Cloud Club Bloglogue
NAVIGATING SPIRIT

It’s a grey, drizzling day. Lee is upstairs laid out for a nap - not uncommon at this time of day, as he usually gets up sometime between 3 and 4am to write, build, create and/or process. For my part, I’m down in 8ft’s having just cleared off a bunch of non-Cloud Club related projects this morning and I’m psyched for a Big Fat SuperAwesome Sunday Brunch.

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BRUNCH!!!

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Which sucks for me, because today is Tuesday.

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Linear Earth Time and me don’t always see eye to eye.

This particular linear earthtime week has, however, been very productive for me and Lee, if not exceptionally “Creative”. I’ve been nose deep in html and xml tutorials - equal parts “Groan” and “Holy Shit. This is an entire, barely explored artistic medium unto itself” - and Lee has been diligently plowing through over 60,000 photos, labeling and organizing them for future use.

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This is an insanely daunting task, both by virtue of the volume of photos at hand, as well as Lee’s general disinterest in all things mundane (Read: Labeling and organizing 60,000 photos for future use). Despite either and both, he’s stayed virtually shackled to the computer, breaking only occasionally to scurry around in blasts of inspirado building a small pantheon of puppet-sort-of characters that will eventually add their own voices to the continuing adventure.

He has informally dubbed them “Pope-ettes”. I cannot tell you why.

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Suffice to say we have kicked ass and taken names this week. Give the boys a fckng psychic round of applause.

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YAY Pope & Lee!!!

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There’s an ongoing discussion between Lee and I concerning “process vs. product”. Not just in regards to the website, but as applied to creativity in general and in fact all aspects of life itself.

This is always a bit of a trick subject for me, as “Product” or to use a less socially tainted word “Existing Thing That Didn’t Exist Before I Made It Alone Or With Others” actually seems an inseparable part of my “Process”. With that, the entire “process not product” debate is a bit of a red haring. Its like debating cake vs icing. I mean can anyone seriously call something Cake if it doesn’t have Icing? Juss Saying.

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This subject invariably comes up when we’re faced with shlogging through mountains of Cloud Club “Product”. Certainly while researching other websites of other like-minded folks and artists, we do begin to see a pattern of people posting a lot of  ”Cool Shit” online. Which is, of course, very cool.

I love cool shit.

"There’s a window in the floor. Hey! That’s cool shit.”

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"There’s a tree to a geodesic dome. Hey! That’s cool shit.”

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"There’s a shower in the bathroom. Hey! That’s Cool Shit”.

Wait. What?

Well, maybe you haven’t seen this particular shower in this particular bathroom, but it seemed worth mentioning.

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And, really, no doubt there is plenty of cool shit throughout The Cloud Club that has been photographed repeatedly and can be easily posted.

Clearly though, Lee has little interest in creating a website that is essentially a catalog of “Cool Shit” he’s made, found, or captured through the years. God how easy that would only be - Just start randomly grabbing things and posting them folks, 9 out of 10 will be bizarre enough to warrant a tweet.

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I’m paraphrasing Lee when I say - What gets lost in translation here, and debatably of equal if not greater importance - is not whether something is “Cool” in and of itself, but the context in which the cool thing exists; The ideas and life view that were the impetus for its creation; The meaning that can be found, not simply within the individual object, but the meaning found in the act of actually “making”. What in Lee-speak, one would refer to as “The Spirit”.

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This spirit, Lee believes, is at great risk of being overrun by commercialism and the commodification of humanity - amongst many other things.

And quite frankly, on some days that’s hard to argue…

The challenge for us now, is to create a website that through virtue of the cool shit presented, something might… what’s the word I’m looking for… trigger or maybe awaken… that spirit. Not just in the pieces themselves, or as some sort of testament to Lee, his process or The Cloud Club - but within the person actually navigating the “Cool Shit” of the CC Website-To-Be.

You guys still with me?

Our thought is to create a navigational interface that will allow the participant to experience the site as a kind of Holistic Immersion. An immersion that might, in fact, embody that spirit. In the first step to this end, Lee has designed The Navisphere.

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The Navisphere is the longest running idea of the CC Website to date and we’re thinking of using it as the homepage and navigational tool of the site. This is still very much in the Idea Phase, with numerous drafts and versions still evolving.

