resonance repository

thoughts on things

O n   D U P L I C I T Y
Krzysztof Kieslowski | director

Having spent most of the last few months considering how our days are increasingly split between physical and virtual worlds, I couldn’t have picked a better time to re-watch "The Double Life of Veronique."  A surreal and beautiful movie by Krzysztof Kieslowski, the film follows two women who share the same face and interests; yet live their lives unaware of each other, lest for a sense of otherness they innately feel. As the story unfolds, we watch their divergent lives arrive at vastly different endings. One to death. The other, love. Yet their behaviors are intertwined by similar passions nonetheless.

Now, is it just me, or does something about this feel all too familiar? Not the love/death part per se, but the sense that we are potentially existing in two places at once? Two very different places, in fact: one of which has walls, whispers, wind, sunshine, subtlety, and sensuality; the other has buttons, behaviors, avatars, archives, and action scripts. One is the physical world. The other is the internet. One has been around for centuries, the other, a little more than a generation.
 
Regardless, both require us to make specific claims about who we are, what we’re interested in, what we do and want, and who we like to be around. More importantly, both have real ramifications as to how others imagine us to be. For better or worse, our online identity is the new first impression; yet, the means by which we can tailor such impressions to specific audiences is limited and largely outside of of our control.

As we enter an era where we exist not only as bodies, but also as bodies of data, we must reflect on what it means to simultaneously construct “double lives” that may — or may not — evolve in sync with each other… especially if our virtual evolution runs the risk of being informed more by the desires and demands of the crowd rather than our own needs.

So, I offer up this clip from Kieslowski for its beauty as well as the unlikely metaphor. The opening sequence subtly toying with our perception of place as the landscape morphs and conjoins. We must wonder… what is reality afterall?

Posted at 2:04am.

O n  V I T A L I T Y Marcel Camus, director

Now there is no way I am going to bed with that last post top of mind.

In third grade I had a teacher — Ms. Seidel — who knew of some of the nightmares I noted below. To quell my fears, she once said that the best way to get rid of a nightmare was to flip your pillow over… as though this object cradled fear and joy in its duel-sided nature; a pancake-like cushion of yin and yang.

So consider this post my virtual pillow flip, thanks to the film ‘Black Orpheus’ — ever vital in its carnaval carnal embrace of spirit, body, and being.

Posted at 1:34am.

O n  M O R T A L I T Y Michael Haneke, director; Gaspar Noé, director; J. W. Dunne, aeronautical engineer

I just finished watching Gaspar Noé's movie Irreversible, and I must say I am terrified.. so much so that I do not want to go to sleep. WIthout reason, it not because of the horrific 9-minute rape scene, nor the brutal murder scene in the first 15 minutes of the film. Instead, it spoke to a greater fear… dreams.

The movie ends with a reference to the J. W. Dunn’s essay "An Experiment with Time" which posits that in “reality” all time is present; such that the past, present, and future happen simultaneously and our dreams are induced precognitive states in which we can experience this understanding of time. That deja— vu, in the waking state, is a brief glimpse at non-linear time too.

Earlier today I had been cutting beets. At a certain point, I looked down at the cutting board; to the knife in my hand; to the red hands in front of me. It was bloody… or appeared to be, for a brief moment until my brain caught up to what my eyes were seeing and reminded me that it was just beet juice. But, in that split second of fear, I had a moment of deja-vu; one not one from reality, but from my dreams.

Ever since I was a child I’ve had dreams of knives: being stabbed in various incarnations. Having been plagued by blades from such a young age, I had just earlier today told my roommate that I certainly hoped that dreams were no indication of reality. So it seemed especially surreal to then — the very same day — watch a movie whose premise was on this very notion. And it scared the shit out of me.

There is no pleasure in thoughts of mortality. But I suppose it has been instilling in me a greater urgency to create. To find some voice and redirect anxiety / fear / wonder / ridiculousness into a means to make (more). To express (more).

