Donald Trump Isn’t The Problem


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Donald Trump did not create the current awfulness of our politics; he is the product of it. Every evil, nasty thing you see on TV with the name ‘TRUMP’ attached to it is not his idea, not his creation. Trump doesn’t have original creations. He is just a name, a name to attach to other people’s creations, be they buildings, golf courses or horrific, life-ending legislation. To quote HBO’s John Oliver, he was (initially) a ‘sh*tty lifestyle brand,’ nothing more.

I say this because I have a very real fear that if Donald Trump leaves, so will people’s interest and awareness of the mess in this country. It is because people failed to be interested for so long that Donald Trump became president. It is because of passive disinterest, not active evil, that he came to power. All-too-common attitudes like, “I don’t care about politics,” ultimately gave him way more leverage than the minority of people who chanted, “Make America great again!”

Studies have shown… what the rich want [politically], the rich get, and when it comes to the rest of us, tough luck!

State and local community issues need to become a focus, and they are something we can start focusing. on. now. Both Democrats and Republicans alike have betrayed us, to varying degrees, for favor of the upper class. Studies have shown when it comes to actual results and enacted policies, what the rich want, the rich get, and when it comes to the rest of us, tough luck! This is oligarchy. Donald Trump isn’t the reason Illinois doesn’t have a budget. Donald Trump isn’t the reason colleges are in danger of shutting down. Admittedly his decisions are exacerbating all of this, but these dilemmas existed well before his rise to power. If Hillary had been elected, we would still be dealing with our problems closer to home (and many/most of the national ones, as well). It all originates at the top.

There’s no reason for it to be this way. Way more of us exist than them. Waiting a potential four (or god forbid, eight) years for one human’s time to be up is a strategy for brutal loss. This is something Bernie has been practically screaming from his old, tired lungs ever since the election started. Just as Trump can’t be solely responsible for the bad, as many before me have desperately pointed out, Bernie (nor any one president/figure) can’t be the sole source of good. It is our responsibility to fix this mess at all levels, continuously, as collective Americans. I don’t have all the answers. I just know what isn’t the answer. And the answer isn’t to start and stop our activism with Donald Trump. 🇺🇸


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Mondays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

A Working Spring

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

Three jobs and twenty one credit hours have kept me off of UIC Radio’s front page this semester, much to the dismay of my twelve readers (I ❤ you guys & gals). A busy spring also kept Nick V, Cheech, and me from sitting down in the same room together for about two months. When we finally found overlapping free time, we spent the better part of two hours animatedly talking about Syria, Chicago’s water, and the prison system. But between catching up and conversations eventually bleeding into politics, I managed to ask a few questions and listen to some phenomenal answers.

I wanted to interview the FreeFAM founders for a second time. Last fall, they’d impressed me with their business-minded approach to their genre. Without sacrificing individuality and independence, they seek to create a brand to support all kinds of artists. Coming from a city with a music culture that’s very “out-for-yourself,” their message is refreshing. FAM is in the name.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

 

An obligatory catch-up is needed first, as these guys have not sat still since the last time they visited UIC Radio’s studio. They’ve been playing gigs, traveling, and working with producers like CB Mix, credited on Chance’s Coloring BookThey’re working with LRG to create clothing and Pat Banahan of Lost TV to make videos. The group just released a music video for Bless the Bottles, (my personal favorite so far) featuring the same BMW I8 King Louie and Vonmar used in their own video. They even played a show at College of DuPage, which only sounds mildly impressive until you learn COD won’t back anyone without a tax ID and business number. They even have a website. FreeFAM is officially in business.

On Tuesday, I asked Nick V and Cheech about branding. I wanted to know what audience FreeFAM would draw as a full-blown music label complete with t-shirts and dispensaries. Both brothers said “local” immediately. They don’t want to limit themselves to Chicago, but their focus is building up a platform to support all members of music production. Their circle includes engineers and videographers, animators, and even a few family members for legal counsel. The want anyone who’s drawn to an image of family, brothers, positive moves, and a platform that’s there to serve their clients. Cheech commented that “non-threatening artists” are what resonate in Chicago today.

 

Nick said he wants people with energy. “Energy to party, to help, to create.” He’s got a vision of FreeFAM as a charity and force for good in Chicago. We inevitably broke into ranting about senators and bills, but Nick had a ton to say about water quality. It was endearing and inspiring and had me walking home thinking how one could add water filters to a music label…But that’s beside the point.

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Courtesy of Lost TV.

I asked about brands that could “make or break” an artist. Lil Wayne and Cash Money were brought up, as was Future, who got in a legal battle with his manager and was forced to release two albums ahead of time so he could start making his own money. Some artists get caught promoting BS; Cheech brought up the Fyre Festival flop. But Jay-Z’s own streaming website was mentioned as a positive. “It all depends on if a brand will encourage or control you,” Nick told me. A label obviously wants a return on investment and will have to control an artist’s image if money is lost. So who’s got their label working for them? Cheech laughed at this thought and brought up Kanye. “His label has been taking so much money from his music. Someone’s been making 50% off all of his songs.”

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Photo courtesy of Lost TV.

Controlling the artist is beyond the aims of the Freedom Family. Both brothers explained respect for their artist is the only reason they’d sign someone, and there’s no need to control someone they respect. They don’t intend to cultivate a brand that interferes with music production or limits the evolution and development of an artist.

“At the end of the day, music is the most important. But music won’t be heard without branding.” Other groups have PR people to handle web pages, social media, and scheduling. But for FreeFAM, “It’s just me and Cheech,” Nick says. The work is taking a toll; Nick V’s been off social media and left with what sounds like carpal tunnel in his hands and a prescription for range-of-motion exercises. “Shouldn’t be constantly posting, anyway,” he admitted. I told him not to worry about it. “It’s always nice to hear from family.”

 

Have a Scien-tastic Day!

Note To Self

“this is an open diary. this gives my insides a voice through visuals and poetry; this is me spilled out on paper.”

Typically on this blog you’ll find album reviews and updates on everything new in the music scene, but for right now I would like to do something different and talk about a book.

Books and albums are pretty similar. They’re both a form of art, they both tell stories, and they both can be used as a mental crutch.

I’ve recently finished reading the new book, Note To Self, written by Connor Franta. Connor Franta is a YouTuber, New York Times bestselling author, entrepreneur, and a LGBTQ+ philanthropist. This is Connor’s sophomore book following his memoir, A Work In Progress.

Note To Self is a collections of poems, memories, thoughts, and essays that come from a deep and vulnerable place. Connor Franta allows readers to see the world from his perceptive as he opens up about love, heartbreak, and dealing with mental illness. Note To Self gives us an interior look into Connor’s life that cannot be seen online.

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This book is real. A lot of these pages I read with a heavy heart and truly could empathize with Connor. I found myself reading a line and thinking, ouch, that really hits close to home.”

But then there were the pages that left me feeling hopeful and inspired. They were reminders that I’m not alone with my feelings, and to always keep an open heart and an open mind.

Connor Franta wrote this book for himself (hence the title) as a way to reflect on his past few years. Through this self-reflection, Connor has opened a gateway for readers to come in and find their own meanings and to find comfort. Through the highs and the lows, this book made me feel something; it was something I could relate to and something I could find a sense of ease in.

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I highly recommend everyone picks up a copy of this book. It’s a great read, and it offers a little something for everyone. You can buy a copy of Note To Self Here.

I also had the pleasure to meet Connor Franta at the Chicago stop of his book signing. I will also be attending the Note To Self Tour in Milwaukee, which includes visuals from the book created by Connor, and a Q&A and discussion session. You can buy tickets for the tour Here.

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I Won’t Apologize, Regret Or Change This

Whenever I get a new tattoo, the most common question I get is, “what does that mean?” When I answer this question with an explanation of a band name, or something related to music I always get, “wow you must really love that band,” “what if they break up?” “you’re going to regret that” and of course the unavoidable lectures from family members about having too many tattoos and how I will eventually need to cover them up for work. Nah, I think to myself every time I hear these. Although, this picture isn’t me, this would probably be a tattoo I’d regret… just a little bit.

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Tattoos are a passion. Writing these blogs help me express myself, well the writing on my body is a creative form of expression as well. The tattoos I have and plan to get will tell a small story of who I am, who I was and who I’m becoming.

My Simple Plan tattoo, although I’m still a huge SP fan, is more for 12 year old Cathy. The band was an important part of my childhood and I wanted this representation on my body forever, yes FOREVER. I know what forever means, yes I’m aware these will be on my skin when I’m old and wrinkly and that’s 100% fine.

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Kid Cudi’s quote I have on my forearm “Never Feel Alone, We Are Always Here Even In Death,” was taken from his third studio album, WZRD. This quote isn’t just because I love Kid Cudi, but because this is the best way I could describe how his music makes me feel. I searched for a long time trying to find the perfect lyric in his songs that would sum up what he has meant to me and what his music has helped me through. Finally, I landed on this quote, although not a lyric it describes how his music and him have made me feel like I’m not alone, despite struggling with this on a daily basis.

My “MCA” tattoo is to honor Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys. I’ve looked up to him since the day I started listening to the Beastie Boys. I used to write essays and create projects based on his life, he fascinated me with the way he become so caring, stopped doing drugs, and become a feminist, an activist and changed his life around. I try not to think of famous musicians as role models or heroes but, Adam Yauch was all those things for me.

Eventually, I want a large Green Day tattoo on my arm of their third album, Dookie. But, for now all I have is a green rose from their first album artwork, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours. I do love bands like Simple Plan, the Beastie Boys etc. but Green Day will always be the most important and my favorite band. It’s only right to tattoo an album cover on my arm.

Continue reading “I Won’t Apologize, Regret Or Change This”

Going Through Gay Puberty in a Conservative Community

This is the first installment of a multi-part series detailing my experiences during the initial realization of my sexuality at twelve years old and the subsequent struggles I endured because of it. Capturing these moments is a difficult and extremely emotional process for me. I hope at least some of you will read along and find something worthwhile. – Trev


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Part I: Sitting on the Edge of Heaven

Self discovery can be a tremendously beautiful and illuminating experience. It is a time when a young person chisels the brilliantly unique sculpture that is their identity, sharing characteristics with many others yet somehow amalgamating into one that is wholly its own. I remember the initial joy I felt: pure, unreserved. An abundance of internal confetti rained down as all the various parts of my self united for a toast over a grand celebration of realized soul. Recognizing a personal talent, experiencing a first kiss, discovering a taste in music or a sense of fashion; there are few processes on this Earth as manifestly beautiful and natural as this. Left to its default, this time can contain some of the most glorious experiences in a person’s life. For some, this is exactly the case. For others, such as myself, the party gets busted. This is more in the sense of a malicious raid conducted by abusers of authority rather than justice being brought upon some obstreperous breakers of law. It didn’t start out awful, however.

My development began like anyone else’s. Eighth grade was the year I discovered a significant amount of myself, especially the sexual components, while the previous three were mainly focused on basic survival. Middle school was a mostly dark and treacherous tunnel of an experience, but eighth grade would emerge as the beaming light at the end of it. It’s not that I was brutally shoved into lockers or stricken with abject poverty. Materially and externally, I recognize that I’ve lived a relatively fortunate life. My assaults have been almost exclusively emotional in nature. These, of course, range from the minor to the more substantial. For an example of the former, when it came time for the rather inclusive fifth grade Christmas play, yours truly was honored with the role of the most corpulent character in all the land: Santa Claus.

