The Familiar

“Even in the familiar, there can be surprise and wonder.” -Tierney Gearon

Home. Place for some and concept for all, what constitutes home can be as simple as four walls or as complex as a global community. We each have in our minds an idea of what constitutes home. But what is familiar to one person may be entirely alien to the next making these ideas of home infinitely variable. Familiarity reaches beyond the bounds of home into our understanding of the world around us. We believe ourselves familiar with what we encounter every day but our relationship to everything around us is constantly evolving. What we grasp as absolute one day may shift into a different state of being the next. Our cognition is as fluid as our concepts of home.

Tamara Grcic is very interested in the movement of rivers. From the concept of this fluidity, she tells stories that rise and fall away. Her current project will take place beneath the roof of a church. Visitors will walk around the space on specially installed walkways while stories are projected through sound and video. Stories will include memories of those connected with the Danube River. Grcic will work with actors to bring the written text of these stories to life for her artistic soundscape. Grcic’s previous work also incorporates sound. In her piece have you been here before she created 13 sound compositions for 13 rooms. Grcic collected familiar sounds and words that people associated with houses. From these, she wove together a piece that used language for sound rather than meaning. Language, Grcic says, is like a home itself. Every language has its own way of manipulating the mouth creating unique but familiar sounds. Funding for Grcic’s projects sometimes comes from venue budgets. She also creates other work in addition to teaching.

Tom Jennings explores the automobile as a prosthetic extension of the self. Jennings’ car is an extensively modified 1961 Rambler. Jennings removed the features of the car that he didn’t like ending up with something of a roadster. There is no roof, there are no doors, there are modern engine and transmission and a number of other homemade components from the wheels up. Jennings has created a one-of-a-kind vehicle that he drives in the 24 Hours of Lemons rally. This endurance drive tests the limits of unusual cars like Jennings’ not to mention the limits of their drivers. Past rallies have covered the route from Moscow, PA to Paris, MA in February and through Death Valley in August. The upcoming rally runs from Monterey to Oregon and back for a total of five days solid driving, around 3,000 miles. A lifelong computer programmer, Jennings is interested in embodied cognition. He points to a dearth of understanding about how the brain works as well as widespread ideology rooted in the Cartesian theory of mind/body when it comes to historical miscalculations of the capabilities of artificial intelligence. Jennings discusses the social and cultural implications of machines replacing humans and our evolving understanding of this relationship between our own minds and the minds of machines.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

Home is simultaneously the most familiar and the most diverse concept imaginable. Consider what it is that speaks home to you.

Additional interviews include Ruth Padel, Riva Lehrer, and Sinisa Labrovic.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. Tamara Grcic indulges in the work of Michel Serres including the book AtlasKathleen Trestka is reading Day After Night by Anita Diamant.

Opportunities / Open Calls

The 21st annual Japan Media Arts Festival is accepting submissions until October 5. The juried competition is divided into four categories: art, entertainment, animation, and manga. Cash awards go to the top three artists in each division. See their website for further details and eligibility requirements.

Deadlines

Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

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