Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

walking-and-talking-#6Ben Bennett as heard/documented by C. Mehrl Bennett:
CMB notes are written in both first and third person while watching and/or listening to a section of Ben’s YouTube video project, Walking and Talking, which you can also watch and/or listen to by clicking here: Walking and Talking #6:
I shouldn’t worry about worrying about something.
If there is humor then I want it to arise completely naturally out of the process of being sincere.
I’m empty of things to say. I don’t have anything to say. I’m trying to keep my mouth and vocal chords moving in order to form words in the English language.
It’s not necessary to bring about newness, especially not in an un-natural concerted effortful way.
It’s never the same experience over and over even if you do the same thing.
I’m not really trying to be boring either, I’m just trying to continue talking, that’s all.
I have some trust in this process of walking and talking that keeps me doing it, even though in many moments I don’t exactly feel pleasant or…. (continues talking about an idea he heard from someone else, in that art does not have to be socially valuable or entertaining, and he identifies with that, but now is he ‘mimicking’ that idea?)
‘cultural capital’ – then thinks “what do I really mean by that or am I just trying to sound smart?”
adopting certain sentiments or ideas or life styles (attitudes or practices) that would make me appear to be a more valuable person in some way or another… or maybe to make me seem like a better person in some way or another. … with an eye to what the people around me value. the people that I associate the most with in real life have values and lifestyles that differ from the majority of the people in my larger surrounding culture. a smaller, slightly more dissident circle)
you can notice more subtle changes (when you do the same thing over and over again) than if you do something different all the time.
Is there even an authentic me to begin with at all? ‘no’ in regards to ’cause and effect’… ‘I’ am no more than all the causes and circumstances that I’ve interacted with in my life. no new perspectives than the last time he made walking and talking a couple days ago, but he still wants to do this, that boredom is part of his engagement and a pressure (challenge) to work harder despite the absence of external stimuli. I’m not sure if you were excepting boredom, that it would continue to be boredom.
walking increases his physical energy = capacity to focus and to keep talking, not worried about his performance, desires to put effort into this and make it a good experience for me and for you.
being able to intentionally talk with the same inflection (assertively), where I’m almost yelling… then wonders what his ‘natural’ inflection would be? performance means speaking in a certain way on purpose. seeing two people on bicycles made him lose his focus, but feeling generally satisfied with the rate of talking and the subject matter and feeling his physical energy level as being sufficient to keep on like this for awhile so wants to take the opportunity to focus in on what he’s saying, but to be expressing ‘nothing’ clearly. Doesn’t want it to carry meaning that is actually stimulating thought, but to convey ’emptiness’, but doesn’t want to convey any kind of ideas (which would include ’emptiness’)
when I said the word ‘awareness’ i felt a little self-consciousness — relates his exposure to Buddhist and new age spiritual teachers or articles advocating mindfulness — maybe he wants to avoid talking about that sort of thing and keep repeating it and making more of it. there’s plenty of that information out there “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a guy who’s advocating mindfulness and awareness’
RE: ‘immediately’ let these things go, noticing calmer, less assertiveness inflection vs. motivational, moving forward, working hard, high energy talking. (notices decayed mushroom) Deliberately changing his inflection resulted in feeling more calm and happy. ‘pushing himself’ felt fine too, and one mood is not necessarily better than another mood. Being involved in his mental and emotional state and the way that he’s talking– that makes him feel engaged with what he’s doing. Then acknowledges audience involvement in what he’s doing right now. pushing self to be more revealing of everything that he’s thinking and be highly involved with talking. RE: ‘walking’ part, it’s pretty automatic and facilitates his focus on talking. The pleasant weather outside makes an ideal circumstance to dig in deeply and investigate how his words are formed, how he’s forming sentences, and observing his mind as he’s talking and notice how much he’s premeditating what he’s saying.
Is actual happiness a physical sensation? He decides Not – according to his furrowed brow but then thinks there must be some form of happiness on a higher level that comes from the satisfaction of accomplishing something. Is the distinction between his happiness and consternation or anger even necessary? Wants to try to stop relating those emotions and have a different kind of expression of the way that he’s actually feeling.
– Notices large turtle – shows us on video. “a little treat, short little break away from the work of paying attention to words, to keep us motivated and going.”
He sees his physical, mental, and emotional states as all being related to each other, if not being the same, and wants to describe the sensations he’s feeling in his body. In the middle of his torso, on the right side, in his back, is a feeling of the muscles contracting, only enough to alert him to their presence, and so he adjusted his posture a little more upright … doesn’t know why exactly he did that, except remembering being told to keep posture straight… seems ‘generally like a good thing to do’. He is noticing his feet and the subtle difference of the feeling of the ground through the sole of his shoe, such as gravel. He tries to relax his forehead every time he notices his furrowed brow. – Notices the feeling on his back of his back pack as just a slight discomfort (carrying water this time). Takes ‘neutrality’ as an opportunity to observe things without filtering his thoughts through positive or negative emotions.
– Notices swarms of red bugs (also appeared in the last video) on different posts.
He feels a twinge of sadness at feeling ‘neutrality’, still desiring to feel happier than he feels and thinks of past happiness and the prospect of perhaps never feeling that happy again.
– Notices huge squashed bug. tomato horn worm or luna moth caterpillar but not sure.
Describing his own neutrality as a lack of suffering or pain but also the absence of happiness. Maybe he wasn’t exactly feeling happiness before? He describes happiness as a physiological, emotional joy that makes one smile genuinely and enters one from outside rather than working to generate it oneself, which might negate it in some way. He sees his future = less intense, small doses of that happiness. Circumstances of that past happiness also involved a tremendous amount of pain and suffering, and not sure he can have one without the other, and it seems like if he ever feels ecstasy, that at some point he’s going to have to feel intense pain and suffering. If he tried to regulate into neutrality, less intense on both ends, then does it really matter? He feels sad about this, not neutral. The area around his heart, the bottom of his breast plate, draws his attention towards it = feeling sadness or longing. It’s calling for resolution of some sort but he doesn’t know what to do to achieve more equilibrium. He has faith in process of continuing to live and that the area around his heart will feel better, a fullness, effortless joy coming in from outside. He tries to remember when he’s feeling sad or negative that perhaps he’s storing up emotional capital that he can cash in on, in the future, for positive feelings.
RE: this video, feels novel as opposed to previous videos. He sees a value to what he’s been saying, as it’s a sincere and candid expression of his experience, resulting in some form of connection. He feels vulnerable right now, in that he’s being as honest as he can in a way that’s not referencing outside causation, but simply describing what he feels right now. His neutral emotional state and steady energy level is conducive to expressing his emotions clearly. (long pause) Thinking about what to start saying next. Feeling an attachment towards his way of expression, in retrospect, an emotional tone, judged it in a good way.
– Notices elderberry-like plant with spiky stem, could it be ‘Devils walking stick plant’ which is related to ginseng? It has compound pinnate leaves.
He wonders if the preliminary feeling of getting choked up (crying), affected his voice in any noticeable way? Maybe had some effect. This video’s emotions came out as a result of his controlled focus on talking, and he did not become attached to that emotional state, still feels fine about how the video is going right now. Wants not to direct his way of talking, but let it just happen in a way of ‘discovery’. Continues to walk on the paved trail instead of ‘enchanting’ woods trail so the realm of discovery is more focused on what he’s actually saying rather than letting it spill out into the outside world. Drinks some water. Filters his tap water with a process of reverse osmosis. Seaweed added for minerals and lemon makes it refreshing, and backpack no longer on his back also feels refreshing = ‘gross level’ topics, but still wants to be aware of more subtle experiences happening underneath those ‘gross level’ topics.
– Notices frog in area where he noticed frogs before. Good video shot of it. – Notices jewel weed and squeezes pods, spring loaded with seeds. “Bam!” “…feels like a wriggling salamander. Popped a duzie!” “It exploded with the force of two tons of dynamite!” ..He spoke of his nihilistic brushing past frugmentice(sic?) grass, feeling mild apathy towards the grass.. maybe his feeling of longing caused him to yearn for the physical contact with the frugmentice grass, the same with the jewel weed pod bursting… plant companionship, not quite the same as human companionship “Let me tell ‘ya!”
