Monthly Archives: August 2008

the challenge of change

this has been a most intense experience. dwelling…. in a weekend- transforming a living space. From 1/07-4/08 I went through a dark phase of loss, depression, and major self re-examination. Because it is most recent, the 15 months are still very vivid as a time of intense struggle. It just happened to include most of the time I was living alone in Baltimore. Although the hard times eventually allowed me insights to evolve myself both psychologically and spiritually; nonetheless the wounds are fresh. Point being: I have since moved home to Brooklyn and resettled into my life– in the same apartment since the MICA sojourn, thankfully sharing everyday with my love, and happier in the frenzy and competition of NY life than I could’ve been when I was stuck up in anxiety about it before. However: this weekend, alone in Baltimore, my behavioral responses revealed truths about myself that I’d been avoiding. Transforming the space, I went through major flashbacks about both my life and recent political history.

I had had this huge idea of building an allegorical post apocalyptic world- classic grandiose scrap; but do-able because I’d put materials aside in my hampden yard shed when pulling off the big move home. Part of my practice seems to be a huge waste of time and energy in classifying and moving around stiff. While it is a hoarding of artifacts, they are interesting things, and I do my best to keep it not pathological. I have a deep drive to recycle and reuse everything, also appreciative of history in the objects existing at all.  I’ve spent so much time with some items that I am unsure of their origin.

Although I’ve written more about this, I discovered this weekend that perception truly is everything. In reverting to the past while I shut myself in to build the dwelling of a lonely shut-in contemplating the pain of the world, I shared that pain– the underlying pain of humanity. I did not however, have the freedom to keep myself from directing this experience of pain at personal perceptions from the past, projected into the present. It was very interesting to watch myself, from inside myself, and also online with the time delay and recordings. It was a living theatrical time travel of the psyche morphing into 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006– a time when I lived less aware and often paranoid, immature but highly sensitive to subtleties.

Times before Baltimore were brought to life in Baltimore after having left Baltimore.

I can’t wait to share it with people on Thursday!

Now, the question becomes, since i am obviously not free from the past, can we, as humans, ever be? Can we exist without the patterned channels that the brain has experienced previously continuing to  govern the routes that the brain will choose indefinitely? such is what J. Krishnamurti seems to mean by the challenge of change

and yes.

it is possible.


~o~ scrap

kaleidoscope kismet

cory bernat
cory bernat

The kaleidoscope. A momentary escape
from reality – light pours in and the colorful endless patterns mystify
me. I move my hand and as the color shifts from my slight movement a
new world of light forms. Each composition more beautiful than the
previous, the methodic motion becomes melodic and I’m in a trance.

Something so simple yet so intricate and beautiful. The dynamic of
the endless reflection matched with the unique, spontaneous and
seemingly serendipitous (say that 10x fast) meeting of each bead
becomes a metaphor of life. Circumstance, gravity, cause and effect are
all taking place to make it happen, but the hand orchestrates the
entire thing. Life is often like this. Cyclical. Subjected to cause
& effect, physics, gravity, etc, rationalized by either prior
experience or just plain science. But what about luck? Fate? Destiny?
Is there a difference? Is there really such a thing or do we create our
own? Orchestrated by the very same hand shifting the kaleidoscope.

Moving around as much as I did and
having no siblings I’ve grown fond of finding similarities between
myself and others. Inexplicable parallel behavioral patterns that seem
to defy logic amaze me. It’s as though I’ve been traveling on the same
wavelength as this other person and at some point in the time continuum
we happen upon a magnetic force and meet.

So luck/fate/destiny or some magnetic force pulled through and two
red beads met at the corner of a mirror or rather, through my front door. I
guess it’s all interpretation. I met Cory for the first time as she
walked through the doors of my apartment Friday evening and after just
a few exchanges it was apparent we had a lot in common, most notably –
red hair. There was the military background, the same bank (lame, yes,
but highly uncommon), a background in graphic design, as well as an
uncanny desire to pursue as much as we possibly can, to experience as
much as our interests demand.

