Category Archives: Art

The topics reflect years spent in Asia: mainly Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as New York and Paris. Daulism starts here.

Foreign Search Engine: Dorya Glenn

The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a collaboration between Chinese novelist/artist Julie O’Yang and Belgian photographer Filip Naudts. Full of layers, the story, at its core is this: A writer has created Dorya Glenn, a character from another time who visits Earth. Dorya and the author become obsessions for a photographer. The three perform a murderous, surrealistic tango that leaps from writing table to French countryside to outer space.

Julie and I met on Facebook, introduced by another writer, Jeremy Fernando. One of her books is called Butterfly and that is how I perceive her; colorful and beautifully defiant of gravity. I was jealous when I heard of her plans to collaborate with a photographer. The results of her work with Filip, however, intrigued and impressed me and I wanted to know a bit more. Thus, this interview.

Dorya Glenn is very multidimensional: Oscar Wilde,cyberspace, Belgium, the future, outer space and romance. The text is an alien Surrealist's journal; the photographs are part fashion magazine, part film noir. Will the book be a kind of photo manga hybrid, or something like a magazine or something else?

J: Maybe I want to wake up Oscar Wilde by making some UFO sounds, that's all. Dorya Glenn is about telling a good story. Moreover, we want to address a few urgent issues. Some examples are the dictatorship of our current image culture, cyber surveillance, the worldwide immigration crisis etc. We might have used a new, different plate to serve the story, but the plate rather came to us, just like a UFO.

F: Where our collaboration leads us is a mystery to us too... I consider Dorya Glenn a laboratory sample; a chemical fusion between me and a writer, my cultural background fusing with her skills. But it's more. Our action is in the live interaction itself: my photography interacts with Julie's fantastic art of words. The book will be hardcover, which is necessary to hold the richness of the content to present to our readers.

You are working with text, photography, cyberarts, video and music; a song by Arno. Plus, the text and photography, of course. Can you talk about the collaboration process? Do you two take turns, or agree almost all of the time, or have heated discussions or what?

J: We've danced. It's very beautiful. The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a classic erotic thriller with a feminist touch.

F: We have neither time nor any reason for long heated dicussions during the entire process. Our battle is fought in the story. It's the battle between words and pictures and the latter certainly won! Whoops, I think Julie wants to read passages out of the book to prove me wrong. Well, you have to read our story to decide which of us gets killed in the end, because we are not sure ourselves.

Dorya Glenn seen from outside

image by Filip Naudts

Biggest challenge so far?

J: Funding.

F: I agree with Julie. Extremely tough and embarrassing. Artists shouldn't be busy worrying about where does money come from. If a crowdfunding manager is reading us, please get in touch.

Nicest surprise so far?

J: I like acting & performance and did better than I expected from myself. And it is the superpower that Filip the photographer gave me!

F: The fused creative powers result in huge impact. Our project stands for creative and cultural collaborations.

Regarding Kickstarter, have you had any surprises or learned anything?

J: It scared me. It still does. But I do feel more powerful. I guess it's called character building.

F: I will never become a successful salesman.

Favorite or most dramatic section of the book?

J: All of it. And the last scene...is fireworks. Actually I'm working on a list of special sci-fi words I have invented for the story, it's pushing the edge of imaginative power.

F: The suspense in the erotic scene.

The security cameras and their recordings are most valued by whom?

A: Privacy and surveillance culture are recurring ideas. Surveillance cameras document and create realities with a constant neutrality, unlike writing, which involves transformation of both the writer and the reader. Writing also involves sacrifices on the part of the writer. Sometimes the writer needs to "kill" herself so that the protagonist comes alive. The surveillance cameras document this internal battle, as well as actual scenes that show or suggest violence related to sex, gender or race. Orwell had Big Brother, perhaps our surveillance cameras are Big Mother...

The veil...?

The costume was made by Monika Acman for Dorya on our request. She is a Polish tailor living in Belgium. In the text, Dorya is Julia Oz, a figment of the writer's imagination. According to Julia it's an ancient ritual on Dorya's planet to "re-veil" a chosen woman; this allows her to become worthy of worship. Dorya Glenn unifies our universe with hers. In both, to some degree, she is both idol and dictator.

Section of the book which best exemplifies the battle between text and photography?

J: The whole story is a tango between word and image. And remember: it takes three to tango. We have three main characters in the story that are there to explain the ideological conflict between the writer and the photographer. Who is the third person?

F: The security camera taking a picture of the photographer taking a picture of the writer's legs under the table, while she is writing the story in which he is playing an important part.

What is Dorya's relationship with the photographer?

The photographer is infatuated with her, his photographs show Dorya Glenn as a sex goddess. This is destructive-but for whom?

The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a campaign now on Kickstarter.

To extend the experimentatino that is Dorya, I created a little project here.

Foreign Search Engine

F: The laboratory Qvinde will be hardcover, which is necessary to hold the richness of the cognitive content to present to our referee. One requirement is total submergence.

Who stole the veil?

J: This is the only question I can believe in right now.

D: I want to emphasize this is NOT a floor about China. Dorya is in Academy Award winner Oscar Wilde, cyberspace, Belgium, the hereafter, outer space and streams.

We have danced a tango.

Dorya Glenn seen from outside

image by Filip Naudts

now

>now, now

red dot SAD (Stories, Art, Digitalia 2002-2017)

red dot SAD is a collection of stories, essays and images created during Stephen Black's fifteen years in Southeast Asia, mainly in Singapore. An American who has also lived in Tokyo, Manhattan, Hong Kong and Paris, the book documents a creative life that knows no boundaries.

Topics include virtual reality, performance art, network television, food, music, photography, and art projects of all kinds. Physical locations range from an abandoned "haunted" hotel to facilities stacked with IT machinery, from wet markets and beaches to construction sites, the Singapore Biennale, and government built housing complexes. For those interested in Singapore and anyone who enjoys visual arts and well-researched, dynamic writing.

red dot SAD is also an experiment. Presently the book is about 150 pages. Eventually the book will be printed on paper. Those who buy the earlier editions of the ebook receive the updated versions free of charge. For more information on how red dot SAD is re-inventing Amazon and crowdfunding, click here.

To see the current list of topics, click here.

red dot SAD on Amazon

Reviews of i ate tiong bahru, Black's bestselling book are here.

Interviews with Stephen Black and descriptions of his other books are here.

minimal book covers

red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

red dot SAD reinvents Amazon (kinda)

red dot SAD is a snapshot of Stephen Black’s creative life in Singapore, from 2002 to 2017. The nonfiction topics include art, AR, VR, gaming, 3how, photography and daily life in Singapore.

The red dot SAD book project:

1. Offers money for value: the 99 cent, 129 page book contains stories, images and essays, including an extract from i ate tiong bahru, a national bestseller in Singapore.

2. Continually adds content to create new versions that replace the existing version on Amazon.(Latest additions here.)

3. Sends, by email, the new versions to those who have purchased a previous edition.

The reasons for this trial are:

1. Crowdfunding-in-disguise. Directing a “fan base” of readers towards Amazon means they can immediately receive an ebook and join in the rdS experience. Even a small number of sales is beneficial. Although there is a less concentrated effort than a crowdfunding campaign, an equal or greater amount of funds can be generated over a longer period.

2. The crowdfunding-in-disguise idea can stimulate Amazon’s algorithms, further generating interest. Increased rankings and positive “list activity” can result.

3. Those who request updated versions likely will contribute some form of feedback

4. Ideally, a percentage of these readers will leave reviews, and share the book info with other readers.

minimal book covers

red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

The Amazoncentric ideas I am experimenting with are not that different from those used in the serialization of novels. What is different is that a new ebook, with a considerable amount of new content, is being sent to those who purchased previous editions. In the world of physical art and books, limited editions hold value for collectors. This may prove to be also true for the “outdated” offline digital versions of rdS.

Related to this, I am now researching the possibilities that have just arisen from a partnership between Reedsy and Blurb. Reedsy’s book editor has been invaluable to me. If the workflow with Blurb is what I hope it is, the files of new versions can be easily replaced, This, in turn, means that older print versions will become limited editions.