Is there a danger of blaming his emotions on his circumstances rather than exercising his agency in directing of his emotions towards a more productive mode of being and more positive thoughts? The more broad goal is to not feel suffering in his self. …or maybe to look at that suffering directly and pick it apart to see if he finds directives about what to do. Not to bury them in some sensation like eating ice cream.
– Notices mild smile in person he passed. This gave him a small talk expression “Oh it’s such a nice day out today” though he did not say it aloud to her. “Hello” or “Hi” or “Beautiful day out today” seemed possible but he’s trying to stay faithful to you, the viewer. But he didn’t honestly really feel like exchanging pleasantries. Has thoughts of looking forward to turning around and finishing this video, maybe from having congested sinuses from allergies. Reading, internet, or eating food would distract him from those allergic reactions, plus he could blow his nose in private.
Walking and Talking puts distance between him and distractions like eating, internet, etc. but forces himself to deal with his experiences in a way that is socially acceptable to the viewer, but he can’t use the viewer as a kind of experience to avoid unpleasant feelings or stimulus. He observes and expresses his thoughts as opposed to ‘complaining’ to someone who might respond with sympathetic feedback. He only has his own mind there, not ours, and must use his mind to direct his thoughts in a constructive manner. If he were only thinking to his self instead of talking to the video camera, it might be less productive towards having a good experience.
He sees this video in a constructive light with a possible social utility, though not immediately recognizable as such, though he does value social utility. His own experience isn’t totally separate from the thought of ‘helping people’, because that heightens his own experience. But he is uncomfortable with even thinking about that, as that is a distraction from the actual content and process. He hopes this ideas passes soon. Feeling positive and slightly happy, though body still feels a little heavy, though it doesn’t interfere with his focus on talking.
Memory of previous videos where his train of thought was continuous and flowing and being expressed in rising levels as opposed to the present being expressed differently as a flatter straighter line, [but also the same?]. Level jumping occurring within phrases of sentences, a self-reflexive process that might be contrived but only half-consciously. … just letting it happen. A question of agency is always present.
– Tastes some sour grapes. “What should I say now?” is always the question, but repetition of that phrase is not honest but an automatic expression. Judging himself as self-centered/vain in these expressions but imagines an alternative creative process that involves an external factor or limitation on his own personal emotions that gives a broader and more objective view and draws less attention to the creator himself and so has more social value/integrity.
– Notices a mother yelling in anger at her child, who is crying. Wondering if he should’ve intervened, though fears his ability to skillfully deal with that anger or redirect the anger without getting emotionally involved himself, to the point where he can’t help because of his feelings of pain. He wants her to express her compassion in communicating her desire for her child to be safe, rather than punishing him with her anger. Also he doesn’t know the child’s pattern of behavior and maybe the mother knows best and the child’s behavior warrants such anger. But that anger didn’t seem to be helping the situation as the kid can’t reason out the situation when he’s so upset. He sees it as socially abhorrent for him to intervene, but would like to talk to his friend, Sam, some more about it, as he’s more skilled and experienced at dealing with that sort of thing. Though he may never do interventions in those situations while focusing on his video, as there’s an ethical dilemma with filming such an intervention and making it public due to ‘invasion of privacy’.
– Going back to discomfort with expressing himself vs. objectivity, and so placing certain parameters on creative or visual work. “Confining structures” to reign in human emotions are an expression in its self, and he sees a value in that. The other side is to focus in on emotions without limitations and treat it as an extended process, enabling ‘discovery’ in that four hours of time in the video. Narrowing his talking down to a self-reflexive process is freeing, and is a parameter in its self – using self as a generative engine.
(long pause) …alters the way that he perceives himself at least during those four hours… feels de-personalized. Slight sadness triggered by autumn coming on – describes natural surroundings as past their apex, leaves starting to fall. He has thoughts about death, like the terrifying experience of extreme cold. Becomes mad at self for saying something insightful about life and death. Prefers to be distracted by little turtles on log in stream, until they jump into the water.
He’s trying to avoid ‘content’ (meaning subject matter, not contentment) in his expressed thoughts? …though he then sees his expressions as filler or cheap ploys that let him avoid being fully accountable for what he says, so he can be uninvolved and free to behave in unproductive ways himself, letting the process take care of itself.
– Notices that different sized turtles hang out with others the same size. Judges his expression, “Itty bitty turtles”, as descriptive of a clinging affection, as it is a cute or infantile description. Does that introduce a preference that isn’t really necessary or helpful? Notices bigger adult turtles, and a guilt of not expressing affection equally. Still, he doesn’t want to have a pet turtle, name it, and cry a lot when it dies. Thinks about ending the video to avoid a ‘lackluster’ ending, but still has trust in the process of going to 4 hours, even if his energy level wanes towards the end. Feeling hips, feet, and back, slight pressure in his head, equilibrium drifting towards being more quiet, so will exert more effort and will-power to speak until the end of the video. The process of talking without knowing what to say is something he has to accept. He remembers expressing thoughts which take multiple sentences and could be complex thoughts, even though he thinks he doesn’t know what he’s going to say ahead of time. Wants to join two or three complex thoughts together:
1. Disequilibrium, tiredness, so will exert more effort and will power to speak until the end of the video so he can feel satisfaction at reaching his goal.
2. He remembers expressing thoughts which take multiple sentences and could be complex thoughts, even though he thinks he doesn’t know what he’s going to say ahead of time.
3. He might have been observing himself a little more closely while relaying that thought, and could be the general structure of that train of thought was all in his head as a rough draft when he began to express it in words. Rapidly choosing options and forks in the road and specific verbiage as he’s laying out that thought.
– Notices Japanese knotweed with blue seeds, which he’s never seen before, and then notices blue on the nearby wall. Wondering if someone sprayed herbicide on it, since it’s considered an invasive plant. He will look at it again in the future to see if it’s withered and dead. – Notices turtle with moss on its back, a carp, and a road cone in the water.
Looking for the chance to zone out and let his thoughts run wild, as he feels exhausted by constantly monitoring his thoughts. Maybe he will observe his mental state after the video is over. . Saying that aloud may act as a kind of reminder for when he turns off the video. The viewer may feel a similar type of fatigue with paying attention to his stream of thoughts. Will he continue to think verbally, or more just perceiving, or engage in unproductive rumination? RE: rumination, turning a thought over and over in your head, feeling angry or sad, etc.
Desiring other people not to rely on him for answers but to exercise their own agency and problem solving abilities and so making a mutually engaging experience. So his invitation to ‘thought exercises’ is making him feel a little more engaged with his interaction with the audience. Noticing his furrowed brow as related to bright sun, and does that physical action make him more likely to feel ‘consternation’? He feels humored that ‘furrowed brow’ = ‘consternation’ in his mind. He remembers walking past a person sitting in front of a coffee shop in a sweatshirt that says ‘karma’. He’s not sure if that woman was wearing a sweatshirt that says ‘karma’. (Actually I don’t think he caught her in the video, as I went back & looked.) Said he’s been trying to point the camera upwards and not at the ground, though he hasn’t been focused on the video image in this episode, aside from turtles, frogs, certain plants, or that huge flattened caterpillar, as he’s been very focused on what he’s been saying. He’s thinking you may have been bored with the video aspect, but wanting to pay attention to the audio aspect. Imagines disinterest in the viewer after he suggested other activity while just listening to audio. He felt a pull towards rest and silence and then he put aside negative thoughts about viewer’s disinterest. Feeling anticipation or anxiety being mirrored by audience RE: what will he say next? …and himself mirroring that back, with a blossoming interest in that thought, giving him a nice feeling if only for a few seconds, letting his focus on talking slack a little bit. Wondering if these feelings were fabricated after the fact, with a desire to have something to talk about? Then he has thoughts about ‘Walking and Talking‘ process not having any esthetic qualities associated with art or music or poetry, then it immediately became a positive judgment… as not existing in the world in any other form, at least that he’s aware of.
– Notices a road cone on its side with electric power lines going into the bottom (“Like an electric road cone…that’s just kind of like joking”… video ends)

