words written in the week of
March 13th to March 19th
in previous years.
This was 4 years, 4 months, 11 days ago

fingers move across a page. here we are. something written to be shared and to not-be-shared.

--

attention economy. how does attention swirl, attract, focus? is attention a resource, or a phenomena? money: labor :: attention : ?

I am looking for the non-monetized, the non-resource-oriented, the non-scarcity-oriented version of attention. that is to say: not a rejection of attention, but alternatives to the attention vs non-attention axis.

work and practice needs axes of understanding other than monetizable / not-monetizable. to make work that is not profitable or profitable is to fit onto a narrow and uncomfortable path that seems overly constraining.
similarly, work and practice needs axes of understanding other than attention-gathering / not-attention-gathering.

--

why is this important to me? perhaps because I feel, more and more, the work that is interesting to me is work that is difficult to describe. the politics of materials. the joy in interfacing with spaces, the satisfaction of engaging with industry. utopian ideals expressed through logistics and budgets.

bruno latour has these chains of non-human and human elements: H-NH-NH-NH-H. a human using a non-human key in a non-human door to walk into a non-human meeting room to interface with other-humans. from his framework, meaning passes through 'chains of reference'. scientists observe materials and write down on notes and then onto paper and then into computers (excel) and then into math equations until expressed as a PDF and then debated by humans and then printed onto paper. meaning passes through medium. meaning is generated by these chains of mediums.

ideal spaces means to care for bodies.
my erratic marxism frames non-exploitative labor as the one that is transparent, that shows and displays surplus labor, that is transparent about the way large amounts of capital make it easier to earn more capital, that acknowledges labor-power and how it is used to make profit for capital-owners.
my erratic marxism frames ethical practice as understanding that we don't make money to pay for rent & food; rather, rent and wage labor are systems that occlude the real costs of living - beds, food, spaces.

ideally, radical practices are ones that care for people's bodies, not just for minds: more infrastructure/care practice, less thought leaders.

--

currently infrastructure practice feels like long walks at night, home depot, freighter trucks, podcasts in my ears, the endless noise of pressure washers hitting concrete. spreadsheets, gantt charts, talks with electricians and plumbers.

future infrastructure feels like events, friends in the space, dinners, moving desks around to do exciting work, all the nice things easily instagrammable, research and practices and books being made and physical experiments manifesting.

what about the chains between the two? how do you get from one to the other? a series of chains like hopscotch, or stones skipping on water, or a network graph. certainly one happens because of the other. certainly the back-of-house kitchen is where the front-of-house food is made. why this front/back division? is it necessary? are there restaurants where you eat in the kitchen? where the kitchen is around you? is this even possible within a restaurant-form? maybe the best kind of food-eating-experience is where you are cooking, and your friends are cooking and cleaning, and labor and consumption are all tangled into each other?

how do you extend the kind of affection and intention lent to food and cooking and its raw manifestation ('oh I love going to farmer's markets') to the kind of affection and intention lent to other kinds of practice and infrastructure ('oh I love being covered in motor oil gunk, doing spreadsheets, so that I can further my own research')? how are these chains made visible? or how to work with these chains that escapes the dominant axis of attention-vs-not-attention and finds some other vectors or fields understood to be utopian?

perhaps this is the field of architecture exerting its hold onto me, the 19th C myth of the Romantic mad genius still prevailing, of uniqueness being the primary expression of difference and authorial intent, of authorial intent itself being a primary understanding of architectural value. or even more cynically, authorial intent is a form of market differentiation evolved from the forces of the market/capitalism. 'what makes this product more valuable? well, it's different. why is it different? well, it's designed by ____'

in interfacing with construction equipment I am yet again fascinatingly bowled over by the opaqueness of differentiation. what makes this tool better than that tool? two pressure washers, both at the same PSI and GPM, no-name brands, one is 5 times more expensive than the other.

my mind asks: which one should I pick? which one has better specifications?

it turns out: the best way to do so is to talk to people who have used it before. lived experience dominates. trusting the tool, or a contractor, is thrust back into the messy, confusing, inaccurate domain of they-said-so. there are no clear-cut names or track records or provenances here of the author, just a morass of experiences to wade through.

somehow this feels more truthful, if I can use that word. a domain of practice in which trust is messy and based on localized experiences of various different people seems both very difficult to navigate but also a strong alternative to branding, accreditation, an ascertaining of value anchored onto the branding identity of an individual/group.

