Exploding Art Mimbulus Mimbletonia style

A blog by Julia Felix about experiences on the CAMS New Media in NYC and Europe study abroad program.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

MisSteps: Where the Hell am I?

In case you were wondering if I had gotten over my getting lost phase, the answer is a resounding “No.”

We were recently assigned to do a project by John called “MisSteps.” In groups of two (some people, like me, did it individually anyway) we were supposed to come up with a walk that was based on some kind of conceptual idea, action, or even drawing. As long as it wasn’t just us walking randomly, it was good.

Originally, I was going to do a sort of ADD inspired walk, where I went towards anything that seemed interesting at the time. It could be a pigeon, sparkly objects in windows, interesting music in a park, anything. In general, that’s how I get around anyway. I have a destination in mind, and then I go wandering around finding other interesting things and almost never actually end up where I was intending to.

I started off this morning with the school video camera I had checked out in-hand, but after about thirty or forty minutes, I realized that my walk was totally lame. I think the problem was that I had already walked around much of this area, and nothing seemed too new and interesting. Also, being a Saturday morning, there wasn’t much going on people-wise. Then I had left my memory card for my camera in my room, so I couldn’t even do my cubes. I decided to just turn around and go back to rethink my walk.

After an hour or so, I came up with a new idea. It was a little windy outside, so why not do a walk based on the wind? It would almost be like putting myself in the hands of fate. Seemed like something I’d like. So here were the rules:

1.Everytime I got to a place where I had to cross the street, I had to stop and see where the wind was blowing and go in that direction.
2.If the wind wasn’t blowing, I had to go straight.
3. If going straight was not an option (there is a buliding infront of me or the side of a bridge), I had to do a cube.
4. If there was a really strong gust of wind, I had to turn in that direction as soon as possible.

I also came up with another rule while I was walking, that I didn’t HAVE to go where the wind told me to go (though I generally did). Not because I was feeling lazy or scared, but because a big part of fate is deciding whether or not to take the path it leaves for you. Then you can even think, maybe fate knew I was going to not do what it told me to, so I’m really still doing what fate wanted. It’s all very complicated.

The walk went fairly well. I ended up in some odd places that I had never seen, took a lot of video of various kinds of birds, saw a guy get into a motorcycle accident (he slipped on the tram tracks, but he was alright. Always wear protective gear when riding a motorcycle!) and even got the Dutch version of Fonzie hitting on me (Heeeeeeyy!!!).

I ran into Tom and Andy on my walk, and they reminded me that it only had to last 2 to 4 hours and that I could probably stop and go home. It seemed like a good idea, so I began making my way back.

On the way, I stopped at a grocery store and in a style Eric Streeper would admire, I bought the cheapest food I could find (though I did NOT buy the Barbeque Pork flavored chips, even though they were 25 cents. It was just too creepy.)

I began walking again, but somehow ended up in a really odd part of town that I had never been to. It started to rain, but I kept walking in hopes I’d find something familiar.

Fifteen minutes later, I spotted a building that looked a lot like the Rijksmuseum, and everything around it looked like that area, so I had finally found out where I was. Then I realized that this in fact wasn’t the Rijksmuseum and that I was just hopelessly lost. It was beginning to get dark.

I kept walking, thinking I had to be near SOMETHING. Turns out I wasnt. Desperate, I finally pulled out my map (I’ve gotten lost multiple times on this trip, and have not once used a map to find my way back) and tried to find where to go. Unfortunately, the first step in finding your way back home is finding where you are on the map. Either the street I was on was too small to be on the map, or Amsterdam is just too massive to find a little tiny street which, like every street here, is just a jumble of 3 consonants, a million A’s, and a couple of J’s and K’s thrown in for fun. Luckily, I had seen some signs pointing towards Centraal Station, so I decided that was my only option.

I followed signs for a good half hour, not knowing what direction or part of town I was coming from, and by the time I got to the station, it was completely dark outside. I hopped on the tram, which was unusually full to the point where the driver started telling people to wait for the next one if they could, and rode back to Apple.

(Pictures coming soon. Just trying to post this while the internet still works)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Waag Adventure

Wednesday morning we left at 9:30 to go to the Waag, one of the former gateways to the city, and now a headquarters for various new media related things. It was definitely an interesting trip.
For one, none of us knew what to expect. All that was posted on the wiki was that we were going to “do a workshop at the Waag.” No one knew what kind of workshop we were doing, and I don’t think most of us knew what the Waag was in the first place.
When we got there, the Content Developer, Sam Nemeth, and the Head of Program Connected, Floor van Spaendonck gave a brief presentation on what they did there, but seemed much more interested in what we were doing on the trip. Being who we are, none of us really knew how to answer the “so, what are your projects?” type questions we kept getting. We ended up having to go around the room and introduce ourselves and explain our projects a bit. It was a little weird, but I think it was pretty good practice for our exhibition in Berlin, since (hopefully) we’ll be having to explain our projects a lot.

Then it was tour time. They showed us around the building a little bit, and explained the history of it. Apparently, the Waag used to be a meeting places for all kinds of guilds from the 1500’s including the Masons guild and the Surgeons guild. We also saw where Rembrandt did the sketches for his painting Anatomical Lessons of Dr.Tulp in a room in the Surgeons guild. Yay history.
Afterwards, John came up with the idea that as a thank you to the Waag, we should all make some kind of “response” to it in an hour. Apparently this was the plan all along. So, suspiciously based on something that seemed to be my parking meter project, we did “Circling the Waag.”

John asked me to do my photo-circle thing around the building (the same thing I do with the parking meters), and how could I refuse? I did it, and it was interesting to do that process with something so big. I also extended it to go inside the building and up the cool spiral staircases.

Jenny's photo of a group remake of the famous Rembrandt painting Anatomical Lessons of Dr.Tulp

Also, be sure to check out Joe and Jeremy’s movie they made in response, and Caitlin’s cute tea cup movie, which is a lot like the kind of thing I did, but better and more interesting. Damn you Caitlin....Damn you!!!

