Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the anxiety of influence

Sometimes, as a practice, I stare into a mirror long enough for my face to become so bizarre looking that I cannot recognize it as my own. The feeling is much like repeating the same word over and over, eventually it renders any associations it once had irrelevant.

To "fall out of familiar” with something, loosely for me, refers to a point of transition in a habit/routine/space/relationship/object when something once intensely familiar shifts into a completely strange and dissociated state. I am still looking for that single succinct word to best describe it.

Something about performance art makes me inexplicably apprehensive, particularly when it’s in galleries, Marina Abramovic's most recent piece The Artist is Present is no exception. The premise is that Marina will sit at a table and visitors take turns sitting opposite of her and ‘enjoy uninterrupted eye contact’ from her for as long as they can stand to sit there. Part of the piece that I didn’t expect was for MoMa to photograph each individual visitor. I admit I actually looked through each photo and soon realized just how intense this probably was/is for her. I don’t think I could literally sit in once place for 6 hours, let alone subject myself to an endless staring contest with strangers. As I flip through the photos, I start having the sensation I get when I’ve repeated a word too many times, each face more bizarre than the last.

It is interesting to see people who returned for a second sitting, little children, the interventionists and the large number of people brought to tears. I give it up to Marina for subjecting herself to this, an act for which I definitely would not have the emotional stamina. I’m not new-age, but I do believe in a certain telepathic control/influence we have other each other. This is probably what would happen to me if I tried to enter a staring contest with Marina.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


100 metres underground runs a circular tunnel 27 km long, crossing the border between France and Switzerland. Inside the tunnel, two beams of subatomic particles are shot in opposite directions gaining speed with each lap until they are travelling faster than the speed of light. The beams are then sent hurtling into one another in hopes of having them smash apart, revealing the even smaller particles that make them up. However, when particles collide and rip apart, it is like two garbage trucks colliding and their contents spilling allover the road. The next part is trying to figure out what pieces came from where.

I don't really understand particle physics, or much about physics in general. Honestly, I feel a little ill by the thought of microscopic particles of energy orbiting each other inside my body.

But I think about all the lives lived just above the surface, of people in cars and on bikes running parallel to the energy below. Sometimes I feel as if we purposefully smash into each other, ripping apart to figure out whats really inside.