Archive | August, 2011

GUEST BLOG: Renée Reynolds

17 Aug

Renée Reynolds grew up between Chicago and Los Angeles. She writes short fiction and paints long images while working as a freelance writer in Shanghai.  This piece appears courtesy of HAL publishing, a postpat colonist publishing house promoting China-based works by exceptional authors.  She is a long-time collaborator with CP composer Veronika Krausas. 

Fort Bringham’ere in Brief July 5, XXXX

Dear Mr. Just Wondering,

Thank you for your interest in the operations of Fort Bringham’ere. Do accept our apologies for requiring 13 months and a day to reply – foreign-correspondence clearance protocol sure can be a time consuming process! You will find all inquiries and concerns classified as non-confidential addressed in this notarized document. I thank you in advance for pardoning the necessary omissions.

Fort Bringham’ere (formerly Fort Gimme) Military Biosphere Reserve (FBMBR) is located in an undisclosed northern township. With a north-south length of 880 m, and an east-west width of 500 m, the FBMBR covers a total area of 440,000 square-meters (44 hectares).

Once known as one of the world’s largest city squares, second only to the Imam Reza Shrine in Old Iran, FBMBR includes the majority of the highest quality hiparian flats remaining in mainland China. Multiple species of hiparian-dependent life-forms, found in Fort Bringham’ere’s flats, are candidates for rare and special species listing at local and national levels, including the Dusty dead-vinehopper (Wuttanowe dustus), the Xi’s Peckerspot (Thatsanot livustus), and the extremely rare, Highway Blue Face (Cyaninan cryptivius).

As urban development, invasive species, real estate price-hikes, demolition and ground cover succession continue to efface the northern region’s hiparian flats, restoration and management are critical in providing enough suitable habitat for these and other important species to maintain viable populations.

Stewardship of rare and special species and natural habitats has a priority at Fort Bringham’ere. The proper entrapment, documentation, blog-posting, paper-mache and enticing display of such species are also mandated practices under strict Fort-implemented regulations as well as national and local law. The process of listing any hiparian specimen as ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ could have negative implications for the funding, training and ranking of Fort Bringham’ere’s personnel. Access to the means by which such an act can be performed is therefore monitored with an extensive CCTV network as well as armed guards trained in relevant disciplines such as Zoology and martial arts.

Monthly reports are compiled for historical record-keeping and internal reference only. Such reports use carefully selected segments of survey and informational testimonies on northern mainland China’s hiparian-dependent life-forms. Oral history, folklore (including ancestral superstitions) and supporting interviews of expert upright citizens with extensive experience in the region, as well as qualified family members, provide additional source material when necessary.

All reports aim to create a thorough yet entertaining picture of the rare, common and otherwise compromised populations existing on and around Fort Bringham’ere over time. While content generated thusly can be used to enhance tourism revenues in future, studies conducted on Fort Bringham’ere are currently closed to the public as well as non-briefed personnel.

Aspects of high-quality hiparian habitat such as low pu-pu fecal cover, abundant alcoholic and diverse nectar sources, and high-rise dormant VIP colonies can be correlated with all regional species’ diversity and abundance. In the absence of such opportunities to propagate, many of the rare and special species will undoubtedly achieve extinction before the year of the Dragon, a decidedly important passing of amorphous energies that dictate the deepest of all meaning to all living creatures in all known economically viable locations.

Thus, all men of high-ranking cloth at Fort Bringham’ere endorse the passing of the mandate RU4-DiRoll and the doubling of munitions used in Q1 and Q2 in our on-going efforts to protect surrounding Technology Parks, as well as nearby residential and commercial development zones from any species known and unknown to pose a threat to the protocol we all work so diligently to uphold.

Your support is appreciated!

Yours Truly,

Lt. Colonel August Finis, Operating Commander

Fort Bringham’ere Military Biosphere Reserve

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Blocking the Exits: The Slowpocalypse is Here

11 Aug

Notes from the Studio: Catalysis Project’s Resident Artist Isaac Schankler talks about his recent collaboration with video artist Christopher O’Leary, Blocking the Exits (currently on display at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions).

What is the nature of our culture’s fascination with the apocalypse? This dystopian thread connects so much of our literature, our films, our popular consciousness. There’s something riveting about the spectacle of it all, something that seems to mask a hidden desire, or at least conflicting impulses. What does it mean when you take something horrifying and render it beautiful? What are the aesthetics of the apocalypse?