When we finished making things, we met upstairs again to talk about what we had done. Sadly, no one really wanted to say anything, so it kind of sounded like we didn’t really do anything. A lot of people seemed to get the feeling that the Waag people didn’t like us very much, and that they were expecting us to jumping out with ideas and overall exploding art like a mimbulus mimbletonia, and that we somehow disappointed them. But I didn’t get that feeling at all. They were very nice to us and seemed to be genuinely interested in what we were doing. Even if our explanations sucked.

We left shortly afterwards, and since the Waag happens to be almost right next to the Red LIght district, that’s where we ended up almost immediately. Fortunately, it was the middle of the day, and it was Rachel, Jenny, Stacy, me, Julian, and August in a group. So we had two guys to keep people from hitting on us.

We had many good conversations on the way back, my favorite being a conversation between me and Stacy about Julian. To explain this, I have to tell another story.

When we were leaving from Newark airport to go to London, Julian and I had our tickets mixed up by the ticket lady because his name is Julian Laurent, and my name is Julia Lauren. This is where you go “whoooooaaaa!!!!!” I know Julian did. It sparked a whole conversation about whether our parents planned it as some kind of joke.

Anyway, I decided that because of this Julian should be my brother (especially since we look so much alike!), but Stacy thought that we should get married so we could be Julian and Julia Lauren Laurent. So, we eventually dubbed him as my “Brusband,” a mixture of brother and husband.

August and Julian walked all the way back to Apple holding hands (Bromance), and I’m pretty sure nothing too interesting happened after that because I don’t remember it.
The end.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dutch Photo Media Booster

Monday was filled with things to do. We started off the morning by getting yelled at for taking notes by a dutch woman who was giving a lecture on the history of Dutch art.

John had told us right before the lecture that there was an exhibit by Tjebbe van Tijen, and he had convinced the gallery owners to keep it open for one more day so we could see it. We were supposed to be there at 12 or 12:30 if we wanted to meet the artist, so we were planning on leaving at around 12.

Unfortunately, the lecture ran over and we didn’t leave until 12:30. Everyone speed walked after John to the gallery, and when we got there we found out the artist had already left. The gallery owner said it was fine to look at the art anyway, so we checked it out for a while.

Tjebbe van Tijen creates narrative photo collages based on subjects like communication, language, and technology over the ages. Each photo collage is color printed onto a long piece of paper and then presented, in this case, by being hung from the cieling and winding around the room. Many of these photo collages are up to 40 feet long. Underneath the sections of many of the collages is some kind of text which describes what that section represents. Some of these descriptions were in the form of poetry, some were well written prose, and some were simply describing.

After about ten or fifteen minutes, the artist showed up again to see if we had arrived.

He talked to us a little bit about his art and what he was trying to do with it, then answered Terin’s questions for as long as he could stand. It was interesting, but we were running late and had to leave to get to the Netherlands Media Institute, aka Montevideo, the biggest distributor of video art in Europe.

We arrived at about 1:30 or 2pm (Julian stopped at Dam Square and picked up some cotton candy on the way), drank all of their coffee, and watched a presentation by the art historian there. She showed us a bunch of videos that they have in their collection, including (these were my favorites) Papillon d’Amour by Nicolas Provost, The Diamond Lane by Barbara Bloom, and Building by Anouk de Clercq.

Watching these videos got me thinking. I’ve noticed on this trip so far that I’m starting to like things that I would have hated before. I’m not necessarily saying that I’m a fan of modern art/filmmaking/anything, but I wonder if maybe all of the new exposure to all art, good or bad, has made me more tolerant. I probably would have hated Papillon d’Amour a year ago, but when I saw it on Monday, I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was. So, Monday’s lesson: See as much art as you can, because it makes everything else so much better.

After the presentation, the Director of Netherlands Media Art Institute gave his own presentation about what they do there (they generally work to spread video art to the public and make it more accessible), and then gave us a tour of the building. The stairs were really awesome and I couldn’t resist taking a picture of them. If you'd like to find out more about the Institute, I recommend looking at their website. It's pretty interesting.

Afterwards we were free for the afternoon. Julian told us that he was going to go ride the Booster ride at Dam Square and tried to convince people to do it with him. Most people were too scared to go on it, and I wanted to go, but it was one euro more than I had. Julian was desperate for people to go with him though, and said he would pay for me if I actually wanted to go.

I was in.

Stacy, Julian, Paul, and I were going to be going on the Booster, a 40 or 50 foot high ride that spins like a windmill and goes about 60mph. Jenny and Caitlin came to document the event and hold our bags, respectively.
The ride was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. The first time I saw it, my reaction was “Hey, that looks like it’d be fun!” But when we were walking towards it and it struck me that I was actually going to be riding it, it almost seemed to loom over me as dark clouds covered the sun and the screams of terror from Dam Square grew nearer. How could I have thought that would be fun? Holy crap.

Standing in line was pretty nerve racking as well. The ride seemed so much bigger and faster up close, and I knew that now that Julian had bought my ticket, I was bound to do it. I also realized that not only does the ride hurl you through the air upside down for two and a half minutes, it actually stops part way through and goes in the other direction. But I had to go. There was no turning back.

(I apologize for the bad quality of this video. I'm working on getting blip.tv to work for me so I can display things in Quicktime)

Nothing much happened after that, in fact, I think I went to sleep early that night.

That is it for today. Here is the latest map of who's been to my blog:


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Doritos. Yiiiiiiiiha!

Alright, the internet at this hotel is really unstable, so I'm going to try to make a short post and hope that the internet doesn't cut out before I finish. Today, I woke up and decided I was going to explore the city. So here's a list of what happened:
-Got lost almost immediately. Figured that it didn't really matter since this city is pretty small. I'd have to find my way back eventually...
-Saw a swan in a canal. Wtf.
-Passed about 20 "coffee shops," all plastered with Bob Marley photos. Four words: Lion with a joint.
-Bought a really expensive "Tosti," aka toasted sandwich. Not worth 4.50
-Wandered around some more.
-Got lost, had no idea where I was
-Found my way back to Rijksmuseum. Got in for free with my Museumkaart. Saw some Rembrants. They looked like...paintings.
-Walked back home
-Cool spider.