Getting stuck with the part of Crisco Kringle can be attributed to my being quite portly in those days. Upon receiving the role, I was distinctly told by my teacher that we would place, “… a pillow or something,” under the tawdry, red outfit when the time came, because of course I hadn’t been typecast for being the plumpest pupil in the room. Needless to say, come showtime, it became quite clear that my designation was based on fitting the costume more than the role. After getting dressed I asked about the proposed padding only to be met with a terse, “I think we’ll be okay.” Yep. So this festive Humpty Dumpty rolled his jolly, fat ass onto that stage and gave it his all, sans pillow or dignity. It’s worth noting that I don’t have much red in my wardrobe to this very day, as if the mere sight of it irritates me, like some kind of bulimic bull. This is still far less direct than the time my seventh grade history teacher recommended I try out for shot put because I was, ‘nice and stout,’ (to this day I get triggered when perusing selections of beer) followed by derisive chuckling by both he and my supposed “best friend” at the time. Both at home and within those halls, these sorts of minor aggressions would be consistent but trivial compared to the larger tribulations to come.

General body dysmorphia aside, by eight grade I had started eating better and moving more. Turns out self-hatred can be somewhat of a motivator, at least temporarily. Point is, I was feelin’ myself. I had an unprecedented level of confidence and comfort towards school, in part because that prepubescent, transitional phase where kids are desperate to prove their maturity and value against increased competition had simmered down. People had on the whole chilled the f*ck out, at least until next year, when we’d once again be launched into the bottom of a feral, hormonal wilderness. It was at this time I also started to recognize my attraction to other boys. In the earliest stages, before feelings left the unnoticed, background hum of subconscious and entered the frontal realm of labels and suppositions, these feelings granted me nothing short of unadulterated bliss. Crushes developed, boners boned as my overly naive mind navigated itself through exciting, new territory. All of this culminated into a moment where I was taking care of the placement of teachers’ mail per my duties as an ‘office assistant.’ (This willingness to please and assist authority would come to plague my development more than anything else.) Staring into a name tag-covered wall of schlocky, wooden cubes, my internal monologue reached it’s breaking point. Just say it. Admit it to yourself. Aloud, alone, I resigned and whispered, “I’m gay.”

In this instant I actually smiled. There was no feeling of wickedness or vice. Once the word had materialized, however, it was a short amount of time before indoctrinated judgement cast its dark, unloving shadow. My party got busted. The scratching sound of needle being abruptly ripped from vinyl pierced through the room as men in uniform despotically kicked down my doors of self, barking and breaking as the joy was replaced with fear and the celebrating turned to living nightmare. Such is often the experience of being gay in rural America. Much like the figurative festivity, the risk of continued disruption is usually mitigated by relocation, ideally to places that honor the separation of foliage and fashion. I tabled the problem at hand for the time being.

Over the following weeks and months I endured internal warfare. Images of the scaly, smelly flesh of demons that had been taught to my obsessive compulsive mind since I was six flooded my spirit. Shrieks of anguished and aflame disobeyers served as the soundtrack to what was supposed to be a formative and wonderful period of my life. The invisible crusade raged on until, one night, I decided to call upon the One I had been taught to in times like this. I knew what I was feeling was wrong, but I didn’t actually feel wrong. I also knew that I loved God very, very much, and I wanted all of his love in return. So, amidst the backdrop of another unnervingly still, Midwestern night, feeling as small as I ever had, I seated my twelve year old self on the edge of my bed. With desperation and incertitude, I held my clammy, adolescent hands together and spoke to him, aloud, “God, if there is any way, any way at all for you to love me the way I am, please do. Please, show me that you do.” There was no response. I remained confused and alone, waiting for God to love me. Waiting for permission to love myself.


Trev Richards is host of the weekly talk program Trev on UIC Radio; Live, Mondays 8:30 – 10:30 PM Central Time. Follow/listen on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and SoundCloud

Trump’s Presidency Is the Largest Terrorist Attack Since 9/11

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Inauguration Day was a tragedy of epic proportions. The largest attack on our nation’s soil since 9/11. This time, the terrorists are not operating planes or weaponry. They are grasping pens, sitting behind wooden desks, preparing to erode every last modicum of decency through detrimental legislation. This is a turning point. Do we succumb to evil? Or do we rise up and prove, once and for all, that this is a nation which values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL of its citizens? Time will tell.

