The Prints of Spring

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In accordance with this fledgling seasonal tradition, a quick update on what’s up on the artistic side of the spectrum, as opposed to the part of this site that typically concerns itself with bringing in revenue from the whole mobian-inspired scheme of using the sales of small electronics to fund larger installations, which should in turn allow for the creation of more smaller electronics. In theory this should work, but then again, this whole idea was inspired by a scale-replica Murakami keychain, so proceed at your own risk. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think Murakami’s a.) directly responsible for the production and sales of scale-replica keychains of his sculptures in the gift shop and b.) not necessarily that concerned with the sale of $30 novelty figurines considering the price tag fixed to their full-scale likeness. Baby steps, I suppose. Baby steps.

Superflat diversion notwithstanding, here’s what’s up in our neck of the woods. So for those that missed it, Pau and I got married about a week after participating in BAVIC and had an amazing time with friends, family and other invited oddballs, participating in a series of “moons” based on who we were dedicating our time to that day – for instance, family-moon, friend-moon, bro-moon, etc. Then everyone went home and, exhausted, we had less than two weeks to prepare two performances for the Forma y Sustancia performance art festival in Guatemala City, which we traveled to by bus. Six countries in less than 24 hours. Each with two border inspections apiece. Needless to say, there were no guitars brought on this trip – explaining a laptop and midi controller was hard enough – just imagine being that one gringo trying to explain experimental art and music to your typically corrupt border official in a narcotic-heavy region. Being short on cash, the thought of having to bribe my way through a border or two just wasn’t appealing. Ok, so that’s a little stereotypical, but for those who haven’t hoofed it by land, itinerant-looking gringo artist folk are singled out from time to time under the premise that they’re either holding cash and are unaware of border protocol or are holding something else designed to get them through gap year, but not necessarily Nicaragua.

Guatemala was a blast, by the way. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a heavy dose of culture and adventure. When we got back, we hit the ground running – Pau with a string of new curatorial projects and grant proposals and me with our TicoTronics course, which was fairly successful for a dry run. We’ll hopefully be offering a couple more of those from time to time – and not just in Costa Rica, either. Similarly, I’m slowly working on assembling the notes from the first class into a series of documents that we’ll be hosting on the mother-site for those interested in hauling off on their own and building something from scratch outside of the classes. More on that as it develops. Finally, after nearly four months of craziness, we managed to get away for a couple days to celebrate a mini-moon on Playa Uvita in the southwestern section of Costa Rica. It was, in a word, amazing. And, unlike some of our other beach haunts, was somewhat difficult to get to and beachside camping was still very much a thing there. Or was, past-tense. We arrived right at the beginning of the rainy season and the prospects of pitching a tent were a little soggy. Not to mention that we were looking for something a little more nested than a couple strips of three-season nylon. We ended up finding this beautiful, improvised dome-cabin and dug in, looking forward to a long weekend of sheer tranquility. Wine was drank, seafood was eaten and rays were caught. Well, that and a couple hikes and some time in the sea, looking at the reefs and it’s residents.

Which, coincidentally, is how I’m transitioning into how this missive relates to the images cycling at the top of this post. A few years ago, we bought an underwater camera and managed to use it al of about four times to photograph a couple sea slugs once or twice. Considering we were heading to the beach and not having the weight of responsibility of 120 friends and relations, we brought the camera, thinking that if not for the slugs, we might find something to photograph – or at the very least not have to pack an additional plastic bag to keep the camera from being waterlogged if we were caught in a downpour. What can I say, we’re resourceful. At one point, we almost lost the camera at a waterfall as it skittered off a bounder and into an eddy pool, but we retrieved it, dried it off, checked for damage and proceeded to take pictures for the rest of the morning. Then, in the afternoon, we went snorkeling. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to snorkel in tropical reefs, I highly recommend it – it’s a technicolor daydream that you simply need to see to believe. I say that because when I pulled out the camera to take a picture, it just kind of fizzled. Somehow being exposed to water for more than five minutes completely fried our poor camera, and, being Kodak, our warranty is pretty much null and void unless you’re into techxorcisms… Hrmm, I think I may have just invented a word there. Amazingly, in spite of the fried camera, our previous pictures were sound as a pound. I was perplexed, disturbed, possibly even amazed by the resilience of solid-state data storage. Hell, it wasn’t even corrupted. I wish I could say the same about some of our pictures from Guatemala – we swapped cards between cameras and a couple photos were rewritten, to put it nicely. Thankfully, my audio recorded didn’t suffer a similar fate – our cabin was situated at the cusp of beach and jungle and the 5am recordings I captured while out and about were off the hook.

A week after this, I returned to the states, this time on more of a permanent basis. It’s been about a month now. Many jobs have been applied to and the stack of completed immigration paperwork grows larger. Hopefully we’ll be sending the first round into the good folks at Homeland Security next week or so, provided we’re not swamped with another bout of busyness. Somehow in the midst of this, I started thinking once again at the resilience of solid-state memory and was somehow compelled to intentionally corrupt some of the images from our beach getaway, possibly paralleling the concept of analog, or perhaps organic memory, with the initial experience fading to only an instance, and later an essence before vanishing entirely. Admittedly, I’d grown a little bored with databending – a little too aleatory for my personal tastes, not to mention slightly too overhyped considering that most practitioners are under their country’s legal drinking age and only seem to exhibit digitally. I wanted something more – maybe even something that could be hung as flatwork somewhere. And, in my typical process-based approach, this is what I did:

Each image was selected due to it’s content – specifically, depicting a beach scene with a limited number of people in the shot. Isolating the header file of each image, I began experimenting with the effects of pitch-shifting the data, observing the effect of the image losing clarity and reducing to particulate glimpses of its former glory. After further experimentation, I decided to establish a control of shifting each image down two octaves, using a phase vocoder to preserve the original duration of each track. To document the process, each resultant image was then paired next to its original source image, displaying the similarities and disjunctures inherent within each print. I seem to like them – there’s something aesthetically pleasing, yet also mildly disturbing about them. Thoughts? Would love to hear them.

And actually, speaking of hearing, here’s the recordings that I made at the beach as well – enjoy, y’all:

~ by vauxflores on May 23, 2013.