I spent way too much money since I got here, so I had a nutritious dinner of Doritos, Nutella, and wheat bread. Mmm.

Next time, I'll do my post before hand and just copy paste it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kraut Rock

I have yet to do my last post about how awesome Amsterdam is, so I guess I'll do that right now.

Absolutely nothing has gone wrong since we got here. We arrived sometime in the afternoon, so we weren't cranky and tired for the rest of the day. Our program guy, Mark, seems pretty cool, our hotel, while slightly ghetto ("is that blood on the curtain???"), is pretty nice and has excellent beds, and the city is awesome. Even the exchange rate isn't that bad. This place is already a million times cooler than London.

Today we got up to find a really really good, free breakfast on the second floor (they call it the first floor here). Then we took the tram to go to our IES orientation.

The tram was so much fun. There's a stop only about a block away from our hotel, and it's just as interesting as the subway except it's above ground. This morning, there seemed to be some kind of kindergartener field trip going on, so there were about 15 really small children, all with names like Rojtr and Ingmar (I'm not joking!), and they were very entertaining. At some point we passed some kind of mural with semi naked people on it, and all the little kids started yelling something that sounded very much like "naked butt!!" So it was a good morning.

When we got to IES, we took a tour of the building and then learned all about drugs and getting pick-pocketed. There was more than that, but those were just the highlights. Then we got more free food of really odd gourmet sandwiches (I can now recognize the word sandwich in Dutch, by the way. I have no idea how to say it though.). Mine was goat cheese and (raw???) ham. Yeah. It also had pine nuts. It was weird, but kind of good in it's own way. It was about 80% cheese though.

The best part of the orientation though, was when Mark was telling us about "Kraut Rock" concerts, and how they play on a stage that's below the audience so that "it's like you're looking into a hole to watch them." Everyone started cracking up at this because at our first meeting in New York, we all remember John saying something about how "going to Berlin is like lifting up a manhole cover and looking in, and inside there are a bunch of people dancing in black." So this basically proved he was right.

Afterwards, we had a free afternoon, and then we met at the Music Theater to see the ballet "Carmen." I liked the whole experience a lot, just because if I've ever been to a ballet, I wasn't old enough to appreciate it. The main feature was preceeded by two other short ballets that were more modern style. The first one was really interesting, partially because I wasn't expecting anything like it. The music wasn't actually music, it was more like noises arranged to be like music. And the dancing was like some mixture of modern dance and ballet, but it was still awesome.

Towards the end of the first dance, I started falling asleep. The ballet wasn't boring or anything, but I think I just stayed up too late and got up too early. I didn't see the second ballet almost at all because I fell asleep almost immediately, but I was wide awake for Carmen.

Oddly enough (coming from my family), I didn't really know the story of Carmen. But I could tell what was going on, just from watching the dancing. There's a hot girl, and some army guys, and they all are molesting the other women. Then one of the army guys "falls in love" with her. She gets captured by the army guys for some reason, then they dance around and he accidentally lets her go. Then the army captain gets mad at him and so the guy quits and runs away. Then there's this other hot guy who dances around (in a purple tank top) and Carmen is all like "ooooh, I want me a piece of that." So she "falls in love" with him too, but then the army guy convinces her that he's better, and they're going to get married, but her friends are like "no! stay with us!" then the army guy tries to beat one of them up. Carmen gets mad and runs off with the other hot purple shirt guy, then the army guy gets mad at her and stabs her with a knife that comes out of nowhere. Then he gets shot and dies. The end. It was really well done.

Tonight really has changed my whole perspective on ballet though. I think it might actually be one of the best things a person can do with themselves, mostly because you have to use your body to it's full potential to do it. And in that way, you're making use of yourself completely, and doing something beautiful for everyone.

Afterwards, we took the tram home. Overall, it was a good day, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I don't know what we're doing, but it's probably going to be fun.

By the way, our radio program for Resonance FM in London can be found here. Luckily, mine and Stacy's got in and stayed almost exactly like we left it. Hopefully, I'll make another version of our discussion, "The Director's Cut," as we call it, and I'll post it.

Otherwise, I've got a short project I'm thinking of doing of a day in the life of me...I don't know what it's purpose will be. It might just be an excuse for me to run around doing fun things in Dam Square. Who knows. It needs to be thought out more.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Internet explosion

Hi Everyone. Due to technical difficulties, the internet sucks. Because of this, I'm having trouble posting my last two updates, but hopefully everything will be working again soon.
Check back periodically. We're going to Amsterdam tomorrow!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

London: The Bermuda Triangle of....London...

It seems that it's going to be a regular thing for me to get majorly lost at least once in each city. Even when my directions are "straight, right, left, right."

I woke up yesterday intending to go to the Tate. Ever since we went there last week to meet with the Film Curator, the giant metal slides there are practically all I can think about. For some reason, going 30mph down a twisty slide is the only thing that will make my stay in London complete. Apparently I have some kind of death wish.

I noticed immediately that something was wrong when I had been walking for half an hour and still hadn't encountered Gower Street. It's almost like that street only exists when it's not being looked for. I decided that it didn't really matter what street I turned on, as long as it went in the right direction, so I just picked the next street that looked fairly large and turned right.

I hadn't been walking for very long when I saw couple of guys with big spikey mohawks walk past me. They turned onto a very small street that turned out to have a strange little park at the end of it. It looked interesting, so I figured, hey, it's only 3:30, I've got time. I walked into it and found that it was like the a lot like the Santa Fe plaza in that all the weird Nightmare Before Christmas clad 14 year olds hung out there. I took pictures for my micro culture cube, and then walked back the way I had come.

I turned right off of this little street and kept going. Walking, walking, walking, everything's looking normal, and then BAM. The most beautiful park I've ever seen in my life is suddenly right in front of me. There were huge Roman looking buildings, two giant fountains, the typical British "guy on a horse on a 70ft pedestal," and a bunch of really cool metal lions everywhere. It was awesome, and I stayed there for a pretty long time just taking pictures.

