Work in progress

Progress update for the 4-channel video project. North channel.

At this point it’s just a still image super-imposed on top of an animation. Eventually the still image will be replaced by video feed and the animation will be altered to make it more accurate with respect to the placement of the letters/stars.

South channel.

Response to Weibel

In “Pittura/Immedia,” Peter Weibel analyzes the motives and implications of painting in the 1990s and raises the idea of the art form as a product of mediated visuality, rather than something derived from the opposition of representation and abstraction. The author introduces the concept of painting as the result of three distinct phases that have developed over time: immediacy, mediation, and “im-mediation.”

The first phase, immediacy, is an embodiment of the classical view of the medium of painting—that there is an immediate connection between the paint and the canvas and what mediates the two is only the will of the artist himself, completely disconnected to the past, the history of art or any other mediated source material. The second phase, which first came to fruition in the 60s, is referred to by the author as mediation: the work is the product of mass-mediatized images which it uses as source material for representation.

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Traveling riverside blues




1.) What do you want the viewer to immediately understand about your work without having prior background knowledge of the underlying system?

In one sense, not having knowledge of the system is crucial to the sensory/perceptual experience of the work. It’s the music of listening to a foreign language… You tacitly perceive that there is a logic to it — that an underlying system is present, which governs the aesthetic experience and generates the output. There are patterns that one might pick up on, both visually and auditorily, if he or she feels so inclined. BUT what you are listening to is music, and it can be just that.

2.) How much concern do you place in the work having a physical presence?

It varies. For this particular installation, not very much. Visually it exists in an unreal space — the video space, which is a reflection of real space but is separate from real space and physically inaccessible. In the physical space from which the viewer looks in, the work only exists as sound, or music. The sound only becomes a signifying system in the imaginary space, emphasizing the fact that what we are listening to is a foreign language which is not immediately accessible but must first be learned. This is true for both the viewer and myself as I am by no means fluent. I am just the scribe.

3.) How do you incorporate editing?

Editing happens at every stage. Every chord is recorded individually, then altered, trimmed down and pieced together in perfect sync with the lyrical phrasing of Johnson’s singing. Visually, each letter in the animation is added one at a time and synced to the audio.

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group show


photo-5These are some shots I took while composing, recording and installing the various components of my video installation Midnight Child Superstition Blues which was on display in different iterations in Tjaden Gallery from March 3 to March 7. This project was part of a group show I had with Joy and Joanna called Midnight Child Superstition.




minor pentatonic scale

This is one of the most frequently used scales in rock and popular music. The first row is in the key of A and decreases in pitch by a half step in each row after, with the last row in the key of Bb. (See Circle of Fifths post).

M P F K A / E D T S X

B Z Y G L / O I H N S

X W P F R / A U D T Q

J M Z Y K / L E I H S

Q B W P G / R O U D N

S X M Z F / K A E I T

N J B W Y / G L O U H

T Q X M P / F R A E D

H S J B Z / Y K L O I

D N Q X W / P G R A U

I T S J M / Z F K L E

U H N Q B / W Y G R O


From my sketch book notes. Enochian script notation is present as well as the corresponding color notation that refers to the root note of each key. For each of the two octaves.

The Circle of Fifths

This post is to show what letters are in what keys. Photo is taken from my sketch book. Dotted line shows where the root note of the natural minor scale [Interval: WHWWHWW] lies, embedded within the major scale [WWHWWWH]. In music theory the natural minor scale in a given key utilizes the same notes as the major scale of the key of whatever pitch is a fifth higher. In the key of C major the root note C corresponds to the letters D (for the first octave) and P (for the second octave). In the key of A minor the root note A corresponds to the letters M (first octave) and E (second octave).


I’ve transcribed this below in case anyone has trouble with the poor quality photo. Letters in [ ]s indicate the root note for the (natural) minor scale. It can be seen that within each scale there is an even distribution of frequently vs. infrequently used letters. All is going according to plan.

Key of C Maj/A min (1st octave): D T S Q X [M] Z P (2nd oct): P F K R A [E] I D

B Maj/G# min (1): I H N S J [B] W Z (2): Z Y G K L [O] U I

Bb Maj/G min (1): U D T N Q [X] M W (2): W P F G R [A] E U

A Maj/F# min (1): E I H T S [J] B M (2): M Z Y F K [L] O E

Ab Maj/F min (1): O U D H N [Q] X B (2): B W P Y G [R] A O

G Maj/E min (1): A E I D T [S] J X (2): X M Z P F [K] L A

Gb Maj/Eb min (1): L O U I H [N] Q J (2): J B W Z Y [G] R L

F Maj/D min (1): R A E U D [T] S Q (2): Q X M W P [F] K R

E Maj/C# min (1): K L O E I [H] N S (2): S J B M [Y] G K

Eb Maj/C min (1): G R A O U [D] T N (2): N Q X B W [P] F G

D Maj/B min (1): F K L A E [I] H T (2): T S J X M [Z] Y F

Db Maj/Bb min (1): Y G R L O [U] D H (2): H N Q J B [W] P Y

The Dvorak keyboard layout was designed by Dr. August Dvorak in 1936. The idea is to reduce the distance the finger has to travel from one key to the next based on the frequency with which individual letters are used. By assigning these letters to two octaves of the piano keyboard centralized around Middle C in the order presented by the Dvorak keyboard, from left to right, top row to bottom row, it will ensure that the letters are relatively evenly distributed on the keyboard with an equal amount of frequently and infrequently used letters in each octave. Letters in the first octave would gradually increase in frequency of use as the pitch increases toward middle C while letters in the second octave would decrease in frequency of use as the pitch increases beyond middle C. Octaves either below or above the two octaves surrounding Middle C would repeat in sequential order. With this design, Middle C becomes equivalent to the letter D, the 13th letter of the Dvorak keyboard following this sequence. In order to reduce the number of English letters to 24 so that they might correspond to the 24 notes of two 12-note octaves (following the chromatic scale), I have made C and K a single letter, and V and W a single letter.

