February 2003 Archives

Spot ON


Found my name in the upper right corner of a grand site today. Witold Riedel is the movabletype.org Spot site of the day (or is it week?). (Wow, yey!) What a surprise, and I was not prepared, I even feel like this link finds me with my guard down.
I just wrote this lengthy rant about achieving nothing in a day, with no drawings attached, no links, nothing really inspiring to say. This is not like me, hope you know that, dear MT-clicker, I have books to scan, pictures to post, more little fragments to write.
This site has no About Me page, so it is often just as good as the last post. Or maybe not, maybe I am just far too nervous for my own good. I will (try to) relax now. I hope that those who were able to click on the link on MT know how to use the scroll-bars in their browser. And maybe a look at the January archives will bring them great pleasure too, once they discover this one silly photograph that somehow became the essencial image of this site. (You know what picture I am talking about...)
So I will now go back to my work here. I hope things will be okay. Really hope so. Good morning, with a smile.

I & S


It does not take long to get to down-town from here. The federal building is just a few blocks from the subway. I knew there would be people there, I just was not sure how many would make it on this cold weekday morning. There were hundreds of them, the line wrapped around the block. They were all non Americans, obviously and hoping to get in to have some issue solved, just like me. I stood for more than an hour between a French mother and her kid and a couple from Congo. (I like how they pronounce vowels.) It was just freezing. Very cold. Some of the people had some food, others were just completely wrapped in layers and layers of clothes. The line was not all straight, we had to "dodge" mountains of melted snow-ice. All was complete slow motion. We were just so quiet and ready for anything that pigeons perceived us as part of the street. One ate some crumbs maybe an inch away from my foot.
A cleaning man walked between the waiting and looked upset. He had to clean up after the animals, at least according to the expression on his face. We finally arrived at the tent. I think this extension of the building was added during the Clinton administration, when there was some sort of GreenCard amnesty. It looked like one of those party tents, inside were heating lamps. Oh it felt so good to just expose the face to them. It was like those precious warm moments before the alarm rings. This warmth of the blanket. It was exactly like that. An officer told our group how we should completely empty out pockets. He made some condom joke and laughed. He actually made the joke twice. He then instructed some people in front of me how not to use the revolving door. He was the cowboy, we were the cattle.
The security checkpoint was relatively painless. I asked the officer where I could find the information area and he directed me to the third floor. Things seemed quite easy for a brief moment, or at least until I arrived at the third floor and realized that all of the people I just saw in the line outside were now here with me again. We had to first get a number. There was a line for that. The line wrapped around the room first and then went into this complex maze of ropes that are sometimes used to contain crowds in the airport. It took a while to get to the ropes. We stood next to the windows and could see that the line outside had not really shrunk. It was impossible to see if it had grown, the end was far too far around the block. Eventually came my turn. I got the number 233. A nice looking number. There was an estimated waiting time on the ticket as well. It was precisely 2:58 Minutes. Amazing. I was asked to sit in one of the chairs with the hundreds of people waiting for their numbers to up on two small bords attached to the ceiling. One board said something like 53, the other one was oddly enough a 666. I sat down next to this French looking guy who had brought in his powerbook and was now turing pictures of models sticking fingers into each other's mouths into strange relief kitsch. I could not sit there. I had to leave this room. I went outside. There was a bathroom. I stood in line for the urinal. It was a relatively short wait. I wanted to take the elevator down or up or somewhere. I did not, but I found a piece of paper, right by the last elevator to the left. It was a ticket, just like mine. It also had the estimated waiting time of basically three hours, the only difference here seemed to be the large number it was 217! There was a higher force (God?) sending me a free 30 minutes or so worth of waiting. I was thrilled. I got myself a snapple from the vending machine and took the escalator down to the second floor. There was a bookstore on the second floor. A real government bookstore. It felt quite bizarre to see a bookstore tucked away in the belly of a building that can only be entered after a more then hour long wait. I had to see the great things that were there. It was a true treasure chest. I should have bought the posters with various soldiers and the sexy pictures of military planes in action. There were great maps and guides to national parks, style guides for government writing, shelves of publications on woman issues, lots of politics. It was a pretty curious environment I had entered here, New Yorks literary best kept secret? The salesperson was on the phone the entire time. He was taking some orders for some fascinating sounding publications. In one corner was a large photograph of an insanely grinning George W. Bush. He looked younger than me in that picture. His eyes were clearly focused on the space above the books.
I bought a guide to the not so well known National Parks. I also decided to pick up a tiny brochure on walking. Maybe because I liked the illustrations, but also because I wanted to share with others the funny claim that all of the classic English literature was written by people who liked to walk. Now that was good news. The store keeper was a bit surprised to see a real person in his place. I was able to pay by credit card.
I did not really know what my procedure would be here. I know what needs to be done, but how much would it, for example, cost? I found an ATM and picked up some money. That could not hurt. There was a little bad food store on the ground floor as well. I got myself some candy. (fun.)
I eventually went up to the big waiting room. I sat on various chairs, overheard various conversations. I read the New Yorker, then some of my new books. I drew some of the people around me.
Behind me was this apparently German guy at some point, clearly trying to get into a... hmm... deeper conversation with a girl from Japan. They were both in real estate, I guess they had some major things in common. Probably beyond what I was able to understand. They left the room together. Who knows what store they found.
Finally, it was around 3, 3:30, my number was called out. The display boards were long broken and so the 666 from the morning was still on at 3. The officer took my 217 and put it on a pile next to her keyboard. She then looked at my paperwork and explained to me that I should go to window 14, before 11am. That was the information I got out of the day. She told me that I should go to window 14 before 11am and the best way to achieve that would be to show up at 7:30 am. That was all she could tell me.
I tried to somehow get more information. How much would it cost, how long woud the procedure take that followed? What would happen?
She explained to me that window 14 assigns people to a different floor and that she did not really know what happened there. I have the feeling that there was a room just like the one I waited in, just on a different floor, and maybe it will take me a day to find out that there is some other window... (13?)...
I was a bit frustrated. It was a really long day. As I was leaving the room, an Afgani man (they have a very specific attire,) was telling to one of the officers that he had lost his ticket. It was 217. I had not only not achieved what I hoped to, in the process my found shimmer of luck, threw an old man out of the line. I felt really miserable. I could not do anything at this point. Had I not gone up to the window with my found number, I could have just given him the ticket. Giving him my 233 now, in front of the officer, that was just not even remotely an option. I left the building quickly, into the cold. The line seemed a tiny bit shorter than in the morning. I hoped to return on the next day, but I feel really sick now... and will probably just try to fix that first.

Sub Series 74-75


The last pages of this particular book. Boy, was I glad to be back in New York. Back in the Subway, back in the shaky tins pressed between people and their dreams and ideas. (And frustrations.)
The original idea for the little book was actually to make it all about the subway, to draw only in the subway, to go to places, to see New York from the subway. Because of the size of the little book, it could then be given to visitors, who would then try to retrack the adventures and sights and moments. (and yes, they could color in the drawings, why not?)
If you followed the book even for the last few pages, you know that I went off on too many tangents and had to many sidetracked thoughts to really make it work as originally intended. So maybe not this time, maybe in some of the upcoming books, maybe the real subway series will be a compilation of the best of the little books. Just the way it should be. Thank you so much for your attention and your kind words. Some of you wrote me that they even bought little Moleskine books and are now creating their own private Subway series. This is just wonderful. So many good moments. All around the world.

How did you get to this site?, Should I scan in the next book? (I have not yet.)

Shauny minus 4teeth


Shauna is getting four of her wisdom teeth pulled as I am typing this. (Not that she could have more than four wisdom teeth.) When she told me about the operation some time ago, I sent her a little drawing of four angry teeth and of one scared tooth. She used the pictures today to scare away bad denti-stpirits, and to illustrate her blog-entry. (Thank you!)
I still have all of my four wisdom teeth and my dentist is more than eager to get them out... (And to X-Ray me for a 10th time, and to apply some new treatment to some other teeth and to pull this one tooth on the left mouth side, and to do this and that.) How about you?

