Archives: Oddversational

Hello! Right now the main thing I’m working on are a series of spectral images taken with a large scale scanography rig I have been constructing.

Click the thumbnails below to launch the gallery.

Here is an overview of a lot of the pastel work I’ve done over the past few years. I’ll be finishing up a handful of these for a show in November.

Click any of the thumbnails below to start the gallery.

What show in November? This one!

I'm going to have new artwork on display and for sale at this awesome party/show! I'll also be doing a pastel painting…

Posted by Oddbill on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

If you are in the LA area on November 20th ot 21st, you should come! Get tickets soon!


These are the first completed drawings I’ve done for 2012. It is artwork done for a CD cover for my friend Thomas Hornig’s upcoming release. He is DIYing his album. I know him because he worked as a contract software developer at the company that currently employs me, as an Application Support manager. Our lives are faceted. The world is complex. It can’t be helped.


gorgon xray

A lot has happened over the past year, but not in an obvious way. Not in a way I can show you. That is likely to change as 2012 progresses. 2012 is shaping up to be the Year of the Gorgon, when then serpents grow out of my brain.

Last year I moved to a new apartment:

sunset sunday

And started using it as a figure drawing studio again:

the studio

Which led to three things. First, a new friend, the model and artist Push, who I started off drawing and ended up renting an art workspace with:


Second, the space, which is a very cool loading dock with a semi trailer permanently parked at it:


Having that space allowed me to complete six new pastel pieces in time for a group show in December:

I didn’t sell any of them, but at least I got over the barrier of never having shown work in public.

Other things that got a start this year; I met a potential partner in the LofiSciFi Film Festival/Community project, and we’ve started the ball rolling on that, though it’s not rolling in a straight line at the moment. I spent the money to get a real camera, the Canon 60D, and have begun learning to use it, along with adobe’s suite of video editing tools:

So there will be more video coming in 2012.

I took a trip to Toronto and Manhattan and got caught in the hurricane. I met and made several friends, met a filmmaker I admire and watched his newest unreleased work.

Late in the year I painted a glow in the dark skeleton on a burlesque dancer, which resulted in this:

It was a fun year. Groundwork was laid.

That’s as much of a retrospective as I can manage. Stay tuned for new things.

Moving again, to a new apartment, so the website redesign and all the other projects are going to be a little delayed. Here is a sneak peak of the upcoming new layout:
Layout Mockup
(The Fibonacci spiral apocalypse in there is just for planning – they won’t be in the finished layout.)

I drew a portrait of someone:

And another sort of diagrammatic portrait of someone else’s tattoos and bodymods, arranged in graphic symmetry:
Vanitas Vanitatum Omnia Vanitas

Started a 365 project on Flickr:
Movingmazefour color grave

And had an interesting conversation about gender:

So, keeping busy. More to come. Happy New Year!

Here is a keynote by videogame creator Will Wright to the 2010 Augmented Reality Event:

The Augmented Reality Event 2010 – Keynote by gaming legend Will Wright from Ori Inbar on Vimeo.

It’s about a half hour long, and there is a lot of meat in it.

What it has done to me though is make me anxious. All of this cool AR engineering, and the converging of technologically enhanced social creativity, that is unfolding all around us.

I listen to talks like this, or I read the squatter-futurist pamphleteering of Cory Doctorow, or Kurzweil’s boy’s-own singularity, or Aubrey De Grey’s mad attack on mortality, and these ideas excite me, they are fundamentally exciting, and I want aspects of all these futures so badly I can feel my ego bleed, but the basic act of even thinking about them also fills me with dread.

When the dread creeps in, they seem like children whistling past a cemetery. Every frivolous technological wonder described in these sources now gets this caveat appended to it in my head as I read:

If civilization doesn’t collapse before we get there.

Everything is very fragile, and all the best that we could make dangles over a chasm by a thread. I feel this more now than I ever have. Nuclear annihilation never seemed quite real, but a cascading collapse in global trust exacerbated by uneven suffering in the coming climate tumult, nation states withholding or encumbering trade as a weapon of retaliation to the point that the economy stagnates, fueling panic and depression, and grinding all technological progress to a halt over an excruciating decade or two… I do not find that hard to imagine at all.

I’m afraid that when I am old, we’ll be dependent on machinery that we have lost the skill or the will to build, and everything will slide into violence and parochial bigotry. And people will look back at the beautiful world we are losing now and see it not as beauty but as decadent weakness. In my lifetime.

