Archive for:January, 2008

Captions: I Know This is Uncomfortable (Artist: Dave Chung)

January 30th, 2008

dave chung beaver

  I know this is uncomfortable 
	and I am sorry for that but 
		I am very hungry and for right now 

I strongly feel that 
 I am more 
	important than you.


More of Dave Chung’s art here.

[posted by: C Way at 11:50 AM]

[file under: ABOUT ART ||| Ekphrasis]

Squandered Epiphany #741 – In the Check-Out Line at Gristedes

January 30th, 2008

I was in the grocery store the other day, buying a wee load of fruits and veggies. I was in the same kind of mood I always am when I come home from work: a little peeved, ready to get home and fix myself a drink and put on sonic youth. I’m sure it showed.

Anyway, as I was being rung up I noticed the cashier: she seemed down at the mouth, surly. I recognized her; she was always like that. Then I noticed the bagger, a new dude, some 40 or 50 year old guy, bald, sweetcheeked, kindly. I could tell by his patter and body language that he was keeping up his valiant good humor in the face of the cashier’s bitterness. A little checkout line cold war.

Anyway, all that shit I sussed out unconsciously and it led me to smile at him and say: “Hey there, how you doin?”. His response was immediate. He smiled with enthusiasm, we exchanged small talk (“wish this rain would stop” “cant wait to go home”), and I truly had the sense that I’d lifted this man’s spirits.

Meanwhile the cashier was still harrumphy. She said something under her breath to him about “hurrying up” as he was putting my stuff away. The bagger maintained his composure and said something like “yes, well, I’m going to double bag for this young man since he took the time to be nice”. I was touched. It was so direct and simple and honest and I was mildly shaken by it. I collected my food, said a few more things to the bagger, and left, moved.

On the walk home, I was a little perplexed. Why had that encounter left me so touched? Was it that I helped combat the cashier’s grumpiness by assisting the bagger in this little unspoken temporary alliance we’d formed? Was I pleased to realize the effect a little smiling talk had on the guy? Was I happy to have someone else assess me in such a positive light, and — despite the crusty way I was feeling that night, and despite the way I feel about myself in general — be able to summarize me as a happy, “nice” young man?

A little bit of all that I guess. All I know is it started with a simple, unconscious decision to smile instead of remain emotionally aloof. I felt such a powerful sense of the direct impact you can have on people in your day to day life. All with the subtlest of modulations of your voice & face. The rest of the day I sat with myself thinking: what the fuck? Why don’t I do this more often? Direct, face to face contact that leaves everyone involved feeling bolstered and glad.

But here I am fucking blogging about it instead of going about and trying to make it happen more.

[posted by: C Way at 11:06 AM]

[file under: non-fiction & essays]
Comments (2)

Fox’s Fixes: Whack-a-mole in the Age of Deathless Data

January 23rd, 2008

C. Way/ © 2008

whack a mole     whack a mole     whack a mole

Here’s a report of 20th Century Fox having unfavorable movie reviews yanked from YouTube.

Is anyone surprised? The net makes truth & opinion so much easier to access, so ubiquitous, it’s inevitable that it be corrupted and stymied by those with the will and force to do so.

The net, welcomed with so much teary-eyed idealism in its early years, and now in its accelerated, endlessly-fractalled adolescence presenting all sorts of pains and frustrations to those with something to suppress or revise — be it corporation that can’t handle criticism or individual who is embarrassed or alarmed to find traces, ghosts, echoes of him/herself on the net (I think of coworkers of mine who get contorted in endless knots of conscience over harmless pictures added to their profiles and which they now realize can be viewed by a mistakenly-added manager or boss).