Sub Series 72-73


Flying at night is sometimes as exciting as being stuck in the middle row of the middle row in the midst of a 1976 jumbo in 1983. (Numbers have this special meaning to them, don't they.) Even when by the window, or a seat off, there is not really much to see during the f, except for the glowing stewardess and the tempting -bulb button which turns on the spot that wakes up the smelly traveler next to us. On trans continental fs, there are the movies, the old news on pixelated multi-media slides, the games. On domestic fs, there is some television sometimes, the stale pretzels and the tomato juice with huge cubes of ice in it. But that is all during f. Nobody really cares what happens during the f. There is not enough room in this dark place anyway, and everything fits so perfectly like the baby sister's sock. I never had a baby sister, just a dog, but she never wore socks.
The starts and landings are the most exciting things a plane can do at night. Starting from Miami or from any American city is just each urbanist's dream. Talking about magic-squares. The streets are numbered, the electricity just bursts out of the 110V outlets, there is so much of it on every corner and there are four corners on each block. It is fantastic. It is like science fiction, only completely real and quiet, just magical. Yes quiet. A scene with as much impact in any movie would just be pumped up with some Wagnerian (or how about some Carl Orff?) supermeal. But here there is the piece of four screaming Rolls-Royce engines just outside the window, all just white noise a background layer for the visual feast.
Boy was I glad to fly back to New York. So glad. The pretzels did not matter, the "service discontinued" sticker on the phone receiver in front of me did not matter, the smelly something of the man behind me did not matter. Seeing the Island from a distance between all the man made stars, recognizing the glowing heads of some of the best old friends, being greeted by the perfect smiles of the suspension bridges over the east river. This was what mattered. This was what I had been looking forward to all this time. Home.
It took another three hours to actually get to that apartment door that had the matching lock to my key.


There wil be a reading of a work by Todd Levin. No, not in your head. It will be with real actors and on a real stage and for really free. This sounds like the worst announcement of a grand event to come. Todd Levin, the creator of Tremble! wrote a play. The play is part a sequel of Jean Paul Sartre's No Exit. It will be a major event for my New York. How about yours?


Here the official "tremble.com post."

Sub Series 70-71


This one is scary. What was I thinking? It started out badly and then the attempts to make it better just made it worse. What is going on here? I thought that this page is so unlike me that I just made fun of myself on the right hand side. Indeed, what was I thinking? Drew the guy on a bus in Miami, somewhere on the back seat. It was really about time to go back to New York. I guess it is not that bad. The entire book was not too horrible, so it is just natural that there are a few pages which just do not belong. The one on the left definitely needs to go. For now I will just post it. Here we go.

Mr Scruff! Pie...


It is probably not very hard to imagine that I could really like this video (it is all about the pie, you know.) Mr. Scruff made more videos and also have a website... (called mrscruff.com), but the pie video might be my favorite little piece of the pie. (Thanks for the link, Todd.)

Sub Series 68-69


There was a tiny square hidden in a book about ornament in art. (One could imagine why that would interest me.) The square was a five by five board with numbers in each field. This magic-square, as it was called allowed a chess knight to travel from one corner to the next by jumping from number to number, from 1 to 25. I drew the square and next to it a version without numbers, where I just traveled the path of the little wooden horse. The path drew a very symmetrical object, somehow reminding me of the elaborate ornamentation I have seen in some medieval manuscripts. I thought that maybe some of the objects on the margins of prayer books might in fact have been encoded magical squares, messages from those who had to copy the books, signs of intelligence and wit. I left some room for other magic squares and drew this silly sled horse on the other page. Oh well.
It was much later, when I watched one of the Ray and Charles Eames DVDs, that I remembered the magic squares. WHo would have thought that Benjamin Franklin was very interested in the exploration of such special constellations of numbers. There is even an 8x8 square named after him. His square contains some pretty interesting constellations symmetries and connections, as one can see in this animation, or here. The franklin square is certainly not the most famous one. The most famous and astonishing magical-squares might be the other two on the left hand side. The 4x4 one is taken from Albrecht Dürer's Melancholia, or so I thought. It appears that the one I wrote down somewhere is a strange mirror image. The Magical square below, the one with 3x3 fields is the most famous one of them all, supposedly the very first magic square known to man. It is the Loh-Shu square from 2800 B.C. and legend says that it was first found on the back of a turtle.
Once we begin to explore the world of Magic figures, things become so incredibly fascinating that I have the feeling that this will need be something we will need to return to very soon.



The man in the diner was not very happy with his burger. He looked like a tourist, but he might also have been one who is just a visitor to anywhere he goes. He was the rude kind, about 25. The waitress, the new, nice one, took the burger back to the kitchen, with a smile. The man read his paper, annoyed, very annoyed. The burger came back, well done. He now focused at the bun. It was too soggy for him. He just stared in the direction of the wait-staff. I was really glad he had no super-powers, because there would have been some casualties, or collapsed buildings, or maybe frost explosions where he looked. The waitress was very apologetic, he was right, yes, he was right again. He read the big type in the paper again for a little while. She brought him back what looked like a perfect burger platter, he bit into the sandwich once, got up and towards the front. He told the waitress something rude, she apologized, he walked out shaking his head. I somehow did not feel sorry for him at all. The waitress later said that today was a relaxing day for her. She had had time to watch the news and have her own three cups of coffee before coming to work at 9. Yesterday was tougher. She had to get up at four.



Take somebody who is somehow able to function normally and generate some decent ideas from time to time, and remove several hours of their sleep every night and you will likely end up with a deer in heads personality, worse, a dear in heads running, in full deer gear. You basically get me, as I am feeling now, or these days. I have slept too little in the last few weeks. I just wanted to do too much and too much of it at the same time. It is almost five am right now, and I am still up. Knowing myself and my internal clock, I will be able to fall asleep very easily, but once the paper hits the front door at about 7:30AM (on a Sunday) I will be up, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed and ready for new adventures. I could have been sleeping for the last four hours at least, but today was the day when I finally had time to connect my new incredible machine, which I had ordered in October and which arrived on Thursday. Amazon delivered the printer after all. As you can see on the Amazon page, a used Epson 2200 is more expensive than a new one, because for the last few months it was simply impossible to get one, anywhere. When it finally arrived, it came in the biggest box I have ever seen with the name Epson on it. The thing is about a yard by a foot by a foot. (100x30x30cm) New York apartments are just not built for such equipment monsters. I will have to get rid of the box now, as it is blocking half the kitchen. So I had to rearrange certain things in my work area, and this took all day. There was an outlet to which I wanted to connect the printer, but the outlet happened to be behind a bookshelf packed with rows and rows of books. I really spent the day rearranging and organizing things. I have many things. I found two books filled with drawings in the process. I had completely forgotten about them. Some of the work feels much better than what I am doing right now, so I will need to focus a little more on making things right. Oh, and I will not be getting rid of my old G3 tower, which I bought from Organic when they were scaling down their equipment, among other things. It turns out that many of the features of the big printer are just not compatible with OSX. Who would have thought. I had researched the printer quite extensively before buying it, of course, but when I was getting ready to buy it, OSX was not quite the Jaguar it is these days, so I could not know. It is actually quite nice to have a dedicated scanning and printing machine. It is quite silly though to have six Macintosh computers in one tiny New York apartment. But this is a completely different story, of course. Oh, I can barely focus right now.
And yes, the printer delivers some quite mind boggling quality in under 15 minutes. What turns out to be a weak point of my currently almost 10,000 images strong scanned photographs collection is the compression of the pictures. My photo man probably just wanted to pack more on fewer CDs, never expecting me to actually print this stuff ever again. (It is not bad for the web). I will now have to go back to the negatives and scan some of the photographs for more than what I paid for, just to be able to make some happy crispy prints...
I have the feeling that I will delete this entry in the morning, such a confused hopping around of silly thoughts. Good night for now, I will report more in the morning. The other morning, when the paper hits the door again.

