Monday, November 24, 2008

buy america! buy art!

hello america & friends,

this year's holiday hopes are dashed on the rocks of cheapness and poison foreign milk. but, you can still buy american and float on the curds & whey of change.

that's right laydees & gennelmen, this year i'm selling things i've made with my own two hands on the livingroom floor to the sounds of running water and frolicking felines. sometimes i use a table.

you can contribute to the cats' food & my newly blossoming rubber stamp habit. (wow are rubber stamps awesome)

i've made an etsy shoppe:

but what? what could it be?

boxes. containers. the empty within.

i've lately been covering empty cigar boxes with pages from the encyclopedia britannica (ca. 1880). these wooden boxes are ideal for keeping yr notecards in, or your toy soldiers, seashells, stones & acorns. jewels, jujubes & typewriter ribbons.

and, billy-be-damned, they're purty.

also, in existence to be acquired: BOOKS

2 books of poetry by edgar oliver with art by a variety of brigandly bohemians.

'a portrait of new york by a wanderer there'

aaaaand, 'ursus horribilis or ernest & the demon bear' a poem & art by me. with additional art by jeff burns.

custom colors or concepts for boxes are gladly solicited. if you want sevral boxes a bundle can be composed and price reductions instituted.

it's art. it's vaguely useful. it's for you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

easter island

Windblown grassland and rockiness are the portrait of the sad, grey & dreary tropical isle worn thin. A tribe of natives wear reed and grassen outfits in bird motifs adorned with shiny seashells and feathers. They are the Birdman cult; subscribers to the dominant belief system of Rapa Nui. Wherein control over the council of tribal chiefs is determined by a race/competition.

All the Birdmen gather in the sacred ceremonial village of Orongo among many carvings and paintings of stone illustrating the Birdman motif and wholly representing religiosity.

Each chief chooses a representative Hopu to climb down the cliffs of Orongo to swim the channel to the tiny isle of Boko Maru with the aid of a reed bundle floatie. The waters between the main island and its smaller wristbone-shaped counterpart absolutely teem with sharks.

The contestants who survive the swim and get to the island must gather the first egg of the Manutara (or sooty tern) and return the way they came with egg un-broken in a little reed basket tied round the neck. Some hide out in caves for days to wait for the bird to lay down an egg that serves as a sacred offering after precarious transport. That white and speckled oblate spheroid in a seabird’s nest lies in play. Is a fresh-laid egg softer at first?

The victor presents the unbroke egg to his chief and the chief is the Birdman for the year. Hard to tell why the guy who actually performed the feat isn't the one in charge. Hard to tell if it’s the first egg.

The island of Rapa Nui is nearly completely deforested. The ecosystem is tight. Two kinds of trees are extinct. There are a few small imported coconut palms, some bushes and the final native tree species. A palm protected by a small outlandish cult of savage conservationists.

Other smaller things, less important to me and you, (because trees are important to us right?) have gone extinct on this tiny remote rocky island. Bushes, birds and lizards. Grass, moss and worms.

There are Moai, mountainous monumaniacal monolithic monuments to man, in all directions. A thousand or more. Perhaps forty percent have been toppled in tribal skirmishes. Things so sacred become so quickly toppleable.

The ancient originator of the art of shaping tuff, the stone of compacted volcanic ash, askt his friend’s opinion on the first crude Moai sculpture. After sleeping on it the friend answered ‘make it look like a man, man.’

So, the style of Moai carving progressed to become more familiar.

The Buddha askt his likenesses not be in his likeness. So he is oft-portrayed portly to signify his spiritual wealth; as the rich are known to match the fatted calf of excess.

Many Moai are decorated and painted with a variety of natural pigments: powdered corals, rat blood, guano, roots.

Flaming Moai: wasteful decor.

Most of the island's resources were spent on the construction and transportation of this enormous ignematic statuary. But they sure dress up nice.