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Navisphere Drafts

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The idea of the Navisphere is to have page-links at each intersection of beams. As you move the cursor over an interconnected point…

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… A graphic pops up, representing the media there… possibly a  text window too. (we swing between staying non-dialogue or not, sometimes thinking to give the option of either/or).

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Along with those links, additional links to related pages would emanate down each of the beams - like curving filmstrips - to the next Intersecting Point.

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These additional links would follow a yet-to-be-determined logic, that acts as a model for the evolution and interconnectedness of ideas in general. Which of course is a model for the evolution and interconnectedness of Us, that in turn might reflect the deeper meaning of art and humanity.

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I’m telling you, we’re not fckng around here.

Another day I’ll get into the 3D Animation - Spheres within Spheres Ad Infinitum concept.

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For all practical purposes though - god I can’t even type that word with a straight face… 

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PRACTICAL…

PRACTICAL?!?

… See? Just can’t do it.

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For our purposes here today, I’ll say that the Navisphere as it is currently imagined - sans 3D animation, still posses a most daunting task: To determine the so-called logical relations of the links in a way to embody meaning greater than the pieces themselves.

Now’s a good time to confess that I am predominantly a “Feeling” person, far more than a “Meaning” person. And by Feel I don’t mean feeling emotionally as much as I mean feeling Energetically. Or, at the risk of being misunderstood, Spiritually.

I mention this because it’s a rare day I actually look for meaning in anything: Films, paintings, statues, poems, songs… Truth be told, I don’t care what they mean. I care how they feel. Energetically and, at the risk of being misunderstood, spiritually.

I imagine that our attraction to “Cool Shit” is possibly an internal navigational device. That when we define something as “Cool” we might not be simply responding to the coolness of a single thing - a Product - unto itself as defined through commodification. That it might be this attraction is driven by some sort of energetic overtone inherent in all things.

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That said, I’m a bit more inclined to post everything in The Cloud Club I think is cool. Ultimately, the fact that I think it’s cool is the logic behind it. It is the internal navigational device of “Feel” - or possibly The Spirit itself - one that’s immutable, unstoppable and found in each and every one of us.

It may, in fact, be more of a “Getting out of the way” challenge for us - Trusting everyone to find their own meaning, their own Spirit, by virtue of their own internal navigation of Cool - that will ultimately serve the website best.

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Of course I’m talking about a species that somehow races to watch episodes of "Jersey Shore" on a weekly basis, sooooooooo… 

Jersey Shore ROCKS!!!

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It might be that Lee and I really do have our work cut out for us.

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The Adventure Continues

Michael Pope

"We Create Therefore We Are"

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The Ever Infamous Cloud Club Website

Like Many Ideas, the idea for this blog started simply enough.

E. Stephen stopped by The Cloud Club the other day to find me and Lee hammering away on the official Cloud Club Website.

For those of you that don’t know E. Stephen, he is awesome.

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So Awesome…

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He’s the curator of the Empire S.N.A.F.U. Restoration Project, a project so unique I won’t hazard a description, I will only urge you to check it out… At your own risk.

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Check Some of The Awesome Here

E. Stephen has been an on again off again fixture at the Cloud Club since Amanda moved in (circa 1999/2000).  His curatorial body of work has had a significant presence in our lives and many, many of the events and productions Amanda and I have worked on over the years.


He is considered by all of us to be an extended family member of the Cloud Club (poor bastard).

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We hung out for about an hour talking about various things: The nature of inspiration, the logistics of being an artist that must set things on fire and blow things up as a part of the creative process (Okay, truth be told I don’t know that E. Stephen HAS to set things on fire and blow things up, but he certainly appears to enjoy doing it), and we also talked about the continuing evolution of the Cloud Club Website.

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Knowing The Cloud Club as long as he has - eleven years and counting - E. Stephen knows the Cloud Club Website long ago joined the mythic pantheon shared by Big Foot, Los Chupacabras and UFOs.

Whispered rumors of its existence have grown steadily over the better part of a decade, unsubstantiated claims of Cloud Club Webpage sightings are commonly attributed to “A friend of a friend of a friend”, and it would be zero surprise to me if there was a blurry homemade video posted somewhere on YouTube of the Cloud Club Website glowing and hovering over the Prudential Center.

