I’m so happy to share with you electric wire, the first video single from my Angkor Wat book and album. electric wire represents the genesis of the entire project, it being the first poem I wrote during my first visit to Siem Reap. It’s based on my experience of exploring the town and the things I experienced and saw there. The video is a visual interpretation of the poem (and the experiences it describes). There’s also an electric wire zine and even tote bag you can get as gifts over at my fundraiser for Cambodian children. Check it out and enjoy.
I’m writing to tell you about my latest project. Angkor Wat is a poetry/photography book and spoken word album based on my travels in Cambodia. If you follow me online, you may have seen some of my photos from those trips last year as they happened. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. My book is a major project and is what sparked my second pilgrimage to the Far East, which I did by myself in December of 2016. In that sense, this is the biggest project I have ever undertaken. And even though the book and accompanying album are out now—and I hope you will read and listen to them—I am not done.
When I was in Cambodia, I met a monk named Sokhun. Sokhun and I had an immediate connection because he is a poet like me. He’s also into computers and teaches computer skills, as well as English, to several hundred students in a school he founded in the rural area where he grew up. Our common interests of poetry and technology helped things get off to a great start, and I now feel blessed to call him my friend.
Understanding the difference between skillful vs unskillful fear is an important Buddhist concept. I’ve been thinking about this in very personal terms. When I did my convergence installation earlier this year, I had to face some fears. The piece is installed in the middle of the woods. To fully experience the piece, you must visit in the dark of night with no lights. That can be a somewhat scary thing, especially with the constant sounds of the forest and all the animals around you. But I pushed myself forward to do this with skillful fear. I remember sitting there under cover of darkness, the convergence orbs glowing nearby, hearing the snaps and cracks of animals and birds all around. I even heard the snorting of deer who dashed away as soon as they detected my presence. My heart raced at these encounters with skillful fear, helping me ultimately get more in touch with my love for these animals and nature at large.
I captured one of the encounters on video when I heard something moving towards me. It turned out to be an armadillo! I had never seen an armadillo in Georgia before. When I showed the footage to my parents, they were amazed as in their almost-70 years of living there, they also had never seen an armadillo. I guess it takes a New York artist working in the woods—and a bit of skillful fear—to bring them out!
No matter what your fears may be, I encourage you to practice skillful fear. Use your fear as a tool to uncover more productive feelings within—not as a weapon in defense.
9/11 is forever etched in my mind. It’s a day that forever changed the course of history. But it’s also a day of intense personal experience for me as a young New Yorker. It was only natural that I would communicate about that experience through my writing and art. In 2014 I collected a tightly curated selection of that work for The Language of History exhibition at NYPL Jefferson Market Library. I also published a book by the same name to expand upon that show. But both the show and the book were tightly curated. My archive contained so much more that remained unseen and unpublished.
In 2015, when the 9/11 Memorial Museum expressed interest in my archive, I decided to prepare something totally unique and original just for the occasion. I designed a special anodized aluminum limited edition box to house original photographic prints from this body of work as well as a copy of The Language of History book. While the original book contained only 26 photographs, this special I’m set expands the total number to 129.
The purpose of the box is archival in nature. Many of these photos are not necessarily aesthetically pleasing or even good photographs in a technical sense. But they do document a very specific time and place and cover an aspect of the 9/11 tragedy—the local experience from Greenwich Village—in a way I’ve never seen done before. It’s hard to remember how back in 2001 we didn’t have cell phone cameras documenting events all around us, so that fact that I created all these photos is more unique than it might sound. My intent is to commit these personal images to the narrative preserved by the 9/11 Memorial Museum so that our larger collective history can remember the quiet stories of those dark days us New Yorkers experienced so many years ago.
I’m so excited to announce the newest publication from bd-studios.com. Puertas Españolas is something a little different than anything else you’ll find in the bd Library. It’s a suite of short poems by Josemaria Mejorada and May Gañán paired with a set of photos I took of various doors while traveling in Spain. Doors are a very interesting part of buildings. I encountered so many unique doors wandering around the streets of Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, and Seville. I decided to publish the images as a set of postcards–but I wanted another voice to work with the images as a counterpoint. Josemaria and May’s poetry is the perfect accompaniment. The poems are not about the images, but, rather, they exist as another layer, providing a glimpse into another world. When we pass through doors, we enter new places, new spaces, and new environments. Josemaria and May have helped me transform these Spanish doors into portals to a realm of poetry. I hope that you will open each door to discover the worlds that await you. The set is very limited. Contact us if you are interested to obtain a copy.
30 Apr 2018