Part of a series of online notebooks,
this page is continued in
Notes on the Creation of the Prologue to From Ireland with Letters
From Ireland With Letters - Part One
- An Informal Writer's Notebook
2010 artist's trail book - made with sketches on hikes in Northern California
Narrabase Notebook is an online hybrid of a poet's notebook,
an artist's sketchbook, an arts writer's notes, and a new media writer's blog --
an informal, creative way of documenting, sharing, and illustrating the development
of works of literature, with a focus on
Paths of Memory and Painting.
In this work, the narrator, Dorothy Abrona McCrae, remembers the early years of
her career. There are magical times when a writer "becomes" her character.
This was one of those times. So, packing watercolors, paper and paint in my
backpack, I joined her in the hills and Mountains of Northern California.
Along the way on these "pages" are notes about working on my Archives, which will be housed at Duke University.
Here also are records of a new media poet's many fine paths: writing, research, hiking, making images
for artists books,
Paths of Memory and Painting, Authoring Software, Art California,
readings, openings, gatherings. And, because it is such an integral part of my life and my work
as a new media poet, I have written in these pages about listening to contrapuntal/polyphonic music.
March 14, 2010
Working on the
Authoring Software project. Information about AlphaAlpha, a new work by
South American artist Regina Pinto will be officially up soon. In our screen-viewed
mediu where text seems encountered in a visual manner, this project focuses attention
on the representation of the first letter of the alphabet. It's a work of collaborative
art that, with its evocative connotations of "first letter", imagines and illustrates
how words and text can be represented on the Internet.
At the same time, I have been reviewing what my colleagues are doing in the Authoring
Software field -- looking at Nick Montfort (MIT) and Noah Wardrip-Fruin's (UC Santa Cruz)
work and Mark Marino's (USC) Critical Code Studies, reading Eastgate's HTlit, and
looking at what is going on from UC San Diego to Brown in Providence -- different views
of the how-tos of new media writing.
Pedro Memelsdorff's lecture on the Trecento theory composer Marchetto da Padova,
whose influential treatises, including Lucidarium and Pomerium, attempted
a comprehensive theory of music at a time when the writings of the theory composers as a whole
were beginning to create a body of knowledge of ideas, opinion and practical notation that
contributed to shaping the development of music and how it was notated, and -- as the manuscripts
were circulated in Italy and France (and beyond)-- created a framework for a more sophisticated
polyphony. One reason I am interested in this is in thinking about how we might "notate" the
composing of new media poetry that is time-based, if this is desirable in some cases.
I suppose that there was argument about Marchetto's theories, I thought, while listening to Pedro
set forth Marchetto's definite ideas about dissonance and perfect consonance. Indeed,
I was restless in this section. However, thinking about it at home, I realized that, yes,
for poets the creation and resolution of progressions of dissonance and consonance are often
done intuitively, yet when working with a piece with about 400 lexias that will be combined
in different ways, it might be something to think about.
Memelsdorff also speculated that there was much oral knowledge of musical composition
that may never have been codified.
In new media, in the 1980's online "talk" in the "Software as Art" topic on ACEN on The WELL
was very influential in the sharing of ideas about text-based new media. The excitement of
working in this new field and sharing ideas with others who were approaching the
work in different ways and had very different backgrounds is memorable. I think Stanford
has the archives from this conference, and I have pages and pages of printout somewhere
in my files. But much of this conversation is no longer available. And for the most part,
we can only imagine what musicians of the Italian Trecento/ French ars nova period said
informally to each other as they experimented with new ways of creating music.
In the 1990's on Arts Wire, ways of working were discussed and ideas that were shared on NewMusNet website. Anna and I have been invited to contribute
(hosted by Pauline Oliveros, Doug Cohen, and David Mahler) and on the Interactive Art Conference
(hosted by Anna Couey and me) and on other Arts Wire conferences. Some of the information from
these conferences is still available
NewMusNet WebSite and the
Interactive Art Conference
our Interactive Art Conference interview with Sonya Rapoport as a chapter for the book that
will accompany her retrospective at Kala this Fall. So once and while, these lively,
informal discussions are published.
mountain lake - image from the
Summer trails book
I have written a coda for the text-based
"trio sonata" that concludes Paths of Memory and Painting.
Rather than leading directly into the coda, the work continues to loop until the
separate access provided into the coda is selected. The coda itself does not loop
but leads to the array that begins Part One of this work, where every luminous landscape.
Paths of Memory and Painting is now essentially finished,
although I will be working on the title page and timing and probably doing a
little more editing. The complete work has been accepted for exhibition at the
2010 Electronic Literature Conference to be held at Brown University this June.
March 10, 2010
Spent most of the day in Marin. Walking up a steep sunny trail through forest
and meadow. Perfect day.
Sat beside the trail, painting a meadow encircled by pine trees. Thought
about the Christmas paintings I had made in December. Mostly these are not created
on the trail but are remembered scenes that the person for whom they are intended
March 8, 2010
"A rocky landscape, with a scattering of trees; mountains can be seen in the background"
so appear the stage design directions for Mozart's The Magic Flute -- first performed
on the outskirts of Vienna at the Freihaus-Theater auf der Wieden, home to the theater
company of Emanuel Schikaneder, who wrote the libretto and played Papageno in the first
production. It was 1791, only ten years after the end of the American Revolution and
in the midst of the French Revolution.
Interested in the interrelationship of lyrics and music; in the endlessly fascinating
interpretations of the narrative with its challenging views of good and evil, order and
disorder; in the thrill of the way Mozart's wonderful music continually brings to life
Schikaneder's spare but effective words; in the filmic unfolding of the plot where each scene
is a tapestry that opens into another tapestry; and in the ever hopeful safe passages through
adversity with the protection of music, last weekend I went to a several sessions of
After the Magic Flute a conference sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities,
along with a consortium of Humanities and Arts Departments at Cal and Stanford, and
hosted by The UC Berkeley Department of Music.
Unlike works of visual art which remain the same through the ages, operas are continually restaged
in the context of contemporary culture, pointed out Francis Maes, Ghent University. (In the first
session of the conference, chaired by Adrian Daub, German Studies, Stanford) Focusing on the
critical interpretations of Berger and the installation and opera created by William Kentridge,
Maes emphasized the opera's "extraordinary appeal to the imagination", and he noted how
instruments and the making of music are central to the work:
"Musical magic is everywhere in the opera".
Estelle Joubert, (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia) whose research explores the
intersections of musicology and political history, looked at the "dynamic presence of
natural landscape" and the role of time in The Magic Flute, providing a scholar's view
that was informed by Enlightenment concepts, yet could also be looked at in conjunction
with the interpretations of artist stage designers.
Indeed, the role of The Magic Flute in inspiring new works of art threaded its way through
the conference. I was familiar with the David Hockney's rocky desert scenery and the entrancing
costumes and sets in Julie Taymor production but had never before watched/heard Papageno open a
wooden box to a radically different interpretation of silver bells -- with lights and percussive
water containing glasses -- or heard the halting notes of Tamino's African flute turn magically
into a haunting trumpet jazz riff as they do in the Black South African production of The Magic Flute,
Impempe Yomlingo (Portobello Productions; film clips introduced
at the Conference by James Davies,
UC Berkeley, and Sheila Boniface-Davies, Cambridge University.)
Classic Cambodian dance was banned by the Khmer Rouge, explained UC Berkeley Department of
Music Graduate student Adeline Mueller in introducing film clips from Pamina Devi, a
work by the Khmer Arts Ensemble that was based on The Magic Flute narrative. Reflecting
the history of war-torn Cambodia and
what happened to dancers in that era, the work was disturbing,
yet metaphorically suggested a more peaceful future, reminding me that in writing about the
persecution of artists, I often countered depression by replaying the scene where Pamina and
Tamino negotiate a series of hazards with the help of a magic flute and the scene where Papageno
and Papagena find each other with the help of silver bells.
Focusing on Cosi fan tutte as well as The Magic Flute, Martin Nedbal (University
of Arkansas) effectively and innovatively illustrated Mozart's scoring of maxims and the "intense
musical word painting" with which he sometimes interpreted (or reinterpreted) the words. A
particularly cogent example, for which Nedbal provided the score, is the finale to Cosi fan tutte
where Mozart's music for the closing line "bella calma trovera" ("he will find beautiful tranquility")
seems, with its intense activity, to subversively counteract the libretto's mood of calm.
Perhaps (my interpretation) this was the equivalent of a use of rapid pen strokes in
depicting a tranquil landscape, caused not by the view itself but by the painter's mood at the
time, or perhaps Mozart did not agree with the libretto's happy ending. After all, a situation
where men test women rather than trusting them (and women are induced to fail such tests) might
not in reality result in bella calma.
