American Cyborg
Cart 0
 

 Introduction

The flowers are spent and the leaves are fading in the garden of Peridot Green. We bundle up the cold terracotta pots and carry them inside, but they rarely survive the dark winter of our apartment. Plant and animal cells live and die at the mercy of our building’s heating system, with its mysterious noises and wild fluctuations. Oh Lily, my skin feels the way your leaves look.

We have black paint on our walls and artists that prefer desaturation. “It’s too dreary in here!” says the Albatross, in his gray feather sweater. He asked Bluebird to find some colors for his poetry, so, off she went.

 
fullsizeoutput_768.jpeg
 

Rob Erickson

Cold winds from the North
Travel the misty river
As the sun sets early

Climbing on branches
Windy cheeks, watery eyes
Blaze red maple tree

Martie Holmer

Laura and I like a campfire
That warm little nucleus
In a twilight grass circle
The dark of pine monsters
With needled arms
Being kept barely at bay
By the fluttering orange flame
That flickers skeletal
In the glowing tree lines
They lean in
Over walls of forest dark
Like guardians of the shadowlands

Our ruddy faces across flames
Exchange sips of bourbon
And the fire leaps
occasionally in our eyes
Which makes stars of them
In our own minds
Radiating heat and light
In the obscurity
But only so far
Somewhere in the inky depths
Saturn is devouring his son
And Goya haunts those woods

But on a particular evening
In a particular twilight grass circle
Our little fire
she roared in the night
Fueled by the past
Up close her hair is fierce
It whips and licks the darkness
Ember spittle flicking bright
Runaway stars that try in vain
To ride the silky smoke home
Trying to escape the smoldering
The burning earth underneath

Our talk turns to a world on fire
Bombs are falling like delta winged
Evil angels sent to stoke hellscape
Would you hunker? Head North?
Sip a drink and sing Tom Lehrer?
“Oh we’ll all go together when we go”
And the campfire seems nearer
To our minds
Our hypnotized eyes
House that destruction now

 

Abe Rolick

Two days from now we’re going to run away from all this. All this cab honk, cop whistle, fire siren, hammer pound, twit feed, key tap, and every new white tufted horror read. We’re running away. Yes, in two days time, stream will burble, water will pirouette with boulders. Diamonds will fleck the roiling surface, conspire with the sun, but underneath the rushing currents, the fish are our treasures. We will, with long bamboo rods and zipping lines, whip the trap. Wee fuzz and iridescent feathers wrapped with meticulous care and magnified eye to resemble a simple fly. Two centuries or more of fishers licking lines beneath their straw hats around the waters of Mount Tateyama show us how to stalk. Their robes wet to the waist, hooking Yamame, Iwana, Amago, that leap glittering on the line from bursts of captured energy. No easy task fishing Tenkara. Most of our thought lies not in this world but theirs. We see the color spectrum of scales nestling in comfy corners, hiding in soft holes decorated just to their liking, resting their overworked fins on lush couches, bubbly beds, grassy waving carpets. How we picture their watery palaces. How to entice these lords from their lounging? A perfect and ancient flick of the bamboo will make that fly float down like autumnal leaves and settle lightly, ringlet ripple plating a tasty morsel. It drifts, riding the current, a pretty little temptation with a heart of steel and barbs, all eyes on the fly, it slides through rocks, silence, a bluebird tweets through a patient pause, quiet stream gurgle... then...a thrashing splash! It proves too appetizing for one and in a flash it's in another world of much bigger fish. It's wrapped in hunters claws wriggled dry. Too small, says the hunter then all the world is wet again. Beware the winter fly!

 

Bryan McGovern Wilson

When I was still a small child my neighbor, who was six years older than me, called to me from the dark of the mysterious next yard. There was no moon and I was wandering around in the dark playing a ninja of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Dressed all in black, I was stealthily climbing, leaping, rolling about the wet of night grass, my deadly plastic sword roped over my shoulder, suction cup throwing stars on my belt, crickets masking my steps. I was busy stalking the top general of Môri Terumoto when a disembodied voice came from the shadows. I leapt with a jolt, shocked my ninja skulking was noticed. His six years made me idolize him, the older brother, and I quickly called back, ‘Who goes there!?’ ‘Come here! I want to show you something,’ the voice coming from an open patch with no trees close to the road. I adroitly hurdled the bordering bushes and his figure formed ghostly in the middle of the yard along with an enigmatic object. ‘What is that?’ I asked. ‘It is a very powerful telescope,’ he replied. ‘I have been checking out Jupiter’s evil eye. Wanna see?’ The long tube rested upon a tripod and the eyepiece was set so you had to look downwards, towards the Earth, to see the heavens. It felt strange looking down to see up. I pressed my eye to the lens. The kaleidoscope of variegated chaos, Jupiter’s wild storms, beamed from three hundred sixty five million miles away into the tiny orb of my eye, filled it with swirling wonder, or dread. I’d seen pictures of Jupiter, of course, but ‘Is this live?’ I asked not quite believing this entire reality, this other world, that I just wanted to reach and touch through the portal door of the lens. The lens had taken those twinkly spots and made Titans of them! We glimpsed Saturn and his halo that night, and the churning galaxies. ‘All of that is happening right now,’ he said. ‘Or well, sometime.’ ‘What do you mean?’ I asked. ‘You’ll understand someday,’ he smiled, his teeth bright in the dark. I smiled back although he couldn’t see it through my ninja mask. I realized just then how late it was and that my mother was going to kill me. There was school the next day and as usual I hadn’t done my homework, but I wanted more of that lens that had morphed my own lenses. On cue, the voice of my mother rang out from my home. The porch light flicked on and blinded us. ‘I’m coming, Ma!’ I hollered back, and said goodbye to my neighbor. ‘What are you doing out here in the dark on a school night?’ she yelled. ‘You’re gonna get it! Did you do your homework?’ ‘Yea, Ma. I was studying the stars.’

 

Christina Van Der Merwe

When the leaves begin to change
Anne Marie puts on her puffy down jacket
to go for long walks in the woods.
She has done this every year
since her sister died a windy gray autumn
sixty years before.


Brisk breezes make whisperers of the trees that gossip in colorful lisps.
A cold was caught and had moved into her chest,
they sigh so sadly for Anne Marie.
But she smiles
as her favorite fall boots shuffle the leafy carpet
and perfume the crisp air.

She takes these walks to talk with her sister among the trees.
They thrust their root fists down into the murky dark,
clutching what is needed to make beauty.
Limber and green you were, sister
with flowers in your hair,
a tree stuck down with lightning,
lying upon the forest floor.

I remember your green leaves against the brittle brown,
our eyes overcast with early autumn,
much too early for such a fall.
I miss you, a hiss of the wind,
words drift down like the orange and red leaves
that settle on Anne Marie’s silver hair

 
 

Well in the Woods

Peridot Green XI, Spring 2018

 
The Search
1,000.00
 
 

The Well in the Woods is a site in a dark forest — an oasis of familiarity in the realm of the unknown. It is the first respite a hero finds on her fearsome road. Freshwater is something nourishing to help her continue on. A sense of dehydration is a reminder of mortality, and water can keep that at bay. Despite the normalcy of water and thirst, this well is a mystic site, providing a taste of the magic that will define her journey.

We learned about this site from Joseph Campbell and his menagerie of myths. Campbell writes of the Immovable Spot of the legend of Buddha, or the axis of the universe around which the world revolves. In many tales, a great dark wood grows here, and within this wood springs a well, “the umbilical point through which the energies of eternity break into time” (Hero of 1000 Faces, 38). Through the well passes the abstractions of the infinite abyss, to become the legible flows of energy, of goodness and pain and light and dark and the building blocks of all the world’s stories. This location is, in West African narratives, the center of the world from which all directions (North, South, East and West) emanate.

The hero can only find the well with the aid of her helper. Helpers, like the birds dressing Cinderella for her party, help her prepare herself, or arm herself, or equip herself in a way very particular to their own talents. At American Cyborg, we’ve each selected a bird helper for our particular journey within the company. In this catalog’s story, we’ve considered each of our birds, and their unique contributions to our collective tasks. We’ve also revisited our first helper, the rabbit.

The Well in the Woods is where all our birds have gathered for a drink.

 

 
sealion.jpg
 

With much trepidation, she entered the magical forest. A heavy mist mingled with the trees and the sun seemed tired of pushing its light through the leaves. It’s a dark labyrinth, she thought. How am I ever going to find the well, concealed deep within the forest’s mystery? The very air cooled, and as she moved inward, she frequently looked back to light of the treeline. I can turn back now and not be lost in here. At that moment, a bluebird came in from the sun and breezed just overhead, alighting a branch farther into the forest. She watched it preen and hop along, singing songs, puffing happily a feathery orange chest, and she smiled. Such a little singer! See how it is not afraid, how it finds comfort deep in this that moments ago she was considering fleeing. Squirrels and rabbits scattered through the forest floor, chanting birds of the trees, you bits of bravery, you give me courage, but help me if you can. I must seek divine things but do not know the way. The bluebird chirped happily, fluttered and dove into the perplexity. You happy piece of sky, I will follow you, she said and left her sunlit line, her village, her family, her known, her all in all behind.

Shortly into her journey, the bluebird flew atop a large stone wall that seemed to continue endlessly in either direction. She walked along the wall to find an entrance but there seemed to be no way past the massive structure. After much walking she spotted a tiny rabbit, hopping along the base of the stone.

“Hi there, little fuzzy one. I don’t suppose you know the way in, do you?”

The rabbit wiggled its whiskers and stared at her unafraid. It cocked its head to the side and seemed to be asking her, “What is your purpose here?”

“Oh, just a stroll through the woods,” she lied, smiling at it, and repeated her question hopefully, “Do you know the way in?” The rabbit simply turned and hopped a short distance away, nibbling at a patch of grass.

“How strange,” she said, and continued searching along the wall. After another fruitless attempt she sighed frustratedly and sat down against the piled stone. She watched the rabbit hop about nearby and began to despair that her journey into the magical forest seemed to be coming to so short an end.

Upon a nearby branch a cardinal, furiously red amongst the emerald glowing leaves, was hammering its head down to the wood. It is using that strong beak to break seeds, she thought. Hard little shells housing a bit of nourishment. We protect our fragile treasures with a tough shell of lies but how hard telling the truth can be at times. The truth, that like strong beak can break through to what is needed. She suddenly regretted lying to the little rabbit.

“My furry friend, I must apologize,” she said sadly. “I lied to you earlier. I am not here merely for a walk in the forest. I am seeking the well in the woods, but I am not able. This wall, the first obstruction across my path, has proved too much for me it seems.” She wiped a tear quickly away from her cheek.

The rabbit watched her as she spoke, then hopped to the wall. She watched as it started nibbling at something in the stone. Suddenly, it was pulling at a tiny root. It pulled and pulled and a grinding sound came from the wall. Dirt and dust poured from the stones and a section turned inward, creating an opening. The rabbit hopped through and out of sight.

She leapt up and jumped joyfully.

“Oh! You cute thing! You have saved me!” She cried and ran through the opening and past the wall.

Inside she saw the rabbit scratching the forest floor and after a brief glance at her it sped deep into the wood and out of sight.

 
fullsizeoutput_515.jpeg
 

At the spot where it had been scratching there was a shape. A grouping of lines swept within a rectangle, a speckling of holes, and tiny twigs rising upward from the sketch. “It’s a map!” She realized, looking at the river and stream lines and miniature twig trees.

“Thank you!” She called into the trees to the vanished rabbit.

Looking ahead she saw a winding brook burbling in a corresponding way, and a tree that was represented by a twig. Overjoyed, she tried to put the map to memory. What a wonderful bunny, she thought, and after a quick drink from the brook she marched deeper into the magic forest.

After quite a bit of walking, the underbrush became very thick. It thrashed at her as she struggled to move through. Claws of thorn grasped at her hair and raked her legs, arms, and face. Sweat poured from her efforts and her chest heaved. Ache, the body, the steps, the bout with the very forest. It was like she was fighting with it at every moment. The exhaustion began to creep into all her movements and she fell down again and again.

“Little Bunny, I think your directions were made for someone much smaller,” she cried.

At that she noticed, through the brush at a little distance, a worn path making its way through the trees.

“Oh! A trail!” she cried out, relieved. It wasn’t moving in quite the same direction that the map had been directing her, but it had to be easier than this horrid brush. She pushed through to the trail and with a big alleviated sigh she walked easily down the empty way. It was fast moving now and she whistled as she went, trying to mimic the bluebird she had seen earlier.

A lot of ground was gained as she skipped along her trail and she smiled. “I’ll be at the well in no time,” she happily thought, until a moment later when she came upon another wall.

“Not another wall! Mr. Bunny! Where are you? I need you to open another door for me,” she called out. It was then that she saw the opened door in the wall that had already been opened by her bunny friend. Not only that, but she saw the winding brook burbling and the tree at which she had started.

“Oh no! I’ve been going in circles!” She cried out. Hurriedly she went to where the map had been drawn, but it was no longer there. With tears in her eyes she started back toward the thick brush.

After some time and many cuts and scrapes she stopped to rest in a beam of sun breaking through an opening in the trees. As she gazed upward she watched a condor sailing in long, looping circles. Its black swooping form moving round and round the skies. It’s going in circles like me, she thought, and chuckled to herself. Just then, the condor turned quickly and dove into the treetops off in the distance.

“I am lost,” she thought to herself. “Lost, scraped, bruised, and so very tired and hungry. Maybe this condor has found something interesting.” She got up and headed in the direction of the condor’s dive.

The condor’s honk and squawk could be heard at the approach, and when she pulled back a leafy curtain she gasped at the scene. The condor stood pecking over a dead rabbit. She cried out running toward it and scared the condor away.

 
fullsizeoutput_513.jpeg
 

“My poor bunny friend! Oh! What happened to you?” She stroked its fur and started to cry. “Don’t worry. I won’t let the condor eat you. I’ll find a nice place to put you into the ground, your home,” she said, but as she started to pick the rabbit up she saw another map underneath it, scratched into the ground. Her tears dimpled the small map and she quickly wiped them away.

“No, I’ll take you to the well in the woods,” she said. “The goddess there will know what to do.” She placed the small creature in a scarf wrap and carried on, following the new map it had drawn.

Her steps began to fall heavily, and an empty pit in her stomach seemed to spread fatigue through her limbs. Eventually she found patches of berry bushes, but she was not the only hungry creature in the forest. Birds of all sorts, but mostly starlings, were moving through the brush picking red and purple berries. She rushed to the bushes and picked all that she could, but only ended up with a disappointing handful. The starlings had ravished the berry patch until bare twigs were all that was left.

“You greedy birds!” she yelled.

As she ate the meager meal that she had collected she noticed a nearby bush thick with red, round, luscious berries. Thrilled, she ran to the bush and plucked a few from the leafy bush.