Sub Series 66-67


It is hard to believe that we are on the pages 66-67 already. We now have just a few more pages to go and it will be time to scan in a new book. I wonder if I should post the images like this time, page by page, or if they should go straight into the catalogue. I think that if I post them here, there will be a little more fun involved, as there are little observations attached to each one of the drawings.
The pages 66-67 look like a pretty silly bunch of animals. Okay, they are a silly bunch of animals. The ones on the right hand side are obviously ocean creatures. The left hand side, well, I am not quite sure what made me draw these little guys. But here we go, they are here now. Say hello.

Sub Series 64-65


And then, sometimes, it just does not matter. Doing is more important than over-thinking of things. And so it is quite okay to just draw a silly monster dog, with strange big teeth, and funny hair all over. It does not matter what I do, nobody is ever going to see it anyway. It is just for me, a private little game. Nobody will ever find out. Hmm... and if yes? It is not quite as bad as one would think. It is okay. There will be the next page, there will be the next piece of paper, there will be the next day, the next year. It is okay. Just keep doing things... and try not to cut corners.

Sub-series 62-63


Drawing can be scary. It can sometimes be impossible. I am not trying to sound like a primadonna here, it is just really simply impossible sometimes. Very, very difficult. I now do understand why some artists just do anything to forget the obstacles that keep them from making the next piece. It is scary sometimes to do anything. It has all been done, much better, many times. Why even bother?
It is difficult to find new ways, new solutions, new paths in to the unknown. Making art is not some event that just happens once a year. If one wants to make art, then the practice needs to happen every day, always, awake or not. There needs to be an awareness at all times. The eyes need to be open, no matter if they are the visible eyes or the eyes of the soul. Once this is accomplished, one needs to produce. Every single day should be somehow marked by some sort of work. And then one should really hope that the pieces just created hold up against the older work. Forget the others. They might be better, they might be much better, and they might be dead. Maybe for 100 years, maybe 500, maybe 1000. There does not seem to be such a thing as freshly fallen snow in art. There is no moon. No first steps. Or is each step a first one? Maybe it is. And what we are afraid of sometimes are the barriers that are only visible to us. Very personal obstacles. Every one of us has their own, very personal, tailored fears. Some of us just give up without trying... "I can't do that.." some do not give up and just make some often horrible stuff. Some are afraid and try to somehow find that winding scenic route into the next drawing, picture, photograph, song, poem, ... anything.

Please help Jacek.


Dear friends and pet lovers. We are interrupting this broadcast to ask for your help in a very important case. A friend of a friend needs a home. It is the worst time of winter and somebody was heartless enough to chose this time of year to put a young and helpless buddy out into the street. No metrocard, no money, he does not even speak the language. Well, apparently he speaks the language of puppy love.
You can read more about the incredibly sad story here. Please help to give this story a happy ending. If you would like to give this handsome young dog a home, please do so. If you are not able to take him in, please try your best to help otherwise. Post his story on your blog/site, tell your friends, do something. I have not met Jacek. I would like to meet him however. If you decide to take him in, or if you find someone to give him a nice home, I will take a formal portrait of you and Jacek. (A bit like the one I took with Stripey, but of you and Jacek, okay?)
So do something. Have a heart. All (non-kill) shelters in New York are filled. We do not want this dog to be killed.


Sub-Series 60-61


Not quite sure what was about to happen here. I guess after the planes and birds, it was time to draw some sort of a puzzle? A story in questions? I think the little drawings might be the various arts. The first one looks like a canvas, or a piece of paper. The second one looks like... hmm. The third one is definitely sculpture, because the fourth one is acting. Then the 5th one must be the art of writing letters. (Lawyers are good at that.) The 6th one is architecture. 7th-cinematography, 8th... Photography (always with a white rim.) 9th is the art of being able to make a plant survive. 10 must be the art of love. (Or something.) 11 is television design. 12 might be music? (hehe). 13 looks like the art of writing letters, which would make 5 just good old mailart. 14 is probably... hmm... a chair... industrial design? Or could 15 be it?
16 is the art of getting somewhere. 17 is just a silly plus sign maybe. The cat could represent the art of being a pet. 19 is some sort of world thing, the web?, a blog? 20 is all that can be ultimately packed on the pages of a book. 21 contains all your phantasies. (Or just an al dente piece of pasta, thus the art of cooking.) 22 is the art of hmm, responsibility. 23 is the art of driving under the influence of love. 24 is the art of staying afloat. 25 is pure fire. 26 is a bit like 16, but slower. 27 is the art of inspiration. 28 is everything else. 29 is the art of not getting upset that that the most important arts did not make it onto these pages, because it is the most beautiful thing when certain things are just not there. 30 is the art of happiness. Still do not know what 2 is.
All of the description were an attempt to describe the page. At 9:03 still at home, late for the train... aaargh... now it is your turn. At least tell me what 2 is. Thanks.

Subway, series? 58-59


Not in a subway at all, but on the of a large complex overlooking a bay, with pelicans flying by and a plane in the distance, well, this is when I drew these. They are just little thought sketches, of course. They are just little thoughts of the hand. Exercises in simplicity. And there is also some cuteness involved, I know. It takes extra effort to draw something not somehow warm when drawing in this size. How could I ever resist making a tiny plane on the page of a small book smile? It is just such a joy trying to draw a bird or a plane in as few lines as possible. The "eagles" are, in fact, one liners with two dots for the eyes. I could habe used one dot, but everybody on this page seems to have two eyes, so why not the one line eagle?
Why are there little dolphins on the page?, and even this Orca-esque little fish?... I wish I knew the right answer to this one. It is quite possible that I saw dolphins from the deck, as they were hunting in the bay. I should be sleeping right now, not trying to write. Have a great week.



A woman fell on 96th street, and it was not a surprise. The snow was knee deep in the street, maybe hip high on the edges of the sidewalk. She did not hurt herself by the way. She was cursing away as if somebody had put all the snow there to irritate her.
Some of the stores were just closed today. The owners did not make it into the city. THose places were the most difficult to walk by. Two feet of snow, or 60cm, for our metric friends, are no joke. Broadway was relatively free of snow. The side streets were just piles of white. On the sides of the white piles were larger piles of snow, some of them with mirrors sticking out, some still recognizable as parked cars. Here and there were spots which were vacant. One could still make out the brand of the car which had been parked there. The cars leaving their spots were like reptiles shedding their snow skin.
A subaru owner decided to park his car right in the midst of a snow pile. It was quite a spectacle to see the driver just hit objects on the sidewalk, as if it were suddenly a good thing to do in this new, completely white city. Some of the trash cans in front of brownstones had large snow hats on. Some of the steps to buildings were just pristine layers of white. It is such an unusual experience to see places in this city that appear to never have been touched by a human hand. Everything here is man made, how can there be stairs never touched by a foot?
was just filled with happy runners and people who just rolled on the ground, filled with joy. Dogs did not have leashes on today. Some of the owners did not even know how to talk to their dogs under such unusual circumstances. "Argon!, go over there!" Oh well. Over where, the place we spoke about last week?
Some of the spots in the park were also never touched by a human hand. Or at least not in the last 12 hours or so. How amazing. New York is so beautiful. I know that all of this white powder (as it did not want to stick, because to cold) will soon turn into slush. We will then have to jump over lakes of melting snow, just to get to the other side of... anything.
I did not have the courage to make snow angels. I took some pictures however. Expect them here... in a week or maybe two?... ; )
Happy snow day, dear New York.


Subway Series 56-57


Many of the drawings are pretty hieroglyphic. Page 57 is just filled with little drawings of hmm, communication devices? These little sketches are like shorthand. There is a little box with two concentric circles, which must obviously be an iPod. There are some PDA's there are cell-phones. A television set with a really odd looking person moved almost out of the way by tickers and news frames and other graphic indicators. There is a laptop here, probably playing music, there are heavy headphones connected to something off the page.
The left page is left intentionally blank. After the tour de force of the high density drawing, I was afraid to mess anything up. And this is also the reason why the drawings on the right hand side seem a bit shy. (One of the devices is sticking out the tongue though... and another phone has little horns, oh well.)



The storm is really heavy out there, so heavy, so opaque, so much of a real mass pushing between the buildings, rushing downtown, all of it, at the same time, everywhere, touching everything, now. About an hour ago the difference between the sidewalks and the street disappeared under a white coat. Cars seem to try to stay in the middle of the white paths which used to be streets and avenues. The storm seems is all quiet but is a concentration of obviously brute force. Just saw an ambulance crawl between even slower taxis. The s were on and showed that things were urgent, but nobody wanted to get hurt. A slow-motion, subtle, barely there movement of cars and people and things. And on top of it all an unleashed fast forward pounding of a white dyed storm. The large air-conditioner on the bank across Broadway is trying to make clouds, but they are just blown towards the roof and barely look like anything at all. The winds are strong. This is a real storm. Glad to be inside.
Looking forward to making snow angels in tomorrow morning. Things are bound to calm down eventually. Are we really expecting two feet of snow? Serious. Serious snow angels. ; )

Snow stormy Sunday.


New Jersey is completely gone. The buildings on the other side of Broadway are barely there. We are in the midst of a snow storm. Waves of white colored cristals pour over streets and cars and the few New Yorkers who are brave enough to be out there in the storm on a Sunday of a three day weekend.
Not quite able to draw, I am going through older pieces, rearranging items. Things one should do when there is 14F outside and it is 11PM perhaps.
Found the flowers I wanted to post on V-day.
The original camera lucida drawing on shikishi paper has these two lines which extend from the rim of the vase and are, well, the vase. And it makes the drawing look strange. So I removed them here, for now. I know that I will just need to redraw this one anyway. Have a happy Sunday night.

The one man rally.

Stefan Becht is a well respected and a bit of a public person in Germany. And he is concerned. He is concerned about the situation in the world, the war that might just happen, no matter what the world says. Stefan probably went to his local peace Rally in Frankfurt/Main in Germany, but he also turned his entire site into just two pages with an open letter adressed to George W. Bush (there is a German and an English version.). While I have the feeling that the letter is actually speaking to a very smartenized because translatized version of the current leader of the free* world, and while I do not think that Mr. Bush will ever really read, or react to Stefan's site, it is still a pretty bold move on my German friend's side to just take down his presence on the WWW and turn it into a one man rally. Just imagine all personal sites would do that. Hmm. What would happen? (I am afraid there are bigger forces at work here... some problems older than the World Wide Web.) Still, visit www.stefanbecht.de. Show stafen your support. Send him a note. Let him know you know.

For the huge desktops...

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Ladies and Gentlemen on osX (and with this huge new screen), let's put our hands together for:Konfabulator!.
(via Dominik Gwosdek

S-Series HD 54-55


And then this happened. Okay, these drawings barely just happen. It takes raw time to make them. They grow very slowly, they eat time to grow, they have their own life. I do not even know how long this one took. I remember sitting on a bench next to an old man who kept staring at my little book, and me over it, carving out line after line after line out of this double page. The Moleskine books are thread-bound, so there are these full pages now and then, very tempting. Very inviting.
I drew the centers on the right hand side first, then the drawing began to expand, more and more, spill over to the other side, then, as it was running out of breath, I set the other centers and completed it. I can not add to this page. It has achieved the highest density I would like for it. I could just completely fill the page with ink, but that would move the drawing closer to painting with ink. It is the linear nature of drawings that excites me after all. Well, it is not the only thing, of course. But how exciting is a line, that just cuts through a page. Is it the outer rim of an object? Does it define a connection between two points? Is it a fold of some sort, an opening? The horizon? Lines do not exist this way in nature. I know some do, but not really as outsides of objects. The horizon is not really a line either. It is an intellectual task to translate lines into outlines. It is a pleasure to carve them out of the page. The dense drawings are just layer after layer after layer of slowly evolving thought. Spilling tales of the traveling pen-nib. Wherever the line ends, a tiny bit of extra ink remains on the page. It is the ink that was supposed to last for another millimeter or two, yet I stopped, mostly because the pen and I reached the outskirts of another linear system. And so it is possible to see the direction in which I drew on the page. It helps a tiny bit to translate the process back into the linear thing it was as it happened. It is so easy to forget that each one of these drawings did not happen at once. It is actually a completely linear process. No two lines happen at once. There is only one pen-nib, only one me, and we go through this together, millimeter after millimeter, minute after minute. Only the final product is a wall of a drawing. It is a bit of a travelogue of a pen and a slow and steady left hand.


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United for Peace. Starting at noon.

