Monthly Archives: October 2017

#MeToo #notMe, Yes, of course me

metoo-png-Milano

Definition of Sexual Harassment via NotSurprised.org

‘We Are Not Surprised’: Read the Blistering Open Letter That Art-World Women Wrote About Artforum
The list of signatories is growing by the hour. artnet News, October 30, 2017

It seems to me consistent with the old fashioned archetypal view of hidden complexes and incumbent courses of social action and social response that the election of President Priapic would promote an intense and heartfelt compensation. This has begun to transform relations in the patriarchical social structures.

(Also, archetypically related to this are the sweep of the athletes protest against state violence against minorities and #blacklivesmatter.)

Personally, the questions for me are what might I experience, act, and, communicate differently? As soon as this had bubbled up, I spent an afternoon with my artistic collaborator Kathy to discuss our first creative collaboration. She took me to school not on sexual behavior or harassment but on entering and being present and self-aware in the sacred space of her studio. This is precisely where my attitude needs the most adjustment. For many men this is where the transformation could begin. For others the call beckons in a more fundamental direction.

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Generativity, coda

Janet Echelman

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Generativitality

Some Thoughts On Generative Art by Anders Holt

Brisk Totem - 2015 - Stephen Calhoun

Brisk Totem – 2015 – Stephen Calhoun

Many who know something about my art practice know I loathe the terms “digital art” and “digital artist.” Both terms strike me as almost always leading right into various thickets of ignorance, bias, oversimplification, and, confusion about what the word “digital” means when applied to art-making. Yes, it is my personal hangup that I don’t want to be associated with inevitable misconceptions about where ‘the digits’ fall in my own process.

On the other hand I dig being someone who creates generative art because I’m always ready to explain how I deploy scripted generative routines to make images. If I encounter someone who knows about generative art processes, one of their first questions will be along the lines of, “what sequences what?”

An art acquaintance asked me on what kind of art I made. My initial response was about processes and processing, ‘After taking pictures of set-ups I cut them into symmetries, and, process these half pieces into full symmetries. I may process the art work further by adjusting pixels using software.’

“Mixed process photographs.”

“Why didn’t you just say so?”

I term the art work to be a: mixed process photographic image, or, mixed process photo-generative image. Sometimes the finished piece is a straight photograph–taken by a digital camera–cut and pasted into a mirror symmetry. It’s all about the process and the ‘processes of processes.’ This fact is, apparently, very hard to approach from the direction of ‘the digital.’

When I imagine possibilities in the realm of generativity, I am visualizing how different iterations of the processing of processes and first order processing work in concert. In this there are features of a peculiar cybernetics anchored to imagining.

Over the past two winters I have not been firing up the generative dashboard, yet I have been stockpiling various experiments, in my head. My goal would be to create a piece as overwhelming as the two here, Brisk Totem, and, Sonny Sharrock in Heaven, both 2015.

Sonny Sharrock In Heaven - 2015 - Stephen Calhoun artist

Sonny Sharrock In Heaven – 2015 – Stephen Calhoun

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Free Play Growth Ring

Free Play Softball David A. Kolb Cleveland

Nicole, action shot

I started playing Free Play Softball League in 2002. At the time, the game was co-ed to the magnitude of six female players, Alice, Laine, Angie, Amy, Linda, Mary. By 2009, the attrition of female players had reached its “negative zenith.” The game labored on and became more spiky, masculine, boyish, and, mildly less civilized. However, the boyish part reflects aging and regression, not an influx of many younger players.

This year it appears Free Play Softball League has developed two women players.

Skill is fine, and genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable than either. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

I have no idea how they found their way to our game. East siders. I know Nicole played softball in high school. She and Mia are feisty, and I suspect both see right through the antics and legacy patterns of the recent league.

As a group, we had our most civilized season in many years. Just sayin’, (and suggesting something about the relationship between an increase in wholeness and courtesy.)

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Once a Hawk

Hawken School Class of 1972 Reunion

library, Upper School, Hawken School

This past weekend I went to my forty-fifth high school reunion, for the Class of ’72. I have been to every single five year Class of ’72 Hawken School (Gates Mills, Ohio,) reunion. The first one was in 1977. I was living in Middlebury Vermont at the time.

This year the hallowed men’s circle that uniquely characterizes the class’s fraternal ritual was at an Upper School (grades 9-12) transformed by a luxurious new 21st century series of connected school buildings. As you can see, some of us took the tour. Almost nothing of our own experience ‘back in the day’ naturally translates to the new surroundings; and, I note as much while also regarding the addition of women to the upper school classes starting in 1974. The buck buck tree is still there. Several of the old building’s wings, with their fifties utilitarian cinder blocks, have remained connected to the new campus.

Each reunion presents a mini seminar in men, masculinity, adult development, families, and, the second law of thermodynamics. It’s a lovely group.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this. (Henry David Thoreau)

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Happy Birthday Thelonious Monk

I first heard Thelonious Monk in 1970, several years before I put my jazz head on. Probably it was my classmate Warren who auditioned an LP track. I don’t recall which one. I didn’t care for it. However, in the winter of 1971 I began working part time in a record store next to the post office in Cleveland Heights. In Budget records and Tapes’s collection of vinyl promos were two Monk records, Monk’s Blues, the big band record arranged by Oliver Nelson, and, Criss Cross, a quartet record from the sixties with tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse. The former record was one of the owner’s favorite records. At the time the available discography of the master was quite slim with the exception of the Columbia recordings, all of which dated from the sixties beginning in 1963.

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that night and day wants to make you like everybody else is to fight the greatest battle you will fight and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings

The iconic Cleveland jazz maven Harvey Pekar scoffed at the big band record one day while in the store, and lamented the unavailability of the “class Blue Note sides.” But, never mind, Harvey, despite your influence on my tastes and your insistence on the store bringing in the Black Lion trio dates recorded in 1971 and released in 1972, it would not be until those Blue Notes were issued in a stirling twofer in 1976 that I got bitten by the Monk hard.

How hard? ‘Life-changingly hard.’ Monk is second to no one in my estimation and surely in my experience. Happy 100th birthday to the khidr of sound, Thelonious Sphere Monk.

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Today’s Destiny, and May It be Happy, Abdullah Ibrahim

My friend Abdullah Ibrahim turned 83 today. Of the many possibilities for experiential learning he served my way in the late eighties, the most essential was that the next breath possibly might turn out to be the last such breath.

Abdullah Ibrahim from Ian Henderson on Vimeo.

A man in prison is sent a prayer rug by his friend. What he had wanted, of course, was a file or a crowbar or a key! But he began using the rug, doing five-times prayer before dawn, at noon, mid-afternoon, after sunset, and before sleep. Bowing, sitting up, bowing again, he notices an odd pattern in the weave of the rug, just at the qibla, the point, where his head touches. He studies and meditates on that pattern, gradually discovering that it is a diagram of the lock that confines him in his cell and how it works. He’s able to escape. Anything you do every day can open into the deepest spiritual place, which is freedom.
— Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi

800px-Abdullah_Ibrahim

Abdullah refashioned a teaching story and transmitted the best version. I’ve revised it a bit due to some additional understanding gained over the intervening years.

A hunter was in the jungle hunting when he heard in the distance a beautiful bird song. He slowly and quietly made his way to the song’s source. Standing in the brush near a tall tree he spotted a gorgeous bird singing a song the hunter was the most beautiful melody he’s ever heard a bird sing. He set a snare, and the next day came back and found the bird trapped. With a great deal of respect and care he brought the bird back with him to his country place.

The hunter outfitted a large cage and hung the cage with the bird in it in a sunlit corner with windows on both sides. The bird was quiet for many weeks after first being housed in the cage. However, eventually, the bird began piecing together bits of melodies. After beginning to do this, a few weeks later, the bird began singing the songs that had so captured the hunter’s attention in the jungle.

Yet, the songs seemed much sadder to the hunter than the original melodies. He reflected on this and decided the bird was lonely. So it was the hunter decided to return to the jungle and track down a bird like the bird in the cage, and bring it back as a companion.

The hunter returned to the same location in the jungle where he had first heard the marvelous bird songs. Not right away, but soon enough, the hunter one morning heard a similar song. He tracked the melody to another tall tree. From some nearby bushes he stood quietly observing the singing bird on a branch high up the tree. Then something shattering happened, mid song the bird fell out of the tree and landed with a soft thud in the undergrowth.

The hunter was shocked and dismayed as he made his way to the now still and silent bird. He gently picked it up. It was dead. The hunter was so moved and so deeply startled by this that, after burying the bird, he abandoned his search.

He returned to his farm. Walking into the room where the caged bird was singing, he sat on the shoulder of a couch next to the cage. To himself, the hunter recounted what had happened in the jungle. When he finished, the bird stopped singing. Then it fell off its perch to the floor of the cage. The hunter was instantly beside himself. He opened the door of the cage and picked up the still bird.

Then, as he was about to pronounce the bird dead, the bird instantly fluttered a second and then flew out of his hand and flew out an open window, and flew to a branch on a nearby tree, and, started singing a fresh and glorious song.

(The title of this story is: Thanks for the Message!)

Dr. Ibrahim and me, 1989, Middlebury Vermont

Dr. Ibrahim and me, 1989, Middlebury Vermont

Speaking of my current chapter as an artist, Abdullah Ibrahim’s influence on my creative mission is certain and very direct. Yes, for me, my art is about providing an opportunity for a small moment of positive feeling. I also have redeployed many times his self-evaluative question: What are your four highest art forms that you practice?

FB-Yayiqandusela-16x16-Stephen-Calhoun(2016)

At 83, Abdullah Ibrahim, the ‘africanizer of Ellington,’ remains one of the masters of contemporary and ancient music. The tour video above from a few weeks ago speaks for itself. Ibrahim lives today with his honey in Switzerland.

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Teaching Cartoon: If It feels Good, Then What?

Teaching Cartoon Development

“For the mind of man is far from the nature of a clear and equal glass, wherein the beams of things should reflect according to their true incidence; nay, it is rather like an enchanted glass, full of superstition and imposture, if it be not delivered and reduced.” — Francis Bacon

Biscuits

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the glib but best-selling Sapiens and Homo Deus, reduces massive ideas with the efficiency of a clothes dryer fed a soaking wool sweater. For example, liberal humanism in his view simply erases all but the individual’s feeling and so it is literally for him the natural state of affairs that if something feels good one may just do it. He also asserts that, maybe, this is entirely to do to with implicitly ‘necessitarian’ algorithms.

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A Benefit of Global Warming?

Free Play Softball Oct 1 2017

Another beautiful day for our Sunday Free Play Softball game. The weather has been mild all summer and now is unseasonably warm in the early fall. We’ll keep playing until the increasing cold knocks our numbers below twelve.

What is arrogance?
It is being oblivious and insensible to what is essential,
as the ice is unaware of the sun.
When ice becomes conscious of the sun, it doesn’t last
long: it warms and melts and flows away.

— Rumi; Mathnawi V:1941-1942
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski

Bukowski&theGods

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