Dandelion Free Culture

Recently impressed by Nina Paley‘s Rantifesto and Culture is Anti-rivalrous I’ve released another set of animated loops under a CC BY 3.0 unported license. I consider my first foray into free culture, “Highway Ice Plant” to be the modestly successful equivalent of dipping my toe in the free culture waters.

Inspired by fireworks from the 4th of July holiday earlier this month and the idea that fully embracing free culture would be comparable to the dandelion’s reproductive strategy (as acknowleged in this Cory Doctorow post from 2008) I rendered out several HD clips featuring this r-selected species and posted them to archive.org:


Below I have posted documentation of this set of visuals being projected in a marsh in Fernandina Beach, FL on a free standing screen. Many of these clips will be playing on the same screen at the Main Street Park in downtown Jacksonville, FL for the August 3rd art walk. If you’re in the Southeast US and would like to contract out the screen and any of my visuals to create alternative cinematic experiences that interact with elements like wind and water, let me know. Also, many of the animated clips featuring seed dispersal can be provided at much higher resolutions. Feel free to contact me if you have any special requests and we can work out the details.

Update: As always feel free to share what you’ve done with these clips and I’ll highlight or link to it on this website.

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Neighborhood as Art (part 2)

Walking through the “Neighborhood as Art” exhibit on opening night several of the artists’ statements jumped out at me. The way in which their perspectives and inspirations so closely resembled my own made me feel like part of an established tradition. Several weeks later I went back to the Cummer Museum with a pencil and pad so that I could quote excerpts from them and assign proper credit to the works they accompany. A few are noted below along with observations of how I relate to the statements in my own practice:

“I have always marveled at the way older homes become more organic as they age… …They seem to grow more alive with every passing generation…”

Russ Wilson – Yellow Bungalow IV

Through animation I tried to bring the architecture of Riverside-Avondale to life in an almost literal way. It was great to see an artist in another medium identify the organic, living quality of aging structures.


“I advocate for a contemporary art world where artists in all mediums return to the primordial purpose of art, which is to make the magic that connects the seen with the unseen, to fathom the dual nature of reality and to understand the shifting balance of the physical world with forces that affect it…

…The universe is revealed in the sacredness of the small and insignificant and in the intervals, pauses and quiet moments of active doing…”

David Hansford – Winged Victory Statue

One of my films was actually included in an exhibition entitled “Unseen” at The Arc Gallery of MOSI Tampa, FL in 2010. I also strive to celebrate the small and insignificant whether it’s the weeds in my yard or the aged stonework on a building facade.


“My work takes something extremely familiar and already magnificent and through the manipulation of the point of view I develop a new creation which takes the viewer beyond the expected.”

Sean Patterson – Memorial Park Angel

I enjoy doing this with my own art and one of the greatest comments I received at the opening was that my video “looks like the way you think.” In a future post I’ll identify a few other artists throughout the world who’ve explored very similar filmmaking techniques to the ones I employ, but one example that comes to mind is the way in which effects artists tried to illustrate the way Temple Grandin’s mind works when she thinks of something like a doorway or a shoe in the HBO biopic.


“As a native of North Florida and as a Jacksonville resident for the last 47 years, I continue to be inspired by the forms and patterns found in the natural environment of Riverside-Avondale. The springtime is diverse and is the catalyst for seasonal renewal, both in spirit and new art works. The flowering trees never cease to inspire me…

…Perhaps it is true that visual patterns are imprinted on one’s being from birth onward, and this impression is manifested in any form of art expression…”

John Bunker – Springtime: Riverside @ Memorial Park

I shouldn’t be surprised that John Bunker’s inspiration so closely resembles my own since his work has been included along side mine at the MOSH as well. Since I started growing native plants out of my own passion for nature and art the spring has taken on a great deal of importance in my own life. If you’ve seen the exhibit or get a chance to catch it before it ends July 31st feel free to comment. I’d be curious to know if you recognized the same threads connecting the artwork that I have or if you saw entirely different ones based on your own interests, perspectives, or feelings toward the community.


The Park Lane beside Memorial Park
Photo courtesy of Riverside Avondale Preservation

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Neighborhood as Art (Part 1)

An excerpt from “Stone Flora” my contribution to “The Neighborhood as Art.” The full video is 4 min. 23 sec. long and set in the context of the Riverside-Avondale neighborhood it might be fun to go out and try to find some of the architectural motifs that you aren’t familiar with.

This past Tuesday was the opening of “The Neighborhood as Art” exhibit at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. The turnout was amazing and personally I’ve never spoken to more enthusiastic observers of my work on a single night. When one of the people I spoke with remembered my Pechakucha Jacksonville talk from last year (mentioned in my artist statement for the exhibit) I felt like I was doing something right to build a name for myself in the Northeast Florida art scene. Another Pechakucha alumni, Doug Coleman, who gave a talk on a recent trip to Antarctica was also in attendance.

Throughout the night I spoke with fellow artists selected for the exhibit, people from Riverside-Avondale Preservation, the executive and deputy directors of the Cultural Council, people from MOSH, a few of the artists I attended the Creative Capital PDP workshop with earlier this year, and many more. I really appreciated the Cummer timing the opening of the exhibit with The Players Free Tuesdays which allowed for maximum exposure for all of the artists involved. The exhibit runs through July 31st. It’s a really powerful representation of a community.

I’d like to thank everyone who took some time to talk with me and who put up with my lurking around my art for most of the night asking anyone who showed the slightest bit of interest to “let me know if you have any questions.” I’m a bit bad with names, but if you happen to be one of the people I shared a business card with and you are reading this post feel free to drop me a line in the comments here or at my facebook or twitter pages (links at the bottom left or in the contact section of my site).

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Pineland Hibiscus

Yesterday I had my first blossom on a twice transplanted Hibiscus aculeatus.  I originally found this Florida native plant growing in sandy soil at my family’s place on the Suwanee river.  It’s first location when I brought it back was too shady for blooming so while it was still dormant in the early spring this year I moved it to a spot in my backyard that is the definition of “full sun.”

I’ve read that the plant in a seemingly contradictory manner is drought tolerant but prefers moist soil.  I think this explains why it thrives on the banks of the Suwanee.   The river will have a flood stage and once it recedes the sandy soil on the bank will be quite dry.  This is why I thought the plant would be well suited for my yard.  Florida has been experiencing a drought lately just as many other places in the south this year.  I hope the La Nina transition to neutral spells some hope for us.  To keep my pineland hibiscus (as well as my fig tree and wax myrtle) alive in the sand during this trying time I’ve resorted to a daily bucket of AC condensation, which if these blossoms are any indication has served the plants quite well.

I’ve been amazed at the ability of these native plants to become little ecosystems, toward the end of the video you’ll see a beautiful little spider in the lower right corner.  My best guess is that he’s currently living off of the ants you see crawling around the blossom at the beginning of the video. Perhaps an animation utilizing this species will be in the cards next year.

Posted in Backyard Garden, Florida Natives, Growing, Plants | 1 Comment

Ground Cherry

Throughout high school and college anime series like xxxHolic represented the largest portion of my animation consumption. There are so many more options in terms of compelling sci-fi and fantasy genre storytelling that it actually represented the bulk of my attention toward storytelling media in general. One of my favorite episodes of xxxHolic is “Ground Cherry” (sub-version available for streaming at Funimation’s youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOo-y87UeOo) If you’re new to the series you might want to watch a few of the earlier episodes as it’s actually a pretty clever take on the standard mid-season episode summing up what’s happened and who has been introduced thus far. To my surprise I’ve discovered ground cherries growing in my yard right here in Florida.

I could actually use a little help identifying the precise species shown in the images above.  *Edit: Judging from some links my sister sent me I think it’s the Florida native Walter’s Ground Cherry Physalis walteri.*  I love coming across plants with cultural significance. *even if it’s just a similar looking member of the same genus*  As I brainstorm ideas for future projects created from certain species of plants I always research whether it appears in any folklore or has any other significance to the people from where it originates.  I have some animation based on the Pohutukawa tree from New Zealand sitting on the backburner which is just such a project.

I let this plant keep growing because it resembled an eggplant (I think it’s actually a tomato relative).  I only discovered its flower and fruit because of my renewed attention to the minute details of plants due in part to my animation practice which was directly sustained by a love for anime.  The ground cherry is very representative of my art. Every time I see this plant in my yard the first thing I think of is xxxHolic.

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Subtle Differences

Most of my artist statements mention “subtle differences” at some point.  Yesterday I stumbled upon a perfect illustration of this while comparing two African Iris (Dietes bicolor) clusters that my brother-in-law brought home from his florist job.  The blossoms on the left consistently have a wider margin of orange surrounding the dark spots on the petals.  The dark spots on the petals of the plant on the right tend to be somewhat rounder than those on the left.  These are the kinds of things I get excited about and I would go so far as to say these characteristics give each plant a distinguishable character.  This is also what makes my experimental animation technique of choice work.

African Iris shows up a couple times in my 2011 reel and I love how it looks like energy or some sort of atomic explosion.  When I finally decide the context in which I want to distribute these clips I’ll reference these associations somehow.  This plant is also sometimes called Peacock flower which reminds me of a youtube video I shared on Facebook a while back featuring the Peacock spider. The way Jürgen Otto discovered this creature hiking outside of Sydney reminds me of the way I search things out in my own artistic practice.

In my mind this is just as exciting as the birds of paradise footage from the BBC’s Planet Earth series. To get media straight from the source Jürgen Otto has a flickr stream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/59431731@N05/) and his own youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/Peacockspiderman). You really don’t have to go far to discover new and interesting things.

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Drawing for Fun (or humanity)

For the past several years as my frustration with CD’s in sandy vehicles has boiled over I’ve been listening to a lot more public radio. Last weekend as I tracked back an inspiring interview with Mo Willems entitled “Getting Adults to Draw” I came across a relatively new addition to the Science Friday web presence, http://www.sciencefriday.com/arts “the intersection of science and the arts.” This sort of initiative is something I’m especially interested in as a video artist with an ongoing exhibition at a natural history museum looking to further explore opportunities in this area.

One of Science Fridays latest programs in the arts vein is an epic roundtable featuring Werner Herzog, Cormac McCarthy, and Lawrence Krauss (listen here). My first exposure to Herzog was Aguirre, the Wrath of God, my time-based media instructor at UF Pat Pagano showed it to our class to illustrate that narrative doesn’t constantly have to move at breakneck speed. I forget if this was before or after we watched Run Lola Run. I’m not as familiar with the work of the other two speakers Cormac McCarthy being the novelist behind No Country for Old Men and Lawrence Krauss a renowned theoretical physicist. In a funny, almost contradictory way the conversation goes from the fragile, temporary nature of the human species to discussing cave paintings that were thousand year collaborations and the hypothesis that formal arts training may have existed 30,000 years ago. Herzog’s latest 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams probably goes into even more detail about these topics.

While listening to these incredibly talented individuals I was reminded that most of the people we look up to are themselves students of everything, looking to even humble pursuits for knowledge and inspiration. While we all have a certain amount of curiousity and fascination most positive success comes from an almost naïve or reckless inclination to just try things all the while failing far forward. I think it was Kelly Slater who said in a recent ad campaign that he wants to surf like everything he’s ever seen.

Discovering this amazing program while going back to find the aforementioned Mo Willems interview which had inspired me and by proxy my family to sit down for several hours and draw just for fun a couple months ago was beautiful providence. This interview emphasized that no one stops playing basketball when they realize they aren’t going to the NBA and he asked why people often stop drawing or doodling as adults. For one night drawing was an engaging social activity without any concern for qualitative judgment. It was liberating for me as I hadn’t drawn for so long. Now if I could only bring that same mindset to my surfing.

Below I’ve shared the products of that night, Mo Willems also has some fun stuff drawn in the same spirit at his blog. I especially like his post “Dinner doodles (More commuting penguins)…” Public radio has been pretty influential for me these past few years. In addition to this beautiful Ani Difranco set from Morning Becomes Eclectic the two previous shows round out my NPR and affiliate programming favorites and figure into my all time favorite internet content as well.

Family drawing night:

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Red Mangrove

FloridaRed Mangrove
In Fernandina Beach, FL onshore wind events that last several days wash in some pretty interesting things from the gulf stream. Two years ago I found this Red mangrove propagule while collecting material for “Carapace and Shell” and some yet to be completed pieces. For several months the thing showed no promise whatsoever, but I couldn’t think of any reason why it shouldn’t grow so I stashed it in an out of the way corner of my laundry room. Any growing tips from someone familiar with these plants would be greatly appreciated.

It’s slow going, but I’ve become attached to it and I can’t think of a better representation of Florida than a Red mangrove growing a little too far north in an orange juice container that used to have a juice blend made from a mix of local and Brazilian oranges.

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New Site and ‘Process’

This is the site I’ve been meaning to implement since last August.  I needed something easier to update than my own hacked together CSS.  I’ve used a child theme to modify the ‘Twenty Ten’ theme that new WordPress versions ship with and it was almost fun once I decided that I wasn’t going to try and understand all of the PHP behind the scenes.

The ‘Process’ section of my site will be a blog encompassing everything as it relates to my artistic practice.

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