MoMA response

Having grown up in NYC and lived here my whole life, this was not my first visit to MOMA. On our trip we reviewed many exhibits I’ve seen before but never with a guide so that was interesting. That being said, the ones that stand out are some classics that relate to the theme of illusions and nothingness.

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I can’t help but love the absurdity in Cubism and how random objects are tied together through paint to reveal subtleties in relation. Above is Chirico’s The Song of Love, 1914. It is very symbolic of the way people were feeling during WWI. A sense of loss (one glove), the absurdity and uncertainty of the war (the glove is as big as the stone head), the dramatization of the effects of war (the perspective of the street in relation to the objects). And yet, in the background, there is a single little glimpse of a beautiful cloud amidst a gorgeous blue sky that tricks us into comfort and leads us into feeling more insecure as we take in the objects in the foreground. I can’t help but wonder about the title of the piece, The Song of Love. The phrase also tricks us into thinking what we are seeing is merely beautiful and not necessarily tragic. In one moment you can see the joy in the image, but in another you can feel the absurdity, the sadness, and the passion in that dismay. Things don’t make sense in this world Chicero has commented upon and it certainly marks a time during humanity that was uncertain and doomed. Nothingness was certain.

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Something feels familiar about this Magritte. Something similar to The Song Of Love.  The perspective of this piece seems almost unnecessary. This assumed couple, heads draped in tightly formed sheets, are kissing so passionately but it is as random as a head of a statue bound to a wall with a glove next to it (I haven’t even mentioned the green ball yet). I could almost see this picture as a New Year’s Eve photo a friend took of his long time, married friends. In someone’s colorful but dull apartment or house. There’s actually nothing spectacular going on if you take away the sheets. It leaves you imagining what’s underneath but the perspective of the room keeps you from obsessing over that. Whatever the viewer assumes about the individuals in this painting are an illusion created by the lack of information we receive about them because of the sheets. And the perspective that almost looks flat and feels a bit off, only makes for an absurd narrative.

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This piece screams nothingness. It’s filthy, and makes me nauseous. It’s as though someone put out their huge cigarette in the middle of a canvas, and left it there for years. It looks like a disease and provokes memories of unease and foggy mistrust. I don’t especially like it and it’s not enjoyable to look at, but I can’t help but wonder how it’s made and what was on Girgorian’s mind when he made it. There’s so much texture it looks like ant’s piled stacks of ash into a city, a colony of clouds. There’s so much emptiness but so much happening all at once. Where you think you see nothing you actually see all these crevasses that looks like earth starved of water but boiling up underneath.  It almost feels like I’m in an airplane, looking straight down at a target, and I’ve just dropped a bomb, and this terrible fog is the aftermath.

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A tragic life led to this painful painting. Max Ernst, a WWI veteran, traumatized from the war and the death of his sister, hallucinated intimidating objects in wood grain of his bed post while infected with the measles as a child. A nightingale, a spinning top, an opened wooden fence were among these strange illusions. The title, Two Children are Threatened by a Nightingale suggest Max and his sister, traumatized by a threatening bird, exist in an abstract space together after her death. The objects chosen are strange put together and the perspective. And the physicality introduced by way of the fence, spinning top, and shed bring you into the scene and distract you from questioning the absurdity of the situation. There is nothing that really adheres every object in this scenario. Nothing depends on the other in order to exist. Nothing relies on something else in order to achieve relevance in this portrayal. Yet, everything has an order to it, which could be of my own implementation.

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My favorite painting at MoMA, Persistance of Memory, was not there when I went but it’s very relevant. Melting clocks on a serene beach with ants eating away at a decaying time piece and a figure loosely resembling a man’s face lying dead on the ground with his tongue coming out of his nose and his eyelash, giant, carving into his cheek bone — it’s unsettling. There’s no location where this painting takes place. Other than a beach landscape with cliffs in the background, you can’t make out what planet you’re on. The water turns into a shelf which drives this point home. It’s some kind of acid fantasy where you’ve lost your ego and you seem to empathetic to exist in the world. Time doesn’t exist and you cease to enter the world of causality. Dali wants us to be confused, but he also wants to show us what it is to be in the human condition. He plays only with the illusions that life give to us — of time, of place, of security. But he shows it and displays it as a nightmare. Something nauseous that we don’t want to admit or talk about.

