Bienvenue. Welcome. Bienvenidos. Wilkommen.


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Welcome to The MTK Independent, a blog made to document much of the art and writing I produced until the age of 45.

For example, I shot all the video and images on this site – like the revolving photos in the headers of Asia, Europe and the Americas. To check out more of my photography – categorized by flora, fauna and landscapes – or to see collage and sketches from over the years, use the TABS in the menu up top.

There are also short stories, journal entries, essays, paintings, drawings and lots more here; stuff I did as a kid. You can use search terms like “conceptual art” or “short fiction.”

Or try the category cloud: click a category, like journalism or photography or fiction or short film and you’ll be taken to a comprehensive list of posts in that category in reverse chronological order from top down. Same applies to places: Oakland, NYC, SF, LA, Asia, to search by date, scroll the archives list in the sidebar which goes back 30+ years by month.

MTK, Oakland, December 31, 2012

A Couple of Post Script Videos

In 2014 I was interviewed about my process and this candid clip from the end of that interview sums up my desire to change direction.



[This is an ARCHIVE – a contemporary site’s here]





Beliefs: the anthropocene


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I believe I’m a species of animal born to my parents forty-five years ago in what we call Tamil Nadu. I believe our species, which we categorize homo sapiens sapiens, is very much like other animal species that share this organism, our planet – particularly those in our family, mammalia.

However, I also believe we’ve grown in a unique manner from all living things and we have been inventive.

We invented God.

We empowered ourselves above all living things with this great rationalization, and we alone became intelligent beyond our design.

We then spent the last hundred years dismantling our invention. Humankind is responsible for itself.

We began devoting our time to other inventions: sciences, maths, money, power and all manner of feats of engineering. We’ve launched satellites and a space station that gives us a permanent presence in space. We’ve explored the moon and sent robots to Venus and Mars. We have sent deep space probes so far away they are about to leave the heliosphere.

We’ve explored and mapped our planet in great detail. We have conquered many diseases that used to kill us and have now grown to a population of at least seven billion individual human beings. We understand statistics and our species enough to know we will make it to ten billion, unless we experience a cataclysmic event.

We are the only living thing capable of creating such an event.

I believe the era must be called the anthropocene. The Age of the Human.

It is important to do so because it implies a willingness to take responsibility. It makes our legacy as a species even more important because we are now the stewards of this world.

We connect by use of these machines instantaneously all over the world and can exchange ideas and thoughts with unprecedented speed, which implies the ability to make massive, global change in thinking toward similar goals possible. Corporate culture has dominated such mass media.

The Digital Generation is significantly different from human beings who came before them. I’ve written we ought to consider categorizing the digital generation as a new species of human being: homo sapiens digitalis

I am a father and a son and of a transitionary generation between sapiens and digitalis. Having unmade God and seeing how much of an effect we are having on our world, I feel disconnected from society.

I see this age as the anthropocene and long to take greater responsibility for my fellows, but instead, I grow isolated and separate from most because of my beliefs.

Post-Neo-Liberal Isolation is not an illness. It is a state of awareness. From within it, I compose my expressions in an attempt to work through it, not to escape it. It cannot be escaped. Beyond it lies the future of humanity and indeed, of this world.

That is my belief.

Well, at least, that’s my belief today.

On the End of Das Racist


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With a name like that there was no way it could last.

Over the last few years, it was hilarious trying to tell anybody who hadn’t heard of you about this rap act I really liked. Mind you, since I’m in my forties most of these people hate what they think of as rap anyway, so were already staring at me skeptically when I said:

“They’re called Das Racist”

“Das what?”

Then I’d spell it and they’re like, “Are they German?”

Then I’d be like, “No, it’s like saying (point at something), ‘see that right there … Das Racist!'”

“Oh. Where are they from?

“(sigh) Well, they’re two guys who met at college out East, one’s an Indian kid from Queens (and if I’m talking to a South Asian, here’s the Telegu/Punjabi sidebar) and the other’s from the East Bay, Kool A.D., Tricky Vicky Vasquez …

“Oh, and they have a hype man ….”

