Travel is an opportunity to wander. Often, when I feel safe to do so, I allow myself to become comfortably lost, allowing my feet to lead me down various streets to see what I’ll discover.
When I visited Frankfurt, Germany, my wandering led me along the Main River and past the Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt, where I stopped abruptly — as I was suddenly captivated by the large sculpture in the courtyard.
Growing up out of the stone ground, a large cast aluminum tree was tangled in the branches of second tree — like two hands grasping each other—while the second tree hangs suspended upside down in the air. The grey metal of the trees, surrounded by white walls is starkly devoid of color, while the roots reach upward toward the sky, untethered and seeking some ground in which to root itself.
It’s an beautiful, dynamic, and evocative image — and I immediately wanted to learn more about the artist, their work, and how the piece was made.
The last time I visited a museum prior to the pandemic was at the San Jose Museum of Art, where a friend had put together an event featuring mixture of poetry and music. During a break between the sets of performances, I wandered the exhibits, checking out what the museum had on display.
When I wander through a museum, I observe it from my own subjective point of view, not much caring whether the work is considered important or interesting from a cultural or historical perspective. I look for work that speaks to me, that hooks something deep within my chest and tugs.
That night, I found myself standing before Louise Nevelson’s Sky Cathedral, a found wood sculpture comprised of architectural elements, crates, and other pieces, assembled into geometric chambers and painted entirely black. It captivated me immediately.
What would you do if you knew you only had one year left to live?
This philosophical question lies at the heart of Unus Annus (latin for â€œone yearâ€), a creative experiment developed by gamers Mark Fischbach (Markiplier) and Ethan Nestor (Crankgameplays). The pair created a YouTube channel and set themselves the challenge of creating one video every day for a year â€” only to delete the entire channel and all of its content at the end of that year.
Unus AnnusÂ is situated within this crossroads of art and technology, embodying fine art traditions through a digital medium well suited to the cyberpunk world in which we live. I had a fantastic time exploring these elements through a ton of research and sheer fascinating.
This is definitely an essay that benefited from working with a great editor at Interstellar Flight Press, who pushed me harder to dig deeper. After all this hard work putting this essay together, I’m so excited to share it with you.
I recently watched a video essay on how media scares us, which compared movies to animation to comics, with a loving description of the works of Junji Ito. This video immediately sent me on a bender, in which I quickly devoured as much of Ito’s manga that I could get my hands on.Â Here’s a bit of that fantastic journey. (Sorry for the crappy cell phone pics.)
“The truth is of course is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” â€” David Bowie
I was going to write about my lovely weekend as part of my usual Monday update, which included a surprise visit from my amazing aunt and a walk among the redwoods, but right now my heart is all caught up in the world’s loss of an astounding artist and man. A lot of people have reached out and shared their tributes and feelings about this loss already, so I’m not going to repeat the same sentiments, when there are so many people who have done it better.
Emily Asher-Perrin describes Bowie as the The Patron Saint of Personal Truth. She writes, “We talk so much these days about how representation matters, and hereâ€™s some more anecdotal evidence to fuel the fire; Iâ€™m not sure I ever would have realized that I was queer if David Bowie didnâ€™t exist.”
For me, my awareness of Bowie was less through his music than through his film performances, most notably Labyrinth, which both dazzled and frightened me as a child, with Bowie as the goblin king being likewise both creepy and attractive. Along these lines, Peter Bradshaw has a nice piece on Bowie the film star: “Pop singers from Sinatra to Elvis to Madonna have dabbled in the movies, with varying results, but David Bowie always convinced his public that every role he accepted was an artistic decision and an artistic experiment, governed by his own idealism.”
I also want to point to a well rounded piece by Aida Manduley, in which she asks Time to Mourn or Call Out? She writes, “We should not simply dismiss David Bowieâ€™s artistic legacy and the impact he had on many AND we should not dismiss the allegations of rape and the realities of how he had sex with a 14/15-year old when he was a powerful and revered adult.”
Prior to reading Manduley’s article, I had no idea that Bowie had been accused of rape, which adds another layer of disheartening to his loss. No one wants to believe their heroes are flawed, especially if those flaws are to the degree of something as awful as the accusation of rape. However, it’s important not to ignore the full picture of pop stars and actors and other famous individuals, which is why I’m including Manduley’s article here.