Sunday, September 16, 2007

Stepping Outside the Box of Planet Earth, A [Late] Environmental Media Journal for Constance Penley's Course

Every time I start writing on Blogger, I establish a huge lump in my throat. That my self value and value of ideas only exist given that I throw them out there for all the public to view. And the trade off is that this "public" audience may not even exist or care. It's a chronic internal psychological battle. But at least I have a motivation here. There is going to be a meeting this upcoming Tuesday (I think) among Blue Horizoners, and it will give me the opportunity to show Michael and Constance... and others... my work. My original intention of keeping a good blog for the class.

I usually do not post up "other people's stuff," particularly in artwork, but I admit I have found some images that have had great impact on me. Not only am I influenced by the "raw" environment around me, but I am influenced by other people's systematic, emotional, and primal interpretations of this "raw" environment--whether it be static, visual art, a short story, scientific paper, poem, a piece of music, a motion picture. So here, above, are some "Earthrise" images.

In order to understand "the Box" called Life on Planet Earth, you really need to take a step back. A step outside of the Known World you are in it. Because otherwise you will be immersed in immense detail of the individual fossils in the outcrop, and will never be able to be able to perceive the gestalt proportions of the entire multi-layered outcrop itself. I think this phenomenon of DISTORTED PERCEPTION should be called "Perceptual Navel-Gazing Effect of Human Overspecialization, Resulting Altered Gestalt Realities." (Ask ten scientists under what department or field should this idea be classified, they will all be stumped. I like to think it's a sort of psychology of scientists. Not many people study the psychology of scientists. Their altered perceptions of the world. Their systematic, obsessive behavioral patterns. It's institutitionally-endorsed psychology of collecting. That would be an interesting paper: "Scientists and the Psychology of Collecting." I should talk to Jay Mechling about that! (he's a lecturer at UC Davis who made us write an essay on the psychology of collecting). A lost sight of the big picture, simply because everyone has their heads stuck in the sand, staring at a few sand grains instead of the mass-transport of sand across the beach. Seeing the glacier for its snowflakes. Properties of systems change at every scale in space and time, so it's so important to have a multi-scaled, multi-layered understanding of your system of study. So in this case, Life on Planet Earth.

I have heard two contradicting statements:

In order to know what's inside the box, you first need to step outside.

You can only step outside the box, once you first know what is inside.
OR, You can only re-invent the box, once you know what the box is.

So, then, you may ask. What do you do first? What happened to me? I was given the box. Mass-produced Institutionalized Education Package Deal. Ages 0 to 17, largely. Then anorexia. Anorexia and school don't mix. Book smarts and street smarts are two very dichotomous forms of knowledge. Hence, I was given the box. I didn't know that it was "the box" because I was still inside of it. Anorexia threw me out. And that's when I subconsciously battled with knowing that there is something seriously wrong... me... the system... our interaction. And started running. When you are thrown outside the box, you start running and running and running, just to survive. And through this running and stumbling, you start to learn things very differently, and in a new organization, very different from the "school box." So, voila. First I was given the box. Then I was beaten in the xss and thrown out the box. My personal anorexia and lack of awareness of self is the gestalt byproduct mass accumulation effect of the malaise of society. What if I were thrown out the box, but wasn't given a "school box." Then perhaps, I wouldn't have had the philosophical ability to understand the box of anorexia and survival in a unique, philosophical, ecological, and evolutionary way.... School hurt me and school helped me. School gave me a box. But it was also school that greatly skewed my life and made me sick. I seem to hold several love-hate relationships with several components of my environment. School being one of them. My mother being another. And quite a few more.

In The Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore started off and ended his movie with the image of "The Box" of Planet Earth. I think this was most appropriate, and I most likely would have done the same. These Earthrise images are now so cliche, but Al Gore stressed that when these images came out, people were so philosophically taken aback that such an image could be taken. That there were actually humans who physically stepped outside the box, and as a result, they mentally stepped outside the box as well. Out of necessity for physical and mental survival, I'm sure. That is why I think it's important to support commercial flights to the moon to experience such a philosophical zen experience. As the female astronaut biologist did from UC San Francisco (her name is at the tip of my tongue, I had the privilege of briefly meeting her). You see planet Earth from space, and her response was "Wow. The Earth is alive. And glowing." And beautiful, and then there is the Terra side of me yelling, "Fine. Good. Your silly epiphany. Now go home and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT." You're irrational to mutilate your Self and your Environment, because it's the Environment that keeps you alive in the first place! It's where you come from! So, that would be Terra. That's why it's so important to step outside the box. Physically so is even better. Because then the mental stepping out is inevitable to happen.

Maybe I should coin another term or phrase: The Zen of Stepping Outside the Box.

And then you may ask of my last image. My long-term obsession with fractals. It first started with Alice Kelley, at, which she is top of my list for favorite artists. And now, I most recently found this "Fractal Bargain Bin" website, created by an employee at Caltech (Sven Geier) (in Pasadena, may I add!). I am obsessed with fractals and scaling laws and branching patterns and networks and the Shifting Baseline Effect and Butterfly Effect with such systems (the system is the product of its original premises). As you will see in my last "Ecology of Size" chapter, fractals is what I see all the time. It's one of my dominant search images in photography. It's an obsession, a good obsession, I try to convince myself.... For the above fractal construction, Eye of the Storm... okay, I lost my thought...

Anyway, the point is, I am putting this fractal image up, primarily to remind myself how I want to meet Sven Geier at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and if he could please agree to provide me with a lesson on how to create fractals with his nifty computer software programs. It's quite high on the to do list for me.

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