eleven:eleven:eleven – I don’t know him but I love him now

Jason Webley gave us such a gift this evening, a beautiful, marvelous experience, far beyond what anyone could call a concert.

Not to knock the concert, which was a blasting cap of a show, topping out almost everything else I’ve ever seen, (literally dancing in the aisles, jumping up and down levels of crazy amazing, that show. It just did. not. quit. ravishing. Melodies and shouting and poetry and snow made of feathers and surprise guest performances and identical twins and home-made instruments thrown into the audience and.. wow!), but the truly incredible part came after – when he silently walked off the stage and out of the hall, at the very end of the music, his fist tightly wrapped in the strings of a massive bouquet of giant red balloons, and swept almost the entire crowd into the street with him, everyone singing the last refrain of the last song over and over as the band played everyone out.

As we walked, hundreds strong, still singing, all the way to the water, down a cobblestone hill, under an overpass, over an overpass, Rafael and I arm in arm, up at the very front, sharing smiles with Jason, the leaders of a surreal parade that trailed four blocks long, thick enough to block traffic, the tune still soared with every step, as if the song kept our feet from touching the ground, as if the song was what kept us enchanted, a spell that he made but that we created, until we finally reached a smooth stone beach where a yacht was anchored, lit only with candles, fifty feet from shore.

He motioned us all to stop, then, and began to dance quietly where the shore sloped into the waves, gesturing to us with the great red balloons, a poem in motion, throwing our attention to the dazzling, full moon, then whimsically shifting from joyful pose to joyful pose, his heart bursting for us as he was painted with the flashes of a hundred cameras, like a strange, moving art fresco at the side of the sea. Eventually he paused at the top of some rocks, every inch the grand jester, both the king and the fool, suffused so thoroughly with glittering exultation that his face was a miracle, and finally began to say goodbye, certain, I suppose, that everyone had arrived.

He continued the act without saying a word, tying his treasured trademark hat to the balloons and, with a series of Chaplin-esque gestures, releasing them bumping into the sky. He lay on the rocks, watching them go, the red of the balloons weirdly lit by the moon, the saddest, most happy, fiercest gentle creature that ever lived, all the while as we, his crowd, kept singing, until they were nearly out of sight. Some people cried. (He might have too. It’s hard to say, even though I was close, one of the very front line.) Next he began to strip, unbuttoning his shirt, peeling off his pants, unhooking his shoes from his feet, then he waved to us, we the hundreds, crammed onto the beach, spilling out, farther back, still singing, some stuck all the way back on the street, and we waved back, felicity incarnate, and many shouted, “goodbye!” and “until next time!”. He looked at everyone, posing as he did so again for our cameras, as if it had all been rehearsed, the camera flashes picking him out for our eyes, then turned, satisfied, and bravely waded into the cold, black sea, the blackest thing, the coldest, and swam for the boat.

And that was that. Except that it wasn’t. Telling you what happened doesn’t explain what it felt like, how extraordinary it was, how perfect and clever. I could tell you how we cheered when he reached the yacht, how the crew that eventually emerged was dressed all in theater blacks or what it was like the police arrived to break us up or why my shoes got soaked or even more about the astoundingly good concert, but these are details and, in a way, unimportant. We were transported, as truly if we slipped sideways through space in that theater and briefly inhabited another world only a few molecules away, but happier in every respect. That was the magic. We were there as audience, but we were part of it and essential, all of our voices required, all of our eyes and hearts and minds.


Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs.

We propose a method to realistically insert synthetic objects into existing photographs without requiring access to the scene or any additional scene measurements. With a single image and a small amount of annotation, our method creates a physical model of the scene that is suitable for realistically rendering synthetic objects with diffuse, specular, and even glowing materials while accounting for lighting interactions between the objects and the scene. We demonstrate in a user study that synthetic images produced by our method are confusable with real scenes, even for people who believe they are good at telling the difference.

Kevin Karsch, a Computer Science PhD Student, and his team at the University of Illinois are developing a software system that lets users easily and convincingly insert objects into photographs, complete with realistic lighting, shading, and perspective. According to their documentation, aside from a few annotations provided by the user, like where the light sources are, the software doesn’t need to know anything about the image. Even keeping in mind much demo videos are spot polished, I’m still astonished at how seamless it all seems. This could very well be ground breaking work.

the internets are serious business

a friend’s baby

Hey Jude: Times Square subway sing-along

I just bought a white topped IKEA table desk at a very steep discount off Craigslist to replace the desk I sold several years ago. This, for a multitude of reasons, is far more exciting than it has any right to be. Lung helped me bring it home and wrestle it upstairs to my apartment and even into my room, for which I am deeply grateful. The desk, more of a table, really, is not very big, but my room is smallish, so almost every piece of bedroom furniture had to be moved to accommodate it. My entire body hurt from how much work it took, but it’s so amazing to finally have a workspace again that all the hassle was completely worth it. (Even the bizarro Trial Of The Talking Computer, which apparently complains out loud of overclocking failure when it needs a new BIOS battery.)

My next big step will be to get my website up and running again, this time with a focus on photography, with a page, too, devoted to the various Thread of Grace projects. I am slow with websites, though. I begin to have a general design figured out, then find myself lost among the apparently endless methods of developing a gallery backend. Realistically, I don’t much care what it looks like, as long as what I end up with is easy to update and allows people to link to each image. Simple, understated, a bit of text with each picture. Uncomplicated. (I’ve started looking for that pop up gallery everyone’s been using for the last couple of years, where the image slides up over the page, and there’s tiny little > and < for right and left). In the world of fanciful imaginary land, however, I'd also like an automatic flickr feed widgety thing in a sidebar somewhere, thumbnails that offer a preview when a mouse hovers over them, and a significantly prettier interface than most templates offer. An overnight degree in graphic design, plane tickets to somewhere tropical and warm, and an oceanside horsie ride wouldn't hurt, either.

like the sound teeth make when they casually come together, resting lightly inside of your head

Seven o’clock. Huh. Last time I looked it was only six, and the time before that, somewhere around four. The night drowned in the hours I was working on photography, clicking through pictures, polishing, discarding. Carlos bought one of my test Plywerk runs, a large black and white print of Vancouver in winter, a man standing to the right of a snowy street, elegantly silhouetted in the midst of chaos just off screen, a glittering sea of girls in club dresses with high heels up to here, shivering on the arms of loud men, boys really, too drunk to fuck, too young to care. My first photography sale at the new shop, the first, I hope, of many. I remember the very small sound my camera made in that moment, somehow saved for me by the miraculous insulating properties of snow. Even in the midst of a thousand voices shouting into cellphones, desperate, dangerous, all seeking cabs, I could still hear it, that minuscule, hesitant click.