Saturday, November 26, 2005


People, people, one line only, please!!! Those with children can go first. Don't fight! There is room for everyone, well, almost for everyone. Sir, go to the end of the line, you can't cut in, no, you can't bring your chickens, fire regulations, no sir, but you can leave them at the Library, lot's of worms there (sorry). The show will soon begin...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Puppet Motivation

Hey guys. I just recently stumbled across Jan Svankmajer's stop motion animations and they are really inspiring... you should check them out if you can. He's a puppet artist from Prague who is known for influencing the work of Tim Burton, but in my opinion Svankmajer's stuff is more interesting. If you haven't seen his rendition of Alice (in wonderland) you should!!-- they have it at the library.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Happy Birthday Tom!

The High Priest of Calavera and his Acolytes
wished secret wishes for you as the candle of
life gave up its spirit.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

So now we only need to rig them, paint them and make them come alive. Hmmm... let's see, we also need the scripts, sound, lighting and effects, and oh yeah! we need to rehearse!. Right, to rehearse and rehearse again. Are we missing something? let me think...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Performance Night!

Finally done. After some frustrating rehearsals (what's new) the final performance went without a glitch. Great job everyone who participated. The people in Arizona were impressed and we got some very good feedback. We also learned a great deal in the process. And the piece was so appropriate, what with the Wilma playing Woswo!

Now the performance with Egypt looms ahead. That will make a great triangle, Gainesville, Chile and Egypt, wow! Oops! I almost forgot the audience in Illinois this time, at the Super Computing Conference. So it's more like the squaring of the triangle. Hmm, now that I think of it is more like a pyramid...I guess it's late.

Thanks to Lorena, Natalie, Renee, Andy, Pat, Salam, Anthony in Gainesville and Nicolas, Hugo, Jaime, MariaJose and Joaquin in Chile and to James for channeling the magic to the unsuspecting audience in Arizona and other parts of the world!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Gift of the Wind

You are all invited this next Thursday 20th and Friday21st to the international collaborative performance of The Gift of the Wind. At the REVE at 5pm. The piece is only 5 minutes long. So make sure you get there on time or you will miss it!
Thursday shows are at 5 pm and 5:30pm. Friday Shows are at 4:30, 5 and 5:30pm.
We are collaborating with Chile and transmitting to Arizona State for the International Fine Art Deans Conference.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Soul of the Machine

Arthur Ganson is an artist-engineer with a great inventive and whimsical mind. Some of his sculptures remind me of Remedios Varo, a surrealist spanish painter that worked and lived in Mexico City when I was a young student. Her work influenced me very deeply. When I first saw her paintings and her sculptures (made with bird and reptile bones), art, and the poetry of art as a way of life opened before me as a beautiful and misterious way that I was determined to follow. As with any way, you sometimes get lost. When I found Arthur Ganson's sculptures it was like a wake up call to stand up and continue walking along that beautiful and misterious way of poetic discovery and exploration.

Remedios Varo (1913-1963)

If you would like to buy a DVD with most of Ganson's work and the process of creation, you can get it here
If you are interested in the work of Remedios Varo (and you should be) there is an Amazon link to the right.
This is a link to a dynamic geometry representation of Ganson's "Cary's Chair" sculpture. It helps you understand the mechanics of that wonderful piece.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Hey Arturo I just noticed your comment about the quote on my blog- it's from Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf- a glorious book I must say. Here's another: "..the bourgeois today burns as heretics and hangs as criminals those to whom he erects monuments tomorrow"
I just finished Daniel Quinn's Ishmael- another powerful novel.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


How cool it is to see creativity evolve before your eyes. Today we got a good dose of it. Here are some samples which give no justice to the actual thing since it is lacking the animation, the surprise, the living moment. But beautiful to look at nonetheless.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I just read the post by Andrew about Kali. It reminded me of Huitzilopochtli, one of the many Aztec deities with which I am fairly familiar (as I was born in their territory!). One interesting thing when you are dealing with mythology is to recognize different aspects of our human culture which find expression through the ages according to the powers that be who interpret them to their advantage for the purpose of power and control. Although Huitzilopochtli is a terrifying figure, the rituals associated with him have a very strong resemblance to Christian ritual; Aztec women made a mixture of ground amaranth seed, honey or human blood then shaped this mixture into figures that were eaten ceremoniously so they could all partake of him. This was so much like Christian communion that during the colony it was forbidden to cultivate amaranth and this remained so for hundreds of years.
His birth also resembles that of Christ; her mother became pregnant when she was struck by a ball of feathers or Mixcoatl (Cloud Serpent) also related to the Milky Way, or fire of the sky, similar to the Holy Spirit!