Selling something called Das Racist would be a marketing nightmare. Which is why I usually didn’t give a shit whether whomever I was telling this to was really getting it or not. It became a patter I’d use to measure them while they stared at me blankly.

Which reminds me of a lot of your lyrics.

I have really enjoyed the ridiculous package of craziness. Intellectually and poetically and conversationally and literarily and every other adverbally …the stuff was smart and hot.

Unfortunately both the shows I tried to see out here in SF went pear-shaped (first one got moved from the Down Low to Ruby Skye so the crowd was lame and the PA at the second sounded not good). I never got the cohesive, rap band vibe, live … shame. No big deal, though. I don’t blame ya. It ain’t easy, and especially when you don’t really want to be doing it. Forget the dumb shit and appreciate what was great.

To me, it makes total sense you’d split. I associate with each of your ‘products’ differently and in two different parts of my mind.

With Himanshu, our connection to South Asian culture mixes with what my experiences were living in New York City for five years (North Brooklyn at the turn of the millennium – left after 9/11). Whereas with Victor, it’s a Bay Area thing. I love the Bay. So I think I hear some differences in style and approach. Myself, I’m a NorCal man and know I could never live in NYC again.

It seems more amazing that what just happened happened at all. It was thrilling you guys were so ballsy and spit what you spit during that run.

ups to Ashok, Lakutis, Danny, Gandhi, Amaze, and all the rest of the music-making crew. I have it in permanent rotation now.

Thank you, Das Racist, for what was the best rap act of the last four years.

mtk, Oakland, CA

The Triple Kiss and the Side Effects of Slow Motion


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I refer to this broken bat double which swerved into play, as:

The Triple Kiss

This excellent .gif of The Triple Kiss is by @CorkGaines

Hunter Pence knocked in three runs when this ball left his broken bat after a crazy series of three collisions – the last of which caused it to swerve in the air and bound past the outstretched glove of the shortstop.

Second-year Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, who was very well positioned, reacted at lightning speed, but was caught going the wrong way for a fraction of a second because the third point of contact changed the ball’s direction.

The Triple Kiss happened in less than half a second. Watching it live, as broadcast, I had no idea the ball hit the bat three times; not until seeing it like this.

I knew it was a broken bat hit, my shoulders slumped at the same instant that Kozma jumped – and then suddenly, the ball took a crazy turn in the air and, as if it had eyes, bounced past the outstretched glove of the recovering Kozma, on the second base side.

The Triple Kiss was significantly faster than the human eye … even the highly trained eyes of a ballplayer, or an umpire. It affords us the opportunity to discuss the intense amount of new information that slow motion yields.

Slow motion was originally known – in analog filmmaking – as overcranking, a method by which the speed of the film was altered through handcranking the frames. Overcranking was first used in sports as long ago as the 1930’s in the coverage of boxing matches.

It took a long time for overcranking to become slow motion and in that time we got pretty used to it. We allowed slow motion to creep into our observation of games with such ease and normality that the NFL, NBA and MLB now all stop play to incorporate it as a tool in evaluating what has actually taken place.

But yesterday, after a fascinating conversation with an NCAA referee in another sport, David Ma, I began to wonder whether there’s a measurable visual side effect of using high definition slow motion when trying to call a game.

A paranoid part of me also began to wonder whether we’ve already begun what sci-fi feared: letting machines that are ‘more than us’ run our most human aspects.

David Ma believes we should alter the rules of instant replay review so that any referee or umpire using video replay should NOT be allowed to use the slow motion effect in the review.

Ma says, “I have no problem with the use of multiple camera angles for the review, but video review referees should not be allowed to use slow-motion.”

Ma believes there is a significant effect on the field when calling games with video review that includes slow motion, which he refers to as akin to “refereeing under a microscope.”

He points out that no human being could possibly see some of the things that slow motion reveals. In fact, Ma believes referees are already changing the way they call a game because of the presence of the super-slow-motion of HD:

“In pro football now there’s mandatory booth review on any score and in the final two minutes … if you’re a ref and you know that, why would you make a call? The camera can see everything you can’t so you’re most likely going to be wrong!”

