This is a documentary photography series of humans, myself and others, that are part of a compilation of photographs I’ve taken that spans two decades. I owned a Canon Rebel Film, then a Canon Rebel Digital, then a Canon 7D.
Friends & Strangers
Tectonic Trees was a winner of Artbox Projects’ VOTE4ART mobile app. Artbox Projects, a booth hosted by Art Spectrum and Red Dot Miami during Art Basel displayed Tectonic Trees twice an hour on their television screen. Art Basel is a massive event for artists that happens in Miami during the first week of December. And it holds many events like Art Spectrum and Red Dot that are spread out through Miami and Miami Beach. While I am very happy to have participated in this event and submit my artwork to the mobile app, watch out for Artbox Projects!
Artbox Projects accept thousands of artists’ submissions for their booth! And displays thousands of these artwork submissions on a single television screen. Displaying artwork as a slideshow on one tv means that it takes about 30 minutes for the artwork to appear again.
The above photo by Scott Redinger-Libolt / RedPhoto shows an artist who came all the way from Italy and I getting to know each other very well as we were both waiting on the couch for our artworks to appear. I thought maybe there was some type of random algorithm function but it seems to just be ordered by the last name of each of the artist, kind of… I was waiting for Girard to appear, but somehow the order of the artworks began with those with the last letter H. Her last name began with T, so she was done in 15 minutes.
The app was displayed at the very front of the Artbox Projects booth during the Art Spectrum and Red Dot event. The app offers a similar feature to the actual installation. It’s a slideshow of photos and users can vote for their favorites. So I downloaded the app and submitted my artwork.
Tectonic Trees won. How so? Well I hope that it’s because it’s a pretty killer photograph. But also I promoted VOTE4ART on my Twitter handle @Christop early and told my coworkers to download the app early. The app is a pretty cool and simple idea. You get three votes once a day. And people vote. The slideshow interface of the app works makes it very difficult to see everything. It takes a longer and longer time to go through everything as more and more people submit. I suggest that anyone else who wants to win $500 to promote your artwork early! That $500 I got went to a month’s worth of groceries. Here is VOTE4ART’s Hall of Fame of besties.
Tectonic Trees can be purchased as an unframed 8×10″ matte print here.
Self-published book of collage poems Questions to an Answerless Specter is a three and ½ poem book that I wrote for good old fashioned physical distribution. The journey begins at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park and ends at a live reading at some guy’s house in West Hollywood. Composer and conceptual artist Mark So has incorporated my reading of the poems into a cassette recording while giving me a blow job at his studio in the Royal Lake Apartments in Pico Union.
Here is a downloadable and foldable book in printable PDF form.
Or here is the page and a half in its entirety:
Extinction is our reverse engineering
Soon followed by
Tell her husband!
Chain trouble so fountainhead
and gnocchi, weewee
Abate and abide
Animal baby, cells of crisis
This rain has nothing to do
No more rhyme nor euphony
Upheld by youth, a great king
The height of distance
Happiness is unknown
0 that ends with 0
Shadow/Shadows/Tomb, a new media video collage death poem, runs tombstones on four video screens. The videos run on a program called Max/MSP/Jitter behind the interface. The poem consists of four streaming films that are systematically arranged into a box, which create a larger poem. This happens as each of the inscriptions are juxtaposed next to each other.
Shadows/Shadows/Tomb streams for over two days without looping. This video poem, despite its name, reflects how life continues on after death. Hundreds of year old tombstones show their wear and tear underneath overgrown plant life and the creatures amid them. Video recorded on my Canon 7D also shows spiderwebs, dead leaves and flies, anything that was on top of the tombstones within the cemetery.
The poem is structured on the constraint of filming objects within the cemetery. Each individual poem uses words that compositionally and grammatically fit into the area of the box it streams in. Verbs, primarily, and objects that visually correspond to the top images are placed on the top two boxes. Nouns, exclamations and other objects are placed in the bottom two boxes to end the poem.
Chris Girard Explains Shadow Shadows Tomb, 2011
Shadow Shadows Tomb, 2011, New Media/Video Collage. This above video offers a 20 minute recording of the poem.