HOST FIGURINE. Metepec A.D. 650-750
Musio Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico City

This figurine, of the type called "Host Figurine" from A.D.650 contains another figure within itself, a nahual, a sort of soul or shadow companion. Here it is shown with its "skin" removed.
I thought the premise of the narrators and the confusion brings forth more information, is interesting if you can manage the complexity of the story.
I think this story lends itself to be told with shadow puppets and the addition of the narrators as maybe rod-puppets or automatons would greatly complement the setting.
Oh, I could go on an on, what a world we live on!

Update: The Gift of the Wind"

Peru pulled out of the performance due to the short time and some technical problems. So we are currently negotiating with Chile to provide us with some musicians for the show. We still have a very tight schedule but not so crazy as the one posted before. October 14, 19 and 20 are the next performances with Illinois, Gainesville and Arizona.

Time Machine

Used by permisson from Tom Haney

This is a great site, pointed out by Matt. The artist, Tom Haney builds very whimsical automata out of wood and has some very creative solutions for complex movements. I like the fact that he offers a view of parts before and after assembly and even some movies of the mechanism at work. Make sure to check out the movies (some don't work on a Mac) as well as his many other pieces. You can see this guy loves his work! I hope it is an inspiration to all as you move towards animating your characters.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Gift of the Wind is a go!

With very little time to create, rehearse and perform this show is already slated for September 29th, next week! So the only choice we have is to pack one rehearsal after the other until performance day. We will start Friday at 6pm and rehearse Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. This means those interested should get together tomorrow to prepare some basic stuff, more like placeholders for what needs to be done. Everyone both here and in Peru is on a great rush to make this happen. Like a friend told me once; "Be realistic, ask for the impossible!"
We will talk about it tomorrow.
The sky pictured above is from Katrina over Mississippi. It the inspiration for Woswo's appearance over the peaceful village. I composited over a picture of the stage in Peru just to give an idea of what it could look like. The man standin there is one of the organizers.

If someone has a small fish tank please bring it to do some tests (sky generation with water and ink)

And this is the mask of the condor, who will, together with the shaman, bring the gift of wind (music) to the people, liberating them from evil. It's costume is being made now, it might be ready for Friday but if not we can rehearse with the mask alone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

on the road to this ...

Kim and I are ready to get an image worth framing! Like this image, ha! So, come one come all to St. Augustine beach Sunday morning!!!!! It is best to leave very early to beat the crazy crowd, so please respond to this post if you are interested and we can do all the planning that way. Great!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kite Day!

Tuesday promises to be a good wind day, or so they say, so those who have kites bring them tomorrow. We will meet at the Flavet Field. Just make sure you also bring your journal or workbook because we might have to wait for the wind to pick up and we should all work on our upcoming production. UV will be very high tomorrow so protect your skin!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

For the birds

I love Vaucanson's (1709-1782) duck. One of the many fascinating inventions that came from this man of whom Voltaire said: "A rival to Prometheus, [Vaucanson] seemed to steal the heavenly fires in his search to give life". Among the many far-reaching innovations that he introduced, one in particular stands as the seed of a revolution he could not have imagined. He started to use punch cards to automate weaving. This generated great hostility from the workers who saw their job in peril (sounds familiar?).
His invention was later perfected by Jaquard (1752-1834), the father of the modern loom, which some consider the first graphical computer.

Later on Charles Babbage (1792-1871) picked up the punch card idea which became an integral part of modern day computers as a programming input device, thanks to Augusta Ada Byron Countess of Lovelace (1815-52), the first programmer.

How is that for the birds?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Have kite, will fly!

