Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Five Things: Updates from "The Head" Tech, part 2

The entire Reilly-Bedard household is still in tech - opening night is tomorrow.  Limited brain space means another quick "five things" post this week.

1.  Myst is 20, and there's a great article about its legacy.  There's actually a much longer, more in depth blog post in my head about Myst, gaming, and its connection to my lighting design career and love of certain kinds of theater.  Keating sent this my way earlier this week and it took me back to freshman year, playing this game on a friend's Apple computer in Scott Hall at UNH.  Myst, for me, led to Riven, Zork: Nemesis and all the old Zork games, interactive fiction, eventually The Beast, which directly relates to my love of Sleep No More and new media art.  My roots as an artist extend back 20 years to that island. 

2.  Fantastic Fest is going on in Austin right now, and they're showing Escape From Tomorrow, and I'm in tech!  I've been waiting to see this for months.  While I'm so happy that it seems like this movie is gaining wider release, great reviews and an audience, waiting for a showing of it that I can actually attend involves holding my breath and crossing my fingers that a certain major corporation doesn't pursue a lawsuit first...

3.  I'm immersing myself in anything and everything that feels like the arctic to me as part of my research for "Sila."  My favorite thing found so far?  This series of photos, "Vanishing Spirits," by Ernie Button.






4.  Did you know that overactive kittens left alone all day long because their owners are in tech can contribute to sleepless nights?  For three nights now I have woken to a very needy, purring kitten licking my face.  Other than this behavior, Ygritte is doing really well in our house and things are starting to calm down with Sansa and Asha.  Here is a photo of Ygritte helping me with paperwork for "The Head:





5.  Finally, if you're in/near/around/inclined to visit Austin in the next few weeks, come see the hard work of a ton of great artists (including Travis and myself) in Trouble Puppet's latest production, "The Head," which opens tomorrow night!  Tickets can be purchased here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Five Things: Updates From "The Head" Tech

I'm currently in tech for Trouble Puppet's production "The Head," which opens next Thursday, September 26.  You should see it, it's a ton of fun.  Five brief snippets from this week:

1.  Barbara Kingsolver's novel The Lacuna is just fantastic - art, politics, social justice, cultural identity.  Tomorrow is a full day off from the show, and supposedly it's going to be pouring rain outside, and I plan to spend the whole day indoors with cats and this book.

2.  The Kitten Formerly Known as Jon Snow is now the kitten named Ygritte.  Because she was a girl.  She now lives with us, indoors, and it's pretty awesome, except that both Travis and I are in tech for "The Head" right now, which leaves 5 month old ball-of-energy Ygritte at home with no one to entertain her.  We get home at 11:30pm from rehearsal each night, and she's all "OMG TIME TO PLAY!!" and we're all no, seriously, bed.  Never, ever bring a kitten home on purpose when you and your partner are going to be in tech; wait until the show opens.  Ygritte chose us and chose us at this specific time, so I don't feel too badly.  She likes to bite my toes and sit on my face if I am not playing or cuddling enough.

3.  I've been thinking a lot this week about the tendency that many people have to cut down other people who work to create something in their lives.  Some of this stems from having to dig up David Wong's great piece on Cracked.com, which addresses this specifically and calls out its own comments section as an example.  And some of it is because of this critique of CrossFit, and critiques of CrossFit always sound to me like they are coming from people who would rather sit on the couch and criticize anyone wanting to be fit (I don't know if this one specifically does).  There's a longer blog post in my head somewhere, when I have time and energy to think through it.

4.  I'm currently following the ARG "The Blackhollow Project" - just watching for now as it has already been going on for two months, but isn't so complex that it's impossible to catch up and follow the story pretty quickly.  REALLY wish someone would create an Austin-centered ARG!

5.  If you get a chance, check out Penfold Theatre's production of "Red," which closes September 29 and is DEFINITELY worth your time.  And I was pleasantly surprised to see that a colleague of mine from grad school designed the set!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Creating in an Analog Way.

This morning on the drive in to work, I listened to the most recent Radiolab podcast, which was a brief overview of the band Dawn of Midi.  Their music began with these sort of unstructured improvisation sessions and grew into something completely different because the members of the band were listening to different kinds of music from all over the world.  That music seeped in to their work and their music evolved because of it (research!).  I was completely fascinated by their music before they got to the best part of the piece:

"I think that something is going on in the world right now, the last 10-15 years, you see it in a lot of fields right now...people doing things "in an analog way" that, ten years ago, would have been assumed absolutely impossible without the aid of technology.  You see it from big wave surfers who found out they could ride huge waves if they have jet skis to pull them into these waves, and now they're saying "hey wait a minute, we could catch these with our arms again."  But the jet ski needed to be there to show them that this was even possible.  And you see it with this French beat boxer video online...he's doing something that just sounds impossible...the kind of stuff that Aphex was programming in its music, but this guy's doing it with his mouth.  And it's like, the computers showed us a world of possibility, and now we're sort of realizing that world was inherent to us, not the machines."

That (probably badly transcribed) quote was from Aakaash Israni, bassist for Dawn of Midi.

I joke a lot about doing things in an analog way, whether that's in creating art or insisting on reading actual paper books and not electronic devices or continuing to balance my checkbook manually.  Travis is insanely digital in the way he does things - everything he does appears to be handled online in a streamlined way, often in a way I didn't know existed.  And despite my interest in digital technology and new media I find myself frequently drawn to the aspects and uses that are more "analog" in either nature or aesthetic.  And I LOVE the idea that we could only fully come to appreciate some of the "analog" ways of doing things BECAUSE of the ways that digital technology, machines, computers, etc have helped us find new ways of doing those things.  That, because of technology, we now know of ways to approach problems or create art that we can now look at solving or creating without that technology.  I love seeing things like overhead projectors or handmade animation or puppetry used in theatrical productions because of this.  We have the technology and ability to do that all digitally now (well, maybe not always the financial resources) and yet we turn around and do it manually, and in doing so create a different aesthetic.  And it really becomes about which aesthetic best supports the work at hand, and not about simply using the newest technology because we can.  It's about what that technology can teach us, and how our work evolves because of it, whether we end up using it or not.

Recently Travis, Will, and I took an impromptu road trip to Houston to check out the Turrell retrospective at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts (I'm sure I'll write about that at some point).  After seeing the Turrell works, we found ourselves in the basement of the museum where there was a photographic exhibit showing ways artists manipulated photographs before the advent of Photoshop.  I loved seeing these works that might be "easily" created using software today but which were created by manipulating negatives or using other manual techniques.  It really made me curious about what I might be working on right now using the Adobe Creative Suite and how I might be able to accomplish the same things without Photoshop, Premiere, and After Effects.

The good life.

Recently I asked my first year students the following question: At this time, what constitutes the "good life" for you? What per...