One thing is certain: we cannot passively sit on the sidelines. Not anymore. They’ll come for your food. They’ll come for your internet rates and access. Your clubs, alcohol, fashion, music; all of it. They’ll design everything to enrich themselves and their corporate brethren until you and I can no longer afford the distractions that we used to ignore the steady weathering of our rights. This is not to say distraction is inherently wrong, but opting for the more immediately convenient route of escapism is not a path towards prosperity.

In the past we’ve comforted ourselves with defeated cries of, “Nothing will ever change,” “There’s nothing I can do.” Ignored the news while we binge watched, drank, ate. Many people have long existed in this country without being afforded these distractions to mask their suffering. We didn’t care. Now? It’s caught up to us. Sad that it took personal stake to galvanize the general population, but here we are. Joining them in the ranks. Gasping on our sandy islands of privilege as a tidal wave rises against a bright orange sky and washes away the false sense of security and paradise we once relished in.

The time for action is now. These are the days they will teach to generations. Where were you? What did you do? What side did you align yourself with? When your relatives flip through the photo album, will they embarrassingly hide the nature of your character? Or will they be proud of their heritage, proud of the legacy you left behind and proud to be Americans? The choice is ours.

Why It’s Okay To Be A Little (Or A Lot) Lost

I don’t mean lost like your mom was just in front of you at Target but you saw something shiny that looked cool and went to check it out. Now you can’t find her and you’re wondering if you’ll ever get home to finish the food you left in your fridge and start thinking about how much you’d miss your mom. Then you realize you’re lost and hey where are those nice ladies that help you find your parents at stores or hey where’s the lost and found? You’re wandering around Target realizing there is no lost and found. Damn, your mom is gonna be pissed that her 12 year old still gets distracted by shiny things and can’t keep up with her because we just came to Target for one thing and have to get home so she doesn’t miss her show. *exhales*

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I mean lost like you’re uncertain with what you plan to do in the upcoming years. I know in highschool around junior and senior year many of my classmates were asking how am I supposed to know what I want to do with my life at only 18 years old? Some knew the career path they’d choose in college, others weren’t so sure. At 17, being a senior I didn’t think about the future, I thought “let future Catherine worry about it” I didn’t even see myself in college. But when I got accepted to UIC I was excited, and felt like I had to automatically know what career I’d pursue.

At first I thought I’d go into the Business field because I knew I wanted to own a record store sometime in the future. However, after a semester in the business major I knew it wasn’t for me, I thought “what the hell am I doing here?” It was always clear to me that I loved English and writing, so I thought the obvious choice was to become a teacher. I went from a Business major to an English major and then Teaching of English major in only my first year at UIC. Finally I know what I’ll do for the rest of my life I thought.

But recently, I’ve found myself interested in other subjects like Psychology. I considered switching to a Psychology major but what if I don’t think that’s for me either? I’m told I have time to decide, I’m only 19 but it feels like the clock is ticking. I’ll be a junior soon, then a senior and before I can even catch my breathe I’ll be graduating. It doesn’t feel like there’s time to decide anymore. If I don’t put this degree to good use, it would have been a waste of time and money. It may not disappoint others that I chose a different career path than the one I spent so much time studying, but it’ll be a disappointment to me. All I know for certain at this moment is that I love writing and music. But, I don’t know what I want to do with these passions anymore. I was feeling really doubtful, and disappointed in myself. While also feeling a bit lost and scared. I thought I was the only one who wasn’t 100% sure anymore.