A band of rat-killers clad in ratskins shoddily sewn together with ratgut pass nearby the large Birdman outing. Their hats resemble ratheads. What might be the brainpan of the rathead is a secret chamber wherein lie the seeds of the island's few remaining palm trees. The rats find these palm nuts an exquisite delicacy. So exquisite it drew the rats to migrate thousands of Polynesian miles by sea when they got the bulletin in the rodent trade journals.

The Launch:

They are loaded into a spacebus with nice lines strapped onto one of the largest things that moves; oh, most certainly the largest thing that flies. And oh how it flings these things with rocket boosters. And all of this rests on the biggest thing that moves on land: The shuttle crawler. The moving platform with multistory tanktracks and a maximum speed of not even a handful of miles per hour. Whereas the shuttle ends up being the fastest thing made by man. Ever. And there’s somebody inside.

Astronauts wear pressurized suits primarily for comfort in exit and entry. The comfort of survival. These highly stressful things, getting into and out of the gravity well, the atmosphere, are the most difficult and dangerous operations of any spaceflight.

Science as adventure. As in sitting in a hard uncomfortable squeeaky chair in a cold drafty library where you are constantly shushed for the squeaks and it’s too damn cold to sit on the floor. As in remembering to write everything down. As in empirical measurement.

As in imagining how that fossil lived and drawing a picture of it. If a skeleton is a sketch like that of a fish in stone. An idea of what would be there were the meat not missing.

Science as adventure. As in riding the fastest vehicle to the highest heights. As in, outside the atmosphere.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

a cosmic interview: art in the void

the spaced shuttle
or a void in need of a brain

These climbers of Zero G ladders through nothingness to nothing. In the great blackness they come up against too much wonder. Too little earth to compensate for how much nothing they've seen.

Not much wind in the void. Not much air. Not much time to measure in nothing. It bends like light past mysterious supermasses.

So little to get in your way in the void. Nothing moves at a crawl til there's gravity and friction.

-Here we are with renowned Cosmonaut Viktor ... umm... I dont think I can say your last name on television without a fine from the FCC. Viktor, like certain Spacemen before him has turned to art as well as science to explain the universe.
Cosmonaut: You must think bigger to maintain your human strength in zero gravity. You move and imagine much larger things breaking down psychical cobwebs and expanding the breadth of your movements. To justify these large earthly muscles and bones. You become more attuned to gravity. Where do you think angels came from? They lived in the void before there was a firmament or any kind of separations.
-How does this relate to your art Mr. Cosmonaut?
Cosmonaut: It is all drawn from larger thinking. The larger being of the void. The great big bigness.
-I'm sure it makes more sense in Russian.
Cosmonaut: I doubt it. Only Pushkin & Mayakovsky make any sense in Russian.
-Why do you use space junk?
Cosmonaut: I can't seem to get my hands on a comet.
Cosmonaut: Also, I am a very firm believer in recycling… repurposing. Space junk is special to me. I am so close to it. Closer than but the tiniest percent of a percentile of all humanity. It really is a great sensation to make art of things discarded. So expensively transported to space and flung aside to spin in irregular orbits.
-Is it dangerous?
Cosmonaut: Is what dangerous?
-Is sculpting space junk dangerous?
Cosmonaut: Of course it is. Spacewalking hour after hour with tools and adhesives.
-Could it be dangerous to others?
Cosmonaut: Others? No. Never. If something has a descending orbit it eventually falls out of; it burns, burns up in the atmosphere. A flicker in the heavenly host. A falling star. A meteor.
-so, yr a romantic?
Cosmonaut: No, I am a pragmatist. The great ancient slavistanian poet padbunnyghozin said many unintelligible things about love, perky and ponderous breasts and the heavens. Most importantly, stars, he said, are best viewed from the field of numbers. The meadow of mathematics. The orchard of ordinates. The grove of geometry. Lest you climb the spiral ladder into the void.
-Wow. I wonder if that's better in Russian.
Cosmonaut: You should see it from up there. It comes from the original slavistani. It is no mere Russian.
-I’ve seen space in all the vids.
Cosmonaut: vids is not same. Is not entire cosmos whirling through infinity. It’s mere pickles. Ones and zeroes stacked nexto each other in endless briny barrels.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

edgar oliver play: 'east 10th street: portrait with empty house'

