Friday, April 02, 2010

Crossing the Kcymaerxthaere, Eames Demetrios' parallel universe


The American Airlines in-flight magazine has an extensive travel feature on the fictional[?] world created by geographer-at-large, steward of a design legacy, multi-media artist and all-around inspirational weirdo-supreme and great guy Eames Demetrios.

Crossing the Kcymaerxthaere
An excerpt:

Exploring the Kcymaerxthaere requires a hearty imagination because Demetrios’ fictional universe is based on the theory that we can change how we perceive our visual environment, or as Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” With a bit of mental flexing, these stories — accessible online, at individual physical sites, at Demetrios’ Kcymaerxthaere lectures and in two travel guides — are not just amusing but also interesting, with inventive characters like time-slipping Grwosts and seven-legged Gnaciens, deer-resembling creatures that have highly nutritious prime-numbered legs but poisonous (and ultimately deadly) nonprime ones. Similar to our linear world, the Kcymaerxthaere is separated into continent-like shapes called rezhns that are then divided into distrykts and gwomes, or nation-footprints. Each gwome has its own texture flag, a unique cultural symbol that Demetrios often displays at gallery shows. All of the Kcymaerxthaere’s plaques and stories relate in a larger context but not necessarily to all the others.

The son of sculptors Lucia Eames and Aristides Demetrios, Eames Demetrios was born and raised in San Francisco. At an early age he developed an interest in film (a passion shared with his grandfather Charles) and later, while volunteering at the city’s Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park, he became interested in biology. However, when Demetrios graduated from Harvard in 1984, it was with a BA in general studies — a “rare” degree, he says laughingly, received as a direct result of being thrown out of both the school’s film and biology departments. A year later, Demetrios moved to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking and has since made dozens of pictures, including The Giving, an award-winning black-and-white film about a computer programmer who reprograms ATMs to give back to the homeless. Today, Demetrios runs the monthly movie website and is director of the Eames Office, which celebrates and preserves his grandparents’ legacy. He resides in linear Greater Mar Vista, Calif., with his wife and two sons, but spends a quarter to a third of each year on the road, during which time he researches new Kcymaerxthaere sites, installs plaques and spreads the word of his fictional universe.

Once I learned about Demetrios’ Kcymaerxthaere project, it took me a few hours to realize that it would be nearly impossible to visit every point of intersection in the linear world. In addition to a truckload of time and travel funds, sturdy walking shoes and a rock-solid GPS system, I’d also need a scuba-diving license, since a plaque detailing the Unsoiling of Rockall lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, “about an hour’s steaming from Oban,” states my Kcymaerxthaere guidebook. In fact, not even Demetrios has visited every point of -intersection, instead opting to study photographs and satellite images for possible installation sites. “It’s sort of deliberate,” he says, “so I’m not just telling stories that bounce off local history.” He’s also careful not to assign physical depictions to his characters and cultures; instead, he allows imagination free rein — one reason the Kcymaerxthaere especially resonates with children.

Previously on Burnlab: alternate realities, mythology of the Eamespunk meme and more

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