The hipbone connects to the wristwatch.

This weeks thing is a practical example of how distraction works: I get home early in order to sit down with an animation I’ve been mulling over for a couple of weeks. Before starting up Photoshop and getting to it, I check my emails. Huh looks like I ought to send some work invoices out, so let’s just get that out of the way first.

— Oh, hang on, the formatting of the invoicing hasn’t been updated with my latest info, I better just go into the template and fix that. Well, I be danged, the template function of Billings is utter complete shit, so if I’m going to wade through the documentation just to do the update I might as well just redesign the whole thing — how hard could that be?

— Let’s see, where did I put that logo I made a while back, that could go on there… A little bit to the right… Maybe left? Now to select typeface. Oh, and the logo has a burned umbra colour, wouldn’t that look dandy on the invoice headers? Hang on, my email is too long compared to the rest of my address; I know, why not register a new domain! Ooh, nice, my surname is still available, I’ll just go ahead and register that and set it up. (Might as well ask my brother if he wants to be setup with a forwarding address as well)

— Ok, now we’re rolling, but how the hell does Billings handle calculating the numbers and fixing the tables and totals and such? “Randomly and like a idiot leper, shitting itself” you say? Where was that documentation? There’s none except a few flaky videos, only visible if you search the Marketplace support page source code? Well that’s rather off-putting! Ok, but perhaps I can just copy-paste from a working template? No? Ok, I feel a headache coming on, let me get something for that.

I’ve just spent six hours trying to create a new template for my invoice software — a software which I use very sparingly now that I’m employed – and failing miserably. I’m now looking to spend more on another software which isn’t such a hideous bloated corpse of a thing, just so that I’ll be able to have my own design. This is not effective use of time, and this Sunday has been wasted, and no project will be posted today. Goddammit!

MateuszThe hipbone connects to the wristwatch.

On poverty, grants, value of juice

In 2010 I received a grant from Konstnärsnämnden. It was more money than I’d imagined ever having access to, and one of the habits I developed was buying the Brämhults brand juice which epitomizes middle class luxury. Before finally tossing the empty bottles, I documented them as proof of an attribute I had at least temporarily acquired thanks to the grant. The images are now edited and up on the main homepage: Tack Konstnärsnämnden! The images will also be published as a soft-cover booklet shortly, hopefully as next weeks project.

Related, as far as “poverty as identity” can be related to juice, is this old post from John Scalzi: being poor.

And I know I let two weeks pass without publishing something new. Bad artist, bad! Won’t happen again, promise. Pinky swear.

MateuszOn poverty, grants, value of juice

a conundrum; trapped, or pinned even.

Photo on 4-13-14 at 7.20 PM

I got the pin samples the other day, and they look awesome. I’ve been asking around to see how I ought to price these, and the answers have ranged from 10 to 150 kronor. Since I’m considering numbering and packaging them, I’m inclined to move to the higher end of the scale, but it’s difficult. I’ve written about price and value previously but in the end it comes down to how you position yourself in relationship to others. Who are you, who does your supporter want to be; whose conspicuous consumption are you?

In addition to deciding on a price, I also would have to find a cause to support — my project is so small that I wouldn’t register with MSF or Red Cross, but perhaps there is a small charity dealing with civilian causulties of drone strikes or surveillance which could use the money? Suggestions gladly appreciated.

My choice of topic is very timely though, so I ought to get the thing off the ground as soon as possible, before H&M starts selling t-shirts with drone motifs, which can’t be that far off. I see ironic plush drones for sale Christmas 2014.

Ordering stuff from China is also a personal experiment for me. When the anti-globalisation movement was in full swing some fifteen years ago we were protesting the EPZ’s of China and Mexico, exactly for the reasons that they increase the race to the bottom of global capitalism; externalising environmental and human costs with little or no consequence.

Given that unions aren’t allowed in China and the country is an oligarchical dictatorship, it’s difficult on the face of it to defend using it for production. Not that I’m going defend it — I do messed up stuff all of the time — but perhaps I could use this as an opportunity to learn more about the issues. There are labour, human rights and environmental organisation active in China, and by dealing with a manufacturer directly I at least have a name, an owner and an address, as opposed to if I’d ordered the stuff through a middle-man.

Mateusza conundrum; trapped, or pinned even.

A family, a network of relations.

This weeks thing is a proper retouch and publication of the Family photo series I did in 2004-2005. It was a bunch of portraits of more or less everyone in my extended family (except my maternal grandmother who didn’t want to be remembered so frail) and although I haven’t exhibited them anywhere I’ve had analogue copies made and distributed.

As the project is almost ten years old (which gives me temporal vertigo) I’m considering revisiting it; perhaps it’s time again to pack a camera and shoot the family. Not sure if it would feel as relevant now, but since I’m looking at the project with ten years hindsight and am glad I pursued it, I might appreciate a followup in ten years time as well.

