Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Past Future of the Arts

by Drew Martin

I once wrote a paper about extraterrestrial communication and structural Marxism, which questioned why some people want to communicate with (potential) aliens and why they would expect aliens to want to communicate with them.

Thinking about this paper recently, I recalled two books that have interesting comments on the arts, media and outerspace; 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Arthur C. Clarke and The Martian Chronicles (1946) by Ray Bradbury.

In 2001, astronaut David Bowman passes time in a manner that is the equivalent of surfing the Internet:

He would have six off-duty hours, to use as he pleased. Sometimes he would continue his studies, or listen to music, or look at movies. Much of the time he would wander at will through the ship's inexhaustible electronic library. He became fascinated by the great exploration of the past...

The reference to "Odyssey" appears in the continuation of that passage:

... and he began to read the "The Odyssey," which of all books spoke to him most vividly across the gulfs of time.

What prompted me to return to 2001 was remberance of this passage:

During the last three months, David Bowman had adapted himself so completely to his solitary way of life that he found it hard to remember any other existense...

At first, needing the companionship of the human voice, he had listened to classical plays - especially the works of Shaw, Ibsen, and Shakespeare - or poetry readings from Discovery's enormous library of recorded sounds. The problems they dealt with, however, seemed so remote, or so easily resolved with little common sense, that after a while he lost patience with them. So he switched to opera - usually in Italian or German, so that he was not distracted even by the minimal intellectual content that most operas contained. This phase lasted for two weeks before he realized that the sound of all these superbly trained voices was only exacerbating his loneliness. But what finally ended this cycle was Verdi's "Requiem Mass," which he had never heard performed on Earth.

The "Dies Irae," roaring with ominous appropriateness through the empty ship, left him completely shattered; and when the trumpets of Doomsday echoed from the heavens, he could endure no more. Thereafter, he played only instrumental music. He started with the romantic composers, but shed them one by one as their emotional outpourings became too oppressive. Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, lasted a few weeks, Beethoven rather longer. He finally found peace, as so many others had done, in the abstract architecture of Bach, occasionally with Mozart. And so Discovery drove on toward Saturn, as often as not pulsating with the cool music of the harpsichord, the frozen thoughts of a brain that had been dust for twice a hundred years.

Coincidentally, the section of The Martian Chronicles that I have also thought about is titled: June 2001: - And the Moon be Still as Bright.

An American crew has landed on Mars only to find a great civilization recently wiped out by chicken pox.

A member of the crew, Spender, is horrified by how his fellow astronauts are behaving so he leaves them to find out what great culture they had missed.

Spender says to his captain:

We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things. The only reason we didn't set up hot-dog stands in the midst of the Egyptian temple of Karnak is because it is out of the way and served no large commercial purpoae. And Egpyt is a small part of Earth. But here, this whole thing is ancient and different, and we have to set down somewhere and start fouling it up. We'll call the canal the Rockefeller Canal and the mountain King George Mountain and the sea the Dupont sea, and there'll be Roosevelt and Lincoln and Coolidge cities and it won't ever be right, when there are the 'proper' names for these places."

The captain responds:

"That'll be your job, as archaeologists, to find out the old names, and we'll use them."

Spender also offers:

They (Martians) knew how to blend art into their living. It's always been a thing apart for Americans. Art was something you kept in the crazy son's room upstairs. Art was something you took in Sunday doses, mixed with religion perhaps.

They blended religion and art and science because, at base, science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle. They never let science crush the aesthetic and beautiful. It's all simply a matter of degree. An Earth Man thinks: 'In that picture, color does not exist, really. A scientist can prove that color is only the way the cells are placed in a certain material to reflect light. Therefore, color is not really an actual part of things I happen to see.' A Martian, far cleverer, would say: 'This is a fine picture. It came from the hand and the mind of a man inspired. Its idea and its color are from life. This thing is good.'

In another passage:

He (Spender) put down the thin silver book that he had been reading as he sat easily on a flat boulder. The book's pages were tissue-thin, pure silver, hand-painted in black and gold. It was a book of philosophy at least ten thousand years old he had found in one of the villas of a Martian valley town.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


by Drew Martin

Hogancamp's "The Ruined Stocking" is a bar in Marwencol, Belgium where everyone gets along because the men who frequent it are satiated by flowing booze and beautiful women. The bar is named after the owner, Mark Hogancamp (center at the bar), a recovering alcoholic who downs cups of coffee instead of shots.

"The Ruined Stocking" refers to the many staged cat fights that take place there; gorgeous women wrestle each other for the patrons, who are mainly British, American and German soldiers.

Hogancamp is married to a woman named Anna, but Dejah Thoris, the Belgium witch of Marwencol, competes for his love. She even took him back in time (in her time machine) before he met his wife, but his love for Anna prevailed. Hogacamp is well liked in his bar and around Marwencol but every so often the SS storm through the town and kill or torture people. Even Hogancamp was taken captive and beaten in the town church but was saved by pistol waving babes who shot all the SS except for the division leader who was dragged through the streets of Marwencol and kicked by the townspeople before being shot. The law of the land is that everyone gets along. If it is breached, it is eye-for-an-eye Hammurabi's code.

Mark Hogancamp is a real guy but he was never pummeled by the SS. The fact is, he had the shit kicked out of him by five guys outside a bar. He was beaten so badly that he went into a coma and his face required reconstructive surgery. When he came to, he had to relearn how to do everything; eat, walk, talk...His brain damage was so severe that he lost every single memory prior to the attack.

The Marwencol, Belgium that Hogancamp knows is actually in his yard in Kingston, New York. The buildings and the people (dolls) are 1/6 scale. Dejah Thoris' time machine?...Hogancamp made it from a junk cell phone, an mp3 player stand and a VCR that ate one of his best porn tapes. As Hogancamp explains, he had no other choice but to sacrifice the machine to save the film.

Marwencol is a documentary by Jeff Malmberg about Hogancamp and the pretend world that he maintains as his mental therapy for dealing with what happened to him and his physical therapy for restoring his fine motor skills.

What makes Hogancamp's situation remarkable and takes it beyond being a tragic victim to the realm of artistry is that he photographs every detail of his played out imagination.

The looping adventures in Marwencol create an endless narrative, which Hogancamp records in countless photographs. The images masterly display Hogancamp's intense involvement and belief in his imagination. It is as if he works less as a man with a camera telling a story and more like an embedded photographer recording everything he sees.

The magic happens in the photographs. They act as a kind of proof that this world exists beyond his mind. This is an interesting concept because the pictures Hogancamp drew prior to the attack were used in court as evidence to show the affect of the beating. So while his life and consuming pastime seem delusional, his visual narrative is so strong that it pulls the viewer into his world as only the best directors, artists, writers and musicians can successfully do.

Hogancamp's 1/6 scale reality is not a schizophrenic trap. It is a social blueprint for a fuller life. His unhealthy obsession is actually an incredibly sane desire, to be liked and have purpose. His doll interacts with dolls that have been made to resemble the people in his life but in Marwencol, Hogancamp is much more engaging.

For this reason, the details of his world are made as realistic as possible. The tiny guns have functioning triggers and clips. The soldiers bags are not simply stuffed with cotton, but carry small grenades and military caboodle. When four characters jump in a Jeep for a ride, he makes sure they are carrying enough fire power to come out of an ambush in one piece.

One of the reasons why Hogancamp has Jeep rides is because the model vehicles he gets from a hobby shop or in the mail have new tires. He complains about their newness so instead of distressing them with sandpaper and dirt, he put hundreds of miles on them, which he calculates as thousands of miles at the smaller scale.

This patient documentary is a work of art. It is brilliantly crafted to take the viewer into Hogancamp's world. While Hogancamp is dressed in normal attire for most of the film, we learn that he also occasionally dresses in WWII outfits. That is not too hard to imagine.

A scene of him sunbathing ends with a closeup on his left foot; his toenails are painted and he wears a toe ring. This segues to a scene of him opening up a closet with 218 pairs of "women's essence," high heels. The shoes were all given to him by women but more than having a shoe fetish, Hogancamp is also a cross dresser. He was before the attack. In fact, the beating happened because he told some guys at the bar that he was a cross dresser, which they took as cue to bring him outside to "teach him a lesson."

Hogancamp's private world is actually quite public. He frequents a local hobby shop, talks to neighbors and has a job a few days a week at a local restaurant. The people in his life know they are characters in his fictional life too. A photographer named
David Naugle eventually saw him pulling his Jeep along the road. It sparked an artworld fascination with Marwencol. With the help of Tod Lippy, editor of Esopus, Hogancamp had a show at White Columns in New York in 2006. It was a big decision for Hogancamp. The documentary shows him thinking it over while making meatballs and looking at three of the dolls he has on a small bench beside him: Anna, one of himself and Dejah Thoris. Despite their presence, it is a very lucid scene. He speaks aloud and talks about how it is something that will take courage:

"Women want to meet the artist. They don't want to hear that the artist couldn't make it...I am still afraid to go to the city but that's were courage comes in. Courage, I was taught, that courage is to face the thing to do the thing...even though I have such great fear of doing it."

Hogancamp deliberates what he should wear for the show. Perhaps a suit, though he would rather wear a dress. He settles for men's casual and asks the film crew on the day of the show "Do I look like a beatnik artist?" Fidgeting, he complains "fuck'n man's shoes." As the opening of the show winds down, Hogancamp laments to a woman at the show that he would rather have worn a pair of stilettos and she responds that it is not too late. With almost everyone gone and the gallery floors being mopped, he changes into them and walks out of the gallery.

Hogancamp's success in the artworld is reassuring but at the same time that acceptance falls short of real, healthy relationships. What one would hope to be a reconnection with a former life actually seems to spiral away from that. His conversations at his opening about putting on high heels and being married to a doll do not go over well, and the documentary ends with Hogancamp's doll needing to create a miniature reality in order to deal with his SS beatings. As Hogancamp remarks before revealing his women's shoe collection, "It gets stranger by the moment, doesn't it?"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Indian Giving

by Drew Martin, with Michael Barson

Typically an interview is conducted in order to learn more about a person and for insight on a particular topic but this interview was originally designed to help decide what to do with a unique collection of advertising artwork.

Michael Barson is the Senior Executive for Publicity at G. P. Putnam's Sons and author of a number of well-received books on American popular culture, including Red Scared!, True West, Teenage Confidential, The Illustrated Who's Who of Hollywood Directors and Agonizing Love.

We regularly cross paths on the PATH, the subway system between New Jersey and New York, and we work in the same building in SoHo. A typical PATH train encounter has Michael pretending to trip over me, or nonchalantly dropping his satchel on my lap while demanding I give up my seat for him. The passengers are shocked and appalled at his rude behavior, which pleases Michael to no end. (He is very easy to please.) I turn red, squirm and try to diffuse the situation by making it known that I am familiar with these juvenile antics before he is escorted off the train by security. But Michael maintains this is high-level meta-comedy.

When he dropped his satchel on my lap the other day, I reached in and pulled out a portfolio filled with product labels and movie placards from the early 1900s to mid-century. The common theme of each piece is the Native American, more specifically - stereotypes of Indians. They are fascinating from every angle. The artwork includes commercial illustrations, hand-tinted photographs, movie posters and fruit-crate labels. Aside from a few black and white pieces, everything else is from a four-color press and the artwork has a lot of vivid fields of color along with painterly people and objects.

One of the most bizarre examples is an advertisement for a rubber heel company. It is DaDa and Surreal. In the black and white illustration a huge rubber heel hangs in the sky above a river. In the foreground, an august caucasian man steps forward in a fine pair of shoes and an all but naked Indian kneels before him, clearly demonstrating his awe at the man's wondrous shoes. Or rather, the wondrous heels on his shoes. Michael would define this as a high-level form of meta-comedy as well.

I know you collect red scare posters, love comics and Spaghetti Western media but these "Indian" works are quite different, more indigenous. Is it an extension to the Westerns or are they simply another piece of your childhood?

My fascination with the differing ways the American Indian has been portrayed in popular culture is probably an offshoot of my interest in the larger area of the Western, but I would say it is also the most intriguing part. And that is because of the ways our viewpoint regarding Indian cultures (and there were many distinct ones) has ebbed and flowed over the past 150 years.

These items of advertising art that you confiscated from me are in the mode of the Noble Savage - their iconography is essentially our white world worshipping the attributes of the unspoiled Redman. Or he would have been unspoiled if we hadn't already eradicated him, or at least much of his original world.

Speaking of your childhood. Has it ended? I mean...are your interests in these topics a matter of nostalgia or is it simply a childhood continuum?

I can honestly say it isn't due to nostalgia alone, since 80% of the materials I work with in my books and other projects are things I never saw as a child growing up in the Fifties. But yes, I do try to mine my memories of the culture in which I was immersed as a kid in order to include those first-hand examples in my writing. I like being able to say from my own experience that I liked Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates on the show Wagon Train more than I liked James Arness as Marshal Dillon on Gunsmoke, and why. But you can't experience everything first-hand, so I also continue to learn about the rest of the pop culture of the day in the course of my research. Which will probably continue until the day I die.

All of these images are, or at least the use of them is, politically incorrect on so many levels I would not know where to begin. I believe your interest in them is more a matter of campy cultural eras but do you also look them more critically and academically?

I disagree with that assessment, at least in terms of this advertising art. There is nothing politically incorrect about having a portrait of the nobel Red Cloud on a cigar box label... It may be ridiculous to link the properties of a five-cent cigar with one of the greatest Indian leaders who ever lived, but it is not showing disrespect to the memory of Red Cloud. Rather, it is trying to add class to the product by dint of Red Cloud's legendary reputation for nobility and leadership. To me, that does not really qualify as "camp."

Of course, in other kinds of pop media - movies, comic books, paperback novels - there was plenty of disrespect going on at the same time. That is part of the schizophrenic attitude we have always shown toward the American Indian, which is why the topic continues to fascinate me.

Is the "Indian" vanishing from magazine pages and movies because of political correctness or is there simply a drop in relevancy and romanticism?

The recent success of the science fiction movie Avatar demonstrated that our fascination with the mythology and iconography of the Indian is still hard-wired into our cultural consciousness, even if James Cameron's story had to be tweaked and re-packaged into a somewhat different form. Although the eight-foot-tall blue-skinned native people in Avatar were technically aliens, beneath the surface they functioned exactly as the Indian cultures did in such other hit films as Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves (which won six major Oscars back in 1990) and the Disney version of Pocahontas, all of which "donated" major plot elements and characters to Avatar (as many critics pointed out at the time of its release). And most important of all was that the story in Avatar allowed a new generation of moviegoers to see a revamped, re-imagined dramatization of what the United States military (and by extension, our government) wrought upon the original Indian nations during the 19th Century.

The attacks by the heavily armed forces of the pitiless soldiers in Avatar were horrifying to witness, just as their ultimate defeat by the combined forces of the native tribes and Mother Nature was totally exhilarating. By that point, the audience fully identified with the "aliens," rejecting the brutish instincts and violent natures of the white military forces. Hence, the final shot in the movie was one of the most emotionally satisfying I can recall. That said, we aren't likely to see the Western return to its former prominence in pop culture again, in my opinion. But every now and then it can still make its presence felt, thank goodness. Those lessons are ones we should not forget.

You mentioned pitching them for a book idea or at least an article but what is your true ambition for them?

Sharing them as widely as possible with others who might be interested is my main ambition, I suppose. And you could say that about all of my books about different aspects of American popular culture. They all contain lessons to be learned about our past, using materials that conventional histories largely bypass.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paradise Punk: An Interview with Meilani Marie Wenska

by Drew Martin, with Meilani Marie Wenska

Meilani Marie Wenska is a Los Angeles based singer/musician, actor, writer and artist, who is originally from Kaneohe, Hawaii. We met in the late 1980s and became friends in college as we were in the art program together.

It has been more than a year since I saw you in Los Angeles. Thanks for coming to my show. It was great to see you there. You still look young, healthy and happy. You mentioned a web series video project you have been working on. What is that about?

In April of 2010, I wrote a screenplay based on my experiences with my family when my grandmother died. I decided to promote the screenplay by turning the first part of it into a web series. So I adjusted the script, roped in some friends to help, hired a crew, and did a casting. Shot it in three days this past April.

Looking at the footage, I am so impressed with the talent of everyone involved. Editing has been a lot more work than I ever imagined, but I’m done with the rough cut and in the middle of color correcting at the moment. Basically I’m teaching myself how to do all of the post production as I go along, using Youtube tutorial videos and a book on Final Cut Pro.

I know you have been playing/singing, acting and writing you still paint?

The last few years I’ve mostly done paintings and drawings as gifts. Ironically, I’m living with a painter/photographer, and really should get back into it. I love the oozey texture of paint and playing with color. Soon enough…I’m content artistically now with editing, playing jazz and acting.

One thing I remember about you from college was that you went to work at a gardening center and were making concrete garden statues. I find that kind of intriguing. Was that like an ongoing sculpture project, which required skill or was it more of a mindless, rough job? What did you learn from it?

Wow, I haven’t thought about that job in years! It was a business with a loyal following, pumping out these little concrete statues every day. I’d come home covered in cement dust and mud, and it was mostly hard labor. But there was a finesse to it, little details that if you got wrong, perhaps a gnome wouldn’t have a nose. I knew after that job that sculpting was definitely not my thing, but that with business acumen, you can make a good living through selling art.

You seem to immerse yourself in beauty, with your boat and trips to various paradises. Well, it is more than just seem to have a beautiful life on many levels. I guess what I want to know is if this is a philosophical decision and everything simply falls into place, or is it something rooted in your past that is just second nature or is it something more directed...a kind of general aesthetics you pursue and make happen?

Well, I’ve been really fortunate in the last two years, with buying the boat and being able to travel around. California has a ton of amazing natural wonders--you don’t have to drive for more than a few hours. I’ve found that being in nature confronts you with the incredible world we inhabit, and effortlessly lifts your spirit.

And spending time on the boat is fantastic. The quality of light on the water and the surrounding boats is gorgeous, and the marina is shockingly full of wildlife. I’ve seen a sea eagle, sting rays, sea lions, jellyfish, and the most enormous schools of fish, just sitting on my boat while docked a mile back from the open ocean. Love it.

As far as philosophy goes, I do believe that a person is creating their own life at every minute, through thoughts, beliefs, and actions. You make little decisions all the time which have impact, and your general vibe can attract luck or misfortune. You really have to choose what side of your personality that you’re going to feed, and things can fall into place if you go with the flow and allow them to happen.

I can’t say my life’s been a walk in the park; the past year has had many challenges and tribulations for me on both personal and professional levels. But I’ve come through it all, and am just trying to be the best person I can be.

You were in some all-girl punk bands...PMS, if I recall correctly. That was quite hard and aggressive, the opposite about what I was getting at in my previous question. Does that side of you still exist? Do people need that kind of release no matter how pleasant life may be? And, for that matter, is that the key to a better life?

Oh, most definitely, that side is still around! One of my favorite things to do is drive on the curvy part of Sunset Blvd. near UCLA with the sunroof open, blasting loud punk rock, and passing as many cars as I can. I also did boxing and a very aggressive martial art for about 10 years. Life is not perfect, and we all get stressed out. And the release, whether punching and kicking, or rocking out, feels so good.

I thought I did not like Los Angeles, but I really liked it on my last visit. It seems like a really good place to live and have a personalized life. What do you like about LA? What is unique about it?

I love how LA is right on the beach, and the climate beats anything, except Hawaii. People say LA has no character, but there are a number of neighborhoods with flavor—like Echo Park or West LA. Another thing I like is how LA is truly an international melting pot—you can find entire neighborhoods of every ethnicity in the world.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Wrong Idea at the Right Time: An Interview with Bill Wheelock

by Drew Martin, with Bill Wheelock

Bill Wheelock is a Los Angeles based conceptual artist and the author of The Wrong Idea: Maurizio Cattelan in the Economy of Attention. I recently reached out to him to discuss Maurizio Cattelan's media ubiquity.

It seems that everywhere I turn, there is an article about Maurizio Cattelan because of his Guggenheim retrospective. So I thought it would be a good time to finally get around to reading your The Wrong Idea: Maurizio Cattelan in the Economy of Attention. You wrote it in 2005. How has it aged?

I think the concepts are all very much present, only some of the facts have changed. Immediately after finishing the book, The Wrong Gallery moved from the Chelsea NY streets to the Tate Modern, which drastically altered the context. I had written that the Wrong Gallery was one third an object in and of itself; one third a frame for other objects, and one third an institution. The move to the Tate crystallized its state as an object. The pathos seemed to have left it in the revered halls of the Tate. It is harder to suspend one's disbelief with all that validation.

There has never been a place for a commercial gallery actually within a museum, although there have been some recent strange bedfellows (such as Jeffrey Deitch’s position as director of LA MoCA). My book opens with discussion of a recycled Cattelan piece; he claimed to have buried an old sculpture, Kitakyushu, 2000, under the floor at The Whitney Biennial. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, these two iterations of the same piece could hang in his “All” retrospective.

I was not sure how to read your book because I typically fall into the mindset of the writer but here I realized you might want to revise sections so I kept a distance. That being said, I liked it a lot. I started it one evening and finished it the following afternoon. I am a very slow reader but I found it engaging and it seemed very relevant. What prompted you to write it?

It was actually my Master’s thesis rewritten to remove most of the boring academic structure. I am drawn to his defiance, and was myself defiant against my thesis committee, who insisted it was a poor career move to focus on a living artist. I suppose to a monograph author, that may be good advice. The artist could openly object to a critic’s opinion or drastically change course. Cattelan has threatened to quit art all together after his retrospective, so they may have been right. I don't consider my book a monograph. I could have chosen any number of Duchamp’s heirs. Cattelan was the last one I proposed whom my thesis committee were willing to accept, three months before graduation.

From the title, I thought you were going to write a criticism of Cattelan but you have an affection for him, as you do his influencing predecessors; Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, Joseph Bueys, Piero Manzoni and Yves Klein to name a few. What is the draw for you to this kind of artist?

All of the above artists play with more than just craft or concept but also the preconceived notions of what the viewers expect to see in an artwork. Although Zen is a different tradition altogether, there is something of an ego-smashing proposition involved for the viewer of this type of conceptual gamesmanship. The environment has changed from Duchamp, Bueys and Manzoni’s war-influenced Dadaism to a more economic absurdity practiced by the likes of the Madison Avenue artists of the American 80s or the Derilique art from the Un-Monumental 90s. Cattelan’s oeuvre plays a comfortable counterpoint to a post economic meltdown universe (toasted economelt anyone?). The book’s first chapter is in empirical first person because I do feel a physical and emotional reaction to works so in tune and on time, however conceptual their form.

What do you think the cynical prankster really thinks about art deep down inside, beyond the clowning around the art world for which he is paid?

Budweiser’s best ad just reads “Who cares if they’re real.” If they touch you, they are real enough. All glibness aside, most comedians are also depressive and contemplative offstage. I give him the benefit of the doubt.

And how do you think this affects how art is taught to children and is appreciated by people not involved in this game that Duchamp began?

The Duchamp game is an adult game. Some educators think all art should be public for all ages. I admire those who step up to the challenge and attempt to teach this liberally, but generally disagree with it. A child CAN drink a fancy red wine, but to appreciate it one needs to know what you have your hands on. Most children have a naive and limited idea of the economic environment. I can’t tell you what to the prerequisites are to get the most out of a work of meta-art, but I can say it is a critic’s responsibility to contextualize unfamiliar work. Absurdity can be most definitely taught to students of any age, so one could approach Cattelan from that direction. Trouble is when you explain humor, you tend to kill the timing.

What do you think the near future of art has in store? And more importantly, what role do you think art could have in society that is different from the past and today?

Well, we are in an economic depression, which is usually good for creative arts. Highly educated people have a lot of time on their hands, as intellectual employment is tough to find. I expect there will be some resurgence of craft and labor intensive work that has been lacking in the last fifty years or so. What is different is that the work of an artist has become a mainstream lifestyle and not freakishly marginal, so we are unlikely to see too many Elvis-famous heroes emerge, instead collective movements and participatory social commentaries like we are seeing in the Occupy movement are arising. People are mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore, but they don’t seem really sure where exactly to go yet. Leadership seems scarce. My own crystal ball is still busted.

You write about art and you make art. Is there a time and place for each with some kind of loose schedule or is it more of a leap frog in which you exhaust your interests/energy for one before you engage the other?

I tend to follow my enthusiasm from project to project, without too much discipline, but once committed to seeing something through, I’d be lost unless some kind of structure or deadline is imposed. Technology permits both writing and photography to be built on the computer. Working on both feel like the same kind of weaving of patterns into the weft of the web. Blogging has been a tremendous help for me. The tools we have today allow no differentiation between the action of writing, film editing or image production. Plus, space and materials are practically free! I rely on Dropbox, iCloud and the blogosphere to sneak a bit of work in whenever I can get away with it. I edited photos recently while in a doctor’s waiting room, and later that day blogged them in line at the DMV with my phone.

What have you been up to since our last interview? What projects have you been doing?

Along with The Hairy Prone Companion, I have started a blog called HafoSafo identifying local news around my neighborhood. Lately I am engaged in a top secret book project for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that I can’t talk about or I won’t finish (see former comment on structure & discipline...). I am privileged to be working full time digitally photographing The J. Paul Getty Museum’s tremendous collection of over 150,000 - and growing - photographic prints as my day job. I read a lot and try to brag about it on Goodreads and am also hopelessly addicted to audio books. I may try to record and upload a free version of Ivan Goncharov's "Oblomov" to When all else fails, I work on motorcycles- which I find tremendously comforting as there is always and only one right way to do everything.

I also interviewed Bill in the summer of 2010: Always Thinking: An Interview with Bill Wheelock.