Constructing Experience:
How Life Can Trigger Meaning and more questions than answers

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One World, One Dream

It is Blog Action Day and the theme this year is poverty. If you are not familiar with Blog Action Day, it is a day when bloggers are encouraged to write on one specific topic on a specified day of the year. Last year bloggers were challenged to write about the environment in order to focus our everyday conversations on a topic of importance instead of the trivial chit-chat normally found in our daily interactions. I wrote about the unsustainable lifestyle that our society has grown accustomed to and the need to question that lifestyle in a post called "Global Problem."

This year's topic of poverty is universally felt by everyone around the world. Besides the more obvious definition of poverty as a lack of the human necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, poverty also refers to lack of opportunity -- for example, opportunities to learn, to prosper, or to succeed. Given my Olympic fever back in August, I feel that it is my responsibility to address the other side of the China Olympic story... well at least one aspect of the controversy that I think is poignantly illustrated in this image (whether or not this is real or Photoshopped):

Beijing Olympics, One World, One Dream [SOURCE]

The result of the juxtaposition of the Olympics with the reality of living conditions for so many in China was direct conflict. Yet it was almost too easy to resolve that conflict as the Olympics played out in all of its glory as we are distracted by the pomp and circumstance as well as the accomplishments of the athletes. However it was unfair to everyone involved to have to come to a resolution in the first place. Isn't the Olympics about strengthening infrastructure not only physically but also mentally? Did the people of China reap this ultimate benefit of having the Olympics in Beijing? Perhaps some did and will but one could argue that most did not and that is an even greater tragedy. What happens to these people? And why have we stopped talking about them since the Olympic closing ceremonies?

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Art Inspiration: Reverse Graffiti

Over the past year or so, reverse graffiti has been getting a lot of attention among artists and for good reason. The creativity and beauty in these often elaborate pieces call us to question societal perceptions about traditional graffiti. And while reverse graffiti simply involves cleaning dirt or debris to create an image instead of the use of paint or markers, somehow it is still subject to the same perception of recklessness and lawlessness as traditional graffiti.

Alexandre Orion working on his piece "Ossario: Art Less Pollution" via Ossario

The blog, Environmental Graffiti, which writes about cool and quirky environmental news, did a good overview of works of reverse graffiti. The ad hoc scribbles on dirty cars that we have all done at some point in our lives are put to shame by these works. Be on the look at for this style of graffiti to flourish in the future.

One of my favorites are Brazil's Alexandre Orion work "Ossario: Art Less Pollution," where he cleaned skulls into the wall of a transportation tunnel to highlight the negative effect of car emissions.

The originator of reverse graffiti is arguably Paul "Moose" Curtis. His Reverse Graffiti Project has done several large scale works in San Francisco.

Reverse Graffiti Project by Moose Curtis via PicoCool

This is a great example of the rethinking of materials. Both the production and execution of these pieces are noteworthy. The pieces themselves are awe inspiring and the process is equally intriguing.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Art Inspiration: Part 1

Last year I wrote about the artist Phil Hansen in a post called "Inspiration." Hansen mostly does portraits that have a single or multiple stencil look although most do not actually utilize stencils. The latest piece that is featured on Hansen's website is a huge portrait (15.5 ft x 11.5 ft) of Lance Armstrong. Hansen made the painting by dripping paint onto the wheels of a classic red Radio Flyer tricycle that he rode over the canvas. This piece does utilize clear plastic stencils to get a clean look but the marks have a lot of depth and character because of the way they marks were applied.

Here is a video of the making of this piece: "Lance"

Phil Hansen's creative methods and materials are always inspiring for me. Throw in his consistent output of work and I'm sold. He has discipline and talent... both of which I could use a little more of right now.

I haven't produced new work for a long while and the last time that I did was for a class that I took last year on block and lino printmaking. So if it were not for the class motivating me to pursue my art, I would still be without new work. I simply have not had the motivation or discipline to follow through even though I have been constantly developing new ideas. I am not sure what is holding me back... fear perhaps? Lack of time? Lack of talent? All of the above? Whatever the reason or excuse, it is clear that I can no longer hide behind it.

An artist friend of mine recommended that I read the book "Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking" by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I just started reading it and already it is giving me necessary perspective.

