23 March 2007


choose 1:

[A] is more preposterous than {B}

{B} is more preposterous than [A]
description of choices:
Moments after new U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon, performing at a press conference, announced that he would be bolstering U.N. staff in Iraq because the security situation was improving, a rocket exploded right outside the building and he ducked behind his podium in a most insecure manner.

Iraqi prime minsiter Nouri alMaliki, performing at same press conference, didn't even flinch, pretending instead that nothing was happening and that everything was normal, and then shooed away the bodyguards or whoever they were who approached the stage to offer help, and commanded them in his best poised, confident, alpha-arab-male barking voice:
"rooh rooh .... ROOH!" ("go go .... GO!")
Now see it:


20 March 2007

The Finalization of an Arabic Design

Arabic Design is about harmony, unity, perpetuity. It is, as my late professor Dr. Gordon Bugbee would say, "A Unity that is Subdivided." Yet it is also about a certain innate, naturalist beauty that is ironically communicated through a delicate, measured geometric aesthetic.

Historically, it stems from the Islamic tradition of avoiding the depiction of human or animal figures in Muslim religious context (books, masjids, etc,) for religious reasons concerned with relinquishing idolatry. The artform thereby developed through the course of Muslim history from simple patterns to quite complex mathematical systems, giving birth to the pottery, architecture, page illustrations, textiles and sciences that infused people's lives, leading to the high Muslim Renaissance, and consequently influencing the visual arts of its neighboring cultures, from early Byzantium, to Persia, India and China in the east, to Florence and Spain in the west.

Below is a reconstitution of a series of posts over the last two weeks, in which I incrementally built one design in a series of daily steps.
_ _

Four square quadrants constitute a major square; every quadrant subdivides into four sub-quadrants, a total of 16 subquadrants. One subquadrant from each quadrant is retained in the center of the major square; consequently four 1/16th squares come together in the center to become a square that is equal to any of the four quadrants of the original major square. Then four circles, each 5/6 of a 1/16th subquadrant. Why this dimension? just because.

So we have the four circles, they make a square,

We duplicate them, and rotate them 45°, all together as a square. Now we have eight;

On the other hand, let's first bring the four original circles closer together,
so that they touch adjacently at the center of the design,
and we can also show the square that is comprised of their four centers,

NOW we can rotate them 45°.


Let's add a circle, same size as the others, in the middle. It intersects perfectly and lovingly into the octagonal space that had been created by the two squares. We then place four more circles, adjacent to the center circle, to the north, south, east and west of the center circle.

We then rotate the entire group of four new circles at 45°, a rotation that will land them at the four corners of the center square:

So now we have eight circles rotated around the center,
plus another eight circles rotated around them,
plus a circle in the center,
as well as an eight-pointed star made up of two squares, rotated at 45°.

some more circles (the blue ones,)

and a few more circles (the black ones,)

and some new squares,

and we rotate each square (45°, of course.)

We have quite a complexity now, almost unbearable in its intricate detail, sort of like life some days, a precious stone in the rough, in need of shinning to bring out an understanding of its beauty, of why it is.

Now some attention to detail: A few additions, a few subtractions;
Like when spring comes back and the mud and snow melt away, and the mass disorder of your life begins to clear up, as in macro volumes of collected regret, so you start throwing away redundant clutter that you once thought was important, but then you find yourself reattaching yourself to newer detail, newer trinkets that you find at the hardware store, or the garden shop.

The structure is finalized.
Red is the color that binds the variant elements of a Unity that is Subdivided. Next more color.
. . .

Red + Green =

The foliage-like shapes receive a color like the undersides of olive leaves.
. . .

We increase the darkness of the outside & center green color, lighten the color of the leaf-shapes a bit, and deepen the red to be more like our blood.

We assign a deep, dark blue-green to a group of shapes, so we can have a restful place for our eyes sometimes; rest your eyes, rest your limbs, rest your breathing, and rest your mind.