The truth to the myth is, however, that I’ve been coming up to Boston on a regular basis over the past four months to spearhead the creation and posting of that very same, ever-infamous, ever-elusive Website. It is a process that’s been equal parts inspiring, arduous, productive, sometimes frivolous and fantastically informative.

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When E. Stephen hears this, his reaction is one you give a friend having heard they bought a ticket to the north pole to work with Santa Claus: You admire the commitment but feel slightly obligated to point out that “Um… So, about this Santa thing… “.

The response is understandable.

First off - the amount of material to cull through is a result of Super Human (sometimes Inhuman) creative output. There is a lifetime of Lee’s personal art work which includes - but is not limited to - decades of painting, illustration, sculpture, furniture-making, photography, video verite, personal art journals, inventions, ideas and philosophies…

As well as architecture, by way of the actual Cloud Club itself.

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As well as another house he and his brother, Roark Barron, designed and built in Santa Fe…

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As well as The World’s Largest Wind Harp (as recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records 1984) - also designed and built by Lee and his brother…

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As well as rare and or out of print books on art, history, philosophy…

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As well as…

Breathe…

An endless array of “Things” and “Stuff’ found/salvaged/rescued from trash bins and dumpsters throughout time, arranged and incorporated throughout his personal world…

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As well as showcasing the work of house members and alumni and like-minded artists and artists of influence and outsider artists, to imbue the site with a kind of context that gives each body of work greater meaning than that of its individual self…

Well, I think you get the idea.

Secondly: E. Stephen knows that this project, of creating a Cloud Club Website, has broken the hearts and backs of numerous web designers before me. We sit chatting amongst their bones that very day, picking our teeth and stirring our tea with their long dropped Proximal Phalanges’

Oh. Also… Did I mention that neither Lee or I have any experience or skills in web design or construction?

Pope Works On The Cloud Club Web Page

Go figure.

Then, and I don’t recall why, really - Whether it was in response to this general air of disbelief or someone actually mentions the near impossibility of the task at hand - Lee grabs an armload of paper scrolls, cascading them across the floor, to reveal an ‘analog’ version of the Website as it currently stands.  (read: Printed out mock-ups of web pages taped together in twelve foot roles). This as proof of our proverbial pudding.

Here is a quintessential Cloud Club moment: That evidence of the imminent existence of a heretofore seemingly-unobtainable-intangible-plot-of-virtual-real-estate-designed-to-model-the-human-spirit-and-consciousness-within-the-continuum-of-existence is a stack of twelve foot rolls of paper printed out in fading black ink and held together by tape.

Yep. Welcome to The Cloud Club Baby.

It occurs to me that on any given day I actually "can’t say with certitude" that there ever will BE an Official Cloud Club Website. Our process has become so organic and the volume of material so vast, broad-ranging and interconnected, that it sometimes boggles the fckng mind.

It also occurs to me that, as with all projects I’m attracted to, the process is by far the most exciting part of the creation.

That night over dinner I suggest to Lee we blog this very process. An idea he takes to immediately, which I’m less than surprised by. If there was only room for one artist on earth to be The Unequivocal Process Over Product Artist in this world, Lee Barron would be that artist. Unequivocally.

So all of this is the long-short story in the way of announcing this blog. A Cloud Club blog documenting the process, conversations and collaborations between me and Lee and you guys and other like-minded artists and folks, towards the maybe-one-day-existence of the Official Cloud Club Website.

Oh… And when I woke up the next morning I was greeted by this facebook post from E. Stephen:

"Pope - You need to set up a website documenting the process of you and Lee making the new Cloud Club website. Noah can shoot 4x5 negs of Lee holding the print-out scroll of the planned website."


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It’s this kind of synchronicity - found throughout everything worth doing - that is proof enough for me. That not only is the Cloud Club Website possible. It is Probable.


"Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…"

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And for what its worth, my apologies E. Stephen. Noah is out sailing the seven seas, so this blurry iPad Pic will have to do for now.

The Adventure Continues 

Michael Pope

"We Create Therefore We Are"

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