I’m quite certain that I won’t do the project using film though; Patience with the analogue isn’t part of my character, and removing dust from the scanned negatives is a time honoured craft I’d gladly do without. Images are here.

MateuszA family, a network of relations.

I’d love to have you for dinner.

To counteract our social stagnation we’re trying to throw dinners. True, we haven’t had one for six months, but still, we try to attempt, to perhaps do something at some point. Regardless, one of the features of these dinners is me pulling out the camera and documenting all guests. It’s mandatory and unless people co-operate I don’t tell them where the antidote is.

This weeks project is about finishing the retouch and publishing one set of dinner pictures. “the dinner set #1” (2013) is me having fun in photoshop, and switching the faces around of all dinner guests — I’ve moved nose, eyes and mouth from one face to another, resulting in some more or less plausible visages. Needless to say, I laughed my ass of doing this, although right now I can’t say why — these people all look so serious. You can find the image gallery at monocultured.com under “photography” or by clicking here.

AL

sara_gitarr

Last weeks project was all the work migrating the blog into a new theme. WordPress themes are supposed to be mostly a skin on top of your content, but I splurged on a commercial theme with a lot of customisation, and it took a long time to make things look like it does now.

It’s been a while since this place got a facelift, and I don’t have the time nor inclination to once again dust of what mongrel knowledge I have of php/css/ and the WordPress loop just in order to hack something passable together. I figured that I could use that “flexible” layout people keep talking about. (At the moment the menus don’t work when viewed on a narrow screen, but I’ll get to that Or rather, now that I’ve paid for a theme I have someone to ask why it doesn’t work…)

Also, I received an email about the “don’t drone my friend” pins, and a box with samples is on it’s way over to me from China. I can’t get over how insane that is, but it’s also rather neat, in a “global fun-park, hell-in-a-handbasket” kinda way.

MateuszI’d love to have you for dinner.

Smokers de-light

Silly puns aside, in this weeks “finally I got around to getting that done!” category, we find some images I took last year but haven’t put up anywhere. It’s a bunch of pictures of people smoking e-cigarettes, which make for some demonic-looking faces. The first one I did was a self-portrait, and the rest came about when visiting mom for Christmas. I would have had more pictures if it hadn’t been for the break-in when I lost my laptop, but there you go.

I also took some time to learn the Koken CMS which I installed last summer, and it’s a brilliant piece of software. It takes a while to learn the quirks and come up with a logical yet resilient navigation system, but seeing as my site never had that much traffic to begin with I don’t think I’ll traumatise too many people by doing live experimenting.

Curating a site is even harden than writing an artist statement. Breaking with convention, I’ve not written about myself in third person as is the custom, and I’m curious to see how I come across when I mix personal art projects with commissioned works and folio stuff. It might end up just being a mediocre mush instead of a streamlined persona, but I’m hoping that by adding most of my production to the site I’ll come to some realisation about what in the world it is that I’m doing with my time. After all, if I’m supposed to be a professional dilettante, this ought to be apparent in my production, and the thread weaving my carpet of doing might go all over the place but at least ought not break.

You can find the site at www.monocultured.com, and it’s supposed to play well with iOS as well as Android tablets. Let me know of any kinks. There are only two albums up at the moment, and the one with this weeks pictures are in the Alight album.

MateuszSmokers de-light

Blood! Blood! It’s blood!

For the past couple of years I’ve intermittently tried to acquire a proper microscope, but those I’ve found have either been too expensive or too crappy. Apparently medical researchers have money for equipment, which is priced accordingly. Also, I guess there might be more to it than throwing glass and cast iron together

Since I’m nowadays working as a technician at Akademin Valand, I occasionally hunt the basement to see if there aren’t any technical treasures lurking somewhere. I’d heard that the uni used to have a hologram creation machine, and once I found it there was a microscope right next to it. How neat! It’s a Nikon Optiphot, and I’ve been spending after-work hours trying to get it assembled.

As far as I can tell, it’s more or less complete, but lacking any adapter for a digital camera. Since I have a bunch of dead laptops lying about I’m thinking of stripping the built-in camera out and 3d-print an adapter to stick on top of the scope. Ideally I’d use a DSLR or even one of the Hasselblad bodies on top, so the past week I’ve done an inventory of all the accessories I could find to see if I have anything useful.

For now the only thing for my troubles are two blurry cellphone photos. In the name of science I cut myself and looked at blood; the larger image below are my red blood cells! How cool is that? In addition to a proper camera mount, I need to learn how to calibrate and use the microscope — all manuals I’ve found are geared towards people who know what result they ought to get, so I’m floundering even when I try to follow along. Luckily, it turns out that a colleague at work has a physics doctorate and knows a lot about microscopes, so there’s a chance I’ll get to learn how to use it properly!

