VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Practice Under the Influence

The following text and image pieces were made by the class, as part of a cross-genre conversation with writer Lydia Davis and artist Steve Roden.

This was an improvisational project where we broke the class up into small production groups and gave them one hour to produce a piece that explored systems and/or locations.

Group 1 - location: Library Computer Lab


Group 2 - location: back patio, School of Intercultural Studies

Group 3 - location: sampling text from 5 different buildings, 15 mins. each
performing the constructed text.
"What's going on for class?
Oh buddy. Did I tell you this story?
This is a good analogy
Go in there and count all the lights that are off. Start calling.
Is there anything I can help you with?
does she give you good feedback?
Yes it is sufficient.
When it comes to making decisions, they such at it.
Neuro virtues. I didn't mean to sign up.
It wa an accident.
So now I learned something
Remember this is a restatement
I'm excited to see what you turn out.
     Rose grief lacked silence
     Walk jails corrections
     Cancelled neuro virtues
     Passport closed ongoing too
     early future contestants enter
     Start calling."

Group 4 - location: University Medical Center

Group 5 - "SYSTEMS"

I belong to a system of romantic entanglement wherein two individuals previously embedded within the system of dating—a form of courtship consisting of activities which allow two individuals to assess their compatibility—choose to proclaim their commitment to further entangle their lives at a ceremony comprised of various rituals—rituals established for religious, superstitious, and somewhat arbitrary reasons—including bridesmaids who wear similar dresses to scare away evil spirits—which symbolize their unique love for each other and their desire to see each other every day for the rest of their lives. This system does not necessitate but requests the involvement of family and friends, whose presence acts as a sign of affirmation of the couple's decision to involve themselves with each other and be submitted to the institution of marriage. This invitation places an expectation upon myself to assert my desire to witness an event that requires its own website, blog, stationary and instagram hashtag, and also perpetuates the system of romantically pairing off with other individuals by indicating that two seats have been reserved in my honor. [Becca Johnson]


This message affirms, via its format, that I am Chris Davidson [the “To:” line excised in this image]. It came to me via the system of e-mail hosted by Yahoo, transmitted through a system of servers running off a grid of electricity powered by a series of plants that run on coal (derived from a series of mines), water (a series of dams), sun (a series of panels), or fusion (series of reactors), all derived from the system of earth. It came from Luke Laubhan, whom I know via the system of friendship, which means I’m interested in his life and he’s interested in mine and we express this interest by communicating to each other in various forms, in this case, e-mail. I met this person when he came to Biola to study systematic theology at Talbot, because his life working in church systems suggested to him an aptitude and interest in the work that, in order to advance in that system, demanded further study and degree status. Because he had been certified with a degree in English, having finishing a four-year stint in the system of the University of Oklahoma, and in order to help complete his advanced degree, payment for which was required by Biola's payment office before he could be gain access to the system of class registration, he took a job at the Writing Center after passing through a system of application and interviewing and hiring, the consequence being that the university paid him a wage so that he could pay the university for taking classes that would allow him to get a job that would pay him. While at Talbot, he found that the study of systematic theology—in its system or in its content, it’s hard to tell—suggested he didn’t, in fact, have aptitude and interest in working in the church. (He wanted to write, instead, so he applied to an MFA program in creative writing. I was then entangled in the system of recommendation writing such a system requires for admission. He would later move through the system in two years, receiving a degree that affirms his completion of the title “Master.”) He met and married a woman from Biola whom he wouldn’t have met had he not embarked on the aforementioned system-led journey from Oklahoma to California (which travel required the negotiation of several systems). Codified in a ritual called a wedding, he entered the system called marriage, resulting in his case, via biology—sex, sperm, egg, pregnancy, labor, delivery—in Lyla, whose existence demands he provide, through the erratic system of capitalism—goods and services exchanged for payment—for her and his wife, who, ensconced in the system of motherhood, is opting to stay home for a few months of nurture. He will next move, with his wife and daughter, into a home owned by a middle-aged couple. This is ok. They belong to the system called “family.” To review, I belong to the system of friendship that avails me knowledge of these systems. Now we friends have a mutual system: married fathers who play basketball, a game that requires a system of lines, rules, baskets, a ball, players. We pay the LAUSD a fee every three months to rent the gym to play the game in. We also pay for insurance. I play because I was invited by someone whom I went to grad school with, when I got my MFA. I receive an e-mail every week to check if I’ll come play. My wife knows that Thursday nights are off limits for planning events with the family or anything else. I’m telling you this b/c of Dan Callis. [Chris Davidson]