We will never go back to the moon. We will never set foot on Mars. Our lifespans will shrink, our children will be poorer than we were, and because we keep better historical records now, everyone will see it happening and our confidence as a species will wither. We will never be what we might have been.

Then beautiful dreams like AR seem silly, and I worry about what we aren’t seeing.

The only way to combat this is to get out and do. Be doing. Civilization is nothing more than a mutually assured confabulation, an impossibly complex layered mesh of just-so stories dressing up the absurd miracle of empty space vibrating into a planet covered in monkeys wearing hats for no good reason. It rained on our heads for seven million years and it rains on our heads today, and the hats aren’t much, really, after all. But they sure are natty. And that one looks fabulous on you.

Hello new readers! I’m Bill, and I get like this sometimes. Do stick around!

My internet friend Allana and I are live blogging a reading of The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

I started by smelling my copy of the book, which is something Allana insists is not advisable if you get your books from the library. My book came from the internet, through the mail. So I smelled it.

We’re reading it now, and posting our observations, and interesting discoveries. There is cool historical fact and cooler fictional machinery that we’re finding people have actually built versions of in the real world.

Click over and read along with us through the month of April!

There was a very briefly run blog out there once called BlueSpill.

Well, it’s still out there, sure, but it hasn’t been updated in quite a while. It is, however, very much worth a visit if you are interested in handmade Visual Effects or in the history of the special effects or animation industries. It covered in several posts many devices and processes used by filmmakers in the pre-digital industry to create effects, and many of the explanations are quite good.

For example, there was a post about the Max Fleischer innovation called The Rotograph that is actually the best, clearest description of this technique I’ve found in any medium. Take a minute to follow that link and read it – it shows how Max Fleischer used this:

To make a Popeye cartoon that looks like this:

Now, I was reminded of this technique because of a post today on Boing Boing pointing to a miniature photographer named Michael Paul Smith who is reconstructing a remembered version of the place and time he grew up using models photographed against live backgrounds:

Flat bed Truck 1940 by Michael Paul Smith

Per the photographer’s explanation of this photo:

The houses in the background are about 2 blocks away from where I was shooting. At that distance, the model and real houses look as though they are the same size.
It’s always a challenge to find an exterior setting with that kind of unobstructed view. Also with no cars, people or signs in the way.
The Universe smiled upon me that day.

Take some time to click through Michael Paul Smith’s flickr pics, they are full of wonderful model photos taken against real backgrounds. Keep in mind that there is no digital manipulation in most of these images, just keenly constructed miniature sets cleverly aligned with actual backgrounds.

I’m currently working on a short film project that is meant to be set in some difficult to reach locales, and some environments that might be too dangerous to film in or that don’t quite exist. I’ve been looking for ways to film some of it without the budget that might be needed to fly people to a distant location, or pay for access to unusual environments (for example, something like an offshore oil rig). Seeing Michael Paul Smith’s photos today reminded me of the Rotograph and got me wondering how much of an environment might be built using something like this.

Maybe build the set, align it with an appropriate exterior, put portions of the set on movable bases that can be moved slowly at different speeds using electric motors, and maybe film foreground layers of the set separately from background layers, so those elements can have live actors filmed in live environments at the proper distance from the camera inserted in there in post. That sentence makes more sense to me right now than it probably does objectively, but I wanted to get it down here so I remember what I’m thinking.

When I have this sorted properly in my head I’ll make another post with a better description of the idea, and then I’ll try it and post the results.

In the meantime, read through BlueSpill and look at model set photos, and enjoy!

Railyard Skyline

The sun will come up on the last day of 2009 soon, and I’ll probably do a rambling post on the decade gone, the first decade of THE FUTURE, kind of at an angle to what we all thought the third millennium AD would bring us. Some time this weekend. I need to gather up a first draft of thoughts on the last 10 years, in order to better know how to set upon goals for the next.

One thing I’d like to do again some time in 2010 though is some deep reading.

In sorting through some papers in preparation for a possible move, I found some old university lit class essays. Many of them are painful to read now. Not because they are poorly written (some are, some aren’t), but because a lot of them are obviously, blatantly parroting back whatever political or philosophical opinion the instructor of that course held. It’s really embarrassingly obvious that I had no ability to form a real opinion of my own. I know I wasn’t trying to ingratiate myself for the sake of good grades, though (surprise) all the papers I have that reflect back the instructor’s beliefs got very good grades. I liked these teachers, and I was fascinated by their opinions, and I think at that time I was unconsciously trying their worldviews on to see how they fit.