Artists approach The Magic Flute in very different ways -- in the William Kentridge
production, for instance, the Three Graces are Victorian photographers, who rather than
heroically killing the snake, create an animated snake to lure Tamino. ("Ratcheting up the
misogyny", someone in the audience commented)
Also, musicians, poets, and artists may approach The Magic Flute somewhat differently than scholars,
I observed, while listening to Wye Allanbrook's, (Emerita, Music, UC Berkeley) informative review
of the many different critical interpretations of the opera. Yet sometimes it is not only the
source work itself but also the ways it is approached by humanists that influence the creation of
art in each era -- the differing Greek and Roman views of Odysseus, for instance. Thus the hosting
of such a Conference at Cal is of benefit to musicians, poets, visual artists, dancers, theater artists,
and others in the creative community, just as our own works continue to inform the scholarly dialog.
Thanks are due to Adeline Mueller, whose work focuses on 18th and early 19th opera and dance,
as well as early film music, among other things --- for organizing this excellent conference.
In the Faculty Lounge, the highlight of a concurrent exhibition of books about Mozart and
the opera was the Packard Humanities Institute's facsimile of The Magic Flute.
And I suppose I should do another edit on
The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen.
I am not yet sure that the strategy of alternating dense recitative and more lyrical aria is
working as well as it could work.
March 1, 2010
Last week a week of writing, Art California, and quests for funding.
Drawing on the trail. Watching the Olympics.
Sha Xin Wei
talk at the Berkeley Center for New Media Roundtable. Addressing the
potential of the built environment to incorporate dynamic and approachable new
media experience, his work -- currently as Director of the Topological Media Lab
at Concordia University in Montreal -- involves, among other things, the
creation of computer-mediated environments that incorporate gesture-sound
co-activity and/or responsive wearable fabrics in social interactivity situations.
As a parallel but different experience than the seminal work of Troika Ranch, Pamela Z,
Benoit Maubrey, Steve Gibson and Stefan Muller Arisona and other artists who perform
with sound-gesture, movement and/or audio-generating fabrics, Sha Xin Wei thinks in terms
of creating "responsive spaces" -- interesting installation environments that involve
the audience as performer and invite the public to explore computer-mediated spaces.
Thinking about going on a trip to the Mountains to paint snow and whether or not
it would be a good idea to try cross country skiing using crutches as poles again.
The last time I tried this, it did not work as well as I had hoped. It was difficult
to control the left ski with my left leg and various other things happened. But
the woods with trees laden with snow and mountains in the distance, are very beautiful,
and if it has been a while since you have been in the Sierra forests in Winter, it is
wonderful to just walk in the woods and stop to sketch the trees and snow covered mountains.
The new top page of
Art California is up.
Contemporary Photographers and
New Media Artists are featured on the Web Portal.
February 21, 2010
Closing Party for Cynosure: New Work from East Bay Galleries at UC Berkeley's
Worth Ryder Gallery. The curator, Anuradha Vikram, put together an interesting
exhibition, with the idea of highlighting new galleries and the energy of new work in the East Bay.
Of particular interest, Peter Foucault's co-active drawing with a robotic toy
vehicle activated by the sound of clapping hands careening around the paper, trailing
pen marks; Therese Lahaie's brief romantic meetings between rotating paint brushes;
African American artist Mark Dukes' recontextualization of a gilded alter, part of
a series of stories and paintings that challenge beliefs and stereotypes; and
Laura Ball's narrative painting of rowboat adventures on a sea of magic realism.
And there was much more including, in a separate room, Bonnie Andrus' The Museum of
Judgments which offered a poetic scroll of poor grammer, and among other things
a selection of pickup lines so bad that I cannot repeat the one I got.
Since the show is now closed, it is a good time to suggest visits to the East Bay
galleries represented in the exhibition: Alphonse Berber, Art @ the Oakbook,
Blankspace Gallery Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, Hatch Gallery, Johansson Projects,
krowswork, Pueblo Nuevo Gallery, Rowan Morrison, Swarm, and Gallery Terminal 22.
The websites for these and other East Bay Galleries are listed on Art California at:
Next at Worth Ryder: First year MFA exhibition through March 6.
Trying to decide what to put in the notebooks with paintings on the covers for the new artists book
I'm creating. Probably just selected edited phrases because after reading The Notebooks of
Robert Frost, I am wary of the uses of artist's notebooks. Frost's notebooks are in the archives
of various universities, but I don't think that he anticipated that they would be published word
for word in a print book. Poet's notebooks are not meant to be looked at in that way.
February the month for lyrical lectures, or so it seemed, as on Friday at the Cal Dept. of Music,
in the continuing series of
to Pedro Memelsdorff
lecture about Trecento Florentine composer Paolo da Firenze. The lecture illustrated
with visuals of scores. The visual influences on the musical composition of this music theorist
and maker of illuminated manuscripts evident.
Enjoyed the way musician and scholar Memelsdorff expressed Trecento music in his talk;
his magically translated phrases "alternating perfect constancies", "long lines of
musical expectation"; and the sound clip from his ensemble
Mala Punica's recording
of Paolo's "Fra duri scogli" with its (at the time; now) innovative plainsong polyphony.
The Trecento theory composers: musicians writing about their work. Nowadays in another
era of developing new forms, new media artists write about their work in the pages of
Leonardo, and negotiate changes in software and platforms the way early musicians
negotiated the changes in instruments.
The lecture was introduced by musician and musicologist Davitt Moroney, whose quest to record
all the works of English Renaissance composer William Byrd on period instruments and whose
discovery and performances of Florentine composer Alessandro Striggio's
Missa sopra Ecco si beato giorno are legendary.
Went for a hike in Marin on Sunday when it was raining, and the woods were
dark and wet. With the rain coming down, was only able to make a quick pen sketch
of a trail heading up a hill with redwoods, ferns, moss. Return to the painting
another day, I thought as I considered the parallels between the adventures of
life and the rain on the trail.
Returning to the writing of
paths of memory and painting. This part of the work has been difficult
because what I had originally planned -- the reappearance of Gus, his role in the unraveling
of mysteries of the surveillance of the creative community -- does not seem quite yet ready to be written.
Perhaps because paths of memory and painting is about the development of artistic vision,
they are another story.
And so, instead, I'm writing about the painting that Dorothy says she will make at the end
The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen. It's a large work and somewhat different
from what she usually paints. Her thinking about the work, the precedents for the work,
what she actually paints, the device of describing of the painting and the process
of creating it as a way to look at the story in a different way, will (I think) create
an ending that moves across the three "voices" and opens into another story, as do most
of the works in the Dorothy series.
Remembered, as I looked at the opening pages of The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen,
that somehow I needed to make a new drawing of a violin because the drawing I used that
I drew a long time ago at Middlebury, is of a violin without strings. I think there was
a reason for this. That violin that I had since childhood and took many places (not always
playing it; an instrument can sometimes become an extension of self, and thus there is a
need to keep it close by) was lost in Germany, but I'd like to restring the violin with
a new drawing.
February 16, 2010
Sun on the trails after weeks of continuous rain. Slogged
through mud to get to a place where there were trees I wanted to paint.
View to a river and green marsh on another trail.
Walked about 500 miles on crutches last year and along the way
made a series of small paintings that I made into artists books.
A fine week of Winter Olympics. Know the feeling of standing in the starting gate
in the cold wind, waiting for the signal, rehearsing the fall line in my mind.
Writing in my home is also an act of courage.
February 12, 2010
Doing research for the final part of the trilogy
Paths of Memory and Painting
Sometimes I use a page of dense notes to express information that is not
a part of the narrative flow.
In the library, read Duccio's contract for La Maestà and thought
about what the precedents were in 1308 for an alterpiece with
over 40 painted panels of filmic narrative. Poets and artists follow trails
of allusion and metaphor, often not seeking to create definitive historical
narrative but rather to weave ancient histories into the fabric of their work
-- for instance with various recollected European road trips -- alluding to a
long ago seen work of art, discovered again in the pages of a profusely illustrated
exhibition catalog, while rediscovered polyphony subtly influences the
progression of the narrative.
February 7, 2010
Thursday night last week at Moe's Bookstore in Berkeley. Listened to poets
Mary Jo Bang and Lyn Hejinian read from their work. The event was a part of
Poetry Flash's Reading Series, hosted by Associate Editor Richard Silberg,
with Editor Joyce Jenkins.
Lyn Hejinian, whose most recent book
was published in 2008 by Omnidawn,
read from a new work in press, The Book of A Thousand Eyes.
A grand, evocative work that flows like music, The Book of A Thousand Eyes
takes the reader/listener into a looping stream of word and phrase, of sleep, bed,
writing, singing, the man who sings, time, storm, mortality, angels, "plum blue night",
"busy dreams" and expecting "art in the forest at dawn".
A "night work", she explained, a tribute to Scheherazade.
Mary Jo Bang read from her new book
The Bride of E, (Graywolf Press)
the first poem in the collection setting the stage with its marvelous
combination of Camus' search for truth -- if it was only possible to tell the truth --
made magically real at a boozy party while men and women dance and kiss.
Along the way, particularly liked the poem that she created from many discovered boxes
of journal writing by her father. She took the year 1955, selected words from the journal.