I am part of a system which holds to certain rituals, where you are forced to make a choice pertaining to the attendance of this ritual, and the choice made, may or may not be frowned upon depending on what is acceptable according to the system by which your social group abides. Therefore, the response to your inquiry of my attendance is dependent upon your response to said systems. [Sydnee Shurbet]

I am part of a system that requires an intense emotional response to previously known information concerning the state of orthodontia, or lack thereof, within the oral cavity of a female person with whom I possess shared experiences and similar DNA. I receive this acknowledgement through a previously established form of communication that is tied directly to my person, which re-enforces the requirement to participate in the aforementioned system. The correct response, "Yay!" was returned. [Aubrey Stevens]

Image Under the Influence of Frank O'Hara - Juliet San Nicolas

Image Under the Influence of Frank O'Hara

The following pieces were made by the visual artists in the class, as part of a cross-genre conversation with the poet Frank O'Hara.

Journal by Sarah Croswhite

Assemblage by Laura Soto
Photo by Brad Miersma
Drawings by Caroline Davoust

Sculpture by Aubrey Stevans
Photos by Justin Potesta

Instagram Clock by Emily Goswick
Drawing by Becca Weeks
Photo collage by Daniela Pacheco

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Text Under the Influence of Andy Goldsworthy

The following pieces were made and/or performed by the writers in the class, as part of a cross-genre conversation with artist Andy Goldsworthy.


- Message and photograph by Spencer Cullum


The Redefinition

The water-nest peels from the shore's safety,
the rising tide dislodges stones,
my hand drops to the ground.

This is not destruction.
Destruction is

the culmination of protective reflexes,
eyes that see only death on the dark end of the stick,
hands that form fists instead of stars.

Spring doesn't begin on the surface
but at the tips of my
fingers as I shake
hands with the rocks
and redraw the line of their collapse.

And what is destruction,
if not the denial of beauty
in potential collapse?

- Poem by Becca Johnson


- Poem made out of text cut from food boxes, by Charlotte Foland


This thread of life draws us in.

We have no choice but to got.

Time does not stop for anyone.

Listen to the birds while they sing,
For their song will not last forever.

Upside down,
We swirl into the story of the world.

Our place is not permanent,
We're here for a vapor, then gone again.

The wind of the world will not stop going.

Make your mark before the paint fades,
And the set clay turns to stone.

- Poem by Matt Glass


- Poem on leaves by Hannah Perry


- Poem by Jonathan Diaz


- Nick Maurer, reading a poem he lit on fire before it burns up


No sugar added
Champagne glasses
Sit upright on white table clothes
in the morning sun, like soldiers
at the brink of dawn. Awaiting the
arrival of the bride and groom.
Two hands interlocked
Your hands in my hands
Why did you let go?
Your arm around me
My arm around you
Why did you let go?
Smilling at the sight of me,
Me smiling back at you
I would have understood
Two hands interlocked

- Poem by Julius Thompson


- Poem written then "worded" onto individual tiles for reader interaction, by Sarah O'Donnell


In the beginning,
those that cannot be explained,
infants and children
scarcely entertained,
will have to wait,
but with the field moving as fast as it is today
the wait
will not be long,
and it will be worthwhile,
because we will finally obtain
what Freud could only dream

We must admit
that staying up all night,
observing other people sleeping,
is not everyone’s idea of

But in reality,
it’s even easier than that.

