What is lifestreaming?

I came across this term the other day when I was contemplating how to aggregate together all of my various online projects. According to the lifestream blog, written by Mark Krynsky, a lifestream is a:

"a chronological aggregated view of your life activities both online and offline. It is only limited by the content and sources that you use to define it."
So far, it seems that Mark's the leading blogger focusing on this emerging trend and he has some great posts and links to get started aggregating your online experiences.

One that I found on his blog, that I considering using is StoryTlr.com. According to the project initiative page, StoryTlr.com is:

"a way to help him build 'the centralized me'. We liked the idea because it sounded like reinventing the good old 'personal page', realizing that a blog can only capture one angle of what we did online. More over, we felt that this page had to be personal, and not yet another profile page locked in a social network, and plastered with company branding. Storytlr brings you just that, a platform to build the centralized you, and it is really about you, not about us.".
Another site I stumbled onto, which presents a completely different perspective to a lifestream is lifeblob.com. Now lifeblob approaches a lifestream as a serious of posts along a timeline. Like other lifestreaming tools, you can pull your content posted on other services to present them along your timeline.

I haven't decided which of the services to use, who knows? Maybe I'll use both. If these tools aggregate my content automatically, then they both may have value. I've long believed that anything that helps create a cloud on the Internet ponting to your content, then it is probably worth the effort. It's something I've been calling "cloud marketing." Essentially, to the best of your abilities and time, I think one way to organically increase your presence on the Internet is to use the search engines ranking formula in your favor. If I have a bunch of "unrelated" sites pointing between all of my content, then merely by those interconnections, my content is more important than other content.

Sure it is a little more work to maintain many different sites, but I like the ability to put my life into little compartments. Somethings are more suited to fit into one compartment than others. Again, that is also what the search engines are looking for. The more specialized and consistent a web site is, than the better it will do in SEO.

I wasn't quite sure whether to put this under "Make my Own Media" publishing content or here in my personal blog. But I decided since it was for personal use more than anything else, I should hang it here. Anyway, it's pretty exciting trying to figure out how to bring everything together to present a much fuller picture of who I am and what I'm doing. Stay tuned to see how this online storm settles into place.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Christolakis

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Deconstructing Cubism

Alright, I must confess, I'm fascinated by cubism. But for the life of me I just can't seem to "get it." But I will. I assure you, I will. I mean I'm not an idiot, I get the whole "little cubes" thing, but what I can't seem to see is the process of deconstructing reality and reassembling it onto a structure of cubes.

I have a book on Picasso I picked up on clearance from Amazon. "A life of Picasso" by John Richardson covers the exact period that Picasso and Braque created cubism, and I should note, also brought collage into the world of of fine art (but collage is a whole other topic that I'll be getting into later). So, I've gone back to study the origins of cubism. Mistakenly, many attribute Picasso for the creation of cubism. A documentary I watched essentially says that they should be co-creators, becuase neither would have been able to create cubism with out the other.

One thing I didn't know about cubism was the motivation for wanting to create cubism in the first place. I was vaguely aware that it was a reaction to the impressionists Renoir and Monet, but it goes a little deeper. Plus it gets a whole lot cooler. Picasso is quoted as saying that he wanted to go as far as possible in the other direction and produce work that would be "bien couillarde." For those of who skipped French in high school, like me, it essentially means "ballsy." Hence creating a common catchphrase for Picasso and Braque, "A painting should have balls." There is just something about that statement that somehow increases my already high image of Picasso.

In a quick search of the web, the Wikipedia article on cubism appears first. The article includes a link to an interesting video "Video decoding a Picasso Cubist still-life." It's real short, so you can watch it here real quick:

While simple, I like the way the video helps to show how bits and pieces of "La Grenade" were constructed. But, in the end, I'd say the video is only slightly helpful. I need a much more in-depth explanation, and it goes with out saying, a lot more drawing and painting until I unlock the secrets to cubism.

Just a thought, which just popped into my head, but I wonder if there is any connection between me never being able to solve the Rubik's cube and unlocking the secrets to cubism? I'm amused at the connection, but I know there's a big difference. I never really committed myself to solving the multi-colored cube. Who knows, if I ever would of grokked the patterns necessary to solve the Rubik's cube, but I know I will solve cubism. I know, it because I've already envisioned new projects that I've already seen complete within my imagination. And I think, if they turn out as I have seen, they just might be "bien couillarde."

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Found meaning + Found Art = Inspiration

It's well known that artists are often gifted with seeing the world in a unique way. Then, if they are lucky, they can find a way to successfully share their unique vision. Others characterize good art by stating that the artist has provided a new way of seeing the world. Perhaps they are both the same and it's just a matter of perspective, one from the artist and the other from the viewer.

Which brings a question to mind, kind of a digression, but what do artists call the people who appreciate their art? And what do they do? With some of the arts, it's easier to classify. You listen to music. You watch a movie. You watch a dance. If it's performance art, then clearly you watch it, you many even interact with it. So you look at art? You can experience them all, so that can't be used "just" for art. So if people look at art, do we call them lookers?

It's said that everything happens for a reason. I stumble over that truism, more often than not. Imagine throwing concepts like destiny, free will, spirits, demons, God's will, the devil, karma, and reincarnation into a pot and stirring them together. It's like when you mix a bunch of different colors together, you end up with a million different shades of brownish-black. In the end, it all becomes clear as mud.

I think it's more likely that some things happen and there is no reason, it just happens. Yet, there are some things that seem to lend themselves to clearer conclusions. I think that part of being an artist is using your environment and experiences to find meaning. Lately I've been collecting a lot of materials that I can immediately see their uniqueness. Projects based on those materials instantly pop into my head, so I pick them up. Recently, I mentioned some hardened polyurethane foam, that I found at a deconstruction site. Wouldn't you know it, yesterday I scored several sheets of ¼ plywood from the same site. The plywood is EXACTLY what I'm going to need to start mounting the foam. So I've been really lucky.

But the other day I really struck gold, when you're into found art, you've almost always got to have an eye out for something interesting. Well as I was picking up the kids from school the other day, when I saw something that looked like some old cabinets in the trash of a church near their school. On the way back home, I stopped to grab the cabinet.

However, what I found was a big surprise. When I bent over to pick it up, it turned out to be an old keyboard. Apparently the church had broken apart an old organ, and they couldn't force themselves to smash the keyboard apart. This keyboard is quite old and is extremely unique. I've been rolling thoughts around my head in how to include it into a piece that honors it's spirituality.

Well, I got my answer last tonight when I attended my nieces 8th grade graduation. She went to a school based in Baptist church formed here in Puerto Rico by some ex-pats back in 1983. It's hard to describe this ceremony, but during many different momemnts, I could have sworn that I had dropped a couple hits of acid. The whole experience was sooooooooooo surreal, that at times I had to contain my laughter or astonishment. I had been enterntaining myself by sketching some ideas on the back of the program when a few feelings and observations crystallized. I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with the keyboard.

So as I've trying to explain, through my unique way of experiencing this event, I found meaning for my keyboard. Now my challenge is combining my interpretations of this evangelical school graduation ceremony and my respect for the soul of my keyboard. There's a deep connection between the history of this keyboard and the rigid ceremony I have just witnessed. Now I've got to study, how to convert ( get it?) my imagination into something which tells the story of this connection.

Ultimately what I discovered is that the history of the Spanish inquisition and the spread of Catholicism during the inquisition and conquering of Puerto Rico were similar to the way the leaders of this church and school perceive the world. The human drive to dominate, convert, and control people through religion linked my experience with the history of this piano, so instead of the graduation merely being an extremely uncomfortable experience, I found out why I found the piano. Either that or it's all just a coincidence. Perhaps only time and inspiration will tell.


Painting Au Natural

Inspired by a recent show I saw at Galería Yemayá, I've been experimenting with natural pigments. As I'm sure you already know, paint as a pigment, was orginally derived from the naturally ocurring colors from nature. Whether from a berry, flower, or leaf, the pigments first used in painting were simply taken from nature and applied to a medium. One of the artists featured in the "Por la Línea" show used wine and coffee stains to setup an image which was then enhanced.

In this image, I used flowers from some trees and shrubs I cut down from my front yard. The tree is called Bottlebrush or "Cepillo de Botellas" and the shrub is called "Cruz de Malta" in this case, the yellow version. I also added some leaves from a small shrub, which I really don't know the name. I also added some last minute touches with a pink rose that my wife received for Mother's Day.

To transfer the pigment I had to smash the flowers, leaves, or petals against the paper. Some transfer was easier than others, and as a brush, left me in little control in terms of the size and the amount of pigment. Whatever the result, I'm glad that regular paint is so easy to acquire and use.


No doubt about it

That's what came to my mind
when I was sitting on the john
trying to figure out
what was going through
my daughter's mind

When did she start thinking
more of herself
than about her family?
Surely this was not
something she got from me!
Surely she's seen me
give, and help,
and sacrifice.

Where did she get off
thinking that her
desires were more
important than
those who love
her most?

Doesn't she see
the sacrifices I make
for our family?
Didn't she know?
That there was
no doubt that
I could make it
as an artist.

Then I stopped
my thoughts from
forming the next sentence
and asked,
do I really believe that?

I searched my thoughts
for dissent,
and even my fear
of success kept silent.
I did mean it.
I do mean it.
No doubt about it.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: ucumari

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Found art = opportunity?

I went by a deconstruction site yesterday and they were tearing down walls and throwing everything out. Normal stuff for deconstruction, but there in that there rubble I found gold.

Ever come across a can of Great Stuff in the hardware store? Ever use any of it around the house? It's pretty amazing stuff. Well imagine having a dump truck full of it and you coat cinder block walls of it 8 inches deep.

So as they are busting down walls, these huge slabs of this polyurethane-based foam are breaking off. Even without painting, they're a trip to look at. They are perfectly flat on one side, many include the imprint of the wood or cement there were squirted on to. On the other they have a dimpled wavy pattern.

I immediately stopped the van and loaded up as many slabs as I could find. I asked the deconstruction guys to save me some more, but when I went back it was all in the dumpster. I was able to salvage a few more big pieces. I think I was pretty lucky. Not only does this stuff look weird, but went it busts apart it almost looks as if was carved. In fact, I bet I could even carve a design into some of the slabs.

My mind is racing trying to figure out what to do with these new supplies. I imagine already using smaller pieces and gluing them onto a gesso covered wood panel and then painting. I'm intrigued by making paintings that escape from the flat space of two dimensions. This stuff is perfect for that. Other pieces could combine the shards with wire and other materials to form assemblage sculptures. Some could just be painted and hung on the wall as is. I know I could put a whole show together based on this stuff.

I'm kind of motivated to get started on them so I can move them out of the yard and the shed. My wife is already starting to complain about the stuff I'm accumulating. I'm going to experiment with a few pieces to see how acrylic and latex paint looks on them and finish a few pieces. Then I'm going to present them to some galleries to see if they would be interested in showing them. I think that it's good to finally be taking this step.

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The pursuit of Artiness

Bruce Lee by Phil HansenSeth Godin is a writer and social commentator that I respect and follow. His writing is crisp, to the point, and his timely observations are usually right on the money. In his own words, he's an agent of change, and I couldn't agree more. He has a special way of saying things that almost always motivates me and spins up my imagination.

In a recent post "Can you change everything?" Seth offers up some options for change if you're feeling in a rut. Near the end of the list he suggests "Buy some art." I was intrigued. Who would Seth consider remarkable enough to suggest?

And the winner is...Phil Hansen from Benton City, Washington. After watching a few videos of Phil's performance art, I had to admit, his art certainly is remarkable. Phil's a very creative artist that offers up some fresh new ways of seeing art, while at the same time expanding the definition of what most people would call art.

Artists Dilemma

After seeing Phils' art, it occurred to me what is the artist's dilemma. It might be called many different things, but the dilemma essentially boils down to offering something "new" to the world. While some may see this search as an exercise in differentiation, a declaration of uniqueness, others might characterize it a seeking out a personal style.

In "Abstract Painting Concepts and Techniques," the author, Vicky Perry, describes this dilemma perfectly. When recounting the period of art following the Renaissance, when the church began to reduce the patronage of artists, she observes,

"Painting developed within the context of ideas about where innovation would take place and thus the search for "newness" became a competitive market motivation for painters."

I think this search for innovation continues on today. As I recognized this search taking place within myself, I asked myself, "Is that it?" Is that "the mystery" about why some artists break out and others don't?

It's difficult at this time to say, but it seems pretty convincing that innovation is a critical ingredient in the success of an artist. But I have a feeling that there is something else. What immediately jumps into my mind is that art has to have a story. Let's use the familiar metaphor, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

At least for me, right now, most of the art I contemplate producing will be visual, paintings, drawings, collage, sculpture, etc. While video has always intrigued me, I don't think I'll experiment with it for a while. I have so many ideas and projects already lined up in the visual arts, I just don't want to lose the momentum I'm building to add video, but who knows, right? Any way, I digress.

If a piece of art (a picture) is worth a thousand words, then, I think it follows, that those thousand words should tell a story. Within the mixture of artist, environment, motivation, materials, and technique, a piece of art should communicate something. Sure there is some art which is just plain fun to look at, but I've got a gut feeling that it must also tell a story.

Coming full circle, Seth suggests in his book "All Marketers are Liars" that there is only one sure path to successful marketing in our ADD overcrowded marketplace. That path involves creating a story for your, products, services, and your company that affirms people's world view. So I wonder if that applies to art? If you create a successful story for a piece of art that makes someone feel "right" about their world, then you should be able to sell it to them. Seems plausible, right? I'd say it is at least worth further consideration.


Half-moon quicksand struggle

Sliding through the night

a half moon ring
mocks me
from outer space

I squint
and can almost see
the mysteries of life
crystallize around me

My future orbits
through my imagination
almost reaching light speed
it streaks away from me

Phantasms of art
I've never completed
flash before my inner eye
like I've already finished them
a thousand years ago

When time was more scarce
I was graced with a focus
that has vanished from
my repertoire of tricks

With more time now
I struggle to find the energy
to pull my self free
from this mental quicksand

And as my thoughts
thrash around
seeking answers or guideposts
I'm only aerating
the viscous snare
that entraps me

As my struggle grows desperate
I only sink
deeper within myself
With no answers
to grab a hold of
I slip out of existence
unable to share
the Renaissance of my creativity
Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons: Rhys Jones Photography