Friday, September 5, 2014

The Magical Bicycle (as in all of them)

A conversation that took place behind the great wall of FB has provoked life back into this poor neglected blog!

I found occasion to mention the peculiar, seemingly inexplicable awesomeness of bicycles, and it was our great fortune that a slight acquaintance saw a question for which an answer he did intend to deliver. And let me tell you, you had better put on your reading pants!

the illustrious RW McCalmon wrote:


First, we are a nomadic species. Evolved to move long distances regularly. 14,000 years of the agrarian revolution cannot completely change the adaptations of millions of years.

Those activities that stimulate beneficial cardiovascular adaptation do so not only to heart, lungs, muscles, etc, but also the brain. As the user of 20% of all calories consumed, more than twice as much as the next closest competitor in the animal kingdom, our brain reacts well to the growth of a denser network of arteries and veins. Which will in turn deliver the oxygen and glucose necessary for brain function + more efficiently remove the damaging waste products of metabolism once the energy is consumed. I believe our brain function is tied to our nomadic nature. Evolved in a conjoined fashion. Movement is necessary to think clearly. There is a reason why cardiovascular and metabolic diseases go hand in hand with dementia.

Now bring in the bike. An invention that takes the human endurance animal with middling efficiency and makes it the single most efficient moving body in existence. No other animal can compete with the amount of energy we put in versus the distance we can travel when we are on a bike. Not even when you place humans in other modes of transport. Not even close. The bicycle is the efficiency king of the physical universe.

That sort of efficiency is the freedom we all feel from the moment our feet leave the ground for the first time. It is a crack for those especially lacking a healthy physical outlet. Which is most of modern first world society.

Bikes let us chase the wind, or take the fight right into the face of a strong headwind. Choosing to feel in a very direct physical manner the invisible substance that surrounds us not entirely unlike a less viscous ocean. Or do the same up a mountain side, wrestling with the ultimate victor of us all, gravity. Symbolically chasing death ascending or descending.

But, more than anything, it transcends words. To the point that most nearly, if not all, words struggle pathetically to capture the true essence. And will continue to do so, for as long as there are beings to ride them, for many centuries to come. It is the closest we'll ever come to a free ride and I think subconsciously we know this as if we are standing on the edge of a very high precipice. Mundanely abundant with an illusory simplicity that masks a counter intuitive efficiency.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The third semester of pottery

This semester of independent study in pottery saw the production of far more pieces than in the past, a result of primarily two things: a little bit more practice and a lot more time in the studio. There were also two primary themes I was working with: first, dinnerware, and second, the root problem aka abandonment of intention, retreat of volition, infraconscious expression, or refined doodling, which has been my method of creative expression for some time now. Though the entirety of this method is vastly indescribable (by design), the most common manifestation of it is in the attempt to relinquish as much conscious control over my actions as possible, thus limiting the expression of the ego (which has limited appeal outside my self). An attractive notion then is that instead of expressing myself (again, boring), I become a vehicle for universal expression, or for reality to express itself. One of the most important consequences of this is that, like a mirror, each product tells more about the observer than of its constructor; another is that the constructor is immune from criticism, and likewise, can never rightfully claim much responsibility for what has happened. This notion is much more readily apparent with paintings, since they are expected to be interpreted as depictions, and the interpretations vary (widely) not only with each individual, but in time for them as well. With ceramics the effect is certainly subtler, but it does seem as though the results are sufficiently whimsical to be considered applicable; yet, as always, this reality is up to you and you alone (consensus gathering is explicitly prohibited).

Every piece this semester was made with a mix of reprocessed cone 10 clay, and glaze fired in a reduction atmosphere at approximately cone 10 (depending on placement in the rather large kiln). All dimensions are given in centimeters, measured at the maximum and rounded to the nearest half.

As usual, you'll have to forgive my overexposure (etc.), photographing glossy, colorful pottery is still beyond my point and shoot skills, and larger pictures can be accessed by clicking on the respective image.


