Sunday, February 20, 2011

Artistic Field Trips

This year I have decided to take 'Artistic Field Trips.'  I got the idea from U.S. News & World Report's article entitled, "How to Improve your Life in 2011."  It's listed in the sub-section entitled "Unleash Your Creative Genius."  
An Artistic Field Trip is basically going some place like a museum, a park, a garden, etc., and seeing and experiencing what is there.  I've added my own caveat of walking to these locations or talking public transportation whenever possible.  Thus far I've been to a couple of places I've never been to, such as the California Science Center in Exposition Park, and a few places I haven't been to in such a long time that the experience was practically a new one, such as the Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Norton Simon Museum.  I take my camera with me and snap shots of whatever catches my eye. 

The trips have been enjoyable and they've sparked a number of ideas.  At the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, a ten minute walk from my apartment, an exhibit about the Silk Road, the trading route that brought silk from China into the Middle East and Europe in ancient times, helped me come up with some background information for the universe I'm setting my science fiction stories, which I'm calling the "Tauian Adventure."  An incident that happened while crossing a street while headed to Colorado Boulevard to see the people spending the night on the street to see the Rose Parade, combined with an article I read in Scientific American, gave me a short story I'm going to write about how levels and points as those used in computer games might be used to make people better citizens.  

Beyond that, though, I've noticed how these trips have been altering how I see and hear things.  Sometimes it's not the artwork at the museum or the flower in the garden that is catching my attention, but someone I'm seeing there, or something I spotted along the way, or a memory that is being sparked by something I've noticed.  I'm sure these little details will filter into my stories eventually, but I find myself wanting to do something with them on their own.  

I've decided to share a few examples below, which I am calling "Interludes."  I'll be sharing more of them as the year goes on.  

Interlude #1 - Keeping Time

Walking home from the Norton Simon, I spotted this old gate.  
You see things like this here and there in Pasadena, parts of buildings long gone that have been left standing on their own.  Bits and pieces that remember some other time they can only hint to, but no longer show you.

As I got closer I could see the gate was pretty much useless.  It was partially off its hinges.  It's bottom was stuck in the surface of the concrete itself.

When I was standing right before the gate, I could see something through the bars.  At the time, I thought it was some strange looking sundial.  Something from another time used to measure time.  Out of reach.  Locked away.  Counting the minutes and hours, but with no one around to tell.  

Around the corner, I found a sign that told me the property was being renovated into a retirement home.  

Interlude #2 - Who's Learning What?

I saw this exhibit at the California Science Center, part of a larger exhibit about the human body and how it works.  I tried to enter this particular exhibit on human reproduction, but it was so crowded there was no room for me.  

As I was stepping out I realized everyone in the exhibit at the time was a mother with her daughter or daughters.  Not a single son or father.  Where where they?  They seemed to be more interested in playing a game, one exhibit over, that demonstrated the various ways seeds reach islands.    

Interlude #3 - A Haiku for a Pretend Memory

A couple of years ago I performed in the play, "Roshomon."  It's a famous story about a murder that takes place in a bamboo grove and all of the accounts told by those involved are different.  

Visiting the Los Angeles County Arboretum, I found a small bamboo grove there.  I stepped inside to see what it was like.  I found myself transported to the imaginary place I had created in my mind whilst performing the play.  

Look up at the sky
In the grove, the breeze's kiss
As I sigh my last.


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