wise words from Jacob.

I was recently undertaking the massive (procrastination) project of retrieving 10 years worth of photos off of a failed external hard drive. With some technical wizardry and 24 hours of a computer chugging along, I was able to scrape back in time and get everything. If you are reading this and have known me at any point since 2008 and just thought to yourself "Fuck, I hope he doesn't still have THAT photo", the unfortunate answer is, "Yes, I probably do." The good thing is, that there were so many photos, most of them will probably just end up as noise.

After the long import the image that jumped into view was a picture of an artists statement. It reads as follows:

"You can see whatever you want in my art. I was thinking about leaves when I was making it, but it also looks like a tiger being chased by a lion. Jacob Webber, age six"

This really resonates for me today, because on my way to pick up some coffee and move my legs a bit before getting this 'ol earth rotation going (Although, to be honest, I've been on this kick of cheap beer (bud light or coors light) and cheap coffee (whatever is in RiteAid), but due to a recent Opening of Eyes I'm back on good coffee), I was thinking about modifications that can be done in the world to fool AI in teslas or other autonomous driving systems (https://spectrum.ieee.org/cars-that-think/transportation/sensors/slight-street-sign-modifications-can-fool-machine-learning-algorithms).

This crossed my mind because as I was walking up to a crosswalk, I glanced over to the car that had stopped for me (a tesla) and noticed a beautiful woman in the back of it and then almost walked directly into the front wheel panel. In some ways placing a beautiful woman in the back of a car impacts me a little like placing stickers on a stop sign impacts a tesla. 

And this got me thinking about the give/take between digital/meat-space, and the growing middle ground that is created between them, where it is unclear if I am purely in one or the other; a space that I think people find a little disorienting. This disorientation is partly due to the fact that physical and digital spaces are now more effectively constructed in order to shift behavior; they work together to funnel us towards outcomes. This has always been something we've been aware of, but with big data so much of what we do can be hacked while leaving us feeling we are autonomous through a process: we can't see our own nuances and subtle defaults. If you think of politics, influencers, and news sources in recent years, they are all modes of creating signals and placing markers in order to create outcomes without us thinking too much about it.

Everyone is sticking beautiful women in the back of Teslas. Everywhere.

I think Jacob seemed to be getting at this point from a more artistic perspective years ago.

body hair.

I spent my morning watering plastic plants and nodding along to a video tutorial taught by a plastic person. I ate plastic food and brushed plastic teeth. 

I think body hair is the only calming indicator for the day.

oh the mutations.

I recently fell in love. It’s strange because I usually fall in love and make grand gestures like flying halfway around the world in something that is manic, anxious and more an expression of loving love, then loving a person. I like the idea of grand gestures and assume that this person will be the focus of grand gestures at some point, but off the bat things are strangely quiet and whispering, sort of like light wind on a rain flap of a tent out on some frontier. In a serendipitous moment (or coincidental... or... something) I stumbled on something I wrote down in a text editor awhile back and it seems relevant. What was written is as follows:

mutations are forgetting about love. Mutations are kicking and pushing to be in love again

mutations are almost chocking on a toothbrush 


I think the last line is return number for some item, although I’m not sure what. I googled it, and the first result was “Buy Suspension Strut Mount Anchor 703995 Fits 96-05 Toyota Rav4”, which isn’t something I’m in the market for, so we’ll just leave that there as a clue for future generations. 

BUT MUTATIONS. I had to write about them for an application to an institution that I’ve now applied for exactly the number of times I’ve been rejected. On the topic, the non-project based part of the text read:

Which brings us to a mutation, which is exactly a point of departure from group to isolate, or isolate to group. It could be said that we live in the age of mutation; “mutation” being a janus word in many facets: one person screams it to show their individuality, while another echos it back describing their inclusion in a group. 

Consider a mutation of thrushes, indicating a group of birds that have forever only known themselves. Or even a genetic mutation leading to a new group of people, see: Tetrachromacy. A lot of pop culture tends to buttress the beauty of mutation whether it is in teenage turtles or wolverines. In data science, programmers will rally around immutable data structures; not quite a reference to mutation, but maybe a bit of shade thrown towards it. 

