Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Postmodern Hangover: Reading the works of Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn

Essay looking at the video works of Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn through the lens of Mikhail Bakhtin.

Friday, November 20, 2009

System for Family Cohesion

When I was a little girl I lived far away from my extended family. Every summer my sister and I would fly down to Alabama for two weeks to see all of our cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. At that age I didn't have the awareness that mobile homes had a negative social connotation. I wished that me and my family could all live in one really long trailer. In my mind I only ever saw a long hallway that connected all the trailers and the outside of the long trailer where all the doors would open up and we all played outside together.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Relationship equation

For each year you have been in your relationship determine the number of days your relationship has had negative emotional impact. Essentially, for each year complete the equation (365-y) where y = the number of negative days. After you have determined y for each year set up the following equation, where x = the number of years you have been together (the above example is for a 3 year relationship).

The result, when multiplied by 100, will give you the % of your relationship that is successful. Anything over 50% is good according to L. Anderson.

Derek heard the word Master Narrative and thought of me

So, the other day Derek told me he heard the word Master Narrative and thought of me, because if you've come to EC/BC or been in a class with me it seems that Metanarrative and Micronarrative are the concepts I manage to bring up all the time. So here is another iteration of thinking about the same old thing.

System for Controlling Behavior

For those of you who have been aware of my tracking the amount that people talk in class, here are some of the pie charts that depict who talked how much. I failed at using this method to control the amount I contributed since for the most part I always contributed at the high end of the spectrum, which is what I was trying to prevent. So much for behavior modification.

Abel in the Woods

This is the fairy tale from the wall of my studio:

Once upon a time, in a small cabin deep in the woods, a beautiful baby boy was born to a beautiful young girl. The young girl had married a woodsman who had found her wandering alone in the woods. She has a story all her own, but this is not her story. This is the story of her beautiful baby boy, Abel.
Her husband was afraid the name Abel would bring the boy tragedy, but his mother knew that Abel was the keeper of animals, and that he was the first person to please God after Adam and Eve fell from favor. In the woods, the animals rule so a keeper of animals would protect both her and her baby, but above all else she hoped this baby could bring her back into favor.
As he grew older she believed more and more that he would bring the heavens delight. From an early age she told her husband “He is special, do you see those rosy cheeks and the sweet glow that comes into the room when he smiles? He is blessed by the angels, and he is always outside surrounded by animals, so his name has been a blessing.”
It was true, from the time he was two years old Abel loved to be outside, in the woods surrounded by animals. He learned that if he sat very still at the base of his favorite tree sometimes a bird would land on his head. He would lean against the big tree, feeling the strength of the base and the roots, letting the bark scratch his back. Then, when the bird would land, he would close his eyes and listen. The soft subtle sound of the bird’s feathers brushing against each other, mixed with the occasional chirp, was the most beautiful thing Abel ever heard.
It was the beauty of these noises that prevented Abel from speaking. When Abel was approaching his fifth birthday his father worried aloud to his mother that Abel had never spoken. However, she said “Abel speaks to the animals, I see him speaking to birds all the time. It is just that these are his playmates, if we lived around children hew would speak, and when he grows up he will then as well.” Her husband said okay. In his mind children were the wives responsibility. He spent his days out at a logging camp; he left early in the morning after breakfast, and came home in time for dinner and bed.