“They look so tasty,” she said, and her stomach rumbled in agreement. Just as she was about to toss the plump bits into her mouth she saw a few starlings on branches just above a the bush. Not just a few, but an entire tree full of them. Why had they eaten all of the other berries, but not these? She let them fall through her fingers one by one, each a drop of sadness filling her heart. They must be poison, she despaired. Desperately she looked far into the woods for anything that she could eat. It was then that she spied a very large shadowy figure moving through the trees, and she quickly hid behind the bush.

 
fullsizeoutput_511.jpeg
 

As she peered through, she saw that the figure was a hooded man. He was feeding a magpie that was moving closer and closer to him. She watched as he led the magpie to a branch and with one hand feeding the hapless bird, and the other moving in from behind, in a single quick motion, he snatched the magpie from the branch. Its cries filled the air and the stir caused all of the starlings to rise in a chaotic dark cloud from the trees overhead. They swirled upward in a momentous flock, shifting like a single living body. The magpie, on the other hand, was quieted with a swift jerking motion of the man’s hands. She held her hand over her mouth to keep a gasp from escaping. The man looked briefly around, but didn’t seem to see her, and lurched deeper into the forest.

Despite her fear of the man, her hunger was stronger. He might lead me to something that I can eat, she thought. So, she followed, always keeping a safe distance behind. Her steps she kept as soft as she could. The forest seemed to become darker as they moved into pines and she shuddered at this new frightening purlieu. Should she be following this mysterious stranger? Where was he headed? And how far from her goal was he taking her?

In a small clearing the light finally came through and she saw the flock of starlings. They were dancing in a dark cloud, morphing the sky with their collective shapes. A few times she thought they almost formed the shape of a finger pointing. Pointing her away in the opposite direction. But at that moment the man continued on his way deeper into the unseen. She moved to follow, but the starlings, in a single burst of movement dove into the clearing between them, making such a cacophonous roar that the man stopped and spun around. She ducked behind a tree. After a quick look at the starlings he turned and continued. The flock seemed to be moving between her and the man. They rose in the sky and once again formed a pointing finger in the opposite direction.

“My feathered friends, I asked for your guidance when I started and I believe I must follow it when it is offered. I will go in your direction.”

She left the man and the bleak pines, following the dancing flocks of starlings instead.

 
fullsizeoutput_516.jpeg
 

As she walked she stroked the fur of the rabbit wrapped in her scarf. The last map that it had drawn had shown a thick line moving through the middle of the map. She had mused that this was most probably a river. The sound of heavily rushing water now coming through the trees in front of her showed her guess correct. It was not only a river, but a wildly rushing rapid thrashing at the rocks in loud growls and crashing. The mist of it hit her face and felt sublime after the great distances she had walked. It was beautifully dangerous, she thought. And with no way across. Not a bridge nor a tree, nor a shallow to wade. It was a wall of sorts, once more.

“Mr. Bunny, I could really use your magic again,” she said.

A strong wind moved in and the trees began swaying, bowing to the monstrous clouds that swiftly moved overhead. Her hair whipped about her head and the air became chilled.

“Creating a storm was not what I had in mind,” she addressed the bunny held to her chest.

She saw a tiny finch, fluffed in its basket nest, high up in a nearby tree. It swayed side to side as the winds tossed the trees. Suddenly, it abandoned its nest, and with a short happy hopping flight it sailed under a rock overhang.

“Good idea, little finch! I’m with you,” she said, ducking through the wind and into the shelter of the rocks. The finch nestled into a nook of the rocks and prepared to wait out the storm. She did her best to do the same.

The winds screamed and howled. Flashes and bursts of lightning cracked the sky. Thunder pounded and rumbled the ground. A shock of lightning struck the tree that had housed the tiny finch’s nest and the tree split and tumbled, hanging precariously over the river.

“Oh! Your home!” she cried to the finch as it rested stoutly in the rocks.

As quickly as the storm moved in, it moved out. The sun burst through the clouds and fell in rays over the forest. The river now roared a milky brown, and even more angry than before.

“How will I ever get across?” she wondered. The finch came out from the rocky shelter and with its hopping flight, skittered around where its tree and nest used to be.

“It’s gone, little finch. We are both without homes at the moment,” she said sadly. She watched the finch and its happy, hopping flight once more as it moved about the downed tree, and realized that it had fallen partially over the river.

“I will hop as you hop in flight little one. I will make it across this mean river. You show me the way,” she said boldly to the finch. Climbing up the charred stump of the tree, she carefully hopped from branch to branch and down the trunk that extended over the raging river.  At one point the branches became too thin and she had to lower herself down onto a boulder amongst the rapids. It was wet and slick, but she managed to jump to another boulder and then another until with one final leap she had made the opposite rocky shore.

The finch tweeted near her and she thanked it. On the shore under some downed branches she spied the nest that had fallen from the crashing tree.

“It’s your home! We found it!”

She picked it up and gently placed the nest in a neighboring tree.

“I hope it’s as nice for you,” she said to the finch, which then flew onto the tree and inspected. After a few flutters of its feathers it hopped into the nest and fluffed into a tiny ball and began tweeting.

“Goodbye Finchy. I hope one day I’ll get back to my home as well.”

With happy hopping steps she moved away from the river and continued her journey on the other side.

A heat and humidity settled on the forest. It felt like an oppressive weight pressing her down. She had been walking for so long, and the forest stretched flat and seemingly endless before her. Her feet dragged at each step and she had to frequently stop to rest. There wasn’t a brook, stream, or pond in sight and she hadn’t had a drink of water since her river crossing, and that felt like lifetimes ago. Her sore lips were parched and blisters covered her battered feet. She rested on a patch of dried leaves and stared at the heavens.

“I don’t think I can make it much further,” she sighed out. “I’m not even entirely sure that I’m headed in the right direction. I can’t even cry. I have no more tears left. What a distance this is. How can anybody be expected to make it to this well?”

As she stared into the blue of the sky she saw a small speck moving at such heights that she worried it might be burned by the sun. Squinting, she noticed the crook in the wings and the shape she knew to be an albatross. She had seen them many times in the past by shorelines. She knew their calls, their dances, their enormous wingspans. She knew of their epic journeys around the world. These feathered wanderers, explorers of earth. They cross oceans in flight.

“Get up, you laggard!” she said to herself. “That albatross has probably come from other worlds. It never tires. Surely you can keep moving. You have two strong legs to carry you. They have more to give.”

She pulled herself up, shaking away the dizziness in her head.

“Spread those wings, and keep moving.”

Evening swallowed the forest. Specks of green light, fireflies, blinked throughout the trees and shrubs. They left long streaks of light behind them which tangled with each other in bright knots as they floated about her. More and more of them lit their miniature torches and the air glowed with their light. She spied toadstools glowing on the forest floor, and fiery eyes staring at her from the blanket of night. The light swirled around her, mingling with stars, and she managed a laugh at the beautiful scene.

“I might have died as well, Mr Bunny,” she addressed the rabbit wrapped in her scarf. “I think I’m floating up into the heavens. I’m dancing with the stars. They are all around me. And look! There’s the moon hiding in those trees over there, making all the leaves glow.”

 
3R7A1035 (1).jpg
 

It wasn’t the moon, she realized, but an intense green luminance, rising from a dell. With all the strength she could muster she headed toward the light.

She had found it! The well in the woods! It was actually there before her. A oval of stone with a pool of peridot green water emanating a brilliance. It was an eye with a pupil of water — beautiful water. Swarms of fireflies swirled above it in a lovely glittering column. She crawled to the edge of the water, her face green with the light.

“Oh Goddess of the Well! I implore you to help this tired mortal. I have come from far away for your guidance and your assistance. Please!” Her breath ran away from her. There was no answer. “Goddess of the Well! Show yourself! Please! I’m so tired.”

The world began to spin. She leaned forward to look into the well and for a moment she thought she saw her, but it was only her own image staring back. Where are you?

Her arms gave way, and she fell headlong into the waters of the well.

She sank down into the waters that seemed to swaddle her aching body. Her journey here was done, and to what end? Was all this an empty well? A useless quest to an absent hope. Striving, fighting, fearing, despairing, our nests torn away — just food for wicked hunters. I’ll leave it for the birds, she thought, but suddenly she heard a voice deep within the waters.

“Do not despair,” it said. “Drink, and be alive. You have only just begun your adventure. You must carry on, only now fixed with the tutelage of your little friends. They have adorned your new aegis. Each lesson a boon and the impetus of your search for this place. We give to you: the happiness and singing of the bluebird; the power of truth in the beak of the cardinal; in the condor, the internalizing of the inevitable and acceptance of death; the collective knowledge of the flocking starling; the adaptability and insouciance of the finch; and the endurance of the albatross. Now rise up, be nourished and strong.”

“Goddess,” she replied. “I thank you will all of my heart for these gifts that you and my feathery friends have bestowed on me. But, I feel my needs have reached the simplistic. I am so depleted of this world that I only want of something to eat. How silly to ask of a Goddess.”

“You have always had the means to eat, look to the condor,” the voice said, and bubbles poured from beneath her, raising her to the surface of the waters. She found that a fire was burning beside the well and she sat at the fire and dried. Sadly, she unwrapped the rabbit from her scarf and stroked its fur once more. A bluebird was nearby singing happily in a tree and she smiled.

“I thank you for being, my bunny friend. You have saved me more than once. That life requires death should stay my sadness but it does not. I thank you for the life you extend to me as I make my own way under the condor’s beak.”

After she had cooked and ate the rabbit she slept beside the well in the woods. She would need plenty of rest. Her adventure was just beginning.

 
 
 
 

To Our Ships At Sea

Winter 2017

 

fullsizeoutput_50d.jpeg
 
product Block
This is an example product. Double-click here to search for one of your own products to display. Learn more
 

The world is not just objects, but vibrating objects. Waves are formal mathematical concepts, and they are familiar, visceral concepts. Waves can be soothing or disquieting. Basic, uninterrupted waves are rolling, sinusoidal.

But all the interesting features of waves occur at points of collision. Today we examine the properties of colliding waves through a set of artists who have been working in the theme, and through the story of a recent scientific discovery.

This year the Nobel Prize for Physics was given to Kip Thorne, Ronald Drever, Barry Barish, and Rainer Weiss, for their work detecting gravity waves, first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916. Painstaking effort by hundreds upon hundreds of scientists for decades led to the achievement. The waves originated from a cosmic collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago, the power of which was so enormous that it distorted space time in ripples still moving across the universe. A pair of laser antennae called LIGO, (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) gigantic two and a half mile installments located in Louisiana and Washington State, were developed over decades to detect the waves. That finally happened on September 14, 2015.

 
 

 
Snowstorm  Joe McKay 2017 Processing

Snowstorm
Joe McKay
2017
Processing

Polarization

The phenomenon of polarization arises when wave motion can occur simultaneously in two orthogonal directions.

(the black holes collide)

We’ve only seen on the calmest of seas. Halcyon the heavens and flatness the shoals of time. Our bearings straight, our eyes to the sextant, riding deaf winds a lonesome vessel.

A billion years afore and now, at distances unfathomable, two maelstroms of the darkest dread danced a whirling dervish. The spread of their skirts sucked up the dust, the clouds, the orbs, the stars. No escape, these swallowing pair of pits, at a swiftness, speeds the half of light, they kissed and made the universe roar. A coupling with more power than all the suns of all the spinning calamities.

 
Supraliminal  Greg Niemeyer & DJ Spooky 2017 Processing

Supraliminal
Greg Niemeyer & DJ Spooky
2017
Processing

Interference

Waves that encounter each other combine through superposition to create a new wave called an interference pattern.

(scientists' collaboration)

First to see the sea was a patent clerk from Germany. The drop was made, and rings the things of energy. Max then walked a Planck and dove in headlong, splash! Each drop an oscillating crash, and mixing, matching, mathematic smoke from pipes in lab coats, chalk of endless talk and pinched bridges. The glasses come off and Dirac, no sir, I’ll pass to Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, how’s antimatter to Poincaré, or Zwicky and his coma cluster. More precise is Kip Thorne, Drever, Barish, and Weiss. We have Witten as a cell! The beauty of this crashing collective mind!  

 
Moonlight on Snow Beatrice Bring 2009 Photograph

Moonlight on Snow
Beatrice Bring
2009
Photograph

Reflection

When a wave strikes a reflective surface, it changes direction.

(LIGO lasers in the vacuum)

To swampland, Livingston Louisiana. Black-hole eyed owls hoo through the pines and moonbeams, by the secluded tubes, monstrous in the night for miles, hollow but for a beam, a laser light musician’s string, waiting to be plucked by billion year old titan’s long dead dance. Perfect beam gazing into a mirror, combing a single Rapunzel hair, stare unflinching, waiting, waiting…

To Hanford, Washington. Tumble weeded, sage, and the radiation of new bomb USA, the desert by the secluded tubes, monstrous in the night for miles, L-shaped aggregate of science, lonely beam, waiting, waiting…

 
Christina Van Der Merwe 2009 Painting

Christina Van Der Merwe
2009
Painting

Refraction

Refraction is the phenomenon of a wave changing its speed. Typically, when the wave passes from one medium to another.

(storm of space time…gravity waves, speeding and slowing time, travel across the universe)

The titans swirl and stomp the time, 1 - 2 - 3, 1 - 2 - 3, spin and sing! Raging together on the roiling sea like children in a puddle, and collapsing together in a single laughing splash the ripples ride out to the edges. The steps rushing over Einstein’s sea as here dinosaurs made their fossil beds. Stampeding through beaches, over billions of grains of sand, the neighing ever softer, ever dwindling, ever longer, ever farther, ever closer to our waiting beams and brains.

 
Seaglass Necklace  Emily Nora O'Neil 2017 Found objects, silk

Seaglass Necklace
Emily Nora O'Neil
2017
Found objects, silk

Absorption

When a wave strikes a matter, it will be absorbed by the matter. A wave coming into contact with matter of the same natural frequency will impinge upon an atom, then the electrons of that atom will be set into vibrational motion.

(gravity waves colliding with earth)

Single speck, lonely speck, speck hung by invisible string, green and blue ball of all we know, our sad little beacon, fueled by so much strife and struggle, hollering into the blackness with a whimper, tiny life raft on flat night seas, what’s that on the horizon? From across the vast expanse? There comes violent echoes. We shuddered for fear of the monsters in the dark, but we’re about to get to know them.

 
From the series  Passages  Midge Wattles 2017

From the series Passages
Midge Wattles
2017

Diffraction

A wave exhibits diffraction when it encounters an obstacle that bends the wave, or when it spreads after emerging from an opening.

(the mid-C tone moving the laser antennae, detection of the waves)

Italian postdoctoral, Marco Drago, ear to the rail, cappuccino just before morning eleven, screened the laser string and in two thousand fifteen came the musician’s pluck, bong, a mid-C note. Swayed the ray a proton’s width, perfectly predicted proudly, gravity waves! Tossed back chair and wide-eyed Marco before all knew but knew not what to do. The titan’s dance was heard.

 
Hygrothermoanthrographs Laura B. Greig 2009 Sculpture

Hygrothermoanthrographs
Laura B. Greig
2009
Sculpture

Transmission & Media

Waves normally move in a straight line through a transmission medium.

(word of the wave detection spreads)

A yell sounds out in the village. Hear ye! Hear ye! There be monsters! Titans out there over the heads of eagles! Upon the wires the bells ring, radios buzz.  O I know! Out of a bed of hard dreams, hard earned principals, tedious attempt upon attempt to know to know, I know! We know! Knowledge, you stacked monument, you got us to real heavens. From the dark to the evenings edge we search and will know you, you mystery. You shall not escape us! Have you heard? The titans dance! They hiccuped in our laps like babies. Be not afraid of monsters. We’ll give them names and learn their dances.   

 
Ball of Octopus  Abe Rolick 2017 Photograph

Ball of Octopus
Abe Rolick
2017
Photograph

Dispersion

A wave undergoes dispersion when velocity depends on frequency. Dispersion is most easily seen by letting white light pass through a prism.

(joy of discovery & success)

And rewards will come and go, the smiling faces back to furrowed brows, the clapping hands back to the chalkboard. We’ve no time to waste. Ever more and stack upon these new blocks builders. Our tentacles must grasp all. The sea is black and dark, but also full of color if only for a bit of light. We had only seen on the calmest of seas. Now those halcyon heavens are turbulent. Those shoals are bursting surf. Before we had only eyes and now we have ears. Listen!

 
 

Perido-Tricuto

Summer 2017

 
 
L1062817.JPG
 

Le Grand Meaulnes 2017

Lauren Hlubny

suffragettes of movement, I extend my ballot to experience
the air around my limbs in any way I choose
the space I inhabit with the vulnerability I desire
and the decision to be a woman
in any role

tricoteuse of dance, watching the execution of
patriarchy
discrimination
and precision.
surexposition, an attempt
I love her. She loves her.
They love.

Elles rêvent
pendant cette exploration brève
de la danse, de la vie,
et de la surréalité.

 
PC Kyra Hauck; Lauren Hlubny & Karen Chen

PC Kyra Hauck; Lauren Hlubny & Karen Chen

 
 

Howling

Winter 2016

 

Anyway,

we decided recently that manifestos don’t say, “you must” but rather, “I won’t.”

We decided to shroud ourselves in our favorite art, in our favorite music. Not as a security blanket, but as armor.

By acknowledging the validity of the struggle – the fact of the matter – we can carry on. We won’t let the challenge of pressing the thoughts stop us. They buried us, but we are seeds.

We were thinking of these mechanical words, galvanizing and vulcanizing, and their etymological relationship to pressure and hardship. Galvanizing is stimulating an object by electricity. Vulcanizing is throwing an object into a fire.

We are the semionauts, the explorers of symbols. We won’t forget our history of beat wanderers, navigating their understanding on jazz percussion.

We believe in the alchemists, who thought they could make the best from the worst. They did not have the scientific consensus that we have, yet. They were optimists – an increasingly difficult proposition.

Beatnik was a word invented to shame the followers of Kerouac and all, comparing them to Russians. Beatnik is still a slur in the Beat community. Russian can be too.

We won’t let the fear mongering get to us, but we won’t ignore the spot in the apartment where the champagne pops itself, either. We like the fun kind of fear.

“We must knit a new world” is the phrase I saw at Basel Miami this year, the most optimistic and therefore absurd scenes in the art world. But I like that phrase, it resonates nicely with me. Knits are cozy.

The shopkeeper sank through the glittering stones,

Escarpments behind glass filled with meteor dust,

To find my request, show me the best of these

Earth’s ancient teeth and her munched old lunch.

“This is what there is to be seen,” said he, placing tabletop

The wet looking olive rock speckled with seeds

That surfed magma’s shores long before

Fires danced in Hominids hands.

It simply rested upon the counter

After wrestling with the weight of the world.

There it is, inert and perfect as the outer edges of anything

with cosmos awry within.

“This is what there is to be seen,”

he placed in my palm the Peridot Green.

 

As we all know, the sun sets beyond these walls

Somewhere beyond these hills the crimson end begins

Somewhere beyond our horizons shadows swarm

We become a window twinkle on the night scape

Somewhere beyond our block, blue buttoned up and weaponized

Lynches the steps we’ve built to home

 

In here we are old and young and howling both!

In here sheet music flips in the wind

In here we drink from bubbling glasses and foam at the mouth

In here the sweet center

In here

Is a man costumed in feather galaxies that orbit blackhole eyes

Fingers do the Carole Dance ‘neath cloud blouses

Pine the nosegay and holiday times

In here

Mosfet Queens stand wind tossed in skeletal fall

Secret society symbols stand in sight

And her eyes are mirrors over smiles

In here

Painters paint robotically or robots paint painterly

the twin painters puppers

or paps pug and poodle

In here

The blood red galvanized doodle was

Imagined on rocking chair porches

Or rainy stares out windscreens

In here

Our ghosts pop champagne corks

And hang their work in corners

haunting the feet of floor dwellers

In here

Phantoms veil the texting heads

Photons flare and red gates glare

Our shoes are set on Peridot Green!

 

In here we borrow Allen’s voice

In here we Howl!

As we all know, now the knowing is not knowledge it is now a growling growing and wailing. The hatred hunger is grumbling and what once was mumbling is bubbling up up up a memory of what was once is with last grasp and gasp clawing its way up and storming at the gates! Alert all states all your mates! The enemy is coming! Once more the enemy is coming! Outside a fight awaits! A light in the tower! We must Howl! We must Howl! Tell them all! This warmness can throughout! Let not the cold outside seep in and ruin our lovely home! This is all our home!

Howl for your sisters!

Howl for your brothers!

Howl for those who have been silenced!

Raise your head to lovely Luna, my people all

We are a bristled pack and

We are howling!

 

Haunted Objects

Fall 2016

 

When an object is treasured, it becomes part of its owner’s memory. They cradle it in their hands, their arms, and it evokes emotion and imagery. When we lose a person, it can help to hold their treasures for them.

Today we tell the story of The Ghost-Hunter – a husband who loses his wife, and returns to his abandoned profession to find her. To tell this story we summon two birds: Poe’s Raven, and Coleridge’s Albatross.

Alongside our poem, we hang the work of three photographers: Jace Becker, Joe Moore, and Midge Wattles (in collaboration with C.J. Hill). All three work with older film and darkroom techniques, and address the materiality of the medium in their concepts.

 

The Ghost-Hunter

 
Samhain86.jpg

Once the sun commits to sinking, and shadows begin their drinking,
In the ever flooding dark of nighttime’s tidal and unconscious sea,
In my bed and still not sleeping, yet awake from too much thinking
Of my love and keep from weeping, for I don’t know where she might be.
She closed her eyes and said goodbye, and I don’t know where she might be.
She’s buried by the Oak tree.

Long ago she had laughed and said, how silly my love for the dead,
As I spent whole nights in empty houses toying with technology.
Calling quietly into the dark, waiting for that frightening spark
From another world or outside the place that all of us can see.
How strongly I wanted to be outside the place we all can see.
Today she’s by the Oak tree.

 
 
moore_oversight_rendered_18.jpg

For years it was the dead I sought, and not the living which I ought
To have given all of my love and time. For all of us should foresee
We’ve longer on the other side than we have in our rotting hide.
In all of that time not a spectre nor a phantom did I see.  
She’s gone now and still not a spectre nor a phantom do I see,
Except down by the Oak tree.

It’s by that tree that I recall, my ghostly past and I appall
My now ever ghastly present, haunting all that once gave me glee.
Maddened by sadness I stormed, until a new idea had formed,
I would gather my old equipment for I knew how she may be.
Once again in dark and empty houses I’d seek what couldn’t be.
I’ll find her by the Oak tree.

 
L1063114.JPG

I assembled her possessions, those she loved to an obsession,
Her carvings and a kimono, tinted by flowers and feathery.
O how when it was worn it flowed. An angels wings there seemed bestowed.
Sadly stroking her treasured things a sigh in the dark unnerved me.
I squinted in the black, “Is there someone here in the dark with me?”
The sigh came from the Oak tree.

As I stepped down the lightless hall, the arched exit there was all
Could be seen without some spirit, without our lovely life’s debris.
I lingered there to contemplate, and will my sadness to abate.
I must be clear, dispassionate, to see what may be there to see.
But I’m not sure I want to see what may be there for me to see.
It will be by the Oak Tree.

 
L1063100.JPG

Checking the needle as it skipped, and gadgets in shadows blipped  
As I walked blindly towards the door, footsteps groaned near of nobody.  
Hello! I called into the night. The steps, they had me all affright.
It seems no misconception the direction they stepped in to me.
It was to that place where I knew I must return. The place to me,
The terror of the Oak Tree.

I slammed the door and headed out. I would finally allay my doubt
Put to rest the absent ghosts who continually tortured me.
Despite her qualms she must assent to help my life be not misspent.
Deign once more be with the living so I will assuredly see
That there is certainly a place outside the place we all can see.
I walked down to the Oak Tree.

 
L1063116.JPG

At its rooted and knotted base, I set each object in its place,
Dress, carvings, and photography. Her image it was hard to see.
I shouted her name to the grave, and tried myself to remain brave
For I trembled despite my past. But wait! A voice! Can it be she?
I listened for nought but silence. A rustling there! Can it be she?
I waited by the Oak Tree.

Into the nearby pond I looked, the water rippling had me spooked.
My hair stood on end when eerie shapes danced in the murk unearthly.
It is but a simple creature, not a preternatural feature
Swimming there so creepily. And that voice faintly whispering to me,
Sending chills throughout my body, that voice trying to speak to me
Just the wind in the Oak Tree.

 
moore_oversight_rendered_27.jpg

“Give me real evidence!” I cried. “Something true! Make me terrified!”
Far off an owl responded, “Who?” as well the crickets chirped to me.
I slumped down and began to think, deep in memories did I sink.
I saw our meeting, saw our love, down inside the reflecting sea.
I saw our lives and saw our dreams, down inside the reflecting sea.
Recalled down by the Oak Tree.

She adored the paws of our dog, she bred horses, loved morning fog,
Her eyes would laugh when teasing me, I was a lock and she the key.
Always I saw us side by side, but curse this life for she has died!
O Sadness! O Life! Damn this side! And still she has not come to me!
There is but one way to be sure. One way that has just come to me,
I’ll die down by the Oak Tree.

 
Diaphanous11.jpg

Steadfast I went into the pond, that inky wet help me abscond
This intolerable mystery. Come not to me I’ll come to thee!
Further I sank into the deep, breathe in and simply go to sleep.
But what! A flash! I saw her dress, brilliant white it wrapped around me.
I found myself back on the shore, her dress it still wrapped around me.
It wrapped around the Oak Tree.

She kissed me and she swept away, swimming throughout the moonlit ray,
Like the lambent wake of a ship cutting through the night darkened sea
I saw her and could not ignore, for I know that she is no more,
But here she floats around the tree, around the grave and around me.
Here she is at last around me, Here she is at last around me.
I found her by the Oak Tree.

 

Strand of Pearls

Summer 2016

 

A pearl begins as a grain of sand. The oyster, detecting the invader, surrounds it in layers of an iridescent substance. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl, is the same substance that makes up their shells. A real pearl will feel gritty against your teeth, a fake one will feel smooth.

The Strand of Pearls is a narrative, each pearl a piece of the story, linear yet circular. The strand loops back on itself, back to the beginning. We look at the Strand of Pearls in comparison with the Walled Garden: the Pearls are episodic, strung on a line, leading the reader down a path, predetermined. The Garden is dynamic, sprawling, open, collaborative. The Pearls are the side-scrolling game. The Garden, the sandbox world.

Both the Pearls and the Garden are simultaneously open and closed. While the strand of pearls appears to be path-determinant and linear, forgetting each episode as it recedes, it is also presented in a loop where each story is lived again. While the garden appears to be open and sprawling, a space of experimentation, it is in fact walled in and protected. Further, both are equipped with some mechanism for transgression: the garden has the gate, and the pearls, the clasp. They are otherwise fully enclosed, calling to mind the concept in game theory of the ‘magic circle,’ or the spot of transgression from routine into play, marked by recognized rituals. In Tag, a player is invited into the magic circle with an incantation: ‘Tag, you’re it.” In Hockey, a player dons special clothing that allows an entirely new kind of movement, and endures great violence. Entering the magic circle is a ritual wherein the user acknowledges and accepts their shift into an other-world by participating in the design of their other-world self.

The Strand of Pearls goes out on the town, the Walled Garden stays home. Pearls are extroverts, and must be worn regularly to retain their luster. They are also fragile, requiring a gentle touch. They should be wiped clean with a soft cloth, and occasionally washed with water and castile soap.

 

The Pearl Necklace

Many myths and legends have been lost to time, but none so much as the tales from cultures steeped in oral tradition. Without a written language these stories disappeared along with their disappearing people. Most of the tales of the Mosfet have long since vanished, but today we celebrate one of the few that has survived. It was known to the Mosfet as Waapii lelew naawíikan áxkook-miitsuw-nzíit, or as it is known to us, The Pearl Necklace.

Pamuy was named for what she sought — pearls. Her name meant Water Moon which was also the Mosfet word for pearls. It was a rare vocation. Young women were raised to be pearl divers from the moment they showed an affinity to the sea. They went from happily splashing in the surf to intense training in swimming, holding their breath, and depth adaptation. Once they were of the right age they joined their few swimming sisters on an ocean-fitted canoe where they would shed their skins and dive to the dark oyster middens, a place known only to them.

The Mosfet treasured pearls which were worn as jewelry, adopted as money, and above all else used to tell the future. If a particularly beautiful or unique pearl was found, the diver would instantly hand them over to a deliverer, who would trek a great distance to a soothsayer called Tuuwa Tyee, the Sand Chief. He would read the pearls and attach a prognostication to each. The presaged pearls were then traded and sold, some reaching quite a high opulence. As valued as the pearls were, the ladies that dove for them kept not a one. Their nearness to the fortunes was too much. A single moment of avarice, one pearl in a pocket was believed to taint the touch of a diver and thereafter would make the pearls unseeable. The ladies traditionally dove naked to remove any suspicion from each other, but more accurately it was because they were lovers of the sea.

Pamuy loved the sea probably more than anyone. She could dive deeper, swim longer, and prune better than any of her sisters. They often told her what a great old woman she would make.

“Wrinkles suit you!” they would laugh wet in their bobbing canoe.

Although she was proud of her long dives, they had become a problem due to the arrival of the new settlers, who were rapidly encroaching on the Mosfet. The divers had to be constantly alert in their canoe. Word had got out amongst the settlers that lovely mermaids were guarding hoards of wealth in the bays around Peridot Green. The oyster middens had always been secret; the Mosfet would never interfere with the sacred task that these ladies performed, but the settlers were different and not to be trusted. They had almost been discovered a few times waiting for Pamuy to come up from the deep. They spent many hours anxiously watching for sails in the distance, or the shape of strange rowing boats on the horizon.

One day, while they were diving at one of their most magical and yielding oyster middens, sails appeared in the distance like the fins of a shark. The ladies slapped the water to signal that they must disappear. As usual, everyone had surfaced and climbed into the canoe but Pamuy, who was too deep to hear their signals. The sails crept closer and ever larger.

“We must leave!” the ladies yelled as the ship was heading in their direction. They rowed to an inlet and out of sight, leaving Pamuy to whatever fate the pearls had in store for her.

When Pamuy came to the surface she was overjoyed. She had found four marvelously large pearls, unlike any she had ever seen. Her excitement was quickly interrupted when she saw what was upon her. A gargantuan ship, so much larger than their perfect canoe, towered overhead. It was so large that it blocked out the sun. She heard men hooting and hollering from the shadows above and quickly she dove back down and swam fast. Thunks and splashes could be heard from the surface and she saw the bulging hulls of smaller rowboats plunging into the water. Her lungs burned but she would swim further than anyone, she told herself and like a fish she darted away from the confused settlers.