Concurrent with my minuscule tinkering, I’m taking an astronomy course at the university (free higher education, hell yeah!) which is likewise rooted in an ambition to find out how things work. Not until now did I realise that all heavy elements in the universe have been created in stars long gone, and having a broad understanding of earths history makes looking at things in the microscope so much more rewarding; You sort of get a bigger perspective, and it’s fascinating.

Also, the Foldscope seems like an worthwhile endevour, and in addition to using the “proper” microscope, this might be a good project to try out. It really goes to the core of what’s driving my ambition regarding microscopy — let’s see if it delivers.

Our intent is to engage a broad group of people to collectively generate the “world’s most awesome biology manual” which is written from the context of open questions instead of historical discoveries. The goal is to bring together a broad range of members from different communities, context, countries and skill level. To participate in the experiment, you will commit to documenting one single experiment (or series) which can be replicated by anybody in the world with access to a Foldscope or other microscopy platform.

→ Foldscope: Microscopy for everyone

MateuszBlood! Blood! It’s blood!

Lanzarote, the big empty

Two weeks past without me doing a Sunday project. So in the quilt of productivity those were two dropped stitches. The first week was a diseased week, with wheezing and snotting and whining, and the second week was spent on Lanzarote, one of the Canary islands, with Sara. It was based entirely on a “oh my god I need sun” line of reasoning, and we found a cheap trip to Puerto del Carmen.

It’s a beautiful landscape, and if only we’d have activities planned, we wouldn’t have noticed that the island is a soulless limbo (or purgatory, we couldn’t agree). My thoughts returned again and again to J.G.Ballard and the many incarnations of Vermilion Sands in his short stories. Even though it’s not a carbon copy of the place, the ambiance of the island is one of a movie backdrop, with very little reality propping it up.

On our last evening we ate at a Polish-Irish restaurant (with North African and Indian cuisine) and the proprietor had moved there 13 years earlier. How she likes it? “It’s very easy living.” The roads are good, landscape beautiful, and the streets very clean. It’s also vacuous and streamlined for handling 5.5 milion tourist a year.

The video was actually edited and posted to Vimeo in time for the deadline, but I just didn’t have it in me to do a writeup. Next Sunday is still on though, and I’m working on another sound work based on the noises recorded from Lanzarote, similar to the three-sound doodle I use in the intro here. Perhaps on the theme of being a windblown traveller.

Fortunately, the sun continued to shine through the numerous ozone windows and the hottest summer of the century was widely forecast. The determination of the exiles never to return to their offices and factories was underpinned by a new philosophy of leisure and a sense of what constituted a worthwhile life. The logic of the annual beach holiday, which had sustained Europe since the Second World War, had merely been taken to its conclusion. Crime and delinquency were nonexistent and the social and racial tolerance of those reclining in adjacent poolside chairs was virtually infinite.

→ Ballard, J. G: “The Largest Theme Park in the World”

MateuszLanzarote, the big empty

Preface: The Suffering

As a teenager I would listen to Frispel, which was broadcasted on P3 Sunday evenings. It was a pre-taped one hour experimental show, mixing fact and fiction, and focused a lot on creating an interesting atmosphere. Once it was cancelled, I wouldn’t find anything like it until Radiolab many years later, or perhaps some of the odder This American Life episodes. I still have a soft spot for radio turntablism stuff – and the movie Lucky People Center International is one I revisit every couple of years because of the tight editing and rhythm — so this weeks project was a short attempt to create an atmospheric clicky ambient thing, on the subject of suffering.

The music is all fiddled in Reason and the samples are from a lecture with Yo Hoon, available here. The track is finished as it is now; but I hope to return to the topic. Many years ago I did an ambient sound work called Appropriate Christmas which combined 2400 christmas songs into one long meditation, and in keeping with doing things for holidays, I’ll try to look into the nature of suffering and do a longer piece on it in time for easter.

Being a lapsed catholic the subject matter might not surprise anyone, but at least I’m not doing “guilt.” Yet.

Delinquest: And then gone
[audio:http://monocultured.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/And-then-gone.mp3][/audio]


MateuszPreface: The Suffering

Performative lying

What with all the surveillance-state bonanza going on, and a general feeling of unease and fear of shadows, I figure that now would be a good time to finish the video below. It’s a monologue on my experience as a doorman at various events. The premise is that I take a few minutes out of every hour and pretend to be a doorman. Very meta, but there are some valid points there; the main one is “don’t trust your instincts to obey”.

The original HD source files are lost — or they’re just hiding on one of the drives somewhere — but with the 2000-isch look I thought the SD video looks fine. Seeing as “good taste” is so easily acquired and/or faked, we might as well go for the “æsthetics of arbitrariness” as a valid expression.

Since I’m writing this in English, you’d think that I’d taken the time to subtitle the video, but as always I’m doing this at the last second and so the subtitling will have to wait. I’ll still count this as a win on the “do one thing a week” list though!

MateuszPerformative lying