Sign for Nopalry

Sign for organically certified Nopalry

Incubator for impregnated cochinilla insects

Edgar Jahir Trujillo describes process of raising and harvesting cochinilla insects

Edgar Jahir Trujillo describes process of raising and harvesting cochinilla insects

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Edgar experiments with cochinilla color variations

Edgar experiments with cochinilla color variations

A Perfect Red, by Amy Butler Greenfield, Harper Perennial, 2006, was recommended to me after one of our Aldus Society events by paper marbling and calligraphy artist/instructor, Ann Alaia Woods, when I told her about our upcoming visit to Oaxaca MX with the Archeological Conservancy group. The historical research and global perspective of this book illustrates the importance of a red dye [cochinilla granules] developed from a nopal cacti parasite in Oaxaca Mexico, which first came to Europe’s attention by way of the Spanish conquistadors. “Cochinilla” is the Spanish version of the word, and the oft used anglicized version is “cochineal”.  At one time cochineal granules were the least expensive per kilo, and were a more concentrated and color fast dye compared to other European red dyes on the market, so demand for it quickly made it as valuable as gold or silver. Weavers created gorgeous red robes and clothing which the rich and powerful class paid top dollar for. Later on, when synthetic dyes were invented, the competition was too great for the cochineal market to survive, and production in Oaxaca all but disappeared. [In regard to synthetic dyes, Ann recommends a book by Simon Garfield, MAUVE, How one man invented a color that changed the world. The Norton paperback edition came out in 2002. It is about the English scientist, William Perkin, and what developed from an accidental discovery he made when he was only eighteen.]