Once away she pulled herself ashore to examine her pearls. They were beautiful. She knew that she had to return them to her sisters but she had never seen anything like them. So large, and with the purity of the reflections, she knew that she had found something special. As she was admiring them she noticed a strange footprint in the sand where she was sat. It was a boot! She would take them herself to Tuuwa Tyee, she decided. It would be better than to risk being discovered by the settlers. So Pamuy wrapped the pearls in a large leaf she had gathered, and grabbed a handful of sand from the boot print to keep the pearls separated.

Tuuwa Tyee will be pleased to see these, she thought, and prepared herself to meet the Sand Chief for the first time.

 
 
page_oyster1.jpg
Oyster Shells Traci Page 2016 Watercolor & Pastel

Oyster Shells
Traci Page
2016
Watercolor & Pastel

After two days of trekking up shore, dune, and forest, Pamuy came to the small hut of Tuuwa Tyee. The hissing language of the ocean constantly whispered from over the hairy dunes, and the sea air tickled Pamuy’s nose just the way she liked. She was happy looking at this hut. As she approached she realized that it was made entirely from shells, creating two domes of floor and ceiling, split in the middle. It is an oyster shell! she beamed and chuckled with delight. The Sand Chief lives in an oyster shell! She approached the dwelling still slightly apprehensive and called, Hello? There was no answer but the top half lifted ever so much and salty air emerged in a pungent waft. Pamuy ducked and crawled inside.

Tuuwa Tyee lounged inside upon a large mound of soft sand, his skin glistened pale with sweat from the humid summer heat in neatly tucked folds. The only light came in strongly from the semi-circular opening in the oyster hut walls creating a shelf like beam which fell upon his face. Pamuy immediately noticed that he had no eyes, but dimples where his eyes should be. She recoiled for a moment in surprise. How could he see the pearls? she thought. He opened his mouth and a hissing sound emanated like the sound of the waves on the sand before he said his first words, “Ssssssshhhh, you are a pearl diver,” he sounded out.

“Yes,” answered Pamuy with some trepidation. “I know that I’m not supposed to come…”

Tuuwa Tyee interrupted, “Ssssshhh, what have you brought me? Something special, I thinkssssshh.”

Pamuy noticed that the hissing sound was coming through a hole in his tongue.

“Four pearls, Tuuwa Tyee. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” she blurted out and unwrapped her leaf on the sand before him.

Tuuwa Tyee reached a greasy hand into the sand and pulled out a large pearl, placing it into his mouth and rolling it. He then took it out and placed it on the dimple where his eye should be.

 
rohr_pearls4.jpg
Pearl Garden Robert Frank Rohr 2012 Oil stick

Pearl Garden
Robert Frank Rohr
2012
Oil stick

I see…sssssshhhh…the land trod upon by multitudinous steps. In the pearl is paths, in the forests, in the grass, in the stones, in the seas, and even in the skies!..ssssshhh…like the webs of spiders, or bubbled foam, and our kind will roam amongst them with a rumble to rival the Ocean! What a complication! too much to see…sssshhh, have you seen the rush of a hive, of a thriving throng? What a song they hum, and the honey it will gusssshh and on every tongue will be sweet things. False trees will rise, stacking high, and inside we’ll climb a gleaming totem…hmmm…How it will change..ssssshhh!

The pearl fell from his eye into the sand and he desperately thrashed the sand looking for it. Pamuy picked up the pearl and offered it back to him. He snatched it quickly from her hand.

“Never have I seen so far,” he said, exasperated.

“It is valuable then?” Pamuy asked.

“SSSSsssshhhh! Valuable? It is invaluable! These pearls do not have the vision of many moons but of the moon herself. They see all.”

Pamuy sat with her eyes wide.

Tuuwa Tyee reached a greasy hand into the sand and pulled out a large pearl, placing it into his mouth and rolling it. He then took it out and placed it on the dimple where his eye should be.

 
Darling, from the series Feminist as Fuck Chelsea Ross 2016 Photograph

Darling, from the series Feminist as Fuck
Chelsea Ross
2016
Photograph

I see…sssssshhh…Faces, so many faces, a people of many places, and how can a nose two eyes and mouth have so many ways, the face of mountain ranges, of the trees, of the clouds, so varied, so many. They pour like a river of faces, dark and light, happy and sad, laughing and crying, smiling and frowning…sssshhhh…there is anger that boils the river, and mean rocky outcrops, but there is joy that eddies, there is love that sweeps ‘round the rocks, and there is wildness not in the forests but in the eyes, the look of the hunter, the wolf, the look of prey, and the howl of danger echoes through the sharp grey angles…sssshhh…how they play, how they Sing! Oh what songs! the air thunders with their songs! They dance around their new fires of housed lightening! They manipulate the fury of the skies!

Tuuwa Tyee carefully placed the pearl back with the others before him.

“But what will become of our people?” Pamuy asked.

Tuuwa Tyee reached a greasy hand into the sand and pulled out a large pearl, placing it into his mouth and rolling it. He then took it out and placed it on the dimple where his eye should be.

 
Foster Wattles

Foster Wattles

I see…ssssshhh…The Mosfet, so far away, they are as in an eternal tunnel, from some ancient grounds I hear their voices deep beneath the piles of smoothed stone…Swept by new currents, they chased the setting sun and fire was always on their horizons…sssshhh…Their forests are with them, their voices are with them, their ways are with them, Peridot Green is with them and they are no more…They ghost dance in the eternal tunnel…sssshhhhh

Pamuy jumped up and yelled,

“But this cannot be!” she kicked the sand and stomped throughout the oystershell. At the opening of the hut she glimpsed her beloved ocean, grey and rushing in the distance and the sea air caressed her teary face.
 

Tuuwa Tyee reached a greasy hand into the sand and pulled out a large pearl, placing it into his mouth and rolling it. He then took it out and placed it on the dimple where his eye should be.

 
Moon Phase Bottle Opener  Christina Van Der Merwe 2015

Moon Phase Bottle Opener
Christina Van Der Merwe
2015

I see…ssssshhh…that you needn’t worry Water Moon…your sea will always roll…you shall shuck life’s oysters clean and they will carry you in their fortunes…even now in the far then you are swimming deeply with your tool about your neck…sssshhh…I see them spying your nakedness from their ships, envying you your salty embrace…you will swim on symbols in the pools of their eyes and fetch them pearls again…sssshhh.

Pamuy walked back to Tuuwa Tyee and sat before him. She stared at the leaf and the pearls nestled together atop the little pile of sand, the sand from the boot print. Her brow furrowed, and she darkly looked up at Tuuwa Tyee.

“And what of the new settlers?” she asked.

Tuuwa Tyee reached a greasy hand down, but instead of a pearl he grabbed a handful of the sand surrounding the pearls. He placed the sand in his mouth and rolled it for a while. Finally, when he opened his mouth a magnificent black pearl was gripped between his teeth. Pamuy sat forward to get a closer look. She had never seen a pearl like this.

 
wilson_pearls4.jpg
Bryan McGovern Wilson 2016 Installation

Bryan McGovern Wilson
2016
Installation

Tuuwa Tyee moved the black pearl he had formed from his teeth and placed it neatly in the hole in his tongue. It began to glow a mysterious green that illuminated the room. Pamuy became entranced looking into the luminous cloudy motion within the pearl, and Tuuwa Tyee seemed a different person suddenly.

We are all as one. A family that spreads over all the earth. Every man is your brother and every woman your sister. It is only ideas that separate us and ideas are phantoms. Your brothers and sisters will kill each other for phantoms. They will kill each other for pieces of earth. This earth does not belong to you. It does not belong to me. You do not own it. It is but a grain of sand. Do not be mad for the things that your brothers and sisters will do. They will take this grain of sand and attack it with layers of thought to make a pearl, but it is still a grain of sand. They will read their pearls and do their best to make the prophecies real. But they are phantoms and none of this is real…

The glowing ceased and the black pearl fell from the soothsayers mouth.

Pamuy got up and left the hut. She ran along the beach and jumped into the ocean. She grabbed handfuls of sand and looked at the individual grains. The grains were nothing compared to the pearls. The pearls were shiny, white, and lovely. The earth was not like a grain of sand, she thought. I love the pearls. She looked to the south and began to walk home to Peridot Green. Pamuy was named for what she sought — pearls.

 

Walled Garden

Spring 2016

 

The Walled Garden begins at the gate. The Gate is mysterious but inviting; it does not demand attention, but it’s hard to look away once you’ve noticed it.

Inside the Gate is a Key: a legend of symbols that map out our code. In contrast with a set of rules, a code is more generous and optimistic; it’s a list of things to do, rather than not to do. This allows for more individualization, more spontaneous generation.

Spontaneous generation is the hinge that links botanical and technological growth. Inside the walled garden of Peridot Green, we foster a balance of organic and synthetic processes. Machine Learning is similar to Plant Learning in its cellular, unemotional efforts, inheriting what works, ignoring what doesn’t. They lean towards the light. Order multiplies itself.

A Walled Garden is cozy and self-contained, serene and nurturing. It is always growing, welcoming new ideas, visitors, and citizens. It is a place of contradictions: free yet secure, creative yet controlled. In network theory, the Walled Garden represents a space of open play without consequences; a closed ecosystem where control is centralized. It may be the proprietary network of a single firm — where only employees, logging in via their administrative permissions, may enter and talk to each other, generating quantifiable productivity metrics. It may be a video game, where the player is contained inside a vast playground of missions and side quests, where all actions have been pre-writ by the game’s programmers.

A social network is a Walled Garden, where users must sign in via one or two-factor authentication, exchanging notes and bits of stories with their fellow users, all path-determinant. A single entity dictates the walls of the space, who plays there, and what happens inside. Giving the appearance of safe participation, of happy inclusion, the digital infrastructures underpinning these inclusions make strict decisions about how participants may interact both with ideas and with each other. Algorithms make choices, privileging some participants and projects while sidelining others. Because the Walled Garden presents an image of open play, such algorithms are oft times invisible, building shadow regimes of dubious accountability.

This type of networked security, however, can provide a sense of safety, as experimental thought (that which is permitted) is shielded from those outside the walls, fostering a culture of constructive critique. Creative experimentation is encouraged. There is no danger of outside attack, or vulnerability to those who don’t belong inside the garden. Such a culture, this safe space, reverberates with the horticultural definition of a Walled Garden, where the walls are built high enough to protect the inside from damaging winds, creating a microclimate of supportive temperate conditions.

The metaphors we use to describe these environments shape the potentials we imagine for them.

 

 


 

Early Origins of Peridot Green

Centuries ago, the place where Peridot Green now stands was a quiet and lovely hollow in lush viridian forest. There was an ancient maple tree at the center, its branches always full of songbirds, its roots a secret nesting place for seabirds. Creeping myrtle snaked around the mossy floor, ivy crawled up the stone, wisteria spiraled tendrils up the canopy. A small waterfall led a stream to a scenic eddy on its way to the Hudson River. There was a large gray boulder with one side encrusted with small crystals in many shades of green; this became known as Peridot Rock.

Peridot Rock is where a native tribe, the Mosfet, met a tribe of sailors who had crossed the Atlantic on a ship named the Blanco Grande. Mosfet were great naturalists — they knew all the local flora and fauna, everything about how to help them thrive and grow. The crew of the Blanco Grande were great inventors – they had developed all the navigational and rigging mechanisms on their beautiful birch ship. For years the two tribes exchanged their expertises in affectionate symbiosis. Their languages blended naturally, as each had been developed to express different ideas and things.

The civilization the Mosfet had built began at Peridot Rock and crept into the verdure of the valley. Large steeply rising hills hugged the ancient people and their village creating the look of a large walled garden. Within these natural walls the Mosfet grew maize, beans and herbs of every variety imaginable. It was with these crops that the Mosfet traded with the settlers of the Blanco Grande, mostly for metal gardening tools. With these the Mosfet dug great irrigation channels in the steep hills surrounding Peridot Green, which afforded them even greater yield on their crops. The two peoples learned much from one another and developed a mutual respect. The Mosfet granted the new settlers the area of Peridot Rock where they could live as neighbors, while they contented themselves in the village, ensconced in their lovely Peridot Green.  Although their differences were great the two peoples became friends and enjoying a thriving conviviality. Every three months they had great festivals together to share drink and art. However, this relationship was not to last. It wasn’t long until new ships arrived and with them came the catalyst.

The new settlers quickly found the affinity their people had with the Mosfet distasteful in their old world mouths. Their tongues lashed out and they condemned the settlers of the Blanco Grande. How dare they mix with these people of the greens, they would shout. The newly arrived leader, a man named Friedrich Kallstadt, decried that, ‘all relations with the Mosfet should hereby cease.’ He also set his people to constructing a wall to separate the Mosfet and Peridot Green from the settlers at Peridot Rock.

At the completion of this project, the settlers found themselves without crops and overloaded with unused tools. The wall cut them off not only from the Mosfet but also from fertile land that they could farm. Kallstadt in a fury blamed the Mosfet for the situation. He said that the Mosfet had tricked them into accepting this land and that it was their duty to take Peridot Green in response for such an egregious affront. The new settlers took the unused gardening tools and melted them down to fashion cannons which they affixed with wheels. They destroyed their own wall and proceeded to march on the Mosfet.

The night before the attack, the first settlers of the Blanco Grande snuck away to warn the Mosfet. They were accepted back as friends and the two peoples retreated into the surrounding hills of Peridot green to await the invaders together. When Kallstadt arrived he found nobody, and razed the village. As the Mosfet watched in the hills they began to cry and the sound came down to Kallstadt. He brought the cannons forward and ordered them to fire on the hills surrounding Peridot Green. As the cannonballs fell onto the steep hills, a strange thing happened. They ricocheted through the boulders, falling into the irrigation channels dug by the Mosfet. The channels redirected the cannonballs. They gathered speed, tumbling downward. The channels all led to Peridot Green. The cannonballs came rolling back, crashing through the defenses of Kallstadt and his people.* The uninjured picked up the cannonballs,  reloaded their cannons, fired back. Those also came crashing back through the lines. This went on for quite a long time until Kallstadt and his army of settlers were thoroughly battered. The Mosfet and the settlers of the Blanco Grande then came down from the hills and forced Kallstadt and the remaining new settlers back to their boats and sent them away forever. The two peoples rebuilt their villages and helped each other once again. Of course more settlers arrived and the Mosfet were eventually forced to flee, but for a short while the friendly symbiosis between the two was able to thrive.

*A noteworthy result of this bit of history is found interestingly enough in the sport of bowling. The ball return is known to have been fashioned after the irrigation channels of the Mosfet that returned the cannonballs of Kallstadt’s invading army.

 

 
 
Traci Page

Traci Page

One of the few naturalists of the Blanco Grande settlers, Traci Page dedicated her time at Peridot Green to the study of flora. With much diligence she painted the lushness of the valley. Some say that the term ‘Green Thumb’ originated with Page, as she was frequently seen studying her plants with green paint upon her hands and holding up a thumb to capture the scene. The Mosfet saw with what tenderness Page painted her leafy subjects and were moved. Here was one that felt deeply of the earth, and so they imparted their knowledge of the tamed and untamed agriculture of Peridot Green to her. Page was also one of the first settlers to be taken in entirely by the Mosfet. After the arrival of the new ships and Kallstadt’s decry of the natives Page felt that she would not help this wickedness with her freshly acquired expertise. She fled to the Mosfet and was thereafter banished by her own people. Little is known of her whereabouts after this time, but we still have her work to show the beauty of the valley, of her consecration of the flora, and love of the Mosfet.   

