nicole rademacher

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Experimental Documentary? What is that?

(p.s. I like the little-ness of the video)

So while working on my thesis I was reading the book Experimental Ethnography (see prior post). Through reading this and thinking about the series of videos I was working on and my research, I decided that these videos are 'experimental documentaries.' What the hell does that mean?

I am fascinated by people watching (and who isn't, really?). Just sitting on a street corner, holding the camera steady, you can find so many stories in one. The one above just appeared. If you pay attention there are a few others, you have to piece them together though, because they aren't the focus of the video. The narrative unfolded itself in front of me, in front of the camera. Take a second and sit on a city bus bench. Just sit there. For five minutes and you might glimpse someone else's life. For thirty and you may see a scenario. Longer and you could be privy to whole events developing in front of you. Maybe they won't seem significant your characters at that moment in their lives, but you as the outsider can sense the event's significance. Wait and be patient. Let the story unfold on its own. Those fleeting gestures that we so nonchalantly express become characters in the narrative as well.

Above is a busy street corner in Buenos Aires. The subjects are seemingly unaware of the story that we, the viewers are following. They are consumed with their lives, consumed with the waiting for someone to arrive. As the awaited person nears the subjects, the little girl (she must be four) exits the frame - just as bouncy as she entered it. The woman meets with the father and the little one follows her into the frame only to leave just as quickly. Almost as soon as the woman enters the frame, the father extends his hand to hold the child's. He holds it in the air, suspended. It freezes in the same distance away from his hip, even as he moves and changes his position. The hand keeps its distance, awaiting the girl's hand. Yet, the child has exited the frame. The adults are ready to cross the street, but still, the little girl has not yet returned to the frame. Finally, as we hear a car revving up to gear, after stopping for the red light, she girl enters our view, but as the father's hand extends to meet the child's, she walks away, towards the moving traffic. His hand struggles and fights with her arm to link with her hand. He finally succeeds and they successfully cross the street.

Who knew that all of that would unfold in front of me while I waited for my friend to take money out of the ATM? How did I get so lucky as to see that beautiful episode? To see the struggle the girl is having with trying to declare her independence, with wanting to do something on her own. Something as simple as crossing the street. She is completely unaware of the danger she could be in because she is completely unaware of what is going on around her. Funny, how we choose to be aware of certain things. How we choose to perceive certain things. Sometimes we don't consciously choose, but we still choose - what is important to us and our current situation.

So, sit on a bus bench. Don't sit in the park - too many trees. You can sit in the park after you have sat on a few bus benches. You have to acclimate to the type of seeing that you are going to do. To the type of seeing you are going to experience. Watch what goes on around you. I like to watch the untold stories of the gestures, like the hand struggling to take the other or the cough that is never covered by the small hand of the little girl.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

escritos 5

The game is every time I physically (yes, physically, because these writings were typed on an old typewriter) moved to the next line, I would jump to a new story. Sometimes in the middle of the story, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, a thought.

Half dog, half cat, but really a horse in disguise or was it more like / When I wake up the first thing I do is brush my teeth. I hate the / Everyone gathered to hear him speak. We all thought that he was the / Mornings and afternoons don't really exist, there is only the night. / If I were a carpenter my job would be easy, but I am not. I am a / types of bands. What the differences are I am really not too sure. / told me. Which way is out? I asked. This time he didn't answer me. / She danced like a drunken chicken, if you have ever seen a drunk chicken / been thinking, maybe we should take a break. I mean it has been awfully / his hands were warm and comfortable. My worries disappeared soon there / We were already late and I didn't want to be bothered with picking up / I felt tired and dehydrated. I lain down on the couch to think for / minutes flew by. Soon an hour had passed, then two. My concept of / were we? No one knew and no one wanted to ask. For to ask would be / We were granted entrance only to be met with bigger and larger barriers. / The lights were a little unnerving, but we danced anyway. The club / drinks were coming fast. There was this urgency in every movement that / but no one could get it right was it good to take it with or better if / and if that were true then we shouldn't continue. Really if you think / purposeful action, and action that has value for you and for the people / around you. A feeling of proof. That is what is asked of you, to prove yourself to the world, to you, especially to you.# Can you do this? I thought about the question put before me. I thought a long time, but there was no answer. There were no thoughts that accompanied it. It was if my mind were truly blank. There are always times when you think you mind has gone blank, but have you ever thought of absolutely nothing before? Is this really possible? Can there be absolutely no thought. A stream of consciousness without a thought, without an idea of what there is.There is nothing and nothing is the thought

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Hair Cut

After today I have decided that my hair grows toooooooooo fast to get it cut every 3 months like the women's magazine say. I need to go back in 6 weeks!!! SO MUCH LIFE AND SHAPE!
Conclusion? Very Happy! Thanks Daniel at Planet 21 in the Arboretum!