So my next several posts will focus on artists that inspire me, like Phil Hansen, for whatever reason -- their conviction, their artwork, their methodology, the subject of their art, etc. I hope that by surrounding myself with their work something good will rub off on me.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Urban Prankster

My newest obsession is the blog Urban Prankster. According to their about me, "Urban Prankster covers pranks, hacks, participatory art, flash mobs, and other creative endeavors that take place in public places in cities across the world."

Their most recent post was on a piece from Bruno Taylor's "Playful Spaces" series where he installs a swing at a London bus stop.

Several blog's have covered Bruno Taylor's "Playful Spaces" work. Check them out:
Pixelsumo -- Bruno Taylor

Wooster Collective -- Bruno Taylor's Playful Spaces

TreeHugger -- Go Play Outside: Bruno Taylor Makes Cities Fun

designboom -- playful spaces by bruno taylor

Urban Prankster -- Bus Stop Swing

This video made me very happy this morning so I just had to share the happiness that it brought to me. I think I will search out a swing later this afternoon and rekindle the joy of childhood.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let It Out

As a continuation of my post on Olympic fever, an appropriately timed release of Kleenex's 40-minute documentary on US athletes and the fans they inspired does just the trick to get right to the core of the Olympic spirit.

Here is the trailer for the film:

Go to the Let It Out website to view the full documentary.

At the core of the Olympics is the promise of humanity. You are compelled to rally behind the pursuits of others as they test the limits of human capacity. The Olympics is not only a time of peace (theoretically) but it is also a time when differences are put aside to celebrate the human race. If only we could only bottle the Olympic spirit or learn to translate that spirit to our everyday... if only.

Has the Olympics inspired you? How can we live the spirit of the Olympics everyday? Let's try.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Fever!

We are currently at the beginning of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing China. So much press has been given to these games before they even started on August 08 2008. And while the human rights violations and the role of China in several humanitarian crises cannot (and should not) be ignored, the Olympics should really focus on athletic skill and the competitive spirit.

If you have ever worked towards an athletic goal such as running a marathon or competing with a local intramural soccer team, then you have just a taste of what these athletes strive towards... what they live and breath for for the four (or more) years leading up to an Olympics. It takes incredible devotion and even more sacrifice. And if you ever dedicated your time and energies towards something personally important, then you have an idea about what it means to be an Olympian.

The Olympics are not only for the athletes but is equally for every country's people. There is a sense of national pride during the Olympics. But at the same time there is a sense of camaraderie between countries and athletes. If only the spirit of the Olympics could continue past the 16 days of the XXIX Olympiad.

I have Olympic fever! The only thing that I watch is Olympic coverage on television. Handball, trap shooting, fencing, water polo... I watch it all. I love seeing the fans in the stands waving their flags, yelling at the top of their lungs, and supporting their teams. I love seeing countries win their first Olympic medals... ever. Or seeing when the athletes march in the opening ceremonies filled with pride.

The best part of the Olympics for me is that for 16 days every two years I believe I can live out my Olympic dream. As delusional as that thought may be, during the Olympics I can dream... and dream big!

UPDATE (08/13/08): I just read this quote from Dominque Dawes, who is serving as a commentator at the Olympics, about the US silver medal win in women's Team Gymnastics. I think it sums up my point quite nicely.

"I experienced Opening Ceremonies for the first time this year," Dawes said. "And what I took away is, the Olympics is not about one athlete or one moment. It is about the team and world and the impact these athletes make on the world. No matter how well they perform." -- from, "Team final result should not define Sacramone" By Alyssa Roenigk

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Pil-Ams Represent!

I need to take moment to bring attention to all of the Pilipino-Americans who have been representing hard on American dance shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, America's Best Dance Crew, and Dancing with the Stars.

America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC) is probably the best example. Of the ten crews that started on ABDC this season (season 2), eight crews have at least one Pil-Am. SoReal Cru and Super Cr3w are two of the three remaining crews still in the competition. 6 of the 7 members of the SoReal Cru and 3 of the 6 of Super Cr3w are Pil-Am. Way to represent!

This has super special importance considering that the Philippine All Stars just won 2008 World Hip Hop Championships on August 3rd in Las Vegas! What! What!

I am a very proud Pilipina-American. It is important to have Pilipinos serving as positive role models in the U.S. and in the motherland so that young Pilipinos can know that hard work can provide great opportunities. The efforts of these Pilipino role models are something that I think should be recognized more. It is not easy to be a good role model but consistently these groups promote positive attitudes, good sportsmanship, mutual respect, and gratitude -- all attributes that we could all use in our daily lives.