Monday, September 28, 2009

A Bridge on the River Why

Bon soir, mes amis.

I've actually been sleeping more like a normal human being as of late. As a result, I haven't been posting as much as I do when I am in my werewolf state. The wolf likes to post. I like to write, but the final results seem to take longer when I'm not as blood-thirsty.

This post is actually an interview with Nashville photographer/musician/bon vivant and raconteur, Tony Doling. We discuss Halfway Across A Bridge: Super8 Stills, his latest exhibit at Twist Art Gallery in downtown Nashville's historic Arcade building.

JN: Why don't you tell me a little bit about your new exhibit. How did the concept evolve?

TD: I've been thinking about this show for a couple of years now. I lived in Marin County from 1999-2000. LA for 2 months in 2000. I lived across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco for almost a year, and crossed that bridge probably 50-60 times. For an individual who would like to consider himself an artist/photographer, I never took a single photo of that bridge. I mean, why bother? It's all been done. What I did do is shoot about 10 seconds of black and white Super 8 film footage by sticking my camera out of the window of a moving car while crossing that bridge. For some time now, I've wanted to display the random, incomplete images that came out of these 10 seconds. After a stunning amount of time scanning tiny little frames, that's the show that I came up with.

JN: Obviously, in Marin County the bridge takes on a number of practical, symbolic and historical meanings. How did the bridge figure into your world view during that time?

TD: As a guy who grew up in Louisiana, I was clearly affected by all the many definitive images I'd seen across the rest of the country (The Golden Gate Bridge, The Chicago and NYC skylines, The Seattle Space Needle and on and on). My only relationship was to see something become more beautiful and majestic in person than any of the media images could have attempted to portray.

JN: Still, the images of the bridge color the perception of the real thing. The real thing can sometimes become almost unreal once we have been saturated with mediated messages about what something is. In this case, images of the bridge are a cliché. What made you decide to shoot your footage at that moment? What made you roll down that window?

TD: We were shooting a lot of Super 8 at the time (my brother, Shane and I, when we had common days off) and I had a camera loaded with film and didn't want to turn around to get a legit shot, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to capture the fact that we had actually seen the thing in person. Not a lot of foresight involved.

JN: Its one thing to create some work, its another thing to put it on display. You've started showing more work formally in the last year, but what made you decide to pursue getting this show together?

TD: Again, to be totally honest, an opening came up for the main gallery at Twist, and, given the age of the footage and concept, I realized I would probably never do it if I didn't force myself to do it now.

JN: You've displayed your photos before, but this is more of a conceptual installation. Does this show represent something new in your opinion? A step up? A step out?

TD: I don't know the specific term I would give it, but it is an artistic risk for me. I like to consider myself a simple, no frills guy who doesn't take himself too seriously. I never had a "Master Plan" for this when I shot this. I was just glad to have a day off. The biggest fear for me doing something different than I've done before is that the reaction may be "Who does this guy think he is?" There's definitely a worry that people will think I'm intentionally trying to do something conceptual out of context with my character, and that the result may be insincere. I hope it's not.

JN: At first, I began to suspect that your ambivalence regarding this show was disingenuous, especially given your confidence regarding your musical projects. (Doling is a composer/musician with the Nashville-based pop-collective, Bulb). However, I was fascinated to find out that you look at this show as something separate from your other projects. And you're genuinely worried about it! (Laughs). Tell me a bit about how this is "something different" from your musical efforts.

TD: Well, first of all, I've been playing music for so long, I don't really even have to think about it. In the work I do with Todd ((Greene), a great artist here in Nashville, as well) in bulb, it's so collaborative. I write most of the music and he writes the lyrics and melodies. It's a kind of assembly line in regards to the specialization and by far the most collaborative thing I've ever done. It's a unique way of doing music, but seems to work as we are just wrapping up our 15th album. (thanks for the plug, Joe). With the Twist show, although I've used many great suggestions from friends, it's still just my name on it - so I feel alot more pressure. There's always a worry in my new ventures into visual arts about the fact that by displaying your work, you have to be willing to let people like it or not, and maybe even tell you that they don't like it. I need to get used to that and be okay with it.

JN: We all certainly have to find a way to continually take ground despite criticism, rejection or - even worse - disinterest. I think my solution is always to stay so busy that I don't have time to consider how others might perceive a given effort. It helps to be immersed in an expansive project. Have you been looking for a bigger project to do or did the material inspire the show?

TD: The accidental nature of the footage and the question of what to do with it definitely inspired the show. The "something bigger" idea scares the shit out of me.

JN: Will you be pursuing similar ideas/projects in the future?

TD: I have no idea where to go now. Any ideas?

