Wild Turkeys: Meleagris gallopavo

Minutes ago two hens and 15 poults walked down the driveway and then along the walk at the back of the house, picking at seeds and insects as they passed. Blue watched them through the window, wondering just what the parade was for. He shook his head which flapped his long ears which sounded like thunder and all the turkeys jumped into the sky with a quick thunder of their own. The birds regathered and the procession continued at the end of the meadow.IMG_6333 [click photo for a larger version]

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Looking West Last Night


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Sitting early this morning on the deck, drinking coffee and working through the last draft of our book proposal (Intimate Fences — one of the posters we analyze is titled “Commotion Among the Animals”), we hear a sudden rustling in the oak brush. A coyote bursts out of the brush, followed closely by a doe. She chases the coyote across the meadow and into more brush. They appear in the next meadow, the doe’s neck stretched out like a greyhound’s in hot pursuit.

A few minutes later she appears again in our meadow, squats to pee, looks up at Blue who is watching intently through the rail, moves away nervously, returns. We retreat from the deck to ease her mind. She watches us leave and then, for long minutes — maybe ten minutes — surveys the door we have disappeared behind.

Her twin fawns are somewhere near, we suppose, and she’s on high alert.

Fifteen minutes later she disappears, back into the brush.

And the coyote?

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


Not much bigger than a little dog, these twins followed their mother across the yard this morning. [click on photos for a larger image]

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary

Nina Pops’ “Vampiri III”

for the cover of our forthcoming book (perhaps August) with punctum books.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“A Climate of Oppression and Fear of Reprisals”

The LDS excommunication of Kate Kelly this week and the threatened disciplinary actions against others thought to be insufficiently orthodox has reminded me, as it has others, of actions taken against several of my BYU colleagues in the mid 1990s. In the wake of Elder Packer’s fulminations against “the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement . . . and the so-called scholars and intellectuals,” BYU professors Cecelia Konchar Farr, Gail Houston, and David Knowlton were turned down for renewal or promotion because they had, respectively, spoken against abortion and for choice, celebrated prayer to a Heavenly Mother, and pointed out that South American missionaries were being beaten up and chapels burned because of the American corporate image projected, in part, by a phallic church office building (single tower, two globes poised on either side of the base).

In the general repressive context surrounding those firings, many members of the faculty and of the student body took action. The Sociology Department published a letter protesting restrictions on their academic freedom. Faculty and students raised feminist issues through an organization called “Voice.” Steven Epperson reviewed Robert Millet’s and Joseph McConkie’s book Our Destiny as biologically naive and racist. Eugene England, on learning that the Church had a committee called “Strengthening Church Members” (we called it the “lengthening the members committee) gave a fiery “J’accuse” speech at a Sunstone symposium. The BYU Chapter of the American Association of University Professors was re-established and eventually brought in investigators whose visit resulted in censure of BYU: “Much more than an isolated violation of academic freedom, the investigating committee’s inquiries into complaints at BYU have revealed a widespread pattern of infringements on academic freedom in a climate of oppression and fear of reprisals” (Academe, Sept./Oct. 1997).

Supporters of Ordain Women, in the wake of the excommunication, say they will not be silenced. I admire them. And I fear, from the BYU experience, that they will indeed be silenced.

After the embarrassments of public exposure and censure, after the open debates and heartfelt arguments and brutal firings, the Church’s university got what it wanted: silence.

In the aftermath, who is left to debate same-sex marriage, abortion, ordination of women, a Mother in Heaven, corporate culture, patriarchy, and so on? People like the supporters of Ordain Women. People like John Dehlin and Kristine Haglund and Terry Tempest Williams and Gregory Prince and Joanna Brooks and many others.

This list no longer includes members of the BYU faculty. Bert Wilson, Gene England, Bill Evenson, Stan Albrecht, George Shoemaker, Gail Houston, Cecelia Konchar Farr, David Knowlton, Lynn England, Susan Howe, James Cannon, Duane Jeffreys, Bill Bradshaw, Steven Epperson, Hal Miller, Sam Rushforth, Brian Evenson, and many others left the university or fell silent in the face of unrelenting pressure.

