Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Chambermaiding

So I'm sitting in my filthy bedroom reading Tiger Beatdown's commentary* on the We Are All Chambermaids slogan at the French rallies in support of the woman who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape. Flavia wrote that the slogan isn't real solidarity since it erases the different levels of vulnerability that women experience across the class and power spectrum. And I thought, I would like a maid.

I graduate in two weeks and whenever I am not doing school stuff I am sleeping, and at this point I can't wash my dishes or my housemates will realize I have 30 dishes hoarded in my room. And I needed my bookcases for an installation I'm doing on campus, so I just piled everything in the corner. And I can't take two steps with all of this dumb lighting equipment everywhere. So, I would like to be reciprocal maids with someone. I could clean her place when I am bored and she was busy, and hopefully our finals would be at different times so we could both have a clean room all the time. This won'tt do a thing for women who are maids for a job, but I think it is a good way for me to not clean up after myself without being awful about it.

I have worked as a maid for four months or so at the hostel, and it was okay. It was nice because it isn't rich people who stay there. A lot of the regulars don't have permanent housing so I kind of liked making sure at least the bathroom was dehaired for them. Anyway, now I have to get dressed up Stepford wives style because a friend is coming over to watch me clean.

*here is the link, but on my computer each word is a separate line.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Home Project Metal Fab

Our final project for Metal Fabrication is on the subject of home. I am remaking the metal book (formerly a purchased photo album) of homes of loved ones from my piece last quarter, What I Would Save In a Fire.
This is my house where I live now- ground down plasma cut sheet metal
I couldn't buy embroidery floss today because I forgot where the sewing store is and the art store only had big packs that included a lot of colors I don't need, so I used paint to plan out where I can anchor the colors.
This is my whole little book before I sanded it- the discoloration is from heat from the plasma cutter.
Here it is sanded, cleaned with denatured alcohol, and coated with clear spraypaint.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Metal Fab: Metal Notebook

This notebook is a birthday present for my little brother. It's made from 18 gauge mild steel. 
 The inside is filled with fancy graph papers (hex, polar, crosses, one point perspective) I printed off I cold bent the hinge with a hammer and pliers. The hinge pin is a piece of rod that I built up on the ends with weld. The N is written in weld and then ground flat, and I also ground off the sharp edges all around. The graph paper part took a bit more than an hour and the metal part took two and a half hours.

Why Reagonomics and Keynesian Economics Failed

HC 106.8 S28 1987
It is because people hoard surpluses instead of reinvesting them. Okay, this book showed me what happens when tables are translated directly into paragraphs. It is boring and harder (for me) to follow. So I guess I should be glad that most books use tables.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Video Skills!

Fall quarter, I wrote
I am having an extremely hard time thinking like a filmmaker. My professor told us to think of it as sculpting in light and time. My strong inclination is to point the camera at something I like and not move it except to replace the dv tape every hour. I am comfortable with the camera as a tool for recording but not as a tool for point of view or explanation or composition.
But today that switch was flipped and I can do it now, I can make videos. I'd been trying all week to hit my vimeo upload limit of 500mb, which is 20 of my videos. I didn't reach my target, but I did force myself to think in terms of videos all week, and tonight I made this:

Then I made a video diary about how much i liked it but it turned out bad so I made a second one and then I watched them both at once and they synced up in content, sentence by sentence, but not in phrasing, so I recorded them (that is called 2-channel video) and then I spliced together:
1. webcam video diary #1
2. webcam video diary #2
3. laptop display of video diaries, captured with camcorder
4. camcorder video I recorded during video diary #2

I'm excited not because either of these are good but because my brain works in a new way all of a sudden after months of trying.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Math Feelings!

In April my housemate had to add some numbers so I showed her how I can do it in my head --I had been doing drills for a week or so-- and she said that was stupid and could I find my calculator. So I started crying. Not crying like something bad happened right then, but crying like something was painfully, permanently wrong. That showed me that I need to make it a priority to work out my math issues, so I am.

I'm considering buying a simple K-12 set of workbooks and working on it every day- preferably in public like in a cafe, the library, or at the bus stop. While researching these, I found out that some systems are meant to be long spiraled, and I got chills. They did that on purpose? I thought I had to learn absolute value, variables, and so on over the course of 8 years because the standards were sloppily implemented across grades. By the way, the thing about chills wasn't hyperbole- I am still trembling and my hands are white.

