Sky Is The Limit – A Dream Ride Salar de Uyuni

When I was a kid, I remember looking through a plane window and wishing so strongly that I could just go and run in those puffy clouds. The idea seemed very feasible. Well, it never happened, and I got used to the thought that sky was the limit, which meant that there was no way on earth to reach to the sky. Yet nature astonished me again. There was a 6,500 miles stretch of salt flats in Bolivia called Salar de Uyuni.

Sky Is The Limit
Painting – Acrylic on Canvas

Few times a year during the rainy season, small amounts of water flood the plain, making it the world’s most perfect mirror. In fact, so perfect that NASA uses its surface to calibrate satellite orbits.

Chasing the Pink
Painting – Acrylic on Canvas

Looking through endless photos, where this amazing natural phenomenon made it appear like people were floating effortlessly in between the clouds, made me remember my childhood airplane dreaming. But also, it reminded me of that feeling on the bicycle, when you are going for a long ride and completely zone out at some point. It seems, sometimes, that the surrounding scenery blends altogether and all you see is the sky and a road that disappears in a skyline.

Yaroslav Popovytch in the Pink Desert
Painting – Acrylic on Canvas

Then, I imagined a dream ride in Salar de Uyuni. The whole peloton that only knows one way: straight ahead. The concept of a dream, that became an obsessive idea, over which one loses sleep, visually combined road cycling and the Bolivian salt flat phenomenon in my head.

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I created a series of paintings that depicted that imaginary race. To sum up the project, I am currently planning to go to Bolivia to cross the desert on my road bike and film the experience. The idea is to prove that even the sky is no limit. I will also do a live painting session in Salar de Uyuni and make a final presentation with an artist talk and discussion back in the US.

To see more art check out my Portfolio and follow me on Instagram: @Createdbymasha!

Cheers!

Masha

The Music That Shapes You

         Moment by moment our life floats with a current and we are the brave sailors cruising it. Marcel Proust said: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”. It goes along with being conscious of a moment and feeling every second of your life. Music adds an extra dimension to it. It thickens the air around us, filling it with a sound that resonates with every our cell.

In fact, multiple studies show how music, that is physically a number of sound waves reacts with water, troubling it in a certain way that causes the water molecules to change its shape for the moment. Microscopic videos depict the crystal structure of water to actually rebuild when exposed to sound. In fact, I found the German wine manufacturer that creates a special kind of wine – exposed to classical music. He claims that it changes it making it have a better influence on those who drink it. Like better kind of karma. I’d drink it haha. As we all learned in school – 90% of our bodies consists of water. Hense music must literally resonate with us as well. As a result, music influences human behavior and Spotify claims to its add providers that music helps to sell too. Here is the whole book on that, in case you wondered.

As Spotify promotes it – there is a sound for every occasion. I am an artist. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks on youtube when I paint. It is very entertaining especially in the last stages of the art process, as it is mostly working on details, that doesn’t involve too much of thinking activity. It still takes a lot of time, so audiobooks fit perfectly. I did a great deal of high school program catch up like that. Also, I discovered plenty interesting lectures podcasts. As another option – I use this time to be listening news or podcasts to practice my German listening skills. But that involves a fair amount of focus. Got to be careful with it.

At other times, when I am just in the beginning stage of a painting, I try to pick music accordingly with the mood that I am trying to recreate in a painting. Music on a background works similarly to a director in the middle of a filming process. An actor has to persuade a viewer that he really feels the emotions, he is depicting. A director has to educate an actor about these emotions. In the way, he temporarily uploads the leading to the current events history and psychological background to the actor’s consciousness.

Modern practices involve a lot of getting into a role preparation. There were multiple articles discussing Leonardo Dicaprio’s preparation to a shooting of the movie ‘Reverent’. They talked about his physical sacrifices to a hyper-naturalistic style of ‘Reverent’. The same stories surrounded Jared Leto’s approach to a Joker role in the new Bateman movie – ‘Suicide Squad’. The speculations in The Atlantic magazine were that this is the death of Hollywood. In the way that it is more so a ‘behind-the-scenes reality show’ that aims at creating promotional drama and coverage, rather than an artistic process.

In reality, this method of getting into the role was invented by the Russian theater director Stanislavski. He revolutionized the classical romantic acting style, turning it into brutally naturalistic. The ‘Stanislavski System’ changed the drama theater forever but it isn’t by any means a contemporary actor’s ‘knowhow’ drawn to gain popularity. It’s nothing more than a style of acting which may be or may be not preferred by a director.

 

The same thing with painting. With establishing of my artistic style, I have been experimenting with different techniques and genres. That included naturalism, impressionism, photorealism, installations, painting, filming etc. At some point, I had to prepare for an art show that would include 10 of my pieces depicting gigantic candies. So I chose Leonardo’s approach – I stocked my fridge with all sorts of sweets I was painting. Doesn’t help as much, I want to say. Music does, though.