Her father's journey through 1955 highlighted in a fine narrative of words and phrases.
In sight of where I sat was a row of books by Italo Calvino. Looked at
the titles, thinking of his If on a winter's night a traveler-- on
this evening of innovative poetry and storytelling -- while outside it
was a dark rainy night, and I contemplated the awkward problems of
rain gear and not being able to hold an umbrella while walking with crutches.
Winter/Spring Bay Area trails visual book
composed with 17 watercolors created during hikes in Northern California
from October 2008 - April 2009.
Doing more research on Duccio for
paths of memory and painting
February 3, 2010
Saw the exhibition
Amazing Wonders: Quilts by African-Americans of the Northern California
Region at the Richmond Art Center. Curated by Kim Curry-Evans, inspired by U.C. Davis
Professor Patricia Turner's Crafted Lives: Stories and Studies of African-American
Quilters, the exhibition is an opportunity to see museum quality quilts
-- from the traditional Log Cabin quilt by Nerlene Taylor in the hallway; to splendid
intricately designed quilts by Marilyn Lacey, Blanche Brown, and Patricia Bass Bailey, among
many others; to Patricia Montgomery's Alan's Blue with its accompanying story of adding
the color blue to her palette for a friend from New York; to Marion Coleman's strong portrait
quilt Susan #3. There is an accompanying exhibition of digital quilts by Sacramento
High School Students in the Community Gallery.
The Art of Living Black in the Main Gallery is also worth seeing.
I was particularly interested in Duane Conliffe's installed artists book
Redhead - The Ferrari Testarossa Book, in which moving photographs
on a small screen are juxtaposed with photographs in an accompanying
At home, I thought about JaeMe Bereal's mixed media The Story of Sculptor
Augusta Savage in which the difficulties of Augusta's creation of ceramic
sculpture as a child are emphasized by an inset of a heavy boot stomping on her
work. Yet there is a poetic warmth in her sharing of artist's experience with her
Mother. JaeMe Bereal is the illustrator of the children's book
In Her Hands:
The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage by Alan Schroeder.
(Lee & Low Books)
Richmond Art Center
is an important cultural asset in this area,
and its exhibitions and programs are very much appreciated.
The new Forward Anywhere text is up at
After the long and difficult editing process, it is very nice to see how much
better it is. Part of the interest of the work is that it was created
at the time of the beginning of the World Wide Web era by two women
who were working at the core of that field. Thus, we kept the look and feel of the
early public Internet but we improved the visual display by using a more readable font.
The Eastgate second edition of
the entire text and be more elegantly designed and interfaced.
Working on my BCNM roundtable talk for next week and thinking about
the interplay between structure, interface, and display in new media poetry.
paths of memory and painting. Sundays at Boston's Gardner Museum
when I was a child, ten years of violin lessons -- I have always sometimes listened
to early music. Because of the way the voices interact and are more distinct, there
are parallels with new media writing. However, although there are early music influences in
the contrapuntal composition, the timing in my work has been primarily
filmic, by which I mean that the impact of the forward motion has been
determined by the juxtaposition of written scenes. Lately -- as I cut
and paste some timing charts for paths of memory and painting and notice
how Baroque elements have surprisingly influenced the timing of this work --
I have been thinking in terms of where this could be taken.
places to paint or write on an East Bay trail in the rainy season
The trails are muddy; the choices of where to hike are few. It ceased raining
for a while. Cold and wet, but I was able to walk a paved road
and stop to make a quick sketch that I worked on at home listening to harpsichord music.
remembering the words and images
a distant view, as if I were there
recollected on this early morning
the colors like jewels in my white paint tray
"It took almost a month for the
Summer trails book to work, and before
it did, help was received from an unknown source," I wrote about the Fall/Winter
trail book I am now working on. "Asking for help, listening to advice, having faith
that it will eventually be good, are as much a part of the creative
process, as they are in life." I suppose, however, that all artists should
also remember that sometimes there is interference in our own vision or integrity
that we do not understand. Yet the basic principle of the struggle to make
our work better can still in someways apply to our approaches to our own life,
I have been thinking as the season of Lent approaches.
January 27, 2010
Today is Mozart's Birthday.
"Silver bells. Magic flute."
Today at the UC Berkeley Department of Music, I heard musician and musicologist
Davitt Moroney play the harpsichord with extraordinary brilliance.
Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in A minor; Handel's Suite no 2 in F major;
Forqueray's La Sylva; (in memory of Professor Walter E. Rex) and Muffat's
Passacaglia in G minor.
The sound of the music so beautiful that I cannot put in words what I want to say.
I also particularly like Davitt's recording of Le Clavecin Français -
Music from the Borel Manuscript. (Plectra) and his recording of Bach's
The Art of Fugue. (Harmonia Mundi)
The former evocative of enchanting scenery along a trail in early Spring;
the later, a deep, enduring work. I had to take the time to listen to it many times.
Now it is something that I can live with forever.
The top page of
Art California has a new design that more clearly highlights the links
to over 8,000 California artists, writers, dancers, musicians, film and theater
artists, whose web sites are included in this treasure hunt to set forth the
core role of artists in California. Some events of particular interest:
The Oakland East Bay Symphony, Conductor: Michael Morgan - Views of America
with a world premiere by Rebeca Mauleón;
Southwest Chamber Music - Cage and Rauschenberg;
Pasadena Dance Festival;
SFMOMA's 75th Anniversary;
Santa Barbara International Film Festival;
Poetry Flash Reading Series;
Native American Flutist Mary Youngblood in Concert;
Marin Rocks and much more.
Writers of all kinds -- fiction, nonfiction, historians, storytellers, children's writers --
will join the poets in leading off the Art California Web Portal in February.
January 17, 2010
Went to a panel moderated by painter Vincent Perez at the opening of Ralph Borge:
A Symbolic Realist and His Circle at the Hearst Art Gallery at St Mary's College
through March 14.
Borge, whose work and that of his wife Martha also included Marin landscapes, taught at
the California College of Arts and Crafts for 40 years. It was a good opportunity to hear
about how artists learn from teachers and to see not only Borge's work but also the
work of former students, particularly noted California realists/photorealists Perez,
Jack Mendenhall, Kim Mendenhall, James Torlakson, and Richard McLean.
The panel was informal: reminiscenses of drawing classes and entertaining stories of
student experiences at CCAC (now the California College of the Arts) by panelists,
including Oakland Museum Chief Curator Phil Linhares, whose work is also in the exhibition.
Winter hikes in Marin. I think that for the new book, I will fill a wooden
artist's paintbox with paintings and notebooks, and do larger paintings
for the cover and the inside of the cover. I've made works with these paintboxes
before, and like the the way they look, displayed open with small paintings and
January 16, 2010
For me, the holiday season continues until my son's January birthday.
Hosted a family party. And we also went out for a birthday lunch.
Working on my talk for the Spring 2010 BCNM New Media Roundtable series at Cal:
"Paths of Memory and Painting: Authoring New Media Narrative Poetry on the Web".
It's a good opportunity to review the uses of lexias and links in hypertext literature,
and how these basic building blocks are differently used in this narrative of
And in this continuing holiday season, I went on a series of hikes: in the Berkeley Hills --
the last part of the Paths of Memory and Painting narrative.
In Marin, I hiked along a stream and using the new paint brushes I got for my birthday,
painted a view to trees and forested hills.
On the way to a beautiful trail in Contra Costa, where in January the hills are as green
as I imagine the landscape of the old country, I listened to harpsichord music.
For my next work, I'm planning a narrative of Irish American generations and art.
It begins with a man who may have been an indentured servant and centers
on an artist whose anti-slavery work was important in the Abolitionist movement.
Along the way -- from Ireland to Massachusetts to Vermont to Florence, Italy
-- there are farmers, artists, inventors, musicians and storytellers.
The story begins with Walter Power(s), one of the first Irish Immigrants
to America who came to Massachusetts in 1654 when he was 14 years old
and married Trial Shepard in 1660. Walter Power(s) was probably from Country
Waterford, and my family is descended from their first born, William. But the
story will be primarily told from the point of view of another direct descendent
of Walter Power(s), the sculptor
Hiram Powers, who was born in Vermont but
spent much of his creative life in Florence, Italy. Quite a lot is known
about Hiram Powers, but the story of the first Walter Power(s) will have
to be told differently as there are different versions, and everything is not
known. To tell this narrative in a way that works, I'm planning to use both
fiction and nonfiction and to more directly use polyphonic composition in
the structuring of the work.
January 9, 2010
Today is my birthday, and I am feeling happier than I have felt in a long time.
January 7, 2010
Finished the editing for the Forward Anywhere website that
Cathy Marshall and I created fifteen years ago, under the auspices of
Xerox PARC in a time when the Web was still young. We should have our
new Web version up soon. We've made it a little shorter, and are
sending readers to the published
Eastgate version. When the second
edition comes out, I am hoping we will be able to create some interest
in this. One of the important things that Eastgate founder Mark Bernstein
has done is publish literary hypertext on CD and give author's royalties
from the sales.
Some of what is really good about the work is the way it progressed with our selecting
implicit links from each other's lexias in a hypertextual forward progression, so we
had to keep this in mind in our editing process. Although it is fictionalized, the basic
theme of our collaboration was to compare the remembered substance of our lives.
But for the sake of privacy in the now very public Internet, I changed more names
and details in this edition. And -- from the basements of German castles to the
mountains of Colorado -- a few memorable ocassions will no longer be entirely seen
by the reader.
The url will be available soon...
January 1, 2010
New Year's Day hike in the East Bay.
Gray day with views to the ocean across new green grass on the hills.
Redwoods. Laurel. Peaceful afternoon on the trail.
Took my notebook and did some draft writing for
Paths of Memory and Painting.
California Poets lead off the New Year on
the Art California Web Portal,
that I host in partnership with the California Studies Association,
and I've posted the new
Art California top page.
Happy New Year!
December Hikes in Northern California.
Christmas Week, 2009
Making small paintings for my family. This year mountain scenes.
Looking forward to Christmas brunch with family. Preparing to make the Christmas
cookies my grandmother always made. Baking bread for Christmas brunch.
Last week, I took a Christmas hike in Marin. Sat beside a stream
in a Redwood forest and made a woods sketch that I haven't yet finished
because I'm spending my painting time making presents.
At Saint Mark's, as always, I went to the Lessons and Carols Service.
The fine St. Mark's Choir under the direction of George Emblom, sang every Carol
richly clear, including "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree", "In Dulci Jubilo",
the Welsh Carol "Suo Gan", "The Shepherd's Carol", "Song of Mary", and
In the Bleak Midwinter". We in the audience joined in on the resonant opening
procession "Once in Royal David's City" and sang the familiar hymns, closing
with "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". Lessons and Carols is an English
tradition begun in Truro Cathedral; sung annually at King's College Chapel
in Cambridge, England on Christmas Eve, even during World War II.
In Berkeley, the Church with greenery and candles, lovely, and the reading
of the texts reminding us of the meaning of Christmas.
In Cambridge, England on Christmas Eve, Lessons and Carols was sung
by the renowned Choir of King's College, directed by Stephen Cleobury
and broadcast live around the world on BBC Radio 4,
where I heard it early in the morning in California.
When I was growing up in the suburbs of Boston,
in the winter, there was snow along the road and on the lawns and hillsides,
and my friends and I would go out on Christmas Eve.
Stopping at every lighted house, we sang Christmas Carols.
Sometimes it snowed, and we could see the snowflakes
in the light of the candles in the windows
as we sang.
December 8, 2009
Snow along the road through Tilden Park and at various points on the trail,
an incredible view to snow on the slopes of Mount Diablo. Put on my ski hat
and ski sweater, packed my sketchbook, picked up my crutches, hiked to several
places where I made these sketches.
The evening before I had heard Kronos Quartet founder David Harrington
play sound samples that included a wonderful 1911 Alpine tape.
Interesting/challenging sound and stories of the genesis of the music
commissioned by Kronos -- with Harrington the master of ceremonies of a
collection that ranged from George Crumb's Black Angels; (that
inspired Harrington to found Kronos) to a work by Aleksandra Vrebalov
in which Harrington played the Serbian gusle, an instrument used to
accompany oral epic poetry; to Banda Linda music from Central African;
to the sound of seals in Antarctica.
The wildest Swiss music I ever heard he said about the Alpine music.
He talked about watching the cows come down from the hills in Switzerland,
and I remembered the first time I saw the meadows in the Swiss Alps and
the first day I arrived in Telluride.
Center for New Music and Technology Director, composer David Wessel put the event
in context, asking questions about what David listened to, the origins of Kronos.
Musicians exploring extraordinary work, finding innovative ways to bring it to wider
audiences, a reoccuring theme in this blog.
Last week, fellow new media writer and scholar
spoke at the BCNM New Media Roundtable
taking us on an interesting slide tour of computer games, including the
early Pacman and Space Wars, and looking at games in terms of Operational logics --
how narrative information is conveyed, a literate analysis of the
interfaces and meaning of computer games.
Noah is a primary creator of the evocative three-dimensional narrative
It was good to see him and to hear about Software Studies at UC Santa Cruz
where he teaches in the Computer Science Department.
interview with Sonya Rapoport is now available on
Sonya is a visual artist and interactive art pioneer who creates
audience participatory interactive installations, as well as web works
and artists books. Although her work can be approached in many ways,
in this interview, the focus is on her process which:
- begins with the creation of a work of visual art in her studio;
- seeks interactive audience input in gallery and/or invited situations;
- incorporates the input into the work;
- exhibits the new work;
- and sometimes continues the process
Art talk before and after The David Harrington event:
Jim Melchert's work is opening at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art
in the exhibition Life of Making that looks at making art and at
the art of living.
Jim's work is of particular interest here because
of the way he integrates pattern and conceptual process, using
hand-created ceramic tiles. Also included in Life of Making is the fine work
of June Schwarcz and Kay Sekimachi.
As if memories of Telluride had come to life, filmmaker and software engineer Eric Theise was there
reminding me of the 1993
November 30, 2009
"the difference that a small amount of blue
creates in the already dark green area of the canvas
accumulated sketch books tell the story
what is in their minds so very different
every moment important
not sure what to do. It was the fifties
afterwards there was never anyone else
self portraits of artists
when he said it was the way I looked
lilacs from the garden
disclosed with books and letters known to the painter
'the organ was playing 'The Wearin' o' the Green''"
Finished the draft titlepage for
paths of memory and painting. Doing some more writing.
Working on the timing.
As the holiday season begins,
California dancers and dance companies
as well as
California musicians and composers are featured on
that I host in partnership with the UC Berkeley California Studies Association.
November 24, 2009
Making small Christmas present paintings for my niece and nephew.
Looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with family. Continuing to write
paths of memory and painting. And interviewing Sonya Rapoport for
Authoring Software. Have been focusing on her seminal work in participatory
interactive art and how she situates the interaction in a visual artwork that is
both personal and universal.
Cathy Marshall and I are finishing the editing for the second edition of
Forward Anywhere, and we have improved
the work by adding a little more
context, such as where we were and what we were working on at various places
in the narrative.
Went last week to a celebration in honor of Douglas Engelbart at the Wozniak
lounge in Soda Hall. Introduced by Ken Goldberg, Director of the Center for
New Media, the event began with a showing of Engelbart's legendary Mother
of All Demos in which the mouse, mouse-driven hypertext, computer-based
video conferencing and a vision of the workspace of the future were set forth
in 1968, ported between the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco
(where the work was given a standing ovation) and SRI in Menlo Park.
Am enjoying reading Davitt Moroney's Bach an Extraordinary Life
with its interesting mixture of the sometimes difficult details of an artist's life;
the fine moments of Bach's life, including family, banquets, beer, Rhine wine, travel,
virtuoso performances, and the hard work that went into the creation of his complex,
original music. Reading about the four-manual organ, 60 stop organ at Jacobikirche
in Hamburg and how Bach and two other colleagues checked out the new organ at the
Liebfrauenkirche in Halle, including all 65 stops, wind pressure, the weight of the
keys, among other things (afterwards there was a banquet in honor of the occasion)
reminded me of the care needed to nurture early mainframe computers.
It is, for instance, hard to imagine the impact of Doug Engelbart's vision if you did
not work with computers in the days before personal computers. I still remember taking
a pack of punched cards into the computer room at Ball Brothers Research Company in
Boulder, CO and watching in dismay when after I fed the database program -- that we had
written to access the library documents -- into the IBM computer -- which, along with the tracks
for conveying the punched cards, occupied the entire room -- somehow the computer tossed all
the cards that comprised our program into the air, with computer cards flying all around
Doug Engelbart, Gary Kildall, Ed Roberts, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates,
Xerox PARC, Lee Felsenstein, Don Estridge, and many others made possible the platforms
we use to create contemporary new media art, which is why there is a
section on Art California.
The food in the Woz lounge was wonderful, as if we had been transported to a banquet
where trays of food were set forth, each more inviting than the next.
Summer/September Trailbook - draft layout (32" x 20")
Some of these images need a little more work, but I am looking at the whole before
I continue to work on separate images.
Created with 16 watercolor images made on hikes in Northern California trails,
the book represents a series of mid Summer expeditions. Looking at this work,
I remember where each painting was made, how I hiked to that place, the surrounding scenery
that is not in the painting. Summer in Northern California.
November 14, 2009
Yesterday was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Gary Snyder's
Riprap -- a safe trail in the mountains -- and I went to the Morrison
Library at Cal to hear him read from Riprap and talk about his life.
How in the mountains he read Chaucer in the original Middle English;
the coming together in his work of Chaucer's language and Chinese poetry.
The celebration was a memorable occasion. Large crowd.
Michael McClure told the story of the legendary "Six Poets at Six Gallery"
in 1955; read Snyder's "A Berry Feast".
