Pages in the story of a city.

There are infinite pages in the story of any city.

Eyes briefly pass over the turning pages.

I lifted my camera to take a few photographs during my morning walk downtown…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

To read a few stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Cowboys, the homeless, and 6000 neuroscientists.

The human world is complex. I suppose that’s due in large part to the contradictory impulses and plasticity of the human mind.

A big city like San Diego is filled with this often disconcerting complexity.

My walk around downtown today was a little more interesting than usual. Cowboys, symbols of rugged individualism and freedom, had gathered in the Gaslamp Quarter for the annual Fall Back Festival, an event that celebrates the Old West and early history of San Diego. Meanwhile, 6000 neuroscientists attending the big Society for Neuroscience conference at the convention center were sharing sidewalks with San Diego’s large homeless population.

Seeing that particular combination all together–cowboys, neuroscientists and homeless people–fired up a few billion neurons in my own mysterious brain. And stirred emotions.

So many human values, often in conflict.

Every so often a small work of fiction bubbles out of my brain.

If you enjoy reading, you might click Short Stories by Richard.

A dark, disturbing look at art Beyond Reason.

Close photo of bronze figures of Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Close photo of several bronze figures in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.

A very disturbing and powerfully thought-provoking exhibition has recently opened at the San Diego Museum of Art. Yesterday I walked through the dark galleries that contain Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, and this morning my mind is still digesting the half dozen fantastic installations created by the celebrated artist.

Tim Shaw is a Northern Irish sculptor who, as a child in 1972, witnessed firsthand the bombing of a Belfast cafe during Bloody Friday. That exact, horrifying moment is recreated in a bloodless, abstract way in his installation Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous. Eerily spinning trays hover in the air above suddenly upset tables and chairs; the shadows of fleeing people stream across surrounding windows.

That same feeling of malice and inescapable chaos seems to echo elsewhere in Tim Shaw’s work.

Walking through the dim galleries containing Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason feels inhumanly bleak. Little light, the low sound of a hollow, echoing, machine-like vibration all around, no human warmth. Like the corridors of a dark artificial video game world where there is no hope for actual daylight. Where synthetic horrors await around corners.

Themes explored by the six immersive installations range from the primal, unconscious complexity of human beings, to cynical exploitation in a materialistic society, to the uncertainties that rise in a technologically directed world.

I found the first installation that I encountered, Middle World, to be extraordinarily rich with symbolism. A massive sculpture, Middle World presents many small bronze figures that appear to have emerged from ancient mythology, Shakespeare, or the fleshy canvases of Hieronymus Bosch. The weird, expressive figures, some in masks, are arranged on a throne-like stage above what seem to be stalactites and beneath what seem to be Gothic columns and skeletons in catacombs. The sculpture incorporates the shapes of objects that are both modern and ancient, commonplace and supernatural. It’s a mixture of space and time and human passion and compulsion and perplexity. A melting, flowing work of sculpted substance like an unending dream.

Other more disturbing installations that compose the exhibition concern dehumanization and include subjects like the silencing of free speech, vigilantism, human exploitation and depravity.

Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be presents two rocking-chair-like figures that are in constant back-and-forth motion. Both are gagged, and the muffled voices that emerge from either are unintelligible. According to a nearby sign, the piece represents how voices are silenced with money, and how people are influenced by the proliferation of disinformation on the internet. (What it fails to mention is that billions of ordinary people now speak their thoughts more freely than ever because of the Information Age. As a blogger who pays close attention to such things, I can tell you that many ideas don’t go unheard because of stifling propaganda or censorship, but because the internet has become a complete babel of voices all desperately competing to be heard.)

Another unique installation concerns technology and our evolving understanding of what it is to be human. Aptly titled The Birth of Breakdown Clown, the interactive sculpture seems to have a great deal of potential. Visitors enter a small room and stand before a human-like robot that moves its head and limbs while engaging with the audience. A member of the audience is invited to stand before the robot and converse with it. Breakdown Clown is said to possess artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, during the performance that I witnessed, I couldn’t detect any sort of autonomous machine intelligence, or even working speech recognition. With an odd combination of humor, condescension and poetic rambling, the Genesis-quoting robot guided the entire conversation. Its often disconnected statements and responses were apparently composed by the artist.

Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason as a whole is a very forceful, challenging work of contemporary art that will strongly engage active minds. It presents unspeakable horror. It isn’t for the squeamish. It’s an examination of human darkness and potential inhuman darkness. It undertakes a quest for understanding. That which has come into existence tries to understand its own creation. An electronic clown tries to define the Mystery that underlies all things.