JN: What will make this show “successful” in your eyes?

TD: I hope that some of the girls at the after-party might talk to me since I had stuff at the Gallery Crawl.

Doling's project will open this Saturday night, October 3 with an artist reception from 6 – 9 p.m. at Twist Gallery's space at 73 Arcade.

If you're going out of your mind searching for new music, check out the Bulb music link above and download my latest CD at your favorite digital site below.


Use this player to listen to my new CD. Purchase a song or two at your favorite digital outlet and help us stay awake here at Insomnia!

Find the archives to my Sleepless Film Festival, and more at my You Tube channel: Imagicon

Listen to my earlier releases, and enjoy free downloads here!

Please consider supporting this site by making a PayPal donation and check out our friends using the links on the right.

Joe Nolan

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hollow Can You Go?

Yo Ho Ho, YoYo's

Hope this writeywrite finds you well.

I am pleased to present you with a bit of follow-up to my recent segment on the latest Disinformation World News podcast.

The segment is called Insomnia - just like this glowing tome - and I plan on following up with extras on this blog for listeners who might want to dig a bit deeper into the 'cast segments.

This week's segment featured the early history of the Hollow Earth. My sources for the piece came from all over the Internet and from my own library. I modeled the arc of the story on this entertaining, short documentary that I am hosting at my YouTube Channel.

Here are some additional sources on The Hollow Earth:

Edmond Halley
Hollow Earth
Hollow Earth page at the UnMuseum

If you missed the last podcast, here is a transcript of my segment about R. Crumb's new graphic project on the Book of Genesis:

When visual artist R. Crumb set out to create a new story based on Adam and Eve, a friend suggested "Why not the entire Book of Genesis?" Crumb – who had planned on a twisted tale of his own- soon found himself face-to-face with a much stranger story: the one found in the first book of the Bible itself.

Crumb first came to popular consciousness for creating timeless characters like Mr Natural and Fritz the Cat as well as the Keep on Truckin' comics that have become icons of the counter-cultural upheaval that marked the American 1960's and 70's. Although Crumb's savage satire continues to divide critics, it has engendered him to an avant garde that place him among some of the best storytellers and visual artists of his generation. Crumb's work was most recently given a mainstream resurgence with the release of Terry Zwigoff's 1994 documentary, “Crumb” which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in that same year. Ten years later, in 2004, the Guardian published one of the first articles about Crumb's Genesis project. The book is finally set to be published this fall by Norton.

Even after he'd returned to the original biblical story, Crumb still planned on the kind of satirical approach he's best known for. Imagining a tale full of slapstick hi-jinx and Yiddish humor, Crumb – who was raised Catholic – set about re-reading the Book of Genesis and was stunned by what he found.

A recent New Yorker article claims that Crumb was so stupefied by the sheer weirdness of the Biblical tale that he quickly changed his approach from a satirical send up to a straight illustration job that he applied himself to with fervent devotion.

Its easy to understand why.

The New Yorker piece included pages of Crumb's story, telling the entire tale of the creation of the world, the birth of Adam, God's creation of Eve and their eventual expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Crumb's illustrations bring the story to life in such a simple matter-of-fact style that the odd, eerie, quirks in the narration pop out in stark relief in a way that is easier to miss when simply reading the text from a Bible.
The three strangest points that are brought to the fore by Crumb's take on the tale are the identity of the Forbidden Fruit eve shares with Adam, the nature of the creature that eve meets in the Garden, and the nature of the God in the story, angry, worried, and referencing himself in the plural at the oddest moments.

If you'd like to read a great essay about apples, pick up Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire. Pollan discusses the apple's evolution from a few fruiting trees on a tiny hillside in Kazakhstan to a world wide staple. He also touches lightly on Eve's apple, wondering aloud – as many have – if actual apples could have even been available in an earthly Garden of Eden that the Bible states was located in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Many have posited the notion that the apple could have actually been a fig or a pomegranate or another species more easily found in the region. However, if we are going to concern ourselves with actual geography and real botany, we must quickly admit that neither apples or pomegranates or figs, seem to be capable of the kind of world-changing, shattering of consciousness that occurred when Adam and Eve first plucked and sucked their way into the longest after-school detention of all time. But what if the fruit wasn't a fruit at all? What if it was a mushroom?