Both of
us hold degrees in Graphic Design which influences many of our other
interests and it became the backbone of this installation. As a design
student one of the first things you learn is hierarchy. The delineation
of the visual, what information requires the most real estate vs. what
pleases the eye. As far as I’m concerned this logic can be translated
off the two dimensional plane and into many facets of life. The
information we display about ourselves to the world has a hierarchy,
what we want people to know first, second, third.

For her installation, Cory proposed an interesting twist: I go to her
place in DC and take photos while she installs in my apartment. She
gave no explanation for her request, but I gladly accepted.

Her installation involves giving haircuts in my space – Cory Cuts – an installation within an installation. As I comb through her basement DC apartment finding new compositions
at each turn, Cory is cutting hair. The hair of my friends.
She invites people in for a
personal exchange of work for hair cuts, but it goes beyond a few snips. We
can reveal so much of ourselves in even the smallest amounts of time
and on the simplest stage…the stool. Usually when i get my hair cut I
stick my nose in a magazine and avoid awkward conversation as much as
possible. But this environment is more intimate. Her purpose is to
investigate my life through the words of others.
To decode my life beyond the hierarchy
of my things. What do these people (my friends) say first, second, third about me? The
importance of this is crucial. Does the person feel comfortable, do
they know enough about me for her to draw some sort of conclusion? Am I
associated with laughter or tension? The serious or the silly?

I imagine with each nugget of information Cory receives she makes a
very specific adjustment to the apartment. The more she learns, the
more she is able to rearrange the current situation to a more accurate
display of the life she has been interpreting. She brings to the
surface succinct
information. Instead of clutter she informs without overwhelming the
viewer. The space then becomes more enjoyable for me. I’m able to see
more of the things that make up my life and appreciate their beauty
while others are able to get an easier read for who I am and what I’ve

While I explore Cory’s apartment I’m reminded again
and again about how similar we really are. How the arrangement and
decoration of our lives really do reflect our similar sensibilities
(please see photos).
During our brief conversation the night prior to her installation Cory
revealed she grew up in Florida near NASA where her dad worked.
Although she loved where she was from, she felt more akin to San
Francisco. Her objects reflected this torn sense of identity with
images of the moon, space, manatees, astrological signs, etc. matched
against poppy color and design I would associate with the hipness of
the urban San Fran.
Modest living with funky accents sprinkled throughout. It is evident
that life is a journey for Cory and it’s important
for her to wear her experiences on her walls. Evidence to remind us
that as much as we would like
to think we are the hand gripping and twisting the kaleidoscope, more
often than not I’m
convinced there is another force – maybe a magnet, maybe even destiny.

fascination with luck/fate/destiny has been alive and well for many
years.  My grandmother used to bring me along to various events during
my yearly summertime visit. I thought she wanted to show me off to her
friends, but no, I was her portable,blond haired, gap-toothed good luck
charm. I went to bazaars, church picnics, bingo games, even the gas
station to help her pick out her lotto numbers. I even managed to come
through, first in a few baskets at the yearly St. John’s Picnic, then a
few rounds of bingo, but she was convinced after winning the jackpot
with a ticket I placed for the grand-prize at the Holy Name Church
Picnic. A prize our whole family enjoyed for years to come – 12″ TV,
gift certificate to Talbots,
a two night stay at the luxurious Scranton Hampton Inn, BBQ
paraphernalia – too much to name really. From then on my ability to
attract good luck made me feel like I had a super power, like I could
orchestrate my own destiny by just being open to everything.

Just as the kaleidoscope adjusts and dances with the slightest of
movements – so do I. I either speed up or slow down depending on the
rhythm. Every new situation, while it may lack something from before,
has the potential to become something new and more beautiful than the
previous. Completely buying into predestination can get you in trouble,
but I believe we conduct our own fate by fully participating in our
life and appreciating it for what it is. Putting ourselves in new and
interesting situations is what it’s all about. The journey, but also
the challenge.  It has become scientific fact – at least for me.