That project is a big commitment of time and money, so I decided to start smaller and work my way through a couple of books that I have on hand, Stats and Algebra I and II.

This whole math aptitude and feelings thing has been in the works for rather a while, as evidenced by this video I made last year:
In fact there is a seven minute version of this that is much better, but it is trapped on my external hard drive that is configured for macs.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Voltaire was quite right that eating is a hassle when you don't like it. I have been eating intermittently for a few days (I suppose I am ill) and I am pretty hungry. I had lunch yesterday but I am ready for some more food. But I haven't felt like shopping and I don't keep much around usually so I've just got grains and condiments. Maybe a can of fish. I tried to make a list of foods I like, but it looked like what toddlers eat and also, none of it sounded good.

I have things to do today, and I sort of feel like I will need a nap if I don't have some lunch, so I looked on, which admittedly was a long shot.

I should probably just make some rice, but it would be hot, and wet. Well, being a little hungry for a few days isn't anything to worry about.

An Annotated Course List

Power and Representation: Where we were supposed to learn about privilege while we learned to write properly. Our theme was The Personal Is Political. I took our syllabus very seriously and when I had missed three classes, which was past the maximum for passing, I went to my professor in tears and she was like, "What?"
Intro to Linguistics: Studying X-rays of the mouth, learning a new truly phonetic alphabet- I had fun, but studying for this class had a lot of memorization.
Intro to Acting: I loved this. We would all just exercise our limbs, faces, and voices for like half an hour and then watch stuff. Our professor was too much, our TA was awesome, and my classmates were mostly theater students, too young to hide how impressed they were by themselves. And everyone was so pretty.

Space Age Solar System: My professor was an Australian man who would find a new stick every class to use as a pointer. He was beyond excited about German, Russian, and American engineering, and I got my Qualitative requirement met with this class that had one equation. Instead of a book we had online resources, which I printed out at 5x4 and made into a tiny book.
Intro to Microeconomics: Giant auditorium up a steep hill. My professor was engaging but the material wasn't. I think I didn't buy the book, or something.
Sovereignty and Intervention: My only Political Science class. Everyone in this class was super aware of, like, everything that happened internationally, and the things that led up to everything that happened internationally, and most people seemed to know who the heads of all the countries were and what kind of government they had and I could not catch up in two months.

2D Foundation: Our TA hated her job because it wasn't grad school in Pasadena, and I made pretty good works but I don't have a 2D background. Still, I was only outclassed by a few students.
The Stars: My professor was a nice British lady who would tell us neat stories about life as an astronomer. I learned kind of a lot about physics but it was so improbable that I forgot it.
Contemporary Architecture: This class taught me how to write and talk about art for the first time. My professor would never complete a sentence or a thought so there was no way to organize my notes as I went except to really listen for the terms that resonated for me and try and get them written next to the correct architect, artist, or (usually) critic.

Statistics: We ate a lot of cookies in this class. My book never arrived from Amazon so I bought one full price 2/3 of the way into the term and I got a calculator at the end of the term. Surprisingly, I did indeed learn statistics.
Intro Visual Arts: I think this was my only big lecture class in Art. It was art of the twentieth century, and just touched on the biggest names of the American movements. Still, the book from this class is one of my favorites, great photographs and blurbs that I actually know the story around.
Intro Macroeconomics: iclickers. Couldn't understand my TA. My favorite part by far was applying our simple charts to things happening in the news, a skill I have unfortunately lost.

3D Foundation: Everyone in this class was so cool. The first legit piece of art I made in school was a briefcase that imitated Duchamp's ready mades.
Economic Justice (W): I don't even know what I was supposed to do in this class. It was like upper division primary school. In retrospect, I was confused by the writing expectations. In art history you write as though your reader has heard of what you are writing about. In Economic Justice you write as though there isn't anything at all, like intro to philosophy probably is.
Art of Africa/ Oceania/Americas: This was the most satisfying incarnation of the What Is Art theme that we have to address endlessly. To us, calling a painting or a sculpture Not Art is rude, because art is elevated, but to "elevate," as art, works that people from other cultures produce for practical reasons, costuming, or worship is not polite but rather a holdover from our colonial inheritance. I really liked that. We also couldn't pass this class without getting 100% on a world map quiz of the places we were studying. I liked that too.

Intro to Drawing for the Major: I am glad I learned to draw because it is so useful in communicating ideas.
Overview of the Universe: I have taken a few Astro classes for non majors and this one was no fun. There were a few exciting days where we learned about spectra or copernicus, but in between there was notes, notes, notes. And of course, in a non major class that is difficult because the class isn't a prereq; it's not leading up to anything.
Issues and Problems in American Society: This was my one sociology class, which I completely loved and was somehow very bad at. I felt like I had to watch for sloppiness in the info and graphs we were presented with-- since I agreed with the broad points and wanted everything I learned to be usably vetted-- and of course people find what they're looking for. It was a freshman class, and I got a C.

Intro to Electronic Intermedia: This class is the only reason I learned how simple it is to do even quite impressive electronics things if you use tutorials and can spend a while learning about your components from the ground up. But, since we devoted ourselves to getting sensors and leds to work, our actual sculptures were not at all in line with our skills. Something about having to conceal wires in a way that viewers can use them without assistance and without breaking anything, and in a way that is removable when things need fixing, led us to rely heavily on cardboard and gaffer's tape.
Intro to Painting (Acrylic): I was very unambitious in this class.
Intro to Computer Science (NP): My friends in the Computer Science department assured me that this was going to be absurdly easy- it's not Computer Engineering, after all. I didn't believe them, but I was astonished at how out of my depth I was. As in, the first day of class I thought the professor was asking rhetorical questions that we would learn during the course but then people raised their hands and answered correctly. As in, in the computer lab I could not log on, even with a monitor's help, to do the assignments.

Victorian America: Pretty much every day of this class was fascinating. We learned about Victorian American society through the visual art of the period. We learned about the spread of photography and the first moving films, the architecture, politics, and galleries of the World's Columbian Exhibition, conventions of portraiture and the social constraints- racial, gender based, financial, and class based- on painters and sculptors of the time. And on the first day I thought I wouldn't like the professor because he spoke so calmly and repeated a lot of words.
Art of the Contemporary African Diaspora: I don't know how but I was totally outclassed here, which is what I call it when everyone is just producing all of this great stuff with no help. I passed this class because I admitted I needed the professor to hold my hand and I told her my huge vague topic and she teased a thesis out, or maybe she gave it to me. The critics we read were so smart and it was amazing to feel myself developing a vocabulary for understanding totally important artists I'd never heard of.
Independent Study: Sculpting with Light: I loved my professor for this, and I think he graded me a bit leniently. I had forgotten I did this class at the same time as two difficult art history classes, which explains why I didn't produce as much as I would expect in a self directed course. Still, my midterm and final pieces were really solid.

Special Topics- Anything Goes: This is one of the two best classes I ever took. My professor expected so much of us, and yet when we were like, "No. That hurts our feelings." she dialed it back. But, she had revealed what she actually expected which I try to use as a benchmark even now. Basically, working as though each piece has to be gallery ready the day before it is due, and then spending that day making it perfect. I know this was an incredible class because seriously every person produced awesome and interesting work.
Public Art II: I don't know what it was about this class but I had a terrible time with deadlines, cooperating, getting the reading done on time. Partly I was taken aback at the scope and daring of he projects we read about and the works the 2D artists produced, while also feeling let down at the things people produced that my professor loved.
Imagining Utopia: This 3 unit writing class was lovely. It was like I imagine small college to be. We sat outside on the hottest days, we read loads of fiction books, and our professor said we could all have As because he knew we would produce great things in collaboration, and we did. Our final papers were so nakedly true and optimistic. And, this class was like a no minute walk from my apartment.

Digital Video: I worked so hard in this class, and the things I produced were so poor, but now I have a passing familiarity with the techniques, rules, and resources of video work. My stuff was as boring as the early film stuff, where the camera is set up and runs on and on in a single shot, without taking advantage of the medium. But now I can organize and put together a simple video to document my sculptures and performance pieces. I love this because it's
Metal Sculpture: I made good art and I found out metal is wonderfully intuitive but physically unpleasant- the smells, sounds, and temperature of the metal shop take a lot out of me.
History of Clothing and Costuming: This class was pretty fun and easy.
Intermediate Oil Painting (NP): I got better at painting, and learned to paint in oils.
Special Topics- Intimate Body/Public Body: I loved my classmates and prof. Usually I do fiber art and textile work at home because I don't need studio space for it, but it was great to bring that part of my work to class because it meant I got feedback and had to push pieces to the point that they were ready for critique and showing.
Art and Power in Participatory Culture: My teacher for this was a genius, and very engaged in the subject. By the end of the term I could sit down and turn out a good essay in a few hours since I had the hang of it. However, there was no chance I was going to finish all the reading- I am a good reader but this was the kind of thing I had to read with a dictionary at hand, and there was so much of it. I figured that it would be as cheap to buy a kindle for the pdfs as it would be to print them, but instead I just printed the ones we talked about a lot in class.

Metal Fabrication: I've made my first ambitious metal piece, with everything measured and jigged and clamped- my brick barbell. I've also made two pieces that just came together for me with hammering and welding- the chastity belt and necklace.
Senior Studio- Intermedia: Intermedia is the best discipline. Everyone has different backgrounds (printmaking, metal, community studies, woodworking, design, painting) and we are all making whatever we want. And we're seniors and it shows. It is awesome to have a class where the assignments are to make progress on your project and write about it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Brick Barbell for Metal Fab

Our assignment was to create a tool for the new revolution- an object in direct response to an object in our daily lives, that recontextualizes it.
The model that my family provided is that ladies are very, very strong, and men are strong also but they defer to ladies for heavy things, and children are strong but the world is not built to their scale. I internalized the lesson that someday, if I ate my dinners, I too would be Big and Strong. But the broader world was not in line with this model and as I became a full grown lady many people carried on expecting me to have the strength that I ascribe to kids.

I made this brick barbell to carry around places. . This way if anyone has anything to carry or push that is comparable in weight to twelve bricks (I haven't weighed it properly but I think it weighs half as much as I do), they will know straight away that I can help. And if I am carrying groceries or laundry plus twelve bricks,
1. obviously I really like carrying things that are heavy to me
2. if they insist on helping me I will still have my brick barbell to carry.

I wrote up several little examples from my life of times I did not successfully project competence (most aren't about physical strength) and wrapped them around other bricks, which I will display with the barbell.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

I think a nice thing to do when you are an out of town guest of someone you love, is to leave little love notes all over.

My mom was a very good finder though, and found two of them while I was still there. The first one she found was in the mailbox, and I really don't understand why she would look in the mailbox on Sunday. I was very discreet, except when she saw me looking at the cards in my hand, impressed with my own drawings, and I said, "Look over there.* Don't look. Did you look? It's nothing. It's not for you." Yeah, I didn't have to get away with anything when I lived at home, because I didn't do anything.

*people do better with something you ask them to do than something you ask them to not do.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Eating Contest

I haven't been up to Oakland in months, and I am so glad I made the time to go up for Mother's Day. Honestly I have to cram 3 days worth of work into tomorrow evening to get ready for crits, but I can deal with that.

I went to my dad's gratitude party, picked up my car registration from my old house, took Mom to SF (where she took me to lunch), and had a unilaterally cathartic visit with my ex bf. The only major thing I didn't manage was quality time with my brother. We went on a gas can adventure, he told me about his video game, I teased him a medium amount about computer stuff*, but we didn't really have as much bonding as I hoped. Although, now that I think about it, we had an eating contest at the buffet Sweet Tomatoes. He challenged me to one, and because he had already eaten rather a lot that day, I accepted. 20/20 hindsight.

But it was fun because I trash talked for about two hours. I am usually not a great trash talker but I was in the zone. I must have said, "This is how a WINNER does it," (for things like selecting a tray and going back to get the fork I forgot) two dozen times. And I ate both my bowls of soup at the same time, which admittedly took kind of a long time. Mom and Nick agreed that I had made a very good effort, but their congratulations were spoiled because after he won he went and got ice cream, while I discreetly tried to invent sitting that didn't hurt my stomach. But when he pestered Mom for the mints in her purse from dinner the night before, like a champion I declared that "I see your purse-mint, and raise you a second purse mint!" but no one was watching so I put mine away.

*His favorite thing ever is computer workings, so since his computer is all messed up and mine is just fine I had a fun time teasing him, ie "Do you think it's the CDD/DVD rom drive? Well, did you check? I heard one time it could be that."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Swedish Horses

I was thinking of doing a series of in oil of Dala Horses. I started one:
And today I spent a bit of time arranging Mom's horses, and taking terrible pictures (I don't really know how to use the school camcorder as a still camera)

I dunno, I'm kind of tired of this project already. The beautiful blanks on wikipedia have my 3d heart itching to try designing them.