It can be done in the summertime,
when the hillock of the Cornea
can be seen in the early dawn light
to glide
to and fro
under the closed
or perhaps half-opened

You can observe your big sister’s baby
or anyone’s pet cat or
and have the same thrill of discovery.

The Eye-Lids themselves
dance and twitch sporadically
and when they do
one has only to give a light tap on the shoulder
and ask,
“What is going on in the Mind?”

We tend to forget
how simple the early devices were.
How many other breakthrough discoveries
now elude us
because we are conceptually boxed-in
by gratuitous assumptions
that there is nothing to observe
via intuition or

- Sound collage and poem by Justin Potesta


Something Else Natural

“He would get lost,” I remarked.

We were staying in the biggest campground I’ve ever stayed in — 200+ sites. Disgusting, really. You go out into nature to be alone and mind your own business, but they gather everyone together at night like a bunch of chicks. Luckily, we’d gotten a group site distanced from the rest by a small, winding trail . . . Apparently not “luckily” since Jacob had gotten lost.

Why they couldn’t give everyone some space out here was beyond me.

Jacob, my older brother, left to brush his teeth over a half hour ago and had yet to reappear. It was getting close to midnight. All four of us had been drinking throughout the evening. Not a ton but enough. Jacob’s a lightweight, so at this point it wasn’t hard to imagine him getting mixed up in the dark.

We let another 15 minutes pass before Ryan, Matthias, and I talked about looking for him. They volunteered to be the search party while I stayed watch. I would have gone—obviously, I was his brother—but I had drank a little more than either of them. Inwardly, I blamed myself for not going with him in the first place.

They had been gone for a half hour, when I began debating whether I should get in the car and look for all of them. I sat on the bench of the picnic table facing the fire and the trail beyond it—my head slumped in my chin.

This is typical Jacob. What a bum. I tried to be pissed at him, but mostly I was just impatient to go to sleep.

The minutes passed. I don’t know why I’m worried right now. I thought. He’s a big guy, he’s fine . . . The sounds of the owls, of dogs in the distance . . .

More minutes passed.

My eyes started to cross.

~ ~ ~

When Jacob emerged from the bathroom, he confronted a wall of eye-sucking darkness. He put out his hand, and his fingers sunk into the gloom. To this day he’d probably swear that there was no way he could have moved outside.

So, he closed the door and fell asleep sitting behind it.

~ ~ ~

“Hey man.”

Matthias jabbed my ribs with the toe of his shoe. It felt like waking from the dead. The light in the fire pit had gone out

“He’s back,” he muttered. In the bright light of the moon, he looked ready to fall over from exhaustion.

“Jacob’s back?” I managed to say. I could barely think or open my eyes. I just wanted to get to my sleeping bag. I saw the winking of flashlights inside the tent.

“Yeah. Let’s just go to sleep.”

~ ~ ~

Mid-morning, I emerged from the tent flaps to see Matthias and Ryan around the fire holding coffee mugs.

“Where’s Jacob?” I asked as I approached.

“He’s getting stuff from the car,” answered Ryan.

“We found him on the other side of camp last night,” said Matthias. “He was asleep on the camp host’s porch. We probably went past that spot a couple times before we saw him.”


“The weird thing is he swears that he was in the bathroom the entire time,” Ryan added.

“Yeah,” said Matthias. “He thinks we found him asleep in the bathroom. I don’t get it at all. I have no idea what happened with him.”

“That’s crazy,” I shook my head and looked at them. Matthias shrugged.

“Whatever!” Ryan said and drank his coffee.

I heard the car trunk slam, and Jacob came walking back toward the fire, pulling a sweatshirt over his head.

“You good?” I asked.

“I’m fine. Tired,” was all he said. His eyes told me, “Forget it.”

“Hey, it’s okay now,” I said.

I knew he wasn’t over it. He looked stern until we left the campsite for the day. For Jacob to do something like that wasn’t that weird, but in front of our friends, yeah.

~ ~ ~

We reached the last day of our camping trip. I knew it was the last opportunity I would have to ask him about what had happened our first night. By the time we got home it would become one of those things we would forget to talk about.

We’d just finished a hike to Sentinel Dome. The four of us felt very pleased with ourselves. Halfway downhill, I noticed that Ryan and Matthias were far enough ahead of us that now was probably my best chance.

“Hey, I’ve been wanting to ask you about what happened the first night,” I began.

“Don’t worry about it,” he laughed.

“No, really, what happened? You were in the bathroom when they found you?”

“I was fine,” he brushed it off. “I was just going to stay there until morning. They say I was at some campsite, and that’s crazy. But I don’t know. Whatever. It’s done.”

“No, I know, they already told me” I said. “I just really want to know what you thought happened.”

And so, he told me. “It does stuff to your mind—looking at something that dark. It literally feels like it’s sucking your eyes out of your head. I don’t know how to explain it,” he paused. “It’s like when someone or something is literally blocking your way.”

“You didn’t try to go outside at all?”

“Why would I?” he answered. “Even if I could have, what would have been the point? I couldn’t see anything.”


“Yeah, weird is right.”

We walked for a few minutes in silence. I began to think.

~ ~ ~

I remember when we were little, probably from when I was 3 until I was 6 or 7 or something. Countless times I woke in the middle of the night to Mom putting Jacob in his bunk bed above me. This happened probably once or twice a week. Sometimes he never went back to bed at all because no one ever got up to use the bathroom that night, so no one noticed he was out.

Once in awhile, I would wake up. I would sense Jacob’s absence above me and not be able to fall back to sleep. I’d lay there, gradually waking up to where I could get up and look for him. Sometimes, he’d made it into the hallway. Usually, he’d only gone as far as our doorway.

He’d be laying face down with the warm light from the hall lamp glinting off his bed head—his feet still in our room. I’d either shake him, grab his hand, and lead him back to the bunk bed ladder, or sometimes, when I didn’t want to go through the ordeal, I’d get a blanket from one of our beds and lay it over him.

- Story by Alyson Luthi

Individual Practice

drawings and paintings by Caroline Davoust

Giving it their all

It's been a costly week of work by our students. We had two studio related injuries that happened during the production of works for our class. The good news is that both artists are ok. Now that's giving it their all!

second degree burn!

six stitches!

Modern Lovers

Inspired last week by student Justin Humble's cityscape on white office paper (images of which to come), I mentioned the Modern Lovers' song "Government Center," which includes such immortal lines as, "They gotta lotta lotta lotta great desks and chairs uh huh at the government center!" I've always enjoyed Jonathan Richman's low-key and joyful outsider status as a songwriter and performer, and then I came across this video, made of found footage, which seemed just right for inclusion on this blog. (Also, if you've got 8 or so minutes to spare, give this a listen.)

Friday, May 3, 2013


This week, in addition to finishing up our second cross-genre pieces (art made under the influence of Frank O'Hara; writing made under the influence of Andy Goldsworthy) and reading a manifesto on work by Dorothy Sayers, our class was graced by two visitors: Michael Liaw and Linnea Gabriella Spransy.

Liaw, a Biola alum and UCI MFA grad, talked to us about ArtForms Whittier, an after-school arts education program in its nascent stages.
We invited him to talk about this project, about how a maker of things like himself might apply his gifts outward, to one's larger community.

Later that morning, we were visited by Spransy, who spoke to us about her practice of painting and for the artist's need for community.
[Forgive the dim image.] Spransy talked to us as well about the importance of placing restrictions on the process of making, of the need for patience (both in craft and in learning), and of making making a habit. Her talk seemed custom made for this course, as these are all key themes of this course. Some of her remarkable work can be viewed here.