I have no preference for styles – I choose to lose myself in a current moment. Yesterday I worked on the new piece. It is about this freezing snowstorm. Three men are trying to push their friend’s car out of the snow. Windows in the nearby houses are all tight shut. Not a single soul at this ungodly time. But right behind the men, there is a cycling peloton, racing through the snow towards the grand win. There is nothing that can possibly stop them. Because bicycles never get stuck, – cars do. You can read a bit more about my winter adventures as a cyclist in the hilly city of Kyiv (Ukraine) here. These memories inspired me to make a painting on this topic today. I really wanted the viewer to feel that vacuum that you find yourself in at this kind of storm. There are no distinct sounds, you almost can’t breathe, as it makes you feel like you freeze from inside, doing it. But you keep going as there are that finish line and a coziness of electric lights and a hot drink.

evening-painting-in-progress

Music that filled my painting process yesterday was from the Under Zauber podcast on Radio Aristocrats. It is a Ukrainian radio. But don’t get scared of foreign language talk – the most of the podcast is pure atmospheric music.

In Search Of The Earnings

“I need one more dollar.” Says a seven-year old boy.

“How much?” Asks him his grandmother.

“Just one more dollar.”

“Do you know what you have to give, in return?” Grandmother asks, then approaches her chick to the boy. He hesitates, bashfully.

“How much do you want it [a dollar]?”

The kid quickly gives a kiss and runs away holding the earned money towards the Italian Ice truck.

Rome was the Wall Street of the II century BC.

Socialists continuously blamed capitalism for the entrepreneurial approach to life, and materialistic morality of the capitalists. However, regardless of the forms of payment and chosen priorities, everything has its price. This statement has been so often argued. Since the I millennium BC the exchange relationships have been turned into the trade, with the invention of money. International trade practices lead to the establishment of the banking system. Rome was the Wall Street of the II century BC with its silver coins, that were quickly overpowering all the other Mediterranean currencies. In fact, accessibility via trade paths became a “match point” of a country’s prosperity. Between now and then, the only difference in the trade relationships is its ethics. With the progression of the mankind, the society has definitely gained humanity. One is no longer owned by another person (like during the slavery times). One is no longer obliged to work, and can not be imprisoned for the refusal to find a job (like in the USSR society).

However, we ended up in the prison of our own expectations and indulgences, attached to the socially globalized systems. The world’s progress is undoubtedly drastic. Especially with the contemporary physics, technology, and anatomical studies. It’s absolutely beautiful. Yet, while one is expecting the soon-to-be-delivered lab-grown, 3D-printed knee for the more and more affordable high-end surgery; another one is still struggling to provide food for the family. Juggling between the casual employment and hustling locally. Many decide to go abroad in search of the earnings.

Such worker doesn’t demand the medical insurance or legal rights; is not a burden for the local taxpayers, and accepts the wage, that none of the local citizens would willingly work for.

The two legal options are: immigration and temporary working (contractor’s) visas. Now, there is a vast difference not only for the person applying for the change of status (or visa), but also for the hosting country. In the first case, in addition to the extra competition, created on the job market and taken advantage of the social benefits, the country also gains a new citizen, that is seeking to assimilate, pay taxes, spend money on the local economy and hopefully contribute to the country’s prosperity. In the second case, the strict immigration policy in the majority of the developed countries, however, forces the people, seeking the earnings internationally, to apply for a temporary worker visa (or in many cases, when the legal process is still not accomplishable, due to the fees and background checking, – to try to cross the border illegally, risking their lives). A legal temporary worker is very welcomed both by the corporations and the government. Such worker doesn’t demand the medical insurance or legal rights; is not a burden for the local taxpayers, and accepts the wage, that none of the local citizens would willingly work for. On the contrary side, these allows the manufacturers to keep the minimum workers’ wage so low, due to the demand on it from the out-of-state workers. As a result, it takes the jobs from the potential local workers. Certainly, this is arguable in terms of the free market economy.

The International Relations Minister of Poland stated, that, according to the National Bank of Poland, Ukrainians sent a total of 5 billion Euros of their earnings from Poland back to their families in Ukraine in 2015.

In addition to this, the temporary workers create the huge cash outflow. After paying the lodging (which is usually very low, due to the sharing practices, where up to six people live in one room) and transportation expenses, the majority of the earnings is an immigrant remittance. One would be surprised by the dedication of such workers. Committed to providing for their children’s food and education, or saving money to start their own business back at home, the temporary workers would work from dusk till dawn, seven days a week, and won’t spend an extra cent on their own needs. These includes Latin American workers in the US and Eastern European (including my home-country Ukraine) workers in the both EU and US. The International Relations Minister of Poland stated, that, according to the National Bank of Poland, Ukrainians sent a total of 5 billion Euros of their earnings from Poland back to their families in Ukraine in 2015. According to the Pew Research Center survey: immigrants to Canada (mostly temporary foreign workers) send billion dollars per capita in remittances out of Canada. The top countries receiving Canadian remittances are: China (which receives $3.9 billion), India ($3.5 billion) and the Philippines ($2 billion). An estimated 582 billion U.S. dollars was sent by the contractors of the foreign origin from the USA to relatives in their home countries in 2015 (according to the Pew Research Center).