I started to continue my journey to discover the Tate, when I saw that Big Ben was just a few blocks down the street. Figuring that I had to walk that direction anyway, I went towards it.

While I was walking down the street, there was some kind of protest on the other side. All I could tell from what I could make out of the signs was that it had something to do with the Democratic Republic of Congo, and deporting. I watched for a while, and there was definitely a second where it looked like it was going to break out in a riot. The people were yelling and dancing to this drum music, then they started shaking the fence to the beat, then they started pushing the fences over. Luckily, the leaders of the protest started running around and telling everyone to calm down, so everything was fine.

I moved on to the end of the block, where I was almost right in front of Big Ben. I hadn't realized that it was covered in gold. I took some pictures and was about to turn around to go back to where I SHOULD have gone, when I saw a really cool looking rose window. There seemed to be some kind of cool catherdal across the street, so I went to go check it out.

It turned out to be Westminster Abbey. And it was awesome. It was closed by then, so I couldn't go inside, but the outside was cool enough. It's one of those huge gothic cathedrals with big windows, archways, and really intricate designs all over it. So I guess "WEST MINSTER ABBEY RULZZZZZ!!!!" is good way to put it.

I finally left, decided that the Tate must be closed at that point, and started walking around doing other things. I saw a really cool phone booth that had a bunch of little pieces of paper stuck to the inside that formed a note: "I wish you all well, but I can no longer thrive in England. I think it is hell. Goodbye Hell." I also collected a whole bunch of the phone booth porn advertisements for my project which I probably won't be doing anymore (at least not for credit).

It was getting late, so I decided to go home. I had only walked down one road, so it seemed simple enough. I started walking, and found that the road forked at least 5 times, and I hadn't noticed it before because there was only one way to go while I was walking there. But now there were multiple directions. I stood there contemplating for a long time, then finally decided that I should take the fork that looked more directly ahead of me. I don't really know if or where I messed up, because everything after that was just dark lostness. I had no idea where I was for at least an hour, and wandering around at night by yourself in an unfamiliar part of town in a different country is a little unsettling.

Somehow, I had ended up way north of were I was supposed to be, but I didn't see any point in going back since I didn't know how to get home from there either. I looked at my compass, made sure I was going West-ish, and kept walking. It seemed to be working for a while, but then suddenly the streets started getting creepier. They were more deserted as it got later, and it was also starting to look less touristy and more "I live by the highway." I was freaking out because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to find my way back, but then I was freaking out because I didn't want to look vulnerable and lost, and I totally did. So I was trying to look like I knew where I was going, even though I totally didn't, and that just led to me getting more lost.

I finally saw a street name that looked familiar, and just took it hoping that I remembered it because it was near ISH or something. It was called Farringdon, and it was a little bit ghetto, but not too bad. There were also a lot of bus stops on it, so I at least felt better knowing that if I really couldn't figure out how to get home, I could just take a bus.

I started coming across maps while I was walking, and saw that Kings Cross was at the end of Farringdon apparently. So I decided to just go for it. I walked and walked, the only thing driving me the idea that I might find something I recognized. There were many points where I wondered if I had read the map wrong and if I was actually headed in some random direction, but I figured if there was a chance I would end up in the right place, that was enough.

Finally, after walking around for about two and a half hours, I saw Kings Cross. Yay!! I was starving at that point, and there was a noodle shop right in front of me with £3.30 noodles, so I went in. It was good, too. Then I walked home, hung out with some drunk people, and went to sleep. The end.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A fun filled night of Haribo Starmix and ghost stories

Hey everyone. Sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I seriously was busy from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep. Here's how it went:

As I mentioned in my previous post, Stacy and I were assigned to make a review of the Frieze Art Fair for a big audio project our group is making for Resonance FM. It was technically due at 9pm that night, so that Terin could get started on putting it together. The pressure was on. I had stayed up late the night before, so I didn't wake up until about 12:15 the next day. Stacy and I were supposed to be at Frieze at 1:30 or 2:00 so I spent most of my time up until that point getting ready and picking up audio equipment.

Stacy and I were still trying to figure out how our mini disc player worked right up until we got in the door, but it didn't matter anyway since we ended up having to give it to Caitlin (she was doing a creative response and Stacy and I were doing a sort of talk show like thing, so we didn't really NEED it). We weren't really sure what we were going to review, so we just kind of wandered around looking for anything that interested both of us. Eventually we came across this piece that was just some text on a canvas, and thought that we should discuss this "text art" for our portion of the program.

After wandering around and looking at all kinds of art for another hour or so, we came back to ISH and got a microphone from Karina. Then it was time to record! We played around with the microphone for a good two hours "learning the equipment," which basically meant us messing around and recording weird noises into GarageBand. Our microphone sucked really bad and recorded pretty much everything except for our voices (you could hear us, but you could also hear someone coughing in the next room just as loud), so we had to kick Rachel and Jenny out of the room and then set up a "sound booth" by putting our comforters all around the bottom bunk of Stacy's bed.

It reminded me of those little forts you make when you're little. Like that time Talia, Lanning and I made a fort out of umbrellas to hide from Zara Kriegstein's self portrait during a lightning storm. Pretty soon, Stacy and I were all giggly like a couple of middle school kids, and we recorded this very long radio program that not only went into this text piece by Fiona Banner, but also into Contemporary Art in general. We discussed Andy Warhol and....some other guy....and we talked about art being for the people or for artists....it was all very deep. But this deep and philosophical discussion was also interrupted by the fact that Stacy and I are both.....not very good at expressing our thoughts, shall we say.

I think my best moment was when I said "because I don't usually understand...............words....." and Stacy's best was definitely right after we had messed up on something and had to stop recording and then start again. She began by saying "I agree with Julia that.............." and there was this really long pause and then she just made this weird squeaky sound. Oooh, it was beautiful.

Unfortunately, most of it isn't in the actual finished product. After cutting out most of the awkward pauses and bits of us just pausing and thinking for a whole 30 seconds, our discussion was about 15 minutes long. I set to work editing out any unnecessary parts.

2 hours later, it was down to 12 minutes. About another 2 hours later, 10 minutes. Then 9, 7, 6, and finally, after cutting out a lot of my favorite parts, I got it down to 5:15, which is just a little longer than it was supposed to be. By the time this happened though, it was about 5:30 or 6 in the morning.

I must have woken up at around 10:45 this morning to the sounds of most of my roommates running around. Apparently, the alarm (I guess we only have one) hadn't gone off, so all of us were late for our 11:00 class. Stacy hadn't even woken up to this, and I was fully concious but too tired to move, I guess. All I remember is hearing someone say "Should we get up Julia and Stacy?" and someone else saying "I don't think they're coming." and then I fell asleep again.

Stacy and I woke up at around 12:30 to the sound of Russian mades yelling to eachother while changing the trash in our room. We did our morning getting ready type stuff, I cleaned up our talk show a little bit more, and then we exported it and gave it to Terin.

At around 3pm we went to an Architecture school to learn about Unit 15, a program where Architecture students learn to make beautiful things using programs like Adobe After Effects. We watched a whole series of short films by students there, my favorite of which was by a student named Peter Kidger. I can't find it online anywhere, but if I do, I'll definitely put it up. It's beautiful.

Afterwards, we had a discussion with the professor of the class and the students. I think a lot of us felt a little intimidated by what they were doing, and weren't sure how to go about talking to them about it, or ask them question about it. Or at least I was. But we still had a good time. I think the best/worst part was when John said "but I do think a lot of times a person has to be mediocre to be successful. I mean, look at you!" and everyone just went really quiet. John, of course, was joking, but it's one of those things where it only works if everyone laughs, and no one laughed. So we were all a little embarassed and were laughing about that for quite a while afterwards.

Nothing really happened after that. We got dinner, watched various short movies and TV shows in our rooms, etc. Actually, Caitlin got tricked into going on a date with a french guy she met in the cyber cafe. Basically, she had gone into the cyber cafe with Joe, Kristen, Jeremy and Rachel, and they were all sitting around talking. There was some random guy staring at them, and after a while they decide to wave. Not long after that, he came over and sat with them and started talking to Caitlin. Figuring he must be trying to practice his english, she talked to him for an hour or so. I came in around the end of it and listened to them talk for a while about politics in France and the US, and Lance Armstrong taking steroids. Then the conversation suddenly turned.
Pierre (that's actually his name): Well, I go to smoke now. You smoke?
Caitlin: No. But it was nice to meet you. I'll see you around!
Pierre: Yes, nice to meet you too. Are you going to be here tomorrow night?
Caitlin: Yeah, I hang out around here sometimes. I'm sure I'll see you soon.
Pierre: Ah, what time you think you'll be here?
Caitlin: Oh, I don't know. In the evening sometime...
Pierre: Ah, maybe I see you at 9:30?
Caitlin: Uh, sure, I can be here then...
Pierre: Okay, I will meet you at 9:30. Maybe we go to pub or something. See you later!
Caitlin: *Look of confusion as she realizes what just happened*

Sadly, Caitlin isn't really too interested in this guy. We're hoping we can pass him off to Jenny, who speaks french and apparently is desperately looking for a man, because I don't know why anyone would want to hit on a guy they haven't even met yet.

The night ended pretty well though, when Tom, Andy, and Terin had a party in their room. It wasn't so much a party as it was people sitting around drinking beer and talking, but it was still pretty fun. We talked for a long time, then decided to turn off the lights and tell ghost stories. The stories progressively got worse and worse until they were just kind of depressing ("My great grandmother got hit by a semi truck while crossing the street to go to Dairy Queen!"). Then a few of us hung out with Terin and played around on his computer, and then everyone realized it was almost 3:00am and decided to leave.

And now it's even later and I'm still awake. At least tomorrow is a free day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Into the cave...

Today was going to be our big day. It was the first day of Frieze Fest, one of the (if not THE) biggest art fairs in the world. And it was about a block away from us. Poor Terin (at least it'll look good on his resume) is in charge of putting together this audio documentary we're making on the festival for Resonance FM. He did a very good job of organizing the whole thing, and I know he'll do a really good job of putting it together.

But since we are basically trying to do this for Terin now, everyone is a little stressed out over it. We had to schedule times to go to the festival because there isn't enough audio recording equiptment for all of us. Terin organized it so that the first group (profiles and narratives) had to be there at 10:30, and my group (Vox Pop, reviews, and creative responses...I'm doing a review with Stacy) had to be there at 1:30.

Unfortunately (or fortunately...depending on how you want to think of it), the group that got up this morning to go to the festival found that since we aren't licensed journalists, we can't get in to the Press/VIP day. So it has been postponed until tomorrow. Everyone went back to sleep and woke up at noonish, and in our room, we stayed in here all day fixing our blogs and working on projects. I didn't even leave my room until about 20 minutes ago when I went to get dinner. So I really don't have anything eventful to talk about.

And yet I will keep going. I feel kind of bad that I didn't go out today, but this place just isn't as fun to randomly go out in as New York. I suppose that the deal here is that I feel weird about just being a foreigner. In New York, most of the people weren't actually from there anyway, and there were so many people from out of the country that it seemed like they belonged there anyway. But here, I feel like if I open my mouth, it's given away that I'm American. And in a place where I've actually seen a sign that says "Nothing good ever came out of america," that's a little scary. I never know whether people hate me or not, or whether they're ripping me off, etc., because some people don't care, and some people do.

I also don't know whether I'll feel like this in every country, or if it's just here in the UK. It's like everyone here hates us because of what our country does, and I wish I could just wear a shirt or something that says "I don't approve of it either" and be done with it. But then people don't believe you, or think that you do in some other kind of way. I know Britain has kind of always hated us, but I don't know about the other countries. how do they feel in the Netherlands? I have a feeling that people really aren't going to like us in Germany...So yeah. I guess I'm just getting a little taste of what it's like to be stereotyped. Which I'm sure is good for my character or something.

