1-3 June 2017

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

Link to: Forum website
Saint Petersburg, Russia

5.10.17: A fifth attendance by invitation to the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia. No better time than the present to wrap-up and make final statements on the event. The 2015 Forum Blog, for example, glides over the Energy Summit, which in previous years restricted audience to the president and oil company CEOs. I planned for my arrival to take place ultra, ultra, early to ensure a spot, as captured in images. Even then, the event was over-crowded with a spill over room and observers sitting on the floor. By contrast, in the Paparazzi Ethnography 2013 Forum Blog, the elation of attendance during a third visit remains. The 2011 Forum Blog catches sight of the “paparazzi element” of the event, best captured at the Blue Carpet entrance of arriving guests and journalists. Finally, there is the 2010 Forum Blog, written as post hoc reflection as Paparazzi Ethnography had not even been established.

One last year remains on Russian Fulbright offering one more visit for 2018 as epilogue to such occasions.

Attendance at the forum requires invitation that is formally given through online application. Once an invitation is presented, notice of confirmation is necessary. I have attached here a copy of the invitation: SPIEF 2017 Invitation.

Toward the end of April, I received an individual email requesting confirmation of attendance. Finally, the online portal requires logging on to a “personal web office” – a private entry portal whose visuals I include here.


5.1.17: To be seen seeing the world — was the issue during a lovely 2-hour discussion with members of the Tiburon The New Yorker magazine reading group.

On this occasion, we discussed Rachel Monroe‘s, #Vanlife, The Bohemian Social-Media Movement: What began as an attempt at a simpler life quickly became a life-style brand. Two millennials traveling across North America in a remodeled 1960s Volkswagon van are funded through sponsorships based on 1 million follows of their Instagram images, which they take great pains to stage to capture a low-key glamorous life.

Here is Leslie Doyle, Executive Director of the Tiburon Landmarks Society, contemplating a totem of the original Tiburon Tommy’s restaurant, built in the 1950s and taken apart a few years ago, where remaining brocades linger in Landmark Society’s Archival office, located at the Boardwalk shopping center directly across from Rustic Bakery.

And here, below, sitting in front of a computer screen image of the Tommy’s facade, is Archivist David Gotz, with whom I shared several wonderful hours discussing changes to Tiburon’s village geography over the past 200 years.

“What a wonderful Job you have!” I exclaimed to David, instantly realizing a longing for both my home town and the thought of whiling away the days looking over old photographs of a more simpler time.

Muir Rain


Life Informatic


3.30.17: Heizer sculptures at Rice U engineering quad — revisited.

9.10.16: A story on Michael Heizer appearing in August issue of The New Yorker describes his recent visit to Manhattan where he began his career five decades ago as an artist/sculpter. Reading the article over steak and baked potato at Del Frisco’s in Houston where the lighting is better at the bar than the dining tables, but not by much. I held the paper copy up close — a 5-page cutout that arrived in my mailbox today from Dr. Traci Speed, of California — in-between bites of steak slathered in potato scooped out from the skin.

What surprised me was that Spiral Jetty was the work of Robert Smithson, and not Heizer, with whom I had credited that earth work. Author Dana Goodyear notes that Spiral Jetty is an essential of twentieth-century sculpture; an artwork completed in 1970 that continues to dominate among reputation-makers & art historians who use the image as shorthand for earth works generally.

Here in Houston and on campus and going over and to take a fresh look at Heizer’s angles (45°, 90°, 180°) sculpture installed at Rice U. Be back in a moment!

Rice2.28.14: At Rice U in Houston, I was able to locate the Michael Heizer sculptures, which appear advertised on the website. At the engineering department, looking for their location, a administrative personnel responds: “Oh, you mean the sculptures”. With raised arm, she pointed with her forefinger toward the courtyard. Paparazzi Ethnography readers are aware of a recent visit to the Levitated Mass exhibit in November.

Here, above, is a collective image of the angles (official title: 45°, 90°, 180°) sculpture.

Reflecting on the rock sculptures — now realizing how well they would look if relocated to the Marin Southern Cone — a different version of appropriate installation of Heizer’s Rocks Relocated:afargoldybeachroadtennesse

Discards Gallery


–the invitation begins–

This is an art & event space. It is called Schatjes. We are currently exhibiting discarded art by unknown makers and telling the stories behind it. Come in and have a look!
Discards Some days ago in Amsterdam, I wandered the canals and stumbled into a gallery of discarded artworks. Each work that had been found in a dumpster or garage sale is now with contextual description, such as depicted in the card display above.

In addition, select few paintings and sculptures have been glorified via their reproduction into postcards, as visible in the stack below. postcards At times, I ignore the pull of instinct at my peril. Not in this case, however. At street level, yes, as passerby, I caught glimpse of the capital letter cased words– HELLO PASSERBY –from the corner of my eye. The invitation did not confront me directly — for example, as one may otherwise come across names of streets, cinemas, and shops more generally, through the positioning of advertisements.
oasserby As the above image demonstrates, the white painted capital letters are legible but the words beneath are not readily identifiable. In this nomination of a privately owned public space – a physical object (painted, designed) and symbolic object (giving meaning to) come together. They captured my attention and I experienced an effect of artistic practice on a sense of place. But other distractions framed my eye to the invitation, such as architectural lines (horizontal, vertical, diagonal). In the image directly below, I demonstrate my capture by having stepped down to directly confront the invitation:
InvitationObjects are opaque (letters of the invitation painted on to the glass), transparent (objects seen through glass), and reflected (objects directly behind mirrored on glass). In this manner, the glass becomes a collapsing order of time: future (through), past (behind) and present (actual). The distance between viewer and studied frames of time intensify when gazing to the right and to the left as in these photographs taken directly toward either direction of the invitation: