Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Brief Update About My Art

Hi everyone! After finally getting a bit settled in artistically from FotoFest Houston I thought I would take a quick moment to give a rundown of what I've been working on, and far more interestingly, where you can see it out in that magic, troll- and typo- filled fantasy world of the internet:

First off, my newest venture is my Tumblr, "Romance" which is a in-progress blog of my newest project. I've been photographing for most of the spring at renaissance faires creating a series of panoramas as well as black & white works. The project looks at the massive amount of work that goes in to the temporary architecture which gives the faires their feel, as well as the swirling interaction of the participants. Follow me there to watch what happens as I proof and sequence the project!

Also,  my "Flaneur" project is being represented online by the Santa Fe, New Mexico based Unit D Gallery. They have a bunch of new work from that project as well as a stable of many amazing other photographers that are well worth your time to explore.

My twitter, @eronrauch, is becoming the best way to keep up with the latest news and projects I have going on.

If you haven't stopped by in a while, drop in — many of the portfolios have new images. The site will be undergoing a massive redesign this summer, so expect some fun changes there, including a full look at the Flaneur and Arcana projects and revised in-progress portfolio of the hentai origami from Japonisme.

If you haven't looked at the project called "Eternal Garden," drop in and take a glance. It's a project that works from an almost uncomfortably close perspective at the human toll of subcultural fashion (as well as art photography), I'm working on a series of Blurb books. The first one will be this project, and it will be [suspiciously] close to Araki's famous "Sentimental Journey."

If you want to be a stalker and/or put up with the full range of my rants and complaints and half-witty comments (as well as lots of music and art) friend me on Facebook — I, amazingly enough, go by "Eron Rauch"!

As always, Curio will be the home to a totally mixed and chaotic array of recipes, mix tapes, rants about music & video games, as well as whatever else doesn't fit anywhere more formal!

Thanks so much for being interested and involved in my projects — always feel free to let me know what cool artistic endeavors you are all working on as well!

Recipe: Japanese-style Sweet Potato & Pork Belly Stew

While I have a menagerie of other tasks I should be accomplishing, Callie really loved this recipe so I figured I'd take a few minutes off from digging through photographs and unpacking my new studio to share it. It's loosely based on a drop-lid cooking technique I picked up making Harmui's version of gyudon in "Harumi's Japanese Cooking" but went in to crazy-land from there.

The quick version of drop-lid cooking is that you make a circle of aluminum foil the exact size of your pan, then place that onto the surface of simmering broth and other ingredients to quickly cook them with a combination of steam and boiling. In the case of this recipe, it means the sweet potatoes retain their shape while still being cooked through. I wouldn't call this health food, but it's rich broth is a very pleasant while storm clouds roll in during late-winter's attempts to fend off spring.

Japenese-style Sweet Potato and Pork Belly Stew

3/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in to 1" chunks
1/2 lb pork belly, cut in to 1" chunks (skin removed if needed)
1 small white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1" ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 block tofu (7-8 oz.) cut in to 1" cubes
2 tbs + 1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp + 1 tsp mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
1 tsp canola oil
2-3 tbs good quality miso (depending on how strong the flavor of your miso is), dissolved in 1/2 c. filtered water
more filtered water as needed
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

For the Garnish:
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1/2 bunch green onions, green tops and light green parts only, thinly sliced
toasted sesame seeds

Cooking the Pork Belly:
1) Sautee pork belly for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until lightly browned.
2) Add 1 tbs soy and 1 tsp mirin and cook for 1 minute.
3) Add a pinch of salt and water to cover.
4) Cover the pan and simmer very very gently over low heat for 30 minutes.
5) When done, strain the broth through a fine sieve and retain the broth.
6) Crisp the pork belly over medium high heat in a small pan.
7) Set pork aside.

Making the Stew:
8) Heat the canola oil over medium heat and add the onions + a pinch of salt. Cook 4-5 minutes until they just start to soften.
9) Add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
10) Mix in sweet potatoes and cook for 1 minute.
11) Add the reserved pork belly broth and enough additional water to comfortably house all of the bits of the stew.
12) Put a tinfoil drop lid on the liquid and turn the heat down to medium low, simmering for 5-6 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes aren't quite done.
13) Add the tofu, mirin, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
14) Add the reserved pork belly and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes until the pork is heated through.
15) Serve in to boils and divide up the garnishes.