Since his mother and father assumed the woods were safe, Abel had been allowed to play amongst the trees from the time he could walk. The first time he had tottered about in the woods, the sound of his joyous laughter caught the attention of an evil spirit that lived in the woods.
The evil spirit had once been a boy with a name of his own. He had played and laughed, much like Abel, but his mother was not kind like Abel’s. His mother had been consumed with hate long before the evil spirit’s birth. She especially hated the evil spirit, because he reminded her where her hate came from. The evil spirits’ mother would let him play outside, but every time he laughed and every time he sang, she would come up to him and whisper in his ear. “Every time you laugh, know that you are dirty, laughter is the sin of indulgence, laughter is evidence of your lustful nature, laughter means you will one day be a terrible man that takes what is not his.” The evil spirit tried not to laugh, but sometimes he could not help it, and every time he did, there would be her hand on his shoulder, the sound of her soft whisper tickling his ear. Eventually, he learned she was right; he was bad. When he was nine she died, and he left the house. He roamed the woods living off what was not his and laughing; knowing with every laugh he was growing more and more evil.
When the evil spirit came upon Abel, and heard the singsong beauty of his laughter, he knew he must tell Abel he was evil. He waited until Abel was sitting still at the base of his favorite tree wishing for birds. In that quiet moment he grabbed Abel and dragged him into the darkest part of the forest where his parents could never see or hear. Abel sat silent in fear while the dark spirit tugged him into the woods. He didn’t know what was happening, had a bird carried him away?
Abel realized it was not a bird when he felt the cold breath of the spirit whisper in his ear. The evil spirit told Abel, “Every time you laugh, know that you are dirty, laughter is the sin of indulgence, laughter is evidence of your lustful nature, laughter means you will one day be a terrible man that takes what is not his. And if you tell anyone you let me drag you into the dark part of the woods they will know you are bad and your laughter is evil.” Then the evil spirit dragged him back to his tree.
The birds, who loved Abel, all came down on the boys limp body and fluttered their wings until Abel had enough life in him to return home. Abel got up off the ground and walked home slowly. Abel’s father was not home enough to notice that sometimes the boy came home very sad. Abel’s mother never wanted to see sadness, so she didn’t. Abel still went into the woods, it was the only place he felt any happiness, he tried to fight off the evil spirit, but he was never strong enough. The evil spirit kept him in the darkness for longer and longer, and each time the birds had to flutter longer and longer to bring back the spirit of his laughter.
Abel thought he could handle the evil spirit, but he started to become really scared when the evil spirit started holding him down by his neck instead of his shoulder. It was then that Abel realized the evil spirit intended to keep him in the darkness forever. Abel could not stay in the darkness forever. He was 10 years old now and he had still never said a word.
That evening after the birds had fluttered over him for at least two hours he stood up and walked home to the cabin. He walked in the door and told his mother, “there is an evil spirit that lives in the woods, and he tells me I am evil, too.” Abel’s mother felt her inside sink. She knew the evil spirit, she had seen the darkest part of the woods, and she had convinced herself that they did not exist. She didn’t even look up at Abel when she said “Abel you are too old to make up stories about ghosts in the woods. I will have your father cut down the trees and put up a fence so you never have to go in the woods again. But never tell anyone what you told me today.”
It was years before Abel spoke again. Slowly, though he regained his laughter and eventually he even spoke of the evil spirit. As he grew up Abel realized that if did not speak of the evil spirit he would never leave the cabin. He knew that is why his mother had never left the cabin. He called it out in the woods. He went into the darkest place and laughed as loud as he could. He moved away from the cabin, but was never afraid to go back because his laughter and his love were stronger than the evil spirit, and the birds were his friends.