Cal poets Robert Haas, Cecil Giscombe, and Lyn Heijinian read, spoke
of the influence of Riprap on everyone who has read it.
Gary read Piute Creek, Riprap, Hay for the Horses, and
Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout that includes these lines:
"drinking cold-snow water from a tin cup
looking down for miles
through high still air."
and I remembered hiking through snow in Colorado to get drinking water from
the pump. Icicles on the pump. The taste of cold water.
Fifty years later, Riprap is carried by rangers and guides in the High Sierra
and read in camp in the evenings.
recalling memories of hiking in the woods - images from last winter's hikes
I once made an office inbox that was filled with translucent
paintings of the woods on rice paper. It seemed like something that would be nice
to have on one's desk, recalling memories of hiking in the woods.
Also this week made draft
title page for the entire paths of memory and painting trilogy,
continued to write this work.
Worked on some interviews for the Authoring Software resource, continued a quest for
archive funding, and made a remembrance page
for Southern California-based art librarian
artist books curator and critic, Judith Hoffberg
Packed my paints and headed for Marin. One of the most beautiful hikes of the year.
Fallen leaves on the trail, the sound of water, yellow Fall color against the dark green
of the pines. New grass. I made three sketches to finish at home.
November 3, 2009
California musicians and composers are featured this month on the
Art California Web Portal,
hosted in partnership with the UC Berkeley California Studies Association. It is a pleasure
to work on promoting the central role of artists in California. The site is in progress;
suggestions for additions are welcome.
Finally a beginning draft of the opening pages of
paths of memory and painting is online.
This work has begun slowly. The composing process of the Trail Books has influenced my way of
writing/composing and the writing is progressing in a less structured way than the first two parts
of this trilogy. By which I mean that, as I also did to a certain extent in
its name was Penelope,
each lexia is written without a clear idea of its placement in the work, but at the same time, I'm
pretty sure it will eventually fit, although a lot of rewriting, arranging and rearranging will have
to be done to make it work.
Beginning to work on a new visual book - October, 2009
The image on the left is a detail of a sketch of a trail that on that day led to a place of
fog on the pines in Marin. The sketch on the right was made on an
adjacent trail a week later.
The book will probably be comprised of about 16 images.
The sketches for the trailbooks are created as individual parts of a whole. Thus the style
of each sketch may vary, reflecting both the place and the mood of the painter. It sometimes
takes quite a while to put the sketches together so that they work together, conveying the whole
of the experience, but that is a part of the process.
Sketching this place where the sun was on the trail where I had just walked, I thought that when
I headed home on this trail, I would once again pass places where the view across the hills led to
blue ocean in the distance, there was a small meadow that would be a nice place to have a picnic,
and just before the trail ended, a redwood forest where I would stop and rest, before heading home.
October 21, 2009
The text for paths of memory and painting is accumulating; the interface is taking
shape, but it will probably be another month or so before it is ready to be posted on the Internet.
Years Ago, in 1986, before the World Wide Web, when I created
Uncle Roger on Art Com
Electronic Network, I posted the story as I wrote it, including with each post the link
words so that readers could create their own version using database software, and I also
created published versions with UNIX shell scripts and BASIC. The Web is quite different
from the 1986 online community of the WELL, but I still like to put up my work as I write it,
as soon as this is possible. I like the idea of new media poetic narrative told in the
Homeric way on the Internet.
I wrote about this process in
a paper, saying:
"Like the changes in a continually tended and planted public garden, the changes and
additions that I made in The Roar of Destiny were probably not always obvious to the observer.
The reader did not encounter a series of chapters of a serialized story, but rather was
continually aware of a changing environment."
Eventually, for the sake of scholarship, a work is finished, or so I remind myself as
I rework the timing of
when the foreground and the background merged.
October 14, 2009
A trip to Marin and the first painting for a new Fall Winter trails book -- begun
a day of fog on the beautiful mountain trees
And as often happens a few months later when I've had time to think about it, I returned to
when the foreground and the background merged and made the page design
and the documentation a little better.
At Xerox PARC, Rich Gold liked to talk about how artists developed their work from the
influences of surrounding culture -- the situating of art making in the culture from which
it evolves. Art audiences don't always see these influences, the converging paths of Johann
Christian Bach and Mozart in London. for instance, as set forth in last week's Composer
of the Week on the BBC.
Recollecting the surrounding cultures that influenced my nonsequential naratives, I think
about the Photography and Language school and in particular the work of Lew Thomas. I looked at
my copy of Lew's Photography and Language. (where I also first saw John Gutmann's
also influential photographs. In the thirties, Gutmann photographed black and white rows
of text; it is interesting how his photos conjure up web text) Then, a postcard from Lew
-- he was in New Orleans at the time as curator for the Contemporary Art Center --
fell out of my copy of his Structural(ism) and Photography. He's answering a note
I had written him mentioning the influence of his work, that
I had quoted his words at a Modern
Language Association conference. On the postcard, He riffs on clouds
-- writing about how he created the evocative conceptual landscape photography series,
Grass, Sand & Clouds.
Chaired by Terence Harpold, that
1992 MLA panel on "Hypertext, Hypermedia: Defining
a Fictional Form"
in New York City was the first time I met fellow Eastgate authors Michael Joyce
and Stuart Moulthrop. Earlier that year, Carolyn Guyer had come to visit me in New Hampshire.
And I remember that Carolyn and I sat outdoors on a fine New Hampshire day and
talked about our work.
Detail from Summer/September Trails Book
Lately I have followed trails, like the trail I sketched in this array that leads
into the hills -- sitting beside these trails with my notebook, writing paths of
memory and painting.
October 11, 2009
Worked on the interface for paths of memory and painting. I have simplified
where every luminous landscape array -- using one larger text box for the
main narrative and two to four surrounding lexias for parallel narratives.
Created a cover page for
Dorothy Abrona McCrae -- have been meaning to
do this for a long time.
Last Monday, at Berkeley's Art Culture and Technology Colloquium, I heard
recent MacArthur fellowship winner Camille Utterback speak about her work.
I like the idea of a new media artist who creates work for public
spaces; interactive art encountered unexpectedly; the passerby's discovery
of how to interact with the work.
Writing on the Internet is somewhat like this. You don't know how the reader will
arrive at the work. Because of Internet search applications, the reader might
arrive in the middle of the work, or some place unexpected.
Last Wednesday, I went to the lively opening of the Domestic Disturbances
at the Worth Ryder Gallery on the Berkeley Campus. The exhibition was put together by
new gallery curator, Anuradha Vikram, and includes work by David Bestue & Marc Vives,
Abigail Feldman, Kara Hearn, Desiree Holman, Jennifer & Kevin McCoy, Emily McLeod,
Sonya Rapoport, and Stephanie Syjuco. Enjoyed seeing so many interesting video art
works that utilized innovative camera work and structure, performance art influences,
and it was good to see Sonya Rapoport's Kiva Studio created on continuous feed
computer paper with drawings, diagrams and writing. I had seen this work (years after it
was created) unfolded as an artists book in Sonya's studio but was surprised by the
correlations between the "tracks" evident when it was installed on the wall. It was
created in 1978, the year that I showed my first
card catalog and a landscape scroll
on continuous feed paper in the Location project at a branch of the
San Francisco Public Library.
Sonya and I first met in 1980 at the opening of her
Objects on My Dresser exhibition
at Langton Street. In the following years, we spent many hours talking about
our work and the work of other new media artists, although our paths diverged
somewhat in 1986 when Sonya was focusing on large scale interactive installation,
and my work began to focus on new media poetry and hypernarrative.
Last week I also finished the layout for the Summer/September trails book and was pleased
to be reminded of early work, thinking about parallel creativity. 1978: Sonya documenting the
environment of her artist's life
in a layered and correlated progression; I in the East Bay hills
creating maps, continuous drawings and poetic nonsequential narrative.
October 2, 2009
Writing in my notebook on a trail on which I had never been before. I had stopped
because the trail above me was steep, slippery with newly fallen leaves, and the
area seemed seldom traveled. Hiking alone on crutches one must make such decisions.
I had left my paints at home and brought only my notebook. Below me was a procession
of trees, logs, moss, and ferns on the yellow-brown leaf covered trail.
If the trail was a diversion from the main path, in an area where there were many
such narrow, less travelled trails, so were the paths my writing had taken, always
returning to Dorothy's iconic painting of herself, sitting in her new studio,
reading her namesake's Pointed Roofs.
A poet may have many unseen ideas, keep many written words for a rainy day, while
only a few are revealed to the public, yet the conceptual travelling of idea/word paths,
even if not visible, informs the shaping of the narrative. Today, they were
the three separate yet occasionally intersecting paths of the writers Dorothy Richardson,
James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, as they wrote the interior monologues of the lives
of artists, of men and women so differently and so wonderfully.
And then there was the surprise on page four of Dorothy Richardson's
"The organ was playing 'The Wearin' o' the Green'.