These contractors will choose the outrageous working conditions and separation from their families over the unemployment in their home countries. As long as the inflow of the foreign workers is legally processed (or at least looks legally enough), this system seems to satisfy the corporations and hence gets out of the hosting country’s governmental control. The point is, it keeps the production costs low, and selling prices competitive. Objectively, though, these kind of contract jobs are no different from the feudalism in the Middle Ages. The ultimate argument is: “They have an option to stay in the countries of their origin. Consider the pre-unions times in the industrial USA. Or the post war UK. Workers including children had to work on the factories and in the coal mines with no regulated work hours, or wages. And while at that time it was a rather necessity, due to the economical post war crisis; in the contemporary world it seems to simply be the toll to the global competition.

Luckily for my generation, they are a lot better equipped.

While on one hand, there are rapidly increasing board closures (including Brexit; and the promises to build the wall on the South, between the US and Mexico, of the currently running for the US presidency, candidate Donald Trump), on the other hand, I run over more and more friends, who are already abroad or considering to be there soon. All seeking the earnings and simply better opportunities. Luckily for my generation, they are a lot better equipped. They are young, know foreign languages, are proficient in modern technologies. Even though they might consider themselves the global citizens, in the end of the day it means you have no home. Foreigner both abroad and in your country of origin. Most of them look happy regardless. They say, as long as you know, what do you want. But when do you, truly?

All The Choices You Gave Up

Choose the print on your T-shirt. Choose your smoothie ingredients. Choose raw food and a favorite yoga pose. Choose virtual reality. Choose a beech and a smoke. Choose occupation and your future kid’s name. We might be the sum of our decisions. We might decide to wake up to the alarm and to drink the dark roasted coffee. Just as someone might decide to say that the more burned the beans are – the stronger a drink. One might choose to think they are uneducable, whereas others are special enough to rule over. How do you make those decisions? And why would you do a thing like that?

 

Sigmund Freud and all of his followers defined the guiding forces of our decisiveness as the basic instincts. Freud said, that all our actions are reasoned subconsciously by the childhood experiences. To control that, we should have all been lead as kids to our personal stalls, according to Freud’s daughter, Anna. She believed, that if one tought a young person to oppress desires and antisocial behaviour, it would help the person to fit into the social model, and thus would create a better and more righteous world.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

Fight For The Pink

Jean-Paul Sartre was an inspired follower of Hegel. He was very opinionated on freedom. His ideas suggested that we are constantly free. Even in jail a man is only restrained, when he decides to escape. No matter how blinded or scared we are, we are responsible for all our choices.

“The prisoner is free because he controls his reaction to imprisonment: he may resist or acquiesce. Since there are no objective barriers to the will, the prison bars restrain me only if I form the will to escape. In a similar example, Sartre notes that a mountain is only a barrier if the individual wants to get on the other side but cannot” (Being and Nothingness, p. 628).

Giant Douche or a Turd Sandwich

In South Park season 8 episode 8 (that aired on October 27, 2004 just before the United States presidential election) they satirise the act of choice in general. There is a big vote happening at the South Park Elementary. The school has to choose the new mascot. The candidates are a “giant douche” and a “turd sandwich”. Stan rejects to vote. He believes there is no point. But the community explained Stan, that he should worship the gained by blood right to choose. The credits are played to take off of the Rock the Vote theme, reworded:

Let’s get out and vote!

Let’s make our voices Heard.

We’ve been given the right to choose,

Between a douche and a turd.

It’s democracy in action!

Put your freedom to the test.

A big fat turd or a stupid douche,

What do you like better?

ART UNDER FIRE - FILM SHOT

Yet here we are: sitting in the offices and complaining about too much work. We are sitting at home and in the bars, and complaining about being unemployed. When we are occasionally asked, why we never quit or find a job, we get protective, we hide behind the reasons. The answer is: we prefer to dig ourselves into the comfort of delegating the responsibility to the outside obstacles. We say: “It is not up to me”, “The circumstances don’t let me”, “I am afraid to disappoint”, “I have other responsibilities”, “We must treasure what we already have”. A kid always knows the consequences, kid’s are not stupid. Yet, he will have no second thoughts. The priority is here and now, and so he acts. Even if it is a bit scary, they will learn and move forward.

In Oresteia (trilogy of Greek tragedies by Aeschylus) Orestes has to avenge his father’s murder. He appears in a situation, where he will be cursed if doesn’t kill his mother (who murdered his father), because ancient law mandates that blood must be paid for with blood. He will be also cursed if he avenges, because his act of kill in turn requires more blood in order to be cleansed. And he will be double cursed if he hesitates. It ends up on a happy note as gods break the cycle and don’t punish him for the committed crime.

 

As to me, I am no better – I avoid responsibility a lot. I rely on circumstances and find excuses. But I am trying to be sincere when making a choice. If it feels right, than it is right. I curved it into my forearm to remind me, if I ever forgot.