Monday, November 16, 2009

McCalla's Blog M.I.A

So, it has been kindly pointed out to me by one Jillian Vento that I have been amiss in my blogging. I responded to her that I had been doing a great deal of work on the podcasting and radio interviews etc, and she said "well you should have posted that stuff." She is right. So I am now posting regarding what I have recently completed. Sunday I finished a wall installation titled Systems and Fairy Tales this piece looks at different ways of understanding the world. Some of the systems are about understanding issues from a personal perspective, others relate to a broader context.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More time in the Gerbil Spinny Wheel Thing

So this morning I had the opportunity to ponder myself as an artist and my upcoming decisions about what work to make next, and I began to wonder how I ended up deciding to be an artist in the first place. This is relevant for my work, because often when I am able to understand my identity or my voice I gain a sense of direction that leads to a great increase in momentum. Anyway, I was musing back on how I got here, and of course I was a kid who drew a lot, but not out of a desire to escape or doodle, more from a desire to please others, get attention, and tell stories. I was an okay drawer/painter then, and I am an okay drawer/painter now. But it is not drawing or painting or the process therein that excites me, rather it is making something happen. So, in my recollections that I thought about how is it that as a mediocre drawer/painter I decided to pursue (at least in the beginning) the goal of becoming an artist which I understood to be a drawer/painter. (my concept has since changed, but only recently) My undergraduate path took a number of different twists that began at the university of georgia. When I started there I did ask about art classes and my advisor said "you have to be an art major to take classes, or get on a two year waiting list, and you have to submit a portfolio to be an art major." At that time I was romantically in love with academia, thought I wanted to be and English professor, and although I had taken both the art classes at my highschool I certainly did not have a portfolio. Then a couple of years later I transfered to Birmingham-Southern College and was able to take art classes. However, I was 2 1/2 years into my English degree, I had transfered twice and if I changed my major I would go from the 5 year track I was on to the 6 year track. I asked my advisor about doing a double major and he said "why?" The answer I gave him is the reason (I realized in the shower this morning) I have ended up her at PSU for an MFA. I love the way art classes engage the problem solving aspects of my mind. I love the creative open ended approach to problems. Specifically this morning, I recalled the last assignment for 3-d design: turn a piece of furniture into an animal and write a story about said animal. I found this huge ridiculus 1980's lamp that was on wheels. It had 5 bent poles with massive light bulbs attached that came out of the base and reached out into the middle of a room. I spent hours painting the poles zebra striped and painting huge eyes on the lightbulbs, adding eyelashes and creating a miniture version that fit snuggly into the base or "pouch" of the lamp. This act of being presented with a creative problem and then allowed nearly any method for solving that problem was what I loved. It is still what I love. This thought process brought me back to creating systems for my things that aren't systematic. Namely life, humans, humanity. Judgement Matrix and the perfect timeline come from a personal awareness that I am constantly trying to create graphs, hierarchies, equations, and other systematic levels of understanding for events or realities that exist outside of this type of conceptualization. I have hoped that literally creating these objects would release me from my futile attempts to organize with inadequate tools.

Monday, October 5, 2009

10.05.09 Thoughts/Process

So, I am taking a casual process-oriented approach to this blog. The postings will not necessarily be finished products or finished thoughts. Rather, this will be my venue for engaging with my own artistic process on a more tangible level. Often times my creative process happens when I am walking to the post office, trying to fall asleep at night, while driving/riding my bike/walking somewhere, etc. Any of those moments where my head is allowed to use its energy creating a frenzy of thoughts often akin to a gerbil in its spinny wheel thing. Sometimes the result of this mental excess is an output of artwork. Sometimes it is lack of sleep, heightened anxiety, unnecessary hours of thought wasted on problems too large for my mind to solve. Either way it is my process. However, this blog will be an attempt to take that process from my mind to a different forum. The reader of this blog has now been forewarned.

FYI: I have posted a few videos that actually contradict the previous statement in that they are recently completed artworks. :) They are there because blogs are good forums for displaying video works. Other finished pieces are not posted because they are not conducive to consumption via blog, and therefore I will not waste my time.

Back to the mental ramblings I am calling a blog. Since completing my last body of work, which I felt embodied a great deal of growth for myself as an artist and presented a whole new level of personal expectations (not a good thing), I have worried about where I will go next. More installations or more video. More conceptual or more emotional themes. How will I get my energy and drive back after that explosion of work from Jan 09- May 09? I spent the summer doing nothing more than painting beach paintings for my family's beach houses. Very shiny beach paintings, with beach birds, beach grass, and beach bird nests. They were perfect for what they were. But now where do I go?

I have recently been enamored of researching death. Not in a morbid, goth sense. More through a poetic cycle of life lens. A few precursors have led to this interest. First, in the transition linguistics video I posted, I found the section that ultimately interested me the most was the section regarding my grandmothers aging process and her daughters reaction to this process. Furthermore, my other grandmother died the month after this video work. Finally, there is much recent media hype about "death panels" and end of life. It seems in my personal work, my personal life, and the larger social buzz I am hearing death. In addition to the recent messages from the universe :). I have always been one to be consumed with the "future." When I was in the second grade I decided I would go to Princeton for college. At 8 years old I was considering which college I would attend. Not at my parents urging, who really could have cared less and were usually somewhat perturbed with my type A anxiety and demanding nature. In this vein, one of my greatest fears has been getting to the end of my life looking back and being disappointed in myself. This summer I read a book by Harvard Psychologist Daniel Gilbert titled Stumbling on Happiness. I learned that it is only since the development of the frontal lobe that humans gained the capacity to imagine the future. I have since decided that I have a overdeveloped frontal lobe. Either way, investigating end of life perspectives would scratch that itch that is my curiosity about a life in reflection.

Morning Meditation

Morning Meditation from McCalla Hill on Vimeo.

Transition Linguistics

Transition Linguistics from McCalla Hill on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Recent Work: The Rice Eater

The Rice Eater from McCalla Hill on Vimeo.