I wanted to pass on the online version of this article ("The Fine Scale of Time" by Megan Sexton) that ran in the USC Times earlier this fall. It's a short piece about my work at 38FA608. The photo is me examining some of the conjoining lithic debris from the Guilford-age deposit at the site. Enjoy!
I'm happy to announce that "Passenger," my 10'-story-bear-with-butterfly-wings, has been accepted into the 2019 ArtFields competition. It's an honor to be included, and somewhat of a validation of the amount of time and energy I put into the piece. The idea percolated for months (years?) before I began bringing it into reality last May. I sweated over it all summer and we went through several love/hate cycles together. I'm glad it's in.
Since I finished the piece in November it has been gathering leaves in the driveway behind my house. I walk by it almost every day and barely notice it. It's a strange feeling to go from thinking about and struggling with something almost every day to forgetting it's there. Especially when it's a 10' bear with butterfly wings.
If you like art and you live in the region, I hope you'll visit ArtFields in Lake City this spring -- it's a really cool event and you'll see a lot of fantastic artwork. I hope "Passenger" ends up somewhere in town where you couldn't miss it if you tried.
A final plug: voting is still open for Jasper Project Artist of the Year. I've been nominated in the Visual Arts category. If you like my artwork, please take a moment and vote for me!
Three years ago today, I was cleaning the kitchen floor in anticipation of the arrival of relatives for the holidays. Through Facebook I became aware of J. Hutton Pulitzer's ludicrous claim that a ""100% confirmed" Roman sword had been recovered from a shipwreck off of Oak Island. The debacle that followed remains, in my opinion, a great example of how facts, logic, and reality can triumph over lies, nonsense, and fantasy in real time. Swordgate remains the most fun I've ever had dealing with pseudoarchaeology online. I can't imagine it will ever be repeated, which is why it's worth remembering and celebrating.
The final chapter on Swordgate remains to be written. There are still a few swords that we're aware of that we don't have many details about, and we're still missing the real "smoking gun" to nail down exactly when and where these Fake Hercules Swords were first produced. Without a doubt, however, they are all modern creations. There is and never was a "Naples Museum sword." The sword purportedly found on Oak Island didn't come from a shipwreck, was not covered in gold, did not have magical navigational powers, and it is not made using Roman-era metallurgical methods. The sword will never appear in history books. There will never be a "White Paper," and you will probably never get an admission from the principal proponent of the sword that the whole thing was a big pile of baloney. C'est la vie.
I'm happy to announce that I'm one of three nominees for the Jasper Project's 2018 Visual Artist of the Year. It's an honor to be nominated, and a thrill to be among such good company. If you like my art, I invite you to click on the link above and vote for me. If you don't like my art, please click on the link and vote for someone else!
And now here's a picture of me with one of my recent pieces, just so an image will show up with the link to this post:
If you'd like to see more of my work, visit the gallery page on my art website.
I'll have more art news in the near future, including whether or not my piece "Passenger" got into ArtFields 2019, an announcement of a major sale (hopefully), and some reflections on what I've done over the last couple of years and what I hope to do in the future. Stay tuned, and thanks for voting!
This is a guest blog post contributed by Peter Geuzen. Peter is familiar to fans of #Swordgate as the producer of numerous illustrations documenting the proliferation of Fake Hercules Swords since December of 2015. He has recently assigned me the task of creating a prize for Swordgate's upcoming Third Anniversary Super Terrific Happy Hour Celebration. So I assigned him this blog post in return. Enjoy!
The Curse of Oak Island has started another season with a few episodes of the obligatory 1/3 recap of the previous episode, 1/3 recap of the recap, 1/6 new material, and 1/6 recap of the new material, per episode. The show airs Tuesday nights in the United States and Sunday night in Canada. To avoid any spoiler issues, this blog is being done on a Monday after the Canadian crowd has had a chance to catch up on the most recent episode.
Welcome to Pilumgate. Don't worry, it won't last long. You might be able to hold your breath until it's over.
You have to wonder if Kevin Burns (Executive Producer & Writer, Prometheus Entertainment) is watching the reactions to his Oak Island cash cow as they happen after each show and season. You have to then wonder if he literally does everything for a reaction. Throw out the red herrings and the scraps of . . . well, scrap, basically . . . as it gets pulled from yet another borehole, or caisson grab, or backhoe pit, or this beach, or that piece of forest, or a full swamp, or a drained swamp . . . you get the idea. As the show keeps trying to be about something, it keeps delivering essentially nothing. Scraps of minor finds are inevitable with the amount of digging and metal detecting going on. Give any historic location in Nova Scotia the same level of effort and you wouldn’t find much of anything different. It’s all stuff from the last couple centuries, but on Oak Island there is also stuff from all the past dead end searches.
Ignoring all these scraps from the last few years, and since this blog is about fake Roman stuff, we leapfrog forward from Fake Roman Swords to the most recent fake Roman find. Kevin Burns has thrown a pilum at us.