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Ofcourse this feeling doesn’t just apply to highschool or college students. To those working 2 jobs, full time, part time – props to you. Similarly, we might be feeling like we’re at a stand still, a routine; this happens many times in our lives. When I get bored with routine, I take it as a sign I need to do something for me: dye my hair, get a new piercing or new tattoo, a complete day off with my friends. If you don’t feel like walking around with blue hair, just know that 5 or 6 months from now, a year from now, this lousy feeling may be nothing but a memory. You’ll look back and wonder why you were so down on yourself. As cheesy as it may sound hard work really does pays off.

But you know what? I’m 19, a sophomore in college and I’m not 100% sure what I want to do with the rest of my life and that’s more common than we think. What we need to remind ourselves when this happens is that: IT’S OKAY. As a good friend reassured me, “Honey, all you have to be by the age of 23 is yourself.”

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Why I Create Music

If I’m being completely and realistically, 100% honest with myself, nobody will ever hear the content I have made, nor will anyone ever care. But does that mean I’m going to stop creating my music? No.

I have been writing music for as long as I can remember, and I have recently begun to learn how to produce. I’m not quite sure what I’ll end up doing with everything I have created, but what I do know is that it has become my main outlet.

Everyone has gone through extreme highs and extreme lows in their life. From love to heartbreak to mental health and so on and so on, life just hits us with stuff that’s deep. Deep, but real. When we find ourselves in these moments, we feel these emotions so strongly that it’s hard to figure out what to do with them.

Rather these moments in life are positive or negative, or a mixture of both, when they hit, they hit like a tidal wave and suddenly you’re drowning in a sea of emotions; so how do you stop yourself from drowning?

I turn to music. I take a blank page and I turn it into art; art created with the most honest and surreal feelings that can possibly be felt. And suddenly, I am no longer drowning.

I strongly believe creating music is an outlet everyone should try at some point in their life. Nothing feels better than letting go and losing yourself in the moment when you’re writing, or creating a new sound. All those emotions you didn’t know how to process or how to deal with, have now been expressed. It’s a weight lifted off your shoulders, and it’s therapeutic.

It’s euphoric when you have finished a song. It feels like you’ve just given birth to your first child. All the lyrics, the storyline, every beat, every melody, has been crafted in such a personal and original way, that you just want to cradle your little music baby, and love it and protect it, and tuck it in at night. It’s a very beautiful thing.

So, if you feel like you have a lot going on in your head and in your heart, and you don’t really know what to do with it all, I highly encourage you to give music a chance. Other people might not like what you have created, and they might not understand it, but that’s the magic in it. Music is very personal to its creator. If you have expressed what you have wanted to express, and you’re happy with what you have made, then be proud of it, and continue to create! I know that’s what I’m going to do, and what I plan to do, for the rest of my life.

“Song writing is something about the expression of the heart, the intellect and the soul”

-Annie Lennox

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Doubt, Stress, And Genetic Professors

My original plan was to write about my experience abstaining from sugar this past week, which has also carried into this week, but I wasn’t able to do the research that I wanted to make it sound legitimate and knowledgeable in all the ways sugar is not so good for us. I didn’t have much time to do so because I spent all weekend trying to breathe life into a paper I’m writing about Hillary Clinton and her lack of situated ethos, or why people seem to really hate her.

This leads me to this Monday’s blog topic. HRC’s ethos and I wrestled all weekend, and well into this morning, which won me only four pages out of the ten I need to write. Basically I didn’t get much done and feel that I’ve wasted a ton of time that I could have spent studying for my other classes. That is rather beside the point here because what I really felt during my peer review in class today is that I’m not even capable of writing well, which is something I take some pride in. So if I can’t write, then what can I do?