The box was at the door, waiting to be opened. Looks like a good kite, well manufactured and very light. Power Sled, $27 at coastalkites
Will try it tomorrow and take some pics if it gets airborne.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Gift of the Wind

We have been invited to participate as performers, puppeteers in the inaguration of the CLARA NET in Latin America with a 5 minute original piece by Lorena Paola adapted from her own work "Semilla Original". The performance would be in the afternoon of September 29 via Polycom with Lima, Peru. After that, performances will be held October 14, 19 and 20. These performances (of the same piece) will be presented via Internet 2 at the National Center for Super Computing Applications at the University of Illinois, then a rehearsal on the 19th for a local audience including UFL's President and finally a performance for the International Council of Fine Arts Deans at Arizona State University.
Needless to say a very exciting opportunity to demonstrate our diverse talents.
For those interested rehearsals will start a week from today; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 9pm at Digital Worlds.
Available tasks are puppet making of the evil bird Woswo and the Condor as well as background images and set pieces. We will discuss the story and visual concepts in class but I am posting pics of Woswo so you see the character.The Shaman who gives the Gift of the Wind to the people is pictured below.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Follow the lead

Check this out! Absolutely cool. The rig autobalances itself, the silly putty timer oozes along nicely (you really have to pack it, otherwise it triggers too soon) and it is ready to fly like the mouse says. Good job!
Make sure to read Rebekah's blog, click her name on the Team Blogs column.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The African Connection

Renee pointed out on her blog to the fascinating puppets from Mali, check this site for some background and even some sounds. It is important to note that puppets are an integral part of tribal life and the memory and thoughts that would otherwise be lost are preserved and transmitted through this form. In tribal societies puppets and maks are agents of transformation. Myths and legends are relived, ilnesses cured, spirits guided and practical information transmitted. These are some good articles about masks: 1 , 2

You can find some wonderful puppets, including some from Mali at the Center for Puppetry Arts like this beautiful rod puppet that is used to tell stories relevant to a farming or agricultural society since this migrating Kono (bird) signals the arrival of the rain.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Haunting characters

Farrell posted a note on her blog about Scott Radke whose work I find inspiring. I think he brings out a lot of inner turmoil and painful soul searching with those beautifully sad creatures who are born to express his angst in a poetic way. You can click on the placeholders to see his work.

His characters remind me of the drawings of Jose Luis Cuevas, a famous Mexican artist whose work I like and who influenced me in my early years (the 60's!) There is an interesting statement by Cuevas here that sheds some light on his inner process. Here is one of his early litographs.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Pneumatics of HERO OF ALEXANDRIA

One of the hundreds of inventions by Heron, who is one of the fathers of Automata. The doors of a temple are opened (and closed) by the fire in the altar. Heron lived 10-70 AD. His ideas have inspired and inspire inventors, tinkerers and certainly puppeters. Leonardo and other artist-engineers from the Renaissance (like Brunelleschi) tried their hands at some of his descriptions.
See this apparatus that sets figurines in motion by heat.
This next site is one of my favorites, since it is a translation from the greek of his "Pneumatics". Check it out! I am sure you will want to build one of those. The following pic is a modern version of his "Aeolipile", perhaps one of the first steam engines. It revolves at more than 3500 rpm!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

share what we've found...

I've been doing a little research, since I am new in this field of art, and I wanted to share a little of what I've found. I was hoping others would do the same. I had fun looking through the Cabaret Mechanical Theater, a museum in the United Kingdom that displays a collection of contemporary automata.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Paper Forest

Paper Forest
This site is just plain fun and it leads to great discoveries. Such is the nature of bloggin. Lots of relevant construction techniques and working models made with the simplest of materials (paper!) Check this link as an example.

iCAGE: Experimental Performance Hybrid

iCAGE (2005)
for ipod, fm transmitter and any number of FM radios
arranged by pagano.

iCAGE is an homage and a pun on contemporary consumer entertainment trends.
it seeks to remind us of the possibilities embedded in electronics without providing a judgment system or defense of digital fine arts. It also serves as an overdue expression of personal gratitude to John Cage.

Prior to the concert, the performer pre-loads either John Cage reading his diary, or Indeterminacy lectures from 1950 on the ipod. The piece can use any number of radios or "receivers" that can tune into the frequency emitted from the ipod
The radios are placed all around the performing space at variable distances from the performer and variable locations depending on the performance space
Using a readily available FM transmitter attached to ipod, an itrip, [made for tuning ipod to car and home stereos] the lecture or reading is broadcast to the radios arranged in the space.
The menu dial on the ipod is randomly tweaked back and forth in scrub mode to reveal chance phrases and noises.
the performance would conclude when the performer allows one entire sentence to be spoken by John Cage.
static and other interference from the radios is considered a plus.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Caffeine Frenzied Few Weeks

Well What a few weeks. What can I say…. We all did a wonderful job and I hope we get the chance to keep the connections up. Until we get the chance to do it again with even more nodes.

