Saturday, March 31, 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007


I learned about Tara Donovan from a teammate today. I was amazed by her installations: transforming everyday inexpensive materials, such as plastic drinking straws, paper plates, pins, into organic forms, often reminiscent of natural landscape.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Big Fish Eating Little Fish

Besides Pieter Bruegel's famous painting The Tower of Babel, I saw another interesting one today Big Fish Eating Little Fish (Thanks for the book, Budi!) In the foreground, the man in the boat with his son is pointing at the scene. The Flemish inscription below the painting says: "Look son, I have long known that the big fish eat the small." Fish seem both omnipresent and omnipotent in the painting - we even see flying fish. The presence and power of fish gets transformed into human: human figures are "fishized", esp. the walking "fishman" (or "manfish"?) to the right of the giant fish, as well as the fisherman to the left with a fish-like body. Is it a hint by the artist that we are no different than fish in this ruthless and senseless world?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Projection Artist

Magda is going back to Poland this Sunday, which makes me think "Polish" :) What do I know about Poland except Polanski's films? One special artist came across my mind is Krzysztof Wodiczko, who creates his art/statement by projecting images onto building facades in the community. His works explore a lot of things: momumentality & temporality, body & skin, architecture & city, people & society, the aesthetic & psychological, foreground & background, the everyday & the uncanny...As a political and public art, his projection is more cinematic and transient than graffiti.

PBS has a good webpage about his art. As aruged in the essay: He challenges the silent, stark monumentality of buildings, activating them in an examination of notions of human rights, democracy, and truths about the violence, alienation, and inhumanity that underlie countless aspects of social interaction in present-day society. (read more and watch artist interviews here)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bottles of Poem

These beautiful sandblasted glass bottles are created by Jeff Crandall, a poet as well as a glass artist. Each bottle has a theme indicating its content, followed by a short witty poem. My favorite ones are -

DREAMS (Cobalt blue bottle) -

PASSION (Clear-aquamarine bottle) -

TIME (Clear-aquamarine bottle) -

TRUST (Clear-aquamarine bottle) -

TRUTH (Clear-aquamarine bottle) -

YOUTH (Clear-aquamarine bottle) -

Bottles to me are magic containers. They offers an imaginary space to collect laughters and tears, to store a certain smell that belongs to a certain time, to hold a unique taste driven by desire.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Support Amazon

I got a few books from The Book Loft in German Village yesterday, thought was a good deal. Later I found Amazon even offers better price for brandnew ones. I decide to check Amazon first next time I buy a book or DVD, for not only for the price, but the fact it will help those under-privileged children in China. If you shop at Amazon from OCEF (Oversea China Education Foundation) webpage
OCEF will get 4-8.5% referrel fee from Amazon to use on education. So I will support Amazon:)

Saturday, March 17, 2007


I usually fall in love with something everytime I go to Target. Today I was attracted by Choxie, a chocolate brand I've never seen at other stores. First, the name drew my attention since I'm always interested in any name with my last name 'xie' in it :) Second, I fall for the look: very cute and artful packages; Finally the different shapes and flavors of chocolate are just irresistable! Among them, the artisan truffle tiles seem the most charming to me. Will try them lately!

Also found a fun blog by a girl all about candies. Here are her comments on Choxie -

Monday, March 12, 2007

Seeing is Believing - UFO Sighting Mar 11, 2007

Last night I took a walk in the neighborhood, and noticed the clouds appeared in strange shape: like dark grey smokes. I got a feeling that something unusual would happen. Around 8pm I was walking towards north in a large open field, suddenly this around translucent green object appeared in between the clouds, as big as the size of a full moon. It moved and jumped toward east at high speed while flashing, and then disappeared. The whole experience took only 3-5 seconds. Being a UFO believer, I was totally overwhemled with the sight. Wish I could take video!

In this case, SEEING is BELIEVING :) also the title of Peter Jenning's 2-hr special show on UFOs ( Man's curiosity and passion for the unkown will never die!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Just learned about this from a friend today. It is said the skywalk opens to public this March. So I will be able to walk on it when I go there. Here is their offcial website:

It is absolutely amazing from the engineering standpoint. But viewed from the rendering, Grand Canyon seems commercialized to me. I'm not sure whether we want to build something in every spectacular natural landscape to attract people.

The Five Obstructions

I watched a very interesting movie The Five Obstructions with a friend’s recommendation. In the movie, Jørgen Leth is challenged by Lars von Trier to redo his 1967 short film The Perfect Human with the following five obstructions –
1. do it in Cuba; no shot longer than 12 frames
2. do it in the worst place in the world without showing the place
3. do it in whatever way (as a punishment on the unsuccessful result of task #2)
4. do it as cartoon (Jørgen’s most hated genre)
5. reading a narration written by Lars

These five obstructions possibly present the extreme ways an artist should criticize his own works: to change the context; to push it to the extreme situation; to deal with the “impossible” total freedom; to do it by one’s most hated means; to know oneself through a competitor’s eyes. Leth’s responses to these obstructions are fantastic. You have to watch this film!

The 12-minute long The Perfect Human is just brilliant, stylish and humorous. We see a man and a woman, both good-looking and elegant, living in an abstract space, like vacuum. They behave in a narcissistic and detached way, detached from their living environment and detached from each other. The voiceover keeps asking a lot of questions in search of what a PERFECT human is, which has a satirical effect to make us laugh at ourselves.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

Seeing this film a few years ago makes me a Luis Buñuel fan. Buñuel was a close friend of Dali when studying in Spain. I became obsessed with surrealistic film, for it presents to us a dream-like reality full of seemingly absurdity and disturbance, which is nevertheless speaking of the truth. In a sense, such a reality is more real than everyday reality.

The repeated theme of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is about a dinner planned by a group of bourgeois friends however always gets ruined by unexpected occurrences. There is always something peculiar or mislocated happening. Satirically enough, every time the part for explanation is wiped off by some suddenly arising noise, reality nevertheless keeps running well within this ignorance. It seems for the Bourgeoisie the symbolic order is a joke played by itself though its meaningless interpretations and faked grace.

The chronological narrative is often interrupted by scenes of brutality such as a military lieutenant’s description about his mother’s tragic death, the ambassador’s dream of being killed by the antagonists. (a story within a story theme) These nightmares precisely represent the intrusion of the real. Sometimes the audience is confused about the boundary between the realistic and surrealistic in the film, it renders the very fragility and contingency of life.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

2001: A Space Odyssey v.s. Solaris

These two sci-fi movies are very comparable in film history. Tarkovsky's Solaris (1972) is often seen as a response to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

2001: A Space Odyssey is full of symbolic meanings. It is a detached view, a presentation without a visible presenter, a visual symphony, about human evolution in relation to technology from prehistory to the future. It offers a place to reflect upon the interrelationship between man and his tool through time. The special effects experimented in the movie was truly pioneering.

For Tarkovsky, cinema's best strength is to observe life, as a mirror for us to look into ourselves. Even as a sci-fi movie, Solaris tries to jump out of the genre by minimizing the special effects while focusing on characters' phychological world. Unlike typical outer-space-themed movies, the mysterious planet solaris interacts with human by duplicating the significant persons in one's life, triggering a dialogue within one's own phyche. Although the story happens in outer-space, it is nevertheless a exploration of our inner-space.

If 2001: A Space Odyssey is an objective, loud, high-speed and outward argument, Solaris is a subjective, quiet, slow-paced and inward journey.