Today, a special nopalry (an organically certified cacti farm) exists in the state of Oaxaca as a way to bring back the important history of cochinilla in Oaxaca. It also provides many local crafts people with an organic natural source for red dye and other colors that can be obtained with additives. It was a pleasant surprise when a visit to the del Río Dueῆas nopalry was added to our tour group itinerary at the last minute! I even had my book with me to read during the trip, as I was only half finished with A Perfect Red.  A small museum was the beginning of our tour, followed by the nopal paddle green house, and then the studio where artist interns experiment with the dye in their artworks. Our guide was artist and architect, Edgar Jahir Trujillo, and he sold his cochinilla painting of a winged insect to a member of our group. The painting technique he used involved dried nopal paddles, dipped in the red dye, to impress texture onto the wings of a male cochinilla insect.

What follows is a narrative I wrote up from some notes taken during the nopalry tour, where we were able to learn firsthand about this natural dye that was originally produced only in the Oaxaca valley. Also included are my notes about a visit to a famous Oaxacan weaving workshop and a handmade paper co-op, both of which use and appreciate natural and locally produced dyes.

The nopal cacti grown at the nopalry has no needles, and only paddles from the highest quality plants are used in the greenhouse where the cochineal insect is nurtured. These parasitic insects are protected from too much sun, while micro predators are controlled as well as possible, and the cacti are protected from breezes that might blow the tiny insects away. The fertilized eggs of the female insect take 90 days to mature, then the insects on the nopal paddle are carefully removed with a fine bristled brush into a bowl (about 3 grams of insects per paddle). The fat, impregnated females that are best for breeding are separated out by a sieve and put into a woven palm mat tube (approx. 3″ long). Both ends of the tube are blocked with netting to protect the cochineal from predators like spiders. The tube nest is hooked onto a fresh nopal paddle which is control dated with an innoculation date. This date tells the greenhouse workers when the 3 month hatchling development period is up, and when to empty the females from the nest. A small orifice in the mat tube allows male and female baby bugs come out and populate the nopal paddle like the parasites that they are. Each female insect builds a white webbing around itself on the cacti, which helps protect it as it doesn’t move around and has no wings. (An aside: Zapotec mythology about the protective white webbing was that “The Cloud people surrounded blood from the gods with white fuzz.”) The males are tiny white flies with a life span of only three to five days. The male’s probiscus breaks off after coming out of the mother, so it can’t even eat! It’s only goal is to fly around and mate with females within its very short life span.

After 15 days of incubation in the palm mat tubes, the females are removed and added to other insects brushed from the nopal paddles that were not used for breeding. Together, they are set out to dehydrate and die in the sun, or they could also be dried in an oven. The nopal paddle (only used once) is fed to animals or composted. 140,000 of the dried insects equal one kilo of cochinilla. If you squish a cochinilla insect in your palm, its blood reacts with elements in the skin which affects the color. 30% of the cochinilla powder is pure coloring agent (pure pigment) that will last forever, and will not react to the PH of different surfaces. The carminic acid in the insect protects it from viruses, but is also the most important element used for dye. To get the carminic acid from the powder made from the dried insects, water plus alum are added to make a liquid, the liquid is boiled, then it is put through filters. Two chemical additives that achieve color variations are: Citric acid from limes for less scarlet, more pink, and bicarbonate of soda for mauve (dark purple).

Artist interns working at the nopalry are encouraged to experiment with the cochinilla granules in their art works. A few products like lipstick, dyed T-shirts, and books about the history of cochinilla are sold in a small gift shop. Note: Ignacio del Río Duῆas, the author of Grana Fina Cochinilla (published by the State of Oaxaca), is one of the main shakers and movers to revive the chocinilla industry in Oaxaca, and his book was available in the gift shop. Edgar told us that until the nopalry gets more investors they can’t create huge batches of products to sell. Money would be used for merchandizing efforts needed to move products quickly, but for now the dye is sold to local artists and craftspeople. Edgar pointed out to us that artificial dyes can be health hazards, though I’ve also read that there are some individuals who have bad allergic reactions to cochinilla. Another side note: Cochinilla is too organic for tattoo inks.

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On another day, 0ur group was graciously welcomed into the workshop of Isaac Vásquez Garcia and son, Jeronimo, who are Zapotec weavers from the weaving town of Teotitlán del Valle. They and other family members spin and dye their own wool, using it to weave beautiful rugs on big looms. These rugs sell well to tourists in their shop called “The Bug in the Rug”. When dying wool yarn with cochinilla (the bug!), alum and acacia fruits and freshly squeezed lime juice are added to fix, to darken or lighten or intensify the colors. They also use Tehuantepec indigo, dyes derived from lichens, the acacia tree, and other natural sources. Many of the original natural materials and the resulting dyes were displayed and demonstrated to our group by Mr. Vásquez Garcia. The book, A Perfect Red, especially mentions Isaac Vásquez Garcia as having “helped to breathe new life into Oaxaca’s age-old textile arts, allowing them to pass to a new generation.” And…”when the craft of natural dyeing had almost vanished from Oaxaca, a few artisans like Isaac Vásquez… sought to revive the old techniques. Coloring wool with cochineal…”

One day we visited a paper making co-op with a separate workshop for silkscreen printing, a gallery, and a gift shop. El Taller Arte Papel Oaxaca was begun in 1998 in San Agustín Etla, Oaxaca. Francisco Benjamín López Toledo is a famous Mexican artist who helped establish this paper making co-op and he commissions their paper to use in his art practice. Toledo helped get them a grant to create paper from only renewable sources and materials. It took 8 years of learning and organizing to establish the co-op. Today, artists come from China, Finland, Arab countries, and Japan to give paper workshops. They grow and use natural fibers from the Kapok tree (the green variety, as the black kapok tree is more rare) which is also known as the sacred Ceiba tree (Tree of Life). Also used are the natural fibers of Chichicastle, agave, Majahua, white cotton, Coyuche cotton, and lion’s paw.

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Fibers used for papermaking (Photo credit: John M. Bennett)

These fibers are first boiled with bicarbonate of soda. Mechanized Hollander beaters are used to further break down the fibrous pulp. Lots of water is used for soaking the fibers and water also helps with the swishing of the pulp when it is screened. One of the co-op’s goals is to leave a low footprint, so used water is filtered and strained and treated so it’s fit to consume, then gets delivered to Oaxaca City by tank transport. In addition to only using natural fibers, they don’t use catalyzer agents. Their paper screening technique involves swishing liquid pulp from side to side and then up and down in order to cross stitch the fibers, thereby evening out and strengthening the paper. This workshop has their own watermark embedded in the boxed screen which leaves its mark in either bas or high relief; its design is a heart with a swimmer approaching. After swishing in the screen, the water is pressed out with big sheets of felt (using synthetic/industrial felt as it’s easier to peel off, doesn’t decompose as fast, and gets reused). Then the pressed pulp sheet is turned out onto a zinc tin sheet to dry. The tin sheets are cut from recycled materials like construction siding. Before the paper dries they can press decorative indentations into it, or add decorative leaves or shiny mica bits. In the same work room, hanging to dry, were molded paper portraits of historical Zapotec leaders we’d seen at one of the archeological sites with our tour group.

Tree bark may take up to 5 years to decompose before it’s ready to use, so this paper is pricey. Today’s cost is 300 or 400 pesos for a 2’x3′ sheet of handmade paper, though the strength of the US dollar made it very affordable for us to buy. There is a kind of Japanese seed that is made into gel that uses less fiber and makes a thinner, yet very strong paper. They can’t get it directly from Japan because of customs limits but a seller in Santa Ana (CA) makes it available to them in powder form. That lighter weight paper is the kind I bought from their shop, which I rolled up to pack in my suitcase. Other items in their shop included paper kites and blank paper journals silk screened with designs made by Francisco Toledo, and also jewelry made from rolled paper beads. See photos of their paper making process at: http://www.mexicoartshow.com/artepapel.html

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19MailArtMinneDaDa84 2016Tom Cassidy will be sending out documentation to all the mailart pARTicipants, but in the meantime, I can show you the photos I took on Day One of MinneDaDa1984 at Eat My Words Bookstore. Click on an image to view large. Ryosuke Cohen, of the famous 30+ year old BRAIN CELL project, was in attendance at MinneDaDa84!! I even got to sit for a bust version portrait by Ryosuke on Day Two of MinneDada84 at The Black Forrest Inn banquet room. A full body portrait of Ryosuke and a notebook of Tom Cassidy’s collected Brain Cells was displayed during an interview of Ryosuke on Day Three at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA). More of my MinneDada84 photos are at: MY FACEBOOK PHOTO ALBUM or at MY FLICKR MINNEDADA84 ALBUM, though these don’t represent but a fraction of all the performance events, films, and PEOPLE of the event.

 

We will be attending the mid-August Mpls. Dada event [mentioned by Lynn Radford in this post] via invitation of Tom Cassidy. One of the activities will be making collages which will then hang on a clothesline during the performances at Black Forest Inn.

Trash Bubbles and Life's Little Bits

Time got away from me… it’s already Saturday. So much for Friday Dada posts, huh? LoL! I figured that you wouldn’t hold it against me if you knew that I’d spent all of Friday with the cutest guy in the world…

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This week, we’re taking a look at Dada 100th anniversary celebrations far and wide.

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In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Minne Dada will take place August 11th thru the 14th. I found this post via Michael Jacobson on facebook. He says this will be, “A Summer Festival, and celebration of 100 years of Dada, here in Minneapolis! Film, poetry, noise, etc. More info coming soon. This party is organized by Tom Cassidy AKA Musicmaster. Here is Tom’s email for more info: tom.cassidy@mmha.com” I sincerely hope that those of you in the Minneapolis area will consider taking part.

Via Jackie Haynes on facebook, I learned of this event in Milan…

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The ANTI-BRAIN ROT mailart exhibit was hosted during Roanoke VA’s 2015 AFTER MAF (After Marginal Arts Festival – an AFTER effect from the now defunct annual Marginal Arts Festival)

These are BUT A FEW of the many submissions recieved from all over the world.
Wilhelm Katastrof (alias Tomislav Butkovic) will be mailing documentation out.
Tomislav is pictured behind the glass in this photo of postcards on french door window panes.
Mailart was also hung from clips on strings in one room, and spread out on tables in both rooms.
W Katastrof at home
During the opening last weekend, Reid Wood performed the “Xeno’s Donut” score, Tomislav played an audio CD collaged from various contributors (edited & mailed by Mark Sonnenfeld), and the cat went in and out.