It had begun that tune during the last term of school, in the summer."
She does not seem to know that it is a song for Irish Independence.
Or does she? It was probably 1913 in London when she began Pointed Roofs,
the first volume of Pilgrimage, but she was writing about an earlier time.
All these times were the era of the fight for Home Rule. Who I wondered was
playing the song?
And I thought about Irish born James Joyce writing far away in Italy or Switzerland.
"He takes me, Napper Tandy, by the hand."
Impossible to forget the way the words play in Ulysses or Mrs Dalloway.
But this week, background reading permeating my thoughts about paths of memory and
painting, I had been thinking that sometimes the recitative overwhelms the aria in
Dorothy Richardson's work, yet the aria is all the more welcome when it finally appears.
Sitting in the woods with my notepad, I remembered writing beside a small lake
in New Hampshire, discovered by following an unmarked trail. I remembered writing
what would become
The Roar of Destiny beside a mountain river on the Western slopes
of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, I remembered stopping to write in my notebook about
the work of new media poets (for an article for Microtimes) as I hiked a
desert trail in Arizona; the diverging paths I took, the starkly beautiful landscape.
I will return with my paints to the same trail when the rains start, and the landscape
turns greener, I thought as I put my notebook in my backpack, and
walked down the trail.
Went on a painting trip to the Sierras. After a somewhat difficult descent on
crutches, I found a place to paint the view across a mountain lake. I took a short swim,
staying near the coast and not using my left leg. The water was cold and clear; the view lovely.
Had a lunch of cheese and crackers. Enjoyed the hike back, stopping often to look at the blue
and green colors of the mountains and trees and water -- to paint in the future.
September 26, 2009
Writing. In paths of memory and painting, Dorothy is sitting in her new studio,
surrounded by books, paints, brushes, paper, canvas, sketchbooks, photographs,
paintings. Space on the wall for her new work. She is reading the first book of her
namesake Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage; thinking about painting Dorothy
Richardson, but first she will paint herself, with the book open on the table and
her drawing pad beside her.
I'm also working on the new trails book
Summer, September. At the moment, it looks
like a tapestry or, because some Northern California trails are like that in the late
summer, as if Renaissance musicians might enter at any moment and begin to play and sing.
So I went to the Noon Concert at the U.C. Berkeley Department of Music and heard soprano
Susan Gundunas' All the World's a Stage, a performance of Shakespearean songs with
Daniel Lockert, harpsichord and piano and Irish-born harpist Diana Rowan. Renaissance composers
beginning with Robert Johnson's "Where the Bee Sucks"; Baroque and classical composers
beginning with Purcell's "If Music be the Food of Love"; opera composers including Verdi's
"Ave Maria"; and contemporary composers, concluding with Alva Henderson's "Sigh No More
Ladies". Susan Gundanas' lyrical operatic voice -- unexpected in the Renaissance songs,
building in the program to a fine finale in the contemporary version of "Sigh No More Ladies"
-- her stage presence, the innovative program she created, were memorable and thought provoking,
a way of differently experiencing the music and lyrics.
June Northern California Trails Book
The "book" is created by making plexiglass and wood framed slots and then arranging
the hand painted images on strips of paper and putting the strips into the slots. It
is a flexible process which gives it a narrative yet painterly look, not unlike -- although the
subject matter is very different -- the Sienese alterpeices that are the subject of
scene one of when the foreground and the background merged. But it is a
performative work in that the viewer follows the paths of a poet as she hikes
Northern California trails.
In this work, there are three strips of images. The work could also be displayed in a
plexiglass carrying case that stacked the three separate parts.
Working with these visual books is similar to putting together works of new media
literature. For instance, in the visual books, there are many paths that you could
imagine following as you look at the work. I paint small images. I write with lexias,
screen-sized blocks of text. Each lexia, each painting works by itself. However, how
they work together is what shapes the final work, and a lot of editing is needed to
create the final work.
September 17, 2009
Continuing to write paths of memory and painting.
If the story of
Dorothy Abrona McCrae
begins in 2000 like The Iliad
on a note of anger,
it moves to the long awaited reunion of Odysseus and Penelope, as Dorothy and Sid
meet again and reconcile. Over the years since I began to tell the Dorothy stories,
the simmering anger expressed in her first narrative has softened, and in
luminous landscape in the recollected return to her background as a landscape painter,
she sees the past somewhat differently. Now in my draft for paths of memory and painting,
she is experiencing the energy of the new figurative work that Elmer Bischoff painted
while he was teaching in the Yuba Valley, while at the same time she is creating her own body
of figurative work.
As I write Dorothy's voice, I recollect what it was like in the Bay area in
the late 1980's when an extraordinary group of artists was brought together by
Carl Loeffler at Art Com; how we exchanged ideas, yet each developed our own approach.
I remember the energy of audience response in 1986 when moving from the keyed molecular
narratives I had created in the
card catalogs, I told
Uncle Roger in keyed hyperlink serial form
live on Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN) and created the program to publish it on
the ACEN menu.
At a party to celebrate the online publication of our works, I met John Cage, whose
First Meeting of the Satie Society was published on ACEN. He told me how there
were people who did not speak to him after 4'33". The work was misunderstood. How
hard it was for him. Yet at the time we were talking, everyone wanted to talk with John.
September 10, 2009
I have begun the draft of Paths of Memory and Painting. It will take a while
before I can put this online because I need to write the beginning lexias of each path
in the array before it can be displayed.
On labor day weekend, I sat in a peaceful cafe near the University -- just as Dorothy
does as the story begins. She is drawing, remembering a work she saw in David Park's
studio in 1950: The Rehearsal, a painting of the studio 13 jazz band. Among those
who played in this group were Douglas MacAgy, Director at the California School of Fine Arts
(now the San Francisco Art Institute) on drums; Charlie Clark, Clarinet; John Schueler, bass;
David Park on Piano; Elmer Bischoff, Trumpet and others. Oh to hear them play,
as Dorothy once did and now recalls.
The first two files of the trilogy of the same name, Paths of Memory and Painting,
are reflective, poetic. But in this file, I am striving to recreate the art energy of the time
Dorothy is remembering -- the energy and centrality of art making that began in New York City,
the new directions in Northern California.
On Tuesday, I went on a painting trip to the coastal range and felt better. PTSD noise stress
has been a problem. It helps to go on an expedition, hike, paint.
I now have about twelve images for the Summer trails book. Would like to put up an
image of what this looks like so far. But for some reason, I can't get my camera to
transfer the files to my computer. Working on this...
August 31, 2009
"I am -- with no regrets -- a poet, one of the seminal figures in new media
literature. But there has always remained a sense of loss in my life, that I
was not primarily a painter. Thus I decided that I would write about a woman who
became who I had originally set out to be.
To separate our lives, she is older than I am and comes from a different era."
-- from the notes for when the foreground and the background merged
Nine years ago, in 2000, I created Dorothy Abrona McCrae, partially to relive my own life
in the way I had originally envisioned, as a painter. In the past two years, her struggle
with the development of contemporary personal vision has been documented in the where every
luminous landscape trilogy.
Dorothy's work parallels the work of David Park and Elmer Bischoff, among many others.
She shares East Coast origins with David Park, whose father was a Unitarian minister
in Boston. She shares a World War II background with Elmer Bischoff, who was a Major in
intelligence with the US Air Force in England.
But Dorothy Abrona McCrae is a fictional character, who has developed her own vision
in her own way.
I am ready to start writing paths of memory and painting, the third part of the
Dorothy trilogy that also includes
where every luminous landscape
when the foreground and the background merged.
On the trail in Northern California, there is a fine contrast between dense woods
and the arrival at lake, stream, and it is this contrast that creates the effect
I strive for in
the trail books.
August 27, 2009
The death of Senator Edward Kennedy has left me with a deep sadness, bringing
back my roots, growing up near Boston. I looked for the photo of Teddy with my
mother, (I think when she was Managing Editor of the Somerville Journal;
the Cambridge Chronicle; and the Watertown Press) but could not find it --
as if that too was gone -- along with Teddy's brothers and sisters, John F. Kennedy,
Joseph Jr., Kathleen, Robert, Eunice, and Rosemary, whose life inspired Kennedy family
funding of the school where Nuns taught my autistic brother to read music and play the
And now Teddy, who dedicated his life to honorable public service in the US Senate,
I went for a remembrance walk in the woods. Drew redwood trees and a view to the hills.
August 20, 2009
It has been an editing week, mainly immersed in the second edition of the
Forward Anywhere, but yesterday I finished
my part and sent it to co-author Cathy Marshall. (formerly at Xerox PARC now at
Microsoft Research, Silicon Valley)
At first it was difficult to look at the time period when Forward Anywhere was
written, but in the end, the editing helped me through the rough parts, and it felt
like a new beginning. The life I was leading before the accident -- traveling around
the country writing and programming new media poetry, staying with family in New Hampshire,
while I wrote in the mountains and edited Leonardo's seminal online publications, working
as an artist in residence and on community networking in the mountains of Colorado,
documenting the work of installation and video artists in Arizona, for Arts Wire visiting
the offices of Atlatl in Phoenix, where Native American artists were among the first groups
to build community online, spending time in the Computer Science Lab in Xerox PARC in Palo Alto
-- was very different from my life now. But -- while I continue to write new media poetry --
now I am painting in the hills, exploring contemporary
authoring software, and resuming the
creating of handmade books.
