among the choices. From the available list, I went with 'I don’t feel safe on Facebook.'"
Saturday, May 26, 2012

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Stephen Waddell, Lakeside, 2012

"[T]he touchstone of great emotion and the noble expression of it—the conversion of great emotion into great and good works, and thereby into the improvement of the world."
Friday, May 25, 2012
GUY WITH DYED PURPLE BEARD AND TRICOLOR HAT:  Where's your pirate section?

CJB:  No such beast here, sorry.

GWDPBATC:  You don't have one?

ADA FUCKING LOVELACE:  Where's your books on algorithmic data modeling?

CJB:  No such books here, sorry.

AFL:  You don't have any?

TODAY'S SOUNDTRACK:  Walter Becker, Eleven Tracks of Whack, totally apropos.

Bill 78 is an insult to every Canadian, reflecting a profound contempt for the "governed." Quebec's students are protesting tuition increases designed to put anyone trying to better themselves in hock to the "institututions of higher education" for eternity. Unless you are fortunate enough for full scholarship (which I was, at UBC, for 3 of my 4 years) this basically acts as a clawback of your earnings for a decade or longer, especially if your degree is in liberal arts. Saddling young people with $30,000+ debts at the start of their working lives is something that we, as a culture, have to come to grips with. It's a way of making young people tractable, as with cows. And it's shameful that the inflated costs of higher education are passed along to those least able to bear it, who are then, by dint of those debts, made less mobile and less able to take the risks that were happily taken by the entitled boomer generation. This is not my personal issue - I have a degree and a job. But I am profoundly angered by a society that wants to strap 100-pound weights around the feet of its young, and then castigates them when they can't run.

Buddy Bunting, Idaho Correctional Center, Kuna Idaho, 2012

"As I make the paintings I’m conscious that they are real places, and that behind each slotted window is a cell containing one or more people, but I can only hope the finished work reflects that sense of humanism. I’ve always been most interested in where the prisons are built, or more accurately the places and the communities around the facilities. Since prisons are constructed in certain communities for economic and political reasons, my hope in the beginning was that my work would capture the relationship the facilities had on these communities."
Thursday, May 24, 2012

Congrats to my brother Dru, receiving his PhD. from UBC as I type.

In other news, my work is included in this excellent exhibition opening tonight at North Vancouver's Presentation House Gallery.  If you're in town, drop by and say hello.  I'm the shy bald guy not wearing a convocation gown.

CJ (20), 2012

Looking northeast, El Paso in the middle distance.

Reading Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez, The Femicide Machine (semiotext(e), 2012).  Thanks to Carey Mercer for his suggestion of this valuable source.

Gonazalez Rodriguez:  "South of the border crossing, and the old red-light district, with its nightclubs, cantinas and bars lies the zona dorada -- the golden zone -- the city's most urbanized area.  Its avenues recreate the broad strokes of US-style cities.  Suddenly, the rectilinear order of these avenues twists off in an unexpected direction.  A saturation of outdoor advertising appears with loud colors, along with a scattering of brands: a parody of a Texan city.  At once contemporary and anachronistic, vital and decadant, Ciudad Juarez looks like a collage.  The half-century old promise of the city as a thriving business and recreational zone rests in suspended animation.  Signs of underground violence suddenly emerge on street corners, walls, uprooted fence posts, and sidewalks torn up by car crashes, decay and damage caused by fire, graffiti tags, bullet holes.  An invisible and encompassing menace floats there."
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CJ (19), 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In solidarity.  These people make me proud of my country.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Maile Meloy's "The Proxy Marriage"

Courtesy this week's New Yorker, whose fiction selections I don't often read.  This story is terrific, contemporary realism in the best sense of the term.

A sample, economical and full of telling details:

"When William parked his mother’s car in the courthouse lot, there was a woman beside him in a red pickup truck, crying. The air was brisk and the tall, old stone building imposing, with the new prison built alongside it.

Inside the courthouse, the room they usually used was locked, so William backtracked to the clerk’s office. The girl in front of him in line, who looked about seventeen, was picking up a restraining order. A bosomy clerk at a desk held a phone receiver to her shoulder and asked, 'How do we do a dissolution of marriage if the husband is in Afghanistan?'"
Saturday, May 19, 2012

"A view of one of the poorest regions of Ciudad Juarez made up primarily of factory workers employed by foreign companies. This settlement was created after thousands came to Juarez from other regions of Mexico in search of jobs. Later these neighborhoods would become home to some of the first gangs that later would be responsible for distributing drugs for the Juarez Cartel. This picture is overlooking the Noveno territory. [Photograph] by Dominic Bracco II. Mexico, 2011."

