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In 2006 and 2007, I volunteered as a literacy educator at a Detroit elementary school. The school principal thought my time would be better spent as an art teacher (like so many public schools, this school had barely any money for art classes). For this particular project (one of a few teaching projects I did there), I created images of everyday detritus which gave way to a hidden face – a monster, nicknamed “Dark Fire” by the kids; the students had to create related drawings in order to bring about the next image in the sequence. Of course there’re messages here: of finding mysterious things in the everyday, and of the power of art to gain access to new worlds, but there was another message, too. While configuring things from the local environment into different forms, I was thinking of how written language creates worlds of meaning from a rather limited assortment of raw material (letters, numbers, punctuation). In some small sense, I was teaching language.
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The thing on the left is a model of a structure used for dog training, based on an old U.S. military dog training manual. The dogs on the right are German shepherds—the most popular sort of breed for military and police purposes—photographed at the home of a friendly dog trainer in suburban Michigan.
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(This post was previously split into three parts)
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When I was younger, I made drawings of cartoonish ducks as totemic figures: structures of strange power, power at odds with itself. Many years later, I’m revisiting this general idea. This video involves attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim, California—part of Disney’s official/sanctioned representation of Donald Duck—and coin-operated rides and a mural in a medical office window, shot in Brooklyn, New York: these are seemingly unsanctioned variants of the Donald Duck form. This footage, along with several short texts, is meant to raise questions around the ideological conflicts inherent in our culture’s long relationship with Donald, as well as the conflicted nature of mass fantasy in general. Official vs. unofficial; man vs. machine; human vs. animal. Ducks.
Anaheim footage shot in January 2012; Brooklyn footage shot in February 2012. This project is an entry in “QUACK 2012,” which invites artists to respond to How to Read Donald Duck, Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart’s classic 1971 anti-imperialist analysis of Donald Duck comic books.
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A simplified version. Donald Duck, in both sanctioned/official form and unofficial variants, faces off against himself.
(click above to see full image; printed dimensions: 19″x16″)
And so I ask you, which is the true duck?
A Note on Collaborations: Collaborations are, naturally, projects where I don’t presume to take full credit for the work. However, on this blog I will only post collaborations for which I feel I had a significant amount of creative responsibility.
In June of 2010, a group of students held a hunger strike in midtown Manhattan to protest the federal government’s perpetual stalemate on the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act—a bill that would give undocumented immigrant youth a pathway to U.S. citizenship. As of February 2012, the bill is still being debated in the U.S. Senate.
The interview subject is Daniela Garcia of the New York State Youth Leadership Council. More information: http://www.nysylc.org/.
This video was made as part of Paper Tiger Television. View it on the Paper Tiger Vlog.
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We all have problems. This video was originally made a few years ago, but it’s been slightly retooled.
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This footage was shot in October, 2011, at the flagship Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The digital distortions came about by accident. I’d like to think this reflects, in a very small way, on some of the unpredictability, flair, and shifting fortunes of OWS actions themselves.