Friday, October 24, 2008

Masks: The Wall

The Wall

I'm working on more masks to go with the story of The Idealist. I've posted all the masks on the side of my dorm room for all to see. Some people get a little freaked, and some are extremely curious and examine it closely. And still others just ignore the damn thing.

So far all the masks have been the same make mask using spray paint and some with duct tape. I don't know if I'll be using anything else with the masks, but if I do I'm sure it'll be fun.

So far there's quite a few masks to go. But I'm making them. Whenever I come up with a concept I go ahead and make it. Most of them have worked out pretty well. I'll be uploading the occasional mask on here for the sake of it.

Masks: Mistake.

I've been working as an artist for a little while. Producing a couple films and directing one very recently. But something that's been filling my time as of late a new hobby of mine.

Mask making.

This is the first mask that I'm uploading, and probably my favorite. It's called Mistake given that it was made accidentally.


This mask has inspired the character 'Mistake' in my new mask themed story The Idealist (Running Title). I was trying to experiment with blood tears by spray painting the backside of the mask and getting the paint to trickle through the eyes. The experiment failed utterly and some of the paint got onto the front corner of the mask. Then the mask fell on it's side into a puddle of red spray paint.

The Puddle

I shrugged it off and started work on another mask called Cold that I'll be posting soon. I got some of the blue on the side, and then got frustrated with the location of the mask. So I randomly sprayed the colors I was working with on the experimental mask.

accidental blue line

After it dried for a day, I looked at it and really liked the result. The mask inspired me to add a character to the story I'm working on as another anti-hero in the story. A series of female masks have come out of this character, and there'll be a few more to come.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Personal: Back Up and Running

A few of you know that my computer took a swan dive from my bed and killed herself. Luckily a lot of the pieces are still intact and she can be repaired if I take the time to perform some surgery. For the meantime, I have two new computers coming in. Apple is made of win so I bought an iMac.

This is the reason why I've been gone recently. I borrowed my friend Micah's little itty bitty macbook until I got this baby in the mail.

Behold Celos, named for the Etruscan Earth Goddess

I've done all I can to recover files. Luckily I had a lot of my shit backed up on an external HD, so I've got that back. I also lost one of my favorite wallpapers for my desktop. But a /r/ in *that unknown website* fix'd that.

Suit yourself.

Two other wallpapers of mine are here. I have my computer looping through them every five minutes.

Aya Ueto as an angel

Hey look! It's Earth!

Was Earth...

Anywho, I'm obviously back up and posting. My week or so being MIA was not completely wasted, however. I've been making some mask-themed art with spray paint. I will be posting pictures of them shortly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rantings: This is made of Win and Awesome.

I was clicking around on Myspace, and My friend Ariel posted this beautiful piece of awesome.

Dear preppy girls,

Why do you dress up as Goths for Halloween? I know that Party City makes this relatively easy on you. After all, you can buy a little Goth Girl outfit in a plastic bag. You can even get matching accouterments, like black lipstick, pointy bracelets, and long purple wigs.

I helped a girl in birkenstock shoes and a polo shirt find black lipstick in a makeup store the other day. When I asked her why she would want such a thing, she happily informed me she was going to be a goth for Halloween. She then proceeded to show me the all-black ensemble she had picked up for her costume. Had I not been informed of her outfit choice, I would have thought she was going as Bret Michaels (a much funnier choice of costume, indeed).

So, it's creepy, you know? It's just a little weird that you're all dressing up as me circa 2004 for a holiday. I mean, why not just raid my closet? I could certainly provide something more authentic than a strange 40-year-old-rocker-looking-for-love outfit that you've prepared. At least do me justice. Seriously.

I'm just letting you know that as epic payback for your sucky costume, I'm going to dress as you this year. That's right, you! I'm going to prance around in a semi-drunken stupor in Uggs and Abercrombie shirts. I'm going to spray so much fake-tanner on myself I'm going to glow an eerie, translucent orange. I'm even going to smear a little powdered sugar on my nostrils, because real cocaine is just too darn expensive.

Love, Ariel

Wow... I concur.

Art History Feature: The Ziggurat of Ur

The Ziggurat of Ur

The Ziggurat is considered a precursor to the Pyramid. Many early civilizations started to build them at about the same time. Among these are the Sumerians, who were the first, and the Mayans. Ziggurats also appear in a few areas in south eastern Asia. A question among historians is where the original idea came from and whether or not these civilizations on opposite sides of the world were inspired by one another somehow.

The Ziggurat of Ur was one of the first major religious monuments in history, and is one of the major characteristics that makes the Sumerian culture the first civilization.

