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Shao-lin Shadow Boxer

The Heritage Wall

Little Five Points: Tucked away on the corner of "Cold Quit" and Euclid Avenue, sitting just to the right of the Noam Chomsky & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr murals, is a section of wall designated to act as an open air bulletin board that serves to notify the local public of upcoming community affairs and other civic minded notices. Over the past few months however, it has evolved into something much different, much more wonderful than that.

Through a steady layering of push-pinned anti-war manifestos, thumb tacked photographs from unknown persons and parties (literally 'party' parties) along with a sprinkling of competing show flyers it has metamorphisized into an interactive urban collage. This is public art in the sense that it is not art for the public but rather by it. A work of art capable of shifting in mood, message and mask with each new addition from the passer by who chooses to leave something behind.

Though not all the contributions are man made. In these shots especially you'll notice the lattice veil of shadows that spills over the wall adding a delicate pattern of light and it's absence to the overall picture. Some of the effects are unintentional joint effort between the elements and the art itself, as eventually the overlapping of weathered pages peel back in slashes to reveal buried images that seem to be burrowing back to the surface of the collage. Splashes of chipped paint creates a rorshach cartography out of the cracks and fragments, forming new continents of bare brick wall and islands of faded garage sales.

Finally throw in a molotov cocktail mix of stenciled graffiti tags and random sharpie doodlings and the wall resembles now the "Third Mind" cut-up collobarations between William Burroughs and Brion Gysin.

I almost wish I could shoot this one section of wall over the passing of a full year. Then rewind it back and speed it up. Watch the cubes of maps, phone numbers and fonts flicker and fade across the surface. What remains? What part would people not cover up? Is there an accidental poetry to be found in this sprinkling of advertisements and events of the year? Would the true beauty be in the state of shift or in the chrysallis of what remained when you decided to stop filming?

Random Collage & Shadows

Heritage Wall: Upper Right Corner
August 19th, 2007
~Rob M.
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"Speculating Masonry: All Eyes On Egipt"


May 27th, 2007
~Rob M.

Auburn Avenue is one of the more vital currents flowing through the City Too Busy to Hate: An open air mueseum, one that provides an architectural record of the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. It is also one of the few places in the United States where you can actually feel the history floating in the air around you. Usually you can pick up this 'feeling' all over Europe, where the Past is more than just an expensive shopping district where tourists window shop for fragile relics and crumbling documents, but rather acts as a palpable ghost, whose echos can be sculpted intuitively into an individually unique understanding. Auburn has this Ghost.

One of the often overlooked attractions here in the heart of the King Legacy, is the Prince Hall Grand Lodge as well as the integral role played by the African-American Children of the Widow throughout the South. I found this shop while cruising down Jackson Street. Sitting across from the MLK Historic Site's winding park, a pair of Eye of Horus's stare unblinkingly out across Auburn at the prestigious Ebenezer Baptist Church. Here we have a wonderful juxtaposition of symbols and frozen rituals. A crossroads of initiations, ceremonies, baptisms and burials. Where one can kneel before the great mysteries or cross the street and pursue them through library forests of estoric academia.

Hard to believe that only three blocks down towards the shores of the skyline, that Auburn becomes a ghetto no mans land. Perhaps it's because temples, lodges and churches have always thrived in the human heart of raw desperation.
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Room 13
May 27th, 2007
~Rob M

Through my photographic travels across Atlanta i've come to the opinion that what i'm doing isn't so much art as it is a variation on the act of butterfly collecting. The indulgence of an archaelogical (rather than a merely bureaucratic) instinct, that compels me to preserve and record the changing urban landscape of what i've come to call 'The Dead Places'. Forgive the floweriness of the term (in truth i've always wanted to create my own 'Phantom Zone') but I also do so to designate the series of ruins spread throughout our city; the minature ghost towns, squat houses, gutted out office complexes and the abandoned factories that are tucked throughout the varying neighborhoods here. What fascinates me about the "dead places' is that they are areas existing not only after a set of failed social-econmic strategies (housing projects, ghettos) but also exist simultaneously before the beginning of another set (urban renewal, gentrification). Areas in short that are in a 'state of play' (for the Derridarwinain inclined) between abandonment and progress. Being both while at the same time being neither it develops it's own je na sais quoi - offering a kind of poetry of decay and a gallery for aesthetic vandalism but not a permanent one - for soon it will be gutted out, made into lofts, coffee shops and parking lots.

Hence butterfly collecting. I know it's only a myth that the butterfly lives but one day, but it is my contention that one of the defining qualities of beauty is not just in it's manifestation but in the brevity of it's existence.

Anyway... just a thought.
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The following text has been excerpted, with permission, from Dr. Thomas Michigan's new book, "Fortean Slip: The secret history of Ultraterrestial Terrorism in American history, folklore and pop-culture", chapter 13: "In the shadow of the Grimace"

"... so for now dear reader, we must turn our attention away from Los Angeles and it's proliferation of shaved Yeti's in the workplace, to focus on the more serious threat of the "Celebrity Ultraterrestial". These creatures have somehow managed to escape the notoriety associated with the more common Lake Serpent, Mothman or Were-Hillbilly to not only survive in the public eye but to actually thrive in the media saturated enviornment of the 21st century. These beings include, but are not limited to: The Talking Gecko of London, the Cro-Magnon Yuppy, The Pancake Syrup Golem and of course the dreaded Math Vampire of PBS (See... see what you fools have done by pledging your hard earned money to liberal television? You've allowed our children to learn basic arithmetic from an undying monster!!!)