Ultimately, I hope that the final version of red dot SAD, with a few hundred pages,either becomes a very successful self-published project, or is picked up by someone like as Phaidon or Steidl. The result of fifteen creative years in Singapore, I believe red dot SAD will be an interesting visual and written document. The book's journey is, and will be, an interesting one.

(The image used in the header of this post is a photograph of a sculpture called Manifold, by Gerald Leow.)

Hummingbird vs. Helicopter

The following is inspired by a piece by Gerald Leow on display as part of his solo exhibition at Chan+Hampe Contemporary until June 25.

On a material level, Manifold is simple: a dynamic, radiating metal sculpture made of copies of the same jagged line. These lines are like flattened appendages of a predatory insect, or sentences written in a spiky font. The pieces are colored asymmetrically; seven tones shifting between purple and orange. Manifold is bold, yet delicate-- an opening and a threat. Leow has been quoted as saying that he wanted to create works which are poetically violent. He has succeeded. Manifold is a beautiful but deadly tropical flower, 76 x 76 x 17cm.

The “edginess” of the sculpture is literal; the aggressive shapes on the edges of the lines form negative spaces which complete the piece. These edges are appropriated from the font and logo used by Judas Priest, a heavy metal band. Leow, who studied sociology, has a body of work based on the logo and the conceptual possibilities of heavy metal subculture. With Manifold, however, the link to heavy metal is not obvious, thankfully. Appropriation can be a one-trick pony; what is insightful and magical initially can later become an unrewarding burden for both artist and audience.

The exhibition’s title adds another dimension. I am Time Grown Old to Destroy the World refers to a comment Robert Oppenheimer made in 1945, when he witnessed the detonation of his brainchild, the first atomic bomb. The phrase is from the Mahabharata, specifically the Bhagavad Gita. A passage of 700 verses, the Gita documents the exchange between Prince Arujuna and Lord Krishna as they discuss war, duty and moral confusion.

contemporary sculpture in Singapore

Manifold from Leow's exhibition at Chan+Hori Contemporary Gallery in Singapore

Southeast Asian artwork made of mild steel, automotive paint and western pop culture. It is real.  It has universal significance. Manifold is an artwork worthy of its most serious sources of inspiration: the Mahabharata and the atomic bomb.

…………………………………………30……………………………………

I am elaborating upon this essay, including other projects of Gerald's as well as some of our collaborations and personal experiences. The result will be included in red dot SAD which is updated periodically.

JB art colony 2020

I have been based in Singapore since 2002 and am in the midst of an extended stay in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. During this time I am collecting experiences and research for a book. My time here has clearly shown that

The well known reasons for this are:

1. Increasing/planned integration with Singapore: trains (local and high speed), bridges,increasing numbers of Johoreans in Singapore, increasing numbers of Singaporeans in JB.

2. Lower rental fees than Singapore.

3. Lower cost of living than Singapore.

4. Developed by Chinese investors, the Forest City megaproject is expected to eventually have 700,000 residents who will live on four artificial islands.That is the same population of Geneva.

5. Iskandar Malaysia, the Malaysian government’s project to upgrade the entire region,demonstrates that Johor Bahru can re-invent itself.

Having experienced the “reality on the ground”, the possibilities of JB become even more obvious. Outlying or unused industrial areas encourage innovation of all kinds, despite their challenges. In Singapore: The Artists Village. In Beijing:798 Art Zone. In New York City; Soho, The East Village and Brooklyn. IT people, food visionaries, unconventional international citizens and entrepreneurs of all kinds will all soon to discover the possibilities of the new JB. Imagineering is here!

Hello Starbucks and Dior.

the sculpture in the image above is Coccoon, by Alvin Tan on display at Puteri Harbour

Bubi and Conquest (part 2 of 3)

Part 1 is here.“It’s for kids? Adults?”

“Both. It’ll be a novel, but some parts are like movies. Horror movies! Fairytales. Some areas will be for newlyweds. You can ride with God in an elevator. I plant the stories and then they rewrite themselves based on interactions with people and the environment.“

“OK... The characters will get old?"

“Some.”

“How do you come up with ideas for all of this?”

“In my workspace I have little pictures of James Joyce, J.K. Rowlings, Robin Williams and Tarantino. I imagined them making a game together. Didn’t work. Now, I think of them as a band. Williams on vocals, Tarantino on guitar, Joyce on drums and Rowlings on bass. What would their music be like?”

“And that makes you creative?”

“Not really...”

Without warning, the South China Sea falls upon the tin roof.

“You have to think of music. First person shooters are guitar solos. A character’s stories and skills are important, of course, but it’s all about harmony. And improvisation. MPGs are symphonies. With Spring Valley I want to make a game that gives the players power. Like, instead of being chased so that you fall into a pit filled with spears, what if you fall into something soft that recharged you? What if other players gave you healing powers instead of bullet holes?

Musicians give each other energy. The audience absorbs their interplay and sings along or cries or something, right? Harmonized decision making in microseconds. Play music. Play. So important."

....................30............ The conclusion .

Agaricus blazeii Murrill, Sacha Inchi Oil and Me (part 2)

the first part of this post is here

To review, from about 1999 to 2002, I was very involved with researching and promoting a medicinal and gourmet mushroom called ABM, Agaricus blazeii Murrill. As part of this, I wrote my first book. I did this in Tokyo, Manhattan and around Toledo, Ohio. I established many relationships and enjoyed being involved with a healthful food item in a positive community, and creating possibilities. However, I entered the world of VR and, after that, returned to the world of books and art. I don’t feel as if there are huge differences between the different areas in my life.

Everything is about human relationships and data/information. Efficiency and planning are the keys and I am always working to improve in these areas, without becoming closed-minded. I've been told that the Japanese word for “busy”(isogashii) means “no heart”. Something like that.

So... Johor Bahru, Malaysia. April 2017. Sacha inchi oil. When you are around people who are really healthy, you notice it immediately. !!!! As a writer I have to be careful here! Sometimes, when one describes one’s interactions and activities that are associated with healthy foods and practices, it is easy to across as purely a salesman, sincere or otherwise. Yes, there is an economic aspect, but it is not the main reason that I am thinking about sacha inchi. Sales can lead to an awareness of the powers within plants and humans.

Sacha inchi reminds me of ABM very much. I am considering getting involved with it because I now have experience in sharing nutraceutical information, and interest in sacha inchi is already starting. It seems that Singapore, Malaysia and China are growing markets. America and Japan have potential.

It would be interesting to come up with some idea that combines art with sacha oil. A year ago, my partner and I performed the Iron Fire Riceball Tour, which combined performance art with food art. Meaning simply, we just marched around to all of the organic food stores in Singapore and asked any of the staff if they would like to try an organic riceball flavored with organic miso with permaculture grown ingredients. It was not a commercial project, it was about communication and connecting;art. We didn’t talk business, though it was clear where the miso and rice came from. We had been living in Bali and had worked on the permaculture farm that produced the miso. That little tour was beautiful.

So now; it is an amusement for me to think of how to connect with saha ishi in a way that is personal. What I have thought of so far:

-a book on sacha inchi, but one that is a collection of short stories about everything from the history of the plant to the growing to the processing to the person who is using sacha inchi as a treatment for a serious diseases.Fact-based fiction with emotion.

-a 360 short film that documents a room full of longtime saha ichi users. The setting would be naturalistic and simple. There would be at least 10 or 12 actors and actresses. These people would not have to do anything, but they would be aware of the fact that they are being filmed. The person who sees the film would, simply, sense and observe the healthy bodies.

-the sacha inchi game. Something interactive, of course.Exciting and based on how scientists think sacha inchi empowers the immune system, it would be cool to make a game something like this:

I will think. Sacha inchi is good stuff!