East 10th Street: Self Portrait with Empty House
written and performed by Edgar Oliver
November 6 – 22, 2008
Thursday – Saturday at 8:00 pm
$15 Adults/$10 Students/Seniors

Axis Company presents EAST 10TH STREET: SELF PORTRAIT WITH EMPTY HOUSE, a new play by and about Downtown performance icon Edgar Oliver and directed by Randy Sharp. This look at a life on the fringes of New York's Lower East Side comes on the heels of what could be Oliver's breakthrough role in the upcoming film from Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess, Gentlemen Broncos (opposite Sam Rockwell), as well as a national advertising campaign for mobile phones in Ireland that has become a cult phenomenon.

In EAST 10TH STREET: SELF PORTRAIT WITH EMPTY HOUSE, long-standing, downtown theatre icon Edgar Oliver takes the audience on a fantastic voyage through the strange rooms of the apartment house where he has lived since his first years in New York. Inhabiting the dark, mysterious halls of an East Village tenement building are a dwarf Cabalist, a possible Nazi, the landlord's former wet nurse who apparently lives in a nest of rags, and many other memorable persons. Edgar leads the audience up to the final room, his own, at the top of the derelict stairs, wherein lie the secrets of his own family and the unbelievable odyssey that brought him there. This incredible cast of characters illuminate the sad, funny, brilliant and deeply personal story.

Georgia native Edgar Oliver started performing in New York at the Pyramid in the mid-1980's alongside artists including Hapi Phace, Kenbra Pfahler, Samoa and playwright Kestutis Nakas. As a playwright, many of Oliver's plays have been staged at La MaMa and other downtown NYC theatres, including The Seven Year Vacation, The Poetry Killer, Hands in Wartime, Motel Blue 19, and Mosquito Succulence. As a stage actor, he has performed in countless plays including Edward II with Cliplight Theater, Marc Palmieri's Carl the Second, Lipsynka's Dial M for Model, and numerous productions at Axis including A Glance at New York (Edinburgh Festival & NYC), Julius Caesar, USS Frankenstein, Hospital, and Seven in One Blow. Edgar is also one of the most beloved story tellers at The Moth. His film roles include That's Beautiful Frank, Henry May Long (directed by Axis' Randy Sharp) and Gentlemen Broncos. His published works include A Portrait of New York by a Wanderer There, Summer(published by oilcan press) and The Man Who Loved Plants (published by Panther Books).

The Launch:

The Launch:

Every mission is a remarkable feat. The orbiters carry remarkable persons and remarkable cargoes. Astronauts. Men and women who’ve worked harder and harder to experience the inestimable privilege of super-supersonic space adventurers: zealous dreamers, explorers, scientists & the adventure of reason.

Weightlessness. A look at the void, a view of earth from above, a look at the whole of it instead of one tiny parcel at a time. There it is spinning like an illustrated dinnerplate.

No one involved in a launch is a character, a specific individual; all parties are tiny cogs in a much larger automated process. Gears in an enormous cukoo clock.

The Space Shuttle, NASA's Earth Orbiter is getting old to be cutting edge technology but they keep getting to space & back. The Shuttles define High Technology with the most extensive research & the most rigorous testing. Some companies report having made no profit on Shuttle technology. Shuttles carry the largest payloads & the most people. The space shuttle is still the best thing to & from space. No matter how ye slice it. No trip to space is cheap.

Are we just supposed to wait for someone else to show up here from out there and we haven’t even been trying?

The tension is routine by now for the fastest humans. They go thru hundreds upon hundreds of checks, double-checks and triple-checks by rote. The routines must be followed to execute a successful liftoff. When things aren’t right: disaster.

Hate to be the result of human error. Poof.

The crew are strapped in their seats. The gantry is enormous beside the shuttle. Most of its aspects are disengaged just before launch: the nosecap that fills the giant orange tank and the footbridge the Astronauts cross to the orbiter.