As I’ve mentioned in my last post, I’m a Neuroscience major, but I’ve fought my entire way through it. I’m not naturally good at math, nor do I excel in the sciences. But the brain, and especially the mind, fascinates me. From a more practical standpoint, I also felt secure studying a hard science. What I do well is be stubborn and work hard. I’ve accepted my inability to maneuver through coursework with ease, but I’ve also accepted the challenge. However, today was a day where I questioned my major, my capabilities, my aspirations, and of course, my existence because stress isn’t as much fun if you don’t over do it.genetic-ethics1Today I thought a lot about whether I had made the right decision or if I should have chosen something that was better suited to my strengths. I still don’t have a single clue what I’ll be doing once I graduate, but struggling in my science classes makes me feel that I’m not cut out for graduate school, or anything at all really.

I caught my breath and stalled my brain, and made sure I didn’t complain to my friends. I bought myself an almond latte and listened to Frank Ocean on repeat while I did my homework. I thought about the work, instead of if I could do it or not. Then, I turned on lecture capture for a class I had missed, and listened to my genetics professor talk about an experience he had in graduate school.

He told the class how, after an exam, his professor called him to his office and told him that he shouldn’t be in graduate school because he had confused transcription with translation. After looking over the exam, my professor acknowledged his mistake, but let him know that he was aware of the difference. And as he walked out of his office he told him that he most certainly belonged in graduate school. My professor finished his story by reminding us to never let anybody, especially a stranger, tell us what we can’t and cannot do. The class applauded, and I too applaud.

He also didn’t fail to mention that his professor died prematurely of lung cancer. So, ease the mind and collect yourself. Don’t let the bastards get you down, and don’t be one either.

Rad Radar: The Sympathetic Imagination

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It’s no surprise technology has influenced everything around us. Machines have most certainly affected art: we can design graphics, alter photos, record works on video, and edit visuals to look even more magnificent. We have evolved into a society that preserves the physical into digital.Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) newest installation, The Sympathetic Imagination by Diana Thater, merges tech with the most organic physical of all, nature.

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“…continuous disruptions of the American landscape document my refusal to see the land as backdrop for man’s heroic conquering of the wild; instead I see it as a foreground, a subject to be contemplated for itself and for which wilderness is a state of grace.” Abyss of Light (1993)

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“…when viewers walking into the projections, they penetrate the bee space; the one picture breaks into five, and the surrounding bees become and vision of chaos.” Knots + Surfaces (2001)

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“Framed by the moon and the sun, this work makes reference to the Egyptian falcon god, Horus, whose eyes were said to represent the two celestial bodies… Here we see beings who cannot look back at us – that is, until the final subject of the film appears… evoking the unanswered questions: ‘ What do I see when I look at the other, and what does it see when it looks back at me?'” A Cast of Falcons (2000)

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“…there are three kinds of bodies in space: dolphins moving through volumetric space; the sun spinning in a vacuum of black space; and then the  viewer, moving through ‘real’ space made volumetric by the artificial magenta light” Delphine (1999)

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“…the forests of Michoacan, Mexico, become the overwinter home for tens of millions of monarch butterflies… This broken video wall focuses on one butterfly slowly flapping its wings” Untitled Videowall (Butterflies) (2008)

“At the heart of Thater’s work is the tension between the natural environment and mediated reality and, by extension, between the domesticated and wild, the scientific and the fantastical or magical… Thater layers imagery onto architectural surroundings to create complex relationships between time and space.”

The accompanying pamphlet sets the concept as an intimate experience with scenes of the wild we wouldn’t normally experience if it weren’t for technology. The set up of projectors reflecting on the blank walls of the gallery create a situation where, no matter what, you are bound to cast your shadow on the film. This is a nod to Thater’s want to have the viewer interact with the outdoors. Monitors displaying parts of a butterfly are arranged in a floral way, while others show tinted versions of our planet Earth. Creamy lights of neon and pastel mingle with the projections to be a reminder that though you are connecting with nature, it is all but a virtual encounter.

If you want to get immersed in an ambient wilderness or just love magnificent visuals, take a trip to Thater’s exhibit. The Sympathetic Imagination is stationed in the MCA till January 8, 2017.

Work Cited:

Thater, D. (2016). The Sympathetic Imagination [Brochure].

Chicago, IL: Museum of Contemporary Art.