Well, this has indeed been a weekend of Art and Drama (*badum-bum*).

Yesterday a group of us went to MassMOCA to see Tripod Vs The Dragon. Becca, Jason, [livejournal.com profile] sandrylene and I went ahead of the rest to check out the museum prior to the show. The extended drive with three people with whom I wasn't too well acquainted proved quite fun, with everyone gelling remarkably well. In fact, partway through we realized that everyone in the car was veggie so, capitalizing upon this was a rare opportunity, immediately got on gmaps trying to find the hippiest, most carnivore-withering eatery in the area. We ended up going to a place called, I kid you not, Tofu A Go-Go, in the charming town of Greenfield, MA. Well, trying to go there, at least. Sadly, the place turned out to be closed, so we ended up at Thai instead. A worthwhile outing nonetheless. Greenfield is a little mountain towns with an old-fashioned ice cream parlour and earthy-crunchy grocery coop across the street from an independent video game store. My kinda place.

Anyway, we went on to the museum and had time to see the whole thing. There were definite high points, but on the whole it didn't do much to change my feelings about modern art. So much of it seems all inspiration and no perspiration... and much of the inspiration didn't seem particularly inspired either. I mean, there was one room full of weird ambient music that was carpeted with artificial grass, scattered with potted plastic plants, against one of which was laid an ordinary electric fan. Hung from the ceiling were a couple of crude shapes that might have been supposed to be animal parts with speakers in them playing slightly different weird ambient music. If it had been set up as a scene in a larp I might have been mildly impressed.

Then again, there were a few things that I really dug. The first piece that really struck me was called "A Little Death", by Sam Taylor Wood. It was a time-lapse video of a rabbit being eaten by maggots; not much technically, but morbidly fascinating aesthetically. It was part curiosity, as I'd never actually seen the entire process, part amazement at the machinery of nature, and part tentative willingness to accept this as as a sort of novel found art. On the table next to the rabbit sits a peach, which the maggots never touch. The peach was a nice touch, making it look like a "still lifedeath" painting, only animated. ...aaaand here it is on youtube. Don't click if you squick over this sort of thing... duh.

The highlight of the visit was a retrospective of the "wall paintings" (that is, painted walls) of Sol LeWitt. I can't find any good images of the ones we saw (edit a ha! the massmoca site has all of them, though the photos don't really do the experience justice), but the examples from his "late period" were almost literally mind-blowing. Imagine a chunk of wall 10ish feet high, and 10-100 feet long. Now imagine that an artist has figured out exactly how much color the brain can process within its field of vision, upped that by about 10%, and applied to to all sorts of weird geometric patterns. It was literally trippy, and a very cool experience.

(edit Yay picture (you just have to imagine it even brighter and filling your field of vision)



His earlier work was a bit more subdued, but led to my favorite part of the trip: there was one long wall that was divided into 20 or so equally-sized quares, each of which was divided into quadrants, which were filled with four smaller squares each. Each smaller square was grey, yellow, red or blue, with no repetitions within the same quadrant, but, at first glance, never in the same order either.

(edit aaaaaand here's a picture)



This grabbed my brain and would. not. let. go. What was the pattern? Was it random, or was there a message here? I quickly got [livejournal.com profile] sandrylene, and later Jason's, attention and we geeked out for about 20 minutes, finding duplicates and proposing theories as to where a pattern might lie. It was also a neat object-lesson in how differently different people process information. One of us would try explaining a theory, particularly ones that had to do with describing patterns, like how the color order in quadrant B might proceed from the color order in quadrant A, and it was like we were speaking different languages. For example, I found it easiest to explain by numbering each of the positions and analysing the "path" that each color took, so if you went clockwise around the quadrants of one of the squares, the grey square might go 1, 4, 2, 3 but the red square might go 2, 3, 1, 4. This didn't compute at all for Sandry, who instead talked in terms of "rotational symmetry", which didn't compute for me. It was all really fascinating. In the end, I figured out roughly how I could effectively search for patterns with a python script if I'd had my laptop and that was good enough for me. I'm enough of a developer nowadays that the fun of problem solving isn't so much in the solving as in devising the algorithm that solves it for me anyway. ;)

So, to me, that is art I like. I have a pretty liberal definition of art, specifically "any product of creativity". But then I have a rather stricter definition of "art I like", which all comes down to the quality of the reaction it evokes, whether technical appreciation, emotional impact, or simple provocativeness. The trippy walls had an emotional impact in that they were fun to look at, and the pattern wall was the "best" art I encountered simply because of the great playtime that it provoked, intentionally or not.

...although one more thing has to be said for MassMOCA, I lied when I said that the walls were the highlight of the museum. For me, the museum its self was the highlight. Seriously, the building is just fascinating. It's some kind of converted factory, full of twisty passages (most definitely not all alike) and just fun to wander around in exploring.

I'm going to have to do the rest of my Tales Of Culture in a subsequent post, I guess, as it's now well past my bedtime, and having gotten home late from the MassMOCA/Tripod trip last night, and having been awfully labile lately, I'm thinking it's best not to tempt emo by not taking care of myself.
I am going to be in CA for [livejournal.com profile] slyviolet and [livejournal.com profile] wyldelf's Grand and Glorious Celebration Of Nuptuality (which happens to be planned for my birthday-- what an awesome present!). I figure I'll fly in on Friday 2 Apr and out Sat 10 Apr.

I will, of course, wish to see all of you. Together, we shall do Stuff. Mayhem shall ensue and a good time shall be had by all. You have been warned.

...and on that note, anything (else) going on that week what I should know about? I'll post again closer to the date, but hey can't hurt to get on people's calendars now. :)
Last night's party was much, much niceness. Got to talk to talk to lots of people, including several new folks that I hadn't gotten to chat with before. Got to do much cuddling and scritching, something that I really haven't done much of before. I've tended to have a real personal boundary around that kind of thing, mostly because I didn't think I could trust myself to stay in a platonic mindset about it, but I guess I'm finally maturing to the point where I'm able to relax and just enjoy both the sympathetic sensation of making someone else feel nice and that of being made to feel nice myself ('bout damn time).

I've always walked this line where I've been more sexually conservative than almost all of my friends and I'm ok with that. I don't really want that to change because it's my comfort zone and I'm, well, comfortable with it. But being more ok with platonic touch is something I'm glad to see myself finally loosening up over.

Had an interesting personal realization while everyone was playing Truth or Dare around 4am. I found myself hoping that someone would ask me a really juicy question that would allow me to disclose something important. There wasn't anything in particular that I wanted to disclose, and in fact most of my answers to the questions I did get were kind of meh, but found myself really wanting to... connect and share something intimate. This is not something I normally do. After everyone had left I was talking to [livejournal.com profile] choose_again and in remarking on this, realized that I think I actually feel safer with a group than I do with an individual. With the exception of hostile cliques, groups tend to self-regulate. If you get in trouble and know how to send the right signals, you can usually get someone to come to your aide, or at least the chances of finding one's self in conflict with 100% of the other people in the room is less significant. Thus, I realized that I think I am more comfortable opening up (under appropriate circumstances) in public than in private. Reflecting on it now, I think being in my own house helped too. When I superimpose the same scene over an unfamiliar environment, the feeling of security diminishes. So familiarity + witnesses = security. Not sure just how healthy that is, but it's interesting (to me, at least) to note. And now it's recorded for posterity. Huzzah and all that.

Everybody finally left the party around 5am and I slept until around 9, when my brain said "Ooh look! Daylight! Shiny! That means you can get up and do stuff, right? Wheee!".

Sometimes I hate my brain.

Oh well, I guess that's the downside of the social-high: the buzz lingers even when inconvenient. If I can just stay concious until this evening (without eating my body weight in cake and snacks to do it) I can go to bed early and try to set my schedule right again.
Man, this has been one of those weeks that's so full of stuff I've wanted to journal about, but I just haven't found the time. It was oddly satisfying to look at my schedule and realize that I had something planned for just about every evening this week.

The first event of note was the first meeting of the Second Shift creative team in a while. I can't say much, but there are some very cool things in the works. We hope to be expanding our audience a great deal this next season and, content-wise, I think there is a real chance of season 2 blowing season 1 out of the water. In short, I'm very excited about this.

On a related note, Second Shift celebrates the one-year anniversary of our first episode's release on 6/26. No promises, but wouldn't it be swell if we could start releasing season 2 around then? =:)

Had an awesome time at karaoke on Wednesday. I wish Do Re Mi wasn't so darn expensive, but it's so nice to just have a room full of friends with the songs all to ourselves. [livejournal.com profile] kamianya did a great job of getting a big group together. It was pretty much all people from the local larp/gaming scene and several people remarked that a lot of us rarely get to interact out-of-character. It's a weird place to be, but it's true. I've known some of these people for over a year now and yet in some cases I've only recently learned (or at least been able to consistently remember) their real names. There's the classic larper exchange:

Person 1: Oh, do you know Joe?
Person 2: Hmm.. I'm not sure.
Person 1: Well, he was the knight in such-and-such game.
Person 2: I don't think I was in that one.
Person 1: He was also that one crazy guy in some-other-game.
Person 2: Oh, him! Yeah, he was also the lemur in that jungle game, right?
Person 1: Yeah.
Person 2: Oh, ok. Yeah, I totally know Joe.

So, yeah, it was really fun to get to interact with people outside of a game context. Despite the weather (not that there is anything to complain about right now-- friggin gorgeous) and despite missing my friends from CA, I am totally digging it in here in MA, and keep finding new and interesting people in my community.

Plus, I got to sing. Just as larping finally gave me an outlet for acting, karaoke gives me a chance to sing again, and man have I missed it. Do Re Mi even has a decent collection of broadway stuff, including a bunch of songs from relatively obscure shows like Chess and Jeckyll and Hyde (which it turns out [livejournal.com profile] phoenix_rinna and others are actually also into! woo!). If they had Title of Show and Evil Dead as well, I'd probably never leave. I spent this morning looking into software I can use to make and play my own karaoke files and it looks do-able. In fact, Jonathan Coulton recently released most of his songs as karaoke files anyway. Woot! That geek-oriented karaoke collection I keep talking about the awesomeness of? Maybe it'll actually happen. Then we can have karaoke parties at our place for free! Yay!

Anyway, it was really nice to get to sing for people again, and people seem to remain appreciative of my sound, which is very encouraging. I got to do some of my standards, like Anthem from Chess, and found that I was able to do the Big Notes At The End with relative ease. Sequoia and I had only just started training again when we left San Diego, but our teacher was able to show me a few techniques that have worked really, really well. Man, I need to find another teacher.

I also got to perform Confrontation from Jeckyll and Hyde again, which is one of my favorite pieces to do nowadays. I've started doing that song every time I go to Do Re Mi because it would be a great performance piece if I can master it. I haven't quite figured out how to do a good Hyde voice without wrecking Jeckyl's voice in the process, but nonetheless people's reactions were quite, quite flattering. Someday I will have to contrive an opportunity to do that song "for real". [livejournal.com profile] rigel has suggested that I see about doing it as a skit at Arisia's Masquerade some year. Maaaaybe.

Aside from the fun of performing, there was a ton of great social energy and I had great fun just sitting back and listening to everyone else sing or participating in big 'ol sing-alongs with 15 people on Bohemian Rhapsody and It's The End of the World as We Know It. Awesome. Plus I got to do a bunch of duets, talk broadway, skritch heads and then, when they closed the place at 1:30, most of us headed out to IHOP because, dammit, we were all still enjoying ourselves too much to call it a night. A great time all-around.

And then tonight is [livejournal.com profile] rigel's party. Woo! More people!

In other news, I hope to start a couple of campaign-style games soon. I've been doing my first Requiem character for the last several months, which was my first time creating a non-tabletop character that was persistent across multiple games, and I'm really enjoying him. Given some of the less-nice things about this character, that's actually a little scary, but as someone whose concience tends to be a bit hyperactive at times, it's nice playing someone who is friendly, outgoing and, depending on how I decide to play him, borderline sociopathic. =:)

I'm also working on a concept for Void Stalkers, which I'm getting excited about, though it seems to be indicative of a trend wherein if left to my own devices I seem to invariably come up with semi-seriously damaged characters to play. I'm sure that's deeply meaningful, but what the hell, it's still fun for now.

Edit: Hmm... my Doctor Who mood icons seem to be broken. This is most unfortunate and I'll have to look into that. It's time I added some David Tennant into the mix anyway.

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