And a bright-light yellow color for another group of shapes, so that we can satiate our desire for joy at other times.

A Bright orange to imply some circular groupings, and we're done!

How about a sense of infiniteness and perpetuity? o.k.:
We repeat the entire design in a couple of perfect spots, where it naturally fits.

Until it sings, like the boundless magnificence of the universe, and all of its peaceful, coexistent variety, the astounding creation that is nature, from the atoms to the galaxies, the wonder that comes forth from one origin. The center represents the Creator, One and Definite, yet Omnipresent within all of His creation, reappearing as signs of His own beauty.


17 March 2007

A Found Lost Essay.

Two years ago my professor, Dr. Jim Brown, took us on a field visit to the studios of Detroit artist Gilda Snowden, and asked us to write a "phenomenological" critique of two works of art that we observed there. I don't know how "phenomenological" I got in my writing. For the past two years I had completely forgotten about this essay, until I found it a few moments ago. Upon rereading it now, I find that in each of the two parts, the objectivity and rationality of my observational descriptions quickly deteriorated after a few sentences of writing, into shards of song, accusation, lament or prayer. Dr Brown must've though I was completely deranged when he read this.

Anyway. What a strange window writing offers into the you of yesterday. Time is a thief of staying, while the witness of record is a thief of the innocence of remembering.
. .

Review of Art Field Visit to
Studios of Gilda Snowden, Detroit, Michigan

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Wayne State University
College of Education
AED 7400 - Art Trends

On Thursday, February 10, 2005, upon entering the studios of Gilda Snowden, we witnessed an incredible whirlwind of color and commotion on countless canvasses hovering on walls completely surrounding Gilda’s working space. From every surface sprang color, strokes and lines, rhythm and movement, and various explorations in formalism infused with emotion. This extraordinary anthology of abstract visions was too overwhelming to take in all at once, or to take in in one evening. Yet much to my own surprise, I was able to muster enough concentration within the immense broadness of her walls to focus on two works, and engage these works sufficiently to extract some understanding.

The first of these is a large painting entitled “Sea of Made and Broken Promises,” which was painted as part of a series. It is composed of infinite layers of competing dabs and twirls, dulls and brights, repetitions that come to the brink of misunderstood Nirvana, but slow down just in time to rethink the possibility of certainty. The vision that comes through the painting is perfection infused with hints of imperfection. The strokes are alive. The Red, Green and Black revolutions are alive and kick deliberate holes through their fast paced casual superiors. Love and comfort comes from one thick burgundy stripe, which peeks through thinner pencils and pens. The bold dulls are thuds, like familiar eyes, more ancient sounds that highlight night-ness. Rips of sleepy green illuminations find residences in corners fit for their needs. Behind days of busyness and cluttered forgetfulness I find my sandy yellow yesterday. I drip my juices to make less meaning out of the meat of heavy guilt and worry. These are the layers of dark rest and sleep-accented shapes. I declare that all spaces and directions track their signatures first through mud, and when they are settled in one lucid amalgam, the visits of color come to tell them of their own demise, and come to draw their faces on them for them.

The second work I visited is a large wall sculpture composed of slender, presumably wooden, shanks of various lengths, fused together to hoist up height, and bound together pointedly with ropes in horizontal loops. The whole mass is of a unified dark, bumpy and greasy exterior, containing within it an unseen interior. Slim slabs of speared unwashable deeds, entwined as one central presence. Two share the skin of encaustic explanations, skin that traps the history of victors and the propaganda of the petty. Two keep together: One long pointed figure stuck on another, a shorter more rectangular pose. Two keep together to understand. Truth is sticky, so all one needs to do is remember it. It will stick with just a little effort, just remember it. This is the skin of its encaustic remembrance, hauntings that high school history books could not hide. A pipe takes its place among them, continuing the upward ascension. We shall remember the ropes and the role they played, for good measure, just in case the truth escapes us abstractly. Black might fade to umber, but sticky is sticky.

04 March 2007