For some reason, this scene from director Michael Haneke's film 'The Piano Teacher' has always stuck with me. Its resonance inherent in its ability to take such a climatic moment and make it seem so ordinary, so anti-climactic. This scene is so frightening because of its very banality. Its silence. Its exit. It haunts me to this day.

I don’t know where this post came from… and I’m certain I may delete it somewhat shortly. But I suppose I am searching for some semblance of hope to thwart mortality — that the anxiety surrounding the potentially indiscriminate nature of death can be rerouted by even a small act of creation: in this case, a thought, documented. Hoping that fear can at least manifest as something more permanent — the proof of ones own vitality — via art.

Posted at 12:29am.

10 plays

O n  U N I Q U E N E S S  | With a special audio reference from The Books (*I meant to record laughs, but apparently that makes people too self-aware to be authentically humored. I also don’t own a dictaphone (nor a tape player that would play the dictaphone’s tape)… and I can’t be bothered to use my iPhone instead…)

I distinctly remember my 30th birthday last winter for two reasons: 1) the sadly amazing creation of bird-shit-like frosting that my (very) dear friend used to decorate the prerequisite dessert announcing the end of an age. And 2) a simple sentence my friend Anne uttered late in the evening as I was giddily cutting up the rug we didn’t have:

"I’ve never heard that laugh of yours."

As I continued my drunken dance, I took a brief moment to step outside of myself and observe said laugh. It was a sublimely giddy sound. Something I recognized from the rare occasion when I am unabashedly childlike. A laugh full of joy, void of self-conscientiousness, and ever-so-slightly tinged with the dark cherry note of fear (i.e. would my flailing limbs propel me beyond my control as I careened across the wood floor, putting gesture before judgment…)

Now that I think about it, it was the best birthday gift a girl could have asked for! Because it was not just a laugh, but it was a laugh that shook me into my very being. A laugh that cried “Me!”

And it is with this thought in mind that I more awkwardly recall the first time I ever typed a laugh. It went something like this:

"ha"

Now tell me that’s not funny…!

A decade after this first taste of anticlimactic typeset humor, I have only recently tried using "LOL" in an online conversation. Not only did it make me cringe, but it felt downright sacrilegious — a sentiment even more homogeneous than the 1-5 semantic rating system that ha, haha, hahaha, Hahahahaha, and HaHAHaHAHaaa employ.

The limitations of our online individuality seem the most transparent to me in this very gesture: the virtual laugh. Every unique trill, guffaw, harumpph, chuckle, chortle, snicker, snort, hoot, and giggle reduced to the most basic pairings of four — only four of twenty-six! — lucky letterforms.

At what point did an expression of pure delight become an acronym? 

Posted at 9:30pm.

O n  L A Y E R I N G; Part 1. Ambiguity  |  Tarsem, director

A few weeks ago, Jules lent me the movie The Fall after alluding to its spectacular visual sequences of the surrealist sort. Directed by Tarsem, this film is indeed illustratively imaginative; however, the parts that instead piqued my interest were the less elaborate introduction and the closing sequence. Both of which were seemingly out of context with the rest of the film (worth watching the trailer for reference).

Stunningly mysterious, the opening sequence leaves no evidence of the story that is about to be told. The horse scenes, in particular, are morbidly gorgeous in their exoticism of context. And what appears to set a stage for an interesting narrative to follow is seemingly rerouted once the film actually begins. Two hours later, after the story- within-a-story had more or less concluded, I was about to write off the film as a hyper-produced version of the ‘Neverending Story'… until…

Posted at 12:33am.

O n  L A Y E R I N G , Part II: The Reveal |  Tarsem, director

… Tarsem threw this in at the very very end, allowing me to nibble on the carrot he had dangled from the opening sequence. This reveal… this enlightenment that I was actually within a story / within-a-story  / within another story…it was so delicious!

Not only did the last 2 minutes ground the main narrative; other parts of the viewing experience manifested into something greater too. I stopped to appreciate the history of filmmaking, the intrigue of these early film pioneers, and the kernels of inspiration that can act as formal departure points. Even more interestingly, it was as though the filmmaker himself suddenly manifested into a character in the story. The artist’s hand invisibly present through this tribute… and I felt richer for it.

I bring this up because when I sat with Wes, Lauren, and Cristina to discuss thesis topics the other week they mentioned that my work tends to be very self-reflective and expansive in nature: more inclined to add layers of meaning rather than simplify for the sake of succintness.

I haven’t quite figured out why I make work this way. My guess is that I want to create a dialogue through some “a-ha” moment where the audience finds enrichment through insight. As though within this interpretation there is the possibility to be, even if momentarily, satisfied via a more complex understanding not just of the self, but the self in relation to others.

Posted at 11:37pm.

O n  C O N T R A D I C T I O N  |  personal example

My intention with this archive is to move someone linearly; to not premeditate the next post and see where things organically go with the hopes of arriving somewhere more personal.

So, naturally, the last post led me to crying.

Last year I took my first stab at fiction writing. The process was terrifying! But once I got more comfortable with it, a strange thing happened: I realized that it felt even more like an act of creation than most of the design work I’d been doing. In fact… I kind of fell in love with it. Not enough to write all the time, but enough to reread the things I wrote.

Below are selected paragraphs from my first piece of prose. The initial plot intentions were unclear to me… but I knew there was something subtle about an experience I had that I needed to figure out. So with blind faith I followed my pen towards some unforeseeable conclusion.

'I KIND OF HATE YOU TOO'

(From the introduction)
I’m not usually one to cry, especially in a public bathroom. I mean, trust me, there are times when I tried to cry. No really, I did. Like when my Grandmother died in the room next to me, or when I broke Jim’s heart — I sat there with my dry eyes and willed myself to cry. But it was like trying to crack open a coconut without a machete, and instead cutting open the flesh of your palm with wasted effort.

On this particular night, however, the tears had a will of their own and I welcomed them there in the privacy of the piss-stained floors and graffiti voices carved into the walls. Actually, if you want to know the truth, there was something I rather enjoyed about this flood of feeling. It seemed so emo of me, and normally, I really, really hate emo. Like, to the point of being “anti-emo.” Which really doesn’t make any sense… because that’s like saying you’re against the human condition.

+++

(From the ending)
We spoke as though we had been together for a long time. He laid his head on the back of my pillow and stroked the darkness that was his beard, over and over again as though it needed taming. Or maybe he just enjoyed this new face of his — he didn’t have the same one the last time I saw him. I envied that in men: that they could change their whole identity in a few days with just a burst of testosterone and a blade. When he wore his beard, however, it seemed more diabolical than decorative; and, as though this devil suddenly spoke up from within him he turned to me, still taming this beast of his, and said:


“I kind of hate you.”

I turned to look at him again, and despite the blackness that dripped from his words, I saw instead that there was a glorious green that radiated beneath his skin and made him seem more human than anyone I’d met before. It was a shock to me too! Like when — for the first time — you realize that blood really runs blue within the veins instead of red. Well, the soul is kind of the same: it is really green instead of white. The green of ferns and of phlegm. Of emeralds and of envy. Of sickness, spring, shit, solitude, and sanctuary. And I realized this complex beauty was painted in me too…

Satisfied, I sighed, fell back into darkness, and dreamt in color.

Posted at 12:04am.

O n  C O N T R A D I C T I O N  |  personal example
My intention with this archive is to move someone linearly; to not   premeditate the next post and see where things organically go with  the  hopes of arriving somewhere more personal.
So, naturally, the last post led me to crying.
Last year I took my first stab at fiction writing. The process was terrifying!   But once I got more comfortable with it, a strange thing happened: I realized that it felt  even more like an act of creation than  most of the design  work I’d been doing. In fact… I kind of fell in love  with it. Not  enough to write all the time, but enough to reread the  things I  wrote.
Below are selected paragraphs from my  first piece of prose. The initial plot intentions were unclear to me… but I knew there was something subtle about an experience I had that I needed to figure out. So with blind faith I followed my pen towards some unforeseeable conclusion.