I recently asked my mom about the things she didn’t realize she would lose as she got older (I’ve been recently fixated on the fact that available conversations with friends are constantly burning off in greedy fires) and she said “my face”; which, explained, makes sense, as the woman she sees in the mirror isn’t the woman she sees herself to be. The face becomes a container that is viewed for its structure versus the content that is held within. So at some point my mom is saying that the Self mutates and no longer has a face. 

But I had submitted all of that after not remembering about this forgotten text or the more recent turn of events of this love business. WHICH IS WEIRD, because there I was deliberating about love and mutations only to tumble into love, a place both familiar and completely alien. It is the group of all things I am, plus all things I never knew I would be. 

To have steps appear as I walk into voids, and airbags deploy gently in all situations social or physical. To ease into the moment. A mutation is the perfect isomorphic partner to the present. 

A mutation is being in love.

And I guess it's humbling to try to express something in writing or make some object hooked up with a a bazillion wires and hung even more puppet-like still in papers about Self and Space and Countability (this last bit is a generalization of most the things I think I end up making), and they never seem to be quite as well crafted as sharing lemonade in a hot car, with no air conditioning, while I drive along the ocean with this person.

So I guess you can file this under "amendments to thoughts on mutations. i.e. love".

china round 2.

Working on a new piece for an exhibition in China this summer. Details forthcoming. As for now I'm in the code.

on feathers and paint.

I have the most beautiful bird house in my bathroom, sitting directly next to my electric toothbrush. In it lives a small yellow bird: I believe she is some sort of sterling that has accidentally been painted yellow from a slight miscalculation while flying low over a freshly painted center line of a city street. No matter, she dodges in and out of my bathroom with dexterity and something close to acrobatic wit. Sometimes I think I can feel in my skull the moments she joins other birds in a murmuration or some otherwise dense cloud of cascading wings. 

She usually leaves on outings while I brush my teeth, when the vibrations from my toothbrush make her wings silent and any sort of peep she makes in the way of a courteous goodbye, disappear into mimed action. It is only as she hops out onto the peg-doorstep of her home that I notice her feathers are a bit clogged with paint and that her head alone is a fresh helmet of grey/brown feathers; delicate and laid down like salmon presented on ice at a fish mongers booth who believes all things, at some level, look like scales of a fish.

I believe the sound of the vibration of my toothbrush is a lot like her experience among the swarm of other birds. It is complete but also disorienting; a ritual that maybe only appears to be fun. 

After she leaves, and my toothbrush has stopped making small explosions in my thinking, I wonder if she worries about her dry-paint coat; this is pretty much the only point of reference I have of her life outside of my bathroom. I know that story of the center line of the city and sometimes feel like we are deeply connected through this knowledge. But our relationship is a bit like a constant stream of generic Thank You notes that I’m trying to make matter.

At night I try to pass on some bubbling words in between the suds of a toothpaste mouth; my teeth dishes in a sink overflowing with too much soap and hot water. She peers at me with removed interest and hops twice on her peg before disappearing into her cedar home.

The other night I realized, for the first time, that my thoughts don’t fly like I once thought.

They drift and bob.

A bit like seals in kelp forests, surfacing to catch glimpses of the sun.

3 dogs (and one more)

In the last week I've heard of 3 different people getting a dog.

One is a small robot looking dog with unblinking eyes purchased by a single man. He had it in a box, which looked a bit like an off-brand Happy Meal, in the back of his truck.

One is a "wolf puppy" (not my words) purchased by a son for his mom. This purchase was part of a home protection plan, which I assume is most notable for the time delay in it being part of a viable security measure. It's a bit like buying a home security camera that won't be operational for a few months due to noise in the data line.

A third friend texted me about her dog purchase (Acquisition?) while I was on the number 18 bus around 5th and Wall. She and her boyfriend bought it (acquired it?) together. When the text arrived I was starring out the window and noticed a small tube of a dog (like it had been a different dog at a previous point in time, but had recently been pushed through a 4" piece of PVC pipe, resulting in all of its features being compressed towards a central axis) in a patchwork hoodie of pastel fabrics, strut along the sidewalk with bright pink painted toenails. 

I think all 3 dogs I recently learned about have something to gain from becoming friends with this dog killing the outdoor runway game.