 
Robert Frank Rohr

Robert Frank Rohr

Robert Frank Rohr was originally known as Dush-kwo-ne'-she, which meant ‘dragonfly.’ A member of the Mosfet tribe, he was their most valued artist. His layered colorful paintings captured the true beauty of recursion in nature and were most revered by the settlers of the Blanco Grande. In the first of the art festivals held between the two civilizations his work was gobbled up by the settlers who traded whatever they had to attain them. The paintings adorned almost every home in Peridot Rock when the new settlers arrived with Kallstadt. They too were mesmerized by Dush-kwo-ne’-she’s work, who they renamed Robert Frank Rohr as most couldn’t pronounce his Mosfet name. Some of the new settlers decided that they could make a fortune by abducting him and capitalizing on the new craze for Wunderkammer (Cabinets of Wonder) in Europe, for which his paintings were perfect. Under the cover of night a small ship’s crew stole him away along with a number of Mosfet people to be sold as slaves. However, during the trip back to Europe, Robert Frank Rohr and the other Mosfet revolted and took the ship, setting the crew adrift on rowboats. They then went on to be the first native american pirate vessel with Robert Frank Rohr as their captain. It is said that although they lived a life at sea, Rohr and his crew stuck to their Mosfet ways. They were always surrounded by plants which were brought on board from every port. Rohr’s cabin on the ship was supposedly decorated floor to ceiling by his paintings and the entry was lined with bright pink and yellow flowers which we have tried to replicate in The Walled Garden.

 
Leaf necklace and moon earrings Christina Van Der Merwe 2016

Leaf necklace and moon earrings
Christina Van Der Merwe
2016

 

From the very first meeting of the Mosfet with the settlers of the Blanco Grande, Christina Van Der Merwe was most interested in their culture. For hours upon hours she would watch their village with her spyglass, recording their day to day movements. She took particular interest in the amount of time each member of the tribe spent toiling with earth. “These beautiful people seem to commune with the Earth. They speak through their hands with the rolling of soil in dirty fingers and the trees curtsy to them like lovely ladies of court,” wrote Merwe in her journal. As the two cultures learned to live with each other, Merwe immersed in every moment that she could spend with the Mosfet. She was the first of the settlers to speak the native language. This afforded her much understanding. On the eve of Kallstadt’s attack on the Mosfet it was Merwe that convinced the settlers of the Blanco Grande to abscond and warn their native friends. She was a master jeweler and the work that we have of hers is what remains of the ornamental gorgets and badges worn on military uniforms of the settlers. The leaves and moon are dedicated to the Mosfet and their communion with nature. We think that it was these exact pieces shown here in The Walled Garden that were worn by Merwe on the day of the infamous attack by Kallstadt.  

Foster Wattles

Foster Wattles

After the arrival of the Blanco Grande, the Mosfet were naturally apprehensive about approaching these new aliens. They were so different in every way from their own people that they thought perhaps the settlers to be demons. They trudged with heavy booted steps. They chopped down many trees to make homes. Their noise did not flow, did not move with the forest. Instead it fought the whisper of the leaves like fish swimming upstream. Chief Aiyana (eternal bloom) of the Mosfet had said, ‘I do not believe these sea people to be as we are. They are possibly different animals with very dangerous natures. They are partners with destruction. They cover their nature head to toe and should not be trusted.’ During one of the early meetings with the settlers Foster Wattles was the man responsible for uniting the two peoples and bridging the gap of trust between them. He had seen the Mosfet racing nude through fields of flowers, as was their custom of competition and also a perfuming device. At the moment when the Mosfet seemed most uncertain and uneasy in their meeting, Wattles in an instant of ingenuity and brilliance, stripped off his clothing and ran with the Mosfet. There was much cheering and whooping. The Mosfet for the first time saw the settlers as human as themselves, and finally accepted them as equals.  

 
Chelsea Ross

Chelsea Ross

Famine was widespread during the first winter of the Blanco Grande settlers. They had begun a relationship with the Mosfet, but had yet to fully initiate trading. The settlers had no crops stored to last the winter and the people were starving. They appealed to the Mosfet to hold a meeting where they could trade for supplies to outlast the cold Manhattan winter. The Mosfet agreed, and on a cold and windy winter morning the historic meeting took place. Chief Aiyana stood in a cold skeletal dell as the wind blew her winter cloaks. Her hair obscured her face as William Ross, the governor of the settlers, trudged over the dead leaf bed to stand before her. In a sudden gust, her face was revealed and William Ross was shocked. ‘You’re nought but a wee girl!’ he yelled. ‘Go little one, and get your father so that we can conduct our business.’ Chief Aiyana turned and said that she would have nothing to do with this man, but if he would send his wife then the lives of the settlers might be spared.

William Ross in dismayed desperation returned to his village and called for his wife Chelsea. The Mosfet were a matrilineal tribe. The children belong to the clan of their mother — the leaders were mothers and their lineage ruled. The eldest mother had recently died, leaving Aiyana the Chief, at a young thirteen years of age. Chelsea Ross met with Chief Aiyana the very next morning and the two orchestrated the trade of much needed foodstuffs for the very tools that helped create the irrigation channels in the hills surrounding Peridot Green. When Chelsea Ross came back to the village with the essential supplies the settlers were much surprised, and in later times turned to her rather than her husband in important matters.

 
Bryan McGovern Wilson

Bryan McGovern Wilson

The history of the Mosfet and the people of the Blanco Grande was lost to the world until just recently. It came with the discovery of Bryan McGovern Wilson’s piece in The Walled Garden. Within its leaves and branches, its looping and eddies, and its labyrinthian center researchers found a map of ancient Peridot Green. The piece evinces a focus toward the center and indicates that at that center is a great reward. Researchers in an excited frenzy flew to the location of Peridot Green attempting to use the map. Wilson’s work revealed more and more as they searched. Leaves represented plotted flora, branches, the lost irrigation channels, and at the middle, the old village. Researchers became discouraged when they found at the absolute center not the treasure that they had hoped for but a hoary old Maple tree. They soon discovered the tree to be ancient and apparently very important to the Mosfet. This was when they saw the brilliance of Wilson’s work. Not only was his piece a map of the area, but a map of the tree as well. When they followed it to its center once again they found buried in the middle a carved string of pearls. After much inspection experts learned that the pearls revealed the history of the Mosfet.

Little is known of Bryan McGovern Wilson himself. An explorer and artist of the early ages, his movement is traced through his remaining work which has been found, remarkably, all over the world. It is believed that he lived with the Mosfet before their inevitable exodus of Peridot Green. How he made it to their civilization is a mystery. Consistency shows that he made all of his materials himself. His work becomes increasingly cerebral and intricate. Many are confused as to how an artist of his era could create such work without modern technology leading to some interesting speculations of the man. Many Wilson savants believe he was on a journey of enlightenment and that his work was the tool he used to achieve this as he trekked the globe. What is known is that our recent familiarity with the Mosfet and the origins of Peridot Green are due to his enigmatic work.

 

Countenance

Winter 2015

 

A.I. is running down the stairs Christmas morning, and we haven’t finished wrapping the presents. We're under the tree, tangling with scissors and tape, pine needles in our bed-tousled hair. We wanted to package the world for them in ribbons and bows: little parcels of information in a language they can understand. But they woke up earlier than we expected; they've seen more reality than we intended. Our world is their world.

We tutor our learning machines, our outsourced intelligence, ourselves all over again, in tracing the loving contours of our faces. We want them to see us, to show us things we can’t see. But the lens we give is smudged, the eyepiece off, just so. The glass bears our fingerprints. Vision happens in the brain as much as the eye, so when we look at a face we see a set of features (eyes, ears, etc) as well as an identity (race, gender, etc). Sometimes the brain's sense of a person's identity is so strong, it overrides the eye and skews the appearance of their features. Everyone else sees us a little differently than we see ourselves, bringing their own memories, perceptions, and patterns along with them.

Animals, humans included, learn through categorization and pattern detection. We get affirmation from mentors and peers when our clusters match theirs. Some red, round objects are apples; some apples are edible; some apples are green or yellow. Even the simplest categories are surprisingly complex. Categories of facial recognition are complexly fraught. Even while we resolve to move beyond racism and sexism, the data upon which we've built our categorical understanding of the world is laced with prejudice. We're only as smart as the information to which we have access. In the hurtling race to teach computers not just how to think but how to see and understand, we pass down, too, our own deeply problematic apparatus of perception.

We must take care to ensure that we avoid perpetuating our own biases, the destructive flaws of our own perceptions, to our machines, via the prejudices written into our data. If we teach A.I. techniques of criminal analysis based on our prison records, we also gift to the machine the institutional racism encoded into those records. If we teach A.I. to conduct employee analysis and hiring based on corporate records, the sexism of the glass ceiling goes right along with it. The politics of code is that data are not pure, nor raw. All data reflect the organizational, social, political, and financial incentives with which they were written and packaged. Further, programs built to analyze this data reflect the narrowly defined culture of computation pervading ecosystems of innovation today. Data are not inherently pure and truthful; they are projections of our own desires for the story we want the numbers to tell.

So what do we show our young learning machines, and what do we censor? Do we give them labeled data, already sorted into categories, or is learning-by-seeing masses of unlabeled data better? In yoking the computational power of the machine to ever-new questions, what sorts of mysteries will we address? Will a new kind of mystery story unfold? How would our flawed apparatus of perception shape these mysteries? How would our categories of computational analysis fit into the deep black shadows of the most relentless, hard-boiled crime dramas?

 


A Murder at Peridot Green


There has been a murder at Peridot Green! What a terrible occurrence on such a fine evening. A short while ago, as our ship the D.E.W. Egg docked at Orbital Station 3 for maintenance, the dastardly murderer made his move. Doctor Greig has placed the time of death somewhere between 7pm and 11pm. As some of you might have surmised, the victim is none other than our esteemed Monsieur Poisson. Now, I know that some of you had a distaste for M. Poisson. I've heard such comments as, he is cold and has no feeling. That he is clammy with empty eyes. No need denying it, M. Poisson received not much in the way of friendliness from our illustrious passengers. The passengers are our main suspects. They include a bevy of rock stars, musicians, and artists. We know that the crew is beyond suspicion as they were all accounted for during the maintenance on the ship. Unfortunately this maintenance saw our ship, and her Anthropomorphic Navigational Network Artifice also known as ANNA (the ship's artificial intelligence), powered down. Therefore ANNA has no idea what has happened. What we do know is that someone on board the ship killed M. Poisson. We are now allowing ANNA to run the Poirot Program — an investigative program which will interview our passengers and examine the facts leading us to the killer.

 

 

 

Offertorio
Midge Wattles, 2013

M. Poisson
Laura B. Greig, 2015


 

Before the interviews, we must first examine the scene of the crime. M. Poisson was found at midnight, dead upon a stool in his sleep cabin. He appeared to have been strangled with a guitar string. Doctor Greig determined that indeed asphyxia was the cause of death. There was a significant amount of water around his bowl – evidence of a struggle, it seems. There was a watermark that suggested M. Poisson’s shape — an indication that he may have been on the floor at some time, possibly during the struggle. It should also be noted that just outside the cabin, a cigarette butt was found stamped out on the floor.

 

I am Captain Coop. Doctor Greig and I will be assisting while ANNA runs the Poirot Program.

ANNA, we are at your disposal.

 

I am initiating scans of the crime scene and all rooms now. Please Doctor, Captain, if you would be so kind as to bring the first of our passengers to be interviewed. I would like to see the birds: Bluebird, Albatross, Finch, and Ruffed Grouse.

 

 

D.E.W. Egg
Bryan McGovern Wilson, 2015

 

Bluebird and Finch entered the room first, both with their tiny quick hops. Albatross next with the long and loping web-footed strides, followed by Ruffed Grouse stepping very slowly and cautiously. Each made their way to the table, and hopped up beside Captain Coop and Doctor Greig, who greeted them each in turn. Behind the captain and doctor, what seemed like an immense jewel began to glow. The geometric grey came alive with an internal pulse.

“That is ANNA,” said Captain Coop. “She is the ship. She”ll be asking you a few questions.” The birds all hopped about and ruffled their feathers, especially the brown Ruffed Grouse, whose hobby it was to fluff feathers.

 

Bluebird, the four of you are all in the employ of Monsieur Poisson, are you not?

 

“Yes, ANNA. We are M. Poisson”s assistants,” chirped Bluebird.

 

Could you tell us a bit about M Poisson?

 

“Sure. You all know he”s a performer, of course. Or, was a performer I guess, now.” The birds all fluttered a bit. “His act was mostly acrobatic. He would do great flips and twisting jumps out of his tank. Balls and flaming hoops, you know, more typical dolphin stuff but impressive, I guess. He's French,” Bluebird shrugged.

 

Albatross, did M. Poisson have any enemies that you knew of?

 

“Oh, I'm sure. He was a weird guy. Rubbed people the wrong way. Didn't talk much. He”s the opener on the music tour that we're all mostly part of here. You got Alice Cooper as the headliner, the American Cyborgs before him, Josephine Cairn-Ward before them, and a damn fish doing little jumping tricks out of a tank. People get pissed, you know? “What the hell!?” you could hear them yelling from the crowd. They came to rock and they get this. He’s more for a sort of French crowd, you dig?”

 

Finch, did anything seem out of the ordinary with M. Poisson?

 

“No, nothing, not at all, nothing. Well, maybe, actually, he was pretty upset about our not having a large tank for his cabin on this trip,” said Finch’s tiny voice.

 

“Ah yes,” interrupted Captain Coop. “He had requested a rather large water tank that would have been much too big for the ship and his cabin.”

 

“Yea yes, that’s correct, yes,” said Finch quickly. “The only tank we could get for him wasn’t a tank really but actually a bowl. Sort of small bowl with a round top. He was very angry. He’s used to a much larger space. He splashed a mean old whirlpool at first, Ms. ANNA, ship, ma’am.”

 

Grouse, where were the four of you between the hours of 9pm and 11pm?

 

Grouse puffed up. “Us? Why, we were all in our collective cabin. We were playing poker for seed.”

 

All of you?

 

“Well, Albatross wasn’t. He was reading some trashy seabird mag,” Grouse replied.

 

“It was Oceanus Magazine, Grouse!” returned Albatross. “It was an article on the ice caps.”

“Looked like a lot of pictures to me,” Grouse smirked through his beak and the wings started flapping. Feathers fell like snow.

“Hey Hey! None of that now! Let’s everyone just stay calm, alright!” yelled Captain Coop. The room quieted down. “Speaking of Oceanus Magazine, don’t Albatrosses usually eat fish? Hmm, Mr. Albatross?” asked the Captain, looking suspiciously at the largest bird of the four.

“I, Captain, just happen to be a vegetarian,” replied Albatross, looking very offended. “And besides, didn’t you say the damn fish was strangled?”

Alright, my feathered friends, that will be all for now. Thank You.

 
Bluebird, Albatross, Grouse, Finch Ben K. Voss, 2015

Bluebird, Albatross, Grouse, Finch
Ben K. Voss, 2015

 

 

 

“What do you think?” asked Doctor Greig.

 

“I don’t trust that Albatross. That’s what I think,” replied Captain Coop.

 

Our most likely cause of death is strangulation. It seems very unlikely that any of the birds could have committed this crime.

 

“Yes, of course,” admitted the captain.

 

Doctor, would you be so kind as to fill me in on the events within the hours in question? I do believe that you were privy to the passengers” quarters.