However, to my thinking, darkness should be contrasted with light. And clowns that are witty have a beating heart.

These photographs were taken by my poor old camera in very dim darkness, where no flash photography is permitted. The images are a bit blurry, but somehow that makes them more potent!

If you want to be intellectually challenged, and journey through galleries that are filled with warnings, uncertainty and darkness, check out Tim Shaw: Beyond Reason, which is now showing at the San Diego Museum of Art through February 24, 2019.

Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Middle World. Mixed media, 1989-Current, by artist Tim Shaw.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw's Middle World.
Ancient symbols and strange figures contained in Tim Shaw’s Middle World.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Mother, The Air Is Blue, The Air Is Dangerous, Working Drawing I. Ink, charcoal, and collage, 2015, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Defending Integrity from the Powers that Be. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
Alternative Authority. Mixed media, 2017, by artist Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.
The Birth of Breakdown Clown, an artificially intelligent, interactive, speaking robot by Irish sculptor Tim Shaw.

If you’d like to read a few philosophical works of fiction that I’ve written–stories about the complexity of life–about the mingling of darkness and light–please visit Short Stories by Richard.

Unfolding Humanity appears at Maker Faire!

A couple months ago I blogged about the debut of a fascinating dodecahedron sculpture called Unfolding Humanity. The San Diego Geometry Lab had begun building their project by a parking lot at University of San Diego.

Today I finally saw the interactive metal sculpture completed! It was among the many cool inventions on display at 2018 Maker Faire San Diego in Balboa Park!

If you want to learn more about Unfolding Humanity–the mathematics behind it, and how it’s symmetry and complexity is similar to the structure of the universe–please check out my earlier blog post here, or visit the artwork’s extremely interesting website here.

I learned from Diane Hoffoss, Associate Professor of Mathematics at USD, that the San Diego Geometry Lab might be building additional similar projects in the future. Probably every other year. Because it’s quite an undertaking!

I also learned that many people enjoyed stepping inside Unfolding Humanity during Burning Man! Someone even performed magic tricks inside it!

This is what I saw at Maker Faire San Diego today…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Cool poster designs at SDSU Downtown Gallery!

Some of the coolest posters you’re likely to ever see are now on display at the SDSU Downtown Gallery! Take a look at a few examples!

The exhibition is titled Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolos and Thomas Wedell. Thirty-four awesome posters by the husband and wife team leap out from the walls and make the viewer feel they’ve entered dazzling, conceptually complex three-dimensional puzzles.

In their posters the two artists have created a unique fusion of analog and digital technology. Skolos is a graphic designer and Wedell is a photographer. Many of the posters were brainstormed and carefully worked out by collaging bits of colored paper and images cut from magazines. The posters in the gallery were produced between 1980 (many years before the advent of high quality digital design) and 2017.

Skolos-Wedell posters have been collected by the likes of the Smithsonian Design Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.

This very special exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery runs through July 22, 2018. Admission is free!

Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolds and Thomas Wedell.
Give-and-Take: Poster Design by Nancy Skolds and Thomas Wedell.
The SDSU Downtown Gallery now has a very cool exhibition concerning poster design.
The SDSU Downtown Gallery now has a very cool exhibition concerning poster design.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Thought-provoking contrasts in Mission Valley.

Beautiful roses planted between the Town and Country Hotel and busy Fashion Valley Road in Mission Valley.
Beautiful roses planted between the Town and Country Hotel and busy Fashion Valley Road in Mission Valley.

This morning, after I took photos of the funny sign at the Town and Country Hotel (see my previous post), I walked north up Fashion Valley Road and turned east on Riverwalk Drive, following the San Diego River. I then passed under Highway 163 via the San Diego River Trail, and arrived at the Hazard Center shopping mall. From there I followed several streets to work.

During my walk between the Town and Country and Hazard Center I took a series of interesting photographs. When I reviewed my photos this evening, I realized they presented complex and thought-provoking contrasts.