These are some of the pointed questions implied by video artist Christopher O’Leary’s Blocking the Exits. In his words, the project “depicts an apocalyptic world where four characters have the final experience of crumbling pillars of civilization: water, food, energy and communication.” When Chris asked me to supply a soundtrack to this quasi-narrative video, I jumped at the chance (since I too am not immune to the fascination of the apocalyptic).

The visual aspect of Blocking the Exits consists of still photos that are then animated through morphing algorithms. Chris’s images are extremely stylized; there’s no attempt to disguise or apologize for the influence of comic book art. For a composer like me this is wonderfully inspiring; his images are so evocative that when he first showed them to me I had almost immediate sonic “images” come to mind.

There’s also a mesmerizing slowness to the morphing animations, and this led me down some musical paths that are a bit unusual for me. I composed four electronic musical vignettes, one for each “character” in Chris’s video. Each vignette follows a very simple process from one sonic place to another (e.g. low to high, sparse to dense, and so on). Each process is drawn out so that the development is almost imperceptibly slow, and the video also dynamically cuts between characters, making the processes even harder to track from beginning to end.

Usually when I’m working out a composition I feel compelled to subtly shade these processes, to round off the edges and hide the seams — or if I’m feeling more antagonistic, to disrupt and complicate these processes with even more processes! But in this case it seemed to fit the project to doggedly pursue something to its bitter end. Here the end of the world doesn’t happen with a bang but as a dull, persistent roar. It happens while we’re not looking or listening: an ongoing, inevitable, eternal moment.

Blocking the Exits is on display in the Speculative exhibit at LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028) until August 28th.

The Life of Objects

9 Aug

NOTES FROM THE STUDIO – Catalysis Projects’ Core Artist Kim Ye gives a sneak peak of her proposed project THE LIFE OF OBJECTS for High Desert Test Sites

Background / Abstract

This project started as an exercise in processing the leftovers of family tradition. In January 2011, I cruised the streets of Los Angeles, picking up curbside Christmas trees in my minivan. Some pick-ups were planned, involving prior communication with the owners. Others were more spontaneous, where I pulled over upon spotting a tree trunk sticking out between a mass of pine needles, sometimes wrapped nefariously in an overgrown plastic bag. All in all, I collected 58 Christmas trees over the course of a month.

I am fascinated by the process by which the Christmas tree falls from preciousness to worthlessness. A symbol that takes its place at the center of family gatherings and acts as such a loaded, often sentimental, representation of religion and relationality is discarded in the same manner as common household waste, dust, and dirt. The trees I rounded-up were completely used up—abandoned unceremoniously by the very family units that had chosen them.

Why does the becoming of a Christmas tree involve such a degree of pomp and circumstance, while its ending is treated with the irreverence of a chore like taking out the trash? Does this say something about a larger tendency to avoid facing the material consequences of our culture’s socially meaningful—but economically and ecologically impactful—traditions? In an effort to confront these questions, I reorganized and modified the trees in stages, giving them a newly collective physical presence.  The first two configurations can be seen below. The third and final configuration is planned for the Wonder Valley desert in the vast stretch of land behind The Palms.

Kim Ye, The Life of Objects (Installation #1), 2011

Kim Ye, The Life of Objects (Installation #2), 2011

Installation / Location

For the desert installation, the trees are coated with strontium aluminate glow-in-the-dark pigment, and then fastened together in an organically chaotic arrangement. This configuration results in an object that is reminiscent of an overgrown radioactive tumbleweed—its size and luminosity confronting and activating the viewer’s body. The placement of the sculpture at The Palms puts it within the range of human contact—fitting since the sculpture’s conglomerated form mirrors the function of the restaurant, which acts as a rhizome that generates social activity and interaction.

As part of the Homestead Act, Wonder Valley has a history of being a site for new beginnings, redefinitions, and unavoidable endings.  Within this uncanny setting that is at once magical and unforgiving, hopeful and terrifying, is it possible for these glowing tree parts to embody the affective motivators that pattern human behavior? To realize the final stage of The Life of Objects in this landscape is to postulate a new function for the material byproducts of networked human relationships.  Perhaps these discarded symbols can act as a beacon that encapsulates the resonant activity inherent in all endings.