June 28, 2012

I?aki Lacosta's Space Hub

Tomorrow night, I'll be attending the opening of a good friend, I?aki Lacosta at espacio art space in Santa Monica. I?aki is a polymath from Zaragoza, Spain and one of the other hats he wears is the owner of Entropy Studio, a visual effects company. Hugely successful in Europe, he is here establishing an studio in Los Angeles. As he described it to me, he created an virtual abandoned train station in great detail where all of the action in his video encompasses a very brief segment of "real" time where apparently mundane verisimilitude punctuate the action: ambient sounds of trains passing, wind blowing trash into corners, doppler conversations (now I must be ornamenting my memory). He described a gambit of projecting the images onto a corner of the exhibition space, using simple perspective correction software to alter the architecture of the space. I'm looking forward to seeing it. I?aki is an ebullient and genial genius and if you get a chance to attend the opening, please take the time to meet him and pick his brain. You won't be disappointed.

From the announcement:
Space Hub is a Video-Creation by I?aki Lacosta. Space Hub is a virtual space, a metaphorical, complex and deeply conceptual hub. Please join us for an exhibit showcasing new work by I?aki Lacosta this Friday 6/29/12, 6:30pm.Curated by Ana Revilla. www.join-espacio.com
[ espacio ] art space 1657 12th Street Santa Monica, California 90404 USA
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June 27, 2012



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Here We Go, Yo! Here We Go, Yo!

Back in 2003, I started this blog with the help of a good friend (Dean Terry, artist and professor in UT Dallas) shortly after our departure from Los Angeles to Dallas. As we left LA, I wrote something that helped drain and distill the huge reservoir of sentiment that oozed from leaving the city that we once had settled in after college and planted roots. I titled it DIE BITCH, using a colloquialism common to the internet gaming rooms that were thriving at the time, specifically the Chinatown internet cafe called CYBERLAN.

My favorite screen name was someone who called himself ?DIE BITCH?. Brilliant. When you died in the game, your opponent?s name would appear in the center of the screen. This kid?s name would grace your demise with the those incisive words, all mocking attitude and disdain. A challenge to do better.
DIE BITCH was the sound of LA and myself saying GAME OVER to each other. It was a bittersweet love letter, but finally it was a love letter.
I?m leaving town. I?m not going because of the cycle of gentrification: artist as pioneer, the early adopter, a force for urban change and evolution. Although I like the moniker of one who was part of vital beginnings, I didn?t plan it that way. I just wanted cheaper rent. I?m leaving town for important, personal reasons... not because of the strange hard edge that belies the dreamscape of Los Angeles. I heard once that a traffic accident in San Diego versus one in Los Angeles differs in that the former was one where the participants would tend to work it out privately and the ones here would engage their lawyers. That?s a good rough sketch of LA. ChinaTown was a place where the people (artists and the Asian locals) would work things out privately, with various levels of heat and light. There was plenty of drama. Property owners getting defensive, reporters looking for clich?s, young kids fucking like minks, babies were born. One young artist even totally flipped out (rubber room style), the police had to shoot him seven times with bean bags whilst he stripped naked. He shit in his hands and smeared his body brown. Another died from an overdose. And now, the lawyers are moving in. They are the ones who seek the artist lifestyle. Who can blame them? I certainly like it sure enough. The only trouble is they are a million miles away from art.

I?m leaving not because Los Angeles is a hard assed town and an Elysium tambien. I?m not leaving because the social circles are only as big as the number of people one can bar-b-que for in the back yard. I?m not leaving because the movies ?ChinaTown? and ?The Day of the Locust? are spot-on accurate. I?m not leaving because John Fante nailed the city when he wrote: ?you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town ...?. I?m not leaving because this metroplex is simultaneously parochial and international... and yet finally, parochial. This is LA with all its? mocking attitude and disdain, a challenge to do better.

Well, here we are again.

Something's happening.

We are leaving Los Angeles.

In 2003, Stephanie asked me: "What do you think about living in Dallas?" Our decision to leave LA for Dallas was motivated by my wife's career options (she's a design director in the fashion industry), it was important to her to suss it out in Texas at the time. What else could a loving husband say but yes? For an artist, it was a biggish career risk, LA compared to Dallas in terms of an art world is as an elephant to a mouse, truth be told. The museums are fabulous, but there isn't much of the middle and lower tier art galleries and the loamy level of a struggling artist community is extremely thin. As things turned out, it was not in the cards that her career options were destined to root in Dallas. And I must be careful to note that even though we deeply respect the city of Dallas and the community of friends we had formed there, we were relieved to realize that we had to move on and out to another arena in our lives that we had begun to build in Spain, the dream of living both in Europe and the USA.

Recently, Stephanie asked me: "What do you think about living in New York?"

Aside from leaving all my friends here in LA, I can't think of a downside to that. And to my beloved friends here in LA: the world is small, and getting smaller. We might move but we will never leave you. So it's happening. The decision had been simmering for a time and now it has crystalized. We are definitely moving to New York and we look forward to settling in before the summer's end. The move will be gargantuan and the process has already begun.