'I KIND OF HATE YOU TOO'
(From the introduction)I’m not usually one  to cry, especially in a public bathroom. I  mean, trust me, there are  times when I tried to cry. No really, I did.  Like when my Grandmother  died in the room next to me, or when I broke  Jim’s heart — I sat there  with my dry eyes and willed myself to cry. But  it was like trying to  crack open a coconut without a machete, and  instead cutting open the flesh of  your palm with wasted effort.
On this particular night, however, the tears had a will of their own and I welcomed them there in the privacy of the piss-stained floors and graffiti voices carved into the walls. Actually, if you want to know the truth, there was something I rather enjoyed about this flood of feeling. It seemed so emo of me, and normally, I really, really hate emo. Like, to the point of being “anti-emo.” Which really doesn’t make any sense… because that’s like saying you’re against the human condition.
+++
(From the ending)We spoke as though we had  been together for a long time. He laid  his head on the back of my pillow  and stroked the darkness that was his  beard, over and over again as  though it needed taming. Or maybe he just  enjoyed this new face of his —  he didn’t have the same one the last time  I saw him. I envied that in  men: that they could change their whole  identity in a few days with just a  burst of testosterone and a blade. When he wore his beard, however, it seemed  more diabolical than decorative; and,  as though this devil suddenly  spoke up from within him he turned to me,  still taming this beast of  his, and said: “I kind of  hate you.”
I turned to look at him again, and despite the blackness that dripped   from his words, I saw instead that there was a glorious green that radiated   beneath his skin and made him seem more human than anyone I’d met   before. It was a shock to me too! Like when — for the first   time — you realize that blood really runs blue within the veins instead of red. Well,   the soul is kind of the same: it is really green instead of white. The   green of ferns and of phlegm. Of emeralds and of envy. Of   sickness, spring, shit, solitude, and sanctuary. And I realized this complex   beauty was painted in me too… Satisfied, I sighed,   fell back into darkness, and dreamt in color.

O n  C O N N E C T I O N  |  Mike Mills, filmmaker and designer; Marina Abramavic, artist

And speaking of Miranda July, imagine the conversations she and filmmaker / designer / boyfriend Mike Mills must have! His music video for Blonde Redhead is similarly tender in tone, yet forcefully transportive. By 2:40 I started to lose it… which is a testament to how strongly Mills is able to evoke an intimacy between the viewer / stranger relationship. Establishing an invited voyeurism. A closed-loop dialogue. An oxymoron.

More than anything, it made me wish that I had had the opportunity to sit across from Marina Abramovic when I visited her exhibition at the MOMA earlier this year. Was her intent to see how strongly one could create a connection through eye contact alone? Existentially speaking, to what extent does this Gaze readily reveal a version of ourselves reflected back more visibly? Or was connection a gift to her audience, and Marina’s own self-serving purpose entirely different?

Observing such interactions reveals a dialogue unable to be transcribed… yet unequivocally shared and intensely present nonetheless. It is most obvious here, in a photographic collection of her audiences’ reactions; wherein, as the title suggests, ‘Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry.’ The emotions captured are united by tears… yet still so profoundly varied in their interpretation of meaning! I can only imagine what suppositions Marina collected from the 717 hours dedicated to that chair. To the intense Look.

So thank you, Mike Mills, for creating a glimpse as to what it might have been like to be Marina…

Posted at 4:22pm.

O n   I M P E R F E C T I O N  |  Miranda July, artist, author, and filmmaker | *with a special guest appearance from My Birthmark

"Life is so ridiculously gorgeous, strange, heartbreaking, horrific, etc. that we are compelled to describe it ourselves, but we can’t! We cannot do it! And so we make art."