Morning sprinklers have irrigated another perfect rose.
Morning sprinklers have irrigated another perfect rose.
A duck in the San Diego River, as seen from the pedestrian bridge between the Town and Country and the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
A duck in the San Diego River, as seen from the pedestrian bridge between the Town and Country and the Fashion Valley Transit Center.
Dozens of tame river ducks like to gather by the bus station to eat crumbs offered by humans.
Dozens of tame river ducks like to gather by the bus station to eat crumbs offered by humans.
Continuing east along Riverwalk Drive, looking at greenery by the San Diego River.
Continuing east along Riverwalk Drive, looking at native greenery by the San Diego River.
Wild, ragged sunflower blossoms ablaze in morning light.
Wild, ragged sunflower blossoms ablaze in morning light.
Fresh green sycamore leaves by the walking path.
Fresh green sycamore leaves by the walking path.
I'm approaching some major construction around where Highway 163 passes under Friars road north of the river. The project is calculated to ease traffic flow.
I’m approaching some major construction near the place where Highway 163 passes under Friars Road north of the river. The project is calculated to ease traffic flow.
Urban development requires work, resources and extensive planning.
Wild grass and urban development.
Heavy machinery sculpting the Earth.
Heavy machinery sculpting the Earth.
Construction worker by stacked fencing.
Construction worker by stacked security fencing.
Ants work busily on a nearby native flower.
Ants work busily on a nearby native flower.
A perfect bloom planted near the Hazard Center shopping center, contrasted with bare concrete.
A perfect bloom planted near the Hazard Center shopping center, contrasted with bare concrete.
A mural on the south side of Hazard Center shows people flocking to the mall.
A mural on the south side of Hazard Center shows people flocking to the mall.
Bronze sculpture at Hazard Center of Bruce R. Hazard - Everyone's Friend. For almost a century R.E. Hazard Contracting Company has built many of San Diego's freeway, road, commercial and subdivision projects.
Bronze sculpture at Hazard Center of Bruce R. Hazard – Everyone’s Friend. For almost a century R.E. Hazard Contracting Company has helped build many of San Diego’s freeway, road, commercial and subdivision projects.
Another nearby sculpture of Bruce's father features this plaque. "Pappy" R.E. Hazard, Sr. 1880-1975. A man's man, paper boy, businessman, horseman, hunter, fisherman.
Another nearby sculpture of Bruce’s father features this plaque. “Pappy” R.E. Hazard, Sr. 1880-1975. A man’s man, paper boy, businessman, horseman, hunter, fisherman.
Be Just and Fear Not. Pappy Hazard, founder of a major construction firm in San Diego, collected old wagons and stagecoaches. Today you can find much of his collection in Seeley Stable, a museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Be Just and Fear Not. Pappy Hazard, founder of a major construction firm in San Diego, collected old wagons and stagecoaches. Today you can find much of his collection at Seeley Stable, a museum in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Pacific Soul by Jaume Plensa rises in San Diego!

Workers install Jaume Plensa's new sculpture Pacific Soul in the public plaza by the Pacific Gate condominium tower in San Diego.
Workers install Jaume Plensa’s new sculpture Pacific Soul in the public plaza by the Pacific Gate condominium tower in San Diego.

This evening, after dark, I walked past the nearly completed Pacific Gate by Bosa condo tower and noticed an elaborate sculpture is being installed in the building’s public plaza near the corner of West Broadway and Pacific Highway.

I asked one of the workers about the artist and learned this new public art installation is the work of Jaume Plensa, the renowned Spanish artist whose monumental sculptures can be found in major cities and museums around the world. He designed the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

This new sculpture, which is titled Pacific Soul, looks intriguingly complex. According to one article I found, it’s inspired by the tangled roots of rainforest trees and is composed of stylized characters from diverse alphabets. When finished it will be about 25-feet tall and appear like a seated person gazing west toward the Pacific Ocean.

I think it’s going to be amazing! I can’t wait to see the finished work!

Pacific Soul by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, when completed, will be about 25-feet tall and appear like a seated person gazing west toward the ocean.
Pacific Soul by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, when completed, will be about 25-feet tall and appear like a seated person gazing west toward the ocean.

UPDATE!

I walked down Broadway to see what progress had been made on Friday morning–about two days later. Workers were getting ready to assemble large sections of the monumental sculpture. Here are some photos…

Sign explains that you are viewing the installation of Pacific Soul by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. (Click image to enlarge the sign for easy reading.)
Sign explains that you are viewing the installation of Pacific Soul by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. (Click image to enlarge the sign for easy reading.)
Worker installs Pacific Soul in a public plaza by the new Pacific Gate high-rise condos in San Diego.
Worker installs Pacific Soul in the public plaza by the new Pacific Gate high-rise condos in San Diego.

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ANOTHER UPDATE!

On Saturday the several sections of Pacific Soul had been pieced together. I was told the sculpture will be lit at night from below, and that people will be able to walk through it!

More photos…

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!