Kelly and I arrived in Los Angeles, two alien beings from New York with only a few days to explore car culture, eat in Korea Town as much as possible, thrift store hunt everywhere, and (unintentionally) make a special trip to the tow lot to pick up our sad little rental we’d left in 4pm traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. Lucky for us, we had the guidance of two L.A. natives to show us another angle of the city.
I met Pamela Clare Wylie Samuelson and Adam Yasmin through friends of friends at Burning Man’s Cargo Cult 2013. Like true “visitors from elsewhere” Pam and Adam’s presence rang the bells of other worldliness. “Their cargo was splendid, their generosity boundless, and their motives beyond my understanding.” These artsy powerhouses needed a Seen & Herd feature all their own! Pam, the subject, an aerialist, carpenter, body worker, and all around community marvel. Adam, the photographer, a soft spoken and dreamy thinker who crafts kaleidoscopic geometric visions of reality.
On a weird cold windy day, they brought Kelly and I through uncharted L.A. driveways to the look outs of Laurel Canyon. With Pam swan-like in a KHH | Kelly Horrigan Handmade dress made of recycled umbrellas, molded leather and feathers, Adam captured some photos on his phone.
We flew home, back to our familiar landscape. Adam went to work in his digital realm. When the images emerged, our out of body exchange was revealed. The skyline, the ocean in the distance, the bitter wind all vibrant, visible frequency. This is the story of a way through, of the light and sound of a city moving us with them into other dimensions.
Seen & Herd: How did you become interested in unearthing Portals?
Adam Yasmin: You are what you eat, especially in regard to ideas and information. After a lifetime of being a sci-fi nerd and developing my sense of design, I finally discovered that my iPhone has the ability to be used as a digital canvas for the creation of visual art. I started experimenting with manipulating my photos around December 2012 and have maintained a balance of exploration and lucidity throughout all works.
SNH: Most of your art is movement based, when do you get to sit still?
Pamela Clare Wylie Samuelson: I try to cultivate a good balance of the lightning & hummingbird feelings, which I hugely enjoy, and mountain feeling, which I find absolutely vital for sanity and health on every level. I’m the sort of person who won’t relax and fully experience myself without a good measure of solitude on a regular basis. I’ve practiced a mostly Buddhist technology of internal exploration for a long time and I spend a lot of time playing with spontaneous micro-movement in the body as a dancer. Also, as a body-worker I developed stillness to begin to perceive clearly. I’m also a voracious reader. So there is quite a lot of appreciative sitting still. And I make music, mostly with my voice, which is usually an ass-in-chair situation.
SNH: Have the two of you collaborated before?
Adam: I played bass with Pamela at the release show of her jazz standards album, The Diamond Age, in 2012.
Pam: We also performed together in Center Camp at Burning Man this past year – Adam was layering sound from the Biophilia app and a Tanpura app with live percussion onstage. I was improvising on the silks and there was a tower in the way so that we couldn’t see each other at all. I was mostly following the flow of what he was playing. We had no idea what the hell we were doing. That was fun. We do play music together at the breakfast table. And we’ve held tea ceremonies together, which is lovely.
SNH: You don’t usually have a human form in your designs, what were some of the challenges crafting these images?
Adam: My work is conceptual, inquisitive, and introspective… like an inner portrait of a diverse landscape. I approached this project with a different mentality than anything I had previously done, which was refreshing from it’s initial inception. I wanted to augment what we were doing, tastefully, without losing context… keeping Pamela as the subject intact, and having her dress and persona in focus. What emerged were images that created their own myth and narrative.
SNH: Tell us about Crystal Camp!
Pam: Yay! Crystal Camp is a magical arts academy for a mixed-age group of kids that I founded with a dear friend 6 years ago and co-captain with her every summer in L.A. It’s a sort of real-world Southern California version of Hogwarts, and is pretty much exactly what we wished for when we were kids. The curriculum every year is comprised of old & new energetics techniques from all over the world, intuitive training, making messy art & artful messes, creating and learning how to work with magical tools and artifacts, getting schooled in traditional plant and mineral medicine, and a lot of freely goofing off. We talk a lot about reality-artistry and super-heroism, defining for ourselves what’s required of each of us and of the community to really bring the world we imagine and our best selves into being. It’s a fun opportunity every year to create the conditions for self-design and self-direction, which I think are A-1 essential skills in this wild constantly-new world.
The staff are a bunch of geniuses, all very different people with hugely varying areas of expertise, one and all firmly committed to fostering respectful, honest, non-authoritarian relationships with the kids. We invoke a very intense trust in each other, and then every person present feels compelled to be worthy of that, and quite incredible things happen as a result. It ends up wreaking a great kind of transformative havoc for many of the kids and many of the adults as well – it’s become the norm that the first-time staff members and parents are frequently more deeply affected by the experience than the kids are. Which is so cool. We like that we’re contributing to a culture of kindness.
SNH: Tell us about Little Galaxies!
Adam: Once upon a time I played bass in a band called Animatronics. It was a psychedelic math rock outfit that thrived for 2 years and we released an EP in 2007. Years later, Amir, guitarist of Animatronics and friend, asked me to play bass for his new band, Little Galaxies. We recorded our debut album, Patterns, last summer and released it this past November. It features my art on the cover and throughout.
SNH: You’ve both spent most of your lives living in Los Angeles, share your top five places to escape.
Adam: Escape within L.A.? In no particular order: The Museum of Jurassic Technology, The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Wi Spa, 2841 Sunset Blvd, and Topanga Canyon.
Pam: Friends’ houses in the canyons, Ojai, Idyllwild, The Integratron and the surrounding desert, and the beach at night. And I must second the MJT, which is the crown jewel of Los Angeles.
SNH: Give us a vision for one huge paradigm shift you’d like to see in your lifetime.
Adam: Efficient public transportation for the city of angels.
Pam: Amen to THAT. I think I’d most love to see human beings en masse actually experiencing ourselves as part of an immense continuum of family-forms. I think many of us get that cognitively but only experience it directly in brief flashes. The end of isolation & subsequent loneliness. I feel like that might solve most other obstacles.
SNH: Describe your favorite day in ten words
Adam: Love. cuddle. sound. sit. tea. sun. breeze. laugh. art. nourishment.
Pam: Love. exploration. warmth. wilderness. laughter. friendship. spontaneous genius. nakedness. home.
SNH: What song is stuck in your head right now?
Adam: Squarepusher ‘4001′
Pam: The Wood Brothers ‘Sing About It’
SNH: Where do the portals take you? Or, where do you wish they could take you?
Adam: I’ve rarely considered what’s beyond the portal…I believe my infatuation lies within the overall structures themselves, how I perceive their beauty, and focusing solely on the implied notion of movement.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving” – Lao Tzu
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