Sunday, June 23, 2013

Metropolitan Museum Concept Map

While my aunt and uncle were visiting, Mom scored free passes to the Met.

I got the idea of making a concept map before I went, knowing that, as at the Exploratorium, there would be far too much to see in a visit. Again and again, I was struck by the presence of beautiful craft. How many farmers toiled, soldiers risked their lives, merchants schemed to assemble the civilizations that drove and supported such art! Perhaps with the exception of ancient pottery from modern-day Japan.

I was delightfully surprised to find the Cyrus cylinder was on display there ahead of its tour stop at SF's Asian Art Museum. I was stilled by the age and significance of the small clay piece, and after moments of regard, bowed to it. It wasn't crowded but there were always clusters of people around it, mostly Arab or Central or South Asian.

I didn't bother with the audio tours (or really any self-guided materials) when I decided to seek out the collection of musical instruments, so I spent half the time being weirded out by the lack of sound. Of course touching the instruments was prohibited. Most of the collection was behind glass. I was extremely amused by the "archaic" Javanese metallophone with nipples on rectangular keys because it's a hybridization of the gamelan instruments used today. Bunga means flower and daun means leaf, the traditional names for round and rectangular keys.

Speaking of craft, I lashed together some scraps from around the house: 

Why let professionals have all the fun? This is my approximation of a Balinese penjur pennant. I've been feeling the need for some extra love and kindness for my family, so while visiting Mom's house I put this up. Send the well wishes!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Awareness and the US Farm Subsidy

As a composer, I'm in a period of perception where unintentional sounds can be delightful and provocative music at almost any moment. Often I find myself looking around for the source of interesting sounds, task at hand forgotten. It's a wonderful state, and I'll be working to capture some of it to share with you on SoundCloud this summer.

This is similar to another awareness practice, around the global significance of one's daily choices. When I consume or witness consumption, I often wonder where the resources came from: corn in a tortilla, noodles in my soup, potato in a compostable fork. I try to buy local to reduce energy waste in transport, but often local farms are the most wasteful. Current Congressional attempts to reform farm subsidies underline the irony that our resources waste our earned income.

You can find great graphics about it at the EWG Farm Subsidy Database. My attention is also drawn to the irony of the "ruin" US food aid brings to farmers in devastated regions because of existing rules that prioritize shipments of domestic produce over buying what's available there. Surely in the original democracy of the time, our voices count? I've been writing to my reps. It's easy to find yours.