Here is a brief account of the some of the key moments for the UK crew.

Rebuild number one. Reconfigured access grid node to use the Insors software. Went easily enough.

Rebuild number two. Running network with minimal security. Got hacked. Got a call at home after 2 hours sleep to say that the machine was on and sending suspicious data. Super Janet was about to shut down my connection over the weekend !!!!!!!!!!!

5 hours later I had it sorted but not tidy!!!!!!!!

We had two major network outages one was the main municipal switch which took down around 5 colleges and we missed a rehearsal.

The other was less serious and was fixed by rebooting our switch at another college site.

The performances were filled with anxiety, anticipation and excitement (a strangely addictive mix), what would crash this time? Would we be able to fix it in time? Would our performance be ok?

Pat, Sue and Dave trying to stave off sleep and understand direction :-)

Pat puts in some Camera training whilst waiting to go on camera. Ably assisted by Paul (Senior camera man) and Kate (Production Assistant).

Rod (Producer) and Mike (Production Manager) come alive in front of the camera....
Like all good British shows. The cast and crew were kept awake by many cups of tea.

Well that brings me to the end of my thoughts for the week. It was hard and challenging but all the problems seem to fade away when you see the reactions of the children around the world.

I tend to see these things as technological challenges but they are far far more than that. One day I would like to meet you all in person.

One final thought.

We had all this technology but we could not do anything about the time zones :-( I imagine i will have to wait for teleportation!!!!!!

Best wishes to you all and lets just keep doing it.....

Friday, August 05, 2005

Music from the High Andes

Jaime, Hugo and Nicolás delighting us with
the ancient sound of the zampoña and quenas.
Learn more about the zampoña and quena and
listen to the sound.

Figuring it out

Jose Antonio and Cynthia trying to make sense
of the ever-morphing script

You tied up sparrows in our arms and taught us how to fly

Almost a day has passed since we waved our hands –saying goodbye- to the cameras that connected us, through the AccessGrid, with James, Arturo, Andy, Manuel, Ivi, Caitlin, Jung-Min, Geonae, Michael and his kangaroo tail J, Taylar-Jo, Mick, Rosie, Sheree, Susan, Patrick, David and all that huge team behind the cameras. One day is not too much… well yes and no. A day seemed to be too much when we were rehearsing, suffering local and remote problems, tired some of us, sleepy others, all of us worried. A day is nothing now, when we are able to look back and we start to count all the magnificent things that occurred to convert “In Common: TIME” not just in a successful project and a wonderful experience, but also in a MAGIC TIME.

Yes, MAGIC, in capital letters. Isn’t it magic what happened between us and with us? In a period of time in which the anger, traduced in such horrible and violent attacks to different countries (hearts and souls have been broken worldwide), seems to be the only global thing that happens; Someone called Arturo, that has a wonderful group of people that believes in his wacky ideas, thinks that it is quite possible to create a virtual scenario in which children and adults of Korea, Australia, USA, England and Chile, can get to know each other and also to do a really good thing just because of the pleasure of trying something new… Hi tech? Yes. But is there anything more cold than technology? I don’t know, but I can tell you that with that technology that crazy man tied up sparrows in our arms and taught us how to fly… that wasn’t cold at all.

No, this is not a metaphor, it can’t be a metaphor, because I saw five children –named Cynthia, José Antonio, Jaime, Hugo and Nicolás- happily giving their best efforts to accomplish Arturo's dream. Five children enjoying the work, the jokes, the words, the creativity of an enormous group of people that taught them that a dream can become real if you trust others and collaborate with them no matter how distant they are, or how many differences they have with you.

All I’ve got to say is THANKS TO ALL OF YOU! It was such a pleasure to experience this fly with you. And, by the way, Hugo, Nicolás, Jaime, José Antonio and Cynthia, asked me to tell Arturo and his wonderful team, that if they plan a new wacky performance, please count with them.

Ooops, I’ve almost forgot, a very nice report was published today in the most important Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio, check it out at:{E9A667C4-852D-453E-8B56-1C177658FBFF

Pictures at: