= WRITING, excerpts =

Article 2. WARRIORS
women’s art, early days
Slater Barron, Watching the 6 o’clock News

The script began with a shot-through-the-glass-dryer-door of tumbling clothes, a kind of mesmeric kaleidoscope that faded into a voiceover. My interview with Slater was to be the narration, the more serious themes emerging gradually from the texture of moving images of her daily drudgery. She talked mostly about the art work, about her playful sculptures of food, like the plates of dryer-lint-made sushi and other food in the style of the ubiquitous plastic sculptures seen in Japanese food courts.

I was familiar with those renderings of teriyaki and beef and noodles mostly because of indie food writer Jonathan Gold, who memorialized the far-flung little ethnic restaurants in strip malls I’d seen all over Los Angeles. He was as likely to discourse about a kebab of flaming bull penis as the reinvented selves of Angelenos. His glorification of the ordinary act of eating, and his humanity, were the driver of a whole new cultural cuisine sweeping the suburbs and neighborhoods of the LA Basin.

Dana Goodyear, in her indelible portrait of Gold in the New Yorker, calls his writing a “style that has come to be his signature, a postmodern scrapbook of divergent references that run with the internal logic of a dream“:

He tells his readers where to get crickets, boiled silkworm cocoons, and fried grasshoppers (‘The mellow, pecan-like flavor isn’t bad’). On their behalf, he eats hoof and head and snout,
and reveals, before the Census Bureau does, which new populations have come to town, and where they are, and what they’re cooking up.


Besides food replicas, Slater also made ordinary objects out of dryer lint like scrubbing brushes, carpentry hand tools, plates, utensils, and, most affectingly, portraits of her elderly parents rendered in full 3D color. She seemed reluctant to talk that day about the dementia though she had made and exhibited a room-sized installation titled simply Alzheimers of her parents engaged in their daily lives, taking walks or Watching the 6 o’clock News.  It may have been that the subject carried a stigma or that Slater just didn’t want to be pigeonholed. But at the time it was the first I’d heard a real person talking about what Alzheimers did to a personality, and the enormous effort of caring for two sufferers even as her children straggled out of the house. My plan was to capture the lighthearted humor of her creations but also tease out her story of abuse and the numbingly hard work she endured and how she persevered. My story, as it turned out ...

Article 1. FIGMENTS
memories of Earth

Constructing alternatives to this world, on other worlds, and in space is as much the domain of photographers and artists as it is of scientists and technologists. Those without access to machine learning or the resources of space agencies, still have public access to NASA/JPL photographs. Privatization efforts may mean that U.S. space program assets in the future are no longer within reach in public archives. But the advance of off-the-shelf components used in actual spacecraft means that the ordinary citizen can build their own entrants into the space race.

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As the 21st C. advances in what echoes the dystopian future so often imagined by science fiction, the .1% are already benefiting from the thrust of early space colonization to the moon — and now Mars. No longer will they need to escape from teeming cities; permanent orbit beckons. The mining of rare minerals and industrial energy sources are tantalizingly closer to exploitation and profit, especially as the ravages of Earth reach their proletarian inevitabilities.

Using public domain images and devices of my own manufacture, I have imagined my own moon orbiter and eventually, lander. It is a mere product of mental invention, a fantastic notion, and a feigned and improbable series titled Figments: Memories of Earth.

Figments explores questions about the role of the hand and the eye in a context where photographic algorithmic strategies grow ever more convincing, ever more real. Automated technologies construct alternate realities without direct human intervention, what artist-futurist and activist Stephanie Dinkins calls the “invisible arbiters of human interaction”. As Trevor Paglen, imagemaker-sculptor-journalist-writer-engineer, demonstrates in Territory, computational photographic techniques “enhance” images for surveillance or facial recognition. In Paglen’s words, “images are no longer spectacle but they are in fact looking back at us, being actors in a process of massive value extract ...”