Einstein’s Dreams

This happens to be one of my favorite books, so I read the entire thing all over again, happily. Alan Lightman takes notes from Einstein’s journals and weaves them into neat little stories about time and human existence. It’s a beautiful way to learn about metaphysical theories through the context of a novel. Each entry begins with a different conceptual concept of the passage of time, some even beginning with the common knowledge of the world ending very soon and so money slowly loses its value but people end up paying for their last drinks anyway.

The idea of time being a sense similar to that of touch, taste, sight, etc. is very interesting to me. Lightman talks about the “time-deaf” in the June 5th entry. This has always enlightened me, as I studied Philosophy during undergrad. He talks about how philosophers sit around at cafe’s, pondering about whether time could exist outside the realms of human perception. I’ve had many of these conversations myself. “Some few people are born without any sense of time. As a concequence, thier sense of place becomes heightened to excruciating degree” (p. 90) I agree, some people do have a better “sense” of time, and we do, in fact, use the terminology “sense of time” which implies the notion of time being something that is inherently felt by the subject. The time deaf can only “tell time” through clear observable changes. I happen to be a person who doesn’t have a good grasp on the passage of time throughout my life. Often, I forget when things happened in time unless there is a clear indicator, an image in my mind’s eye of my surroundings, or even more so, smells that identify that point in time.

At times, the book can be very melancholy. The narrative Lightman creates of lovers missing chances they could have had if only they met one minute later or of loves lost forever in death or an estranged child knocking on the door of his mothers house who does not answer — all hints at Einstein’s notion of separate universes existing all at once but one millisecond of time apart in time. The theory of events happening one after the other but also preceding one another speaks to a world in which free will is an illusion. Actions that occur in time exist in a world where the current event has already happened in another dimension but hasn’t happened yet in another. This is where the idea of a deja vu comes from according to Einstein. It is a glitch in the universe where two events happen at once that we’re supposed to happen either milliseconds before or after in another dimension.

In a way, each entry could represent the way one person feels in their body about time and space. The illusion of time could be different for all of us in the same way we can never truly know if the green I see is the green you see. This novel definitely leaves its reader thinking about the way time is stored in their own body and what it means to exist in a world where people understand time as a reality that exists around but also, possibly, because of them.

A trip through time

Now that I have my MIDI keyboard working with Isadora, I had a good idea for an installation based on the passage of time viewed from an old train. I plan on visiting the Transit Museum in Brooklyn to take a, possibly panoramic, picture of the inside of an old train with the a good view of the windows from inside. Then, using the piano keys, I’d generate different video’s of interesting landscapes and such happening outside the window. Depending on what key you press, a different video will play. With the knobs on the keyboard, I plan on altering sound or certain parts of the videos, live. Using found footage on youtube of old cable car rides through Brooklyn and abandoned subway stations throughout the tri-state area, I’ll make an interactive subway ride traveling through time.

Dreamscape Lockers

(Video courtesy of Carrie Wang)

Using a Pepper’s Ghost Illusion, my team of four created dream inspired installations of ourselves using our locker’s as a space. We started by filming each other doing an activity related to a dream we had using a green screen. I chose to run because I often have nightmares of running away from something or someone.

Screen Shot 2018-03-02 at 1.06.55 PMAfter deleting the background in After Effects and making it black, I found two images online that corresponded with the dreamscape I wanted to portray.

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To create an illusion of running through a brick wall, I measured out about an inch and keyed myself out in After Effects. I was lucky because the brick wall I created was exactly the right size for the video loop.

I lined my locker with black paper and posted an image of a sign in the middle of a field on the main stage.

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Then I positioned the clear acrylic (used to create the Pepper’s Ghost illusion) on an angle in my locker and put the brick wall in front of it. I quickly learned this wasn’t the right approach!

I needed the brick wall in the background so I rearranged some things and ended up with what you see below:

Eventually, I decided that the best way to view this was not through a tiny peephole but through a blocked out space through black foam board that would allow the viewer to see only the landscape where I was running back and forth on the picture I had printed out.

This was the final version, but I’m a bit unhappy that you weren’t able to see the background image very well. The critics who came to view our installations were also right about the lost use of the door being open as extra space that could have been utilized. Other than that I’m pretty happy about how it turned out!

A Bookshelf

Now that I’ve spent about 7 hours using the CNC machine I’m getting pretty comfortable with it. I’ve learned that the machine definitely is a little crooked because of the flooring, and that the wood I used was bent toward the center resulting in pieces that didn’t breakthrough. Although Mastercad is an ugly interface, I’m used to the work flow now, and I barely have to go back to my Vectorworks file to edit before milling. I definitely didn’t expect each piece to take about an hour to mill. And if I didn’t get sick over break, I would have had enough time to finish this before class. I drastically underestimated the time I would need on the CNC machine, and having everyone using it around the same time didn’t help.


First, I sketched out each piece on paper to visualize how much wood I’ll need.

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Then I created 3 Vectorworks files, one for the back, one for the two sides, and one for the top and bottom. As you can see below, I didn’t add any pockets on the top and bottom of the side parts, which I realized was a mistake later.

In order to get the dimensions right, I made a tiny model out of paper with the measurements to see how the parts connected.


Once I got all my measurements in order I went to Mastercad and started with the pockets for each file and then added contouring. Because I used a single rabbit joint, I set the pockets to be half of the width of the plywood which was .725, so my pockets were set to .363 (that’s with .5 added tolerance). I also double checked that the settings were on Absolute.


My plywood was cut to about the size of the bed (4 x 4) and screwed into place with 5 screws.


I realized there was a slight bend in the middle of the wood. Unfortunately, no screws could fix this issue.


I loaded the “back” piece and after pressing start I realized that I didn’t zero the mill far enough to the left on the X axis. The mill went off the side of the wood, so I loaded the side pieces and re-purposed that piece of plywood for those two parts.


Once the side pieces finished I started milling the top and bottom parts. Something strange happened during this process. The piece of plywood was also bent in the middle and this caused the mill to miss the middle of the pocket during the first couple of runs.


This surprised me because half way through the process, it started milling the middle in what seemed like an even line all the way from one side to the other!


The finished top piece didn’t go all the way through on the other side, but looked pretty good from the front.


The bottom piece milled the same way the top did, leaving out the middle until creating a heavy line midway through the process.


The last piece I milled was the back. I made sure to zero the machine all almost all the way to the left on the X axis. To my dismay, and because of the wood being bent in the middle, the CNC started milling the tab in the middle upper portion of the wood and scraped the middle of it on it’s way over there. I stopped the process and started again, zeroing the Z axis a little higher, but that wasn’t enough either and I ended up with two marks in the middle of my nice piece of wood.


Eventually, I had to bring the Z axis much farther up so the bit could pass the middle bent section without hitting it. That resulted in my entire piece not breaking through to the other side.


I had to do something about the fact that most of my pieces didn’t breakthrough so I grabbed a hand tool to take off the edges of some of my pieces.


That left me with quite a bit of sanding to do. I made sure to not sand down the pockets like I did when I practiced making my joints.


The sanded pieces looked pretty good after a while, aside from the back piece which had the two track marks in it.


Then it was time to glue the pieces together. I started with the top and bottom and glued it to the back with 4 90 degree clamps.


Once I had both sides clamped there wasn’t much more I could do because the CNC was booked until the next day when I had 3 more hours in the evening to finish the shelves and two doors. That was around the time I got a text from NYU saying they would be closed the next day due to a snowstorm. I left the top, bottom, and back pieces for the snowday clamped together for a strong hold.

Time is not on my side, credenza.

Having been sick for a majority of spring break I’ve decided against my original plan to make a credenza because I just won’t have enough time to make it really nice and polished. I also realized that the CNC machine has a bed with a limit of 4 x 4 that would have a long cabinet like I wanted. Working within my new time frame, here are a few ideas:

Entryway cabinet

I like how the wood grain is positioned here. link

Shoe Caddy:

I like the side of this piece at the bottom, and the fact that it has a surface on top which could be useful. link

Putting together these two ideas, I could create a storage cabinet for underneath my kitchen counter, which is something I actually need so I may go forth with that idea. Something along the lines of this with doors. link

I’m going to use a single rabbit joint to ensure everything fits properly, and so that I can complicate the design a little bit without worrying misfits. I like the way it looks better than the double rabbit and I think my pieces will be tighter since I’m more confident with this approach.


Final Proposal – Inspiration & Ideas

While thinking about what I want to do for my final I came across this amazing video using video mapping and an amazing dancer.

I’d like to incorporate music — possibly the song “Summertime” by Janis Joplin since it’s been in my head ever since this class started.  In order to include aspects of live music I assume I’ll have to use a MIDI interface of some kind. I found the video below to help me with that kind of set up.

Maybe I could do a live manipulation of that song that visualizations. Otherwise, I think I’ll expand this idea to include a live instrument perhaps. I like the idea of projection mapping and I wonder how I could include that in my performance. It would be interesting to use a person as a blank slate and map on certain images to their body while moving. Or something like this:

On the other hand, I really enjoy some performance art pieces that involve the audience so I may want to incorporate that aspect somehow. One thing I need to know is what my limitations are with Isadora. I want to use this program primarily but I’m not sure what I can and cannot do with it in terms of musical interfaces and projection mapping.



Jointery – 2nd Try

While thinking about what I want to ultimately do for my midterm, I realized that it would be a good idea to try and perfect the joint I’ll be using in order to save time. A double rabbet joint should suffice for the credenza I’ll be adapting from this work plan.

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I ran into a few problems when attempting this type of joint. First, I created two identically measured pieces in Vectorworks and brought it into Mastercam and then to the CNC machine. I laid down the wood only to realize once I had everything set and I was about to press “start” that I had aligned the wood improperly on the bed.

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I needed to set it up so that the blank area of the wood was along the X axis not the Y. So I re-positioned it and then I was all set to go.
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After about 12 minutes here’s what I ended up with:

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Not a great fit, I know, but it allowed me to see where I needed to subtract from each piece.
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I went back to Vectorworks and Mastercam and made my adjustments.
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By the end of that run cycle I ended up with two pieces that fit together almost perfectly!

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When I looked at the two pieces fitting together very closely I realized that in Vectorworks I didn’t round the corners on the inside of the pockets which could be why they weren’t sitting entirely flush.

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Nevertheless, I was very satisfied with the progress I had made and what I learned from taking the time to really get this joint down. I’d like to know how I can figure out the math behind this without having to make two identical parts first.

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Memory and The Narrative Experience

Please play this song while reading:

While reviewing all the museum visits and assignments we had for this class I started thinking about memory and how it relates to narrative experiences. That prompted me to do some research about written history. Which then led me to remember Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” from 1931. Created during a time when he was practicing a sort of subconscious, dream inspired form of painting, this work of art manages to capture the sense of loss ingrained in timelessness. It makes for an interesting philosophical conversation about the meaning of recognized physical time like what you see on a clock, and the sense and feeling of time not existing. So, how does this relate to memory? In some ways we experience the reflection of memories we’ve had in a space in our mind that is without the time and space that was relevant at that time. In other words, when we reflect upon our memories, they exist in a point in time that no longer exists to us, and so it is abstracted from its original place in time. We call it into our conscious and allow our minds to conceptualize how it relates to our current thought process. But to go back to Dali, his painting speaks to the feeling of the passage of time that we experience specifically when we dream. But what does this say about memory? If we go a little further with the title of this painting, it could be about the way we experience memories in time and how we misplace where certain memories happened and how we hold on to certain memories over others and then formulate a history for ourselves based upon our self-constructed view of our past. Our whole identities are, in some way, created by the way we string our life events and our memories of them, together, in an order.