First let’s build up the context. The supposed non-actors who don’t star in a scripted show have become actors portraying non-actors who do star in a scripted show. They know what they are expected to say, when to say it, and thus they know what exactly has the best chance of making the final edit back in the Los Angeles studio. As a result, when swinging a metal detector turns up a pointed piece of iron, it’s best to start with a conclusion and worry about details later. Fist pumping yelps of TEMPLAR are now mandatory. The obligatory cell phone speaker call to bring over the always conveniently close by fellowship members has to happen next. The bros then high five all around and Prometheus immediately cuts to a leap of faith confirmation fantasy historical re-enactment scene, with universally condemned narration from the “Could it be?” guy. In other words they found this iron spike thing and immediately gave it a bromance declaration as a Templar crossbow bolt.
The second student project video from this year's Forbidden Archaeology class is now posted on YouTube. In this video, three students discuss some of the evidence that's bandied about for the extra-terrestrial origin of the Anunnaki. They've already gotten their first thumbs down. Enjoy!
As I mentioned earlier, we're making videos in this year's iteration of my Forbidden Archaeology course. The twenty students in the class split up into seven groups and have been working on developing their topics, doing their research, and preparing their scripts.
Last Monday, we taped the speaking parts for the first video and I edited it together over the break. The videos briefly explores the history of ideas/claims that the earth is hollow, and then discusses reasons why that can't be true. Here it is:
I had several goals in mind when I designed this video project. First, it was one opportunity (among several in the course) for students to go through the process of understanding the history/context of a claim and evaluating it based on evidence. Second, I wanted them to think about how to present a message in the format I gave them and all the constraints that come with it. Third, I wanted to produce what I call "persistent resources" that can live independently online and be found by curious people looking for information. I chose the video format because my sense is that we can reach a different audience than would be possible using writing.
Like many of the things I've done so far in my brief teaching career, this is an experimental project. I hope these videos turn out well, I hope the students get something out of it, and I hope they prove to be useful resources for others as well.
I spent most of my art time during the summer and fall working on "Passenger," a 10' tall sculpture depicting a bear with butterfly wings. It's my entry for ArtFields 2019, the submission deadline for which was November 5. It was a push but I got it done, got it photographed, and got it entered. I'll find out on December 18 if it made it into the competition. I'll let you know either way.
There are more pictures of the finished piece in the gallery section of my art website. I made five videos over the course of making it. It was easily my most ambitious art project to date. As with most things, it didn't turn out exactly how I had pictured it when I started. But it did come pretty close to my vision, and there are many aspects of it that I really like.
I didn't realize until about halfway through making this piece that the posture I chose for the bear -- standing, head forward, with slumped shoulders -- is really similar to the posture I chose for a small plaster sculpture I made all way back in the early 1990's when I was living in Carbondale, Illinois. That posture, in turn, was based on the painting "Male Model" by Henry Matisse, which was the cover image on my copy of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer. According to my notes in the jacket, I read that book in 1992 and 1996. I carried my little plaster man sculpture around with me for years, unfinished, until one holiday spent alone in Ann Arbor (Christmas-New Year's 2008? 2009?) I went to work. I built him a set of wings from the odds and ends I had sitting around -- worn out clothes, tin cans, old screws, umbrella parts. I poured what was left of the enamel model paints I had over his shoulders.
I can't really put my finger on why the pose appeals to me and seems to be lurking somewhere in my subconscious. And I don't think I could really dissect the piece and explain and assign meaning to all the different parts. It just doesn't work that way. Some of you may think it's frightening, or threatening, or ugly, or whatever. Maybe it's all those things to you. But to me it's much more than that. There's beauty and currents in it that, for me anyway, aren't just about aesthetics. I guess that's why I don't paint pretty pictures with trees and sunsets and boats. No offense to those of you that do.
Anyway, this creature is now living in my driveway until further notice. I have no idea how ArtFields makes their decisions, but I'm hoping my lack of enthusiasm for delving into the meaning of the meaning of the piece in my entry doesn't hurt my chances of getting in. Ultimately, in my opinion, good art is about feeling something deep in your heart and in your bones (whether you're the creator or the audience). If I need to explain to you how the piece is supposed to make you feel, I didn't make good art. And if I can explain to you what the piece makes me feel, I didn't dig deep enough.
This year in Forbidden Archaeology, the students are making videos as group projects. They are currently working on finishing up their scripts, and we'll start taping segments next week. There is a range of a topics, but all have something to do with "fringe" claims about the human past. Barring any total breakdowns, there will be seven student videos in all. Hopefully I'll be able to start posting them in December.
As I was planning out what to this semester, I decided that making videos would be a way for the students to work on several different elements of critical thinking and communication. It would also give us an opportunity (I hope) to engage with a different audience than the 2016 class did with their blog posts. It's an experiment, so I won't really know what the broader impacts are until the videos are done and we see what the reaction is.
I made an example video so the students could get a better idea of what I was thinking of in terms of length, graphics, etc. I chose to talk about the "red-haired cannibal giants" of Nevada, and I threw this video together in a few hours on Friday afternoon. Enjoy!
All views expressed in my blog posts are my own. The views of those that comment are their own. That's how it works.
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