Serve with a side of steamed rice and glass of good shochu on the rocks.

Monday, May 21, 2012

On Video Games and Art

Over at Hyperallergic they recently did a summary of MoMA's "Critical Play" conference panel. I just wanted to post my own response (a bit cleaned up) here to get feedback. I replied to their summary there, but I wanted to move it over to my blog to get some feedback. 

Eron Rauch
"Sometimes it's hard to spot..."
from Arcana, or, Finding Context
Arhival Inkjet Print, 2009

To me, so many of the questions raised in the art world about video games are the type of sexy-social-theoretical questions that make for good exhibition titles and juicy quotes. But the theoretical dialogs very often miss some of the more material-realistic aspects of the medium's inclusion in the art world. That is, they don't want to talk about the nuts-and-bolts nor blue-collar aspects of making and experiencing games. 

For my first instance, I want to call attention to coding and digital animation as professions These two basic cornerstones of video game production still remains the domaine of highly technically skilled labor. Labor so hyper-technical that it usually makes something like film editing pale by comparison. Doubly so that most university art programs and art colleges don't even have a video game program so as to make the basic skill-set available for artists (USC being the main exception). 

Video game design has historically always the domaine of group-based production. Even the most esoteric of games like Dwarf Fortress have two people working non-stop. (I know Dwarf Fortress is like the Henry Darger of the video game world, but it's still interesting to note even DF isn't a solitary person.) Usually even an indie game has minimum of 3-4 people working just on the code and design with the need for addieventional people doing music, asset design, concept art, scripts, voicing etc. Usually a producer or director is needed to make things function smoothly and coherently. Modern art training has historically been very individualistic in the last 100 years and so is the story we tell our youth about the western art history narrative. To be blunt, you don't get drunk in your studio at 3AM and "knock out a video game for crit the next day (or week; or month; or...)."

Which leads me to a third physical point about games — they usually take massive time to develop.  Dwarf Fortress will be in production for decades. Something cool like Flower or Journey takes years to make. That's a huge commitment in the world of pop-goth-surrealism, post-conceptualism, performance, witch house, etc. I mean, in really practical terms it would suck like hell if your game had been deving for 5 years and was running two months behind schedule and missed your one shot at Documenta. 

Additionally, the user-expirience of video games is longer than what might be the average visual art experience. This leads to many pragmatic questions such as: How do you display something that might take 2-100 hours to fully (or even partially) experience in a gallery or a massive biennial?[We have the retro-arcade as a model perhaps? But do people want to plunk down quarters to play classic works?] It's apocryphally said the average museum patron spends like an average of 15 seconds at each work. By that calculation, completing even a short game would amount to wandering around the Getty and looking at about 500 paintings! 

My ultimate question might be summed up as: In an increasingly hyperactive global art market is it realistic to expect that legions of artists with sophisticated (and commercially relevant) software & programing skills will band together for years at a time to produce a singular object, which will then be put out in an "art world" where there are virtually no monetary possibilities nor strong institutional avenues for people to see their work? 

To put it in the least artistic language, why would people who had the skill and vision to make a cool art-game-thinger, including find a crew on on indie game forum, putting together a Kickstarter and distributing the project on Steam even worry about getting their work in to an "art world" context? What would it get them to help them make the project?  

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see more interconnectedness with art and video games, but I see this being being a diffuse merging of a venn diagram, rather than a one-way street wether it be gatekeeper or populism from either side. 

[As an aside: We're just now seeing the rise of "indie" video games, and more interestingly, micro-funded indie games, and so many of these assumptions won't be relevant in a handful of years. As such, I don't think these questions are that dissimilar to the questions that faced cinema. After all, even thought art museums show movies and occasionally mount shows on a specific director, we still don't really have "cinema" as a wing of a museum like we do with painting or photography, so maybe this notion of full integration in to a painting-oriented museum space is just unrealistic.]