Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

What It’s Like to Be A Christian Artist

I told myself I’d write about Waste Land, the incredible documentary my partner and I saw last night. However, I’ll hold off on that blog post, as it needs more reflection than I’m capable of now.

What does interest me is the band Danielson. Mostly because I just read Rick Moody’s thoughtful tribute/wrangling/personal symbiosis with the Christian band.

Here’s a sampling of the group’s eerie, completely entrancing music:

Here’s how Rick describes an extended “truly magnificent instrumental coda” from a song by Danielson called, (dubiously, at first glance), “Can We Camp at Your Feet”:

there is a beautiful overdubbed exhalation, by the vocal chorus, and this exhalation, the breath of God, I guess, recurs through the chord progression…and the song threatens to end three times, always with these exhalations, the breath of God, the thing worshipped brought near, away from the history of a religion, away from the religious controversies of the moment, away from the history of a religion, away from the religious controversies of the moment…

Now I’m not a faithful man. But I do view those with true faith with a kind of awe. Awe at their faith, but also in their security with doubt.

Daniel Danielson, lead singer and songwriter, performing in a tree costume.

Seems like Rick and the Danielson band live with both. It’s also clear that Rick’s affinity for the Danielson Famile (the band consists not only of songwriter and leader Daniel Danielson, but also siblings Rachel, Megan, David and Andrew on everything from vocals and percussion to flute, organ, and drums) lies not only in the hypnotic, Yo La Tengo-esque soundscape, but in the group’s unwavering devotion to a generous God, a difficult, larger-than-body spirituality. Rick was one of my mentors in grad school, and in this essay he again reminded me of his mastery, subtly structuring/moving the essay from a straightforward magazine feature to something that works as a subtle meditation on his own faith.

And the Danielson music he’s writing about is damn good.


Filed under: literature, music, religion, , , , , , , , , , , ,

A New York Streetscape via iPhone

I’ve blogged about artist Jorge Colombo in the past. He’s got a wonderful eye for the dynamism that is New York and uses his iPhone to sketch fast, evocative images of the city.

In this new video entitled “Traffic Light,” check out Colombo’s process as he sketches a typical streetscape at night. Small things–like the choice of painting in purple and blue hues first–intrigue the non-visual artist in me.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Filed under: art, technology, , , , , , , ,

Look Up: Objects of Beauty, Stylized Graffiti, Social Commentary

Above, an ingenious street artist whose iconic image is an arrow pointing towards the sky, has hit Los Angeles with his  art. The video above is a nice introduction to his work and influences (growing up in apartment buildings, saving money to go to Paris at 19), while the video below (titled “Movie Star Arrow Mobiles“) is less a tutorial and more an art object itself.

The artist’s new self-described project includes images of 100 Hollywood celebrities, dangling from electrical wires throughout the famous city:

Above flew to Los Angeles for 12 days and hung his new revised “Movie star arrow mobiles” in the heart of Hollywood giving Los Angeles a large dose of exactly what it obsesses about; movies and the actors that make the city of Los Angeles so uniquely scandalous.

Happening upon one of his mobiles, created from wood and stenciled with one or two-word directives, is a thing of beauty. Catching the shadows of these spinning art objects or watching people’s faces as they engage with the eponymous work is just as intoxicating.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Filed under: art, consumerism, culture, , , , , , , , , ,

Lorca and Dali, in Love and Art

So my partner and I have similar tastes in movies, but varying degrees of tolerance for actually staying awake. You guess who falls asleep more often.

Last night, we rented Little Ashes, a little indie film made a couple years ago about the romance between the great poet Federico Garcia Lorca and surrealist Salvador Dali. Who would have imagined the two artists had ever been involved–Lorca with his formal, classical poetry, and Dali with his idiosyncratic persona and, in his paintings, the wild pull toward the subconscious?

Beltran and Pattinson in "Little Ashes"; a photograph of Dali and Lorca

What strikes me after watching Little Ashes (I barely managed to stay awake, my eyelids drooping about three-quarters of the way through, when Robert Pattinson–who plays Dali–has found success in Paris and attempts to recapture their adolescent love) is the intensity and believability of the young actors. Pattinson, of course, can’t be watched without the context of his fame in the Twilight films; the handsome actor Javier Beltran, who plays Federico Garcia Lorca, draws us in with the way he silently adores Pattinson from across a white linen table or beside him in a study lounge where Dali sketches his forms.

A still from the shocking, iconic opening of Bunuel's "Un Chien Andalou"

There’s yet another young actor in the film, Matthew McNulty, who completes the trio of Spanish powerhouses. McNulty portrays Luis Bunuel, a kind of counterpoint to the couple, and a catalyst in the old trope of “boy-meets-boy, boy-loses-boy, boy-finds-boy-again” (or does he?). As with the other young actors, McNulty seems self-assured in his role as the iconic filmmaker whose image of a knife across the surface of an eye still makes me gasp.

Great little film. Reminded me of Total Eclipse, and the similar tale of a young actor named Leonardo DiCaprio who was interested in playing quality roles like Rimbaud yet falling into the trappings of fame for his work in Titanic. Hopefully, Pattinson will find a way to balance the indie films, the interesting curio boxes, with the obvious, yet vacuous, rewards of Hollywood blockbusters.


Filed under: art, film, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Haitian Artist’s Resilience

Sculptor Andre Eugene is profiled in a piece for NPR. Despite the recent earthquake, Eugene finds that the natural disaster has provided inspiration rather than desperation for himself, his art, and his native Haiti.

In this video, I was drawn not only to Eugene’s surreal sculptures (which remind me of an otherworldly village I once visited in Wisconsin, created by a genius artist named Dr. Evermor) but to the photography by David Gilkey. Gilkey allows shadow to contrast with light in these images of Eugene at home in Haiti.

The sculptor does not see tragedy in Haiti’s situation. “Look at my art and look at Haitians,” he told Gilkey in May. “Look at my art and look at resistance, look at resilience.”


Filed under: art, haiti, , , , , , ,



» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
March 2018
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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