curious, not creepy.

tides and rivers
May 26, 2008, 4:13 am
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d2l isn’t letting me get past the homepage due to some unexpected error, so instead i’ll just post it here for the time being.

I have seen the film, Rivers and Tides a few times while being in art school. I have a sincere appreciation for the work that Andy Goldsworthy does, even though I am not necessarily the biggest fan of the movie. But every time I watch it, I become more and more interested in his work. I like that idea of ephemeral works, and seeing Goldsworthy do such incredibly things makes me feel compelled to make my own attempts at such works.

One of the things about Goldsworthy that I greatly respect his strong commitment to his work, specifically the time he dedicates to his pieces. He wakes up incredibly early in order to go out into the world and create before the sun comes up to melt his ice sculptures, or to beat the tide before it comes back.  He has to have a good understanding of the environment he is working with in order to plan accordingly. At the beginning of the film, Goldsworthy is talking about how forms and presences repeat themselves so there is a sense of comfort in knowing that things are going to be relatively the same anywhere you go. However, he still doesn’t like being “uprooted” from his normal surroundings. This is something that I think everyone can relate on, whenever we travel to a new place we look for the similarities between this foreign space and our home. It makes this new place not so scary, and more familiar which is what we want.

In order to familiarize himself with this new place, he immediately beings working. We see him build and sculpture that consists entirely of icicles on a rock. He is finished and the sun begins to rise over some hills and he is filled with excitement. The way that the sun shines through the piece on both sides manages to illuminate the entire structure which is something he was not expecting. However beautiful this sunshine makes the piece, it is also going to cause its destruction. It is ironic that his happens, what created the ice is the temperature and what destroys it is also the same. Which is something else that he discusses in the film. He doesn’t feel like the pieces he is creating is being destructive in anyway, that is not why he builds them. Just like anything else in the world, they are always changing and becoming something new. “The real work is in the change.” With ephemeral works, there are plenty of things that happen that you aren’t necessarily prepared for and cannot predict. Like excessive wind, or rain which can also be said for the human experience. There are always things that come up that we were not planning for in anyway, but we have to deal with it the best we can and sometimes the best things come from that. Mutations of an idea don’t make the idea any less valid, it just makes it different from the original plan which often times makes it better.

This leads into another talking point of the film in regards to failure.  Goldsworthy doesn’t think of these as totally negative experiences, but ones that he can learn from.  The more ‘failure’ that you encounter, the more familiar you are forced to become with the materials and processes at hand.  I think that this is something that every artist can relate to, and can also be seen with everyday life.  For my mural photography final this semester I went through a lot of different process and techniques that didn’t exactly go as planned.  I wanted to physically alter the surface of the photographs but couldn’t achieve what it was that I wanted to see.  I also had this problem with trying to alter the images, I felt guilty destroying these images but wasn’t entirely sure why and then realized I had grown to have a sentimental attachment to them all.  They were found negatives that I printed, and the images reminded me of my own childhood.  So instead of my original plan, I ended up making a series of juxtapositions between the found imagery and images of my childhood which was ten times more successful then I could have imagined.
Another point in Rivers and Tides that is constantly being brought up is time.  He works outside so time is constantly a factor for him.  So many things are out of his control, verses the art school world he was in so long.  “Everything is very secure in art collage.”  I thought that that was a really great statement, and a very true one.  School is a very nurturing environment which effects the art making process, there are not nearly as many uncertainties within those walls as there are in the real world.  Another way the real world affects art is in the viewing, which is another talking point in the film.  Goldsworthy says that he views his projects as markers of his journey, but when they are placed in a museum setting that changes.  In museums, I view them as signifier of his career, not necessarily of the growth he has had as an artist.  There is also such a physicality to his pieces, they are just begging to be touched which is totally forbidden in museum spaces.  So that automatically changes the piece, in nature they are exposed to the elements and will exist for as long as they can withstand them.  Verses museums, where they are in a temperature controlled space and do not have to fear destruction.  I’ll admit though, when I saw one of the cones at the La Jolla MOMA I touched it.

One final talking point is how the landscape is impacted by animals and people.  The sheep are discussed as being creatures that need to be looked at more in depth than their “wooliness” but as creatures that are capable of social and political upheaval.  They provoked the government to kick people off of the land and let the sheep roam the country sides instead.  This absence of humans lead to the landscape turning out how it did, no trees in sight.  This idea of working with absence can be seen not only in Goldworthy’s work, but also that of Joe Sternfels who manages to combine landscapes with photojournalistc qualities. 

The thing that I like so much about Goldworthy is his perspective on how things exist in our world.  “I am the next layer upon the things that have happened already.”  I feel like that is a very profound statement, he acknowledges that he is not the first to be in the environment he is in.  He is not the first, and will not be the last, to appreciate the environment.  He creates these beautiful sculptures that may or may not crumble moments after he has created them.  So much time is spent working on these pieces that are made to look effortless.  “The real work is the change.”  He has fulfilled his role as the creator but leaves it up to fate to decide what will become of it.  “I have given it to the sea and it made it even better then I could have ever imagined.”  I like this idea that you don’t have to have total control over a piece, and that once you let go it is able to have a life of its own.  It has become a living thing, in a sense, and no longer needs you to guide it.  Just start it off, and let the rest happen as it will.


walk two – paths
May 26, 2008, 1:31 am
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i have this really vivid memory of when i was 16 and in england. we would stay in little villages in the countryside and while everyone else stayed in their room and watched tv i was outside wandering around, just taking in everything that i could. and i remember finding footpaths everywhere, and walking them. they seemed like they went on forever and i’ve always wanted to go back and just walkin the island through the use of these paths, or desire lines.  apparently, i’m not the only one who likes this idea:

but anyways, i tried to find these around my neighborhood and had no sucess. everything was sidewalk or street. if there was even anyone else out walking, they were going to their car or getting the mail. something. but then i remembered the art building, right on the corner of speedway and park is one of these desire lines.  instead of taking the oh so long route of the side walk into the loading dock, people have been cutting across the dirt.

personally, i love this path. i use it all the time. it is a very rare occassion when i acutally use the sidewalk to get to the loading dock. it probably only cuts off about two seconds of walking but it’s satisfying nonetheless.  when you’re in a rush to get to the class you know you’re late to, just having the illusion of moving just a little bit faster is great.

i walked home, feeling a little disappointed about my lack of discover in the paths department when i opened my gate and realized that i have my own that is literally on my doorstep.


walking three – touch
May 25, 2008, 8:37 pm
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normally i hate the wind. why? because normally i have somewhere to be and riding your bike in the wind is definitely on my ‘things i absolutely hate doing’ list. but on this walk, it was no longer an enemy but a friend.  something about having the wind just toss my hair around felt great.  it’s like having one giant hand playing with your hair, if that makes any sense at all. but that was the main thing i was able to focus on during this walk on this windy, rainy day.  

the usual touch of the sun upon my skin was gone, and was replaced by the cold wind.  which was also a weird feeling, just earlier in the week the sun was BLAZING. it was absolutely unbearable anywhere else but then the next day it just disappeared and i had to find a jacket that i thought i’d be done with until october.  i never really think about the feeling of the sun on your skin until it’s gone.  

i love the rain. and the feeling of it hitting my skin. which was another sensation that occurred during my walk. it was just the right amount of it that it didn’t get me soaking wet, but was a consistent touch on my hands and face.  

again, these are things that i know happen and that i have a relationship but never really thought about that until now. 

walking two – sound
May 25, 2008, 8:16 pm
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a walk around campus during the fall or spring semester and you know what to expect. girls chatting away on their pink razors, boys talking about the girl he tried to get with at the sigma phi party, doors closing, cars passing by, someone’s ipod that is up too loud.  that doesn’t change too much over the summer, just not as many people to overhear. 

that was the first thing i noticed on this walk, was that despite how quite campus was in comparison to the usual hustle and bustle, it was still pretty noisy. on this particular day it was incredibly windy and there was a constant sound of wind gushing through leaves. 