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Artist Statement Draft

For this initial draft for my artist statement I would like to address certain requirements I have for the work which will eventually develop into my Thesis Show. Note that the work I have made up to this point may be either successful or unsuccessful in fulfilling these requirements to varying degrees.

This is what I want the work to do, not necessarily what it does now.


1.) Needs to either BE or BE CONSTRUCTED FROM a self-containing self-referencing linguistic or associative system.

A good thesis exhibition for me is like a good essay. It should repeat, reiterate, clarify. It is more than the sum of its parts (like language). The work needs to discuss and be in dialogue with itself.

The work should evolve in parallel to the ways in which actual languages evolve. In other words, the origin of a given component is not always necessary to reveal and the subsequent changes the component undergoes might refer only to its own hidden origins. This is not explicit and may (and should) be only tacitly perceived by the viewer. Consequently, some semblance of arbitrariness will arise regarding the association of a given signifier/signified pair of elements.

If these characteristics are present in the work then it really becomes about the semiotics of contemporary art, which often references itself and its own history as much as it references the outside world.

2.) Needs to contain some element of absurdity or a hidden humor, preferably at either (or both) the artist’s or the viewer’s expense.

The work should poke fun at the art viewer’s mental process of extracting meaning from an art work, which is always based on Freudian associative mental representations related to the idea of Psychic Continuity, AND, more often than not is itself an absurdity and influenced by processes of self-preservation relating to self-image, status, intelligence, what have you. Artwork is like Dreamwork in that the underlying thought is expressed through visual illusionistic means. Similarly, interpreting an art work is an associative process much like interpreting a dream.

The humor can be in the form of a joke, practical or otherwise.

The humor could simply be derived from the artist’s level of commitment to the system. It needs to, in other words, look like more work than is worth doing.

The purpose of this disguised humor is to exemplify how across the spectrum of Contemporary Art, there is often (like language) a system governing aesthetics which can always be tacitly perceived, though it is not always immediately apparent how it is to be interpreted. By including humor it becomes visible how viewers interpret my work; if it is meant to be funny and people aren’t laughing, that says something to me. It could be that the work is being interpreted in a serious way for legitimate reasons that stem from the subjectivity of the viewer, or by conventional notions of art being a serious endeavor, or it could be that I have a bad sense of humor.

3.) Needs to be both a signifier for something as well as an actualization of the concept or thought it signifies.

The work needs to both be the thing it means or does AND mean or do the thing it is.

4.) Needs to operate on multiple levels.

The work can be understood and interpreted. By the people who are interested (the ones who laugh at the joke).

The work can be tacitly perceived and appreciated aesthetically. By everyone else (the ones whom stroke their chins thoughtfully).

5.) Needs to bring the semiotics of language into dialogue with the semiotics of art.

This is it in a nutshell.

Chelsea Exhibition reviews



If walking around in Doug Wheeler’s installation currently on display at David Zwirner gallery doesn’t exactly create the experience of being in a boundless void, then it’s about as close to creating that experience as you can get, given the tedious limitations of having to work in the real world.

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Artist Research Presentation

Xu Bing, Book from the Sky, 1991

Audio Recordings of music circles in the Djemaa el-Fna

These are audio recordings I took of street music in the main plaza in Marrakesh when I travelled there in March of 2012.

Out of maybe a hundred audio samples I’ve taken in the past couple years I think these are particularly interesting for a couple reasons: 1) the music has its own distinct Berber/Gnawa syntax which takes some initial listening to in order to wrap your head around it (think about how people say you need to develop “an ear for jazz”), and 2) the fade-in-fade-out quality of the recordings that comes from my own moving through the space. There were maybe 20 different groups of musicians gathered in separate circles sort of evenly spaced throughout the square. They do this every evening starting around 5 when the food carts come out. Each group plays their own separate music in competition over all the other groups which results in this weird jumble of sounds that echoes across the square. What you are hearing in these recordings are essentially the volume and spatial location changes to multiple overlapping musical compositions mediated by my own process of walking through the square, weaving in and out of the recording range for a given piece of music. Still, all the sounds jumbled together creates its own kind of harmony. I’m still not sure what to do with these recordings but I really like to listen to them.

The bag-pipe sounding thing you are hearing is called a Mizwad.

The Djemaa el-Fna at night in Marrakesh

Coincidentally, I found out later that Berber music in America has been popularized largely due to the efforts of Brion Gysin, the Beat figure who invented the Burroughs cut-up method; he also happens to be one of the artists I’m most interested in at the moment (Calligraphic works with at times a weird connection to Qabbalistic Magic Word Squares). Gysin patroned the Master Musicians of Joujouka at his 1001 Nights restaurant and brought them in contact with the Rolling Stones.

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