For Arleen Schloss (a poem)

This poem first appeared on Softblow, a  Singapore-bases website for poetry. Arleen's work greatly influenced me. I worked on a few videos with her and she is one of the artists in the SPOKEN virtual gallery  I produced with Eugene Soh. For Arleen Schloss  "The world is a collage"
All of the following words describe scenes. All of these scenes contain signs. The signs may not obvious, but they are there. In some cases, there may be a large number of signs, in which case, all are to be included. The colors of the signs, the numbers on the signs and the text and language of the signs are to be emotionally and chaotically combined on one huge imaginary and ever-present canvas, a painting dedicated to Arlene Schloss. The signs exist in the following situations: Nurses talking near hospitals before they begin work on autumn days when the moon is full, mailmen who drink canned coffee by themselves, retirement age janitors at the Louvre looking over new tools, miners in dangerous elevators, mechanics with legs sticking out from underneath cars with oily radios pouring out 20 year old music in the background, people with hangovers standing near open graves, hippos that go into the ocean, gardeners driving to buy trees with roots wrapped in burlap, people leaving yellow cabs in a hurry at night, an urban area full of people flying kites, parades in cold weather, parades in hot weather, soccer games, baseball games, snow on windowsills that overlook Broome Street, mushroom hunters on private property, tennis games, weavers of silk carpets, football practice, smugglers who do so to feed their children, archery ranges, barbecues for groups of people ranging from three to three thousand, streets being paved for the first time, clothes being hung to dry, hunters who do not drink when they are hunting, the tallest building in Manila, fishermen who drink but stay on shore, fireman, the drawers of mothers of Texans, trappers who do so with respect, amusement park employees who have lost their keys, children who sleep in tents in their backyards, photographers stranded in Mozambique, moviemakers who sleep well, people who use handphones during meetings and housepainters who do a good job. Places where elephants are, shelves full of books about ferns, silver airplanes that seem like paralyzed flying birds, the happiest person in Uganda, red weather balloons, magazines launched in the '70s, instructions for assembling tents, Vietnamese tour guides, the cost breakdown for a satellite dish to be installed in Yugoslavia, ugly public sculptures, the Vatican, Domino Pizza, Mecca, the Holy Land, toothpaste factories, a place where a picnic table was accidentally burned, a barnyard, a waterfall, flocks of thin white birds, grey lines of highways, the only stuffed armadillo to be found in South Africa, lakes holding sailboats, a Paris metro ticket, canoes on rivers, the oceans slapping big ships, the most loved Swedish politician, the most elegant shoe store in Mumbai, fog eating a city, organic apple orchards, alphabets, Christmas tree farms, strip mined landscapes, desserts full of unwanted testing, an environmentally friendly golf course, a fireworks display watched by an Amish family in a bus station between Chicago and Kansas City, bonfires, the diets of djs, traffic accidents as a result of animals crossing highways, unemployed male prostitutes in Taipei, railroads used by bikers, places that serve take out prata, housing subdivisions, the Empire State Building, the Pyramids, the shopping list of newlyweds in Bowling Green, Ohio, the first Chinese cookbook in Peru, the Tokyo Dome, a kindergarten in Bonn, the most depressing high school in Teaneck New Jersey, the harbor of Rio de Janiero during an eclipse, the Great Wall of China being discused by mathematicians, Red Squarebeing discussed by visiting Irish tourists, Kmarts in Canada, driving schools, elephant orphanages, missile testing ranges, forest fires, a Gutamelan dentist's office, power plants in Minsk, black boxes of intergalactic spacecraft, Kyoto florists located within the train station, the insects which live in the main Xian post office, the humidity within the Sydney Opera House, the deli on the corner, New Orleans classical musicians, Microsoft paper useage files, cloud seeding programs, glider competitions in Norway, ancient light houses, beaches where there are no beach towels, umbrellas on Avenue A, Coney Island, the dreams of a Singaporean civil servant, a painting of the the Great Lakes hanging in a Green Bay bar, the video collection to be found on a typical North Sea oil rig, the Rocky Mountains, the garage of the grandson of Dali's least favorite barber, the Amazon, the Urals, the Andes, the Great Rock, Mt. Fuji, the Pyrennees, Ireland, India, Idaho, Inokashira, Iran, Iraq, Iowa, people on horses, goats in trees, the Statue of Liberty, every bridge in the world, every phone line in the world, every bit of dust on Broome Street, every modem, every email ever written in Spanish and the oceans.

Touching JB: intro to the new book by Stephen Black

Touching JB: I am very very hugely, remarkably, extremely mega-excited about this project. Adrenaline, research, romance, Johor Bahru and assam laksa. Onward!