Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ok Bokeh! Let's Make Stencils of Light!

If you're looking for a way to generate warmth this winter without driving up that heating bill, try an optical effect! Bokeh is the word for those wonderful glowing orbs that happen when pinpoints of light are out of focus in a photo. I'm going to show you how to reshape the globe.

Step 1: Cut a nice stencil-esque shape out of a piece of paper-board. I used a box cutter to cut a box of Annie's Totally Natural Bunny Pasta into a pretty pine tree. It should fit within the size of your lens cap.
Step 2: Attach your stencil-of-light to the front of your camera lens. I'm using Julia's camera, so I was super careful not to let anything touch the glass. At first with her wide-angle lens it didn't turn out the way I expected. I got a vignette border matte effect!
I switched to a longer lens and it worked like a charm!
For these photos I draped a string of holiday lights over the bedside table. There is one red bike light blinking in there too! My recorder's never been so majestic! And that's saying a lot for a recorder.

Now I'm thinking about what to do next. It doesn't have to be a high-contrast stencil. I want to try printing on a transparency to make my bokeh a photo! What would it be like with a color design? I want to make a little mechanical wheel contraption that rotates in front of the lens to make an animated moving bokeh for video!

Ahh! I'm excited. Here's a bokeh video I found.

Lights that lead us home at night from Tanja Tiziana on Vimeo.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

We Want The Funk!

Friends, I think its about time we wrote a little more about Kansas City. There are a lot of juicy things that happen here! Politically, socially, city ordinance-ly, you name it! I figured that most people reading this blog are My Parents or Friends From Out Of Town, who are just pining for new insight into city government! One of the most entertaining and probably least harmful gaffes in Kansas City local government is perpetrated by the current Mayor Mark FunkhouserThere have been several controversies surrounding the mayor, but the one that is most interesting, concerns his wife. The mayor's wife Gloria was a full time volunteer in the mayor's office and was stirring up trouble! Frankly, she seems to have a problem blurting out racist and inappropriate comments and just generally being a nuisance. The City Council soon passed an ordinance saying that one could not have family members volunteer in the office in response to Gloria's politically damaging nature. In the meantime, there have been a trifecta of lawsuits between City Council, the Mayor, and a former staff member of the Mayor in what has been dubbed as Mammy-Gate, and is a real disaster! So now Funkhouser is working from home so that his wife can work with him, and there are unlimited lawsuits that the Mayor is dealing with because of his dedication to Gloria Squitiro. In other words, it is a huge debacle! But nonetheless a source of entertainment! What is Gloria going do next?! Hit a cop? Eat a puppy? Publish an unfortunate Christmas card that ends up in Harpers Magazine? Who knows!?
Friends of ours have mixed reviews of Mayor Funkhouser. Jamie is still a staunch supporter and upstanding citizen Flannery Cashill told me that she's just glad he's NOT doing anything. Former Mayors, primarily the last mayor Kay Barnes, reveled in stadiums, arenas, and beer arenas. (More on that later!) (Here is a real photo from their blog! This is the least weird photo of them together)
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Friday, January 23, 2009

Video: Hiram (a documentary about a father)

This week's video is a few years old. It's from back when I lived in Santa Cruz, CA.

My neighbor Hiram got married when he was 16. He is a committed father, a youth and my peer. In this documentary Hiram and I draw lines across discontinuities with the style that suits us best.

Hiram (a documentary about a father) by Jamie Burkart.

This video was first screened at an event in the house where it was filmed. After the show, Hiram and I sat at the front of the room. Our peers gave us questions to ask each other.

Hiram is a popular young man and a caring father. Our video acknowledges the connection between those two worlds. It says publicly what is tough to say even in private. And I hope it helps Hiram feel more fully himself with everyone he loves.

Hiram and I worked to communicate the issues of his fatherhood to the horizon of his young friends and peers. We tried to express his ethic without imposing a moral.

For me personally, this video was very difficult to make, screen and watch. It is a deep challenge to craft a representation of another person. It's serious stuff! But I try to make it a little goofy.

When I was making this, I was really into the writings of the Community Video Movement from the 1970's. In video's infancy, groups like the Raindance Corporation saw the potential for indigenous media to be "a spark plug for change." I hoped that the witnessing process of production and exhibition would strengthen collective bonds and add depth to our agency. To see Hiram tell his story would encourage others to tell their own.

The opening music was made just for this video by Goodbye the Band (aka John Acquadro). Here are links to John's Official Web Site and Demalgamated Videos.

Imagine you are at the screening in Hiram's house. What questions would you ask? For those of you who were actually there, what did you think?
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Great Darning Technique! Exciting!

I found a great technique for fixing sweaters on this blog. It works like a charm and I wanted to spread the word! I had a sweater from the thrift store with about 20 holes and now they are gone! This is the gift that keeps on giving, and I wanted to give it you my four sweet friends in the blog-o-sphere.
Now, this looks very time consuming, but I just followed the general idea of this without going whole hog on it. On this blog, she has a lot more string exposed, but I bunched the hole up a little more so the patching wouldn't show as much. Also, this particular blogger made this delightfully fluffy creation. Kudos to you Blog Full of Jelly!
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Video: Accommodation for James Johnson

So, I'm setting up online video sharing accounts. I'm going to post one video each week. This first one I put together after a recent conversation with my oldest friend James Johnson. I made the audio in my Whale Costume.

Accommodation (for James Johnson) by Jamie Burkart.

"Some parts of what I'm doing are deeply me. And some parts are more arbitrary. I believe that we can accommodate each other without compromising ourselves."

So, looking at this I see that there is part of the frame that I occupy. And there is another part that is somehow cultivated for critical openness.

You might read these audio and video feedback performances as a counterpoint to the Japanese Obsessional installations. The Obsessionals feared we would lose ourselves in the Infinity Net. I assert that as we integrate deeply, our dynamic identity networks can remain our own.

In Japan since WWII there have been artists that call themselves Obsessional. They are concerned about loosing themselves in the homogeneity of infinitely permuting patterns. There is a fear of contamination or loss of cultural and personal identity through assimilation. The one is always about to be consumed by the infinite whole.

In Yayoi Kusa's installations all texture is erased by polka dots. You enter a room with a polka dotted floor, a polka dotted mannequin and mirrors for walls. Immersed in an infinite feedback network you confuse yourself with the doll at your side and cease to exist.

She writes, "One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness."

I will share 10,000 identities and still be myself.

How do you keep your head above the water when you are deep in a context? Or do you let go? Do you feel compromised, or are you accommodating?

- Jamie
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion on the World Wide Web

Here's some more of my famous shameless self promotion (which I guess is the sole reason for this blog anyhow)!
I've got a nice online exhibition on the New Chemical History
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