Tiny men gobbled up by the enormous machine. The entire thing, crawler & shuttle assembly, is the largest thing that moves. The shuttle, tank and boosters are the largest thing that flies and the fastest. 4.5 million pounds at launch. Mach 26.

Tiny men inside the enormous machine. Tiny organisms in the great big mechanical bird. Veins and arteries of power, controls, nerve impulses. A skin composed of plates laid together. Bricks laid in rows like scales: armadillo, snake, horny toad, lizard, dragon, water bear; glued together with a mucosal mortar. Hold together bricks, scales, skin. Be armor. Hold together interlocking components of an exterior. Be Armor.

Once the nosecap and footbridge are free a deep rumble roars through the shuttle. The crew go through their routines. Each has a book of procedure that tells them when flips switches and recite statistics aloud.

The cockpit contains four Astronauts: Commander, Pilot, Flight Engineer & Mission Specialist. The mid-deck, below, holds three more Astronauts.

That enormous rumble. Total body rumble. Deep resonant earth-shaking rumble. Every iota of every Astronaut rattles like a million billion chimps in a million billion cages jumping up and down screaming and shaking the doors of their cages simultaneously.

The heartrates of astronauts skyrocket when the engines start.

The Space Transportation System consists two solid rocket boosters & the enormous orange External Fuel Tank, which fuels the Orbiter vehicle's main engines with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

The crew are rattled in their strapped-in seats. The engines all blow full fire for liftoff. The enormous cloud soon obscures the gantry & shuttle. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are sprayed allover the crawler and Mobile Launch Pad in less than a minute by the sound suppression system.

The Space Shuttle Main Engine nozzles gimbal to both steer & thrust during takeoff to confound gravity. The shuttle is off the ground. The largest thing that flies moving at hundreds of miles an hour at first to be far enough from the surface to go faster.

Once clear of the tower the shuttle performs a roll that places the orbiter toward the earth and the external tank and boosters toward orbit. The shuttle gains speed & as quickly loses weight as fuel is expended & it is able to go even faster.

Nary an Anvil Cloud for 600 miles in any direction. Got to have a clear clean day because of the enomous con-trail that could electrically connect the shuttle to the ground in the case of a lightning strike.

Two minutes into flight the solid rocket boosters are released via explosive bolts. The boosters deploy parachutes and fall safely to the Indian ocean where they are reclaimed. By this time the shuttle is moving many thousands of miles per hour. Not long after, when the liquid fuel is almost used up, the External Tank is released with its explosive bolts. The remaining fuel in the tank causes it to explode in the heat of reentry & rain smaller fragments on the Indian Ocean.

& they are largely there. They have crossed the highest height, leapt the greatest leap, stept the greatest step. Spaceflight. Broke free of the gravity well.

Out the windows of the shuttle Atlantis for this lady and gentlemen to see: Stars, all those shining things. Galaxies. Flashing passing meteors. Comets. Luminous gas clouds. Black nothingness. There’s a lot more nothing than there is something in the universe.

Turn away from the stars. The fars away. The blacks & whites. The inexplicable colors. The lack of twinkle for most lights.

Look at that dancing dinnerplate. Illustrated mesmerizing spinning disc. Look to home Astronauts. Our delicious apple of an earth.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

easter island international airport

Astronauts often spend the night before a spacewalk in the airlock to lower the pressure in themselves and allow the Nitrogen to escape. They can wake, don their suits & step out the airlock into infinity.

Viktor & Gary wake in the airlock. It is the 131st day of the year. Their watches work on Greenwich Mean Time. That ancient astronomical & nautical measurement guides them through their days and connects them to something concrete, something with gravity, a place on earth that is the base of time. Those traveling astronomers viewing transits, comets & eclipses had to have a way to remind themselves that their observations could possibly mean anything relative to their home. & surely home still existed if they could see that Greenwich means time. They wake at 0530 GMT

Cosmonaut: Alexei Leonov was the first to perform an Extra-Vehicular Activity. There is nothingness out there. Nothingness & micrometeoroids. One cuts throughout your soul. Other cuts through space suit.
Gary: Shit, Vik, you're a riot before anything dangerous. I know they make these things out of Kevlar & nonex & meshes & foils for more than one kind of protection. Maybe more people just died in Soviet Space.
Cosmonaut: Leonov was the first. He said: It was an extra ordinary sensation. I never felt anything like it before. I was free above the earth & saw it rotate majestically below me.
Gary: It's even better out there than here in the ISS. It's all bigger.

Gary rustles out of his sleeping bag held to the wall with Velcro and bungee bands that hold the sleeper's body against the wall to halfassedly simulate laying in an actual bed. Humans are unaccustomed to sleep when they can't tell which way is down. Allowances must be made to help fool the body.

Cosmonaut: I always think of Alexei Leonov when I walk in space. He nearly died any variety of ways. His space suit overinflated because of the lack of pressure. He could barely move.
Gary: Our suits are much better.
Cosmonaut: How can you be sure?
Gary: We just used them the other day.

Gary preps some breakfast. He manipulates specially designed bags of liquids, tins of semi-solids & wafers. The Cosmonaut slithers out of his sleeping bag to the tune of tearing Velcro They have Russian tins of appetizing appetizer to accompany their freeze-dried eggs. the coffee must be cold because the hot water is located in another module of the Space Station.

They slurp liquids from nippled bags & nosh 'eggs' & appetizing appetizer.

They will be out there a long long time & the Cosmonaut likes to start with a full stomach & work his way into a stride & rhythm of work. Nothing worse than trying to perform sensitive, life-threatening, dangerous operations in space on an empty stomach.

With a belch the Cosmonaut realigns himself after his meal. He turns one up to down and concentrates on the space walk preparation.

Cosmonaut: Leonov is also an artist. A great Soviet err... Russian Space hero & an artist. I think of this. Leonov had to violate protocol to survive the vacuum.
Gary: I'm pretty sure violating procedure got him into that mess. You ate too many propaganda berries as a child.
Cosmonaut: He is a Hero.
Gary: Yes, he is. Just don't say he's a hero for reasons he isn't. He was the first one out there.
Cosmonaut: His art...
Gary: Maybe more of us should make art.
Cosmonaut: Definitely, more perspectives from this perspective.

The Cosmonaut floats to the next module to verify the preparations of the suits which appear as ready as before the travelers went to sleep.

They don their fancy suits.

14 layers or more of protection from micrometeoroids, lack of pressure, cold, heat, solar wind & cosmic radiation. A backpack contains climate control equipment. Air to breathe & cool the suit. That many layers provide serious insulation. It's cold in the nowhere.

Space Suits support Extra-Vehicular Activity up to 7 hours. Yes, they also provide for excretion of bodily wastes.

Cosmonaut: Alexei's paintings are beautiful representations of the cosmos. His understanding of the vastness is always growing.
Gary: Houston's gonna get mad at you talkin about Alexei Leonov all day. They've heard that story. They really don't like it when you talk about danger.
Cosmonaut: We are special. We have special luck. Special circumstance. We have Cosmos & possibility to understand how it is made.

Gary the Astronaut & Viktor the Cosmonaut are nearly into their suits. They check each other's seals & equipment positions.

Gary: Houston, this is Sparrow. Ready for migration.
Houston: Kzzt. Roger, Sparrow.

The Astronaut & Cosmonaut attach their helmets for so to venture into the night.

Secured in their suits the air in the airlock is removed to holding tanks to equalize the pressure with that of the vacuum so they aren't violently flung from the craft when the airlock door is opened. All parties are in constant communication: Spacewalkers, ISS Control & Mission Control in Houston.

space walk

Sunday, November 2, 2008

easter island international airport

"The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only
common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal
after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the
cosmos." -- stephen jay gould

Space. The void. A dark confusion, a definite system of spin. The Cosmonaut looks out the porthole of the International Space Station. Into the void. Occupying the lack of...

