Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

South Carolina Highlights–The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden

Friday, June 1st, 2012

I recently spent three weeks in South Carolina and had the pleasure of visiting
The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden.

Garden View 1

While there I heard Pearl speaking to a group. He is a lovely man and a great story teller.

Pearl Talking to Group

Pearl makes a wonderfully welcoming environment for all who visit his garden. He talked about the importance of encouraging students. My niece who is in third grade, went to meet Pearl as part of a presentation she is to give on a person she admires.

Garden View 2

Garden View 3

Pearl was kind and generous with his time, even giving her a packet of materials to use. The packet was put together by Pearl’s wife. When my sister called to try to set up a meeting with Pearl, she spoke with Pearl’s wife who was kind and welcoming.

Garden View 4

Garden View 6

There is a great documentary about Pearl that I rented a few years back, A Man Named Pearl. After viewing the video I added visiting Pearl’s garden to my wish list of very cool things to do.

I had an opportunity to talk with him a bit about his metal sculptures constructed from recycled materials. Very Cool.

The garden is amazing in so many ways– the scale of it, the aesthetic and organization of it, the collaboration with nature, and the enormous amount of work to develop and maintain it.

Garden View 5

A few details of some of Pearl’s work–

Topiary Detail

Cool Knobs

Sculpture Detail

If you are ever near Bishopville, SC spend a couple of hours or more taking in Pearl’s garden.

But is it art?

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Holey Tree

This is a tree in the backyard of where I am staying in South Carolina. When I first saw the tree I thought the depth and regularity of the holes were made by a person. And if they were made by a person, does that make it art?

Holey Tree Detail

The holes were made by a woodpecker.

I think the surface is beautiful. It brought to mind images of coins inserted into the bark of wishing trees and the story of pigs teeth inserted in a tree in the film Howards End.

The Red Envelope

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

A couple of days ago I subscribed to the Netflix DVD service specifically because I wanted to see the series, Game of Thrones. When I checked my DVD queue next to the first disc was the dreaded word–Wait. I was disappointed.

Yesterday I received an email that stated the first disc of Game of Thrones would arrive today.

And it did!

I had forgotten how much I love receiving those red envelopes.

I have been using the Netflix streaming service since I gained access to an iPad. The instant gratification of streaming is great, but I missed having access to information about films, directors, screenwriters, and actors that comes with the DVD subscription. I enjoy viewing the body of work by a particular person, or films with a similar theme.

Game of Thrones was on my list because I wanted to see more of Peter Dinklage after viewing The Station Agent.

The other thing that bothered me about having only the streaming service after having both streaming and DVD, was the loss of my DVD queue. Whenever I read about a film that sounded interesting I would add it to my queue. Often those titles appeared in the Saved section.

I did find my queue by accident–

After I signed in to my account I went to the Netflix blog and clicked on the RSS Feed Page.

On the RSS Feeds under Personalized Feeds I clicked on Queue and there was my DVD queue.

I made a copy of it.

Time for popcorn and Game of Thrones.

More Netflix and Code Template

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

When I am working, I listen to films and series that contain loads of dialog. This evolved from listening to DVD commentaries of films that I had already viewed. Commentaries are a great way to have access to the filmmaking process, how decisions were made, and their results.

Recently I listened to the first season of Land Girls which was based on the Women’s Land Army in Britain during World War II. When I view films about historic events, I always wonder about their accuracy. After viewing them, I perform a google search to learn a bit more about the time and events.

When I searched for “Land Girls” I found that during the Second World War, women joined the Women’s Land Army. They replaced farm workers who were serving in the war, which is akin to those who replaced factory workers. The factory workers I knew about, but hadn’t thought about farm workers. Odd since I grew up in a farming community in the Mid West.

About the Code Technique Used–
In the third episode an over zealous, perhaps mad sergeant, used a code template to expose a presumed collaborator. The code template was a card with openings laid over a letter exposing hidden information. The individual attempting to find a coded message in some text, could look for specific types of words and numbers, and presume the combination to be a message.

I gave this a go using a paragraph from Richard Preston’s The Demon in the Freezer , a book that happened to still be on my desk from a previous post.

An image of the original text is followed by a quick Photoshop code template and an image of the code template over the original text.


Code Template

Code Template Over Text

The arbitrary selection of words has nothing to do with anything. Interpretation mistakes can be made. This is often the case with works of art. Folks come to the work with their ideas and experiences. Their interpretation can be completely wrong, forcing something onto the work that isn’t there.

Next Stop Wonderland and Books

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

I am addicted to Netflix streaming. Recently I listened to Next Stop Wonderland a film I viewed several years ago. I remembered liking the film for the dialog and the Bossa Nova sound track.

The dialog has some interesting notions–

“quietness without loneliness”

“contemplate something beautiful”

“…it’s important to have some daily ritual in your life that gives it a sense of consistency.”

Reading has always been an important part of my life. I like to start the day reading something to set my day. At the close of the day I enjoy reading something as well.

One of my favorite scenes in Next Stop Wonderland occurs in a bookshop. Erin, the central character, drops a book; it falls to the floor open and face down. She picks it up and is about to close it when the book seller says,

“Don’t close it. You should never close a book until you’ve read something from it… just a sentence or a word, it can be very, very revealing…”

I love books–reading them, thinking about them, the way they feel in my hands, the way they smell. When I was young I was taught to respect books. The book should not appear to have been read. Then something happened. First I started dog-earing the top of the pages to mark text in the upper half and the bottom of the pages for text in the bottom half. Then a double fold made if the text I wanted to remember was on both sides of a page.

Now I use books somewhat like a sketchbook. The books that I like quite a lot have dog-eared pages, highlighting, and underlining. And then there is my obsessive note taking, jotting down ideas, and making sketches in the white space.

Stack of Books

This is a small stack of books that I liked very much when I first read them and when I reread them. Actually I liked them so much, I gave them as gifts. The stack includes work by Joe Coomer, Percival Everett, Brian Morton, Abigail Thomas, Margaret Atwood, and Richard Preston.

Joe Coomer
Pocketful of Names

Percival Everett

Brian Morton
Starting Out in the Evening

When I was preparing the links I realized that nearly all of the books have descriptions of an artmaking process. The exception is Richard Preston’s The Demon in the Freezer.