--

somehow this feels like one alternative to an attention economy. an answer to: "oh, have you heard of X, they make this kind of work" being "I like my friend Y, and have really nice conversations with them". this is information that is not transitive, not contextless. your friend isn't necessarily my friend. "who my friends are" is understood to ultimately only be ascertainable by me. "friend value" does not operate in a market setting, with a value understood to be internalized in the 'friend'. friendship is understood in the relation between.

ah! maybe this is marx's commodity fetish applied back onto friends. the commodity fetish is the myth of value embedded into the object, whereas for marx, objects are understood only to be valuable because some human being, somewhere, spent time and effort into making it. to believe that 'things are valuable' is to forget that people made it and to imbue the object itself with some sort of holy aura of value.

friendship is a relation that resists this fetish. friendship is understood in the relation between. attention is not quite: attention is understood as value, embedded in the thing. attention is when interestedness becomes fetishised, maybe.

interest/care is in the relation between me and another thing, idea, emotion. attention is when that relation becomes embedded into the object, perhaps. objects/ideas/things/emotions/people become "attention-worthy", begin to circulate.

--

back to infrastructure practice. creating a space for exciting research looks like being covered in grit. cooking exciting food means having a dirty apron. fundamentally I believe this is true and truthful. how to reconcile this with aesthetics of presentation? a clean plate, a white tablecloth? where does this (understandable) impulse to hide the mode of production come from? how do we work counter to it?

and if I am interested in culinary experimentation that is about cooking with friends, potlucks, social experiments in the kitchen,

how do I explain this in a practice that wants to circulate photos of my plated dishes?

This was 6 years, 4 months, 19 days ago

1. biking over the bridge I want to write something I think I want I think - and I hold that sentiment dear, like the excitement of unwrapping a package and bringing it into your life, whatever's inside is now outside, and whatever was outside of you is now inside. I have snow shoes, a new camera, a set of film, a novel, my life is thus changed. a bit. and so I think - this sentiment, I want to keep, but then in the rush of signals and logistical navigational organizational temporal figuring-things-out it gets lost a little bit, skitters away on asphalt to evaporate for another day.

2. warm melancholy, summer melancholy, overlaps onto myself as I walk down broadway, palimpsestic overlays (how many times have I written that phrase?) of experiences nesting on top of each other. india in the summer night, hearing that particular characteristic of intensity and urgency that happens when you lean into a conversation with a good friend; this is their life, they are pouring it out to you, and you catch it importantly and cradle it in your hands. your head leans in, their head leans in. over candles or under fluorescents or streetlamps or underground bars or garishly colored restaurants or stoops or amidst the honking of horns-

(to what extent do car manufacturers realize the immense sonic impact they have on the landscape of a city when they tune the default pitch of a horn? why, india, why that particular pitch? could you not be a bit lower, a little bit less piercing? is this your fault, tata motors?)

-the most urgent and important of conversation happens. a barely-chill mumbai night, the relentless (and calm) energy of beijing, hong kong's gorgeousness of sublime scale and capital immensity, the anonymity of summer tokyo evenings, some istanbul evening spent looking at rivers.

for some reason I think of D, and the dorm-apartment we spent time almost-living together in college, and a particular evening making lasagna for J and S, and the 10pm clockwork-like call of that man chanting "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you" with a bible as his heraldic shield, parting indifferent crowds on the street. nostalgia is 20/20, but this isn't just nostalgia, but some other kind of scale or scope, like I did the thing where you put your finger between the pages you're reading and close the book for a moment, just so you can feel the weightiness of its pages between your fingers, and the suddenness to which you have advanced so far. (am I already on chapter 28? going onto chapter 29? how did this happen?)

3. the rule on this thing is that things are discussed like coronas, like eclipses, where the central object is covered to see, in more detail, the peripheries.

4. time becomes measured in years.

This was 8 years, 4 months, 16 days ago

half/half - run-on train of thought + full sentences:

inspiration from E:

To be specifically wrong is important, rather than being generally right.

The problem with capital-T Theory is that, when compellingly crafted, it is doomed to being right all the time; that you carry with you your own framework that you apply onto the world, loosely, and that it also fits successfully, loosely. As an interpretive framework this may be interesting, charming, 'poetic', but this loose-fit approach stops or kills any sort of action, instead choosing to exculpate itself from impact by embodying incoherence or a lack of control.

A general theory of marionettes could go along the lines of: "Marionettes operate with strings that attach to a puppet's limbs, that are then attached to a controller, moved by a hand. Moving the controller thus moves the marionette. As such, the manipulator/puppeteer is able to create and control the puppet with a wide variety of motions."