Sketch for CJ, thinking of Cezanne. I love this picture's broken colors, reminiscent of those of the Blackberry cameraphone, and the visual rhyme of the pink blooms at the left edge of the frame with the spray-painted chainlink by the right hand edge.

Approximately printed size.
"While you might reasonably expect to see grilled cactus paddles alongside the steak or a delicious quesadilla made with freshly fried chicharrones to be teetering on a mountain of the stuff, you will probably be surprised to discover that the pineapple agua fresca has cactus in it, and the tortillas are made with cactus, and the chips are bright, bright green. The surfeit may bring to mind the American Cheese Council omelet recipe from an old Roz Chast cartoon in the New Yorker — '2 eggs, 5 lb. Swiss cheese, 1 tbsp. butter.'

Nopales, the cactus, is unquestionably healthful, a source of vitamin C and potassium and bioflavonoids."
Biography for Presentation House

"Christopher Brayshaw, b. 1970, is a Vancouver-based photographer, critic, curator and bookseller.  His art practice emerges from his direct experience of the world, and is concerned with issues of pictorial construction, the anxiety of influence, and the representation of everyday life."

Short but not wrong.
"I wondered what their library was like, so I explored its catalogue online and found that they had 22 novels by Robert Ludlum and one by Anthony Trollope. When I suggested that this might not be quite the right balance in an institution of 'higher learning,' I was warned against meddling. Their motto, on a moving electrical sign outside the building, is 'Imagine the Possibilities.' I pointed out that this was also the slogan of Campbell's Soup. It is not surprising that they dismissed me as a wise-ass."
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Relevant to my interests: "Recreated Celestial Annihilation using as many of the original samples [as] I could get my hands on."
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hip hop does not simply draw inspiration from a range of samples, but it layers these fragments into an artistic object. If sampling is the first level of hip hop aesthetics, how the pieces or elements fit together constitute the second level. Hip hop emphasizes and calls attention to its layered nature. The aesthetic code of hip hop does not seek to render invisible the layers of samples, sounds, references, images, and metaphors. Rather, it aims to create a collage in which the sampled texts augment and deepen the song/book/art's meaning to those who can decode the layers of meaning.


Found study for an in-process picture (After Hetty Dorval, Ethel Wilson, 1947, 2012)

Also in process:

10765 135A Street, Surrey, British Columbia, 2012

Second Growth, 2012

Flower District, Los Angeles, CA, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

For those in Vancouver: my work is included in Phantasmagoria, a new group exhibition at Presentation House, alongside that of friends like Evan Lee, Raymond Boisjoly, Dan Siney, and Elizabeth Zvonar. The exhibition opens Thursday May 24th at 7pm and continues through July 8th. On display: War Game Tree, a "composite panorama" made from 240 images taken with a consumer-grade digital point-and-shoot (detail above), and three Street Views, two from Los Angeles and one from Juarez.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Tony and myself and -- and then we were closing the trunk on -- on him and he tried to put his hands out and his feet out to stop us from closing the trunk and we were pushing down. I was pushing hard. That is the part I feel worst about because -- as far as the violence I did because I heard him, you know, just say "Ow," or, you know, like kind of yelped in pain from closing the lid on his -- and -- but then he pulled in his hands and feet and the trunk was closed and Charles went back and got in the car.
Saturday, May 12, 2012

Metropolitan (57), 2012

Contrast and saturation problems fixed in the foreground and in the figure's blue shirt.  Post-processing, represent. Time elapsed: 3 1/2 hrs.  Maybe no one but me will notice the difference between version #1 and version #2, but #1, now destroyed, bothered me enough to change it.

The figure's pose reminds me of those old "Hurry in..." ads from the 1950s and early 60s, a logjam of cartoon figures sprinting toward a one-day sale on washing machines, women's shoes, a storage locker full of beef....

This one is for L., but I was thinking of this great Walker Evans, too.

CJ (18), 2012
Friday, May 11, 2012

CJ (17), 2012
Karmin’s style, it turns out, is reference; if it were to have come out with a wholly original sound, it would have been alienating.

Karmin’s rise also reflects that hip-hop, once something that outsiders had to apply for admission into, is fair game for anyone. The barriers to entry aren’t there anymore. The line between theatrically revising other people’s raps and using the medium seriously, for your own purposes, has been all but eradicated.

Thursday, May 10, 2012
"This is a period that is not often talked about, postwar North America. People had to do desperate things in order to make a living."

Thoughtful answers to questions about an excellent show.
Collectively, the works assembled here do have a strong proselytising intent. They are [his] way of preaching two messages: his stated passion for the vibrancy of the natural world; and his faith in the languages of art, as opposed to what he calls the monocular tyranny of photography, to represent that world as no other medium can.

