Thursday, May 31, 2018
Thursday, May 17, 2018
os180517 Norwegian Independence Day
Bringing to mind a compatriot
In 1969, Lynda and I struggled across the median of Karl Johann’s Gate to catch a shuttle to the airport. I was weighed down with a wooden box containing the plates I made at Rolf Nesch’s studio and at Atelier Nord, Anne Breivik’s workshop. Hurrying by outdoor patios filled with people quaffing beer, we envied them as they celebrated the holiday while we had to catch a plane to France.
Today, 48 years later, I sent a message off to Adam King, an Englishman living in Norway with his wife and kids who is translating the latest biography of Rolf Nesch. He asked me to clarify some technical points in the manuscript before it goes off to the printer. They were matters of what the printmaking terms meant, moving from Norwegian to English that would make sense to English readers.
I enjoyed it as I got me the feeling of a time-traveler, seeing that our effort in 1969 had come to some good. To anyone who has not had an experience like this it’s a small, trivial matter; but to me it brought me a reward. Call it perspective, seeing how the mere translation of the Norwegian term bunnplaten into the literal bedding plate to the more accurate background plate comes by way of years of experience.
Back to the present, I think about the visit I made to the homepage of a printmaker in Seattle who blogged about her use of a background plate. In this instance she referred to a monotype background for an overprinting of a linoleum-cut image she included with her remarks. Like me, she’s a world traveler as shown in the same context:
“I find traveling and translating those little moments of journeying into a 2-D print useful in highlighting and making sense of how I and others around me fit into the world. More importantly I would love to expand my exploration and bring it into a public sphere to expand the conversation of places and spaces in Seattle as it grows and changes.”
In her words I sense that she’s a companion in my thinking, feeling, perhaps, how I felt (and do feel today) as when I was a twenty-eight-year-old and getting started as a world-traveling artist and teacher. Now, at seventy-six, my role as teacher is small, merely helping an English translator get the text just right for the author writing Nesch’s biography.
It pleases me to know that I was correct in my assumption back in the 1960’s that the information age would bring unexpected benefits to artists even as a traditional printmakers, allowing for intellectual exchanges that could help keep the work of artists like Rolf Nesch (one of my teachers) alive long after their passing.
But how, I have to wonder, can I help a young, living artist like the woman who “. . . would love to expand (her) exploration and bring it into a public sphere to expand the conversation of places and spaces in Seattle as it grows and changes.” She says that it is more important than finding how she and others fit into the world.
I agree with her. It is important to bring this exploration into a public sphere and to expand the conversation of places and spaces into our city. Her approach is different than mine, I suppose. I don’t know what it is, so I cannot say. Mine, however, is definite: I would say she should help the formation of the International Print Center and Inkubators.
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
180512 About the title Dumb Hope
Time to quit Spanish on Duolingo?
For quite a long time I spent this part of the day – from about 5:50 AM to 6:20 – using Duolingo to practice learning Spanish. I cannot say, “learning Spanish” because I am evidently not learning it. I am only practicing how I might learn it in the absence of actual Spanish classes, a teacher, and living in a Spanish-speaking culture. I started this partly to see how online learning methods are designed – taking apart the results like I used to take apart a clock to see how it works.
Sometimes I was rewarded, such as the designers’ rewards systems, as Duolingo gives the user “Lingots” for levels achieved, daily reminders that you’re being consistent, and, at one time, a flash card approach.
Nine years ago, I began looking at digital games to see how others use computers and the Internet or media storage. The band REO Speedwagon, for example, tried to sell CD’s by adding a game to their productions.
By taking on Spanish-learning, I was using myself as a guinea pig. In my mind, I was seeing if Spanish can be taught using printmaking along the lines I thought of in a Saturday TV show, Hola! Hello Printmaking World! Japanese language, too, was part of my idea – three languages in one show, all based on prints, printmaking and printmakers. Of course, the Mini Halfwood Press was part of it. My press design gave it heart and soul, expressing my love of printmaking across language barriers.
Like a good developer, using myself as a Guinea pig, I kept up this process in the same way as how I tried to learn to play music on a keyboard. First I tried to learn how to read music; but I gave it up, and for several years I resorted to mere improvisation. By recording my improv sessions by connecting the keyboard to our computer, I developed a handy library of background music for my videos. It was fun; and my videos are better for it.
Publishing anything having content must be in numerous languages, I believe. I imagined that, someday, Spanish would be a major language in my internet work for all my dreams. Now, however, I notice that subtitles magically appear in my videos and I suppose if my computer were set up as if I were living in a Hispanic culture, my subtitles would be in Spanish. No matter that the translation is not spot-on sometimes, and even funny, the message comes through.
This morning, something was different however. I was struggling with Spanish form of present-perfect and I was getting most of the answers wrong. I got an icky feeling that I was going to have to give it up. Could I be using my time better? For a quarter or half-hour, a day, I could, for example, be writing someone a letter instead of Spanish phrases.
It’s another instance of the question, “On your deathbed, will you wish you had spent more time learning Spanish?” Knowing that I will never live in a Spanish-speaking culture, not even for a day, why bother? Knowing taht I will never work in a team charged with a TV series like Sesame Street for Printmaking, trying to figure out the best way to say, “Viscosity printing” for example, why bother?
In the words of Bob Dylan, “I believe it’s time for us to quit; When we meet again, introduced as friends, please don’t let on that you knew me when I was hungry and it was your world.”
Where does that stuff come from, anyway? “Dumb hope and curiosity” is a good title for my memoir.