MORE PHOTOS from AFTER MAF performances & events, plus detailed descriptions (including descriptions for the mailart in this slideshow) can be found in my Flickr album by clicking HERE but ALSO see ALOT of video documentation of performances that took place at ART RAT STUDIO by clicking HERE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

notebook 012 notebook 002 a notebook 011 a notebook 013 notebook 015 a notebook 016 b notebook 019 a notebook 020 a notebook 016 a

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Jacarandá tree

Jacarandá tree

I know that looking at other people’s travel photos is boring, so I’ve made a couple videos with sound tracks and most of the photos fly by at 4 seconds, plus there are a few short video footages of interesting stuff and fun events in Buenos Aires that we witnessed and pARTicipated in earlier this month (November 2014).
Javier took us to the city’s very formidable art museum (a beautiful Gauguin painting amid various other treasures) and to the big new library building, where there were a number of interesting exhibitions, including papers by famous Argentinian writers and poets and an exhibit of cartoonists’ works. Video Bardo will have a big performance event outside the main library in a couple days!
and also
are the videos I made yesterday and today from my personal travel & event photo/videos, though they don’t include ALL my photos or all the places we visited or they would become too long and boring for you. As it is they are about five and eight minutes long.

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We ran into Christine Hayes in the Worthington OH post office a bit over a week ago. Christine was on her way to Comfest in the Short North area of Columbus, and so upon exiting the post office we were regaled with her ART CAR. As I took the opportunity to snap these photos, she asked me to remind folks “Do Not Touch the Art Cars”. Can you believe that some people have the nerve to lean up against or even sit on them! Christine’s assembled paraphenalia of colorful found objects and small toys and now, I’ve noticed, computer keys, is just such amazing EYE & MIND CANDY that I can’t resist sharing these photos here. She’s been sharing her art car at community events for decades now, and I feel a great sense of camaraderie with her with regards to her art aesthetic. She’s also a fellow Aldus Society member and works at the Acorn Bookshop in Grandview, where we visited yesterday and I picked up a load of cheap, used books and books on CD (for my long-distance car trips).

In June 2014 I visited The Fluxus Indian Museum which resides in an apartment over a garage in the building known as “The Carriage House”. It’s part of Garst Farm Resort and located within the Whiterock Conservancy, which is about 60 miles upstream from Des Moines, IA (click on the Whiterock website for specific directions). As this is a resort area (canoeing, hiking, excellent bird-watching, a beautiful old barn with three floors available for social events, a visitors center, etc.) the second floor apartment in the carriage house is available for a daily rental fee, and Allen Bukoff’s Fluxus Indian materials & placards – which belong to Elizabeth (Liz) Garst – can be viewed by appointment if no one is renting the place when you want to come by (current keeper of reservations is available at PH#712-790-3024). Click on the thumbnails to view large and to read the placards. Click on THE FLUXUS INDIAN MUSEUM, Allen Bukoff’s website, to learn more. There is a separate display in the apartment’s bathroom of items contributed to the museum by previous visitors. I did not photograph those items, but they are also really fun to see. Liz said the bathroom is one of her favorite parts of the museum. I left her with a gift* as well, though I’m not sure she’ll be able to work it into the bathroom display. (*A ceramic dino-dog made by Levent Isik.)

After seeing the museum I sat down with Liz Garst to chat about the museum and how she went to school with Allen in Coon Rapids and about her family’s endowment of Garst Farm to the conservancy. She’s only had one complaint about associating the idea of a fictional Indian tribe with articles in the museum, and will not feel compelled to end the display unless additional complaints are forth coming. I view the association as good, clean fluxus fun — much like the “Steam Punk” scene ripping off artifacts of the Victorian age and convoluting them to express something entirely new. The Fluxus Indians are a kind of fictional anthropology, much like fictional countries which mail artists create in order to design their own cinderella postage artistamps. The exhibit is getting old now, as seen by the fading placards and aging materials as they develop the patina of a “real historical museum”. In a couple small shelves placed at eye level between book shelves are collections of miniature artifacts which I caught in a few of the photos in this blog. Liz doesn’t remember if Allen arranged them or if she arranged them as she accumulated small items over the years. A few books associated with Fluxus are amid lots of other books displayed near the fluxus miniature paraphernalia, so it would be fun to go back someday and spend a night or two at the apartment perusing the books, and a day enjoying the stream and parkland areas, and perhaps check out the goings-ons in nearby Coon Rapids as well.

A local friend asked me this morning why a MARGINAL Arts Fest is called “marginal”. Well, it IS a low budget affair where “freedom of expression” is more highly valued than the kind of committee approved events organized and funded by institutions, and aside from a couple parties with free food there were no other gratuities such as subsidies for motels… as we were lucky to have gotten one year in the past when we participated. We mostly go for the camaraderie and creative exchanges/collaborations in any case, and this year were WOWED by SO MANY energetic edgy performances! The weather was bad for driving through the mountains so we were delayed a day and missed a full day of MAF. One we missed included the word “Snakes” in the event name and may have involved Brad Chriss’ meat eating stint, Rebecca Weeks, and Tif Robinette. It’s all hearsay, so don’t take my word for it! But I’m sorry we missed it. Also, some MAF events happened simultaneously in different locations, so the following report is in no way complete. It could be puffed out with more facts and actual participant names, but hey, I’m not getting paid for this, right? So sue me. Still, here’s a link to the official schedule (even this has some info missing and changes occurred since it came out): http://www.marginalarts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/MAFGuide2014.pdf

Early Thursday morning we arrived at the building which Olchar Lindsann and Warren Frye had christened “Akademgorod”, where most of the action we were involved in that day would take place. In the building’s front room gallery was the photography exhibit “Curb” by Christine Carr focusing on cigarette butt litter and a signage project that was meant to curb that bad habit. Our friend, Sue Leftwich, had seen people throw their cigarette butts in defiance directly at the sign. Still, our friends who later stepped outside to smoke certainly did not leave their butts out on the sidewalk. Stenciled graphics of smoking cigarettes did appear on the sidewalks during that evening’s opening reception for the exhibit, however.