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June 20, 2012

Something's Happening

This image is apropos of two things, one of which is this, this and this.

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Hung 13, AHAB


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June 15, 2012

LA Neighborhoods



Bracketing a map of Los Angeles' budding pedestrian communities with two videos showcasing alternative private/public transportation seemed like a natural way to frame a blogpost that argues for the nurturing and development of pedestrian friendly neighborhoods across the Los Angeles metropolitan area from downtown to the Pacific.

To say that Los Angeles is a young city (incorporated as a municipality in 1850) is an understatement. Today, LA is in its infancy. LA has been thickening up in recent years, it's hard to miss the proliferation of multistory apartments across the city. More and more, people are living nearer their workplace and neighborhoods are sprouting up in parts of the city that are already primed with a sense of place. There are more people riding bikes, I see more and more scooters and motorcycles on the city streets nowadays. Taipei and Barcelona... Los Angeles can sport as many two wheeled vehicles as those cities do with ease! Fewer cc's of engine per person, more vehicles on the road, what's not to like? I celebrate this development and this blogpost encourages it to bloom even more.

My proposal is simple and schematic: help people to get out of their cars on onto the their feet on the street. Pardon me whilst I cut to the chase with three bullet points:

- Parking. People need a safe place to stash their vehicles within a decent proximity to a pedestrian commercial district. Smaller pedestrian zones can employ simple parking lots, larger ones can build parking garages (Santa Monica has a great model that has endured for decades).

- Intra-Neighborhood Transportation. Pedestrians have their limits of endurance and pedestrian neighborhoods come in many sizes. We have a Metro of buses and rail lines that range across the city and we are building them bigger, but what is missing is local public transportation (people still need to access -sans cars- the stations of the Metro system, now so widely spread apart), and what I would like to suggest is for the city to embrace the private kind: jeepneys, tuk-tuk's, or any modern form of the rickshaw or its variants. Privately owned transportation businesses can naturally scale up or down according to the local economy. Civic regulation of these businesses should be simple yet comprehensive and designed to assist budding entrepreneurial energy. (I haven't analysed LADOT's regulations, but I'll link it here in case you want to.)

- Nodes and Routes. The previous two issues should be combined into a system of parking nodes and the transportation routes between them. Again, the size of the neighborhood should indicate the scale and complexity of the networks.

A bracket is an enclosure. The sight of people walking the sidewalks is starting to become a normal thing in Los Angeles. It wasn't always this way. When I arrived here in 1985, LA was a fading image of its former self: a car city where everyone could speed across the entire metropolis in 25 minutes. People walking the street was a rarity, confined to Hollywood Boulevard and fewer other locales. Social life was confined to how many people you could fit in a backyard bar-b-que, and not everyone invited made it to the party. Some of this is still a reality here in LA, but less and less so as time goes by. Let's give definition to this emerging new reality and help it grow.

A pipe dream and another message in a bottle. Spread the word, talk to your representatives in government.

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June 14, 2012


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Hung 13

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June 5, 2012

Antonio Gaud?. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1984

Antonio Gaud?. Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1984 from First & Last Name on Vimeo.

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June 2, 2012


(Source. Apropos.)

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California Chiringuitos

While I am puffing my pipe dreams with the subject of the beach is in the air, here's another message in the bottle: Sacramento should permit the establishment of a chain of chiringuitos along California beaches. I don't yet understand the argument against them, if they exist, in this state. It's a civilized thing to do. And if that argument doesn't persuade, think of the tax revenue they would generate. We do need taxes in order to do all of the civic things we need to do, right? This is at least as good or better of an idea in terms of revenue as the current effort to establish a naval museum in the form of the USS Iowa.

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The Real Subway to the Sea

I'm a supporter of LA Mayor Villaraigosa's effort to build what we call the subway to the sea. The Los Angeles Metro's purple line has been designated to make the first connection. But the only problem is that, as I understand the plan, the terminus of the metro line will be at Wilshire and 4th Street in Santa Monica, four blocks and a cliff (Pacific Palisades) away from the sea... er, ocean. It's little wrinkles like that that make LA the besotted city it is (another example: we build a subway almost, but not quite to the airport at LAX)... "It's Chinatown LA, Jake."

So here is my pipe dream from this blogpost to G-d's ear/ your eyes.

It would seem quite a natural idea since the underground Metro would punch out to daylight at the Palisade cliffs. The trains should pop out into the daylight/sunset. Passengers should get a nice panorama of the Pacific as they emerge from the train to daylight. The elevation of the deck would be above the Pacific Coast Highway, beach goers could exit behind and under the PCH and emerge onto the beach, fanning out to the sand. The bulk of the Palisades could be used to tuck garages below grade and the top deck could merge seamlessly into the existing design of the Palisade pedestrian park.

If you like this, let this be a viral idea. Tell your friends! Better yet, write to City Hall.

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