Not very Subway 52-53

This is a bit of the opposite of a Subway drawing. It is the roof of the Winston Towers in Miami, Sunny Isles. I was not really expecting to write it down in this context, but I really like to go to roofs. No, I love going to roofs of places. It is an obvious passion, isn?t it? Especially for somebody who lives New York, this seems pretty obvious.
And yes, I went to the roof of the World Trade Center, the outside observatory, which was not always open. I think I must have spent 8 hours there, staring at the bay, the planes, the ships, and then, of course the city. The big, tidal wave of concrete and glass and metal. It does sound like a cliche, doesn?t it? The difference between the view from the World Trade Center and the view from any other roof in the city was its feeling of being removed. The World Trade Center was by far the tallest kid in DownTown, the other obviously tall buildings are in Midtown. So standing on the roof of the WTC was like watching New York in a really gigantic movie theater.
The Empire State Building is a completely different story. This gracious and solid friend is right in the midst of it all. The default observatory is outside and it is just right there, right in the city, between the large avenues, not far away from very recognizable places. It is the loud view as well. The city is really loud, obviously, but it becomes much more clear out there, on the 86th floor. The Empire State building has one more observation eagle nest, and it is a very tiny, very intimate space. I was only able to visit there once, at night, I will have to go again.
But these are the obvious roofs one can visit. When saying that I like going to roofs, these are not the roofs I mean. My best roof so far must have been the one of the Woolworth building. It was not really the complete top of the building, because this was guarded by cameras long before September 11th, but one of the shoulders of the building, the neck, the collar of the tower. It was a thrill. I think I had to walk up 40 floors or so to get to this door with an alarm and warning signs and all. I could not take the elevator, of course, as there were cameras in all of the elevators. The elevators usually do not go go to certain places, so I really had to walk. I used the wrong stairs several times. I would end up at a door that was supposedly a fire escape, but really looked like a fire trap to me. Steel doors to the roof, locked. I would not have liked to be there in the case of any emergency. It felt claustrophobic as it was. Fire exits are not designed for glamour. There is no air conditioning in the bellies of the sky scraping friends, the staircases have often not seen a paint-job for 50 years (or more.) The Woolworth building had several staircases and it took me three tries to find the right one. I do not regret taking the others before. Some were just dark and filled with a musty smell. The south staircase in the tower had tiny windows starting from a certain point, and so the view through them would become just more and more magnificent. And the details of the building itself, fantastic terracotta sculptures in beautiful colors were right there, large, right outside the window, not some tiny specks on the facade of a skyscraper. The north staircase of in the tower was the one I was looking for. It lead me by some open doors of abandoned companies at first, then there were the large air conditioners of the building, right outside the window, then came the tower, with views of down town more and more and more. The climb took about 30 Minutes or so and it was a bit of a sporty experience of course. Then came the door. The door was equipped with alarms and large red warning signs. I believed them all. I believed that I would trigger a syren, and that somebody would come to get me. That was actually a good thing. I had locked myself out on the roof of the Masonic Building just a few years ago. Nobody knew where I was, it was a rainy day, I was out there with a spectacular view all around, wearing a shirt, in the wind. The door just locked behind me. I did not know that it was the only door. I looked for the other exit for a while, but there was none. There were only loud air conditioners, loud enough to drain any of my calls. There was this house, which I climbed to on a rusty ladder, three floors over the roof. There was a door in this "house", and yet it turned out to be the service door for the water tower. I crawled around the water tower, hoping for a trap door to the elevator room. There was nothing. I ended up turning off the air conditioning for the building. They were large switches. Maybe two feet each. Yellow and black icons showed me illustrations of my possible death through electrocution. I had to do something to call for help. Jumping around the roof would have not helped, it was rainy, I was cold. It was not pretty.
I think it took me 45 minutes or so to have my adrenalin rise to the level at which I just ripped out the lock of the roof door. I used my both arms, and both of my legs. The door gave up, and I just went back into the building. The quiet and warm place.
The Woolworth building was different. I was very much aware that a door could lock behind me, that there might be no way back. I did not want to try to open something that told me not to mess with it.
So there was the door, maybe on the 63rd floor?, I do not quite remember. Next to the door was a window. The view was magnificent. I was in a staircase, in this historical structure, had the most amazing view of downtown, it was really wonderful. I could have just taken the stairs back... I opened the window and walked out onto the small gravel covered roof. It was just like that. And suddenly I was one of the decorations of the building. The view opened up. I saw the Twin Towers right there, a ferry was just coming in from New Jersey, the Statue of Liberty was south of me, as was the rest of Down Town. Glorious lit roofs of the Wall Street area. Simply beautiful. I was very careful now. I had no idea what might have been behind the locked door. The window to the left belonged to the space behind the door and I did not want to find out too much about what might be there. I peeked just very carefully around the corner. It was an abandoned, gutted space. There was a chair in it, and some lose electrical wires everywhere, but otherwise, it was as raw and gutted as they get. There was obviously nobody in the space. I was now free to walk around one of the roofs of the Woolworth building. I had unobstructed 360Degree views of the downtown area. It was not a view as removed as the one from the World Trade Center, but it was a much older view. An almost 90 year old view. The Brooklyn Bridge was below me and the Statue on top of the Municipal Building was its golden self. almost 50 blocks up from me the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building, the rest of the pack. It was a very magnificent experience. I returned to this roof many times. I also eventually found another open window which led me into the abandoned space. I would just sit there sometimes, in the chair that was facing the window through which I could see the top of the Empire State building. It was glorious.
Wow, really went off on a tangent here. The drawing below is of the roof of the Winston Towers in Miami. The roof has been locked, so the drawing is not from nature. I just remembered what the roof looked like when I got on there in March 2002. This is when I also took the pictures, which are below the drawing. It is a large building, the roof was a very nice outdoor space. I really like the gigantic air conditioners, the pipes, the air-vents. By looking at the photographs and the drawing, it is very easy to see that drawing allows for a very different dynamic of space than photography. The drawing has a very playful and joyful feel to it. The proportions of the items in the picture and the angles of the lines are set to be descriptive but also very happy and layered. The two air conditioners seem to be friends calling each other, The other buildings are watching this moment. There are so many things seemingly "wrong" with this drawing, but they are the details that make is so charming. There are some edges in objects, but most of the things here are soft and almost huggable. The perspective is off, and bent and very much out of shape, but this helps to tell a story. The page is a jotted down reminder of things. It made me finally write down some of my silly roof adventures. I like the photographs very much, but I do not think they would have made me tell a story. The photographs are so filled with completed, finished, obvious information, they invite to point out details, not to go on and on about memories. Both work, yet both seem to speak to completely different portions of the brain. The drawing could be much more freed from trying to create an illusion of space. It could be much more of a story than it is now, of course. Many of my drawings are much more flat, at first sight. They do not use linear perspective, they are very much translations of thoughts, of ideas, not of direct observations of the world as we are told it looks like by photographs.
Except for the camera lucida drawings, of course, which are photographs, with me as film.
Oh, this is turning into a story I wanted to tell some other time, and I will.

Happy Valentine’s day.


There were supposed to be flowers here, and a happy message and a waving me. (Very happy.) Unfortunately, the last few days (weeks) have been so crazy and filled with (interesting) work, that I could only keep this site alive thanks to the Subway sketches which I get to post every day. (Night)
So please fogive me if this post is not what you would expect from me on such a day. Or what kind of day is it anyway? Did somebody once tell me that it was created by the chocolate industry?
Hmm... I also remember V-day a few years ago when we went to have lunch in a Japanese Restaurant near the World Trade Center... (Okay, it was on Fulton Street.) As we were leaving the restaurant, one of the patrons was giving a little present to his very excited girlfriend. I do not think I will never forget her face, this split second, when she opened the package, glowing, and pulled out something that could be barely called hmm... it was a very private piece of clothing...
I was only a passer-by, but I could see from the expression on her face, that the boyfriend’s plan, the expression on his face indicated PLAN... completely failed. He meant well. This was the wrong thing to do.
Oh, this is a very strange story to tell on such a happy day.
I will be back with something nicer, once I get home and fire up that scanner.
Happy V-Day again.
(This does not even sound like me writing. Who am I?)

Subway? series 50-51


Some pages just start with a drawing I do not like and then I spend the rest of the page trying to somehow salvage something, without removing anything.
I know this sounds very silly, I could just tear out the page.
I think I was 15 when I read some of the Leonardo journals in the Library of my High-School, and one of the first things that I read there was his serious advice to avoid erasers, not to tear out pages and not to throw out drawings. Some very serious advice from this good man.
It is advice that can slow down a bit at first, but it actually forces to be more careful and more focused when drawing. So the sketches on these pages obviously do not have any pencil drawing under them that has been removed afterwards.
Mistakes. This strange car on the left hand side was a big mistake. I somehow wanted to draw something even bigger than the SUV I drew a few pages before and it just turned out to be a bit of a weird looking object.
So I drew the bus, with a huge body, tiny, tiny passengers, and almost invisible, thus quickly spinning wheels. I like the bus. I like the hair on the underside of the bus. The wheels are not attached, yet there are these stubs of unshaved hair, somehow connecting the big belly of the bus to the tiny, tiny wheels. Then there were these odd pedestrians, a in very baggy jeans, a young mother with jeans so low, well, very low. But the first drawing of her looked awfully off again, so I drew another person with the same type of jeans. Hmm, still not all there. So a dog always works, somehow. But now it was there looking at her, well, more than just looking at her, really, in these really low cut jeans and the page was just more and more a mess. So one more bus followed, then the car with the armless driver, the men at the table, and the man with the walker, the phone.
I can't wait to flip the page on this one. I really can't stand this strange looking car on the upper left. Oh well. So now you know. And I did not hide it. ; )

Subway? series? 48-49


Real Diamonds on sale for $89 or was it $8.9? or $8-9? There was a crown, spot, a crown on $89? I guess it does make sense. It is a very particular kingdom we are thinking about here. Then there were these bags, maybe? They seemed to be ready to sit in the grass and watch playful lovers on the green hills outside of their cabin at sunset. This would never happen of course. The bags would soon be separated. One of them would end up in a dark closet, and the other, if lucky, maybe as a tool bag, somewhere, down the line. Or maybe they would not be separated. Maybe nobody really wants this particular color these days. So they would travel together, onto the shelves of one of the stores out there between the pizza place and the browning studio. Just steps away from the beach. And then? Then there would be a tag war. There would be new numbers attached to them, and new higher percentages would indicate a big deal. Bags are some of the best storytellers.
And then there is charter. A wave flows right through the door. The door is happy and wants to run, but it stumbles on the ® sign.
The birds in the parking lot could not care less about the special, new, better than ever, new and improved, still the same taste kind of things.
The s are the highest points that can be fought for here.
Nobody will ever know that this was the day when birdy found a way to defy gravity without the use of wings. Pure bird brain power.
But there is no crown, no price tag attached to him. There is not even an ®. So nobody will ever know. Because nobody will be asked to look.
And birdy does not quite translate into numbers. Except from him being one (of many.)



Who would have thought. WitoldRiedel.com is the Coolstop's Best of the Cool Daily Pick for 02/12/03. This comes as a serious (very positive!) surprise, of course. What makes this special link much more incredible though is the glowing review that comes with it. I am touched, honored, amazed. This is such a great review. I have no words.
Also, coolstop.com appears to be quite an incredible site. Wow. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
thank you!

Subway? series 46-47


A flower is always more than a flower. A moth is always more than a moth. The rooster is often much more than a rooster. The object on the right hand side is definitely something special. Not sure if it is true that helmets in old Japan had a metal core, but the outside of them was built out of paper mache. If this were the case, they could have the most fantastic shapes while still sustaining their function effortlessly. Form does not always have to follow function. As long as the core functionality of an object is sustained, we have room for decoration, invention, creative extensions. Sometimes new functionality can be born out of elements without any function. The bare bone approach does not always pay off.
Optimization is not always desirable. Effective strategies do not always lead into a happy an successful future. They sometimes do.
I like the idea of something that is soft on the outside and shaped in fantastic and free ways, and yet contains a hard core, offers the necessary protection.
I like the idea of interactive products. I like to be the co-creator of something, not just the consumer. A toy that speaks five sentences is probably not as inspiring as one that does not speak at all, or as one that can record any information.
A flower is always more than a flower. A moth is always more than a moth. A rooster is more than a rooster. The object on the right hand side does not exist this way. It is a combination of ideas. It is a step between steps. Not every little hop in evolution needs to make sense. Some things have to specifically not make sense in order to inspire new development. Is there really a survival of the fittest?, or is it a much too *effective* way of looking at things?
A drawing is always more than a drawing.

The AniMatrix


I am certainly not the last human to place a link to THE ANIMATRIX. But I am certainly also not the last. (Contains very animated violence. Please use caution.)

Vielen Dank Auch...


According to the Horoscope-Lady on 1-800-555-TELL this is supposed to be an 8 out of 10 day for me, the "hello Sagittarius". For some reason however, normal tasks seem to require heavier lifting today, somebody put led weights into my joints, and the content of my brain has been replaced with a preview version of the 62 year old me.
At first I thought that maybe this was just an illusion, that I had stared too deeply into the future mirrors installed in the doors of every New York subway car. (Seriously, have you ever looked into these doors?)
Then I noticed that somebody had posted a series of links here on the blog. I then remembered that it was me, yes the three of us, the me, myself and the I who saved the links as draft. Apparently not. All noticed Post factum.
And when I paid for my lunch and the lady at the cashier stared at me as if I spoke in some foreign language. I not only noticed *then* that I was chatting with her in German, I even concluded my chat with a happy "Vielen Dank."
I will maybe post a note on craigslist today, that my body urgently needs a new and rested driver.
Or maybe 8 out of 10 just means that I am lacking the crucial 20% that seem to be the more important part in the 80-20 Rule recently posted by one of the web’s favorite one man hypertext product makers.
What is the rating for your day? Call 1-800-555-TELL (1-800-555-8355) and say "Horoscope" and then... well, our astrological sign.

Subway series 44-45


Not all pages are equally dense or rich in detail or filled with real life observations. I was still at the library when drawing here. The ornaments are from a book about Japanese visual culture.
Looks like the rest of the little book does not have much to do with subways at all. I think the final pages are filled on the plane back to New York.
The original idea of the book was to draw in Subways and to draw images about the metropolitan underground, specifically in New York, of course. But even when physically in a packed train, the ideas were usually somewhere else.
The drawings here are just starting points of ideas. The little books are not a finished product, they are not a result, they are a start. I guess this is why it is easier for me to post them here. They are little pulls and pushes of the mind that might just amuse, maybe inspire to continue, to comment, to imagine.
The more I leave out, the more can still be added. It would be nice to just post an empty page, or maybe one with a very simple drawing sometimes and then to see how it evolves how it grows. And I do not mean Photoshop tennis, where the contestants try to outdo each other, more something of a game that would result into an unexpected journey, some exploration of ideas of a group.
I think I might do just that... as an experiment. Soon.

Subway Series 42-43


It was definitely in the public library and it was definitely looking at a book about the Native American Art. The library building itself is built into an artificial hill. This is probably to keep the temerature a bit lower all year round. All year round being at least warm and humid in Miami.
There were nice simple tables by a window. Outside was wild vegetation, beyond that the mall parking lot. Inside visitors of all age groups engaged in serious information exploration. One of the library employees was on the phone explaining to someone that the library would not deliver books to their house, especially if they are only visiting from out of state.
Will need to write more elaborately about the role of lines in drawing. Lines as edges of objects are often an invention of out brains. Linear drawings are maps of places. They are not the actual places. Hmm... just a thought... one second... oh, it is too late for this one... tomorrow?...more tomorrow?

Like it's 1993


It was Autumn 1992 and Franz Aumüller, the incredibly creative Creative Director of Trust (the place was actually called Trust Corporate Culture in 1992) invited me to draw something that could be put together to become a book the agency would send to their clients and friends for Christmas. I thought to make a series of pieces that would somehow resemble the drawing by numbers puzzles I loved so much in Polish children?s magazines. I presented the idea to Aumüller and he gave me not only full support but also complete artistic freedom on the project.
With complete freedom and the energy of the 22 year old me, the project got out of hand pretty much with the first drawing. I originally wanted to make little wholesome Christmas pictures and then disguise them as painting by numbers fun, but once I managed to hide my first scene in a maze of, well, other drawings, it somehow became apparent that I could pretty much draw anything and then hide it in front of everybody to see or not see. Quite a tempting thought for the back then fearless me. I did not do anything that could in any way harm the agency, of course, but the drawings did not really end up being about Christmas. You will see.
The production of the book out of my hand drawn pieces was a bit of a challenge. The images were a bit too complex for easy processing with computers of 1992 (The fastest mac ran on a 40MHz 68030, remember?), yet we ended up with a very handsome little hard cover book containing the twenty drawings. Really, the linen cover had the drawing of a little embossed golden star on it. The book was entitled "It?s your time" and Thomas Feicht, the copy creative director wrote the introduction. His intro was very much a proposal to the readers to create their most individual Christmas book. The users were invited fill in the areas marked with dots and discover my hidden images on the odd pages, or they could draw over lines on the even pages and really turn their little books into very personalized pieces of collaboration. The book was an amazing little success. Most users copied pages out of it and then colorized the photocopies rather than working with the original piece. I got plenty of faxes from happy readers. (It was 1992, we were about to discover the CD-ROM... 1992... HTTP was a few months old...)
It was very odd to scan in the book today. It not quite translate into the online environment. Much of the detail of the illustrations is lost and things just look different at 72dpi on a screen.
I started by posting the entire book here, but it just was too much and more something for the catalogue area of the site. So below are the 20 drawings that were then used for all the secondary pages in the book as well. I will post the whole book in the catalogue later, just maybe not tonight.
I almost stopped drawing after the release of the book. There were other more seductive things that did not require me to draw and which seemed more lucrative at that time. (Temptation of the glamorous thing called design...) It took me almost 10 years to seriously start drawing again. I hope to some day soon regain the amount of courage I had when diving into "It?s your time." Here we go, now it is "yours", enjoy...



I wonder if this link will work for you.
Thank you for the link, Chris. I wonder is atmosphere.net made this clever flash tool.

Subway Series 36-41


Another Sunday, another set of pages. Who would have thought. We are on page 41 already, the halftime of the first little book. I am a book and a half ahead of the posting, so it is just a pleasant journey for me right now. I wish I could work a little faster, but I spend quite some time working on other projects, so these subway drawings are really just a tiny portion of what I do, even though maybe the most personal little drawn thoughts these days.
I originally wanted to post only the pages 36-37 today. That was before I saw them. I really do not know what I was thinking when drawing these robots. Was this some memory of the Iron Giant?, I really do not know. The robot on the right hand side, the one with the dog. Hmm. Below a face with that golden smile. The Hamster, the turkey. Hmm. A very strange double page.
The little information architecture drawings were thoughts about the gallery section of this site. The section is still in the works and I will use it to offer some limited edition prints. I found a manufacturer here in New York that will help me create quite unique little photographic objects. The process involves a really complex setup, the cost is really high, I had four prototypes made and you can actually see one of them in the background of that Self portrait with Victor Hugo Stripey, the sock dog, that really increased the audience for this site. (Thank you.)
I will write more about the photo objects once I find a manufacturer for custom made shipping boxes. I do not want the pieces to travel safely, they take a lot of work and money to make.
The writing on the first page, about Wolfie's Rascal is a reminder that I drew on the page in Miami on November 28th. Rascal is the name of the horse that got his name from Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House this really funny deli restaurant in Miami where retired New Yorkers watch CNBC and eat pastrami sandwiches since the 50's.
Rascal made it to the 18th position in the 108th Kentucky derby, the second to last position in that race. There were more fascinating facts about Rascal on the west wall of that restaurant. Fascinating photographs and really strange factoids.
I remember drawing the next two pages on a Subway platform, so I am not sure how this can be. I remember standing just by the end of the platform here on 96th street and jotting this man floating over buildings and the ocean... Not sure how this is possible, since the following two pages, the ones with the birds are definitely drawn in Miami. MiAmiMiami was the slogan on a wall in Miami beach... my friend Miami? : )
I had brought my own ink to Miami. I only draw with these two kinds of Chinese ink. White Crane is the name of one of the products, the other one, the one drawn here on the left is called "Hero". The substance is most definitely not fast, as a bottle which I had left in the window turned into almost water in over a few months. The ink is really excellent otherwise. Drawing with it is very pleasant. It is the ink with which I learned to write. It was very difficult to track down the last few bottles in 2000 when I returned to Poland. All stationery stores now only carry western products. I had to go into pretty remote neighborhoods to find old state subsidized stationery stores that still had some of the stuff in stored their back rooms. I hope to some day just order a case from the source (slow server in Shanghai.) It appears though as if they do not manufacture the blue-black hero ink anymore. Now their ink products are called "Doctor". I am just guessing, of course.
The remaining drawings on the pages 40-41 are from the Public Library, near by the aventura mall in Aventura FL. It was the only free public internet access point I could find in the area. I was allowed a 45-Minute window on one of their terminals. There was a line to get to the access, so I had time to explore the less electricity dependent source of information... books. The printed friends. ; )

Subway Series 34-35


Hmm, it is much later at night than I expected it to be. So I will upload the pages for now and then maybe write a little more about the drawings later. Or maybe not? -s- might be right. If I write too much, it takes away the fun of guessing what I was thinking. It is a mystery to me as well, though, so I might post my thoughts later, or not. I feel a tiny bit tired now. Good night. ; )


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Over night the city dove into a swarm of trillions of tiny supreme particles. There is a parade of these white creatures outside the window. They fly by in intelligent patterns, observe the city for moments, from the sky, by skyscraper roofs, from the side of the water towers, from the place just outside my window, from the awnings of shops, from eye level, of a grown up, a child, a dressed up park avenue dog. They travel on cabs and busses. They fly by on the s of a police car with the syren on. Some daring ones decide to cling to the hair of lovers and immediately turn into drops of water, ready to evaporate on skin and turn into new flakes of snow soon, very soon.

Subway series 32-33


And then things turned a bit more strange. Not sure if my attention span shortened, or if I spent more time in the underground trains and none in the elevated lines, it could have also been that I just took shorter trips. The drawings began to turn into tiny families of short ideas. There seem to be 15 little drawings on this page alone. I know this might look as if I really focused on what I have done here, but there are some pages that will follow and in the coming books that just contain so many tiny images, that the only way to somehow be able to discuss them was to number them. So you can either look at the image below, or open a Numbered version. Hmm, what are these things?
1) Seems to be a sleeper inside of a subway window. The windows in the subway trains have these rounded corners, just as planes have. This helps them distribute pressure much better. Ideally the windows would be round, I guess... hmm, round windows on a subway.
2) Probably a peeking reflection in subway doors. The glass in the subway has the ability to age the person reflected by about 20 years. Really. Especially between stations.
3) A dog with short back legs. Hmm.
4) Little notes, ready for little notes. I do have a collection of post-its somewhere. I like especially those that contain little reminders or commands. "See me in my office." "This is the memo you requested" Incredibly compact information. I spoke to the people at 3M about the glue on these things... Fascinating.
5) Hmm, a little car with tiny wheels and a large tree... (decorated...)
6) A Worm?
7) A little noseless alien boy on his tiny planet. Yes, I know, I know... I know.
8) Not sure.
9) A seven eyed monster with seven legs happy to see you again. There is a very special story about the seven eyed monster, and 777 trees and me being a wizard. A true story, who would have thought. I will need to tell it some other time. (No, I am not a wizard, it is a long story.)
10) a three eared cat. (She is the seven eyed monster’s friend.)
11) a dog, which happened to walk half way through the magnification line. (The line can be drawn in any moleskine book, by just putting the attached rubberband there and drawing the special line on the right page.)
12) a conversation about a layout, I think.
13) this must be a moomin. see the M?
14) the view out of a train window, is it?, maybe, could it be?
15) this young man is strange, I do not know him, he just came by to complete the page. How strange.
I do not think I should be posting these drawings this late at night. I must seem completely out of my mind. The drawings are strange, but the descriptions? Am I taking away the joy of guessing? Am I turning myself inside out? Is this the wrong kind of creative exhibitionism?
I actually find it very amusing to post an entire book, with all its boring and all its quirky pages. I find it also funny how I quickly these drawings become their own little beings. They are my drawings, and I am too close to them to give a proper description of them here and now, but at the same time, they are separated from me by enough time to see them as their own little beginnings of things. I think this is also the reason why I draw the way I draw on these pages. These tiny drawings are the beginnings of ideas. Some of the ideas come back immediately, some return after months, some after years. Some of the ideas are the beginnings of stories, some just need to get out onto paper to make room for something that is new.
Good night.

Subway Series 30-31


As if the monsters had not been enough. Suddenly there is this page that contains visual quotes from many previous pages, and odd connections between them. There is a watertower that looks like the head of a lego man, there is a cab next to headphones. The monster here is probably a friend of the happy subway car. There is an indication of a subway map in the background. And why is there a free spark plug next to a happy scull? Who knows. The Spark plug seems to be starting a sunrise. The elements are just dancing on these pages. So much joy, so much joy.

No, I do not use any substances that would substantially enhance my perception. I never have and I do not think I ever will use any of this. Drawing, the anti-drug. ; )

Todd Levin on the 9

If you like the Subway drawings, you should read some Subway writing as well. Todd posted some excellent observations from the 9 train and others of course. Enjoy your meal.
For those who are out of town, or maybe just live on the east side: the 9 train is like the 1, 2 and 3 trains (it has a red circle around the white number and runs under Broadway and 7th Avenue), but it is a local train (to the Staten Island ferry Terminal, so it never reaches Brooklyn) and runs only during rushhour, thus it is always packed. (Now everyone knows...)

