Archive for media

Recommended Films: Skins, Children of Heaven, Quinceañera

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to participate in the San Diego Reader‘s “Seen on DVD” section. Every week, they (meaning Beth Accomando) curate a group of people and ask them to recommend films out on DVD.

Here are the films I suggested:

Skins — Set on a Native-American reservation in South Dakota, the local Sioux police officer oversteps his official capacity and turns vigilante to try and solve problems in the community. His drunken brother mistakenly gets hurt as the officer burns down a liquor store.

Children of Heaven (Bacheha-Ye aseman) — An Iranian boy accidentally loses his sister’s only pair of shoes. The two share one pair, trading behind their parents’ back so both can continue to go to school. A foot-race competition offers hope — a pair of shoes for third prize.

Quinceañera — The pastor’s daughter finds herself pregnant, living with a great-uncle and gay cousin just months before her 15th birthday. The heart of each film is filled with strong family bonds that overcome the darkest tunnels.

I picked these three because they all deal with the family relationships. Of the three, Children of Heaven is the best film (in all senses), but the other two give glimpses of American life that don’t tend to be thought of as mainstream. If you haven’t seen them, obviously I’m recommending them. They’re not cinematic masterpieces, but worth watching based on cultural merits.

The Sound of a New Year in Tijuana

The night sky in one of Tijuana’s neighborhoods explodes with energy in the early hours of 2007. My nephews and I share in the improvised community pyrotechnics to welcome the new year. The spirit of celebration emanates all around us.

Photos Included in Exhibition in New Zealand

About nine months ago, Geoff Budd commented on a set of photos I have on Flickr called Shoe Dump, a collection of shoes hanging from powerlines:

Primo set Nathan! I’m a photographer based in New Zealand putting together an exhibition on the topic. If you’d like to have some of your images included please check my website & let me know…

A few months after submitting some photos, the project started coming to life. Here are a few images from Geoff as the collage was coming together.

Mosaic V1!
For the Santos Cafe ‘mini-exhib’ I’ve been producing the shots onto various thickness PVC blocks at 100mm square. With the limited wall space at this venue I am only able to produce a mosaic of around 50 images though the main exhib will feature the rest of the group. There’s been a few late nights as it’s quite labour intensive but it’s looking sweet!

Will update more pics as it progresses…

Thanks again for all your shots & stories!

Originally uploaded by sole intentions.

Mosaic V1 contd…
Originally uploaded by sole intentions.

Mosaic V1 contd…
Originally uploaded by sole intentions.

See if you can spot this one of mine nestled in there. It’s one of my personal favorites, and ranks as #4 for interestingness (800 views, 11 favorites, 6 comments) of my photos on Flickr (also see #1, #2, #3). It also is holding steady at around #235 on Flickr’s Explore for the most interesting photos uploaded on December 5, 2006 (see all photos of mine that made Explore pages)

Shoes On The Line #6

Read more about the exhibition and Geoff Budd in the article Exhibition with plenty of sole, check out the exhibition flyer (PDF), and if you’re near Auckland, New Zealand, the opening is this Tuesday Jan. 30 at Satellite Gallery from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Upgrades for 2006

I’ve been doing some digital housecleaning and I dug up a video from 2004 of me narrating my MFA thesis exhibition. It was online in the first iteration of but managed to get swept under the rug when rolling out WordPress last year. Bringing the video out of the closet got me thinking about how much online video has changed even in the last year and how poorly I’m taking advantage it.

So, I went ahead and uploaded everything to YouTube, Google Video, and added self-hosted Flash versions here on the site. I added copy/paste embed code to give bloggers as many options as I possibly can to make it portable (a huge improvement over the quad-option WindowsMedia / Quicktime / Hi / Low choices that launch a popup window). I also adjusted the wording on the links in the header, re-ordered the sidebar, and added Related Posts to the bottom of each blog entry.

While the updates aren’t revolutionary, it does feel like a milestone. The videos are out there, really out there, with searchable transcripts on Google and everything. I was always hesitant about giving the videos away to places like YouTube, but in the end, the value of visibility is worth more than the $0 status quo while it sits on the shelf. And if the videos start going nuts on YouTube and Google, both have there’s always the option to charge if that made sense further down the line.

Check out Color Studies for a version of me two years ago talking about my work.

The U.S. México border fence deconstructed

Academically, that is, not physically. Peter Skerry, political science professor at Boston College, studies social policy, racial and ethnic politics, and immigration. In the current edition of Foreign Policy magazine, he writes:

[ The border ] is a jerry-rigged example of American ingenuity that reflects not merely ambivalence about immigration but also the competing objectives and compromises characteristic of America’s decentralized and fragmented political system. Moreover, immigration control alone was never the driving force behind the building of the barriers. Instead, border-control policies have had to piggyback on other overriding national concerns. The result is a fence that is neither as draconian and militarized as critics claim, nor as effective as supporters would like. How Not to Build a Fence, Peter Skerry

In the article, Skerry compares the U.S. México border to other militarized borders, such as the former Berlin Wall and Israel’s West Bank. Up against extreme examples, this border appears rather meek. He comments on each section of the fence to detail how its design attempts to be as friendly as possible – no razor wire, short wall to avoid injuries, easy-to-climb horizontal ribbing.

Sections of the border -

While Skerry’s comparisons are convincing at first glance, they are subtly manipulative. If the U.S and México were actually at war, the fence does appear weak. But in the context of peace, the fence still stands out as a military division. He makes reference to border conflict between Spain and Morocco, but the most recent Spanish-occupied region ceded back to Morocco was in 1969, a much more active land dispute. He goes on to minimize the desert deaths by referring to them as “hundreds” rather than thousands, attributing it to “heat and exposure, not because of a fence that maims and kills.” While technically the fence isn’t attacking people, its existence redirects crossers into dangerous areas. A well-reasoned attempt at objectivity, but it seems Skerry is stretching to put perfume and makeup on a very ugly wall.

Unfortunately, you have to create a free login membership to read the article. The illustration has rollover commentary on each of the red dots. I think it’s worth 30 seconds and the extra clicks. You be the judge.

Unauthorized Migrants Are Easy Scapegoats

Immigration has always been a contentious issue for U.S. Americans (except, of course, for that initial immigration from Europe. That was a God-given right). Today, foreigners must be worthy of entering the golden gated community. We don’t want just any riffraff joining the club. We need to know where you’re coming from. European? No problem. Hang out and enjoy yourself. If you’re coming from the third-world, get in line. People from third-world countries can’t be trusted to enjoy the same liberties as those from the first world. Particularly the poor ones. They’re more likely to end up in prison, be uninsured, and dumb-down public education.

Why bother writing a post about immigration . . . Debates over immigration policy will never end. There is no real solution. Still, I can’t help thinking most people watch television news coverage – illegals here, illegals there – and it doesn’t sound like sarcasm to them. Besides, sarcasm lets us all take a big look in the mirror, sling a few insults, and laugh about it later.

So let’s look at the “immigration problem.” Too many immigrants fill the schools. Classes are overcrowded. The children who deserve an education get a diluted one because teachers are too busy translating. No, the real issue is a neglected public education system. Too many illegals use the emergency room. They use up all the resources us white-collar citizens deserve. No, the real issue is an underinsured working class.

The immigrants aren’t the real problem here. The underlying social systems are in desperate need of attention and reform. Just imagine what the hundreds of billions of dollars spent taking over Iraq could have done for education and healthcare (wait, stay focused — write the post about war later). Illegals are easy to blame because they don’t really have a voice. Their underclass status keeps them from standing up to defend themselves. People use the education and healthcare cost example to show how illegals are ruining society. But the real root is a society that isn’t taking care of its basic needs. The immigrants represent the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back.

Polls show that a majority of U.S. Americans don’t think it’s reasonable to deport everyone. And if they’re not deported, then reform will likely involve some sort of legalization, temporary worker program, and a healthy chunk of money thrown at sealing off the Mexican border. But, if we’re not deporting all the illegals, how will any reform assume to solve the “problem” with these people being here in the first place? Of course, it doesn’t. None of the proposals include anything about healthcare or education. And that’s exactly the point really. Blame a class of voiceless people for problems you don’t plan on solving.