But none of these corporate culture friendly creatures can compare with that most mysterious of beasts, the elusive and deadly North American Grimace! But just what is a "Grimace"? Read more... )
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"... we have met on the Square..."

"Mister Jubleum" had a smile full of frozen beetles and stood patiently outside the door to the now empty temple. The black suit he wore had seen better days, the white shirt had become nicotine yellow, the black silk tie hung unceremoniously untied and his maroon fez sat tilted on his head like a drunk slumped over at a bar. These were hard times to be an eternal assassin. Especially when you were doomed to murder the same son of bitch every century or so. Still his enthusiasm for the job never waned. He was after all a professional, in this and any other life. He hummed a song to himself that sounded vaguely like a giant meerkat being strangled to death. He jangled a set of keys in his pockets and waved at the roaming packs of angry children who passed him on their tricked out bicycles. Soon the doors would open and the latest mask of his perpetual would be revealed.

The window of concealed opportunity

Six Seals of the Forbidden Deal

June 12th, 2007
~Rob M
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"Psychic Astrology"

I call them the "Dead Places". The broken zones found throughout the city. Abandoned. Fenced in. Priaptic bolts that hang off kicked in doors. Boarded windows blind as eyelids sewn shut. The meat has been chewed from the walls revealing a skeleton network of pipes and joists. Bugs big as tumors crawl through the rubble. Prosperity's bastard given up to the dust.

Terminus is just one big Atlas of Dead Places!

Room with a View

We stand outside the husk of the burnt down house. Jacques, his lady friend and myself. The three of us light up cigarettes and weigh our options. An initial reconnassiance told us that this place belonged to a fortune teller. A "Reader & Advisor". The air stinks of scorched mold.

"Ha!" Jacques quacks with his fusion Belgian-Chicago accent. The two of us turn to him in mild curiosity. "What kind of psychic didn't see this coming, huh?" Relaxed laughter that deflates into sighs. I can feel it though. Not ghosts maybe but something got recorded here. A psychic imprint pressed suddenly into the landscape. Was it the fire or was it behind the fire?

Truth be told I don't know and I don't care. I'm just here to record it all before it turns into one more condo or stripmall. I slip into that thoughtless state I get when i'm just clicking shots away, treading absentmindedly over a creaking wooden floor ready to crack open beneath me. It's not the story of my life per se, but it certainly is one of them.

The Wreck Room
A few more )
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Scyring Puddle
February 25th, 2007
~Rob M.
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"Face Off"

Go down the stairs. Push back the nausea of piss puddles and the prim voice of common sense. Get to the bottom and look to the right. You'll be greeted by a gray face possessed with demonic rage, his profile splashing into a sequential set of images rendered in the hyperoglyphics of the graffiti alphabet. It tells a rather ageless story: Two warriors locked in hand to hand combat. They have been deconstructed into two indistinguishable golems of raw brute strength: Sharp angular physiques, minimalistic faces designated in black slashes, superheroes who have been stripped of costume in order to convey the singular identity established by action rather than appearance. The story is punctuated by little frames of close ups that branch off from the main images to establish the immediacy of a close up of a fist before impact or the surprised eye of a combatant.

Look Out!

The effect seems to lie somewhere between the aesthetics of the comic book and the ritualistic intent of the cave painting. Being both and neither it is something different, something raw and magickal. The academics would call art while the Law on the other hand would easily dismiss it as vandalism. But it is (to me at least and really who else can I speak for?), something much older, much more dangerous than either of those easily proffered designations.

Graffiti Golem

On the left hand side is what was once a subterranean Tae Kwon Doe gym. The walls are plexiglas windows decorated with poorly painted Chinese hexagrams. Press your vision past your reflection though and you'll see a wateland made up of shattered mounds of plaster of paris, vines of stripped wiring dangling down from the dark, wino campsites of overturned buckets, emptied bottles of shit liquor and potato chip wrappers. According to a bleached flier taped to the inside of the door, the gym was abandoned when it was hit with a massive flood causing them to promptly relocate to some new locale.

All that's left now is this haunted dojo and the forgotten story it was buried with.
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Most of you might be familiar with the Kroger's Parking lot off Ponce De Leon because you've propably illegally parked there at least once or twice to avoid having to pay at the Masquerade. In fact right before any given show there you will see swarms of brooding tweenagers pouring out of the rear parking lot on North Avenue, stomp trickling down the sharp slope of hill, shouting beligerently under the rail overpass, drifting obliviously across traffic to the ticket stand, all in their posh combat boots and meticulously coifed haircuts designed to denote their placement in the subcultural map of the 'Scene'. It's practically a rite of passage. In fact who doesn't at least know somebody who knew someone who stumbled back to that lot, a few hours and a few drinks later, only to discover that their car had been towed by the city and that they were now effectively trapped on foot at the edge of downtown Atlanta?

But there's something else over in that lot besides stoned kids learning to finger bang their way past third base. Something hidden and charged with a palpable energy. Look to the west towards City Hall East. See it? No? Go closer. Walk up to the old factory that's been converted into a series of resteraunts, emptied shops and a dialysis clinic. The one with a water tower sitting on the roof like an abandoned Space Module. Over on the right corner, (between a bar where the term "fuck up artist" is a viable pick up line and a surprisingly decent pizza place,Camilles), is a stairway that leads down to a narrow alleyway. Go down and you will find it...

Battle Valley!

Battle Valley Atlanta

Walk the Walk!
February 25th, 2007
~Rob M.
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Old School Gangsta Ghoul

"Get Away Clean"
February 10th, 2007
~Rob M.


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