One Rong View

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ashes and Snow

Ashes and Snow is possibly one of the most exceptional curatorial efforts I've experienced.

Fred and I went to see the exhibition which is housed in the Nomadic Museum, currently at the Santa Monica Pier. It's a 56 000 sq ft temporary structure designed by renowned architect Shigeru Ban. The building itself is pretty cool: Functional, visually interesting and conceptually impressive. Things like that make me happy.

From the little I'd read about Ashes and Snow in the papers, I was expecting a large format photography show. You, know, on white walls and stuff, conventional gallery-show type presentation. I thought it was going to be all about the photographs.

Well, actually, it is about the photographs... you really have to see them for yourself.

The setup of this exhibition accomplishes what few installations can. It's like discovering this door and then wondering into an ethereal space that is part warehouse, part sacred enclave and then you feel it taking over your entire realm of consciousness.

Approaching the Nomedic Museum, I hear sound coming out from it and I think, "sounds like a convention or a Cirque du Soleil performance or something going on in there." Step into the building and you have to let your eyes adjust to the warm dimness. Then you realize that sound is part of the exhibition. I can only describe it as haunting. In what sense... probably depends on the individual experiencing it.

The context in which the audience is made to take in the photographic imagery is totally immersive. It just encompasses you and trasports you and you cannot help but be moved when you look at the photos because the imagery presented, is itself so strong.

As we walk I notice a large screen on the back wall. A small congregation of audience watches a film that looks like what the photographs might be if they were, well, on moving media rather than being stills. It's like watching life in slow mo. Then you realize, it is slow mo. Then you realize that it's quite untrite and very beautiful. The production quality is top notch.

The show transitions to the next space which is essentially a screening room domintated by an even larger screen with a bigger audience. That, with the imagery, I experienced vastness.

The footage was pretty amazing. Watching the whales and the solitary guy swimming, I wondered when the guy would finally go up for air... or when he'd begin to realize that he's in the middle of nowhere, in the ocean, with a bunch of humongus sperm whales and start panicking. Of course none of those things happened. That's not quite the point. Still, Fred and I wondered... hehe.

Silliness aside, it's very emotional in an understated sort of way. You really just watch in awe.

Being curious about what others might have gotten out of Ashes and Snow. I googled... and found this Amardeep guy's review which baffles me. Especially if this person is really an assistant English teacher as claims. Either it's a gag entry, which is impressively convincing, or Amardeep is more into the strictly technical sort of English.

I shall let the man behind the show have the last word.
“In exploring the shared language and poetic sensibilities of all animals, I am working towards rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people lived in harmony with animals. The images depict a world that is without beginning or end, here or there, past or present.”
—Gregory Colbert, Creator of Ashes and Snow

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I am so amazing

Some real facts about the fabulous me.

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Zhaorong

  1. You would have to dig through four thousand kilometres of zhaorong to reach the earth's core.
  2. More people are killed by zhaorong each year than die in aeroplane accidents.
  3. Without its lining of zhaorong, your stomach would digest itself.
  4. Zhaorong can give birth ten days after being born, and is born pregnant!
  5. Zhaorong was first discovered by Alexander the Great in India, and introduced to Europe on his return.
  6. Zhaorong has often been found swimming miles from shore in the Indian Ocean.
  7. In Vermont, the ratio of cows to zhaorong is 10:1.
  8. Oranges, lemons, watermelons, pineapples and zhaorong are all berries!
  9. Only one person in two billion will live to be zhaorong!
  10. The horns of zhaorong are made entirely from hair.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Hello? Where's my teleportation device?

Confession. I am guilty of miserly behaviour at the expense of the greater good of mankind. Ok... maybe not to that extend, but what do you call making a visiting friend take something to another friend, 10 billion miles around our glorious Earth, all in a bid to save a couple of dollars plus change?

That happened in early Jan and friend who lives far far away just received the thing. "Just," meaning, like, maybe within the last 48hrs, I think. What's worse... it was friend who lives far far away's birthday present. I can be such an idiot sometimes.

Note to self: in future, just pay the postal workers and send the damn (small and tiny and not heavy at all) thing through mail. That, or make sure to clarify with person who will be entrusted with stuff whether stuff will be able to reach desired destination within desired amount of time and then make neccessary arrrangements.

To think I thought I was being sooooo clever. Visiting friend told me she'd be travelling a bit more before returning to native island with lots of tall bulildings. (Yup, we abandoned tribalism a long time ago cos the men got tired of seeing boobs all day long. And by we, I really mean the indigenous people. Any way, where was I?) Hmm... I thought, since she mentioed something about having 10 days to spare before going to Chicago somewhere in our conversations, my brain (who idiotically thought that just by virtue of wanting thing to be magically in friend who lives far far away's hands instantaneously) decided that visiting friend will be breathing island air within 2 weeks max. WRONG! Brain totally overlooked the fact that visiting friend had what one would call a life. Besides, even if visiting friend were to be home in the assumed 2 weeks, who in their right mind would think she'd be delivering the thing the minute the plane lands. Yah, I know... what the hell, brain, what the hell?

On the up side, I did deprive the man some extra dollars in earnings in Jan. On the down side, it really didn't matter, cos the man probably conveniently "let go" some workers and gave himself a raise accordingly, to make up for that loss.
Lionel, you might be interested in this.
Williamson, Judith. 1986. Consuming Passions: The dynamics of popular culture. Marion Boyars Publishers

I'm not sure it's directly relavent to your thesis. Heck, I'm not even sure what your paper's really about. It made me think of your work for some reason so here I am.

There are really interesting points and angles in this collection of writings that made me go, "Wow, this is true and I'd never think to look at this from this point of view."

Some of the social context the author referenced might be a little outdated but the discussions still hold. Lots of Feminist themes. I'm not really a women's studies person so I can't say if the stuff here's "mainstream" women's studies or otherwise.

I picked up this book cos it was referenced when I was reading up on advertising. I was pretty suprised by it cos I was expecting different things.

In any case, it makes for good light reading.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Drive Less, Live Longer & Better

Recent studies by the Rong Institute of Health have shown repeatedly, the indisputable results that the quality of life is inversely proportionate to the amount you drive. The less you drive, the more you are able to enjoy life.

In other news, today I flipped someone off while driving, proving that driving in LA causes stress which in turn, increases chances of all sorts of meaningless, for-nothing crap.

Usually Fred does it, so I think it might have been my first time ever. It was the last straw. And Fred wasn't there to do it, hence, I didn't need to stop Fred from causing trouble, so the only thing left to do was... dare I say, me myself doing it. Stupid jackasses that don't know how to operate their vehicles/use public roads.

Strike 1.
We were getting Fred a sandwich from Quizno's.
In a very busy parking lot where 10 billion people were trying to not only snag a space for themselves, but were also playing person-who-parks-closest-to-wherever-they're-going-wins. (The only thing you win by the way, is a fat ass by supplimenting your already sedentary lifestyle with sitting in your car rather than walk the 5 extra ft to your destination.) And just to spice things up, everyone was there. Everyone and their ginormous SUV. Especially the expensive ones.

I found an appropriate place to let Fred out to get his food while I ventured into the asshole world (there really isn't a more succinct way of putting it) of competitive parking.

I was on my way to the farthest end where no one parks. Vehicle in front of mine... man in champagne colored sadan was letting wife, who was gathering her 10 billion things from her seat, out of car in front of Barnes&Noble, holding up traffic. Ok, nothing wrong with that, except for the guy behind me honking like it's my fault. Guy behind me drives around us and speeds away obviously annoyed. Because it's a relatively tight parking lot, speedyklis had to slam on his brakes at the end of the line to avoid smashing into assorted parked cars.

Meanwhile, I spot a car backing out of his spot to my left up ahead. Lucky me! Or so I thought... and you can guess what happened next. I pull forward, swung left around champagne sedan and put on my blinker, indicating that I got dips on the spot, and then I wait patiently for leaving car to get out safely. Me being me, gave leaving car lots of space to back out.

Before I could even blink, champagne sedan was in the my parking spot. Excuse me, but while your wife was trying to perfect the feng shui in her handbag, I already claimed the parking spot! Grrrrrr.

Strike 2.
Barely seconds later. Navigating a turn to get to the next row, a car wants to back out. Ok... naturally, I let them and I give them space, as a result, all hell broke loose. Cars started to do crazy shit, as if to punish me for being considerate. I got stuck in the middle of like 5 cars, some trying to snatch the empty spot, some tryin to go around one another. What the hell, people. If I didn't know better, I'd think all of them got a call at that very moment (As indicated by the cell phones stuck to their faces) informing them that their moms were dying and they needed to rush to the hospital.

Just for the record, after those 2 episodes, I thought, surely, I've EARNED myself a good parking spot. So I changed course and drove towards Quizno's. Sure enough, I got the rockstar spot. Don't you just love it when life is fair.

There're strikes 3, 4 and 5 (Strike 5 was when I had enough.) but I'm bored taking about moron drivers.

I shall talk about a piece of advice that Marc gave me that I never really needed or understood till having to deal with LA traffic.

Marc's a friend from college. He used to work at the paper with me. He's a really great guy. Coincidentally, he was from California. One day, he gave me a ride. He's a NOT a reckless driver, but I must say, he's a bit of a... yup, he said it himself... an agressive driver. The most agressive driver I've ever been a passanger of. But in a non-life-threatening, good way.

When Marc was making a particularly risky turn, I expressed my disapproval. Marc offered," You can't just wait there all day, can you? You need to analyse it and be a little aggressive about it and just go."

I think what Marc meant was I should be less of a pushover. Funny... the random things I remember. Great advice. Thanks Marc.