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tom moody

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Between Christmas and New Year's Jim Bassett went to LA and environs and kept everyone visually informed on his photolog. All the pictures were taken with one of those cell phone/camera/internet browser combos, and even better, Jim worked out a way to resize and upload them directly to the website from the camera. The picture above is super lush and proves (along with many others) that this method is completely "there" as a photographic medium. Nice work, Jim!

The California trip pictures start roughly halfway down this page. Click "older posts" at the bottom of that page to view more.

- tom moody 1-01-2004 10:41 pm [link] [2 comments]

Last night I joined Critical Mass for its annual New Year's Eve bike ride from Union Square to Belvedere Castle in Central Park. With a large enough group of riders (60-75) you pretty much rule the road, and this crowd was noisy--hooting, blowing off noisemakers, and imitating car alarms. I enjoyed riding through the tunnel under Park Avenue (in the dark), skirting Grand Central on the elevated ramp, and even crossing the post-Giuliani Gestapo cattle chutes they set up at Times Square every year to keep revelers under strict government control. (That sounds harsh, I guess, but the cops used the same techniques to corral Iraq War protesters last February, and no doubt this year's New Year's is more practice for the coming Republican Convention debacle.)

At Belvedere Castle we had an excellent vantage point for the fireworks that blew off when '03 changed to '04. The police helicopters keeping us all safe from terror had an even better view of the show. After the Castle several of us rode down the newly-completed bike path that runs along the Hudson, and watched the moon set over New Jersey. Great night. Happy New Year to all.

UPDATE: An animated .GIF with pics of the event, by Kristin Lucas, is in the comments to this post.

- tom moody 1-01-2004 5:51 pm [link] [8 comments]

I recently added an archive for my 2003 artwork, which includes some of the .gif animations I've been doing lately. The one below is enlarged from its actual 157 X 175 pixel size, and I'm happy to report it looks OK in Safari internet browsers.

UPDATE: I moved the animations (including the one below) out of my Artwork 2003 archive and into a new page called Animation Log).


- tom moody 1-01-2004 12:41 am [link] [add a comment]

John Gregory Dunne, novelist, journalist, husband of Joan Didion, died yesterday. I highly recommend his book Monster: Living Off the Big Screen. Lucidly written, incredibly dry, it describes the process by which he and Didion adapted the story of TV anchor Jessica Savitch, which eventually became the dumb movie Up Close and Personal. If you want to know exactly why Hollywood offerings, and especially those produced by Scott Rudin and/or starring Robert Redford, are bland and suck, read this book. In real life Savitch's Svengali husband (played by Redford) was a wifebeater with a sick psychological hold over Savitch; barely a glimmer of this survives in the movie. Chapter by chapter, Dunne takes you through the process whereby reality, and a script, is transformed into uplifting, conventional treacle.

During the on and off writing of the Savitch screenplay, Dunne and Didion tackle a science fiction script, for a Simpson/Bruckheimer blockbuster (never filmed) called Dharma Blue. The plot concerns UFO-related goings-on at a mysterious research facility called Rhyolite. Written into a corner, they decide they need a lesson in current physics to move the story forward. Science go-to guy Michael Crichton's suggested dialogue about string theory cracked me up:

[Doctor, novelist, filmmaker] Michael Crichton has for years been our authority about matters medical and scientific. [I called him and said] Michael, tell me about string theory. "For a piece, book, or movie?" Michael asked. "Movie," we said. "You want to know what it is," he asked, "or do you need dialogue?" "Dialogue," we said, "and we need to keep it simple." "John," he said patiently, "It's a movie." We explained the circumstances. "I'll check some people and get back to you," Michael said.

A few days before our meeting with Simpson and Bruckheimer, Michael called back with the requisite information, and helped us put it in dialogue form:

A. Most people think of the universe as having four dimensions. Height, length, depth, and time. String theorists have constructed a theoretical model of the universe with 26 orthogonal dimensions.

B. Orthogonal?

A. At right angles...

B. But what does it mean that they're doing string theory at Rhyolite?

A. I think it means they're not doing theory any more.

(a beat)

It means that...whatever they're out there to study...may appear to exist in more than four dimensions.

(another beat)

It means they could be out there to see what 26 orthogonal dimensions looks like when it hits the real world.

Dunne and Didion also start an action movie script, and feel considerable pressure to come up with "whammies"--an industry term for "special effects that kill a lot of people, usually bad people, but occasionally, for motivational impact, a good person, the star's girlfriend, say, or that old standby, the star's partner, a detective with a week left before retirement." After they submit a story outline filled with what they think is the requisite mayhem, director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) rejects it, and describes his ideal scenario: "'First act, better whammies,' he said. 'Second act, whammies mount up. Third act, all whammies.'"

- tom moody 1-01-2004 12:33 am [link] [add a comment]

Shinshi and Ohta at Narita Airport (with a few unscheduled takeoffs). From Patlabor: The Mobile Police. This file is at 109K [UPDATE: I corrected some of of the wobbliness in the framing]. In the comments to this post is a cleaner (330K) version of the file, which is truer to the source DVD. There is probably some easier way to convert DVD clips to animated .GIFs than the frame by frame reconstruction and compression I did. Let's just say I learned a lot about this 1 and 1/20 second of video.

- tom moody 12-30-2003 1:50 am [link] [1 comment]

Still frame from You Only Live Twice, 1967. The guy in the picture uses the keypunch equipment to move a surveillance camera around. If you haven't seen this Bond movie lately, check it out. It's set entirely in Japan, and the '60s Zen moderne interiors are amazing. Great dated tech stuff like this Burroughs machine. An electromagnet dangled from a helicopter picks up a car full of bad guys and dumps them in the ocean, demonstrating "the efficiency of Japanese technology." Assuming you can laugh at period sexism, the movie's practically a love letter to the Patriarchy ("In Japan, men come first, women come second," observes a Japanese agent as he introduces Bond's personal retinue of scantily-clad masseuses). John Barry's sumptuous, starkly emotional score is way better than this entertaining trifle deserves, however.

- tom moody 12-29-2003 10:07 pm [link] [1 comment]

Amusing photos of error messages appearing on public screens (Macy's, the subway, bank ATMs) are here. Most are Windows, what a surprise. A sample photo can be found in the comments to this post. [via]

- tom moody 12-28-2003 7:36 am [link] [4 comments]

In the earlier thread on whether Ron Mueck is really still a Muppeteer, Sally gave some examples of things we'd miss out on with a narrowly drawn definition of "artist." One is "guitar solos as art performance," referring to a certain Cory Arcangel piece. But the art wasn't really the guitar solo, it was a mock power point lecture about hyperspecialized internet communities, in this case electric guitar nerds who devote whole sites and chatboards to legendary guitarists and famous solos. Arcangel took many of the technical details in the lecture from such sites, and then surprised the audience, at the end of the performance, with his prowess in playing Van Halen's "Eruption" solo note for note. The event combined visuals, talk, and music. Is the art world big enough to embrace this? I'd say yes. But what if Whitney curator Larry Rinder went to Williamsburg, heard a guitarist he liked, and invited him to play his instrument at the museum, as art?

Rinder is actually one of the worst offenders in the "I have the power to make you an artist" game. The 2001 Biennial included Samuel Mockbee's Rural Studio, which applied cutting edge design and economizing principles to housing for the disadvantaged in rural Alabama. The designs (captured in photos and models) were nice, but wouldn't this have been more meaningful in an architectural context? Also, could the NY museum audience ever really "get" the work without directly experiencing it? Rinder also bestowed Chris Ware's comix with the magic art aura, mounting the individual pages on the walls, behind glass, as drawings. But who's going to read all those pages in a museum gallery? There's an ideal form for viewing that kind of material--it's called the "comic book." The inclusion of Ware and Mockbee meant two less slots for validating folks who have been working away as visual artists, and who are possibly even expert at projects meant to be experienced in a gallery-type space.

Sally also mentions Damien Hirst's cut-up cow as something that perhaps took a wrong turn on the way to the natural history museum (my phrasing). Should it be banned from the art arena? No, because it's very self-consciously aware of how it fits in the chain of postwar art movements, referencing Minimalist seriality, the (Robert) Smithsonian critique of 19th Century museological and taxonomic principles, even animal gore a la the Viennese actionists...much of which ground (round) had already been covered in the '60s with Paul Thek's "meat in a vitrine" pieces, only not so literally. That's Hirst. But again, if a curator had a fishtank shipped over from an aquarium because he thought the tank-designer was an artist...

UPDATE: Some may remember my "revised BitStreams" roster included all kinds of folks outside the art world, which may seem like a contradiction. My point there was that in the case of emerging "digital culture," which is so new and undefined, you have to look elsewhere to find a technical yardstick and context. Rinder did that a bit in "BitStreams," he just picked crappy examples. Does that mean people who make title sequences for movies are artists? No, just that you ought to take them into account when evaluating whether, say, Jeremy Blake is any good.

- tom moody 12-28-2003 12:18 am [link] [18 comments]