I have, over the last year, stepped away from my street artist, punk rock, DIY background and actually done something in the way that things are done. I put together a book proposal and started writing a book. And I was an over night success. The End.
This process can make you feel like an ant trying to work its way to the top of a Jello Mold from the inside. You have meeting after meeting and the agent might come and go with nary a nickel on the bedside table. (I am pretty sure mine has gone, if anyone sees him tell him, y’know, call me?) There are going to be parts of the business that glimmer like the city on the hill and others that smell like a dog run on a hot summer day. And, in the end, it just becomes easy to sit and stare at a phone.
But that is the restricted lane, toll road to a nervous breakdown. I have had to make myself remember at times that the work is mine and mine to do and mine to keep doing. You can’t wait around for people, unless you decided to be a writer because being suspended in misery is just what you’re into. In the end, I like what I do and I hope that always co exists with the business of editors and agents and publishers. If it doesn’t, I have taken a wrong turn.
All of this is to say – Having worked on the book for the better part of the last year, I am now sitting on a heap of material that I can use for the various weird projects I am involved in all over the city.
One of my favorites is The BTK Band, a fully improvised live music, storytelling, burlesque extravaganza. This project started out as a rough ride on an overgrown trail with a flat tire and is quickly becoming one of the tightest and most innovative live shows happening in New York. I can toot that horn, because most of the credit goes to the rest of the outfit and its leader, Peter Aguero.
But we are here to talk about me. This video is something I put together from an audio recording of one of the performances and it represents a piece of the book transformed for a new use. So enjoy that, and then check out my blog because there are a bunch of shows I am doing this coming week that I am really happy to be a part of and they are all listed over there, and there are sample chapters from the book, too. – Enjoy.
One more thing, If you are enjoying Cyndi and I on the blog, we will be appearing together as our burlesque alter egos, Cherry Pitz and Johnny Angel, at Seth Lind’s Told on Monday the 19th, 7 o’clock, at Under Saint Marks Theater. We will be there as wigged, lycra clad relationship counselors. You need our help.
“The life of a designer is a life of fight. Fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design.”
Anyway, to whatever extent a given graphic designer attempts to innoculate us against any particular outbreak of unattractive information, it’s usually because someone has ASKED them to do it. Which is one of the reasons that Cardon Webb’s “Cardon Copy” project stands out.
Designer Cardon Webb hijacked posters from public spaces — mostly fliers of lost pets, and “for rent” or “for sale” signs — took them home, designed fresh posters using the same information, and then posted the new designs back in the places where he found the originals. Read the rest of this entry »
My self-promotion-averse co-blogger D.Billy has been colossally busy as of late. He was responsible for having to help prep Cooper Union for Obama’s visit this week, a task that I’m sure glad I didn’t have to perform. I can barely remember to put out a fresh roll of toilet paper when people come over to my place.
D.Billy’s also been slogging it up and down 95 on various buses to see his lady, a process that I am abundantly familiar with. That really, really sucks, because you can’t even complain about it properly. I mean, shit, you still got a girlfriend at the end of the bus ride, right, so who are you to fuss?
There is ALWAYS somebody who is either 1) freestyle rapping to their headphones 2) eating something deep-fried or 3) wearing huge sunglasses and an empire-waist dress and talking in a nasal whine about some guy they’re “just hanging out with, whatever,” on the four-hour slog out of New York on the bus on a Friday night, though. And lady at the end or not, that gets mighty old.
None of this is a valid excuse for not blogging much, though. The real reason this blog’s been fallow lately: we both just tired as hell.
I’m pleased to report that D.Billy has not been too busy or tired to throw up a new Site Intervention, though. Check this bad thing out:
A while back, the folks at Gestalten included a few of my site intervention projects in a lovely book called Tangible: High Touch Visuals.
I highly recommend it, and its sister book Tactile. They’re both chock full of excellent artists and designers, and I break them out in a fit of “you-gotta-check-this-stuff-out” fever to anyone who comes anywhere near my bookshelves.
