Today is my Dad’s birthday! Here are some pictures I took on a recent outing to Paris Mountain State Park with him and Danny.
Antonio Milian is an artist and photographer living in Greenville, SC.
I stopped by Kymberly Day’s opening reception last night, where she was showing paintings and sculpture. Ms. Day is a 2017 graduate of the MFA program at Clemson, and her figural work depicts people and animals in dreamlike way.
See her paintings and sculptures at kymberlyday.com.
I am 200,000 years old and I will never age
In yesterday morning’s traffic my eye caught this truck, with its distinctive signage. It occurred to me that I should capture this in a photograph, and I fortunately had a camera with me in the front seat of my car. But by the time I had the camera switched on, the truck had pulled far ahead in traffic, and innumerable cars were between it and me.
So I did what any sensible photographer would do and wove in and out of traffic, speeding and slowing down until I was finally close enough to take a picture.
I don’t believe in spirit animals.
But that doesn’t keep me from having one. Several, in fact. They include the snake, the wolf, and the phoenix, that glorious bird of ancient Greek myth that burned itself to death and came back to life over and over again.
And then there’s the hawk, like the wolf, an outlaw. A true bird of prey, unlike the carrion-feasting eagle, the hawk often has negative symbolic connotations. Ironic, huh? That’s why it’s my favorite bird.
And also because it will just shred a squirrel or other small prey animal, as seen in these pictures I took when a hawk decided to have its lunch right outside our office today.
The Unity Paradigm (UP) is a framework in which all my work - past, present, future - may be placed so that it may exist within a common context. It is a function of Harmonic Theory, and attempts to reconcile various structures, some of which are apparently at odds, through juxtaposition and hybridization.
UP is an attempt to define, demonstrate boundaries, and on occasion dissolve them. It is essentially Buddhist and poetic because it seeks to identify analogous forces, parallels, parities, comparisons, metaphors, and so on, and show the relative oneness or sameness of disparate, often seemingly contradictory, contrasting, or paradoxical things. It is also a Daoist thought structure, or even Manicheanist, as it is sometimes a bringing together of opposites, and shows essentiality of all things, and the impossibility of polarities to eliminate each other or achieve some final victory over one another.
To approach work through the UP is to have a skeleton on which to hang all the organs, the muscles, and the skin of said work so that it forms an organic whole in terms of form and content in poetry, fiction, music, photography, philosophy, video, assemblage, sound art, graphic design, and so on.
It should be noted that successful unity between forms is neither universally sought or desired. At times, the unity displayed may be the contrast itself, or often a deliberately incoherent, dissonant effect.
In a fundamental way, the UP is an application of the musical Drone Principle, meaning that a single things is presented for a duration. In music, that means a recurring or sustained tone, as in the music of the Indian sitar, or Western Drone music, which begins with LaMonte Young. The monotone is also applied to ostinato figures and vamps.
The Drone has within it the implication of the mathematical and spiritual infinite. Under UP, I permit myself sustained monomanias. In this way it is also a framework for creative behavior patterns - indulgences and deprivations, and the attempt at balance between them.
I have sustained a monomania for poetry for half a year, leading to rapid development and learning. I believe I have reached a true breakthrough via this method of sustained attention, having increased my comprehension, close-reading technique, and facility with a few technical methodologies. I have read more poetry as well as criticism, which has deepened my hermeneutic practice. I feel as though I am now on the cusp of producing actual poetry.
All that being said, the most natural course to pursue at this, the beginning of a new year, is to leave the intensive and extensive practice of poetry momentarily.
To clarify, I won’t quit writing poems, but I will pause my study of poetry. Instead I will produce poems to the best of my current ability and focus my learning elsewhere, specifically on image-making, treating it as an aspect of the core pursuit of writing poetry.
Now the real poetic practice may begin. I will study again in the future, but for now I must apply all that I have learned and direct my curiosity to vision, a fundamental aspect of poetic experience.
Last June the kids and I went on a trek across the great state of North Carolina, and when we reached the Triangle we made a stop at the North Carolina Museum or Art. I did a blog post about it at the time, but came across a few more of the pictures I took of the place and must say that seeing these really does conjure the old wanderlust and insatiable thirst for culture in all varieties in me.
Teaching yourself has some advantages. For one, you have no one to answer to, so you can learn at your own pace. Now that can also be a drawback, as having regular requirements, assignments, readings, and so on can keep you on track. I’ve always been good at meeting deadlines when the work is something interesting to me in some way.
Taking classes can be rewarding in many ways, as can pursuing degrees and certifications. But the value of teaching oneself is immeasurable. I was married to a girl who was homeschooled, and by exposure to that subculture I was able to draw many parallels to my own methods as well as draw on a repository of techniques.
Catholic elementary education, with its high standards, public high school (less rigorous), attendance at two universities and a community college, and restless pursuit of what I think of as “general knowledge” (the sum total of human learning, a top-down approach that assumes the interrelation of the many disciplines or branches on the tree of knowledge) give me a certain perspective that, if I may be so bold, no one else quite possesses.
It’s a new year, and with that convenient marker of time come inevitable decisions concerning the alteration of one’s life mission and goals. I’m no different, although coming into my maturity makes me less apt to choose unreasonable or unrealistic goals.
Instead, this year I’d like to just spend more time doing the things I’m good at, and getting better at them. Poetry dominated my consciousness for a good six months, an inevitable outcome considering my view of the world as a place pregnant with meaning, in which the boundaries between each thing in itself are tenuous at best. Photography instigated this intensive investigation, but that’s an entire topic in itself, beyond the scope of this post.
In 2019 I’d like to continue my study of poetry both more intensively and extensively. As a photographer, I’ve developed a certain skillset concerning a certain narrow scope of subject matter and technique, so I’d like to broaden that base a bit with some new people in front of my lens and some new techniques in lighting, especially shooting at night and with flash. Musically, the way forward seems to be to simply stop living in denial that harmonics, resonances, rhythms, and noises form the skeleton and organs of my life, and I could no more do without them than I could do without the air in my lungs or the blood in my veins.
If there’s one thing that I truly believe about us (unreliable narrator mode is off, trust me!) it’s that the human capacity for learning is limitless. It’s true that the scope of human learning has surpassed what one person can reasonably hope to digest in one lifetime, but I maintain that a person can continue to learn until the moment of death. It’s one of the things about us that makes us unique from the other animals, and those singular qualities of the species, the things that most define us, are the mandate of heaven, the rules for living that we must follow whether we want to or not. We can only be what we are.
To recognize the things that make us uniquely human, to embrace them and spend time cultivating them, this is to imitate the creative force responsible for existence. To learn and use what we learn to make is divine.
Since it was so misty the other night and I was otherwise unengaged, I took the opportunity to do a little night shooting. This year I’d like to branch out in photography and shoot something else in addition to the people I’m close to.
I look forward to developing as a portraitist, and find inspiriation in various places, but this one is the most recent. Jenny Schäfer is a Hamburg-based artist working in a variety of media, and her portraits I find striking in that they seem to elevate the subject in unexpected ways. These are not typical glamour shots, and the models are not of the glossy magazine type. The photographer makes her subjects look interesting and attractive without excessive makeup or overt eroticism. Instead I find it more cerebrally appealing, or perhaps it’s libidinous in that it appeals to a certain sapiosexuality (and yes, everything is about sex with me, even when it’s not about sex).
Anyway, here are a bunch of pictures I took at night when I had a “foggy notion” to do so. Some are edited for effect, and others are left pretty much as-is. Some of the editing here is shit. What ya gonna do?