The net makes you accountable. The net holds a mirror right up to you. It’s going to intensify as info about people and entities/companies/corporations continues to burgeon; data mining/exchanging in the medical and marketing and social networking sectors is astonishingly widespread. And if you’re not ready to own up, the net doesn’t give a fuck. You’re either going to have to accept yourself as individual or entity or do what Fox is doing here, and scrub very hard with the biggest steel-wool brush you can find until the spots are out. In vain of course, since in the time it took you to scratch out one blemish, ten thousand more appeared. Whack-a-mole in an endless prairie with a billion new squinty critic-bloggers for every fifty you bash. Pointless cyber-crusades against armies of deathless data.

In a way, Fox is only doing what most of us do in the small sphere of our own lives — redact until the story’s right, photoshop away until that Facebook shot looks perfect. They just looks even more villainous because, well, they’re 20th century Fox.

Obviously the stakes are higher when a corporation with more power and resources than an individual uses its clout and dollars to suppress truth. This is more momentous and damaging than when an individual tries to bowdlerize their wikipedia entry.

Still, the underlying assumptions tie both acts together: truth is mutable, is a function of what can be spun, shown, suppressed; surface-truth (what we present to be the case) trumps actual truth (what is actually the case).

How often have you, in your own life, tried to edit your story? How many sentences restructured, whole passages struck? How subtle the tweak, how skillful the erasure, or how crude the demolition? If there was a Wikipedia entry about you full of everything you’ve done, would you do your level best to edit until the reportage turned into fable? Until all events which could provoke criticism were excised? Or would you look at yourself full in the mirror, flaws and all, and own yourself, take responsibility for all you are?

Let’s rail & rail often against 20th century Fox and any other corporation or company that seeks to silence opposition through cowardly suppressive measures. But let’s also consider our own complicity in this culture of selective presentation, of endless redaction, of failure to own up to and accept ourselves with integrity. We may find that even in the age of deathless data we, like Fox, still imagine we can and should run from ourselves, scramble in futility like people trying to dodge raindrops in a thunderstorm.

[posted by: C Way at 2:09 AM]

[file under: non-fiction & essays]

Paintbrush = Camera: Sampler Psychology

January 19th, 2008

Essay by C. Way – Copyright © 2008


The paintbrush shown in the above video is a remarkable piece of technology. It’s eerie but breathtaking to watch a human being capture complex, varied patches of color, texture and motion and reproduce it all with a flick of the wrist.

At the same time this is essentially just another sampling technology, taking the camera to its next logical evolutionary stage: not only snap the world out of context, but repurpose it in real-time.

As sampling technology then, it has the same potential to be used to honor its medium (I think of Edgar Varese’s musical compositions, or some of the soundscapes in a Public Enemy song) or debase it (contemporary pop which lifts entire melodies and motifs from older artists, slaps on a new lyric and calls it a new composition). It all depends on who handles the technology.

Still, at the risk of seeming all Ludditish, all I see are people creating more distance (or having distance inserted) between themselves and life through technology like this. I think of all the concerts and live music I’ve been to in recent years where, more and more, the audience is content to view everything through a lens, snapping away, only occasionally putting aside the camera to experience the event unmediated.

Or botanical gardens I’ll go to where people rush up to a bonsai tree, or orchid, or kiku flower, snap a few strained photos and hurry off to the next shot, never pausing to experience the subject in its immediacy, apart from the impulse to contain and preserve — and sample.

People are being conditioned to relate to the world outside of them as opportunities first & foremost for sampling and capture, whether by camera or this new LED-paintbrush, & not as opportunities for real, developed, fully-rounded experience.

Many will answer a concern like mine with: “Well, um, doesn’t it amount to the same thing?”
 (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 4:45 PM]

[file under: non-fiction & essays]

Captions: ‘Colored Landscape’ (Watercolor, Artist: Memory Layne)

January 15th, 2008

memory layne colored landscape

Furred, murky, ominous cloud-wet

Baklava soil strata, all pistachio and pomegranate

Trees, tiny, trembling under & hungering for all that smudged threat


See more of Memory Layne’s work here.

[posted by: C Way at 12:52 AM]

[file under: ABOUT ART ||| Ekphrasis]
1 Comment