 

I brought a box ‘o junk for wall or small standing assemblages and had a blast installing and connecting bits and pieces with the help of fellow long-time mail artist & writer, Jim Leftwich, and others were invited to participate as well.

 

A couple installations had already been set up in the building, one by Megan Blafas-Chriss (by the way, we didn’t meet Brad once during MAF this year!) was a defined “picnic area” with a fake grass carpet heaped with cushions and knitted pillows. A couple little girls liked the knitted strawberry and were totally relaxed with their mothers in this homey colorful environment while the adults listened to “experimental performances”. We were to run into Megan again at the after-after party Saturday (where Tomislav provided his homemade wine and “real food” was served vs. the 1st after party’s appetizers and desserts – and Jack Wright finally filled up!) where Megan and her mom chanted “UP TABLE UP TABLE etc.” with hands placed on a card table, invoking the spirits to tap the table legs on the floor in attempts to communicate with us mere mortals. Unfortunately, John asked me to go back to the motel before any table tapping action began. But I digress…

 

First up on Thursday morning, Reid Wood presented a powerpoint talk about the “Eternal (mailart) Network”, which was full of historical observations that I’d not been aware of (but will I remember?), and an excellent overview for the high school students, with a discussion about how online networking still proliferates the network via blogs, Facebook, and other social media. John & I followed with an hour long “hands-on” class with high school students called “Experimental, Avant, and Collaborative Poetry”. Afterwards I hung up the collaged and hand written results on a line on the wall. That afternoon Reid Wood and I each did fluxus performances (I included Jennifer Wiegel’s “Blossom” and “Menú” 2005 by Bartolomé Ferrando). The audience included a few local people who had happened by and just walked in, and subsequently got involved in many of my participatory fluxus events, and really seemed to enjoy themselves! Warren Fry and Olchar Lindsann performed some scores that Reed Altemus sent them and they and Tomislav Butković read/performed their neo-absurdist writings. Some of the high school students performed readings and a couple of them also took part in The Be Blank Consort which John directed, and I helped perform in it too, along with other volunteer voices. A representative for the Republicans working in the space next door came over and told Warren that the noise “has got to stop”, but their efforts were futile. In fact, I think they spurred us on!

 

On Thursday evening we went straight off to meet up with our friend, Billy Bob Beamer, and also met his co-exhibitor, Amy Hertzel, at their reception at the Shenandoah Gallery (also called “The Green Room”) and we loved their drawing exhibit- aptly named “Meditations”. At Roanoke’s Taubman Art Museum we enjoyed video by Japanese born artist Motomichi Nakamura, who had dropped by Akademgorod during the a break when everyone but Joe Abel and I were out to lunch. I invited him to help with my junk assemblage project but am unsure if he did, as I was busy hanging student work from our morning class. Even more than Nakamura’s video (though I didn’t stay for his free presentation for which a ton of people showed up!), I enjoyed the Taubman’s exhibit of “The Art of Martin Johnson”. Find out more about Johnson at his website: www.martinbjohnson.com

Also that evening, using a gallery that was exhibiting a typographical art exhibit as their home base (with the public gathered around the street outside as it was closed off for MAF use) The Trash Couture fashionistas modeled the results of Claudia de Franko’s multi-day MAF workshop. I was cheering them on, excited about the use of paper, plastic, and mscl. throw away media. Unfortunately I did not have my camera, but if photos appear online be sure to post a link here! The same guy who took my name and photographed my junk assemblage parade hat was photographing the students modeling so hopefully…

I was pretty much worn out by the end of Thursday. It’s a good thing that Olchar had organized high school students to man a camera taping many of events at Akademgorod, and the students continued to energize us all the next afternoon as well.

 

Friday morning was set aside for a special skype exchange at the Luminal gallery, where Olchar had installed an exhibit of visual poetry by contemporary Russian and post-Soviet avant-garde writers/artists, and examples of SLOVA publications and other info were laid out on a table. Though we started out with technical difficulties connecting, we ended up with satisfying performance exchanges with three Russian visual poets/ experimental writers, including Gleb Kolomiets, the publisher of SLOVA and Olchar’s main man who pulled together works for the exhibit, and Oleg Razumovsky, who read a great piece he had written in English. He also reads some of his prose in one of the videos that was shown in the gallery.

VIEW ABOVE for the YouTube playlist of the videos shown! Am not positive of the woman’s name who performed so wonderfully a sound poem with Gleb, but it may have been Inna Kirillova. I was able to read one of my own poems I’d brought along and also performed a short vispo poem I’d only just written. Many of us performed these improvisational readings of vispo written just that morning at the gallery on special “forms” created for the occasion (and available to anyone who wanders into the gallery during MAF) which are promised for publication somewhere, sometime. After the skype session, I felt really good – “opened up” somehow.

Back at Akademgorod Friday afternoon, John did a reading (I requested time to read “Nothing Wavering” before him as well) and three high school students did a comedic play/reading in costume of VIM VOM VIM with the obligatory gargantuan “pause” for which I finally gave up holding my camera/ taking video. They also did a SMASHING OF THE GRAPEFRUIT action which involved a long break for clean-up time afterwards, but was it crazy fun while it lasted! Also, Joe Abel from the UK, who had been busy writing his script during a performance in the window of the building, engaged others to help him perform – Lots of worshiping of the lobster squirted with ketchup, mustard, and thousand-island dressing, and lots people talking at once… most whilst reading Joe’s fugue script in an attempt to distract him from his own discourse about experiences working with mental patients. It was a beautiful pandemic, comedic, colophony of noise/actions… which really sounds like the ultimate goal of Akademgorod, when you think about it. http://joblejabel.wordpress.com/ explains & has photos of fugue script.