In space there is a cold, unforgiving lack of anything. A vacuum, a dark indiscernible circumstance, a myriad of constellations, points of light in the long far gone; further than over the river and thru the woods.

The Cosmonaut has logged too many thousands of hours in space: Tiny capsules, Soviet Space Stations: The Salyut series & Mir; real predecessors of the ISS. American Space Shuttle missions, private space ventures, innumerable tests. Trips on the undeployed Soviet Space Shuttle ripoff. A stream of journeys back & forth. Earth & Space. Celebrate Secret Missions: success & failure.

Imagine a fungus in space. Toxic Mold in a tiny Space Station. This limited space with 4 Cosmonauts working on experiments. The first gun in space was on an early Soviet Space Station. Longly precedent to the Chinese battering ram satellite.

Always amid the void, Viktor the Cosmonaut finds whatever it is he uses to define or find himself. The great big nothingness shows an unending litany of discovery & dazzle. The infinite universe provides unabridged possibility & observation; an encyclopedia of thought and being. Events witnessed, recorded & reported are science, clearly. Open books of what's been going on in the great big up there. The heavens way past the left field fence, out beyond the far pond, on the other side. presentation of fact and very little fancy. Accounts balanced in the void.

The Cosmonaut sees Earth from afar. Each time is as beautiful as the last. Mystifying and crisp. Wisps of clouds are entire weather fronts. landmasses are browns and greens with a few silver ribboning stripes. 74 percent of the globe varies shades of blue. Oceans wide & deep in subtle hues. By day a few human creations can be seen from space. Passing over the night side of earth shows all those twinkling electric bulbings below. Cities, suburbs & roads. Parking lots, runways, dog tracks, casinos & amusement parks adding their glim to the glamming night.

The Cosmonaut breaks his gaze and makes his way to choose his stowed meal of the day. He sticks to the choice listed on the calendar on the door to the ISS fridge. His food is more supplemental mixtures than any distinguishable foodstuff with some color differences and odd crispy wafers of varying sweet and savory distinctions to provide a sense of texture. Texture is an issue the Cosmonaut discovered, despite the perfectness of these formulated foods, needed be addressed for long stays in small spaces. One can carry fresh fruit to last only so long in space.

The Cosmonaut heats pseudofood in the table mounted heating device of the Mir-like Russian-built space station module.

He has a spacewalk coming up tomorrow. A journey into the beautiful out there. The beautiful nothingness. A chance to gaze and be lost in the celestial host. A tiny taste of power as one has from any height.

The Cosmonaut eats the perfect food. He spoons it up & occasionally dips some with his wafers. There are probably certain additives in this perfect spacefood to encourage its enjoyment. addictive properties perhaps. It must taste good but not too good lest they run out of spacefood should a spacesick newbie fall to depression binge eating.

As he eats he considers spacewalking activities ahead of him. He must move some small pieces of equipment left on previous spacewalks to more secure locations outside the ISS. He will be joined by an Astronaut who will assist moving a larger piece of equipment with the 55 foot long Canadian robot arm. it can be controlled from both within and without the ISS. The Cosmonaut will discuss certain subtle aspects of extra-vehicular robot arm control with the Astronaut joining him. They will move and secure this experimental equipment to be installed by the next mission with additional components yet to be launched.

The Cosmonaut rises from his meal & floats to prepare his spacesuit. He moves himself in ways that use his muscles most fully to begin his warmup.

He follows the checklists closely to put all the pieces of his spacesuit in order where it sits from the previous day's Extra-vehicular Activity. Seals seal properly. Radio test checks out. Oxygen is operational.

The Cosmonaut has brought his sleeping bag from his sleep station to install in the airlock where he'll sleep the night before his space walk with the Astronaut, Gary.

Gary gathers foodstuffs for morning's meal from the Russian dining module. He checks the list Viktor provided him in pidgin chickenscratch including letters Gary guesses are Cyrillic.

The Astronaut & Cosmonaut meet at the airlock, exchange pleasantries and affix their bedrolls to the Velcro wall for their depressurization campout.