“Art + Science = Magic (Or Not?)” in Art Practical

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In her brief introduction to the special “Art, Science, & Wonder” issue of Art Practical (7.2, October 30, 2015), Selene Foster notes,

“It can be argued that every discipline carries with it the potential for great wonder, but the arts and sciences scream the value of not-knowing from the rooftops, and I believe this is the reason that they have been considered kin almost as long as civilization itself.”

“The value of not-knowing,” indeed. While there are many significant differences between art and science, both are, as I write in my contribution to special issue, “realms of the question.”

“Contrary to the caricature of the scientist as the white-coated statistician ready to provide any and all answers, science is like a matryoshka doll, a series of questions nested within questions. The same is true of exemplary art, philosophy, and religion: any answer arrived at is merely a stage for another question.”

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UCSF Job

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Katherine Nielson; Co-Director of UCSF’s Science & Health Education Partnership (SEP);
UCSF Parnassus Heights Campus; San Francisco, CA; November 2014

Last year, the Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of California San Francisco hired me to shoot portraits of its faculty members for a website overhaul. It was a fun job, and I particularly enjoyed many of the conversations I had with the scientists. Although I finished the job in March 2015, I’m only now getting around to posting selected portraits and “B-roll”. (more…)

“Some Remove” @ City Creatures

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I recently reworked an essay that I hastily drafted in 2012, during a short art and writing residency in the Catskills. The piece is about my coming to terms with a then-recent cross-country move from New York City to San Francisco…and the animal species that helped me to do so.

The reworked essay is currently “on view,” in printed format, as part of “Inspired by Platte Clove” (May 11 – June 26, 2015), an exhibition at the Catskill Center‘s Erpf Gallery (Arkville, New York). In conjunction with the exhibit, the essay was just posted on The Center For Humans & Nature blog, City Creatures.

Click here to check it out.

Image credit: Black phoebe; Watercolor & gouache on Arches paper; © Christopher Reiger, 2012

Recent writing for the BAASICS blog

B6_image_webPosts related to BAASICS‘ 2015-16 programming theme, Borderlands, and our upcoming production, BAASICS.6: The Edge Effect, are regularly appearing on the BAASICS blog. All of the posts are worth reading, but I’m highlighting four of my contributions here.

Border Gazing” — Looking at a photograph of the U.S.-Mexico border and pondering “the folly and dignity of our human constructs.”

Thriving In Dystopia” — Borders, climate change, dystopia, and E.O. Wilson.

Walking City Alleys” — How is a city alley a wilderness? Why should we explore them?

The Anthropocene, Conservation, & Paradox” — Considering one of the more significant Anthropocene-related scuffles.

Don’t forget to reserve your tickets for BAASICS.6: The Edge Effect, which will take place on Sunday, June 14, at Knuth Music Hall, on the San Francisco State University campus! Learn more about the program and participants here.

SFMOMA’s Open Space: BAASICS & unexpected projects in conversation

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Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I shared lunch and a very enjoyable conversation about the nature of collaboration with artists Jenny Salomon, Jennifer Stager, and Selene Foster.

As two collaborative pairs, we had a lot to talk about. Selene and I co-founded BAASICS and have been devoting ourselves to that labor of love for almost — whoa — five years now. In 2014, Jenny and Jennifer kicked off a collaboration they call unexpected projects, aspiring to

“make art more accessible to wide-ranging audiences while providing artists with a platform from which to experiment. From installing site-specific shows on a former prisoner transport bus, to curating exhibitions in alternative spaces, to producing digital media collaborations, unexpected projects creates opportunities for people to have spontaneous experiences with art.”

Earlier this year, SFMOMA invited unexpected projects to conduct a handful of interviews with other Bay Area artists who are working collaboratively and to present accounts of each exchange as part of SFMOMA’s Open Space Conversations series.

So that’s how I came to enjoy tasty tortillas at Gracias Madre with Selene, Jenny, and Jennifer. A good conversation is itself something of a collaboration and the shared stories and observations around our table that afternoon left me feeling mentally energized.

Thanks, Jenny and Jennifer, for inviting us to commune with you!

Please check out the unexpected projects account of the conversation at Open Space.

Hitting the Jacksmelt

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Andrew & Nate cast netting off Elephant Rock Pier; Tiburon, CA; February 2015

Reviewing the San Francisco Bay tide tables last Monday, I noted early afternoon high tide numbers for the weekend and asked two buddies if they had any interest in chasing herring in the North Bay. They did, and yesterday afternoon, at Point Tiburon’s Elephant Rock Pier, we failed to find herring but made the acquaintance of Pacific jacksmelt aplenty.

There’s something about getting into a school of “forage fish” that turns you into a 12-year-old, and a soft-spoken local teenager who fished alongside us with rod and reel could only gawk at the three man-children with their cast nets and buckets of fish. It was all smiles, laughs, and high fives.
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Tytia Habing's Quiet Praise

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“A Clew,” from Tytia Habing”s series, “The Gift”

After recently being introduced to photographer Tytia Habing“s series, “The Gift” (via Emma Kisiel“s terrific Muybridge”s Horse), I added Habing”s blog to the Hungry Hyaena blogroll.

Jaded types might consider Habing”s work sentimental to the brink of preciousness, but I find her pictures to be quiet, evocative celebrations of the interconnectivity of everything — of the humbling fact that each mote is indivisible from the whole. In photographs of a gardener”s gloves overflowing with tobacco hornworms or a picture of Habing”s son taking cover in a low forest of mayapple, Habing”s earnest appreciation for, in her words, “this good earth we all share” is manifest.
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Photoshoot at Congregation Beth Sholom

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Meirav & Yair Harel; San Francisco Ceremony to Honor the Forgotten Refugees;
Congregation Beth Sholom; San Francisco, CA; October 2014

This past Thursday evening, I shot another event at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco. The San Francisco Ceremony to Honor the Forgotten Refugees was a program organized by JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa). JIMENA”s mission is
“to ensure that the accurate history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews is incorporated into mainstream Jewish and Middle Eastern narratives in order to create balance in attitudes, narratives, and discourse about Middle Eastern refugees and the modern Jewish experience.”

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ABOUT HH

I started Hungry Hyaena in March 2005. Over the years, I've written about a range of subjects, but art musings and criticism, as well as natural history, conservation, and popular philosophy dominate the blog.

If you'd like to visit the archive (2005-2014), please click here.

If you'd like an explanation of the blog's name, visit this post.

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