Returning to working on paintings and artists books after many years of interface
systems analysis and the writing and editing of new media poetry has brought new respect also
for the work of visual artists. Painters, for instance, may sometimes make thousands of brushstrokes
in one work and they face many decisions -- color, placement of imagery, etc. We don't
always realize how complex this process is.
Last week, I made two sketches near a stream in the woods,
and I have been working on the completing first one. There are quite a lot of details
in these small paintings, so it has been a slow process. I'm also doing some final work on the images
in the June trails book. And I now have about ten sketches for a Summer trails book.
August 11, 2009
"Statement by Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Passing of His Sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver "
Reading about the Hudson River School for two reasons -- one is the approach to landscape
and the other is to look at the core contributions of artists with disabilities in this
school, including Frederic Church, Alexander Helwig Wyant, Fitz Hugh Lane,
Homer Dodge Martin, and George Inness.
The sharing of disability experience is important not only in bringing ourselves courage to face
our lives but also in showing the world what people with disabilities have contributed, that our
viewpoints and lives are important -- the difficulties, the heroism -- and that we need to be more
I think about
Homer Avila dancing on one leg. If you haven't been where he was it is easy
to forget that he could no longer dance the renowned Avila/Weeks repertory, that all
he could do was dance on one leg, how difficult that was, that he was in pain. It's important
to remember this while at the same time we celebrate his heroism, how -- with such elegance
and bravery -- he danced on one leg.
He had once cheered me up with his courage when I was writing a story for NYFA Current
that included his dancing. And I thought about him sometimes when I was struggling with crutches.
After his leg was amputated, Homer Avila danced with Alonzo King, Ballet Frankfort, Victoria Marks,
the Florida Dance Festival and at the Kennedy Center. It was a such a loss when he died.
Jill Kinmont Boothe
and AXIS Dance Company
Riva Lehrer - Circle Stories
Joanne de Longchamps
Homer Dodge Martin
Hudson River School
Fitz Hugh Lane
Alexander Helwig Wyant
Anna Althea Hills
where every luminous landscape
Anna Althea Hills (1882-1930)
Homer Avila, In Memoriam
Congressional Hearings for Artists on Health Care
Continuing background reading for part three of the Dorothy trilogy. Restless.
Rather be writing.
Considering how to create an online artists book that contains some of the images and text
in this blog. Thinking in terms of an underlying scroll that is accessed in different
ways. This is somewhat in line with my classic hyperfiction work, where basically there is
an underlying scroll of text lexias. although often, that is not how the reader experiences
visual books, I sought to create works in which neither was the text a description
of the work nor were the images illustrations of the words. In a sense, this has been part
of the flow of this blog, but I would like to incorporate that into a more formal
work that still retains these elements. The things I want to emphasize are the interplay
of the painting of the images and the creation of new media poetry, the experience
of disability, the performative nature of the work, and the intersection of new media
literature, artists books, and narrative art.
watercolor sketches of East Bay scenes
A few weeks ago, I had hiked quite a ways on a back trail through a
redwood forest without finding a place I wanted to sit and paint. I reached a main
trail that began four miles away to the West. It was a high ridge trail that
overlooked East Contra Costa. I could see Mount Diablo through the trees, but there
were quite a few hikers, and there was nowhere private to sit and paint.
Finally, I arrived at a small glade with a view to a forested ridge. I sketched
for a while, thinking that sometimes you can be walking along and suddenly there
is a place where there is a view to remember. It might not always be be spectacular
like the mountain lakes or the coastal range, but it is a place where you can spend a
pleasant hour, looking at the view, painting.
August 8, 2009
Went to the
Hearst Gallery at St Mary's College in Moraga and saw the exhibition California
in Relief: A History in Wood and Linocut Prints. Artist/Curator Art Hazelwood has done
an excellent job of creating a narrative of California artists who work in this diverse field
-- in the same exhibition including the work of the Labor movement and the Chicano Movement,
the influence of Japanese prints, and the historical and continuing work of California landscape
A few works that I liked are Tom Killion's scene of a tree-surrounded high meadow near
the Santa Cruz Coast; Emmanuel Montoya's homage to legendary border singer Lydia Mendoza;
Rachael Bell Romero's homage to Pablo Neruda; and Gordon Mortensen's soft-color layered woodcut
of the Sioux River. I see in the brochure catalog that Emmy Lou Packard's Artichoke Picker
is also included. Particularly like her work, but somehow missed seeing it in the exhibition.
In the William Keith room in the back of the gallery, there are some
paintings of Western mountains
that I hadn't seen -- and some I had seen. Studied the extraordinary way he painted the light on the trail,
the mountains in the distance. Every time I go to the Hearst Gallery, I sit in the Keith room
and read some of the biography that Brother Cornelius of St Mary's wrote of Keith. (only available
copies too expensive for me to buy, originally published in 1942, the year I was born) This time,
I read the narrative of Keith's studio on Pine Street in San Francisco.
August 3, 2009
Cathy Marshall and I have begun working on the new edition of
the collaborative hyperfiction we created as part of the PAIR program at Xerox PARC.
As I read our words, I am reminded that they were written when the Internet and the World
Wide Web were beginning to become more important in people's lives, although both Cathy
and I had been working online for years.
1993-1995. It was a time when browsers were making the Web more accessible and the Internet was
becoming glamorous. My son was working at
Hotwired, Wired's online magazine.
At PARC, I had finished working with Pavel Curtis in LambdaMoo, and in California, Arizona, and
Colorado, I was working for
Arts Wire and with MFA students.
In July 1994, I was preparing to spend August in Palo Alto, so that I could work with Cathy at PARC.
In the introduction to Forward Anywhere, Cathy notes that she sent out an email in early July
-- asking for housing for me Palo Alto for August. "Ironically it was the day before Judy's
accident in Phoenix".
Because of the accident, I could not spend a month actually working at PARC, and for the
most part, we finished the project online. It was a big disappointment because I had enjoyed
the time I spent in Computer Science Lab and was very much looking forward to working in
I remember walking up Page Mill Road, the horse chestnut tree, lunch with researchers,
shared excitement about the future of the Internet and the document of the future, lectures
in the bean bag room, the incredible work stations and the rooms full of printers.
But Cathy and I are working to prepare a new Eastgate edition of Forward Anywhere.
And I look forward....
continuing to hike and sketch in Marin.
August 1, 2009
Jerry Garcia week, and I have been thinking about how much the music
of the Grateful Dead and the community and fellowship they created have contributed
to California culture, particularly in the Bay Area.
July 26, 2009
I have added bios for
Stephanie Strickland and Cynthia Lawson Jaramillo
among many others,
including writer and musician
Ian Hatcher, who composes for a Chicago-based dance company
Authoring Software resource. Writers' lives, the tools
writers use can be of interest in understanding the work they create, particularly in
a field where the work may incorporate new writer-reader strategies.
There are some interesting developments in authoring software across the country,
including Noah Wardrip-Fruin's work at UC Santa Cruz, Nick Montfort's work at the MIT
Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, and Juan Guiterrez' adaptive hypertext system
Literatronica. And this Fall, Authoring Software will be interviewing Eastgate founder
Mark Bernstein about his pioneering work in this field.
As I begin to work on the next stage of this project, I note the many and varied approaches
to the creation of new media literature and would like to emphasize that in this field, where
the software can be as core in the realization of the work as was/is the printing press,
it is good that both writers and readers are familiar with the tools new media use, but at
the same time it is important that our work be considered literature and/or (since there are
some in this field who approach it as a screen-based visual medium) art.
The artists books are meant to convey
a progression of scenes from hikes on
Northern California trails. Each sketch is a detail of a larger whole, and as
if I am the narrator of a continuing story of hiking and painting outdoors, you would
have to see how it fits into the array to truly experience the work.
detail of a watercolor sketch of a favorite place in Marin
There is a legend that the spirit of Virginia Dare became
a white deer. The story is told in different ways.
But I envisioned her running free and alive in the Marin Headlands.
And then I don't know why --
except that the trail I was following was symbolic --
I followed John Muir on his thousand mile walk from Indiana to Florida
and then on his walk across the Central Valley to the Mountains of California.
The morning that he first saw the Sierra Nevada.
Somehow I felt an ancestral memory of those mountains.
The trees that encircle wet mountain meadows at sunrise.
The light green grass, the wildflowers.
In my dreams walking though the woods alone
in search of a view of a lake.