Supporters of Ordain Women see their work as questioning and challenging and making reasonable arguments to convince their fellow Mormons that as the Book of Mormon declares: “black and white . . . male and female . . . all are alike unto God.” After the recent admission that restrictions on giving the priesthood to blacks was a mistake engendered by racist attitudes, that seems like a reasonable course of action.

LDS leaders see the actions as apostasy. Obedience is required, not discussion. And certainly not advocacy.

My Stake President during the 1990s was a member of the BYU Religion faculty. He once told assembled priesthood holders that “the trouble with the women in our stake is that they are not priesthood broke.” Wouldn’t the members of the Church be better served by “priesthood whisperers”?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Alex Caldiero Performance Seen/Heard by Zarko Radakovic

As I finish the page proofs for Zarko’s and my Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary (punctum books), I read again Zarko’s response to a performance by Alex in Salt Lake:

Alex Caldiero spoke with rigid eyes. His mouth supported his strong forehead. He kept balance with his breath. He floated in the air. He stood on his tongue. He drew the audience’s attention with his ears. He addressed the paintings on the wall with his stomach and in those “dramatic moments” it (the wall) did not obstruct the field of vision. Alex Caldiero moved through the exhibit area full of spectators like a centaur through bacchantes and bacchants. Sitting with their legs crossed, they firmly squeezed their tightly bound genitals in which the flesh puffed up, swelled, expanded and fell apart. And the words that Alex Caldiero spoke that evening were the connective tissue of presence, at the same time fecundating cells of absence that would later, in repeated presence grow into a “great event” that would distinguish itself from history by its shape: it would not be fixed, it would be described with broken lines, often noted just with periods, all in open surfaces from which colors would spill into each other, and between them would certainly remain empty surfaces, not, however, like gaping holes, but like a very delicate painting, easy on the eye.

I sent it to Alex, who had seen it a couple of years ago. He responded:

scott, please convey my surprise to Zarko on reading his most incisive piece of seeing-hearing…i swear i was reading it for the first time…a brother under the skin. he is…i look forward to reading the whole work

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Evening Beauty and a Mystery Plant


can anyone identify this plant? stem about 2 feet tall. found under oakbrush next to hound’s tongue.



From Zarko Radakovic’s Vampires:

Sounds were muffled by the clear picture and intense colors of the early evening. It was at its peak. It folded over all existence. The forms of things were simply engulfed by the fiery interior of the sunset. There seemed no need, or desire, to breathe in that solarium of the dying day. It truly went from one state to another. It truly was a moment of perceiving one’s true self. My sitting there quietly at the table (over such a distinct bottle of mineral water on the table) and my being engrossed in writing a text in an open notebook (today truly resembling a wanton woman) was part of the scenario. I wrote and wrote, writing myself wholeheartedly into the sunset, into turning on the artificial lights in the street and in store windows, drowning in the picture of the early evening story.




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Rainer Splitt’s Farbgüsse / Colorpours

The Motion of Form and the Form of Motion

Rainer Splitt’s Farbgüsse / Colorpours


Duration is a case of a “transition,” of a “change,” a becoming, but it is a becoming that endures, a change that is substance itself.

Gilles Deleuze, Bergsonism


Puddles mean disaster. The roof leaked! The dike burst! Puddles of blood! The yellow puddle left by the dog! Oil pooled under the car! Spilled milk! A can of red paint spilled onto a beautiful wood floor and there will be hell to pay!

But Rainer Splitt didn’t spill this paint, he poured it. The verb makes all the difference. And if he poured it, then perhaps pool is a better word than puddle. The noun makes a difference as well.

Part of a private collection in München, this work is catalogued on the artist’s website as Farbguss (Rubin) 2009; Pigment, PUR, 64 kg. And with the kilogram measurement (not centimeters!) the questions flood in. Ideas begin to flow, to eddy, to stream.

The metaphor is liquid. The liquid is metaphor.

Had these 64 kilograms of color been poured in any other place, they would have found a different form. The walls of this corner dictate two straight lines. The short rectangular wall thrusts its ninety-degree angles into the liquid. The bright orange-brown of the wood floor and of the molding frame the ruby pool. The amount of the liquid, its viscosity, and its surface tension determined how far from the wall it eventually spread.

