Category Archives: News

Damned Tornadoes Interfereing with My Art

All I wanted to do today was to go to Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas and install about 700 arrows in the ceiling of a hallway there for an exhibition at the school called “Temporary Occupants”. My piece is called “Inhale-Exhale” and it involves the arrows interacting with the intake and output air vents in the ceiling of the hallway…

But just like every other time it seems like I have to install or transport artwork, mother nature just HAS to show me who’s boss… Fifteen tornadoes were spotted in the DFW area this afternoon, many just miles from my location, and so two hours of my precious install-time were spent sitting in the basement awaiting the impending doom…

And if that image is not enough, here is a video from the same storm of some semi-trailers being tossed about like balloons… And THAT is the tornado that was still headed toward Mesquite, exactly where I was installing artwork.

Amazingly, we dodged that bullet and my truck survived without even a hail dent. I was finally allowed to continue my installation and I was finished by around 9:00 tonight. So at least mother nature was simply a road-block and not a wrecking ball for my artwork…In retrospect, the mechanics of fluid motion that are at play in a storm are exactly the things I am interested in with the air currents in this piece on a much smaller scale. Coincidence? I think not… ūüėČ Here are some images I got of the finished work tonight.

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012 detail image

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012- detail image

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Kony Kids, Mike Daisey, And The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Chic Kony Youth infographical photoshop by Edward Stafford with all due apologies to Sonic Youth and Raymond Pettibon.

Every now and then, I just have to sort of turn off the Internets and remind myself that there is a world around me that I am not powerless against and where my actions do make a difference. ¬†Usually these actions involve making sure my son doesn’t break a limb or paint the floor silver. ¬†This past week, it’s meant dropping out to finish some gratifying crafty projects and spending time with people who have become very dear to me. ¬†I enjoy dropping out and venturing into the real world. ¬†I used to think it was so much worse than the virtual world that springs into existence when I hit the Safari or Firefox icons. ¬†But lately, that virtual world has become the bigger drag.

In the last week, a confluence of media clusterfuckery wafted across the binary landscape like that scary fucking dust storm that swept across Australia. ¬†Or was it Arizona? ¬†First, there was the Kony 2012 bear trap that Paul documented here. ¬†I can’t add anything useful that hasn’t already been screamed across the Tweetisphere or Facebookistan. ¬†Between everyone trying to tell me what I should think– or worse yet, how I should feel about it– I have to admit that I really just don’t fucking care.

There’s a term for this — Compassion Fatigue. ¬†There is just so much of a shit one person can give. ¬†Yes, what Joseph Kony is responsible for is reprehensible. ¬†Yes, something should be done about it. ¬†And yes, it’s a good thing that people are being made aware of it. ¬†But I honestly believe that Invisible Children made things worse. ¬†It’s the same problem that arose over the weekend with this douche nozzle:

Mike Daisey: pathological liar dirtbag infographical photoblop by Edward Stafford with apologies to all the 13-year-old girls who don't really work at Foxconn

I’m a big fan of This American Life. ¬†I love Ira Glass and have a deep appreciation for the magic he and the crew bring to the radio box every week. ¬†So I was stunned to hear this weekend’s show, “Retraction,” which is basically an hour long apology and serious look at how one of their most popular shows, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” was mostly a fabrication.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s basically an hour-long expos√© of the shitty working conditions at Foxconn, the Chinese superfactory where many computer companies, including Apple, have their ideas turned into reality. ¬†As you might imagine, the shitty conditions at the Chinese superfactory are pretty fucking shitty. ¬†Like, way worse than working at Wal Mart or Starbucks. ¬†This particular episode of This American Life was based on Mike Daisey’s one-man play, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, which was supposed to be based on his reporting done in China while he posed as a fatcat businessman, which I imagine he pulls off convincingly. ¬†The problem is, well, he just made a bunch of shit up.

Which is fine. ¬†I’m a big fan of making shit up. ¬†But I don’t try to pass it off as the truth. ¬†There needs to be a disclaimer, like when you go to the movies and it says something like “this film is based on actual events.” ¬†You know it’s been cooked a bit for dramatic effect and it’s okay because the filmmakers gave you a knowing wink. ¬†I understand that maybe Daisey thought that because it was This American Life, he could get away with not telling the whole truth and call it creative license and claim the high ground because he brought these deplorable conditions to the attention of millions of people.

Which brings us back to the Kony Kids and what they have in common with fellow numbskull, Mike Daisey. ¬†There’s a danger in playing this game where you insert yourself into the story. ¬†When it’s your story, you embellish, embroider, and embiggen. ¬†It’s hardwired into our DNA. ¬†When the story is about something particularly heinous, like Joseph Kony or the terrible conditions at Foxconn, isn’t it enough that the story is terrible? ¬†Why the need to make it more terrible through exaggeration, misstatement of fact, or not being upfront with your reasons for bringing the story to light? ¬†It’s pretty obvious that the purveyors of both of these stories are attention whores and it’s maddening that the media doesn’t call them out on it.

But the worst thing is that, just like that other famous attention whore, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, these guys ultimately do more harm than good and end up as dinner for the wolf.  Wolf Blitzer.  The important stories they try to bring to light become secondary to the rise and fall of the hero.  Daisey and the Kony Kids  become the story, the media looks at their belly buttons and wonders how the fuck they got duped, and everyone forgets about Foxconn and Kony because it was all just made up, right?

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Kony 2012- The New Face of Christian Evangelism

By now you’ve probably seen the slickly produced and obviously well financed video called “Kony 2012”. When you first see the video, it’s hard not to be moved by it. But what is never discussed amid all of the heartstring plucking is that “Invisible Children“, the group who produced the video, are financed in part by the National Christian Foundation, the very same group who funds anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family and The Family Research Council. This article in The Advocate has a deeper analysis and I thought this portion of 10 O’Clock Live with Charlie Brooker was also insightful on the subject.

All of this could have never prepared me for the completely surreal and ironic turn of events within the last day or so. The seemingly angelic director of the “Kony 2012” video,¬†Jason Russell, was detained by the San Diego police Thursday for being publicly naked, masturbating and obviously drug-induced (although his business partners claim it was stress related). The video is NSFW, so I will link to it and you can watch at your own discretion.

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Supersilent 10.8

It was a year ago today that the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan causing the resulting tsunami and disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Soon after watching the devastation in Japan unfold, I remember coming across this video where someone paired the hauntingly beautiful song,”10.8″, by Supersilent with footage from the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco.¬†I remember being floored by the video because of the parallels with what was going on currently in Japan and being helpless to do anything about it. I posted the video in my own blog and here is what I wrote about it a year ago:

The footage is from the aftermath of the San Fransisco earthquake from 1906. It kind of puts a historical lens on things that are currently happening in Japan and how catastrophes like this are viewed from those of us who are looking at it through the eye of the camera…

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R.I.P. Ralph McQuarrie

Concept art for The Empire Strikes Back by Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie was not a household name, yet the characters and creations he conceptualized are seared into the consciousness of generations of Earthlings.¬† You don’t have to be a science fiction fan at all to know and love R2-D2, C-3PO, Yoda, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, or Boba Fett.¬† I challenge you to find a male between the ages of 8 and 48 who doesn’t want to do the Kessel Run in the Millennium Falcon in less than 10 parsecs. It was McQuarrie’s art that brought all of those characters into our lives– and yes, I would argue the Millennium Falcon is a character.¬† So it is with a heavy heart that I report the news of Ralph McQuarrie’s passing today at the age of 82.

McQuarrie's concept art for the Millennium Falcon.

Without the vision of McQuarrie, it’s impossible to say what the original Star Wars trilogy would have looked like.¬† Though since he didn’t work on the second trilogy, I think it’s safe to say things probably would have been a whole lot different.¬† George Lucas usually gets the credit for bringing the Star Wars universe to life, but it was McQuarrie’s blueprints, sketches, concept art, and ideas that made the characters, spaceships and planets look and feel both compelling and believable.

The ship that warped all concepts of what a spaceship had to look like-- Boba Fett's Slave I from Return of the Jedi.

It would have been more than enough to have conceived the Star Wars iconography.  But McQuarrie also designed the mothership for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he worked on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Trek IV, and Jurassic Park.  And all those ships in the original Battlestar Galactica?  McQuarrie had a hand in that as well.

The Cylons taking on a Viper Mk. II. Concept art for the original Battlestar Galactica.

When I was in the 4th grade, I had this book of Empire Strikes Back concept art.¬† I wore the spine out of that book tracing pictures of Yoda, the snow speeders and Imperial AT-ATs.¬† It fired my imagination and undoubtedly played a part in my fondness for faffing about with home made spaceships nowadays.¬† I don’t know why it’s important, I just know that it is.¬† So I bid Ralph McQuarrie a heartfelt farewell.¬† May he be free to roam the cosmos in the coolest spaceships ever designed.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury Believes We’re Damn Dirty Apes and Other Revelations

I confess, I’ve just not made time to watch the recent headline-making Richard Dawkins-Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury debate. Bad Angela. Bad militant atheist.¬†Still, whatever Rick Santorum thinks, a good CPAC panel does a great deal more to radicalize my beliefs than Professor Dawkins ever, ever could.

While I can’t know this for certain, I doubt when I finally watch this that I’ll be very surprised by any of the content. I’ve seen these two men converse before — I won’t say debate. For all his reputed venom, there is no such thing as a Dawkinslap, and I’ve always found him to be very blunt, but also quite respectful. I’m pretty well read and YouTubed up on Dawkins and his Four Horsemen colleagues. Please partake if you’ve not seen these discussions, featuring Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

One thing that would definitely NOT surprise me is the fact that Dawkins allows a scintilla of the possibility that there might be a God or a Great Something-Or-Other or FSM, whatevs. He’s said that before. He wrote a whole big long book about this. It’s called “The God Delusion.” And yet after this debate, like manna from heaven, gleeful headlines that Dawkins is an agnostic, not an atheist. Clearly a saucy headline. All he’s saying is there is a limit to his knowledge, and so of course he can’t say there absolutely is no such thing.

What I found more eyebrow-raising, unmentioned in most reports I’ve seen, although present in the Telegraph account, was the Archbishop’s admission that he believes that humans have non-human ancestors. Perhaps if I were a Christian, or one who doesn’t live in the U.S., that would surprise me less, too. I think it would be a very good headline. “Head of the Church of England Believes in Darwinian Evolution.” As good as “World’s Most Famous Atheist Isn’t Quite Strictly an Atheist”? Perhaps not. I still like mine though.

I leave you with one of my favorite Dawkins moments from the YouTubes: the look on his face when Deepak Chopra explains how scientists have hijacked quantum theory and what follows, what I suppose you MIGHT consider a Dawkinslap.

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Further Proof The GOP Panders To Racism And Fear

As if you needed more.¬† This ad aired during the Super Bowl, so you know former congressman and current senate candidate and climate change denier Pete Hoekstra means bidness.¬† Seriously, he approves this message?¬† For fuck’s sake, what kind of moron would produce this ad, presumably watch it before it airs, and think it’s good enough to spend $3.5 million to air it during the Super Bowl?¬† If that’s the sort of judgment Hoekstra shows during a campaign, who in their right mind would think he’s qualified to be in the Senate?

I’m going to assume if you’re reading this, you’re bright enough to be able to imagine the ad without the overt racism.¬† So join me in this thought experiment– Imagine it’s just an ad with Pete talking and there’s no ching chong ling long music or amazingly well-dressed, beautiful Chinese peasant girl who happens to speak better English than most elected representatives in the US House.¬† OK, you follow me?¬† It’s just Pete, talking, and he calls his opponent, Debbie Stabenow, “Debbie Spend-it-now.”¬† Just let that wash over you for a minute.¬† Because if you’re like me, you were probably a bit gobsmacked by the fact that this ad wasn’t a Colbert SuperPAC parody.¬† Just leave it at the “ain’t I clever” name change.¬† Is this the sort of behavior that should be rewarded with a seat in the US Senate?¬† It’s not.¬† And if you think it is, you should be rewarded with a dunce cap the size of Pete Hoekstra’s hubris.

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