What are we to do?

I've been having a conversation with myself, as well as friends and colleagues about the commodification of art. I am completely ambivalent about this. One minute I agree and try to figure out how my work can fit into this box and the next I don't care at all and just want to continue to make moving work. This conversation has been exacerbated by my current teaching position. I like to call the school the Devry of art schools. From a fine art perspective this sounds like I don't think highly of the school. And by fine art standards I don't, but it isn't a fine art school (and every day I have to remind myself of this). It is an applied art school that doesn't have time to mess with or teach theory. Their agenda consists of generating students that can produce the work that the capitalist commercial society wants. The only 'thoughts' that the creative person can have is how to make it look 'cooler'. Obviously I don't agree with this, and honestly, I don't think one needs to agree with this philosophy in order to teach in this environment, but I do. This type of total disregard to values that I hold dear is taxing on my mind and heart. I come home from work completely frustrated. I call my friends from architecture school (the genesis of my completely idealistic view of the world and art) for advice. I recently received an email from a former advisor about the changes in fine art education as well as applied art education (prompted by my email describing my utter frustration). What am I trying to say with all of this? Basically that I just read an article in the New York Times that prompts me to say - I am not alone (not that I ever thought I was - well at least not with this feeling). The article is titled: An Architect Unshackled by Limits of the Real World and talks about the work of Lebbeus Woods. I remember in architecture school that Lebbeus Woods was giving a lecture down in Charlotte, NC (I was at Virginia Tech), and there was a big big commotion about who was going to drive down there, could we miss class, where were people going to stay or were they going to drive back... Being a first year I didn't know who he was, but I made a point to find out. Of course he wasn't that big of a deal because all the other architecture gods that I was introduced to had similar theories about designing. As described in the article, most of those architects have made it big (i.e. Rem Koolhaus) and are making money and designing for a myriad of clients. Woods on the other hand is designing abstract buildings, sites, environments, where the idea of it seems to be more important that whether or not it can be built. The theory and the design are paramount. The article offers a reason on why his contemporaries, and the world of architecture, have shifted their ideals: ... 'High end architecture became a valuable commodity. ... The pressure to smooth over anything in a design that might be perceived as threatening has only increased in recent years, as a lot of architecture has begun to look like a sophisticated form of marketing. Architects who once defined themselves as rebels are now designing luxury residential towers for the super-rich.' Upon reading this I realized why I am so frustrated and unhappy with the current state of everything. We are soft. Society is soft. It doesn't want to ruffle feathers, it only wants to make money or make things pretty. Everything is about big business. Then I have to ask myself - well, then, what does being a professional artist mean? Professional. This implies business. What is business without commodity and marketing (This being asked by a child of a capitalist and materialist society that thinks that it has taken over the world and can do whatever she sees fit in order to propel her own gain.) I don't know what professional means. Yesterday I thought I did (seriously, yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend). Now? Who the hell knows? And a bigger question is why am I compelled to label it?


Last week (well, not the past week, but the week before), I got busy in the kitchen. Friends had a cook-out (NOTE: in the south the term 'barbecue' is reserved for when there is a pig present or very minimum some bbq sauce. In the north this would probably be called a 'pig roast' or something, but wouldn't necessarily be pulled pork. In the south you can only use the terms 'cook-out' or 'grill out' to talk about an event that consists of grilling and doesn't include pulled pork and bbq sauce.) and we were asked to bring a side. I elected to make my (now famous) Japanese Guacamole. Unfortunately I am not as culinarily inclined as my younger brother, so I did not make this up. I get most of my AMAZING recipes from one book in particular: Nueva Salsa by Rafael Palomino and Arlen Gargagliano. My older brother gave me the book as a present years ago. The best present he has ever given me! Ok, so here is how it breaks down:
  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled pitted, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small red onion (or 1/4 of a large one), diced
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons wasabi powder blended with water, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar - if you buy the book buy a lot of this stuff!
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of minced fresh cilantro - my favorite ingredient ever!
In a large bowl (it says ceramic or glass, use what you got, unless you want to make it look real perty), combine the avocados, onions, and the lime juice. Then add everything else EXCEPT the cilantro and toss. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. Stir in the cilantro just before serving.
I'll have to post a picture next time I make it. I think I was too excited about eating it to take the time to snap one off.