When sculptors pour liquid into a mold, the casting results in an object soon isolated from the process. Splitt’s colorpour is interesting precisely because it was poured. The mold, both where it limits and where it opens up to allow the liquid to fan out, is part of the work. The rounded edge retains the fluid form of its origin. To look at the irregular quarter-round is to see the movement that created it. Puddled there, spread out there, waiting there, the still pool still manifests the form of motion.

Because it is flat, and because of the nature of its polyurethane/pigment mixture, the pool acts as a mirror. The reflected and surrounding room becomes part of the work. Every artwork does this to some extent, but the colorpool’s position on the floor and its reflecting surface highlight the relationships. The slightly distorted reflection of the railing, for instance, both reimagines the railing and reveals the less-than-perfectly flat surface of the pool.

Exhibited in a space overlooking a high-ceilinged gallery of abstract paintings, the ruby colorpool points (yes, points—another aspect of its corner position) at a striking work below: a white-on-black painting instantly recognizable as by Julije Knifer. Like the colorpool, the painting is a study in form and motion.

Knifer called these obsessively repeated and varied forms meanders. A meander exists in space. To meander is to move through space and thus through time. In a viewer’s perception, Knifer’s meanders snake across the canvas in sometimes regular, sometimes syncopated geometrical rhythms. I once described my experience with several of Knifer’s meanders as “seeing jazz” (Julije Knifer, ed. Žarko Radaković (Stuttgart: Flugasche, 1990)). In a viewer’s perception, Knifer’s fixed form comes alive.

In the context of Knifer’s motion of form, Splitt’s ruby pool can be seen as the inverse, as a form of motion. Gilles Deleuze wrote that for Henri Bergson duration is “. . . change that is substance itself.” Rainer Splitt’s works, as I see them, are about the substance of change.

The photographs below, for example, taken by Christian Ring of the Rainer Splitt exhibition at the Museum gegenstandsfreier Kunst, Otterndorf, reveal a group of works engaged in a shifting conversation about fluidity, about motion, about change, and about duration.


The black pool exhibits all the characteristics of the ruby pool, although this colorpour is not bounded by anything other than its own volume, its viscosity, its surface tension, and, of course, the floor. The works on the wall, folded paper in which yellow and red and black paint has been pooled and then poured out, hang over the colorpour as if they were the source of the blackness. They seem like windows opening onto a viscous black universe that floods through them and into the room.

The glass protecting the paperpools reflects three rows of colorful boards across the room, boards dipped in paint, still bearing along their bottom edges congealed drips. Turning to look across the pool at those boards, as in this second photo, one encounters an explosion of color. Yellow and red and blue and green and orange and purple rectangles stand on railings against the wall, their brilliance doubled in the pool’s reflection and their own surfaces reflecting the hyphenated light fixtures above.


If viewers take boards from the wall (and they have handles to facilitate this), carrying them through the room as they view the pool from various angles, the room is in flux. That fluctuating motion is the essence of the installation: the drips, the pours, the pool, the moving boards, the shifting perspectives. In concert, Rainer Splitt’s works perform “a becoming that endures, a change that is substance itself.” This is the form of motion. Duration on display.

On a third wall in this room hangs a dismantled frame, four bundled, paint-dipped, and brilliantly wrapped sections of molding. The protective border, the static decorative receptacle, the surrounding guarantor of stability and strength hangs out of the way on the wall, disassembled and banished to the far reaches of the conversation so the other works can slide in and out of relationships bounded solely by gravity.


Color has flowed directly over paper. Color has streamed unhindered onto the floor. Color has enveloped the dipped boards. The motion of that color is reflected and repeated in a doubling and redoubling exhibition of flux. That flowing, that streaming, that enveloping motion is the subject and object of this exhibition.

Describing the work of abstraction and of Gerhard Richter’s abstractions in particular, American poet Robert Hass addresses aspects of Rainer Splitt’s installation as well:

Or to render time and stand outside

The horizontal rush of it, for a moment

To have the sensation of standing outside

The greenish rush of it.

(Time and Materials, 2007)

As viewers of Rainer Splitt’s rendered time, we stand outside the horizontal rush of it, and at the same time (different time?) we have the glorious sensation of standing within the formal flux of time and space and COLOR!

Addendum: Nina Pops pointed out that the painting hanging above Knifer’s in the Munich collection, also pointed to by the ruby pool, is by Gerhard Richter, and thus the circle is closed.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lifted Spirits

Lifted Spirits

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , | 2 Comments