Subway series 28-29


Hmm, how can these pages be explained? On the left, obviously an organically grown drawing. It is one of the complex, or high density drawings, one that does not follow a formal composition but is almost grown on the page. I begin these by setting energy centers. (They happen to be little crosses here, for some reason...) I then make the drawing grow slowly further and further on the page. Some of the drawings are timed, some are limited by other their size, some interact with other drawings.
And the drawing on the right? Monsters? They are just little friends. One of them actually carries the cross from the drawing on the left hand side.
I think I drew these guys there, because I had just spent a substantial time drawing line next to line next to line, in little circles over and over again. These monsters are a good balance to that, at least in a little sketchbook.
Am I explaining too much? Does this sound as if I wanted to apologize for something? Oh no, I hope not. ; )

I somehow have the feeling that this was not drawn on the subway either. Maybe on the plane? Who knows. ; )

Sprichst Du Deutsch?

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Vor einiger Zeit schon wurde ich mit der Übersetzung von Movable Type ins Deutsche beauftragt. Es klang ja alles recht schön und gut, bis ich die dateien augepackte und hineinschaute. Was ich da übertragen sollte waren begriffe, die wohl sehr einfach für jemanden sind, der jeden Tag an einem Deutschen Rechner sitzt. Ich übersetzte und übersetzte, so gut ich nur konnte...
Und am Ende gingen die Dateien verloren, und alles woran ich gearbeitet hatte war nicht mehr da. Eine echte Tragödie.
Angeblich haben letztens mehr und mehr deutschsprachige Interessenten bei Ben Trott nach einer Deutschen Version angefragt. Es war also wirkich an der Zeit nicht auf den Dateien zu sitzen, sondern das Internet zu benutzen. Deshalb gibt es jetzt: MTÜebersetzung wo Du Dir einfach ein Stückchen vom Englischen original text nehmen kannst, es übersetzen, und dann ins Kommentarfeld kleben. Ich werde dann nach und nach das Hauptdokument vervollständigen und Du wirst zum offiziellen Autor. Ein Link zu Deiner website erscheint unter "Autoren."
Ich hoffe, dass wir noch vor Ende des Monats was richtiges auf den Beinen stehen haben.
Henrik Lippelt macht mit. Er hat heute einige recht wichtige Teile übersetzt. (Danke Henrik!). Machst Du auch mit?

I am looking for German speaking users to help with the Movable Type translation.

Subway series 26-27


It is sometimes good to just leave a page completely blank. It is often the space that contains no information that helps to show it better.
One often listens to the one who whispers with much more attention that to someone who shouts. (Does one read more attentively if there are tybos everywhere? why didn't anybody tell me?)

It is after midnight again, I am at the office. I will probably take a cab home now. I will not "stand clear the closing doors", I will "buckle up for safety." Good night.

Still challenged.


When I made a drawing by numbers book in 1992, (it was called "It's your time..." and was published by TRUST in Frankfurt/Germany) the production people almost cried. I made twenty drawings that had a healthy level of complexity to them. I had drawn them on paper and then the production department had to digitize them in order to complete the book in the way it was intended. The reason why they almost cried was the complexity of the drawings. Scanning them in and rasterizing them would have taken away from their fragility. Vectorizing them was just too much for the macs of 1992.
I have a copy of the book here, I should have scanned in the drawings a long time ago. They are interactive. ; )
The reason why I am writing this so late at night is because my dear Adobe Illustrator has been trying to figure out a way to simplify one of my high density drawings which will be part of a project I am working on these days and nights.


The spinning wrist watch has been replaced by a happy colorful baloon thing, but the computer is still challenged with my "not as mentioned in the manual" pieces. I somehow still love paper and my fountain pen.
Oh boy, I should not be writing this late at night. I wound like a 120 year old bitter, bitter man.


Subway Series 24-25


Big and heavy and very addicted to oil. I recently looked at my atlas and looked at the largest importers and exporters of oil. On one side of the chart was Saudi Arabia with 7,840,000 Barrels of oil per day. (Iraq produces 210,000 per day, Kuwait 2,175,000.) On the other side of the infographic is the biggest barrel of them all, and it is an importer who sucks in 9,399,000 Barrels of Oil per day. I have no idea why I would draw a remote controlled SUV while riding on the train. Don't get me wrong, I have driven a Dodge Durango through northern california. I also have hit some pot holes here in the city where I wished my car were two stories high and had tires as big as a hot dog stand.
No I do not have a car. Have not had a car for seven years now. I like to take the subway. I love to walk.

Subway Series 18-23


To be quite honest, I did not want to post the pages 18-19. I had seen this lady on the train and just started writing about her. My handwriting while standing and not holding on to anything is ust not the most legible I know. If you would like to read what I wrote there, here is the legible version.
The second spread somehow made me think about Lucerne. I wonder why.
The last one somehow contains a deer and a lavitating taxi. There are none of those here. Hmm.

Pet shop


There was a little framing store between the butcher and the ¢99 store two blocks uptown from here on Broadway. I would walk in there sometimes just to look at the selection of posters and prints. I remember an old man bringing his little paintings and leaving them with the store owner so they could be sold on commission. When the old man left, they became the paintings of a little child. The many times I came to visit again, they remained there, next to the counter on the floor. They did not sell at all. The store owner told me that what sold were the photographs made by a couple who took pictures of the city. There was New York in the wintertime, in the summer, autumn in . The shots were very familiar and looked like poster sized postcards.
The framing store was recently replaced by a pet supply store. It was as if the switch happened over night. Gone were all the prints and views of New York, all the little old man's paintings. No more owner behind a carpet covered counter, no more frame corner covered walls.
Now there is a large empty fish tank in the window, packages with food for various animals in front of it. Inside a very tight space. Shelf space is used very efficiently. Little packages with pictures of cute pets hide behind leashes and between activity toys. There is this smell of wet straw and dried meat. There was even a lage parrot placed oddly on eye level on a tiny branch right in the middle of the space. Amazing.
I was not aware that the store had a downstairs. It never occurred to me that a store could have a basement. I guess they all do. I walked down the pet shop stairs for the first time today. The basement seemed much larger than the upstairs. There were several cages with various kinds of birds happily displaying their personalities. Below, little dinosaurs, reptiles, snakes, lizards. Next to them little rabbits, mice, rats, hamsters engaged in some quite intimate looking dance.
The fish-tanks are probably the most amazing environments in that space. There seemed to be a larger variety of species than I have seen in a zoological collection. There were tiny golden swarms of excited fish next to a tank with a very focused looking foot long predator. There were fish that looked like pieces of a picasso painting and there were little shrimp with antennae as thin but much longer than the whiskers of a cat. There were crabs eating with both hands, and there were star fish devouring a meal. Large water plants turned out to be slowly moving colonies of seemingly highly intelligent tentacles. Some animals were so well camouflaged that their only presence in the tank was indicated by their price, taped into the upper left corner of the glass.


As I was leaving the place the large parrot said "hello" imitating the voices of a woman and a man. I could not hold back my own "hello". I will be back there.
New York outside is muggy and cold today. Tiny droplets of rain make the city appear darker than it is.
I wonder when they will take the s off that Christmas tree on 96th and Broadway.

Subway series 16-17

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I wanted to be in the first car of the 3 train for some reason. I waited in the construction area of the platform on 42nd street, going downtown. The workers had left a door open and there were exposed cables everywhere. A sign reminded me not to cross the tracks. It is just so tempting to walk into the dark tunnels. The train pulled into the station and I drew the key features for a few seconds.
At the end of the day the first car was the last car and I left the train through the back entrance of the 96th street station, which is on 93rd street. There it was, the pretty abused looking Metrocard testing machine. This is the device that is often covered in Metrocards which are then tested one by one by people who hope for some remaining fraction of a fare. Just to save a few cents.
Attached to the machine is a box for used metrocards. Somebody broke the container to gain access to the used metrocards. The golden metrocards. (The first ones were blue.)

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