Originally, the new media collage poem was supposed to focus on the poet Sylvia Plath and not myself. The original plan I proposed was to travel to Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, where Plath’s tombstone is located. I would film engravings and inscriptions of texts on tombstones within the perimeter of the cemetery. But the filming actually took place at Nunhead Cemetery in London, which is a cemetery proximally located to where I live.
Tombstones in each respective cemetery visually look different by the way that the environment interacts with them. Religious and cultural backgrounds of the people buried are revealed through age, use of the materials, and the inscriptions left by family members. Yet the tombstones essentially look old tombstones that belong to an old cemetery. These relics of the cemetery are documented through the particles of words and surfaces filmed from my findings.
You can find an interview about this death poem with artist Claudia Crobatia at A Course in Dying.
Plants and trees grow over the tombstones and the sounds of people walking and children playing symbolize both death and life. The use of cemeteries as parks in London and the plant life, animals and insects that surrounds the area becomes a poem that challenges death. Lives that intertwine next to objects that signify death show the cyclical nature of death. It shows how death is not static but becomes part of an ever-changing presence. The challenge of death, for example, is to stay dead. Death is an omnipresent re-casting of historical moments mixed within the present moment. Plants and creatures that move atop of the surface of the tombs and signify an ‘afterlife’.
The poem suggests my bodily presence in terms of the ‘author function’. Allusions of the poem document my movements, choice of engravings and artifacts that I choose to film. It is located as well by its proximity to my residence near the cemetery, which is less than a half a mile away. The new media poem references myself, places myself, as a collagist, into a working role of writing a story about identity.
This process of working with identities that are constructed after death became an important part of my research focus. Shadow/Shadows/Tomb illustrates this process through the use of a technology that is considered new media. The poem is categorized as a new media poem as the video clips run film clips in endlessly different combinations from a single location. It becomes a poem about my own identity based upon my proximity.
This proximity incorporates where I lived at the time, Brockley, London SE42JJ, to create this poem. This further goes to allude about how my identity, which is a construct of the reader, never stays the same. The proliferation of an author is as always a construct of the reader, and is therefore indistinguishable to attributes given to other authors. The role that is constructed for me will be ever-changing and wavering like with how Shadow Shadows Tomb is constructed, and meaning will endlessly change.
The Max/MSP/Jitter patch streams each of the four boxes or screens with film clips.
Shadow Shadows Tomb incorporates new media technology into the poem with the use of the video codes that run on a Max/MSP/Jitter patch. Constantly changing screens with a poem that figuratively never ends suggest that meaning could be determined on the process itself. Four video clips are executed and encoded on Max/MSP/Jitter to run on a loop that constantly changes. An awareness that this poem will not begin for a while becomes apparent after one spends time with it. Each of the four displays play a hand-picked selection of 12 to 15 videoclips that separately run 12, 13, 14 and 15 six second video clips. And each of the displays runs a different number of video clips. This is because two or more of the displays would otherwise constantly play the same words and objects on the screen in repetition.
An idea of this poem is for it to constantly show a different sequence of images to have unexpected and very surprising results. The poem will show different combinations of words, objects and creatures for 54.6 hours or 2.275 days before repeating itself. I calculated this by multiplying the clips together. I then multiplied this result by six seconds to calculate the total number of seconds how long it will play before combinations begin to duplicate again. I then divided the total length in seconds by 60 to calculate the minutes and divided again by 60 to calculate the hours and divided again by 24 to calculate the days.
The individual images become familiar when they constantly appear and reappear. There are a total of 54 film stills. The four displays combined with words, creatures or scenes will show different sequences for over two days. Each of the screens individually run a poem on loop as well. Changing word combinations elude to a death poem by its proximity. It changes scenes in this filmed cemetery that familiarizes the viewer. Ambient sounds, which are combined from each of the four scenes, resonate the familiarity of this location. Children playing, birds chirping and people walking over leaves show a familiar resonance of life within the proximity of the cemetery.
Evidences of life in the streaming poem make the poem more fluidly composed with the rhythm that it carries. They contextualize its British location of the cemetery as the type of fauna and accents are distinctly heard within the perimeters of these grounds. The ambient sounds imply that death is as present as life. It becomes lifelike with the sounds that reverberate its presence.
Tombstone Poem is a video poem taken at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (also known as Hollywood Memorial Park) by Chris Girard. The film constitutes engravings found on tombstones of public figures and celebrities made in December 2010. It was tentatively entitled Forever, Forever, Forever due to the overwhelming number of words “forever” found on these tombstones. The video poem was subsequently collaged and sequenced into a poem based on the words found and filmed. The ambient sounds reflect the surprising quietness of the celebrity-filled cemetery in the middle of a busy weekday Los Angeles. The film is an exploration of the omnipresence of historical moments signified by tombstones and the words that provide their description.
Printable version of poem.
Law Series is a type of photo detournement. It constitutes repurposed photographs of street signs that are either cropped from their original state or framed. The change in composition alters the rules and regulations to produce other rules and regulations.
When I was 21 years old taking art photography classes, I was interested in exhibitionism and the performance that one acts when on camera. I looked at constructs of intimacy and the clashes that it creates. I believe regulation creates the boundaries of intimacy and a change in the rules changes how one behaves. In a way, isolation forms the placement of these regulatory mechanisms. Expression isolates or ‘interiorizes’ and even alienates from these mechanisms. Outdoor NO signs clearly show these mechanisms. I lived near hundreds of these signs growing up in Orange County, California.
The four scenes in each of the photo collages evolve a story by a reader who searches for correlations and patterns in scattered and ephemeral environments. California housing associations estrange these landscapes and gated communities by heavily regulating them.
Laguna Niguel is an inland town that borders the beach town of Laguna Beach in Orange County. I noticed when visiting my parents how many NO signs there are. Niguel Summit, which is the housing association my parents lived in the 1990s and 2000s, offers at least one NO sign for every 15 feet.
I decided to photograph all of these NO signs within a one mile perimeter from my parents’ home. It’s funny and absurd in a way to have a No Parking sign followed by a No Trespassing sign followed by a No Parking sign. This is something you wouldn’t see in most other places. Other places where I subsequently lived, like San Francisco, London or Los Angeles, do not do this.
I believe this has to do with is Laguna Niguel being a collection of privately-owned housing associations rather than a town. This phenomenon of private housing associations seems to define upper middle class living at the cusp of the 20th and 21st Centuries. These McMansions that look alike are also located next to shopping centers with the same stores. I wanted to explore how identities form and become alienated in these regulated private communities. So I made a detournement.
Glass, mirrors, fog, blur and shadows symbolize intimacy. These selfies are taken indoors and reflected on glass and mirrors taken on different beds.
The Route Throughout is a long epic poem self-published on a paper zine in 2003 and turned to web browser-based hyperpoetry a decade-or-so later.
The paper zine was originally Google translated from a French poem, then collaged, then written, then rewritten in 2003 to 2005. Then it was republished again in 2010 and 2017. The results were originally made as a script for an experimental documentary that was never filmed. In 2005, the poem was self-published into a zine. Copies were distributed to bookstores on Valencia Street in San Francisco like Dog Eared Books and Modern Times Books.
Years later, I found the zines collecting dust in a box and began to look through the few paper copies I have left, and decided to publish it online.
I embedded into the poem the filmic directions of the original script that have never been included before as an interactive element of the poem. Like TRY ME., revealing the process of how the poem was envisioned through hyperlinks is an important part of the interaction with the poem. I also included all of the surrealist photography I photographed. I scanned from a film scanner and incorporated into the paper version of zine. The black lines in some of the photo series denote the spaces between negative images.
Chris Girard describes the audio and video poems from the installation.
Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus is a multimedia installation and experiment in new media poetics that strategically re-imagines authorial identities. These identities are particularly those from street signs and audio clips of renowned confessional poet Sylvia Plath. By presenting collaged audio and video recordings, the project radically questions the power traditionally associated with the author. Since Plath’s suicide almost 50 years ago, she continues to be cast as a depressed wife and mother. The imperatives of this role still weigh heavy upon the production of her biography and the reception of her work.
The collaging of audio and video clips reembodies Plath as an omnipresent ghost and shifts meaning away from an exclusive association with the tragically depressed, the pathologized Plath. But, instead of disembodying the writing entirely away from the author, the author now wavers productively between Plath, reader/viewer and myself. The act of shifting references away from the author’s life and intention enables the writing to become more open to alternate interpretation, more open to this new historical moment and audience.
Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus, 2009-10, Audio Collage
The installation consists of audio and video collages that are created through the cutting and rearranging of prerecorded audio and video recordings of texts into sequences of connected texts that play new poems.
The audio component was collaged from the poems that Sylvia Plath read in the early 1960s entitled Lady Lazarus and The Applicant to form a new hybrid poem entitled Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus.
Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus, 2009-10, Video Collage
The video component was a series of video collages of texts documented near the location where Plath committed suicide in Camden, London. The installation explores how meaning shifts from the intended authors recorded on the audio, video and images to myself through the process of collaging and recording the installation objects.
While the project primarily touches on issues of authorship, embodiment and performativity, discourse surrounding digital and new media poetics shows the effect it has on the reader too. It shows how the attribution of an author by the reader becomes complicated from the instability and constantly changing state of screen-based interfaces like that of the project.
For example… Plath, an American who lived in England for only a few years, oddly spoke with a fake English accent during these readings. It suggests a construction of identity to place. The audio presents a phonetic collage of Plath’s voice from BBC recordings of her poems Lady Lazarus and The Applicant during her stay in London and a few years before her death in 1963. The fragments of audio are sliced, extracted and rearranged from individual words of her readings to produce a seamless collage of poetry.
In theoretical terms, the project explores ‘performativity’ of the ‘author function’. The ‘author function’ is a term coined by poststructural theorist Michel Foucault to describe how readers attribute certain characteristics that they believe belong to the author and ascribe them to the writing.
‘Performativity’ is a term used by philosopher Judith Butler to describe a set of actions that ascribe and predetermine a set of attributes to a subject through his or her gender, age, timeframe, nationality and race.
The performativity of the author function appropriates these characteristics of an identity and attributes the characteristics to the author. For a much longer explanation, please see Ph.D. thesis here.
This image shows the process of collaging words from Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus and The Applicant (bottom tracks) with SoundTrack Pro to form a new hybrid poem Lady/Applicant: The Lazarus (top track).
A poem was created based on street and storefront signs found near Plath’s former residence and place of death in Camden, London. These clips were weaved together on iMovie and inspired by experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton’s film entitled Zorns Lemma. They are composed of texts arranged in a semiotic sequence that are subservient to their visual surroundings. The cadence of sound and the sequence of visual texts from instructional and public signs filmed within a five block perimeter of 23 Fitzroy Road reflect the constraint and play of a historical moment.
The plaque images show a transformation of a historical moment to an instruction. William Butler Yeats lived in the same townhouse that Plath committed suicide in about 25 years before. Though both are noted figures, only the plaque of Yeats is shown in front of 23 Fitzroy Road. This component was included in the installation as 4×6 matte photos scattered on the floor.
Gestalt is a code poem created by using a collage of the codes that constitute and run the visual programming language Max/MSP/Jitter from Cycling ’74.
You can download the Max/MSP/Jitter patch from my website here: gestalt.zip (12.6 MB)
In order to play it, either you have Max or you may download a free trial of Max/MSP/Jitter on the Cycling ’74 downloads page, here. If you’re not interested in creating your own projects with Max/MSP/Jitter, you may also download Max Runtime which is freeware that doesn’t include editing capabilities. Max Runtime is on the right hand side of the downloads page, under “Extras.”
When I first was introduced to Max during a demonstration for a DANM orientation at UC Santa Cruz in early 2008, I was enraptured by the architectural structure of white boxes and cables. I relish the memory because I don’t remember anything else about the program nor what it was supposed to do.
At the forefront of what I still find interesting about Max/MSP is still this visual aspect of code. The code is set in a myriad of uniform and white rectangles interwoven to form an architectural substructure of boxes connected to cables or black lines. They go to a hierarchical box that represents the focal point of Max/MSP. About 200 predefined object codes not only mimic the visual and aesthetic interface of Max, but function as a poem and run the program that streams ‘poetry’. Elements embedded into the program like the sound filter and the background color visually demonstrate how the evolving imagery can be interwoven into poetry.
The fragments of code function with the power to output and edit another a program that streams poetry through a structure of cables that connect to make noise. In other words, what I did was collage the objects with other objects and connect some objects within the poem to external outputs. The code is edited to run in slow motion with a filter to further obstruct the voice into an inaudible one. This is so that the sound aids in the inflection of the visual poem and not distract it. I wove together predefined object codes in an attempt to create a seamless collage to mimic a visual and an aesthetic interface like Max that will function as a poem and also run a program.
The playback with media unfolds provocative allusions to programming from a slow disjointed poem. It reflects the absurd digital kitsch of which the object the code is creating. All of the words that constitute the poem are from about 200 predefined object codes. The elements of this project like the sound filter and the background color are unnecessary but demonstrate code as poetry.
I believe that Max/MSP could be provocative within the context of what the viewer is not supposed to see, hear nor interact with. The visual perspective of Max/MSP is troublesome because as a visual tool, the systematic and architectural structures of the boxes are more visually appealing to me than function of boxes as output.
The ease of using Max/MSP is through its visuals. Max/MSP’s visual layout offers similarities to futurist poetry over a century ago in terms of direction and output. Futurist poets explored the ways of reading poetry similar to a current of electricity flowing in several directions. A futurist poem intermingles and connect to several boxes in different directions function similarly to a these cables.
As the poem entitled Gestalt reads from left to right and downward with each line break, the cables that connect this poem simultaneously traverse from the poem to its output. Gestalt is an object code and also means a collection of entities that creates a unified concept, which is greater than the sum of its parts. How poetry and code can fundamentally be explored through its semantic structure is with language as symbols for commands that have the power to create a representation of programming as poetry.
I believe Max/MSP excels with music and music with the aid of external electronics but I am left unconvinced that the program is suitable for dialectically accomplishing more than the equivalent of a computer screensaver. Peter Elsea advised me to implement in my poetry in a colorful 3D display of traveling text in standing gravity with point perspective.
I thought about the dancing sentence and how it could be written with so many codes is really limiting to the exploration of text itself. While the dancing sentence follows a serious digital kitsch movement in interactive poetics, which pokes fun at mainstream Internet culture and its overuse of bright neon colors and revolving texts, this kind of enticement is not my cup of tea. What I tried to accomplish with Max was to show aesthetics of code and partly with the program’s interface that isn’t used or shown in art.
The code structurally represents how the poem can be recreated. Similarly, the evolving imagery is a visual representation of poetry in its composition and movement. Each box represents a single still image as part of a series like film stills to a moving image. The random fading in and out of imagery is to show a visual connection between the compositions of the imagery.
The inspiration for the visual and audio portion of this project, which I created on Soundtrack Pro is filmmaker Hollis Frampton. Hollis Frampton inspires me because his video cutups, specifically from his film Palindrome, represent a fragmentation of frame stills to achieve a dialectic result, like poetry, between each still. What he did in Palindrome was weave the ends of several filmstrips to create an abstract film of different shapes. Both of our cut-ups represent a disembodiment of its original form.
The hypertext book of poems, entitled TRY ME., can be viewed here.
Spam, or more colloquially known as unsolicited junk email, is collaged to create this series of hypertext poems. I collected spam over the course of an eight month period and then began working the magic. Embedded passages of literature are therefore found in the spam. The original spam emails are rearranged and collaged with the embedded literature to form a new and hybrid poem.
I kept all of the words from the original literature in the process of collaging the poems that constitute TRY ME. Literary excerpts include J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
While an anagram is the rearrangement of letters from a given word or phrase to another, a lexical anagram is the rearrangement of a lexicon or words from one given body of text to another. I employed a ‘lexical anagram’ as a binding constraint to conjoin the writing of this digital book of poems. This conjoining of words means that all of the words from the source body are woven into the new one.
A reader interacts with TRY ME. by clicking on a series of hyperlinks that appear on each new page. Each hyperlink changes the context and meaning of the preceding poem. Text blinks and moves throughout the page to modify how each of the poems is read on subsequent pages. The poems are displayed in chronological order from which the spam was found. The original date shows the date in 2006 from which the spam was retrieved.