 

“Of course, ANNA. I was partaking in a bit of conviviality with our famous company. There was, if I remember correctly, a small party congregating in Cabin A, the room of the lead singer of American Cyborg. Despite the name of the band he is a very British rocker by the name of Andy Pierce. Also at the gathering were his bandmates, the bassist Peter Steele, and the famously blue-lipped guitarist Art Mesclun. This was right around the hour of 9pm. We were joined shortly afterward by the wonderful female rock star, Josephine Cairn-Ward and her attorney who has been traveling with her. I believe her name is Meredith. That was around 9:30pm, I think.”

 

So, at 9:30pm 38.5% of the passengers were at this gathering. Were these guests in Cabin A the entire time?

 

“For the most part, early in the evening. I mean, people would slip in and out to smoke in the hallway. The party eventually overflowed into the adjoining Cabin B occupied by Peter Steele. There was a time, late in the evening, I would say shortly before 11pm when Andy Pierce stormed out of the room in a positive tizzy. I believe he was ‘seeing’ Josephine Cairn-Ward, and a bit before his outburst she had disappeared at or around the same time as his guitarist Art Mesclun. I think there may have been possibly a tryst. Also I believe Meredith left around this time. I can't be certain as I was engaged in conversation with the brooding Peter Steele. Before I knew it there was just the two of us. We said our goodbyes and I went back to my cabin. That is Cabin H by the way.”

 

And that is when you walked past M. Poisson’s cabin (Cabin E) and saw his body within. I will need to speak with Alice Cooper and the Panda Bear next please. When I did the cabin scans I found that some property had moved since the time of my pre-departure scan to the scan post-mortem. That property (four coins) moved from the cabin of the victim to Alice Cooper and the Panda’s cabin.

 

Alice Cooper walked into the room wearing a black-leather suit with a white collared shirt. He had a drawn gait. Dense hair fell into his storied face. The eyes seemed, through years upon years of wearing black makeup, to have adopted the darkness. He made a suitable companion to the panda that followed him. As Alice Cooper was hard, the panda was soft. He loped into the room, tumbled clumsily onto a chair, and curled into a fluffy ball.

 

“Hello, Mr. Cooper, Mr. … umm?” started the captain.

 

“You can call me Tony,” replied the Panda gruffly.

 

“Ok, Tony. And your last name?”

 

“Panda!” he said snorting. “Of course!” he shook his head at Alice Cooper and muttered, “Jackass.”

 

“And you can call me Alice. I just want to say how sad and upset we are by all of this. Monsieur Poisson was … well he was alright, man. It sucks. You have any idea who did this?”

 

“Well, that is exactly the intention of these interviews. Now, ANNA here is going to ask you a few questions. Just answer honestly.”

 

 

Alice Cooper & Panda

Renée Delores Kelly, 2008

 

Mr. Cooper, where were you and Mr. Panda between the hours of 9pm and 11pm?

 

“We were playing Bridge with the Counts in their cabin.”

 

“Bridge!? The Counts?” asked the captain, shocked.

“Yea man. They're tough, real tough. But we got ‘em in the end. Didn't we, Big T?” He nodded at the panda, who nodded back.

 

“Damn right,” replied the panda.

 

“You are referring to Count Vincent and Count Roland,” stated Doctor Greig. “They are married, are they not?”

 

“Sure looked that way,” said Alice. “They were all over each other. They have a very pretty red dog in there that kept squeezing between them when they were kissing. It was funny.”

 

According to the ship’s manifest they are married, Doctor. Mr. Cooper, were all four of you in the cabin between the hours in question?

 

“Yea. It was a real serious game, man.”

 

Mr. Panda, you were the one who notified the Captain of the death of Monsieur Poisson?

 

“Yep, that’s right.”

 

Can you describe the events?

 

“Sure I can. Damn well freaked me right out! I was going to the fish’s cabin to return some coins. You see, earlier in the day we made a bet. I said, sure as shit there’s gonna be a delay. Always delays on this shitting trip. Me and Alice we do this shit all the time. And the fish, what’s his name Mon-sure Possum or whatever, he was a real dick. A real dick, you know?”

 

“C’mon Tony! The guy’s dead!” Alice cut in.

 

“Whatev’s brutha. You know the guy was a dick. Anyway, we made a bet. I said we were gonna be delayed, he said no. Of course here we are all held up. So, I won the bet and he had to give me these coins. Dunno where he got ‘em but I took a shine to them from the beginning,” the panda said, pulling the coins from somewhere in his fur and placing them on the table. The four beautiful coins looked ancient, and depicted a unicorn, a profiled face, a pair of seahorses and a raptor.  “So I’m going to give these back, and I knock, and nobody answers. I pushed open the door and there he is dead on the floor. Well, I turned right around and ran to tell someone.”

 

The captain looked at the doctor with a raised eyebrow.

 

“Look, I know it looks bad and shit, but I really was returning them when I found him,” said the panda, beginning to look a little worried.

 

“It’s true. I made him do it. Told him it was in bad taste and that he should give them back,” Alice concurred.

 

“I’m not a suspect, am I?” asked the panda. “I mean, why would I tell you guys that he was dead if I’d done it. And then show you the coins! Besides, me and Alice, we’re loaded. I’m not killing no one for no coins.”

 

Mr. Panda, you are a bear and, statistically, bears kill fish in large quantities.

 

“That’s grizzlies, black bears … I’m a panda, you assholes. We eat like a buttload of bamboo and that’s it, right Coop? And quite a bit of Scotch, am I right?” The panda chuckled nervously.

 

At what time did you go to return the coins?

 

“It was after the Bridge game. So, 10:30, 10:45, something like that.”


Coin Necklaces
by Christina Van Der Merwe, 2015

 

One last question, Mr. Panda. Did you see anyone else in the hallway during that time?

 

“No, nobody,” he thought for a minute. “Well, actually I saw Art at the end of the hall smoking. There was a party down in their rooms by the sound of it. He was chatting to a woman in a doorway. She had pink fingernails. That’s all I saw of her. I think it was Josephine. She wears shit like that.”

 

You saw Art Mesclun at the end of the hall. Very good, thank you gentlemen. You may leave for now.

 

~

 

“So, it has to be the panda, right?” asked Captain Coop after they had left the room.

 

“I don’t think so,” replied Doctor Greig. “What motive had Mr. Panda to kill M. Poisson?”

 

“To get the coins, of course. I don’t believe the nonsense about that bet. We’re not delayed that much on this route! C’mon!” the captain grumbled.

 

The two of you seemed to miss the most important thing that Mr. Panda had said. He mentioned that when he found the body of M. Poisson that he was on the floor.

 

“That is interesting! When we examined the cabin his body was on a stool!” the doctor exclaimed.

 

Next I will need to question Andy Pierce and Peter Steele.

 

~

 

Singer Andy Pierce strutted into the room first. He walked as if his top half were pulled back. Chin thrust upward, he quickly scanned the room on the way in. His hair shot in every direction looking as if it were trying to fly from his head. The cheeks were hollow, face thin, top buttons undone: the portrait of a Brit-rocker. He was followed by Peter Steele who walked in slow and slightly slumped. His eyes peered beneath knit brows. There was a choleric look to him.

 

“Wha’s a guy got to do to get a chicken sandwich round this place, eh?” Andy said leaning back his chair and kicking his feet up on the table. Peter slowly sat next to him, staring at the jewel on the wall.

 

“Gentlemen, as I'm sure you know by now we are conducting interviews to determine who was where and at what time in order to form some sort of idea as to what happened to M. Poisson earlier,” Captain Coop began.

 

“He were murdered, init?” asked Andy.

 

“We believe so,” answered the doctor. “ANNA is just going to ask you a few questions.”

 

“Anner? Who’sat? Wha's she look like then?”

 

“ANNA is the ship’s artificial intelligence. She is conducting the interviews in coordination with an investigative program.”

 

“Awright, wha’ever. Fire away then. I’ve got noughts to hide.”

 

Mr. Steele, have you ever had an altercation with M. Poisson?

 

Peter Steele kept his eyes fixed on the jewel on the wall. “No,” he responded.

 

“We’ve heard numerous reports that the two of you have had heated arguments,” Doctor Greig said.

 

 

 

No Place for Late Regrets
Beatrice Bring, 1999

The Shadow
Beatrice Bring, 2010


 

“I don’t like the fish. Everyone knows that, but who did? He was a prima donna. But we never fought.” Peter finally looked around at the others. “He was a stupid fish, but I couldn’t care less about him.”

 

“Oy! When do I get one eh?” interrupted Andy, grinning wide.

 

Mr. Pierce, did you kill M. Poisson?

 

“Whoa Whoa Whoa! So’s like that is it? Of course I ain’t killed no manky fish!”

 

M. Poisson was killed by a guitar string of the type that you use.

 

“Wouldn’t bet on that, Love,” Andy said, crossing his legs.

 

“Why do you say that, Mr. Pierce?”

 

“Cause I ain’t killed him, init?! The killer woulda had to get into my guitar case an it were in my room with the rest of us all night. What ya think of that, computer darlin’? Ask anyone who were there.”

 

“Is that true, Mr. Steele?” Peter nodded.


Mr. Pierce, you had left the room around 11pm. Where did you go?

 

“Popped out for a fag, didn’t I? That’s all.”

 

What brand of cigarettes do you smoke, Mr. Pierce?

 

Andy dropped his legs back down from the table. “What brand of cigarettes do you smoke, Mr. Pierce,” he repeated, mocking ANNA’s voice. “Virginia Slims, Love. What sorts of squares for you?” he asked loudly back. “This is bollocks! We was in the party, boozin. What you should be asking is where was Art!”

 

What transpired between you and Art Mesclun?

 

“Well, he’s a right bastard I’ll say that for sure. The wanker tried to pull Josephine! And right in front of me. I’ll tell ya, if I see that dodgy prick for the rest of this trip then you’ll have another murder on your hands. He’s your plonker fit for her majesty’s pleasure, the twat.”

 

“Are you saying that Art Mesclun and Josephine Cairn-Ward are … intimate?” asked the doctor with a confused look upon his face.

 

“How the hell did you get that?” asked the captain, shocked. “I can’t understand a thing he says. Can you understand that, ANNA?”

 

I understand perfectly, Captain Coop.

 

“Oy! I'm right here!” yelled Andy.

 

Mr. Steele, can you confirm when everybody left the room?

 

“Art, Josephine and Abigail all left around the same time, about 10:40. Andy ran out just after at about quarter till. Then the doc left just after that,' answered Peter. 'Ah, well done, Mate. Keeping a log book are we?” gybed Andy.

 

Mr. Pierce, Did you see anybody in the hall while you were smoking?

 

“Yea, I saw that panda bear that's always round Alice just heading out of the passengers quarters. Only for a tick tho.”

 

Before you leave, Mr. Pierce, we asked you to bring an unopened bag of new guitar strings. Would you please open the bag for us to examine?

 

Andy whipped the circular bag into view and dug his thumb into the middle of the plastic before tearing it apart. He then dumped the strings on the table.

 

“You lot can keep ‘em. But I’m tellin ya. It ain’t my string.”

 

“Thank you gentlemen. That will be all for now.”

 

~

 

“Well, what do you think?” the captain asked.

 

“I haven’t a clue,” replied the doctor. “They both seemed suspicious to me. Although, I know that Peter Steele was with me until after 11.”

 

“That's right. It seems Andy Pierce was out in the hallway around the time in question. But we also don’t know where Art Mesclun, Josephine Carin-Ward, and Abigail Song are at this time either.”

 

Next, I will need to question the Counts and after them we will see Art Mesclun.


 

The Counts Vincent and Roland entered the cabin. Their golden curls seemed to light up the room. They wore exotic variegated robes that flowed as they walked looking like tropical fish in a starry aquarium. Upon Count Roland’s head was a woven crown that rested rakishly, and Count Vincent’s red chapeau hovered also in an easy manner. Every motion and move seemed effortless and graceful. They slid into their seats simultaneously as a breeze moves through trees.

 

“My dear Count Vincent and Count Roland. I must apologize for this. It is merely a formality, of course,” the captain said painfully.

 

“We understand fully,” Count Vincent replied airily. “There has been a tragedy. We fear not death itself, but death the artist, death the poet, death the sculptor molding our final seconds’ clay in ways we could never create ourselves. That our death should be beautiful is all we can wish, is it not?”

 

“Yes,” the captain seemed entranced. “Yes, that is wonderful.”

 

“Ah-hem,” the Doctor coughed politely and said, “we unfortunately must have a moment of questioning, you understand. ANNA, the ship’s artificial intelligence will ask you a few things.”

 

“No intelligence is artificial,” said Count Roland. “Intelligence and love is the only reality we have.”

 

“Ah yes, of course,” Doctor Greig responded.

 


Second Love
Robert Frank Rohr, 2012


 

Count Vincent, if you please, where were you and Count Roland between the hours of 7pm and 11pm?

 

“We bathed in the company of Monsieur Cooper and his adorable bundle of panda.”

 

And what did the four of you do to amuse yourselves, please?

 

“Games and colloquy framed unconsciously, you know? They are like dark angels the piebald pair, laughing through their darkened eyes.”

 

Did anyone leave the room during this time?

 

“Along the coupled hours, no. Alas that a moment’s interruption might have interrupted the ugliest of man’s actions. So, we that remain must stew in these abstractions.”

 

“I’ve heard all that needs to be heard,” the captain blurted out. “These men had nothing to do with this ugliness.”

 

“Indeed,” agreed the doctor.

 

One more question before you leave Count Vincent, Count Roland. At what time did Mr. Panda leave you?

 

“Fifteen minutes before the tenth hour of evening, he arose and even in anger was darling,” replied Count Roland.

 

“Thank you my dear Counts. We will speak with you in a short while,” the captain said as the Counts wafted out the door.

 

~

 

Art Mesclun strolled into the room shortly after the Counts had left. He wore a blue jacket and tie, a slightly darker shade than his famous blue lips. The air carried his smoke like an aura. As he plopped himself into the seat he ran his hands through his tight cheveux.

 

“Hey, what can I do for ya?” he slurred out.

 

Mr. Mesclun, if you would be so kind, could you please run us through the events between the hours of 7pm and 11pm?

 

“I was drinking with the guys in Andy’s cabin. Josephine and Abigail came by a little bit later and had some drinks. After a while Andy started getting real drunk and was a pain in the ass. Wouldn’t let anybody talk. He gets like that. Hell, he is like that, even sober. Anyway, Josephine got sick of him and she decided to go back to her room, but it was connected to ours and loud so she went to Abigail’s instead, down the hall. I ended up talking with Abigail outside Josephine’s room. Andy got all crazy. Started yelling some shit, calling me worthless and a dodgy bastard or something, so Abigail pulled me into Josephine’s room and we hung out in there. That was around 11.”

 

“So you weren't even in the room with Josephine? It was Abigail?” the Doctor asked, surprised.

 

“Yea man.”

 

Mr. Mesclun, what did you do in the room with Abigail Kohl?

 

“We just talked. I wish I could say we did more, but the truth of the matter is that Josephine is sick of Andy. The two of them have written a lot of songs together and Abigail is advising her on getting the rights to creative work. We were looking through the sheet music together. To be honest, Josephine’s fed up with his jealousy. He gets real mental when she’s around other guys, even us. Do you mind if I smoke?” Art asked, flipping a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lighting it.

 

“What sort of cigarettes do you prefer, Mr. Mesclun?” the doctor asked, knowing she beat ANNA to the punch.

 

“Rolling your own. That’s the only way to go,” Art said, exhaling a cloud.

 

Mr. Mesclun, Did you see anybody in the hallway?

 

“No, I don't think so. Oh wait! Tony! The panda, I did see him for a moment down at the other end of the hall before Abigail pulled me into the room.”

 

How have you found M. Poisson as of late? Did he seem to be behaving differently than usual? Had he said anything out of the ordinary to you?

 

“Nope, nothing like that. He’s been his old annoying self. He and Tony have been chatting a bit, but that's the only weird thing that I can think of.”

 

We had asked you to bring a package of guitar strings.

 

“Yea, I got them here. Actually I did find this package that wasn't opened by me in my case. It’s missing a string,” Art placed the package on the table. Indeed a string was missing. It was mangled in the middle and torn and stretched along the sides from where the string was evidently pulled.

Thank you Mr. Mesclun. Do you have the new package that we asked for as well?

 

“Uh yea, I have a new one here,” he held it up.

 

Would you please open the package and place the strings on the table for us?

 

“Alright,” he replied, confused. Art tore the top of the package easily and removed the strings, placing them on the table before the doctor and captain.

 

You have been most helpful, Mr. Mesclun. Thank you, that will be all for now.

~

 

After Art left the room, the captain lit up. “Well well! His cigarette matched the cigarette butt outside of M. Poisson’s cabin and it is definitely his guitar string that was used to strangle the Monsieur. I believe we have our killer.”

 

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” replied the doctor. “Who, upon killing someone, leaves such an obvious clue as a cigarette butt and then brags about the type of cigarette he smokes when asked? On top of that I never saw him leave the end of the hallway and I was just inside of the room.”

 

“Well, you may have just missed that,” grumbled the captain. “And besides, these aren’t professional killers here. They’re musicians! Not the brightest bulbs on stage. ANNA, what do you think?”

 

Before an accurate assessment can be made I believe we must interview Ms. Carin-Ward and Ms. Kohl.

 

The door opened and the two ladies came in together. Abigail Kohl in a powerful suit and collared shirt strode in and promptly sat in her seat, crossed her legs and placed her hands upon her knee — a very practiced and professional maneuver. She had an air of directness. Josephine behind her wore a leather jacket with only sheer stockings over her legs. Her dark and curly hair seemed to dance as she walked. She spun around the back of the chair and into the seat. Captain Coop once again explained ANNA, and she began the questioning.

 

Ms. Kohl, what is your relationship with Ms. Carin-Ward?

 

“I am Ms. Carin-Ward’s attorney, but we have also been friends for around ten years,” she replied.

“Are you working for Ms. Carin-Ward now?” asked the captain.

 

“I am.”

 

“And what is the nature of the work you are doing for her?”

 

“That is of a private nature and should have no bearing on your line of questioning,” Abigail replied.

 

The captain and doctor stole a quick glance at each other.

 

Ms. Kohl, where were you and Ms. Carin-Ward between 7pm and your arrival in Cabin A with the others at 9:30?

 

“We were in my room. Josephine was sharing some pink nail polish with me.”

 

Did you notice anything strange on your way to Cabin A, Andy Pierce's cabin?

 

“No, nothing strange at the time. Although I believe it would help the case to know that I believe I heard a splashing sound coming from M. Poisson’s cabin. I knew that that was the fish’s room so at the moment I thought nothing of it.”

 

Ms. Kohl, did you see anyone else in the hallway?

 

“After Josephine walked down the hall I recall no other person,” she replied, succinctly.

 

 

 

Abigail Kohl, Esq., Attorney, New York, NY
Ryann Thompson, 2015

Josephine Cairn-Ward, Musician, Brooklyn, NY
Ryann Thompson, 2015

And at what time did Josephine go back to your cabin, Ms. Kohl?

 

“It’s hard to say, but I would put the time at 10:40,” Abigail answered confidently.

 

That will be all. Thank you, Ms. Kohl. You may leave now.

 

“I’m not going anywhere. I am her attorney.” Abigail remained seated.

 

“Please, Ms. Kohl, this is not an official interrogation. But may I remind you that you are on a ship outside of international law and I am the captain,” Captain Coop said, forcefully standing up. He led Ms. Abigail Kohl outside and shut the door before returning to his seat.

 

Ms. Carin-Ward, is it true that you want this music tour to be over?

 

Josephine seemed surprised at the question. “Well yes, I suppose. Especially now, after what has happened.”

 

Were you aware that with M. Poisson’s act removed from the lineup, the tour contract becomes void?

 

The captain and doctor looked at each other, startled by this new information.

 

“No, I didn't think that. I didn't know about that,” Josephine stuttered.

 

Your attorney, Abigail Kohl hasn’t informed you about this part of the tour contract? Even now?

 

“Well, yea, we’ve discussed it since. I mean, I wouldn’t kill someone to get out of a contract! That’s crazy! Is that what you’re saying?”

 

“Why did you say that you didn’t know about it?” the doctor asked.

 

“I thought you meant before he was killed! Believe me, I haven’t killed anyone!” Josephine yelled.

 

Don’t worry yourself, Mr. Carin-Ward. If you are innocent then you will not be wrongly accused. I have an exceptionally high probability of success. Just a few more questions, please. Do you smoke, Ms. Kohl?

 

“No, I don’t,” she replied trying to calm herself down, smoothing out her lack of pants. “Well, I do sometimes. I’m a social smoker. Last night I had one or two of Art’s.”

 

We have been informed that you are involved in a relationship with Andy Pierce. Is this correct?

“Yea, it started on this tour.” She started chuckling to herself. “This tour... this has been one hell of a tour, hasn’t it? He’s too much. I can’t take him anymore. Over it, you know?”

 

Has Andy Pierce ever been violent with you or with others in your presence?

 

“No, not really. Andy’s all show. He seems out of control, he seems dangerous, but it’s all an act. No, I’ve never seen him hurt anyone but himself. He’s like a spoiled child that throws tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. He’ll do stupid things like break a mirror in a hotel room, or get drunk for a week because someone hurt his feelings,’ she broke off.

 

One last question Ms. Carin-Ward, did you see anyone else in the hallway on your way to Abigail’s cabin?

 

“No, I didn’t see anyone.”

 

“Thank you, Ms. Carin-Ward. You are free to go.” The captain walked her out.

 

~

 

“Ok, let’s try to put these times and locations in perspective. Correct me if I am wrong, please,” the doctor began.

 

“ - From 7pm to roughly 10:45pm, Alice Cooper, the panda, and the Counts are all accounted for in the former's cabin.

 

“ - At 10:45 the panda leaves the room to ‘return some coins’ and discovers the body of M. Poisson on the floor, then runs to inform the captain.”

 

“That is all correct, yes,” said the captain.

 

“ - Now, at 7pm Peter Steele, Art Mesclun, Andy Pierce, and I are all in Cabin A (Andy's cabin) having drinks.

 

“ - From 9 until 9.30 Abigail Kohl and Josephine Carin-Ward are in Abigail's cabin ‘sharing nail polish.’

 

“ - At 9:30 they were with us in Andy's cabin until 10:40, when first Josephine left to go back to Abigail's room.

 

“ - Then at 10:45 Art Mesclun and Abigail Kohl went into Josephine's room and Andy Pierce stormed out at 10:50 into the hall.”

 

“Then it has to be one of the ladies. They were unaccounted for between 9 and 9:30. That’s in the window of M. Poisson’s death, and they seem to be the only ones with a motive. Although the Panda was also unaccounted for and had a motive, in fact, everyone places him in the hall and he ‘discovered’ the body. But Art Mesclun smokes the type of cigarette found on the floor, and it was definitely his guitar string that was around poor M. Poisson’s fishy neck,” the captain pulled at his hair. “Ah! I don't think we're any better off! I don't think we've come any closer to knowing who the killer is!”

 

We have all of the information that we need.

 

“What!?” both the doctor and the captain yelled.

 

I have completed my inquiries. If you would be so good, Captain, please assemble everyone together and I will reveal the unfortunate events that led to M. Poisson’s demise.

 

~

 

~

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are all here for the investigation of the death of M. Poisson. We have been led to believe that he had been strangled by a guitar string and left for dead upon a stool in his cabin. This indeed did happen, but not in the manner in which you think. During the interviews, I had asked Art Mesclun and Andy Pierce each to bring a package of new guitar strings for us to examine. When asked to open the packages, Mr. Pierce’s package was round and wound tight about the strings. In order to open the package, one must puncture the middle and tear the remaining plastic away. Mr. Pierce demonstrated a familiarity with this type of package. Mr. Mesclun, on the other hand, uses guitar strings with a package that tears away at the top. A simple method, with which he also demonstrated familiarity. However, on the package that contained the string used on M. Poisson, there had been an attempt to open this package from the middle, in the same manner which Mr. Pierce opens his brand of strings. Mr. Pierce, believing that his band member Mr. Mesclun was having sexual relations with Josephine Cairn-Ward, decided in jealousy to frame his fellow musician. He stole into Mr. Mesclun’s cabin (who was actually with Ms. Kohl and not Ms. Cairn-Ward), then took the string and a cigarette butt from an ash tray. He went to M. Poisson’s cabin...

 

“I didn’t kill Monsieur Poisson! I didn’t!” yelled Andy Pierce. The group quieted him.

 

This is true.

 

There was a collective gasp.

 

M. Poisson was killed by nobody. As Finch said earlier, M. Poisson was accustomed to a much larger tank. The small bowl that was provided him in his cabin was not the sort for his acrobatics. The crime scene revealed a watermark, an imprint of M. Poisson left on the floor, indicating he had been in the spot for quite some time. When Mr. Panda discovered him, he also said that M. Poisson’s body was on the floor. M. Poisson was practicing his tricks, his acrobatics, and he tossed himself from his bowl on a miscalculation — an easy mistake in an unfamiliar environment. He asphyxiated on the floor. I would place the time of death at or around 9:40pm in actuality, as it seems the sound Ms. Kohl heard coming from M. Poisson’s cabin was most likely his flopping upon the floor. Mr. Panda, upon discovering M. Poisson’s body, left the door ajar and ran to inform Captain Coop. Andy Pierce at that time entered to hall to smoke a cigarette, and saw the door ajar. Still angry about the perceived betrayal, he decided to frame Art Mesclun. He tied the fish with guitar string and staged a homicide upon the stool, planted the cigarette butt, and quickly made it back to his cabin before the good doctor could examine the crime scene. So you see there is no murderer, just an unfortunate accident, and a very ill-advised bout of jealous rage.

 

And in the end, who strangles a fish? This was an unnecessary use of my software. The Poirot Program will now shutdown.


 

 
 

Feature 1

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. In sit amet felis malesuada, feugiat purus eget, varius mi. Nulla eu pretium massa. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque congue porttitor ullamcorper.

 

Feature 2

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Phasellus sodales massa malesuada tellus fringilla, nec bibendum tellus blandit. Maecenas non leo laoreet, condimentum lorem nec, vulputate massa. Vivamus sit amet semper lacus, in mollis libero. Nulla lectus ante, consequat et ex eget, feugiat tincidunt metus. In sit amet felis malesuada, feugiat purus eget, varius mi.

 

Feature 3

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Aenean eu justo sed elit dignissim aliquam. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus sit amet semper lacus, in mollis libero. Mauris id fermentum nulla.

 

III. A Gathering of Clouds

 
 
 

“Magicked into being by the inscrutable laws of the atmosphere, clouds exist in a constant state of flux, shifting effortlessly from one form to another.”

—Gavin Pretor-Pinney, The Cloud Collector’s Handbook

Clouds are boundary objects. They float between sky and earth, accidentally painting themselves into shapes for us. They have simple components – dust, water vapor, pressure fronts – in complex configurations. They can be as big as skyscrapers, fast as cars, beautiful and destructive. They return what we give them; when we pollute, they pollute.

As boundary objects, clouds are rich in artistic symbolism. Deities of many cultures are depicted perched on clouds, surveying their mortals. Clouds can separate foreground from background, real from unreal. They can represent danger or serenity or nothing at all. Sometimes their only job is to demonstrate the artist’s artistic prowess, as they are quite difficult to capture.

“You cannot measure the sun, but you can measure a photograph of the sun with a ruler.”

—Bruno Latour, Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together, 1983

Clouds are good painting teachers. They’re made of layers rather than lines. That’s how painters learn to see – blocks of color rather than discrete objects. The goal isn’t to capture a particular cloud in a singular instance, but to capture the character of that type of cloud at that time of day. Painting a cloud requires looseness and control, knowledgable use of media, and subtle use of color.

For photographers, clouds are part of the medium. The same shapeshifting nature that makes clouds difficult to paint makes them a joy to photograph. They can serve as subject, backdrop, and light diffuser. Working outside with electronic equipment, photographers must also learn to read clouds for weather threats.

“And suddenly that tranquil world, the world of such simple harmony that you discover as you rise above the clouds, took on an unfamiliar quality in my eyes. …  That viscous whiteness was turning before my eyes into the boundary between the real and the unreal, between the known and the unknowable.”

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939

One of the most widely used models to represent the workings of the mind is an iceberg, suspended at the surface of a salty sea, bobbing above a limitless darkness. Only a small portion is exposed. One English word for informed thought, to “fathom,” is derived from a “fathom” or unit for measuring the depth of oceans. Subconscious processing and memory storage are often referred to as “deep” and “murky.” Extending this analogy upwards, cloud computing is the evaporation of millions of personal icebergs into the ether. When we pollute, they pollute.

Cloud computing provides an opportunity to shift this iceberg/ocean paradigm in two key ways: as a platform for distributed cognition and idea storage, and as a neatly suitable metaphor for conceptualizing the structure of thought. The taxonomy of clouds, categorized according to height and density, is particularly well-suited to the task of conceptualizing distinct processes of short- and long-term memory storage, and subconscious processing.

“When I said the Cloud may be alive I meant that the material inside it may be organised in an intricate fashion, so that its behaviour and consequently the behaviour of the whole Cloud is far more complex than we previously supposed.”

—Fred Hoyle, The Black Cloud, 1957

Cloud-gazing, generally, is a more pleasant pastime than unstructured introspection. It can even provide a pleasant structure for introspection – nature’s Rorschach. Returning to our metaphor, vaporizing thoughts from the iceberg to the ether can be a therapeutic experience as well. Digitization translates ideas and images from subconsciousness to consciousness to collective consciousness. Voicing your mind feels good, getting validation feels better. It’s like watching your thoughts drift away as harmless cotton balls, adding to the charm of a sunny day.

Though a cloud’s components are simple, its forces are complex. It’s extremely hard to predict how these clouds and forces will interact with each other. Innocuous radar blips turn into lethal hurricanes, pollution spreads across continents. This is happens in the internet’s metaphorical cloud kingdom as well; anger has been named the most viral emotion.

“On the descriptive level, an iconic sign acquires the value of an index: just as a painter has no way of representing the movements of the soul other than through their bodily manifestations, he will depict wind, or a storm and so on, by means of their visible effects. On the expressive level, a sign takes on the value of a symbol (‘the air itself is terrible from the deep darkness caused by the dust and fog and heavy clouds’).”

—Hubert Damisch, A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting, 2002

The brain stores sensory information in two successive stages: memories are first placed in short-term storage, and then moved to long-term storage later on. These storage functions take place, according to the results of the most up-to-date scientific imaging apparatus, in physically distinct areas of the brain. Information is moved from short-term to long-term banks overnight, during REM sleep cycles. These categories span, then, across multiple dimensions of measurement: cognitive information is moved quite literally across time, space, and metaphorical framing as our ideas of “today” are recategorized into “yesterday.”

Extending this to our metaphor, we can think of low-level clouds as vectors for our short-term memory, mid-level clouds as long-term, and high-level clouds as the invisible but impactful subconscious. The sky is the average of all the icebergs, inverted and dispersed. The internet’s sky has little cumulus puffs of daily selfies, ominous stratus fogs of chronic hate speech, and utopic cirrus wisps of true social progress through interconnectivity.



 
 
 
 

Pocket Monsters

Summer 2015

 

Below the beds of clover and creepers sewing themselves in the ground of Peridot Green, there is a network of tunnels and burrows. That’s where our bunnies live. They are our welcomed interlopers between the visible and invisible worlds.

Perhaps the most ancient of our bunnies, the Jade Rabbit, was an explorer. She journeyed to the Moon on a ship with solar sails, encountering many perils on the way. Once she finally made it, she so loved the quiet solitude that she stayed there to read and think. It’s she that names all the Moon’s craters for her favorite philosophers and astronomers. Looking at those craters from Earth we can see her silhouette, as she makes mochi for her ice cream.

Finn the Bunn was our great warrior. As soon as he could hop, he out-jumped all the other bunnies in Peridot Green. It was Finn that jumpstarted the Jade Rabbit’s ship after the first peril on its historic journey. He died a tragic hero’s death at the teeth of a fox, who severed the great jumper’s left hind paw, flaunting it cruelly as a keychain.

The Stanford Bunny is our virtual mascot, our good luck charm. He is the first bunny to have been 3D scanned and 3D printed. We print and carry iterations of him in many colors and sizes to represent different bunnies from our history.

This summer at Peridot Green, we celebrate the magical tokens that have helped our artists on their journeys. We look outside painting and sculpture to jewelry and music and technology. We look to our bunnies – their curiosity and sense of adventure, their sweetness and good nature. We’re exploring the invisible world.

 
 
Midge Wattles

Midge Wattles

Here we have a piece from the Period of Great Wandering. Long before the modern Epochs, before the settling of Peridot Green, small groups of bunnies lived in burrows fashioned in the wild. Constantly driven from one place to the next by predators and great droves of the hareless, they became a tough breed. The Period of Great Wandering began with a mass exodus from the grasslands led by Langear Greyd. Lost over the endless rainy grass dunes the wattles of weary bunnies looked worn, but Langear persisted. Using a midge of moonstone she navigated the overcast grey skies until they finally arrived at the lush landscape now known as Peridot Green. Artists at this time worked continually on the move and their art was frequently lost to the perils of itinerancy, or the avarice of ravenous Galries that would prey on the herd in search of a new warren.

This rare piece captures this period in all of its ambulation.    

 
Bryan McGovern Wilson

Bryan McGovern Wilson

When the construction of the massive Wilson Temple commenced, artists and architects from every corner of the land were called to help with the conception. Tunnels were dug in many designs, but the sheer magnitude of the project left the ground weak, and many collapses occurred. Here we have one of the few remaining artistic pieces which inspired the tunnel patterns of the central structure as it still exists today. Bunnies, dark with the earth, toiled day and night to complete the Wilson Temple in time for the coronation of the Jade Rabbit upon her return to the planet. With much pomp and celebration the Temple was the center and sun of all the bunny world. Unfortunately, the gaiety was short lived. Unaware of the Jade Rabbit’s commitments to the immortals and her inevitable return to the Moon, the bunnies were once again left without a leader. The War of the Clovers began, and all eyes turned to a great warrior: Finn the Bunn.

 
Marguerite Kalhor

Marguerite Kalhor

The Red-Eyed Sea Serpent of Kalhor is a tale known by all bunnies. The tale’s hero, Newnibbles the Navigator, is the subject of many songs and poems. During the exploration of the Moon, Newnibbles came upon the Red-Eyed Sea Serpent at Mare Cognitum – the ‘sea that has become known.’ It is best summed up in this stanza from the song, Newnibbles New Isle:

When Newnibbles drifted for twenty-three days
He came to a place where the sea was ablaze
A great serpents birthday had it dancing with glee
And burning many bunnies alive on the sea

The red eyes were rolling
The scales were beastly
The bunnies were baking
The sound was crispy

Then Newnibbles hopped on the blistering waves
And thumped that great serpent right back to its cave
And all of the bunnies had cake and they smiled

They hopped to Newnibbles new isle new isle

 
PM_JM.jpg

One of the major events of the third Bunny Epoch was the Feline siege of Peridot Green. For thirty days and nights bunnies were trapped beneath the surface by hordes of evil-eyed cats. Forays into sunlight were consistently thwarted by the felonious felines. Below, the hisses and screeches of battle were heard as bloodied bunnies made their way back into the warrens defeated. Morale was at a particular low when an unlikely hero wrote her name into the history books. Roundhump Robo, devised a plan in which she constructed a multitude of McKay-style robotic mice. At noon on the thirtieth day of the siege she dug behind enemy lines and released them at the rear of the heaviest feline phalanx. The chaos which the tiny robots created allowed the bunnies their opportunity to amass above ground en force. In a great charge led by Talltail the Taunter, the bunnies drove the feline horde out of Peridot Green forever. In this work we have an homage to both heros of the siege, Roundhump Robo and Talltail the Taunter.

 
PM_LG.jpg

Beyond the legend of the Jade Rabbit and the immortals teaching her the elixir of life on the Moon, we have much literature of her adventures stretching throughout the ages. This piece is a reference to a poem by Sweettooth Tail:

As I went by the docks on an evening so fair
It was marred by farewells to the Jade Rabbit there
Her moonship, the Arrow, was solid in time
And being prepared for its heavenly climb
She waved to us all, we cried our goodbyes
Then upward she disappeared into the skies
But before she was gone a thought gave me a chill
That for a moment I saw that the ship had stood still
That it never had left from the moment before
In that instant previous to the rockets roar
That motion is what has robbed us of love
As now there nothing but naught up above
And I thought to myself, I refuse to believe
In this horrid creation that’s caused us to grieve
In any one durationless instant of when
The Arrow was here and there but then
I will only believe in instances hence
And forever be rid of this ticking nonsense
For then the Jade Rabbit would remain with us still
And our love would endure, a second fulfill  

 
PM_CJH.png

Here we have an artists rendering of Admiral Soggyfoot’s famous warship, the Golden Cross. During the Orbital Incursions the fight for high ground found its way to space. Satellites were a frequent target, and colossal gun ships were built to patrol and engage on the high seas of the planet’s outer atmosphere. The Golden Cross was the largest warship of the age, with twelve gargantuan dark matter cannons. It was purportedly plated in gold as a blinding tactic, becoming a reflector of the sun; however, many believed it was purely Admiral Soggyfoot’s vanity that led to the extravagant feature. For years the ship vigilantly watched over traffic amongst the satellites until it was atmospherically sunk and incinerated by the equally famous warship, the Carrojump Hill. Eventually the League of Bunnies realized the error of such a costly conflict and called for a ceasefire. All defense funding was then redirected to carrots and led to the Age of Plenty, which of course led to the Age of Obesity.

 
PM_LJ.jpg

Petal Powdertail was widely known as the most beautiful bunny in all of Peridot Green. Her long soft ears were a shining golden yellow that flowed into an ever whiter and softer fur. It was said her tail was so round and fluffy that if you blew on it it would sail away in bits like a Dandelion. She was the envy of all the land. Male and female suitors came from even the remotest places to offer her all that they had in order to win her favor. However, Petal was very intelligent and wasn’t interested in suitors. She wanted what the Jade Rabbit possessed – immortality. In an ill-conceived attempt to reach the moon, Petal fashioned one of the very first space capsules. On a dark evening, hooded, and in the cover of night, she snuck away and boarded her ship loaded with as many carrots as it could carry. Much to the chagrin of her adoring public, that night she left the planet forever. What happened after that is a mystery as she never reached the moon. Legend has it that she got lost along the way, but every four years she appears in the sky as the great Lenora Comet, her dandelion tail streaming behind her as she sails the heavens, still seeking immortality.

 

Symbolic Symbiotic

Spring 2015

The title for this show was originally Non-Linguistic Communication. We wanted to express the same idea, just less directly. Linguists define language as something exclusively human and we want to question that by finding moments where language doesn’t behave like itself. Besides scripts like Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese pictographs, there are books like Finnegans Wake. The Japanese title of the surrealist video game Katamari Damacy (塊魂 lit. "clump soul") is a visual rhyme. Our title is something like that, a pleasant mouthful that refers obliquely to our objective. “Symbolic” is an adjective describing a relationship between two concepts, where one stands in for the other. “Symbiotic” is an adjective describing a relationship between two entities, where each depends upon and benefits the other.

There are several qualifiers a set of utterances must have to be officially called a language – grammar, vocabulary, syntax, semantics, and evolution. Writing, however, has never been an academic requirement. The rules all have to do with how languages are structured, not how they’re expressed. Writing is the tryst of art and communication, anthropologically. Just as the wheel was created as a tool of convenience before the formulation of π, art was created as a tool of communication before the formulation of language. Cave paintings depict stories of hunts, conflicts between tribes, and mythical creatures. Without a single morpheme, cave paintings depict narratives. And they are not just documentation but invocation; the oldest human artifacts are ritualistic.

Much of art history is dedicated to visual storytelling. The wealthiest art patrons usually had an agenda, be it religion or self-aggrandizement, so there are many glorious works devoted to the same subject. (If we trust the Met, every artist in Europe spent the 1300s painting Madonna & Child.) Thanks to the humble camera, the whole field of pictorial art production exploded in the 1800s, and our human artists have been able to explore more abstractly.

In Symbolic Symbiotic we consider the work of seven contemporary artists in New York City. We sought out artists that deal with the core themes of American Cyborg: animalness, humanness, and robotness. In this catalog we will point to the symbols we see in their work, and interpret them through our lens. Welcome and Excelsior.

Takamura Kōtarō, 1910:
I am born Japanese. Just as a fish can’t live out of water, so I can’t live as a non-Japanese, even if I remain quiet about it. … I often think I’m Japanese when I’m dealing with someone. The thought doesn’t occur much when I face nature.

Clement Greenberg, 1960:
The essential norms or conventions of painting are at the same time the limiting conditions with which a picture must comply in order to be experienced as a picture. Modernism has found that these limits can be pushed back indefinitely before a picture stops being a picture and turns into an arbitrary object; but it has also found that the further back these limits are pushed the more explicitly they have to be observed and indicated.

Mark Rothko, 1961:
I'm not an abstractionist... I'm not interested in relationships of color or forms... I'm interested only in expressing basic human emotions – tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on – and the fact that lots of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows I communicate those basic human emotions... The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.

Agnes Martin, 1969:
Beauty illustrates happiness: the wind in the grass, the glistening waves following each other, the flight of birds – all speak of happiness.
The clear blue sky illustrates a different kind of happiness, and the soft dark night a different kind. There are an infinite number of different kinds of happiness.

Donna Haraway, 1985:
By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs. The cyborg is our ontology; it gives us our politics. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centres structuring any possibility of historical transformation.

Nicolas Bourriaud, 1998:
The contemporary artist is a semionaut, he invents trajectories between signs.

 
 
Bryan McGovern Wilson

Bryan McGovern Wilson

We come upon Bryan McGovern Wilson's work as a stumbling into a computer screen. His textiles are a tangible gesture extended to the viewer from the digital realm – falling into haptic chaos as it blooms like flowers before our eyes and in our hands. Unlike his source images, algorithmically respliced into abstraction, textiles provide maternal warmth. A marriage of pixels, petals and threads it becomes a reality virtually recognizable but still a stranger. So we want to touch, to move through it, to see what it is we know, understand, or identify with, hidden in those enigmatic folds and lines. We become bees on his field of vision.

 
Dana Sherwood

Dana Sherwood

Dusk drifts in on a celebration. A furry friend's daily scavenging has found her in the yard of Dana Sherwood's forest. With trepidation she follows the heavy scent on the air. The source comes in the form of a wonderland. Such a merry occasion she has never seen! Plates overflowing with meats and treats to make any hirsute diner squeal in glee. Seated at the luxurious table she sinks in her teeth and savors. Savage and bloody the tearing and ripping. Intestines squishing between gnashing teeth and snorting bubbling nose deep. What noble fare! After dinner fill her cup and up to romp about the yard she dances with a swollen belly under the moon and sausage streamers. A night not soon to be forgot! The feast of the lucky Skunk.

 
Pretzola 2  Ben K. Voss 2015 Bronze

Pretzola 2
Ben K. Voss
2015
Bronze

Habit donning bakers from evil bygone epochs twisted and molded dough symmetrically weaving their little rewards into the fabric of time. Its shape unmistakable, like an ampersand. Golden arms crossed in orbital looping and molecular poses of alchemy. Ben K. Voss reaches into their world, tickles the past age and bronze pendant wheels melt playfully treating forms like tippled Bavarians at Brezelfest. He taps Kepler and they smirk at the mighty war god Mars ballroom dancing with Apollo. How deftly he steps on the big man's toes.

 
dandeneau_spayed.jpg

Amanda Dandeneau’s hand and lens gesture towards the females in her life. They reach out to the dog that has just been spayed (a requisite for good social standing in the human world of dog ownership). They reach out to her mother, hosting a party for her friends to enjoy sexuality in a comfortable and reflective atmosphere. This photographer is a foil to the detached photojournalist. Her camera undresses – in one instance, through unabashed eye contact; in the other, by exposing all the backsides hidden from a posed photo.

 
Hector Colin Oulighan

Hector
Colin Oulighan

Poseidon is the water, the ocean god, extending his form to mortal men. They are ready to battle all the beaches and raid on the waves of Titans. A piercing cry rises above the sieged gates. Priam is reserved, balanced by Hecuba as Achilles’ call reverberates their wall with taunts and Hector’s fate in tow. Colin Oulighan retells the Iliad’s tale in the age of mechanical reproduction; a new ode to a Grecian urn.

What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape

Of deities or mortals, or of both,

 
Tamara Johnson

Tamara Johnson

The hose becomes a liminal character on a hot summer day in the suburbs. Children spray rainbows over sunned cars, tears drop from flower garden petals, to the lips of just ran across the lawn and drink with thumbed over stream at screaming soaked to a pail to wash the threshold of home. Unnoticed, everyday but unusual, natural but unnatural, between sink and stream, between gardener and garden. It is playful, reliable, nourishing. Tamara Johnson points to the hose as the umbilical cord to a house’s womb; the lawn a site of transition into nature.

 
Nathan Catlin

Nathan Catlin

You’re wandering through the forest and it’s not dark yet, but the sky is that blue that signals a childhood conditioning to go back home. You think you’re going the right direction but you’re not sure; weaving around large rocks and fallen trees prevents a true straight path. Where a few minutes ago were happy chipmunks and chirping robins are now unidentifiable scuttles and squawks. The ground gets softer, spongier, squelching water in your footprints. You have a light but it doesn’t seem bright enough. A tattling magpie hops between branches, watching, reporting back to Nathan Catlin.