Excursion 1: Stripes!

Monday, July 21, 2014

I wake up early feeling good and manage to have all kinds of adventures before anyone else even wakes up!

We have a nice morning stretch with Pilar. Today I do more of an intuitive, whatever my body wants, rather than an exclusively yoga inspired routine. It feels really good to start each day this way.

Excursion 1: Stripes

Approx 11am – 12:30pm

We exit our building, Sul America, to the left and go down the stairs covered in the large female torso, starting out the way we ended our excursion on Friday.  I am surprised to see a man sleeping on the steps.  We debate which route to take to get to Av Contorno and opt to pass by the plaza where the nightly concerts are held, along Av dos Andradas.

Once again I am taken by the graffiti along the tops of the buildings and ledges.  It’s angular and ornamental, and looks like hieroglyphics or an architectural cornice or freeze. There’s often a nice contrast of colors, that makes the graffiti “pop”.  I am very curious about who is doing these and what their tools are.


We cross the street and walk into an indoor market building. Every shop feels like its own little world, each its own micro-climate.  We walk through to the middle and make a left to go outside where I start filming with the gopro camera and also take some other photographs. It’s interesting to note the differences or similarities between the actual still photograph and moving through the building with the gopro which adds another dimension of experience around the moment that the photograph was taken.

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Outside the market there’s another plaza area by the train station where one guy is skateboarding and a number of people sleep on benches or sit hanging out. We pass the building I recognize driving past with Chica last night. It’s a fairly simple building painted with beautiful black-and-white graphic images. I am happy to see this building again to take a closer look at the drawings. There’s a group of people sitting at the foot of the building with a fire going, probably cooking food.

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We make it to Av do Controno, a wide street with lots of car and bus traffic. A few people walk and stand around and there’s more street art, a wheat paste poster of a hooded man. I’m taken by all of the patterns on the street: stripes on the outside of the garages, patterned bricks and the fences that create another grid and then always the distinct patterns of the sidewalk. Parking garages abound and there’s an overpass that spans across the wide Av do Contorno. There are a couple of very tall buildings, one covered in reflective glass and another painted with a huge face that looks like a portrait image taken from currency. We pass a triangular open space covered in grass where a number of people, who seem either homeless or possibly on drugs, sleep wrapped in blankets right in the middle of the hot sun.

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We keep walking slowly and then head into another indoor market. Inside the market is overwhelming – there are hundreds of stalls, jam-packed all kinds of products: cell phone cases, jewelry, clothes, toys, anything and everything imaginable.

It’s a relief to step out of the market, back into the street, even though it’s really hot. There’s a sign for the entrance to the parking garage supported by a car wheel. We get a closer look at some of this distinct graffiti that is street-level and see that it was done with what looked like paint roller to create these angular and very graphic shapes.

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At the end of the street we reach an overpass, actually a number of overpasses with a lot of activity underneath them: a number of people assembled, hanging out selling things and other informal economies. A group of guys and family members, including some kids, stand near the corner with squeegees cleaning car windows. As we pass by the intersection taking photos, the guys are really animated and motion for us to take pictures of them, which Pilar did. I was filming with the gopro and didn’t think that it made sense to take additional still photographs with the small point&shoot camera that doesn’t have the best zoom.

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This overpass seems to mark a natural end to our journey for the day. We pass a building with all of these plants growing on the top of the roof that looks like a bus station. As we turn the corner to go back towards home we see a couple of more overpasses with a person selling something at a stand and then another area with sculptural balls that look like a barricade where a lot of people are hanging out, also some very large graffiti that spans several building stories.

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Back at the studio, I’m realizing that I really have the need to move in between the digital and physical. I get tired of sitting at a desk. I’m transcoding files and also trying to write field notes. As I begin to streamline my process and workflow, why make things unnecessarily difficult, if there are ways to make them more simple?  One question, that bears consideration is, what is the end goal? The dictation tool was very helpful. The idea now is to cut down the gopro material and to only do it once in the interest of time. I’m feeling very inspired by the workflow of Tomas in Poland last year, condensing massive amounts of footage shot with multiple cameras, etc…and organizing footage and proper labeling, going through dailies and making selects.

Leap, and the net will appear.” – John Burroughs

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