Judy Malloy -- from the
arioso in The Wedding Celebration of Gunter and Gwen
July 20, 2009
The work of plein air artists, is not, in some cases, so very different from the work of
performance artists, although it is usually not thought of in this way. What I mean is
that there are elements of adventure and of sharing personal vision of the
environment in the work of artists who explore and paint outdoors to convey landscape.
I have been thinking, while planning a sketching hike, that I may be one of the few
poet artists who has not only created work as a performance artist in the 80's
milieu of Bay area punk clubs and alternative art spaces, but who also as a young
artist painted landscapes in New Hampshire and the North Shore of Massachusetts.
I bicycled around Ipswich, painted the beaches and the marshes and exhibited my work
with other local artists. I don't have much of this work left because I sold most of it.
Writer John Updike, who lived in the same town, was a fine example of an artist who was
part of the community. His wife at that time was a painter who sometimes showed her
work locally, and I greeted him walking downtown, as did everyone else in town.
I remember that once in a wild snowstorm, I passed him on the hill at night
and we said hello, as we walked alone in opposite directions.
If you want to explore the vision of photographers, in particular the work created by two very
different black and white photographers, visit the Mumm Napa gallery to see George Rose's
photographs of musicians and Hollywood actors and in an adjacent gallery, the work of Ansel Adams.
I saw these exhibitions a few weeks ago and also had a glass of champagne and looked out at the
view of the valley.
July 19, 2009
Celebrating the Life and Work of Distinguished Spanish Poet Carmen Conde,
The Caregena Project is included in
Drunken Boat's Anniversary Issue
I note that some of the works from the The Caregena Project are included in
Drunken Boat's Anniversary issue, celebrated at the SoHo20 Chelsea Gallery
on July 10th, 2009.
It is great that this project, that was created in commemoration of the distinguished
Carmen Conde and originally housed on a website in Cartagena, Spain,
has found a welcoming home, so that her life and work continues to be celebrated. An excellent
introduction by Alejandro Delgado Gomez describes the collection.
I was pleased that the 2006 edition of my Concerto for Narrative Data, was exhibited
in the The Cartagena Project in Spain.
The expanded 2008 version of
Concerto for Narrative Data was published
in The Iowa Review Web last year.
And I look forward...
Rereading books about Bay Area Figurative painting:
The Art of Joan Brown by Karen Tsujimoto and Jacquelynn Baas
Art in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945-1980 by Thomas Albright
Elmer Bischoff - The Ethics of Paint by Susan Landauer
I will probably begin writing Part III of the Dorothy in Berkeley trilogy in August
or September, but in the meanwhile, I am looking at the art and reading about the
lives of San Francisco Bay Area artists in the 1950's.
In the lives of artists, there are certain times when everything comes together, and you
know/see that this is what you have been trying to do, that this is the fulfillment of your
vision you have been searching for. It is this period in the narrator's life and
work that I now address in Part III. It will be of interest to contrast this with the more
reminiscent/recollective aspects of her earlier career which shape the narratives of Part I:
where every luminous landscape
and Part II:
when the foreground and the background merged.
In the actual writing, I generally don't use very much of what is an extensive amount
of background reading. However, the reading helps shape the growth and actions of the
characters, as well as the parallel lives of real artists and the era in which the
When I first began writing about the life of
Dorothy Abrona McCrae,
I concentrated on Dorothy herself. Now I return to the time when her work matured --
the 1950's -- and in the background texts will look also at the art and artists of that era.
This approach reflects Dorothy's own path in the understanding of her life and work.
She is the fictive narrator, and in the years since her story was begun, there have been changes
in her life, in her understanding of her own work, and in her understanding of the lives of other artists.
I'm thinking about the interface for this work. Currently I plan to use the interface
I designed and created for where every luminous landscape - possibly with some design
changes to make the total effect somewhat more organic looking.
central interface I used for where every luminous landscape
works well when I want to create a background of the era and of the lives of other artists
from which the narrator's voice emerges as the primary voice, but it is quite difficult to write
to this interface because, as if it were a piece of music, all the parts must cohere.
It has been interesting in the Trail Books to return to working with the visual equivalent
of lexias and to work on these books in parallel with new media writing. In some ways in my
work, the painting is also narrative poetry, an artist's poetic reaction to time and place.
So, although the medium and process are quite different, it does not seem very different to
me to create an interface into which lexias of poetry are placed in such a way that they
interact in different ways and to create
an artists book that is composed of many small
sketches and paintings, each representing a moment of vision of landscape.
I made my way -- with difficulty on crutches -- down towards the lake, where I painted this
watercolor, until it began to rain harder. On the way back, I was able to make three pen
and ink sketches.
Often while hiking and painting in the Sierras, a scene is so beautiful that I stop
on the trail or beside a lake to make a watercolor sketch. I try to
remember the colors, the way the pine trees looked across the water,
so that I can work on the picture when I get home.
About Judy Malloy
Born and raised in New England, Judy Malloy is a California-based
poet who works at the conjunction of hypernarrative, magic realism,
landscape and information. Her work has been exhibited and published
internationally including the 2008 Electronic Literature Conference,
San Francisco Art Institute, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, Sao Paulo
Biennial, the Los Angeles Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston
Cyberarts Festival, The Walker Art Center, Visual Studies Workshop,
Environmental Film Festival Ithaca, NY, Eastgate Systems,
E.P. Dutton, Tanam Press, Seal Press, MIT Press,
The Iowa Review Web, and Blue Moon Review.
Malloy's early work included
landscape documentation projects,
artists books and
A pioneer on the Internet and in electronic literature,
she followed a vision of hypertextual narrative that she
began in the 1970's with experimental artist books created
in card catalog and electro-mechanical structures, and
in 1986 she wrote and programmed the seminal hyperfiction
Uncle Roger. In the ensuing years she created a
series of innovative hypernarratives works published
by Eastgate and on the Internet, including its name
was Penelope (Eastgate Systems) and l0ve0ne, the
first selection in the Eastgate Web Workshop.
In 1993, she was invited to Xerox PARC where she worked
in Computer Science Laboratory as the first artist
in their artist-in-residence program. In 1994,
she created one of the first arts websites,
Making Art Online. (currently hosted on the
website of the Walker Art Center)
As an arts writer, she has worked most notably as
Editor of The New York Foundation for the Arts
NYFA Current, (formerly Arts Wire Current)
an Internet-based National journal on the arts and
culture. She is currently the host of the Art
California Web Portal in partnership with The
California Studies Association.
Among her recent works of narrative poetry are the
Paths of Memory and Painting
where every luminous landscape and
when the foreground and the background merged.
In 2010, Paths of Memory and Painting was featured at
the Berkeley Center for New Media Roundtable, and in
the exhibition Language-Driven Installation Art,
and at the Electronic Literature Organization
Conference at Brown University. Part I of the Paths trilogy,
where every luminous landscape, was
featured at the E-Poetry Festival, Center of Contemporary
Culture of Barcelona, May, 2009, the future of Writing,
University of California Irvine, Nov 2008, and was short listed for the
Prix poesie-media 2009, Biennale Internationale des poetes
en Val de Marne.
She is currently doing research for a new work,
From Ireland with Letters.
In 2009. while I was writing
Paths of Memory and Painting,
I walked about 500 miles on crutches
Had to stop and rest quite
often, and along the way I made
a series of small paintings
that I used to create artists trail books.
This poet's journal documents
adventures in writing, painting,
electronic literature, trail hikes, and
words and images are copyright 2009, 2010 Judy Malloy
The Magic Flute
at the Cal Dept of Music
Sha Xin Wei at the
New Work from East Bay Galleries
Pedro Memelsdorff: Trecento composers
Mary Jo Bang and Lyn Hejinian
African American Quilts
at the Richmond Art
on Mozart's birthday
Forward Anywhere website
New Years Day Hike
Christmas Week, 2009
and snow on Mount Diablo
with Cathy Marshall
Bach, an Extraordinary Life
Fall color against
the dark green of the pines.
paths of memory and painting
June Trails Book
photography and language;
meeting Carolyn Guyer
a week of new media at Cal;
soprano Susan Gundunas:
All the World's a Stage
painting trip to the Sierras
contrast between dense woods
and the arrival at lake, stream
a view to remember
hyperfiction with Cathy Marshall
sketching in Marin
greeting John Updike
in a snowstorm
the Dorothy trilogy
the sound of bagpipes
in the hills
at Gathering Tribes
the woods not far from where
Jerry Garcia used to live
summer in the mountains,
fog in the Berkeley hills
a trip to the mountains
the forty shades of green in
Johnny Cash's song,
Laws' Field Guide
Native American poet Kim Shuck
Berkeley Hills Trail
at St Marys
in the Sierras
at UC Merced
The Football Players
"Composer of the Week"
walking in the hills
with my paintbox;
bringing back lost
slow buildup of
Remembering Teddy Kennedy
for Eunice Kennedy Shriver
and Homer Avila
Musicians, and Dancers
Know your own limits
and Happy Trails!
Walter Huston Lillard
Memories of Arts Wire
Memories of Art Com
and La Mamelle
Between the Narrator
and the Narrative