With all of that in mind, there’s something very interesting happening with the way we store our memories outside of ourselves today. A narrative experience or history used to be passed down by family members or close friends. Storytelling was a sort of “telephone game” where stories would get passed down from generation to generation and each time it would adjust a little depending on who was telling the story. These days, with the advent of social media and telecommunications, storytelling and the narrative that is formed out of it is vastly different than it was before electronic communication existed. The way we rely on our histories differs now because we can go back and look at a picture of something we remember or search google for facts (which may not be the correct term to use in this day and age) or so called factual information for confirmation of our memories. But this may alter how we view our own memory of something. Technology has, in a sense, altered our collective consciousness.

Today, it’s kind of rare to see anyone journal their lives in the ways people did before computers existed. We have so many other ways of communicating what our lives are like for others to view. Which is not to say that keeping a journal was necessarily produced for the public eye in the way that Facebook and Instagram are today. Rather, keeping a diary of your daily life is meant to remember the memories you’ve had. It’s meant to track life the way it happened, personally. Today our diaries are all published to the public, and we portray views of ourselves that we wish other people have of us, rather than a documentation of our memories of the day. Memories, as a result, may have shifted greatly due to these exaggerations of our daily lives on social media.

With that in mind, Dali in 1954, in response to the aforementioned painting, created “The Disintegration Of The Persistence of Memory.” It demonstrates the difference in the way time and memory was thought about in the 1950’s when nuclear physics was becoming a dangerous reality and the thought that human destruction could happen at the fault of humanity rather than cosmic fate. I believe this painting has significance today because of the way we store our memories on our computers whether it’s pictures on Dropbox or Facebook messages to someone who is deceased or what we post to show what we want to project our lives as being to our social media network, these methods of keeping and telling a narrative story about ourselves are vastly different than they were in a pre-internet, pre-telecommunicative world possibly because of how prevalent it is.

On that note, to make things a little lighter, let’s go back to the idea of keeping a journal or diary today. What keeps a written history for us these days more than our google search results? It is directly related to the way we think about and perceive ourselves and others. It provides insight to what I was thinking at a specific point in time and is registered. When my last living grandparent died in 2001, I remember going through her physical memories, looking at her St. Jude statue that she buried little prayers about her children and grandchildren inside the nook it’s sleeves. I recall going through photo albums of her memories some of which I was a part of. But my children will probably go through digital memories. They’ll look online through archives of photos on DropBox, through my neglected Facebook page and my decaying hard drives full of content.

This begs the question: what are we without our memories? If all of these physical and digital remembrances get deleted or lost, we have to rely on what we solely remember them as in our memory.  We depend on technology so much these days to keep track of what happened to us and when, but I think in a lot of ways we forget who we really are because of the arena we portray ourselves in and the way people are allowed to demonstrate the way they want to be rather than the way they actually are through social media today.

The 5 years I spent as a computer technician gave me a lot of insight into how people relate to their stored identities. Customers would come in and start crying that they their computer won’t turn on and they’re worried that they just lost all the photos of their new baby. Well, if you didn’t have these backed up and data recovery was too expensive or just didn’t work, then yes, you would no longer have these photos. But you would have the remaining memories of these pictures, and with time, perhaps they would become distorted like the imagery of the Dali paintings are. Seeing just how upset it would make people to lose the digital versions of themselves made it all the more clear that our digital selves are indeed a major part of our narrative, and it serves as proof of our memories. Without that we are left feeling a bit devoid of our history and lacking in a general collective narrative experience that exists in a very strong apparatus today.


Some questions that arose from this assignment:

How do we create a collective narrative around memories when our individual consciousness differs so greatly?

What kind of grasp do you have on life if you’re without your memories? Who are you without your memories?

Who are we if we’re only given an opportunity to show ourselves through what we remember about our pasts?



Final Project Ideas

As the last assignment for this class I was thinking of either adding to the New York assignment or creating a narrative experience of some kind (maybe through video) using something I’ve done since 2011. Each month I pick a song of the month which is determined by how often it was stuck in my head or sang out loud and I write it down. Looking back each month of each year, I’m able to remember what was going on at that time.