In 2007 I found Miranda July, and made a point to give away her book No One Belongs Here More Than You”as my yearly gift to friends. I had seen her film "Me and You and Everyone We Know" — but had not come across her collective work as a writer, performance artist, filmmaker, instigator, and collaborator.

Suffice it to say, her work captivated me. One critic summarizes it as “…an exotic delicacy about a fragile, imperfect human condition.”  This depiction is noticeable in many of the authors and artists I am most interested in: those whose voices are richly inhabited by contradictions and the celebration of “flawed” natures. Somehow more honest; acknowledging that no thing — no one — is as simple as it may appear to be. July’s willingness to embrace awkwardness and anxieties so poetically  — even sensually — is a manifesto in itself… silently shouting “Viva Vulnerability!”

As someone born with a rather large birthmark on my back, I have always found this story rather poignant. Whenever I go home my mother asks if I consider getting my birthmark removed, and the proposition seems so strikingly strange.

I like my birthmark.

Maybe because we have always been together. Maybe because people ask if I have been burned and that makes me feel like I have a more interesting story to tell than I really do. Maybe because I rarely have to encounter it behind the cornice of my shoulder. Or because its shape is subtly sheep-like. Or because it is hotter to the the touch than any other part of my body. Or maybe because if someone needed to ID my body at the morgue it would be the dead giveaway.

In any case, the thought of removing such a strawberry-colored stain seems like an advocation of perfection. And there doesn’t seem to be much point to that.

Posted at 4:06pm.

O n   R E S O N A N C E |  Jacques Piccard, deep-sea adventurer

Yesterday, I sat to lunch with a friends and fellow designers Dora and Maja. At some point in the conversation, Maja mentioned that her first introduction to design was making obituary advertisements in her hometown outside Zagreb at the age of 14. This, if you knew her at all, was unsurprising… in fact, it was perfectly apt. Not in a morbid way either; but rather, in the exotically unusual — if not charmingly ridiculous — way, only befitting of what you might perceive to be the unique upbringing of an eccentric individual.

I note this because when I consider my upbringing — and I have been doing a lot of this lately — it seems almost unbearably normal.

Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate the comfort, stability, and opportunities my family provided me with. I must credit it in part for who I am today. I love my family too. But the lifestyle and environment afforded to me always felt rather prescribed. And it wasn’t until I came into my adulthood and moved away that I began to have some perspective on how they had shaped me. I could never quite put my finger on it, but just recently my mother summarized the impact rather well: I just didn’t thrive there.

Which inadvertently brings me to where I am today: Looking. Perhaps for a place. Perhaps for a person. Perhaps for a sentiment. Most certainly for a voice. More pointedly, for purpose.

With age I had always assumed I would unearth more clarity in this “seeking” process, but the only thing I have become more certain of is uncertainty. While these ideas / choices somewhat terrify me, I often reflect on the following quote, culled from the obituary of legendary deep sea adventurer, Jacques Piccard. In it, his son credits him for “…passing on to me a sense of curiosity, a desire to mistrust dogmas and common assumptions, a belief in free-will, and confidence in the face of the unknown.” This is what you might call a proper legacy, and I have never forgotten it. Because, in legacy there lies resonance.

So as I enter the last year of my graduate study in design, I understand that I am trying to synthesize the things that resonate the most with me to discover some semblance of personal meaning. Yet I have never sifted through all the words; the images; the sounds; the smells; the ideas with the sole purpose of parsing out the specific commonalities amongst these interests in order to interpret my intentions as a designer and individual…. dare I  say artist?

So with a tortoise-shell, fine-toothed comb, I begin…

Posted at 2:01pm.

"He passed on to me a sense of curiosity, a desire to mistrust dogmas and common assumptions, a belief in free will, and confidence in the face of the unknown."
-Bertrand Piccard