Hence, perhaps, his magpie eclecticism, his multiple borrowings from the canon of past art.

The exuberant ventriloquism and quasi-pantheistic devotion to Nature are not always convincing. There is often the suspicion of a gap between what the artist has willed himself to create and what he has actually created.

A suppressed charge of melancholy lurks behind the bright surfaces of many of these pictures, hints even of a conscious morbidity and loneliness in some of their most insistent motifs: the recurring barren trunk of a stricken tree, the road or passage leading to some ominous, mysterious horizon. Glummest of all are those multi-camera works: split-screen meditations on a natural world that often appears a blank and forbidding place, seen from a car moving with the funereal slowness of a hearse.

I Got The News, from The Darcys' Aja.  Very much in the spirit of some of the photographs that appear here from time to time, esp. 4:27-on.  A translation of an admired source into one's own idiom.

Studies for a photograph I hope to make this fall. Antelope Valley, CA.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012

CJ (16), 2012
About These Photographs

Two sequences of pictures, found and framed in Google Street View.

Metropolitan: sites in Los Angeles previously unknown to me.

CJ:  sites in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, North America's most violent city, a place where neither I, nor native Mexican photographers, can work openly.

The experience of modernity in two of North America's largest cities. 

When I began I thought, naively, to visually contrast "good" polyglot heterogenous modernity with "bad" failed modernity.  The pictures complicate this distinction, revealing it as arbitrary.  Even in Murder City, daily life goes on.

100 pictures made of each place, of which perhaps 8-10 will be accepted as finished works and shown.  No sequence ever exhibited in its entirety.

Each picture extensively post-processed and best considered a sketch or drawing.

Smallish prints, ranging in size from 5" x 7" to 9" x 16".  Framed.  One or two slightly larger pictures presented as backlit images in off-the-shelf wall-mounted digital display frames.

Thanks to Owen Kydd, Gabrielle Moser, Andy Keech and David Hockney, special friends of these works.

CJ (15), 2012
Tuesday, May 08, 2012

CJ (14), 2012
Monday, May 07, 2012

CJ (13), 2012
Sunday, May 06, 2012

"Characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions; '[A] great concourse of phantasmagoric shadows'--J.C.Powys"

CJ (12), 2012
Saturday, May 05, 2012
What can I do? 
Must I watch you?

CJ (11), 2012

Metropolitan (56), 2012
"'We have hate abroad in the world, hate internationally, hate domestically where a President was assassinated and then they take the law into their own hands and kill the assassin,' he said.  'That is not our system.  We have to do something about that.  We have to do something about this hate, and you have to get to the root of hate.  The roots are poverty and disease and illiteracy.'

He had been sitting erect behind his desk, smiling, friendly, dignified at the beginning of his talk; he wasn't erect now but hunched forward over his desk, arms leaning on the pages that he had long since stopped reading from, and as he talked he leaned further and further toward the men sitting in front of him, his hands sometimes open in entreaty and sometimes clenched into fists. 

He had noticed something in the State Department briefing cards, he said. [....] 'We don't really recognize how lucky and fortunate we are until something tragic like this happens to us.  Here is our President shot in the head and his wife holds his skull in her lap as they drive down the street.  Here is our Governor who looked around and said, "Oh, no, no, no," and because he turned a bullet just missed his heart.  It went down through his lung into his leg and tore his left hand off.  And, then, yesterday they take the law into their own hands.  We have to do something to stop that hate, and the way we have to do it is to meet the problem of injustice that exists in this land, meet the problem of inequality that exists in this land, meet the problem of poverty that exists in this land, and the unemployment that exists in this land.'"
Friday, May 04, 2012

CJ (10), 2012
Thursday, May 03, 2012

Metropolitan (55), 2012
Wednesday, May 02, 2012

What's Up for Lunch?  A Gull-Eating Octopus in Victoria, BC

"The Giant Pacific Octopus can be seen regularly patrolling the shallows of the shorelines around Victoria. They primarily feed on crustaceans, but are known to occasionally take fish and even birds. Octopi are extremely intelligent animals, and great problem solvers. Although they live only about four years, they can grow to have a span of more than 20 feet and to weigh more than 100 pounds. This one wasn’t that large, but it was still an impressive individual. What was even more impressive, though, was that it had one of its tentacles wrapped around the head of the gull, holding it under water."
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
"'My future is behind me,' he told one member of his staff.  'Go,' he said to another, 'I'm finished.'  But he was on Air Force One now."


 New entry on that whiteboard in the basement: HAUNTED BOX OF PORN

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