Before the pandemic when I used to travel almost weekly, I started various practices to keep me less lonely on the road. One of them that I’ve talked about in the past was my daily album painting practice, where I’d listen to a different album a day and paint during the process. I did this from January 2018 until April 2020 or so. But I also had other practices often inspired from artists I read about in Mason Currey’s “Daily Rituals” books. One of these practices was reading design books about inspiration. You know the ones that lurk at registers of art museums and gift shops around the world. Also at places like Urban Outfitters. Half zine like, half self help, they have titles like, “Steal Like An Artist!” or “Fuck Art School, Just Do It!” In cramped window seats of coach flights around the world, I’d devour these books like snack size pretzels, marking up phrases with whatever writing utensil I had on me, usually a mini golf pencil snagged from some airport along the way. No one ever asked me what the books were about and I never spoke about them directly, but they filled me up when I was feeling empty and reinforced my discipline when I felt my daily practice could slip.
Another practice I nurtured was making short videos using Generate. These were early NFTs before the term really existed, short loops of ambient footage I took from planes, hotel rooms, pools and often beaches. Travel postcards remixed. I’ve enjoyed being a superuser of the app for several years now and I spent many hours filled with awe and wonder crafting short snippets of footage I captured.
I was thinking about these videos today after a week of isolation going to the drive through car wash. In the late 00s, I had this creative project around these stuffed animals I bought on Etsy. In retrospect, like most of my ideas, the project was DIY, about using basic objects to tell complex stories. The world of Chickenpants was about sheer character imagination and how through consistency and duration you can create a world that is unique and memorable. At the time I really just wanted to be a children’s travel writer but I didn’t really know how to, so I just did it.
My main character, Lola was a small dirty chicken who wore pink pants that like me was obsessed with dance music, tacos, travel and some of the weird things that make LA LA like the drive through car wash. During a period of time where I lived alone, had no pets and was in a long distance relationship, my character was like an AI friend, constantly present to engage and give commentary. She was not alone in her universe. She had a little brother and lots of cousins, all who lived with various friends of mine around the world. They used social media, mostly Twitter, then Instagram. Lola had many strange passions, but one of them was the car wash and I shot a number of videos of her and Seymour inside them.
I hadn’t been to the drive through car wash in a long time but I was bored after being isolated for the past week having contracted COVID and having tested negative I thought what could I do to get me out of the house and be entertained? So I went. And had 2 minutes of Lola Chickenpants joy. And of course I shot some Generates.