Then there are the dishes you make while procrastinating. I have been procrastinating way more than usual. I think my attitude towards this job breeds and feeds the procrastination. So, while procrastinating grading a project, I decided to make chicken curry from scratch. This is the recipe I got from the internet, BUT I had to substitute a few of these ingredients (read below for details).

Indian Curry Chicken

  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 inch cube of ginger
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cut-up, skinned chicken
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cardamom pods (green if you can find them)
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice


* Mix the tomato sauce, yogurt and water and set aside.
* Blend the garlic, ginger and water until smooth. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil Remove the chicken from skillet and lower heat.
* Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves and hot pepper flakes. Stir for 30 seconds.
* Add the garlic and ginger paste and the turmeric.
* Stir for 1 minute. Add tomato mixture, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir.
* Add chicken, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, turning chicken a few times. Serve with plain rice.

Now cardamom pods are hard to find in Charlotte, NC and expensive at that. So I looked up some of the traits of cardamom and substituted it with honey - 2 or 3 teaspoons. The pepper flakes, well, I have a ton of rocoto paste, so I substituted the one teaspoon of the flakes for a teaspoon of the paste. The cinnamon stick, I improvised with ground cinnamon. And the tomato sauce (because my dad has celiac disease), I had to make from scratch. I just diced about a fourth of a beef steak tomato.

Once I made it (without the chicken, though. I wanted to add it later), I realized that there was no way that was going to mix with enough food for four people. I took out a tomato from the fridge (smaller the original of the one I used before because the fourth was a left-over from a prior cooking event), diced it up, and measured the sauce. I had about 9 tablespoons and thererfore I had to TRIPLE the recipe. Needless to say, we all had a lot of curry for the rest of the week.

The recipe is pretty spicy, so if you have a sensitive stomach or aren't keen on spicy food, eat it with a dollop of yogurt.
I mixed in a whole chicken, zucchini, small eggplant, and potatoes.
And, yes, I guess I will have to shoot off a picture next time I 'whip' this up.

*Be warned this is very time consuming, hence it went very well with my plan to procrastinate. If you are in a rush, DO NOT ATTEMPT.

Monday, August 11, 2008

You Are a Perpetual Tourist

It began with a bang! They even made me a cake!! Yipeeeeee! The response was really wonderful. There was a steady flow of people at the reception. And what was truly great was that people watched the videos, and really sat down to watch them. The show was simply organized. Kellie Buck helped me plan, and Sarah Daniel was a lifesaver helping me set up and troubleshoot a lot of problems.

I thought it would be great to use the same system of hanging that Dallas, Elizabeth and I did at the Thesis Exhibition in April. So I went to Home Depot to look for these small nails - brads they are called. Being a woman (in Home Depot), I was immediately attended to (I actually enjoyed it). Chris (I believe his name was) helped me look for this 'tool'. "It looks like a screwdriver, the ones where you can change out the head, but the bulb on the handle is larger and made of wood." Yeah, so Chris didn't have much to go on. Eventually we found something that might work. A Gun. A multitasking gun, really : staples and brads. But that was a piece of crap. You could only load one brad at a time and then it was inconsistent when it would shoot it or just, not. Needless to say it took us a really long time Wednesday morning setting up - argh. Thursday morning was time for the video room. Kellie's idea of putting the tables on top of one another was AWESOME!!! Sarah and I put our backs into it and lifted them up! Yea!!! Got some fabric over them and no one was the wiser.

All in all I had 13 digital prints (video stills from the series of sixty-two), the video loop, and the Longing and Distance books. Below is the installation and some details of the stills that were printed.