The city of Ur was the most powerful city among the four major Sumerian cities. Although the Sumerian cities were all of the same civilization, worshiped the same gods, and were all of the same race, they warred over the territory between their cities. Ur's Ziggurat would have been a show of militaristic power just as much as a homage to the gods. It can be noted that the Ziggurat looks like a fortress, and is built in a way that it could be very defensible if needed.

Religion became a major part of Sumerian life, as it did with many early civilizations. The Sumerian Ziggurat was supposed to be a dwelling for one or perhaps multiple gods. It also doubled as a place of worship for zealous civilians of Ur to go and pray.

It's made out of hand-made clay bricks that were sun dried by the Sumerians. These bricks were then assembled into the massive temple that is the Ziggurat. After several layers of brick, the interior of the Ziggurat is filled with sand, as if to prevent anyone from inhabiting the interior of this massive building. Atop the Ziggurat is a temple which would house a Sumerian holy man.

When the Ziggurat was made, it was by far the largest building ever made by man. And it was not devoted to a man, but to the gods. It shows that the Sumerians had an immense amount of respect for their gods in order to spend their time and wealth to construct such a massive structure. However, at the same time, it shows that the Sumerians feared their gods. What did they fear might happen if the Ziggurat was not built?

The Ziggurat's lifetime of use by the Sumerians was relatively short in comparison to the actual existence of the Sumerians. Some time after the Ziggurat was completed, the Elamites conquered the Sumerians and destroyed them city by city. No one knows quite where the Elamites came from. History only accounts that they came from the east and settled in Sumerian land after defeating them. Later they would fight the hardened warrior culture of the Assyrians in vain.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Politics: 700 Billion Dollar Failout.

I'm officially against the 700 Billion Dollar Bailout.

For many of the reasons I said beforehand. It tries to save our failing economy by putting us further into debt which hurts our economy to save people who failed at helping our economy.

Seriously, let them die.

But I didn't see this coming... even though I should have.

I was told recently that the bailout had supplied money for some high executive party or some shit. I did some digging on this and found out that this is indeed true.

The insurance company AIG was bailed out 87 Billion dollars and half a million of this was used for a happy party at an expensive resort with the executives of this company including a large lump sum for 'spa treatment'.

This is retarded. I'm staying at home so as not to use gas and eating cheap food while the government-created-socialized-billionaires get spa treatment at a resort. This is why I hate socialism in any form. You'd think that people would value this money that the government is giving them to save their asses. But they KNOW that if they fail again, the government is going to simply bail them out.

The money that they've been given isn't theirs and therefore they will not treat it with the same care they would if they had earned it their own damn selves.

I believe this is going to be the first of many stories like this. The treasurer needs to come out and wash his hands of the duties assigned to him by this bill. Let the economy drop as the weak companies die, and then the strong ones will fill the gaps.

In the meantime, while the corporations are screwing themselves, something needs to be done to protect the American worker that is employed by the part of our economy that is doing well, which is the small business sector. The person who works at the flower-shop on the corner needs to be protected in this time of economic trouble. I don't see any efforts to do it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Taoism: Chpt 1: Taoing

Note: Ten thousand is a sacred number to the Chinese. The Ten Thousand things can mean everything, but can include the sacred and celestial.


The way you can go
isn't the real way.
The name you can say
isn't the real name.

Heaven and Earth
begin in the unnamed:
name's the mother
of the ten thousand things.

So the unwanting soul
sees what's hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.

Two things, one origin,
but different in name,
whose identity is in mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.

Le Guin states that a perfect translation of this poem from Chinese to English is perfectly impossible. This poem supposedly contains the whole book as an opener and sets up the rest of the Tao Te Ching.

The part that I find important in this is the passage "So the unwanting soul.... only what it wants". It highlights how we can see things when we separate ourselves from an issue. Someone who is blinded by their desires or beliefs cannot see what doesn't go along with those desires or beliefs. The Taoist tries to see what 'is' rather than what he or she wants to see.

In the passage "The way you can go.... isn't the real name" it can be produced into a sociological point about how we are offered a way through life that is the one we are supposed to follow, and then there's the spiritual way that you can go which is ultimately more satisfying and true to yourself.

Religion: Taoism

The Tao Te Ching was a book written by philosopher Lao Tzu about 500 BCE (about 800 years older than the Christian Bible). It's an eye opening holy book that reveals a lot about the nature of the universe. I'll be using this blog to post excerpts from it and post my thoughts along with it.

I may create another blog with a compilation of my Taoist postings, but as of now I don't really see the need.

The translation that I'm using is by Ursula K. Le Guin. Her translation attempts to keep the spirit of what's said while preserving the artistic value of the writings. This is the copy I carry around with me and the copy that I use to understand Philosophical Taoism.

It's important to realize that Philosophical Taoism is different from Religious Taoism. Religious Taoism brings in the idea of physical immortality, potions to help you attain physical immortality, and multiple gods interlocked in a huge drama. This is not what I follow because it has the same problems as all other religions like it.

Philosophical Taoism helps the follower understand The Tao or 'The Way'. The Tao could also be a singular God or simply the energy of the universe. There are many Taoism references in Star Wars when talking about The Force. Several things brought up by Yoda are lifted directly from the Tao Te Ching.

Now, Yoda's cool and all, but the things brought up by Yoda were not the important parts in my opinion. There are several things in the Tao Te Ching that talk about contentment and letting go of material things. The main thing that the Tao Te Ching does is bring peace to the reader.

Sometimes that's all we need.

Art History Feature: The Mask of King Tut

The mask of King Tutenkhamun was the lowest part of the sarcophagus made by the Egyptians for good ol' King Tut when he died. It would have been placed directly over his face and would have been a likeness of his actual face. Clearly, a lot of time was taken in the making of this mask.

The journey of the dead was very important to the Egyptians, especially the journey of their Pharaohs as evidenced by the construction of huge tombs and pyramids. The sarcophagus was designed to protect the body after death and to help preserve it so that it could be used in the afterlife. This mask could possibly have been for use in the afterlife along with the belongings he was found with.

There's lots of gold used in the making of this mask along with stripes of blue. A great amount of detail was taken in the forging of the mask and the careful design of the facial features. We can see a row of beads along the bottom of the mask as well and some black paint to accent the facial features of the mask.

As a work of art, the meaning behind this piece is purely religious. It clearly took a large amount of time to create due it's complex nature. The piece doubles as a tribute to the Pharaoh and his life. Obviously the maker of the piece respected the pharaoh or at least believed in his need to traverse across the celestial plane to the afterlife.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Religion: God and Science (Intellgent Design)

I had a conversation with someone recently who thought that Intelligent Design was a scientifically applicable idea. I tried my best to explain that it wasn't, but I don't think I reached her.

Intelligent Design is the basic idea that where there is design there must be a designer. So a newt looks the way it does because it was designed by a higher power. This belief is all fine and dandy until you get into scientific aspects of it. Intelligent Design as a scientific theory offers that the gaps in the evolutionary theory (such as why the newt's earliest legged ancestor started to develop legs in the first place) can be explained in the simple sentence that 'God did it' with the premise that it's that way because God designed it that way. This way of explaining things is counterproductive to science.

Science, especially biological science, gets into the nitty gritty details of it's subject and asks all the questions. The answer 'God did it' isn't good enough. Whether or not God did it, science asks the question of HOW it was done regardless of whether or not God was involved.

Personally, I believe that God has a lot to do with why the universe is here and how it came to be. But, I also recognize that in order for science to work, God needs to step out of the theoretical picture. Because God offers no real evidence for his existance other than the emotional connection between him and humanity's subconscious, God has to step out of the realm of science until evidence for his existence is found.

Until then, Science is the study of how rather than why. Religion is the study of why. When the two get intermingled with one another, people get pissed off as evidenced by the evolution vs Young Earth Creationism debate. In my opinion that whole debate is almost worthless. What Young Earth Creationists don't realize is that the world didn't have to come into existance six thousand years ago in order for God to exist or for life to have meaning.

What that whole debate boils down to is Biblical infallibility which is a subject heading for later.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Art History: Art with a capital A: History with a capital H: How old is Art?

The day after I posted the previous blog about Art, I presented it in my Art History class with much approval from the rest of the class. Afterwards I had an in depth talk with the teacher who is a fan of this kind of art with hopes to better understand it.

She explained that much of the Modern Art paintings featured in these museums featuring one color or printed onto the canvas by an artist are not supposed to be appreciated as a subject, but appreciated as a 'poke' at art. With this understanding I can appreciate it.

Much of the point of pieces such as the 'Green' canvas I make reference to could actually be making the point that we shouldn't care about the brush strokes of the artist, nor should we have the response 'oooo this is a Van Gogh painting' because when it all comes right down to it, it's just a damn painting. Why do we stick these people on a pedestal?

Duchamp's 'Fountain'
A little poke at how Art is perceived

I can respect this aspect of Modern Art as a poke at the rest of the art genres, but I still disagree on a level. I retain the point I made about the chair in my previous post. Though I can appreciate the design qualities of a chair as art, I don't quite think it belongs in a museum because it has no statement to make.

A fair majority of the art that inspires me is from many ages past. People invested their time and soul into these pieces without individual gratitude for the completion. They believed that the only gratitude that they received would be from the god they honored or the historical figure that now resides in the underworld (Achilles or Odysseus for example).

A major difference between art in this era and art from ages past is individuality. Egyptian art is all the same. Changing that art would get you killed. It was not the art of the artist, but the art of Egypt. Same with many other civilizations featuring religious art. Art was supposed to remind you of the religion or the person and the story surrounding that person. So in order to truly appreciate this art, you must know the stories.

For example: A stain glass window of Jesus or Mary is worthless to the person who doesn't know anything about the Bible.

The misconception is often made that 'art' as we see it today did not exist until a couple hundred years ago. Art was not appreciated as an individual's creation until recently. To me, this is untrue.

A scene featuring the Qin Emperor in 'HERO'
The very title of this film is a play on calligraphy
in that the word Hero in Chinese calligraphy is both plural and singular.

During the era of the Qin Emperor in China (about 220 BC, the same era as Alexander the Great) calligraphy was being appreciated as the individual's artistic accomplishment (The Qin Emperor saw himself as an artist and a philosopher as well as a ruler). People would look to calligraphy to understand the writer/artist in a number of aspects. Calligraphy was supposed to reveal a number of things about the artist's subconscious, including the artist's skill with a weapon. People would travel great distances to fetch a single word to be painted by a famous calligrapher.

Expanding upon that, China also recognized martial arts as the individual's artistic accomplishment. China was constantly streamlining the ability to fight along with the schools of thought behind fighting. We can't look at these original pieces of art today because they have disappeared with the bodies of those who created them, but we can see the art piece itself surviving with those being taught martial arts.

Guan Yu: Martial Artist from about 200 AD.
Creator of the weapon 'Black Dragon'

Many moves in martial arts and scrolls of calligraphy can be considered the oldest forms of individual art, yet none of them are appreciated in museums because this form of art has been mostly glossed over as far as appreciation is concerned.

I've noticed that History with a Capital H is also an issue here. History seems to ignore Asia when considering accomplishments. As a matter of fact, it tends to ignore everywhere but Europe. This is probably one of the reasons that no one quite understands China today. History rarely gives China credit for discovering the crossbow, chrome plating, or in this case, individual art.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Art History: Art with a capital A: My Inspiration.

I'm going to take a break from the failure that is American politics for a moment and talk about 'Art' again.

I was asked recently what inspires me visually as an artist. Honestly I don't create much visual 'art' so it's difficult to really answer that. But I'll go for it.

I had a conversation recently with my friend Shannon who said that her college class was going to take a trip to the SF MoMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) and that she was reading this book on the definition of Art.

The book discredited ancient art as being 'art' because it doesn't fit with 'our' concept of art. It cited that the Mayans didn't create their art to be looked at, but for religious reasons. I call bullshit on this...

Now, I've never been to SF MoMA, but I have been to NY MoMA (same shit, New York) and I think it's safe to assume that they show the same type of bull. I saw everything from a canvas featuring the color green to a kinda cool looking chair. Can this really be considered art that is worthy of a place in a museum?


The above chair is featured at NY MoMA. Why?

This is the kind of stuff that doesn't inspire me at all. In fact it does quite the opposite. People will pay to go to a museum to see this stuff while the real art in the world is deprived of the valuable space taken up by this crap.

I see that there is artist value in some of this stuff, but that doesn't mean that it needs to be showcased in a museum as if it represents our times or something. My hatred of Modern Art doesn't mean I don't understand it. I understand it fine. I just think it's worthless.

Art in my opinion should have a purpose. One color on a canvas has no purpose unless you bullshit one. I can appreciate the color green somewhere else, get this canvas out of the museum and put up a work of art please.

Art that was made 400 plus years ago had meaning and purpose. Otherwise it wasn't bothered with. Michelangelo and Leonardo created with purpose and meaning. The purpose and meaning can be debatable, but we know it's there. Each work says something.

Modern art does something rather strange. Instead of trying to recapture any meaning or purpose, it decides to abandon it and have none. Instead, Modern Art creates that which looks good or just interesting and sits there.

This does not inspire me.

Behold, Art that is inspiring to me.

New Grange.
No one quite knows what those spirals mean.

Godzilla, representative of the nuclear bomb.

Tyrael, the angel from Diablo 2.
Representative of Heaven's hope for mankind.

Cowboy Bebop. Anime series. Watch it.

Amazing church windows.

Celtic High Cross. Covered in hieroglyphs representative of Bible stories.

The Monastery of St. Kevin.

Now this is just kind of a handful of visuals that mean something to me and therefore inspire. I'm inspired by a lot of different things (especially ancient art). I'm not impressed by things that simply are. I'm impressed by things that are there for something. Art, to me, represents life, or some aspect of it. Art that is meaningless represents the meaningless life and therefore does not appeal to me.

Surrealist, religious, written, even anime... it all means something to me, and is created to mean something. The reason why the 'art critics' have a different definition of Art than most people have isn't because they have taste and we don't. It's because they have lost sight of what art is supposed to be and has been for years. Art is the celebration of life in any form. Art that is meaningless cannot celebrate life because life has meaning.