Monday, November 15, 2010

John Francis


In the good ol' days of working in a cafe-bookstore, I found a book called "Planet Walker" by a guy named John Francis. It is his journal from the years he spent not speaking and not riding in motorized vehicles. Though it wasn't the most eloquently written book, the content was so inspiring that I would consider it one of the best non-fiction stories I've read.

In the 70's when he was in his mid-late twenties, he witnessed an oil spill in northern California that disturbed him so much he gave up riding in motorized vehicles of any sort. He would walk long distances (between southern Oregon and northern California) and would refuse any person who tried to give him a lift. The arguments that he had with people eventually led to a full day of silence, which turned out to last 17 years. His journey all those years of silence is remarkable; he achieved a master's degree in environmental science, he walked across the United States, and sailed to Venezuela and walked through South America, to name a few. He began speaking again on Earth day 17 years later and on the opposite coast, and rode in his first motorized vehicle after 22 years of only using his two feet.

His book was a real inspiration for me, and it turned out a few months later I ended up taking my own vow of silence, though I only lasted 8 days. Thinking about how good I felt being quiet and how much more I connected with people, mostly whilst working in the cafe, I could only imagine how powerful 17 years of silence must have been for him. He continues to be a big inspiration for me. Thank you John Francis.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marina Abramovic


"The Artist is Present" was the performance piece that first introduced me to performist artist Marina Abramovic. At MoMA in NYC earlier this year (March-May, 2010) Abramovic sat in at a table across from a chair which museum-goers could sit in and stare face to face with her for as long as they wanted, or could bear. Most people lasted only a few minutes--her intense gaze brought them to tears. This exhibition site shows a slideshow of pictures of many of their faces and the duration that they lasted. Many of Abramovic's performances are years in the making and long and grueling throughout. She experiments with pushing the limits of mind and body and usually involves audience interaction. Her career stretches three decades and she now describes herself as "the grandmother of performance art".

Marina Abramovic from Michael Tyburski on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gwenn Seemel


Portland based French-American portrait artist Gwenn Seemel is brilliant. I say brilliant in the intellectual sense and also as a descriptive term to describe her bright and complex portrait paintings. She knows art very well and has a crystal clear perspective on her own artwork which she openly--and most-eloquently--shares through her video blog on vimeo. Her art seems very influenced by the dualistic relationship between her French heritage and her American nationality. Her blog is very informative and discusses topics such as portraiture, internet copyright, commission work, French and American art, and is in both French and English; not to mention it is an autobiographical insight into the mind of a very talented artiste. Merci merci, Gwenn Seemel.

Culture imitates. from Gwenn Seemel on Vimeo.

Moxie Marlinspike


I discovered the multi-talented pirate-of-sorts Moxie Marlinspike after watching his Anarchist Yacht Clubb sailing documentary, Hold Fast. Young, crafty, funny, well-spoken -- he's a beacon for the D.I.Y. community. Upon further research, I came to find out that he's not only a self-made sailor, but also an avid techie-wizard, independent computer security researcher, hitchhiker, railroad tramp, and excellent blogger to name a few. I was blown away, and reading his blog impressed me even more. His website includes a compendium of awesome stories of his adventures. He is totally luminous and inspires me to become more of an inventive, adventurous, (crusty), simple, technologically savvy person. Thank you Moxie Marlinspike.

Hold Fast from Moxie Marlinspike on Vimeo.