I’m quite a bit older now, and though I’ve continued to read voraciously, I haven’t read anywhere near as analytically, or as deeply, as I did in those classes.

For example, here’s a bit of an essay on The Duchess of Malfi:

Men like to ride horses to exhaustion in this play. “Castruccio is come to Rome, Most pitifully tired with riding post.” Ferdinand “hath took horse, and’s rid post to Rome.” Later in the same scene Bosola says, “Pluto, the god of riches, when he’s sent by Jupiter to any man, he goes limping, to signify that wealth that comes on God’s name comes slowly; but when he’s sent on the devil’s errand, he rides post and comes in by scuttles.” Keeping within the play’s metaphoric structure, we can believe that both Castruccio and Ferdinand have ridden to Rome on the devil’s errand…

I used to love to tease out textual clues like that, and find clever ways that the structure of something, or the images it referenced, supported character or theme. It was a useful pleasure when I was an actor, since finding out these little connections was the key to building a nuanced performance. But I’d guess in the last ten years I haven’t tried reading anything this deeply at all.

I recently finished a first read through Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, but even though that book really demands a close reading I found I wasn’t able to muster up the attention for it. I glossed a lot. Then, in doing some digging around online for other people’s impressions of the book, I found this essay that suggests that an odd, throw away reference that Pynchon put into The Crying of Lot 49:

In Mexico City they somehow wandered into an exhibition of paintings by the beautiful Spanish exile Remedios Varo…

In his essay Pynchon’s Inferno, Charles Hollander argues that this reference is meant to make you curious about Remedios Varo, lead you to try researching him, discover little information but be exposed to the name Marcus Terentius Varro (whose name is a cognate of the painter’s), an ancient Roman satirist who wrote in a style called Menippean Satire, a form which:

He developed the form into a medley, or mixture of humor, philosophy, song, and rhyme on any topic that struck his fancy at the moment, managing to scoff at all the fad and fashion of the time while avoiding, or submerging, any political bitterness he might have felt.
– Hollander:Pynchon’s Inferno

This is also the form that Gravity’s Rainbow takes, and Hollander is convinced this odd clue in The Crying of Lot 49 is Pynchon tipping his hand to anyone who happens to be looking, revealing the workings behind his chosen style.

Now, that’s all quite a stretch, and these days information on Remedios Varo is not hard to come by. Maybe Pynchon just knew his paintings, and one he remembered fit his purpose for the image he was looking for. This could be true even if he was intentionally working in the style of Menippean satire. This could all be essentially an elaborate conspiracy-theory-style chain of concoctions unintentionally invented by a source happy scholar digging for influences. But so far all the Pynchon I’ve read is very keen on conspiracy theories, and it does not seem so unlikely to me that he may be playing games with scholarly readers like this. His novels do echo the form of satire described.

Coming up with potential clues like this is the kind of depth I would like to go into again in reading something this year. I don’t know what yet. Maybe more Pynchon. Maybe something else.

A possibility is this great program I read about here, the St. John’s College Summer Classics in Santa Fe, New Mexico:

A Summer Classics seminar is not a lecture, nor is it a book club. At St. John’s, seminars are lively, in-depth, highly participatory conversations on the reading at hand. Discussions begin with an opening question presented by a tutor, but can take on myriad dimensions. Everyone contributes in some way to the conversation, bringing ideas to the table whether they have familiarity with the topic or not. Listening is just as important as speaking, as connections among ideas make for stimulating conversation. No previous knowledge of the author, text, or subject is required; participants should refer only to works the group studies together. Our conversations are not debates. Challenging others’ ideas or offering alternative thinking is encouraged as long as the goal is insight, not didacticism.

These week-long seminars take place in July, and are limited to 16 participants each. Groups are led by two members of the St. John’s College faculty, or occasionally, guests from other institutions.

Frankly it sounds like heaven. These last ten years have just burned by too fast. Time to limp a bit in Jupiter’s service.

(See how I brought it back around there!)

Solstice! The 12 Noon of the year, and occasion to contemplate the remorseless sidereal gears that grind us.

momento mori

This osseus dome, once arched nobly over the seat of one man’s reason, now reduced by time to the state of a broken cathedral, abandoned, cast in plastic and sold over the counter at Puzzle Zoo.

Sic transit gloria mundi.