Well, that's all I've got for today.

This blog is officially international!! I'll update this map everytime someone from a different place visits.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

When There's No More Forever

I haven't been in a blogging mood for a couple of days, but I'm back now. So you can all continue your lives. You haven't missed much though, so I'll just quickly update.

Sunday: We went to Camden Market (the awesome goth market) in.....Camden? Yeah. There were many awesome ultra goth clothes which I wanted to buy, but couldn't either because of a lack of money, or because I'd just look weird in them. I did almost buy some £34 pants, but then I realized that I would only have £8 if I did that. Eventually, I ended up getting this really cool and useful skirt that you wear over your pants. It has big pockets on it that you can actually fit something like a passport in, a secret pocket (good for hiding money) and a compass. And it looks cool. It was £20, but for something so good for travel, I think it was worth it. Otherwise, I bought a couple of shirts that were only £2 each, a new messanger bag for £4, and a few presents for people. So I really didn't spend too much money.

I also ended up MAKING some money!! While I was walking back from the subway stop, I sort of (not really) got lost and ended up on the street next to the one I was supposed to be on. While I was walking down, there was a guy with pamphlets on the corner watching me. So I kind of did the "don't make eye contact" thing, but he walked up to me anyway and said "Hello, would you like to take a survey for £20? It'll only take about 15 minute of your time." $20 is a lot of money to get for a survey in America, so I was like "hell yeah!" But not really.

I'd heard a bunch of stories about tourists getting tricked into going into allies and things and then they get mugged or whatever, so I was a little suspicious at first. I asked him where the place was, and it was in a building with a bunch of people looking like they were about to take a survey in front of it, so I said something like "Sure, as long as you aren't going to mug me or anything." and the guy assured me that he wouldn't. So I went.

It was some kind of survey about cell phones, and they needed more women for it in my age group. So I made back the £20 I spent on this skirt. Yay money.

Monday: We got up early and went to a circuit bending workshop. A nice guy named Ben showed us how to dismantle toys and then make odd noises with them, basically. It was fun though. He had a Furbie which he had taken apart and messed with, so it was even scarrier than they usually are since it now had a crack twitch and made really odd noises.

I took apart a Turtle toy that made music, and poked at it for a while. It was kind of cool, and I got it to make some interesting noises. The best part was when Alissa and I hooked her phone toy and my turtle toy together and made a bunch of really cool sounds that came out in "stereo" (both of our speakers were making noise.)

After that, we made a "ghetto amp" out of a speaker and a cardboard box, and hooked it up to our toys so that we could make even louder weird noises. Then Ben tried to show us how to make an oscillator, but none of us pulled it off (I think.).

Overall, we had a good time, and I spent the rest of the day working on my parking meter project, which still isn't done. At all.

(By the way, now you can see a nice documentary that Joe and Jeremy made here

Today: We got up early (so early...) and went to the Tate to speak with the film curator there, who happens to be a Carleton '90 graduate. We watched a really strange movie that I didn't understand at all, and then discussed it. Apparently, it was about gangs and surveillance. I had kind of thought it was about dancing.....I guess I'll never know.

Completely off subject, the Tate has the HUGE (and cool looking) slides that you can pay to go down (I heard it was only £1) and it looked like it would be fun. But I didn't get a chance to do it. I will though. I will.

After the Tate, we went to CCTV, a surveillance place. It was really odd. When we got inside, we were greeted by these two very stoic looking guys in black suits who looked exactly like secret service agents. They turned out to be pretty nice though. They showed us around and told us about what they do, which is basically....surveillance. Of everything. They had screens all over the place that were showing various parts of London, mostly streets. What they do is watch all of this live feed and record it, and make sure nothing weird is going on. If something looks suspicious, they can call the police and have them check it out. What they apparently do most of the time though, is find the recordings of crimes for court cases.

So question of the day, what is the big deal with surveillance? We went there and saw what they were doing, and really all it was, was that they were checking to make sure that nothing illegal was going on. Sure it's a little wierd that we can be watched all the time, but as long as you're not doing something bad, does it matter? I tried to talk to some people about it today, and pretty much their reasoning for it being bad is that "there's no privacy." and "it could be bad." But it's not like they plaster what you're doing all over the internet. It was seriously one lady watching stuff. As for "it could be bad," sure, if it fell into the wrong hands. But couldn't we just make sure that doesn't happen?? Though I suppose Bush got elected a second time and I never thought that would happen. Anyway, people's thoughts on surveillance would be cool.

I came back and worked on my project for a while (by the way, the trading card project is in motion! Sort of!) and then went off to find a dance studio to take some swing classes and hopefully go dancing. I took both the beginner and intermediate class, and they were both alright. It always bothers me though that old men seem to always blame the follow for messing up, because mess ups are almost always the leads fault. But whatever. I realized that I didn't have my ID with me, and the dance afterwards was in a bar, so I just decided to walk home.

It was about 9pm, and I realized that I was a lone girl walking home (about a mile away, not too bad) at night in a city that's not very safe after dark. I was kind of freaked out, and the fact that I saw a guy smoking crack (he had the spoon and everything!) five minutes into my walk. Things started to seem better since I turned onto Oxford, a fairly populated street, but that doesn't mean I didn't also see a guy doing cocaine (while walking!) eventually. So yeah. Moral of the story: London is sort of creepy at night.

Well, weird German guys are sexually harassing us through the door, so I should go.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hot Black Cathy and the Mature Beauty

Aaaah free days. How quickly they pass. Not like nothing happened today....

I set off at about 2pm, intending to find the British Museum and possibly check out the Tate. I looked at Google maps UK and found that all I had to do to get to the museum was go straight down the street and turn right on Gowan. Not too complicated. But first, I needed to change some money.

As I walked down the street looking for a place to exchange money, I came across all kinds of interesting stuff. One of my favorite things about London so far is the phone booths. They're full of porn. Well, it's not really porn. It seems to be advertising. Usually, it's a little card stuck to the wall, with some mostly naked girl on it doing something suggestive, and then a phone number with her name and maybe a brief description of what she does. Sometimes they fall off or get pulled off and left on the street, so I picked up a bunch while I was walking. I've got The Queen of Kink, Hot Black Cathy, Sexy Scandinavian, and a few other ones that I can't remember right now.

While I was walking, I realized that I had no idea what street I was on or where I should be going to. But it didn't really matter because at least I knew where I had come from. I eventually saw a Hilton hotel, and from my intern work that I did at CCA (distributing many postcards about events), I knew that concierges are very helpful people. So I went in and asked him where I could get some money, and it turned out there was actually a place right down the street. Yay money.

After that, I kind of lost track of where I was going. It sort of reminded me of John telling us about a style of GPS mapping where you go based on what feels comfortable or interesting, and then track that. Except I wasn't doing GPS mapping. I was just sort of wandering around.

About an hour later, I had completely given up on going to the British museum. I had walked through all sorts of streets, gone left, right, right, left, straight, and then right again, and while I still knew where I had come from, it wasn't worth it to go all the way back and restart my search. I decided to just wander and see what would happen.

There were definitely some interesting things that happened. I had stopped to take a picture of a restaurant or bar called Bung Hole (just because it's immature doesn't mean it's not funny!) and some random guy walked up to me and started asking me questions. Not a crazy guy, just a normal guy. Apparently, his friend was still good friends with an ex, and his new girlfriend didn't want him to talk to her anymore. But then it turned out that the friend had a whole box of stuff from this previous relationship, and the new girlfriend wanted him to burn the whole box. We finally came to the conclusion that she should just get over it. But then we started talking about swing dancing (he could tell I was American and was asking me if I was "on holiday" because he'd met some Americans at swing clubs who were), and then we started talking about how much the exchange rate here sucks for me. It was an interesting conversation, mostly because it was with a complete stranger.

I'm going to have to change the subject for a second to explain this one. So while we've been here, we've noticed these signs in the subway stations and around town that have pictures of famous actors (the only one I've actually seen is the one with William H Macy) and underneath it says "Who says nothing good ever came out of America?"

We were all very entertained with these signs, and took lots of pictures of them. But while I was walking away from this guy, I saw one that was just black and said "Nothing good ever came out of America." I kind of stared at it for a while, thinking maybe someone had painted over it, but I'm pretty sure they didn't. I think it just said that. So I stopped and took a picture.

I got tired after a while, and decided to sit down and write out some post cards, since I was right near a post office at that point. There was this totally crazy old lady who stared at me the entire time I did it. That's really all I have to say about that moment.

Eventually I made my way home (I picked up some really odd British gummies on the way), and retold my story of the day to Rachel, Joe, and Kristen who all thought that me collecting pictures of the naked ladies in phone booths was hilarious. Rachel came up with the idea that we should turn them into some kind of trading card, and hopefully that will happen. Then we ate dinner (meat!) and came back to work on stuff. The end.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hello everyone! I can see you....

Today, we actually had class for the first time in a while. Mostly, we talked about the exhibit we saw at the Institute of Contemporary Art yesterday. It was a minimalist peice that was pretty much as minimal as it could get. So we had a big discussion about whether it was art or not.

A lot of people seem to believe that if something has a meaning, it counts as art, and if it doesn't, it's not art. In fact, Gracie said that Monet's Lilly Pad piece in MoMA was nice but that she just thought it was boring because it had no meaning. So I know I've talked about this before, but I just think it's really weird that some people can't accept something as art because it's only beautiful. I don't see what's wrong with that. That mirror in ITP at Tisch was one of the best pieces of art I've ever seen, and that had no deep meaning in it. It was just cool. But I'm getting off subject already.

A lot of the group really liked the minimalist piece at the Institute and found deep meanings in it almost to a ridiculous point, and others thought the whole thing was just completely pretentious and stupid, and couldn't find any real meaning in it at all. I don't even know what I think. I have kind of opposing opinions sometimes, especially when it comes to art. In some ways, I feel like if the art doesn't make sense to people and it's all about it's meaning, then it isn't very good. If people don't understand your statement, then what's the point of even making it? But at the same time, there are many really interesting pieces of art that wouldn't make sense on their own and really need someone to explain them. Then, when they are well explained, they make perfect sense and say something really interesting.

I think that minimalist piece was one of those that needs to be explained by the artist or by someone who heard an explanation from the artist. Because it was kind of stupid by itself, and just because something can be interpreted as having a deep meaning doesn't mean it actually does have one.

After class, I came back here and worked on things up until now. So I didn't really go out and do anything today. But tomorrow's a free day, so I'll have more social things to talk about then.

What I did do today, though, was check out my new counter on this blog. It does all kinds of creepy tracking things that I didn't even know about. It started when I was reading a comment on my question about HD from yesterday. The person who wrote it didn't leave a name or anything, and I was wondering if it was just some random person. Alissa (who suggested I get this counter in the first place) suggested that I check it to find out if it was one of my friends or not.

I explored the options, and found that I can actually find out how many times someone has visited, how long they visited for, their IP address, their location, the network they're on, where they found the link from (if they found it on a website), and probably a bunch of other things I haven't discovered yet. It's a little creepy actually, but it gave me a cool idea for a project. I don't know how I'd do the project though, so I have to talk to John about it before I disclose any information. But if I can do it, I will definitely need all of you to help.

Hi Singapore!
Hi Kentucky!
Hi Iowa!
Hi person from NYU!
I don't know who you are, but you should leave a comment or something if you ever come back!

Alright, I'm tired. So this is it for the night. Here's a clip of my New York project (STILL not done)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hello, Butt Rape.

I hate listening to music, working on my blog, and eating all at the same time. It's like, you're sitting there typing, and your roommate is sitting there typing, and you eat some bread, take a bite of cheese, drink some water, whatever. Then all of a sudden, the music stops, and you hear yourself for a second. And you realize that you sound like a very loudly ruminating camel or something. How long have you been making that noise? Has your roommate noticed and not said anything? Do you always sound like this when you eat? I don't know. I just thought I'd mention that.