I am absolutely thrilled to share a volume with people like Mark Jenkins, Joshua Allen Harris, William Lamson and tons of other artists who endeavor to smack the urban landscape with the giant cartoon glove of whimsy, and I hope y’all will check it out.
Urban Interventions is 69 beans if you buy it direct, BUT, as of this posting, it’s 37% off if you buy it on Amazon!
Or you can just wait until it’s in the big bookstores and hunker down between the rows, all sprawled out taking up aisle space.
I know how you do, ’cause I do it too.
I talked to a bunch of folks about it ahead of time, none of whom could make it out. Fair enough. Zach’s a nice young man, and was kind enough/self-promotional enough to post the video on Vimeo. Here it is, see for yourselves:
If you’re in the middle of an existential crisis, this video by artist Jon Rafman of the Kool-Aid Man meandering through various user-created realms of Second Life might be just the thing to shake you out of it. Or conversely, if your life is boring as hell and you need a little existential crisis up in your bizness, this might get that process kick-started. Really, I’m pretty sure it can work either way.
While the video queues up — and it’s kind of a long one — you should know that after some zen-like gliding through various naturescapes and running through empty cities (and engaging in a robot battle) Kool-Aid Man gets raw (NSFW) at about 7:50, right after he does some tai chi with a couple of refugees from a Renaissance Faire. So, fair warning.
If you’d rather get a more Cliff’s Notes version of the Kool-Aid Man’s shenanigans in Second Life, you can click on the image below (or here) to go to a slide show (also periodically NSFW) wherein Kool-Aid Man:
- Visits faux-NYC, climbing the Empire State Building and dangling from the Statue of Liberty’s face
- Poses as one of the melting clocks inside Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory
- Makes his way through ancient city ruins, haunted underground caverns, and a desert harem
- Charters a steampunk submarine at some vaguely Mediterranian port, and is smilingly abducted by a UFO
- Spies on a tattooed couple having sex in a shower stall that has been inexplicably built in the middle of a jungle, and then dances with a white fox-man in bondage gear at a gay furry club
..and much more.
(click for slideshow)
Now, in case you haven’t gone through Jon Rafman’s site and discovered this for yourself, the video and slideshow are actually promotional materials for Jon’s project where he gives tours of Second Life with a Kool-Aid Man avatar. And last we heard — meaning as of this posting, it still says so on Jon’s site — you can schedule your very own Kool-Aid Man tour of Second Life by emailing koolaidmaninsecondlife [at] gmail [dot] com.
(That is, if you have any kind of inclination to use, or working knowledge of how to use, Second Life. Which I do not. I created an avatar two years ago, and I’m pretty sure he’s still hovering uselessly in the air above a desert island where I left him.)
Tip o’ the hat: Art Fag City posted about this project a while back, and it’s been stuck in my brainpan ever since.
So, it’s as official as it gets. I just heard from the producers today who confirmed it as a “go,” with the caveat “anything can happen, but we’re looking good.” I’m going to have a story on this week’s episode of “This American Life,” and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
As the weather has gotten nicer and the day job has slowed down, I’ve been able to get out into the world with the bag o’ art materials here and there. Here are a couple of interventions that I slapped down recently:
APRIL 3 – JUNE 12, 2009 SYNTHESIS : CONTEMPORARY COLLAGE Carroll Square Gallery, 975 F Street NW, Washington DC 20004
OPENING: Friday, April 3, 6 – 8pm
CURATED BY HEMPHILL FINE ARTS, and FEATURING WORKS BY:
D.Billy | Billy Colbert | Nathan Gluck | Franz Jantzen | Camila Rivera-Morales | Holli Schorno | Al Souza | Daniel Tierny
These are my contributions to the show… but you’ll have to swing by the gallery to check out the excellent work by the other seven artists. And, of course, to get the full sensory experience of my pieces… which may or may not include olfactory overtones of the studio environment in which they were created. (Hint: think propane heater, macaroni and cheese, Mexican Coca-Cola, and cats.*)
*Kidding. They’re unscented and hypo-allergenic. I swear.