 

During the above commotion, off to one side of the room, Aaron Andrews (of our home town of Columbus OH) had been stealthily laying out a two toned, multi-outlined star on the floor made of orange and cranberry nerds that was nearly five feet in diameter. After I’d packed up my props and junk assemblage materials and John had gone off for our car (oops! I left my bowler hat there, but it promised to behave) luckily I caught his nerd crushing performance in this video which I call NERD STAR.

Aaron dedicated his action to Odorous Agrundous, a curious figure which I’ll have to learn more about! His GREEN suit and outrageously colorful shoes were in good form for this task, and some of us were offered a mouthful of (uncrushed) nerds afterwards. (See final photo in above gallery)

 

Yet, STILL TO FOLLOW (I mean, how do you follow NERD STAR?) on stage at the high school was an incredible vocal/percussive performance of URSONATE, the classic noise poem score by Kurt Schwitters, performed by Olchar Lindsann and his younger brother, Chris Lennard. We vastly hope to someday procure a recording of that performance on DVD if Tomislav Butković is able to pull it off. I cannot hope to come close to describing how wonderfully in synch they performed as a team & as individual masters of their chosen media of expertise, and what an excellent contemporary (yet informed by previous masters like Jaap Blonk and Christian Bök and Schwitter’s own performance notes, of course!) interpretation of URSONATE resulted from their efforts!

 

Amazingly enough, there was STILL MORE to come that evening back at Akademgorod, where the space had been cleared away for a performance art piece by Rebecca Weeks and her partner, Ian Whitford (both UK artists) called “A Wing and a Prayer”. I managed to upload an amateurish video to YouTube (which limited me to 15 mins. of footage) that has bits and pieces of that hour long performance. There was only ambient light from one door and some candles on the floor, so my video results are far from perfect, though that lighting was just what the performance required.

I am just so happy to have witnessed it: the slow and entrancing audio, and contrasting but complementary performance techniques by each individual, and real in-depth feelings expressed by the interactions & the built up construction of “A Wing & a Prayer”. We had met Rebecca Weeks and enjoyed her performances in previous years at MAF, and we spoke more with both of them the next day as they were decompressing at Jim and Sue Leftwich’s home.

 

Saturday’s MAF parade was a real people’s parade with a fun percussion beat provided by T.J. Anderson, a local poet/musician/teacher. It began & ended at the community arts & academic high school though rain drops lightly misted over us. I made myself a plastic see-through cape for my shoulders and braved the rest for the sake of my junk assemblage hat. The regularly scheduled after-carnival was moved inside the high school due to this weather – and I was able to set up my “doctor gig/ foot in mouth certificate” routine for a quick examination of half a dozen or so patients, before and after the belly dancers performed in the high school art gallery. One patient, Julián Mathews, even paid me with a serving of vanilla ice cream! In the auditorium on stage was a lively rock band with singers and dancers as well- I think the high school principal was the lead guitarist, though my favorite was the drummer. We had some down time afterwards at Jim’s house to just sit and talk, but we also wrote half a dozen collaborative cinquains, and before we left for Ohio we’d written two more cinquains with our buddies who had assembled for breakfast as early as 8:30 a.m. Sunday just for a final chance to talk & hug (well, and eat too!). All eight cinquains are listed at the end of this blog.

I’m getting ahead of myself, though, as we still had a full night of fun on Saturday night with two after parties! The first one was at Roanoke Art Works (RAW) with offerings of appetizers, desserts, and entertainment by the 2014 MAF version of ROTTY WHAT: Jack Wright on saxophone, John M. Bennett synchronizing his poetry performance with the music, Andrew Drury on percussion, and Claire Elizabeth Barratt improvising energetically and RIGHT ON with dance and a GREEN umbrella solo. (I’m told that last year’s entertainment in this venue was Id M Theft Able.) Claire had also done window performance “It’s a Sign” at Akademgorod earlier in the festival. Her bright orange plastic fence grid dress, with black belt and gloves, was riveting and well accessorized by the window decor of various public signage and mscl. post-it notes Claire put on the window during her performance …. heck, just take a look at my photos here at Flickr from Akademgorod and RAW gallery, and see the video playlist below for Claire’s performance with ROTTY WHAT. She also did a workshop the next day, Sunday, the day we drove back to Ohio. But back to the after party hosted at RAW by artist Max Mitchell… Max had baked and frosted a cake, topped with MAF in sprinkles, and surprisingly John tried a piece. He doesn’t normally like cake, but he praised THIS cake. So, Roanoke, you did good!

Below is a YouTube playlist of all five of my MAF videos:

 

 

2014 MAF CINQUAINS:

hoagie

in the pancake

battered like a wombat

floating in your sandfilled coffee

HODGE-PODGE

 

Hot dog

for percussion

Slap that meaty drum part

Ed chair swollen in water pipes

it in.

 

Above cinquains are by

Evan Damerow (New Zealan), Joe Abel (UK), raBBit, Olchar Lindsann, Tomislav Butković, John M. Bennett, and C. Mehrl Bennett.

The following cinquains are by C. Mehrl Bennett, Jim Leftwich, and John M. Bennett:

 

Lootache

Lake sunk blue tooth

Loot like bunk blank lute late

Foaming was will suited door slam

Limp Like

 

bee bee

Rakatete

Silly like the foot show

Rocketer baby Rocketer’s

Shout soot

 

Acid

Network a seed

Sandy was footless hymn

Billy was a radio man

MANTRA

 

Less ear

More feet and tooth

More or less eye mouth nose

Lapping at the fly shirt’s stone sleeve

Spit pot

 

Port spot

Swoll with dust rain

Make noise with pots and pans

Rakate Rakate bee bee

і Rabey !

 

Ka Ka

Kafka Kafka

Kollapsa Kollapsa

Inuit in it Inuit

Kitchen

 

NOTE: “Kitchen” was added by Jim, who may have been thinking of

Evan Damerow (N. Zealand), of whom Jim Leftwich speaks of in this video: