Here is an oldish but favoritish spot a older friend of mine recommended some years ago that I keep coming back to: CB’s I Hate Perfume Gallery. They say that smells trigger memories, so not so surprised my favorite scents include “in the library”, “I am a dandelion”, and ones like “greenbrier 1968” which smells like “axle grease” and “sawdust” in an ode to CB’s grandfather. If you need to kill some time or show someone something magical while stuck in the jaded hipishness of Williamsburg, take a stroll here and unload your thoughts into some corked bottles. The rest of us will have to peruse the website in wonder.


When I read about the Farnsworth House a few years ago, I was so inspired that I sat down and wrote a poem: “so stunningly storybook simple!” It’s true. The story goes that that Dr. Edith Farnsworth, for whom the house was commissioned, asked Mies to design her a house as if he himself was going to live there. Preceding Philip Johnson’s Glass House and others, it was one of the first to stylistically implore a glass surface to immerse its owner in nature. ArchDaily recently did a review of the gorgeous structure calling it a classic, which, it most certainly is.

The article writes:

The single-story house consists of eight I-shaped steel columns that support the roof and floor frameworks, and therefore are both structural and expressive. In between these columns are floor-to-ceiling windows around the entire house, opening up the rooms to the woods around it. The windows are what provide the beauty of Mies’ idea of tying the residence with its tranquil surroundings. His idea for shading and privacy was through the many trees that were located on the private site. Mies explained this concept in an interview about the glass pavilion stating, “Nature, too, shall live its own life. We must beware not to disrupt it with the color of our houses and interior fittings. Yet we should attempt to bring nature, houses, and human beings together into a higher unity.”

In order not to disrupt the land, he raised the house 3-5″ off the ground, letting only the necessary steel columns touch. Here is the youtube video the article provided on the engineering of the building:

The house now serves as a crushing monument to global warming. Mies had built the house above where floods could reach it based on predictions of the next 150 years, but they launched themselves on the house much sooner, beginning 9 years after it was built, and with gaining frequency in the early nineties. There has been a discussion provoked about whether or not the house should be moved. As a site specific architectural installation, both moving the house or leaving it where it stands would be a travesty against the piece itself.

Also from ArchDaily recently: Lady Gaga wants a house too.
photo’s are from the ArchDaily article itself and were taken by Greg Robinson.

I just got back to New Orleans after traveling to Los Angeles and back on the Amtrak. I grew up in a commuter town, so trains have always felt like a second home; not to mention less stressful, less security to go through then an airport/airplane. Traveling is a relational space, and one that would be very hard to turn into an arts piece – well – at least in the way I mean to. All the way to LA people sitting next to me in coach, in the dining car, in the observation deck just opened up and told me the most intimate details of their lives. It’s the temporariness of this space I think, and the unlikelihood of seeing them ever again. At one point a man I had been talking to for nearly and hour turned to me and said, “I mean, why is it a problem to be sad sometimes,” and I fed him my line about how deep emotions are something to be proud of; you know: proof that your not a sociopath. We both laughed and ducked sideways in that kind of ah-ha moment wiping a bit of tears out of the corner of our eyes.

My first lunch involved a nurse who had suggested the cause of early onset arthritis was (after testing was proven) an excess of fertilizer in the New Orleans soil. Children had apparently been absorbing it through their skin, while it had run it’s way out of the country’s bread basket. Another man, unquestionably ordinary in appearance, boasted that he had started beekeeping as a hobby. Another nurse who worked in hospice riddled me with stories of the earthquakes she had survived and the things people said when they were leaving this world. I wish I could occupy a train car with my camera document these conversations like I did in my storefront window tea project in Olneyville. No doubt the presence of cameras and other recording implements would change the interactions some, but I would love to relate the intense feeling of community that happens when you are between places: the ways people almost always find a common ground when they are squished together in a tiny transporter.

I spent one whole day, each way, staring at the desert. I made four part color separations for silk screen in my head. I dulled down all my other senses to have a very visual dialog. It was amazing.

I also tried to take pictures of the border, especially around El Paso/Juarez, but taking pictures from the observation deck was clouded by the window, and the border is a little too far away from the station where we stopped. It was the closest to the border that I had ever been, and it is truly visually dramatic. I remembered a talk I went to at RISD’s Better World By Design by Teddy Cruz in Southern California who documents the housing developments in San Diego and Tijuana. On both sides of the border itself you see a proliferation of borders: gated communities and mansions with seven foot fences on one side, and houses largely made out of American waste products with creative means to lock off yards. It is fascinating to me because the same fencing and handmade security found just south of the US/Mexico border is something you see in both Los Angeles and New Orleans. I have a deep draw to work somehow with the El Paso/Juarez border through art and photography and if I can find a way to manifest that I will, but I am also reminded heavily of the Juarez women (400 documented homicides, 5000 estimated since 1993) which might prevent me from doing such work. The story of these women (most of who are 12-22 aged maquiladora workers) are certainly worthy many relational art pieces, pulling on the heart strings of the sociopaths tendency which creates such devastation. I will think about this some more. You too, ok. Get on it.

Roz Savage is a woman whose taken the challenge of rowing individually across the Atlantic Ocean and made it two thirds across the Pacific. This is a particularly powerful talk she gave about her experience, the drive for adventure, and the importance of the stories we tell ourselves. Additionally, she has devoted her travels to educate people about climate change and pollution. Enjoy!

from Matter of Trust; a biomimicry solutions network looking for a new warehouse to collect your hair. Seriously.

what’s that under there? let’s look closer:

that’s right, rehabbed soil! what once was a sand lot in the Central Business District of New Orleans now has many signs of life thanks to NOFFN farmyard director Pam Broom! I’ve been helping her add artistic elements to her garden project: the Sun Harvest Kitchen Garden. Last week she dug under the mulch a bit to see what our work had done. We jumped up! “Li, can you take a picture?” Absolutely. I went around the lot to pick up photos that exemplified healthy soil, elements you likely wont find in your average abandon lot:

here is a photo of one third of the lot. more to come, I’m sure:

just sayin’.

Just a thought as I tapped into a conversation at the coffee shop this morning, perhaps a little over caffinated, because they were talking about having a tea party and I just needed to know why. Turns out the two ladies are working with 3rd and 5th graders on an afterschool gardening program. We talked breifly about different garden projects and art garden projects, and how (sadly) a lot of art gardens are more interested in engaging visually instead of engaging community.

And pairing this with my experience yesterday (and also through the tea project) when I was asking strangers for their to do list’s as part of Stephen Kwok’s installation piece at Trouserhouse this Saturday, I thought: there is something about gardens, art, and art gardens which offer you a platform to engage strangers in ways you wouldn’t otherwise. In collecting to do lists, not only were people giving me a very personal set of information (as much or as little as they felt comfortable with) but often they felt their days plans a little more validated because someone – me – was interested in collecting it. There is a lot of freedom that the statement “for an art project” allows you. Art, for the most part, is not something the general public questions, and, at its best, engages people personally and playfully.

I know I’m on a riff right now, but stay with me: with the understanding that any kind of vegetation is good for the enviroment (and yes, in certain circles this logic is questionable) gardens provide a very similar relational space. Almost everyone has a garden or wants one; and almost everyone has a fond memory or story from an experience they’ve had in a garden. People are particularly proud about the work they do creating vegetative space; perhaps because the sheer visual exposure to greenery has amazing psychological and physical benefits but also because very few people can say gardening is bad thing: it is, for the most part, unquestionably virtuous. That said, art gardens should have the greatest potential of all; and hopefully, that is the direction they are shifting to. Anyway, just wanted to posit all that.

I’ll post pictures as soon as I can of all the gardens I’ve been visiting. A computer of my own is still not exactly feasible, so the uploading has been a bit of a hassle. Hopefully I’ll find a way to resolve that soon.

In this new book, Toward a Ludic Architecture Steffan P Walz interconnects the influence of a gaming generation (atari kids forward) to the present spacial role of play. I admit, I haven’t gotten too too far into the FREE DOWNLOAD of text, but in a society that breaches 50 to 60 hour work weeks, the paradigm shift of life as play is one of some importance. (a thought experiment on this is James P. Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games, which is a good start but leaves a lot of questions wide open). According to the press release, Toward a Ludic Architecture considers:

“game design theory and practice alongside architectural theory and practice, asking: how are play and games architected? What kind of architecture do they produce and in what way does architecture program play and games? What kind of architecture could be produced by playing and gameplaying?”

Speaking of spatial implications of work and play, I’ve been shifting this in my head around a gender theory: the supposition and oppression of certain traits over another, and the resurgence of repressed intellegences for example. I’ll get back to you on all this after I finish A System of Objects by Baudrillard… Yum.

on the relational aspect, this is very important.