which is when i realized that different leaves make different sounds. i know, i know, what an elementary thing to notice. of course they make different sounds, but it never really occurred to me because i was never looking for it. the tree on the left, that was my favorite sound during the walk. so spending so much time around trees lead me to this:

which was a nice surprise. but made me feel kind of silly, since it’s in an area that i pass thru EVERYDAY to get to and from school and it wasn’t until now that i noticed it.  these walks are teaching me that i’m not nearly as observant as i like to think i am. and i’m working on that. 

during the duration of the walk i was trying so hard to focus on the sounds that i don’t normally pay attention to, like the wind rushing through the trees, my footsteps on different surfaces, the pitter pattering of the drizzling rain, but then this thing happen. this thing that always happens when i do anything, a song popped in my head. i have no idea where it came from or why it was there, but it was and as hard as i tried to focus on the walk it just stayed there in the back of my head. which is what i’ll leave you with. enjoy.

giving back. [project one]
May 25, 2008, 7:47 pm
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i want to give back to the environment that has provided me with so much. and to do this, i’ve gone back to the places where i have found and left things to be found.  a roll reversal. hopefully it’ll be as meaningful to someone else as it was to me.

i don’t think it is necessary to explain what each one of those object mean to me, as the ones that i find come with no context.  they are left for me to interpret however it is i want or can. but leaving them behind came with a little bit of sadness, like i was just abandoning a piece of myself. which essentially i was. but then i sat for a bit to plan out the route to my next location and saw people walking by and either not even noticing what i had left, or expressing a little bit of interest but not making any effort to investigate further then just a glance.  which makes me wonder if anyone will take what i have left, or if the wind will just blow it away…


[if anyone is interested in seeing the objects that i found at those places, let me know and i’ll post those too.]







walk one – sight
May 24, 2008, 7:29 pm
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the media is constantly bombarding us with images…

who hasn’t heard that sentence before? i’ll admit, i’ve said it quite a few times myself.  it is something that i think is very true, and decided to further explore on my first walk. 

advertisements are everywhere:


“The average American is exposed to about 3000 advertising messages a
day, and globally corporations spend over $620 billion each year to
make their products seem desirable and to get us to buy them.”
Union of Concerned Scientists Website


so, i walked from my old house on university to the center for creative photography and took photographs of all the advertisements i saw, these are some of them…

i see these things on such a regular basis, they’ve just become apart of my surroundings. i never really thought about the fact that they are meant to influence me to buy something or lure me into a space. clearly i need to start paying more attention.

oh, technology.
May 21, 2008, 6:00 am
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for some reason today, i am having the absolute worst luck with technology:

the ipod is DEAD.

the internet is UNRELIABLE and will not open the pages i need it to. 

the swamp cooler isn’t working properly making it more bearable to sit outside then inside, UNACCEPTABLE.

my phone turns itself off whenever it feels like it, especially in the most INOPPORTUNE moments. 


the only thing that has gone as it should is being able to download the wanderlust reading. which i found very interesting and able to agree with some of the things it commented on. and thought it was pretty ironic that it talks about technology as all of mine falls apart.  

walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them.  it leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.

which i took into account today on a little stroll i took in my new neighborhood [ironhorse] which i noticed was a lot calmer then that which i had spent the last two years.  [west university] is only a few blocks away but has a completely different feeling. it is much easier to just walk around and think and observe since it isn’t on a main stretch of road and i don’t know my neighbors quite yet.  it felt like a completely different place, even though i’ve been there so many times before. while on my walk i kept thinking about the project that is due at the end of the week. i wasn’t sure what it was that i wanted to do exactly, but i think i have figured it out.  

when you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities.  exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.  

the plan is to give back to the environment that i so heavily rely on and hope it makes as much of an impact to someone else as it did me. 


hopefully the internet will be my friend again tomorrow. as well as my phone. and ipod. and swamp cooler. and if not, i’ll just go for another walk.