Series: the root problem


overflowing cup no. 1
D: 11 cm, H: 8 cm
rutile blue, teadust black, Miami beach, Jed's green
note: very thin copper wire was applied prior to glaze firing; the black pool inside is presumably slag







overflowing cup no. 2
D: 10.5, H: 7
red iron slip, pink underglaze, Coleman's purple, rutile blue, angel eyes, Farrell 2-A





overflowing cup no. 3
D: 11.5, H: 10
royal blue, white and pink underglazes, rutile blue, angel eyes inside/around base, touch of moon touchups





swept bowl
D: 15.5, H: 8.5
spudomene, Jed's green, splotchy lavender




milieu vase
D: 9.5, H: 19
red iron slip, rutile blue, Jed's green, angel eyes inside/around top, Coleman's purple splashed




stacked vase
D: 11.5, H: 9.5
Coleman's purple exterior base coat, touch of moon around top, peacock around middle, purple eggshell matte around bottom; satin sky blue interior base, lipstick purple
note: some combination of glazes resulted in a fantastic iridescent blue/green around the bottom, which naturally can't be expressed adequately with a still photograph
 



injured bowl
D: 14.5, H: 5.5
red iron slip, rutile blue, non-iron blue celadon, teadust black spot in the center
note: the "crack" is probably better described as a tear, caused by stressing the clay through rapidly increasing the diameter while throwing





tetralobular pot
D: 11, H: 10.5
temmoku, Vegas red




collapsing pitcher
D: 10.5, H: 9.5
peacock, splotchy lavender interior, angel eyes exterior




fruitless bowl
D: 20.5, H: 8.5
graphite, spudomene, beading glaze
notes: this is my submission for the semester project, "fruit-in-a-bowl," and it is also probably the best example of the root problem produced this semester. We were requested to construct at least three pieces of fruit, but in the course of abandoning intention, I also seemed to unintentionally eschew the construction. However, as is often the case with this modus, having regained my self and taken perspective, I believe the situation has been resolved regardless, as I cannot help but see the products of this series as the fruit of my labors, since they are all very sweet indeed.
lesson learned: I was afraid that the gap between the glaze and the kiln shelf might be insufficient to prevent the bowl from attaching itself to the shelf, but the 3-5 mm gap, wide foot, and lightweight walls seemed acceptable and I really wanted to retain the sense of a footless bowl that it might be dually bottomless. As it came to pass, the bowl sagged enough to reach the shelf. Thus, fairly significant sagging is to be expected.





???
H: ? D: ?
????
notes: TBF




Series: dinnerware


plate no. 1
D: 19, H: 2
red iron slip, rutile blue, Miami beach, Farrell 2-A, angel eyes, teadust black swirl
note: from leather hard to glaze fired the diameter shrank about 1 inch (~2.5 cm)!




plate no. 2
D: 24, H: 1.5
Miami beach, Coleman's purple, Farrell 2-A, rutile blue, teadust black
note: the circles were drawn in a layer of slip on the wheel. The specifics of the drawing are an extension from my CS/math background, as this is roughly an algorithm/function I've been fascinated with and have written up a few times; the easiest way to achieve it is with a particular sine wave in polar coordinates. In this case, I just ran my finger from center to edge and back at as constant a rate as I could muster. This same procedure was used on all the plates, but with much less obvious results




plate no. 3
D: 21.5, H: 2
red iron and green slip, rutile blue, non-iron blue celadon, Coleman's purple



plate no. 4
D: 21.5, H: 2
red iron slip, pink underglaze, rutile blue, angel eyes, Jed's green




 cup no. 1
D: 8, H: 9
copper chun, rutile blue, transparent and Jed's green over copper wire 





cup no. 2
D: 7.5, H: 10
red iron slip, rutile blue brushed on center, Coleman's purple on base, Vegas red around top, lipstick purple inside
note: Vegas red and lipstick purple seem to mix well





cup no. 3
D: 8.5, H: 10.5
angel eyes, splotchy lavender, rutile blue, Jed's green




cup no. 4
D: 6.5, H: 13.5
purple eggshell matte, Jed's green inside, splotchy lavender on base, splashes of angel eyes




tempestuous bowl
D: 18, H: 9
ACMR and Voulkos blue slips, Vegas red around rim, turquoise and satin sky blue stripes, angel eyes, rutile blue
note: this was formed without a rib








Reflections

I am, and will be for the foreseeable future, addicted to rutile blue and angel eyes, though clearly other glaze combinations are proving potential for similar vibrance. I don't see how I could possibly stop performing pottery at this point without some significant anguish and feeling of loss.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

the root problem: examples

This is who I am tonight:


And this is who I was quite a few nights ago: