Artful Green Dot

Hay Qua! That’s NEAAT Mini-Fest

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on June 26, 2009

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When interviewing others,  I try to ask people about their backgrounds to get a deeper understanding of the people I’m talking to.  Well, I’ve just been asked to do the same thing for a gathering of Vietnamese Americans in NYC at the Hay Qua! Mini Fest tomorrow.  Come out to the event if you’re free!  Tickets are still available and the list of speakers has also grown.  While I plan to talk about my experiences as a young blogger, others from a range of creative industries will speak about their passions in food, fashion, publishing, film, design, and more.  Also, if you’ve become a fan of banh mi, this mini-fest will be a real treat. Hope to see you there!

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The Tree Project

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on June 25, 2009

Hiroshi Sunairi has been asking dozens of participants from  across the world to plant Hibaku seeds for his latest art piece, titled, Tree Project. Hibaku seeds come from trees that miraculously survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima 60 years ago.  For the artist, this project is about sharing “the pleasure of growing plants,” with those who are interested. To participate, anyone can simply email the artist directly at treeprojects@gmail.com.

The Tree Project blog documents the sprouts’ progress –from Sunairi’s distribution of the seeds, to emerging sprouts in the care of participants. Visit the site to hear beautiful stories revolving around theses seeds and new pictures of the developing trees.  I have also been recruited by Hiroshi for this piece, and last week, my seedling finally made its way out of the soil.

What name should I give it?

What name should I give it?

This specific plant is a from the Persimmon tree and has a unique way of sprouting at the neck for several days.

Sunairi will exhibit documentation of the seeds’ growth along with the young seedlings in a show at the NY Horticultural Society next December.

Alan Sonfist’s Time Landscape

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on June 18, 2009

Alan Sonfist Time Landscape The Time Landscape sits peacefully on the corner of LaGuardia Place and Houston Street, as busy walkers bustle around it everyday.   I’ve overlooked this earthwork for the past four years, perhaps because at first glance, it seems like any other  fenced garden, only a bit overgrown.  It’s also situated right next door to another community garden full of vegetables and neatly tended flowers.  However, Sonfist’s work asks viewers to think of their environment in ways that a normal garden doesn’t.

This fenced plot, installed in ’78, holds a “primeval forest,” made up of Pre-colonial plants that inhabited Manhattan before settlers began transforming it into the concrete landscape we know today. With this in mind, I see Sonfist’s piece as an intervention in daily life, much like a  living timecapsule that holds live objects.   Unlike others in the 1960’s Land Art Movement, Sonfist created an earthwork that exists alongside nature instead of in domination of it.

I took these photos this past weekend.  On image.google  there are a few dozen pictures that capture the landscape as a whole, but  here, I’ve decided to post images that show some of the intimate details of the Time Landscape.  Regardless of what pictures you might see, every New Yorker should visit this piece at least once.

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While taking these pictures, I found myself stooping awkwardley around the fence to get scenes of the landscapes interior, but I realize now that it must have been Sonfist’s intention to view the landscape in conjunction with the world around it.

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BUSHWICK Open Studios

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on June 7, 2009

Here are some green and eco conscious highlights from this year’s Bushwick Open Studios.  I didn’t get to go to all of these, but they sound great.   More information on filmmaker, Josh Fox’s work.  Aurora Robson’s bio/statement. And some notes here on the featured artists at Nurture Art, INC.  See the shows, soon!  

 

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A Case Study with Natalie Angier

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on May 16, 2009

Last month, I got to hear about the nuts and bolts behind “Confessions of a Lonely Atheist,” a story from  Natalie Angier, who has been covering science for 30 years.  Angier has written for Discover Magazine, Savvy, The Atlantic, Parade, Fox Television Network, Reader’s Digest,  and the NY Times.  In 1991, she received a Pulitzer Prize after a year of writing articles about biology for the New York Times.   She has also written four books.  This particular piece was written for The New York Times Magazine in 2001.

Article Summary: Angier uses the language of a confession in the body of her article about atheism. However, unlike other confessions that people make for sins and wrongdoings, Angier’s piece doesn’t feel apologetic. “I was extremely pleased with the article,” said Angier, “because I expressed my feelings about being an atheist and I came up with lots of data to make various points, but I wasn’t trying to attack anything.”

The article also analyzed religious belief in America and the search for any evidence supporting a connection between religiosity and moral behavior.

Conception of the story:

Portrait of Natalie Angier, pen on paper, 4 x 4.5 inches

Portrait of Natalie Angier, pen on paper, 4 x 4.5 inches

In George Bush’s acceptance speech on inauguration day in 2001, he asked Americans to pray for “the leaders of both parties and their families too” as a way to cross partisan lines and unite the country after a fierce campaign year.  For Angier, the President’s “hands had reached out for any hands but [hers].”  She is a atheist.

Angier also found herself angry with Democrats, such as Al Gore.

“He was going so far as to cast doubt on evolution,” Angier said.

Angier used this frustration from Bush’s speech to pitch a story to her editor regarding an analysis of atheism in a country that seemed to continually call itself a religious nation.

The Reporting:

Angier started the piece by looking for every possible study or survey regarding religious views in the country.  She said the files of data and statistics she collected were so fat that “you wouldn’t believe how many polls there are in America. It’s something we’re obsessed with.”  Angier said her information came from research centers like Gallup, Harris Research Group, and Pew Research.

She also included her own poll in the article, which she emailed to her colleagues and acquaintances.  Angier openly admits that this information is very unscientific and biased but also explained that she wanted to get a  “reading of people [she] knew because the people [she] [knows] are in concordance with readers of the New York Times.”

Some of the information pulled from this poll surprised Angier.  “I was a little surprised by how many people I didn’t think believed in God said they do believe in God,” said Angier.  She also discovered that her older brother believes in God, which was a fact she placed in the story.

During Angier’s stages of research, she also contacted between two to three dozen experts on religious belief in the U.S.A.  When asked about how many sources she cited in the article, Angier said about a little more than half the people she talked to were quoted by name. This question also sparked a discussion of over reporting. She keeps this in mind while timing her stages of drafting and reporting and is conscious of falling into the likelihood of interviewing  people whose quotes don’t make it to the article.

“One of the things I do try to do, even if I’m not quoting directly, I try to throw their name in there somewhere, just as a sign of respect,” said Angier.

Angier also tends to start the writing process early just because, for her, good writing takes time. As for the amount of time she spends with each sources, Angier said she’ll keep an interviewee on the phone for 45 to 90 minutes.  For the one in-person interview used in this story, Angier spent several hours over a period of a day and a half talking to her source in Colorado Springs.

Overall, there were no problems with the sociologists consulted for this piece.  In General though, Angier said she has experienced patronizing conversations with scientists.  They sometimes ask for her background so that they “know how to direct the information.”

Drafting: Angier spent the same amount time on different parts of this article as most of her others.  On average, she devotes about 75% of her time writing the lead and nut graph; 15% on her kicker; and 10% on everything else.

“The lead counts a lot and that’s where you have the chance to have the most fun,” said Angier.  In addition, Angier said the nut is one of the hardest areas of a draft because it is like “a mini version of writing your whole story, but once you’ve done that your story does really fall from it, as one of my editors put it, like a weighted shade.”

In this story, Angier originally planned to use a lead different from the one published for her story.  She wanted to use her experience visiting a source in Colorado Springs as the scene for her lead, but instead found that an anecdote retelling George Bush’s speech actually worked better.

Like most articles, the title of her piece was determined by an editor, who might have been a copy editor. These people have the job of conjuring titles that not only are appropriate for the piece, but also fit the “deck” or layout of the magazine feature.  This can be problematic Angier said.

“Sometimes they’re pretty good, and sometimes people get angry at me because they think I wrote it,” she said.

Reader Reactions:

As Angier began describing the enormous response in letters that followed he piece, it seemed as if she was about to discuss how this piece generated tons of hate messages.  However readers, who were fellow atheists, had sent Angier just the opposite.  Nearly every letter inspired by the article started the same way—I’m sure this is the only good letter you’ll receive. Between emails, calls, and written notes, Angier directly received between 200 to 250 responses. The editors of the magazine also received quite a few messages and letters, but Angier doesn’t have those figures.

I realized then that we’re not so lonely after all,” Angier said.

She recalls only less than eight letters that could be considered negative.

Advice to Future Journalists: “The most important thing is that the story you’re reporting has to be the most interesting thing you’ve heard in your life and with that you’ll have a great career. And without it you won’t.”

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More Green Porno Pictures and Blog-Hopping

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on April 15, 2009

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Thanks to Jackie May‘s Minor Matters Blog for this picture.  I like how the pixels from the TV screen are visible.  They add to the feel of Rossellini’s crafted costume and props.  Although the shorts would look beautiful on an HD screen, the aura created by Rossellini’s theme and delivery of the story doesn’t call for anything so advanced.  It’s already visually arresting enough.

Jackie’s blog also had a great quote from the star of the show.  It was something obvious that my last post on the porno failed to point out:

Rossellini: I have to imagine how it can translate in this sort of theatre that we do here with puppetry and me dressed up as the animal … It’s funny but it’s a little sick too. 

That “little sick” quality really does effectively grab you.  It’s a grotesqueness that National Geographic wouldn’t be able to do because they use actual footage of animals.  In theatre, mimicking animals doing essentially the same thing produces a whole different sensation for the audience.  There’s a bit of wonder there, for all the things that technology can do, there are still simpler mediums of performance that can’t be replaced.

 

Here’s one more from Ecorazzi.

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This post informed me that the shorts are actually not specifically new for this season.  In Spring 09, we’re going to see Season II of Green Porno.  And it looks like Rossellini concentrated on insects in her last season.  For the one to come, we’ll be viewing her sea creature pornos.  

Ecorazzi had a poll on this blog post, asking readers which animal we’re most excited about seeing.  I voted for the star fish, who sometimes reproduces asexually.

A New Species of Porn: Isabella Rossellini’s GREEN PORNO

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on April 14, 2009

 

Using colorful paper sculptures and crafty costumes that recall the aesthetics of Michael Gondry,  Isabella Rossellini has created Green Porno, a series of short films based on the sexual habits of animals.  In the pieces, she takes on the role various insects and sea creatures and then mates with a cardboard, craft-version of her chosen animal.  In the image here, we see Rossellini seducing another snail.  

Snapshort of GreenPorno with Snails

Snapshot of GreenPorno with Snails

 

If you haven’t seen the shorts yet, picture colorful sets and costumes like this accompanied by nature soundtracks–i.e. slimy slurping sounds and grasshopper choirs. And of course, the stories are all narrated by Rossellini, herself.  Interestingly, she seems to tend toward playing the male role of most creature relationships.

 

NPR did a great job of interviewing Rossellini about the piece,  unusual for this actor widely known for her dramatic role played in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.

 

For the purposes of this blog, Rossellini’s following words perked my ears when she was asked about the Eco implications embedded in the films’ title:

 

NPR:  Well’s there’s nothing overtly environmental about it….What’s the environmental message?

Rossellini: I never really want to preach.  I’m actually a little tired when people tell me ‘this is the end of the world’ and you become so saturated by this emergency message, I find myself a little turned off  so I thought a comical approach might be better.  

 

Rossellini doesn’t consider herself an Eco “warrior” in this series, but rather a “comic” whose humor can spread appreciation for the natural world to large audiences, the kind that may not typically review National Geographic.  

I appreciate her desire to incorporate nature into culture.  It becomes both an educational and entertaining way of putting the green movement into the public’s subconscious.

Although, I wonder, is there any green-minded porn with human stars out there?  Now that would say worlds about  the nation’s subconscious.

Updates on Katie Holten’s TREE MUSEUM

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on April 13, 2009

In a final meeting at the end of March, the committee for the Tree Museum decided that part of this public art piece will exist in “satellite museum shows” located at the Bronx Museum and Wave Hill, a public garden in the Bronx. Katie Holten said “In this way, the Tree Museum is refined and is all about the Grand Concourse. The related objects are presented inside as the objects/ephemera they are from the Tree Museum’s archive.”

Wve Hill, Bronx

Wave Hill, Bronx

More information about the project’s artists, writers, and news can be found at the Tree Museum’s social networking site, www.treemuseum.ning.com

Manufactured Feces

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on April 10, 2009

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You could go see this art piece, but it  provokes thought even without a visit to the gallery that houses this shit manufacturing machine.   I came across Cloaca No. 5  first from an entry on The World’s Fair of ScienceBlogs.com.   They did a pretty good job of writing about this piece by Belgium artist, Wim Delvoye, especially with the use of Delvoye’s words:

“I wanted to make something that is absurdly unnecessary… I don’t think this biologically correct machine belongs in a science museum. I don’t have that ego. I’m not helping sick people. I’m practically useless in society.”

The quote works well because it addresses one of the questions I think a viewer would have right away: WHY WOULD ANYONE MAKE A SHITTING MACHINE?

For the artist, I believe it has something to do with pointing out  the obvious futility of the object. When I think of this piece and how food goes in one end as shit comes out the other, I keep on seeing a reflection of people and of all living things that create waste.

What a way to get to a conversation on existentialism….

Thomas Hirshmann’s article also filled in some great insight that I didn’t  get out of the World’s Fair post.  He brought attention to the kind of food that goes into the machine, and for me, new ideas arise out of considering just that.  “When it was up at the New Museum in New York, the machine was fed gourmet meals from the city’s celebrity chefs,” wrote Hirshmann in the article.  Reminds me of some of the thoughts I have had during meals sometimes (Jeez, that makes me sound like a nut).  At times, I can’t help but think that the food I just overpaid for will end up leaving me and become another nothing.  As the calories get used up and I just end up requiring more food, it somehow all ends up as useless as Cloaca No. 5 .

I don’t enjoy the signs posted behind the Cloaca machines, the ones that reference recognizable logos like Channel or Arm & Hammer.  To me, they point to consumerism in  such a deliberate, didactic move. To me, the viewer could have made those connections without the help of a sign to explain all.

The piece also has a way of reflecting back on art objects, as many fecal mattered art pieces tend to do.  Ever since Piero Manzoni canned his own feces and sold them for their weight in gold around 1961, the art world has been conscious of the an impractical  often bootless nature that accompanies art making.  For many, this is just a form of mockery.  For me, it’s that plus a way of getting to discussions on the metaphysics of communication through art.


More Images of David Kennedy-Cutler’s Antarctica

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on March 26, 2009

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