John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Hundreds of wheat-pastes tell the weird tale of a man and his magical, pointy stick.
Adam Brock Ciresi is man with a big bucket of patience. Not a lot people, after all, would spend eight months wallpapering their city to create a single work of video art.
Ciresi humped around Portland, Oregon, wheat-paste applicator in hand, repeatedly gluing a sad-sack figure onto graffiti-scribbled walls. He photographed the individual artworks and then joined them together to make this flip book-style animation. The story arc of "Protosapien" begins simply: A cartoonlike protagonist wearing rolled-up jeans and no shirt (he apparently just walked out of eight grade) finds a pointy stick on the ground. He picks it up. At one point he sits on a stump.
Okay, this isn't really selling it. But there are a couple of final-chapter developments that tilt the tone of the film toward the wonderfully surreal. Suffice to say that this so-called "self portrait" is a music video (the artist also composed the soundtrack) in both senses of the phrase.
Ciresi isn't a stranger to experimental street art. Last year, he painted this disturbing mural, all skulls and dark prophecies, with the help of an 11-year-old girl. It's called "Stillborn":
(H/t to Wooster Collective)