The late great Terence mckenna provides us with one of the most entertaining creation narratives of all time in his book Food of the Gods. Mckenna posits that early proto-humans, faced with receding forests and food sources, left the trees for the grass lands where they discovered the first holy trinity: cows, cowpies and psilocybin mushrooms. Another book that every loyal listener should pour over for their own satisfaction, McKenna's hypothesis goes on to claim that our ancestors who ate the mushrooms would hunt better, screw more effectively, and eventually be so overwhelmed with the spiritual tremendum revealed at the core of the mushroom's mystery that they would found the first religion, focused on the great horned female deity that represented the origin of the foodstuff that had made them something more than monkees. According to Mckenna they lived in communal villages as gentle hunters and gatherers who encouraged extended families, eschewed monogamy in favor of group bonding orgies and created the first spoken language while they sang their songs to an ancient sky.
In other words - Paradise.

Or not.

There doesn't seem to be a way to identify the Forbidden Fruit of the Bible's first book , or even to determine if it is strictly a symbol for a time when man became aware of himself in a way that he wasn't before. But what about the snake? Is the serpent in the garden to be taken literally? Symbolically? And are we even correct to think of the serpent as a serpent?

Again, dear listener, it is beyond the scope of this report to determine whether or not a real creature actually spoke to the first woman in that garden so long ago. But one thing we can't ignore is the nature of the serpent the bible itself describes. A creature that is brought weirdly to life in Crumb's new book.

The most striking detail in Crumb's Genesis is his representation of the serpent in the garden as a scaly lizard man walking upright on two legs. I was taken aback by this until I remembered my own catholic upbringing in which we learned that the serpent doesn't crawl on its belly until God curses him to do so as punishment for interfering with eve and encouraging her to eat the fruit. Most Bibles don't say so explicitly, but the implication, one that is backed up by most theologians, is that the serpent walked like a man before he was cursed.

The obvious leap – and one we will now gleefully take together – is to David Ikke and his reptilian conspiracy theory. Listeners to this program are no doubt familiar with David Ikke and his theory that the Illuminati rulers of this world are in fact not human at all. In the Wikipedia entry about Icke it is stated that “In 1999, he published The Biggest Secret, in which he wrote that the Illuminati are a race of reptilian humanoids known as the Babylonian Brotherhood, and that many prominent figures are reptilian, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson, and Boxcar Willie ” For Icke, the shape-shifters are aliens that have come to the earth from the constellation Draco. They are required to drink human blood to shapeshift and they have interbred with humans so that they can continue to appear normal to us, but still hold on to traces of their true DNA. Does this account for the prominence of the dragon in myths and fables from all over the world and does the serpent still whisper in our ears when we turn on the television to listen to the latest political debate? Is it possible that the Draco's do exist on Earth and that they may have been here since time immemorial interfering with man's development all along?

Crumb addresses the birth of man like he does the rest of the story of Creation – simply illustrating a strictly biblical narrative of the tale – and what a tale it is. Although there are a number of contradictions and oddities to the bible's story of the creation of man, we'll only take a look at the oddest bits. When God creates Adam he builds him out of dust and breathes life into his nostrils. This strikes me as a fairly straight fable that one would expect in any of the creation myths from around the world. However, when he creates Eve, God performs a weird surgery of sorts, causing a deep sleep to fall over Adam, removing his rib and fashioning her from what I feel comfortable referring to as his genetic material. In addition God states “Now we have made man in our own image”. Who is the we god is referring to?
Perhaps we can clear up some of these questions by referring to an earlier text.

In his Twelfth Planet series, scholar Zachariah Sitchin claims that ancient Sumerian texts tell the creation story in greater detail then the bible he claims they influenced. Sitchins interpretations state that the man was genetically engineered by aliens from the planet Niburu to mine gold that the visitors required to stabilize the atmosphere on their home planet. Sitchin would argue that we were created by Gods and that the plural references in the bible are an important clue pointing to this deeper tale. The idea that an advance race engineered humanity also provides some kind of explanation regarding why the God of the bible would need to perform some strange medical procedure to create a woman when he has been able to think the entirety of the universe into existence by evocation alone.

If the rest of Crumb's book is as thought provoking as the snippets that have been published, written up and leaked on the Internet, we are certainly in for a wild ride, one that will surely provoke more questions than it will be able to provide answers for. But – dear listeners – if you keep wondering, we'll keep asking and together we'll take a tip from the man himself and keep on trucking.

For Disinformation World News,

I'm Joe Nolan

All the podcasts are archived at Disinformation World News podcast">Check 'em out, listen to episodes you may have missed and subscribe so you won't miss any more!

Once you return to the surface world, take a listen to my latest CD and pick up a few downloads at your favorite digital music provider...


Use this player to listen to my new CD. Purchase a song or two at your favorite digital outlet and help us stay awake here at Insomnia!

Find the archives to my Sleepless Film Festival, and more at my You Tube channel: Imagicon

Listen to my earlier releases, and enjoy free downloads here!

Please consider supporting this site by making a PayPal donation and check out our friends using the links on the right.

Joe Nolan