This theory is accurate, but too general, doomed always to be right, and thus never mobilizeable, never a learning moment. A more specific theory that is in danger of being specifically wrong could be:

"Marionettes are often human forms with articulated limbs and joints that are controlled with strings, attached to a controller. Due to the number of varied limbs, joints, and movable parts that exist on a marionette, often times the controller serves as a simplification/consolidation mechanism that links different strings together into a single operation. When the controller is rolled (as in yaw, pitch, roll) to one side, two strings on one end of the controller may be lifted, while two other strings may be dropped, simultaneously affecting four strings at the same time. When the controller undergoes yaw rotation, those four strings may be stationary, while other strings are moved. Yaw and roll are thus ways to isolate different categories of movement -- for example, left and right sides of the body, or hand and leg movement. Other operations, such as eye movement, can happen via an additional mechanism or controller that operates independently from the main controller. And since strings operate only in tension, movement that has to happen rapidly with low latency and high speed may be controlled via metal wires or wood dowels. The question of lifelike movement and intricate, detailed operation is thus a question of the design of the controller and how it can reduce a number of specific movements by linking them with a specific controller. As a whole, the complexity of an anthropomorphic body, coupled with the number of characters necessary to create an engaging narrative, often means that puppet shows or marionette shows rely on engaging dialogue, imagery, and decoration, rather than having a high degree of articulation and detailed movement, since the latter approach could require one or more operators per character -- making anything but a two-character play a cumbersome ordeal, or at least, a more complex production."

The latter statement becomes more detailed. More exceptions to the statement. Not all marionettes are humanoid. Some puppet shows involve dozens of operators per puppet. Etc. Etc. If I become wrong, I am at least specifically wrong. Delving deep into the details thus allows me to self-correct, to modify, to be specifically critical, and to be experimental.

It's not that god (or the devil) is in the details; it's that everything is constituted out of details, in the same way that all software is constituted out of lines of code. There may be shorthands, black-boxes, encapsulation that occurs; the formation of classes, methods, etc. that "take care" and abstract some specific function is akin to a taxi that "takes care" of the process of transportation. But everything is made out of lines of code. Everything is made out of actions and objects that interact and affect each other. A theory of movement within a city is related to desire, gas prices, road conditions, weather, city planning, population density, and more specifically, the tread of the tire, the degree of salt on the road, the pitch of the road that drains rainwater off into gutters, the timing of traffic lights that enable right turns, the distribution of subway stations that make buildings within a certain radius of a subway stop more desirable and more populated, the impact of both OPEC regulations and New Jersey gasoline supplies onto gas prices at a pump next to a taxi company in Astoria, the circulation of historical imagery and cultural capital (there's a giant black-box of a term if I ever saw one) that mythologizes New York in the first place, the restaurant in the East Village lauded in Yelp that draws you to curiosity in the first place, and so on and so forth.

A necessary theory of inter-relatedness is one that uses specific statements that may fail; one that uses a discerning eye for connections and are able to compare which connections are more influential (astrology as an explanation for an event is a bad connection), yet understands the influential ability of different objects (gun availability induces suicides), and also understands the influential abilities of narratives (astrology as an explanation for why a relationship ended is a bad connection; understanding how a person's use of "astrology as an explanation" could itself have aggravated a relationship to the point of a breakup is a good connection). And most importantly, this theory would be specific to an event; no grand unifying theories, just micro-explanations highly relevant and highly specific to a time and place.

If there are any grand unifying theories, perhaps it would be wise to examine programming and software development for their approach to models of the world; are there any singular models of programming, or how software is structured? Structures are always being modified in action; exception always arise; black boxes always torn apart, rebuilt, re-created. The practice of programming, to a certain extent, is a practice of amassing, building, exploding one's own black-boxes, whether that means understanding which Python libraries to use, how to structure one's own code, or how to efficiently collaborate within a team so that person A takes care of a task while person B takes care of another one. Libraries, methods, classes are never sacrosact, nor are they temporary and unhelpful shorthands; they're tangible, real, modifiable "theories" of operation that help a programmer structure how a piece of code works. I may import the 'urllib2' library in Python that helps me download a file from the internet. I may swap it out and import Beautiful Soup in order to scrape some data from the internet. Ontologically speaking, urllib2 and Beautiful Soup are both valid. Neither is wrong. Both may share a lot of overlap. They may even use each other's code, or rely on each other. But both offer different ways to approach the internet; one as singular files to be downloaded; the other as unstable information to be scraped/filtered/processed. And depending on our use-case, we may swap between either of the two. We might even fork a branch of either code and write our own modified version of one.

A grand unifying theory of "getting data from the internet" would say - "well, it depends." There are design patterns for a reason; only patterns that we choose to apply in action, and no truths of an internal structure that a problem carries with it to the table. The question of 'solving a problem' is not of understanding its innate internal structure and engaging in an definition-oriented exercise to do so("is it an animal, vegetable, or mineral?"), but by choosing one of an infinite number of patterns, always arbitrary, always constructed, in order to further do things with it.

In other mental terms, I might have phrased this as "slicing through the problem in different ways" -- given different kinds of knife, every problem is sliceable in different ways. Or in architectural terms; there are an infinite number of section cuts possible through a building.

For example: an group apartment always has dirty dishes in the sink.

the "character" knife: Who is lazy and who is not lazy in the apartment?
the "role" knife: Whose job is it to make sure that the sink is clean?
the "repercussion" knife: Why is it bad that the dishes are in the sink?
the "difference in judgement" knife: Are the dishes in the sink dirty and do they really have to be washed?
the "time" knife: How long does a dish have to be in the sink in order to be a "dirty dish" as opposed to a "soaking dish"?
the "space" knife: Where should the dishes be?
the "efficiency" knife: Is it possible to make the dishwashing more efficient, leading to fewer dirty dishes?
the "technology" knife: Is it possible to automate the dishwashing by getting a dishwasher?
the "systems thinking" knife: What factors influence whether or not a dish gets washed?
the "spatial thinking" knife: If you had a deeper sink, or a shelf inside the sink, would it even matter if you had dirty dishes?
the "desire" knife: Why do people not want to do the dishes - can we offer a reward for doing the dishes?
the "psychoanalytic" knife: Can we read a psychological narrative in the fact that the dishes are left undone - for example, people refusing to engage in, or rebelling against domestic activity?
the "identity history" knife: Are certain people not used to doing the dishes because they were brought up in environments where servants did the dishes, or where their mother did the dishes?
the "information" knife: Is it possible that people forget that they haven't done their dishes?
the "community" knife: What about the environment makes individuals feel less accountable about their actions?

Depending on which knife you use, a different pattern could be applied, resulting in different solutions:

the "character" knife: Find out who the lazy person is, and tell them to do their dishes.
the "role" knife: Create a dish-washing role, and rotate it every week.
the "repercussion" knife: Figure out how long dishes can stay dirty in the sink, and let them.
the "difference in judgement" knife: Dishes are barely washed/rinsed, since small flecks of food won't kill.
the "time" knife: All dishes are soaked for 24 hours to make cleaning easier, so we should be okay with always having dishes in the sink.
the "space" knife: Dirty dishes should be piled up in a separate area, and not the sink.
the "efficiency" knife: Store all the dirty dishes and do them at once on the weekend.
the "technology" knife: Get a dishwasher.
the "systems thinking" knife: Ask these questions about the factors that influence the dish-washing.
the "spatial thinking" knife: Make a deeper sink.
the "desire" knife: For each dish done, reward the person.
the "psychoanalytic" knife: Talk about the importance of dishes and how cooking/eating devices are a large part of a hunter-gatherer's identity, this placing dishes on a different axis than on one of domestic vs. professional activity
the "identity history" knife: Create narratives that highlight the importance of doing dishes regardless of identity
the "information" knife: Create dishes with each person's name on it that can clearly identify who should be washing each dish.
the "community" knife: Have more group meetings / parties / paint a community mural that makes people feel like the space is collaboratively used by the community.

--

All specific examples, all helpful. To go back to my initial point; being specifically wrong is important. Only when being wrong is on the line can any movement / action happen; I.E. it's not about being right; it's about being in motion, transition, operation, flight.

This was 9 years, 4 months, 16 days ago

hey you, me, you, these things happen in waves you know, these things are not so simple. they ebb and flow, and sometimes they burst through like the dam giving way. sometimes it's a slow trickle. sometimes it's a surprising cool summer shower. sometimes, it's not.

This was 11 years, 4 months, 18 days ago

in this brief hiatus the city feels wonderful and time feels like gold, running through my hands, and I think about all the things I have time to do, and it is like all of my pores open up and relax, they breathe and stretch, in and out, and there is the sound of a plane flying overhead, and I am here, and that is it.

This was 12 years, 4 months, 18 days ago

I am going to tino sehgal's show at the guggenheim. I bike up from ps1, long island city, and full of exhaust tangled in my nostril hairs I get off and lock up my bike. there are kids running around everywhere. after I enter there's a couple embracing on the floor in slow motion, and something about the earthy tones of their garments and their curly, haphazard hair makes me feel this strange empathy towards them, and I know I will describe them as a 'beautiful couple', with similar matching energy. I wonder about their lives when they go home, after they put down their bags and put the keys on the kitchen counter, when they're mixing olive oil and balsamic vinegar and watching the fork stirring a mixture that will stubbornly not emulsify, how their lives are changed, what they think about. how they'll tie their hair back and slap soap on their hands before dinner like it's a gesture they'll never think about.

on the way up FLW's spiral one of the kids running around bounds in front of me and says 'do you want to follow me?' and I say 'yes', and he says "my name is ____" and I say "my name is ___" and he asks me in a remarkably un-rehearsed voice, "what is progress?" and I say "progress is what someone thinks will make everyone's lives better" and he says "so it's subjective?" and I say "always" and then while we're walking someone bounds up in front of us with hat askew and snaggletooth and you can tell his mother loves this pimply-faced child, and he shakes my hand, asks me another question.

and I am passed along, each time with someone older, and I talk about ambition and privacy and telephones and things like that and all the while there are two clouds that spiral off in my head like the color of foam on a cappuccino splitting in half and spiraling when you first dip a spoon into it: a) an dawning awe-full realization at what this will be, and a b) secondary wariness, of the presentation, an over-awareness of where I am. anyways I go and follow.

at the end I meet judith, judith who is a baker but used to be an artist and has brilliant blue eyes and short hair and looks like a female samuel beckett, similarly beautiful, and I talk to her about her son and about talking and about having choices and things getting better and she asks me my name and she says she's never been to korea -- but corrects herself immediately and says has never been to korea yet, and I say yes yes yet yes, and I tell her that baking might as well be an art, and I know that I am saying it sincerely for her, and she smiles and says goodbye and disappears. and I lean against the wall looking down towards ms. olive oil and mr. balsamic vinegar and there's quiet for a short little while with the sweat of the bike still drying cold on my back, and I think this comes and hits me, a sincerity inside the relentless upwards spiraling that is called progress, this work, this works.


all of a sudden things have fallen into place (I am blessed) and there are these twin paths I must choose from, things snap into place and I see that I want to go into these two directions, and there are no right answers, just an inward gaze and a questioning of ambitions and an examination of my priorities and the incessant yearning to know what will fulfill me.

it's not doubt but the hesitation at a costly, opaque endeavor as compared to a more transparent, possible one. for the latter, I could do this, I would know what to do, what doors to navigate, which phrases to say, what I want to do, and one snowy afternoon I went to this office in tribeca and I understood immediately then (I think) what the endpoint of this all could be. but for the latter, I could do this but there's a maybe attached, I could do this maybe, I would be running hard, on uncertain ground, part of my muscles devoted to feeling out this new terrain, but then I would be building things, michaelangeloly pulling sculptures out of marble, chipboard, wood, weaving the world together into a form.

but again again. what am I here for if not to look at myself and to be a self-changing self? why else should I travel? again again that foucault quote: "Well, do you think I have worked [hard] all those years to say the same thing and not to be changed?"


and finally the coda to the end of this exhalation is to think and to talk about people, persons, yearnings, stretchings. there are never any right answers and I will lie in bed awake wondering whether I did things right until the memory of things done and the memory of my own current self dissipates away to be thought of as a brief anecdote 'ten years ago, back then in new york, in that house' or such and such. as preciously sad and sadly precious as dinosaurs that have died, transmuted into petroleum, distilled into wax, mixed with pigment, smeared on the surface of a rough pulpy surface like a grinder, parts of itself given away to the world, given to the ether, a girl who gives herself away, the memory that this oil pastel has of creatures a long time ago.

all I say this round and around avoiding the main topic like in a spiral going upwards around a void, am not sure, not sure.

This was 13 years, 4 months, 13 days ago

yeah.

what usually happens when I go somewhere is that I try to open up my pores and let things seep in. this time I go and come back and maybe that certainly happened too much, or there were other things going on. there is an absence of a reaction. momentarily dreamlike I also notice that I feel like I left part of me there, like always, this love of a place, this wish to stay, so on and so forth. photographs and haze and wide open spaces and the rush of cold wind, a cup of soup. on and on. iceland will be the taste of tired legs and the first sip of lobster/humar soup after sleet. and so on.

against this othering I resist and what comes afterwards is this aristotelian middle ground of acceptance. it's alright. faced with nature you can close your eyes and call this different. alternate.

from iphone. film to come soon.