So apparently last night was more interesting than I could have experienced. I went to bed at around 2am. A couple of my roommates went to bed before me or around the same time as I did, but Caitlin stayed up for a while longer. So I guess this is what happened, based on the story:

Me: *lying there with my eyes open*
Caitlin: Julia? Are you asleep???
Me: *stares blankly into nothingness*
Stacy or Rachel: Oh yeah, Julia sleeps with her eyes open.
Caitlin: Really??? *goes over to me and dances around*
Me: O.O
Caitlin: *makes weird faces*
Me: O.O
Caitlin: *Slowly points finger towards my eye*
Me: *suddenly closes eyes*

What I thought was weird about this story is that someone in this room knew it was perfectly normal for me to sleep with my eyes open. I didn't think I did it that often, but I guess I do.

But that's not all. Later that night, everyone had gone to sleep and Caitlin had just gotten into bed. It was all dark when suddenly she heard someone, possibly Stacy, say "Good Morning." Then from somewhere on our (Mine and Rachel's) side of the room someone said "Hello, butt rape."

Rachel is apparently well known for talking in her sleep, but it sounded like something I'd say. So I guess we'll never know.

The morning was very entertaining since we woke up to all of these stories. Then we went downstairs for breakfast where a bunch of other people from our group were sitting and eating. We got into all kinds of discussions involving Ghandi eating veal, putting salt on slugs, and something else that was really disgusting, but that's all I remember about it. It was nice though, to know that if it turns out London does suck really bad (it's actually alright now), I could at least just hang out with the people on the group and still have a lot of fun. Just realizing that has really made me feel a lot more comfortable here, so I think everything is going to be fine.

Stacy, Rachel, Jenny, Caitlin, Karina, and I (there were possibly more people with us) all went out to a grocery store to get some food. I ended up buying a loaf of bread for 60p (bread!! I feel so much better now that my mom approves), and a bag of those little wax cheese things to eat with it. Total for lunch today: 1.85. Oh yeah, I'm good.

We ate in Karina's room, then made our way down (or up...I'm still so confused) to Illuminations, a sort of television/art production company. We met the principle there, John Wyver, who was a very nice british guy. He told us about what they were doing, and we had some conversations about the differences between public television in the UK and in the US. Apparently you have to have a license to have a TV or radio here. And it sounds like public television here is waaaay more interesting. Illuminations was working on a television show, possibly called ArtLand? Anyway, they travelled across the US in a giant art bus, looking at art all over the country. It sounds pretty interesting, and we watched a bit of it. It's also in HD. I don't know how I feel about that.

Question time. What is the point of HD? I can imagine it being useful for an art show or art documentary because the audience could see the art almost exactly like how it would look in real life. But what about regular documentaries? I watched that movie about the blind guy climbing Mt.Everest in HD at the Santa Fe Film Festival, and that was cool because we were looking at landscapes for a lot of it, and it was almost like looking through a window. But why use it for hollywood films and primetime television? Does that really need to look realistic? I guess I just don't understand why everyone wants to make things in HD. It bothers me a little that it's in such demand, because there's not really any point in making EVERYTHING in HD. It's getting to the point where people don't want to produce something that's NOT in HD, and that's just as stupid as people not wanting to accept my sisters art in their galleries because she uses gouche. I saw a piece of art in MoMA that was made with gouche!!

Anyway, back on track.

We were supposed to go to the Institute for Contemporary Art after the talk, but only John knew where it was. We all kind of tagged along and followed him to the tube (hehehe) station. At that point, things started getting bad. It was about 5:30, so everyone was getting off work. All the cars were packed with people, and there were 20 of us, not to mention the other 50 people on the platform. If I've ever felt crammed on a New York subway, it was NOTHING like this. We were literally all pressed against eachother and squished against the door. I would have been worried about pick pockets, but I don't think they could have moved enough to steal anything out of my backpack. We stayed like that for three stops, and were very relieved when the doors opened and we fell out.

We had to get onto another train, but it wasn't as bad until after the first stop. At some point I just started giggling uncontrollably at how smashed we were in the subway. It was kind of funny though.

We got off and followed John to ICA where he bought us drinks (coca-cola!) and we looked at the art exhibit. The first room we walked into was supposed to have a 4 minute film going on it. There was a projector and a screen all set up, but there wasn't really any kind of movie. It was just film running through the projector. It kind of looked neat, but I think everyone else hated it. Alissa described it as "extreme minimalism: Let's project nothing and then watch it." Which was totally true. We looked at the other pieces: a neon sign that said "And if I don't meet you no more in this world then I'll, I'll meet you in the next one. And don't be late, don't be late." and an otherwise empty room with a little computer moniter on the wall that was typing out a paragraph in morse code.....slowly.....

We went downstairs where John Schott said very loudly infront of the front desk people that the exhibit sucked, and then I bought some postcards for 70p each (ouch). I decided though, that today was the day I was going to figure out the coins here. I always get confused, and there are always a million people in the line (queue!!!) behind me, so I never have time to get it. But there wasn't really anyone buying anything so I pulled out my wallet and said to the guy "I'm going to figure out this money someday.." and started searching for 40 pence. I sat there and read each stupid coin while he looked at me, entertained. Finally, I came up with a 20p, a 10p, and two 5p, said thank you, and we left to go back to ISH (International Students House).

Nothing too evenful happened after that. Except for that I started working on my blog at a decent hour.
So I guess this means it's time for answers to the picture game!!
Picture 1: Silver
Picture 2: Glassgow (spelled wrong, I know)
Picture 3: Sheer
Picture 4: Boot
Picture 5: Furry (it was obvious, but that lobster was so cool!!!)

The winner of Game #1 was Matej! With 3 out of 5. You aren't going to let him beat you, are you Mara? Talia? Come on.
So no random words today, because I managed to find some pictures to put in. But you guys better play tomorrow. Or Matej will win and you'll all be losers. Except Matej. He'll be a winner.

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