Ma speaks with the authority of knowing what it’s like to have to make a call with a super-slow-mo eyeball looking over your shoulder: “With HD slow motion, by far, most of the time the referee’s call is going to be wrong.”

It opens up a discussion about what our perception of real-time is. For example would an umpiring or refereeing crew allowed only to watch the replays in real-time be more effective within the state of play? Ma believes assuredly yes.

This process by which we have accepted the super-slow-mo eyeball as the authority has taken place without significant consideration of the side effect – a human response to the presence of a machine that can see things we can’t.

But perhaps more significantly, the use of slow-mo in sports coverage points out that despite the presence of a tremendous amount of data being added to the information of the events of real-time by slow motion, it’s an effect we’ve subconsciously accepted without critique as a part of our capacity to watch something that has happened.

To David Ma, we’ve stepped onto an escalator which will take us to the point where it will be impossible for a human being to call a game.

I argued that perhaps the refereeing crew could judge the play on the basis of human terms: take in all the data, including the super-slow-mo stuff, and then the video review ref might say: ‘Well, sure we can see that under scrutiny, but there’s no way we could have seen that in real-time’ – thus overriding the machine.

But David Ma reminded me who pays the bills:

“The broadcast media, which is putting out incredibly detailed HD video in super slow-mo will grab that ref by the collar and say, you’re calling it like the nation just saw it, now.”

It rang true. But not one to make an issue of the problem without offering a solution, Ma says the only smart fix is to take slow-mo away from the refs. Alter our use of video replay to remove slow motion.

It’s a bold idea designed to keep the real-time on the field … well, real.

But there would emerge the huge issue that we, the fans, would have the access to all this information that the super-slow motion yields and would be stuck with an unresolvable dispute against the call made by humans trapped in a real-time consideration of events at hand.

The best example – when such frustration peaked – is the now infamous “intertouchdownception” that gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory in the waning seconds over the Green Bay Packers by virtue of a Hail Mary pass that was impossible to call with the human eye and replacement refs and the current NFL rules and the tacit agreement that management isn’t calling interference on Hail Mary’s (lol).


One of the refs on the field who signaled touchdown still believes he made an acceptable call as per one reading of the rule book. Fans remain unconvinced.

CBS, the widest, slowest form of sports broadcasting, interviewed two of the replacement refs a few days later.

If, as Dave Ma suggests, we were to remove slow-motion from the toolbox for referees, could we as fans accept the difference of our view being an enhanced view from that of the refs?

Would we hound the refs for their inability to see what only a machine can see?

Or could we embrace the idea that we are keeping machines out of what is a fundamentally human exercise – sport.

In games like tennis and cricket, slow motion is used to define where or when a fast-moving object or person is at a given moment: the ball on or outside the line, the bat past the line before the ball strikes the wickets and so on.

The absolute exclusion of the slow motion effect would be a pointless exercise. However, it may be that the exclusion of slow motion from video review in certain situations would help keep the game real.

Cruisin’ the Bay Bridge with Steve Miller on the Radio


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I identify with Steve Miller whom wiki describes thus:

“In 1965, when Miller returned from New York, he was disappointed by the state of the Chicago blues scene, so he moved to Texas in hopes of finishing his education at the University of Texas at Austin.

“He was disenchanted with academic politics at the University, so he took a Volkswagen Bus his father had given him and headed to San Francisco. Upon arrival, he used his last $5 to see the Butterfield Blues Band and Jefferson Airplane at the Fillmore Auditorium

“Miller fell in love with the vibrant San Francisco music scene and decided to stay.”

Organizing Post

I began this blog in the first month of 2012 but have filled it with original content dating thirty years back, to the 1980’s. Please do peruse content:

* by month in the archive list

* with category cloud to select by most populated categories

* by searching with the site search tool up top

I’ve been retrieving text files from past decades and scanning old photos and photographing objects, and posting it all here unedited, because I want the work to be arranged chronologically all in one place on the net. This blog’s an actively-updated, net-based archive of the most lucid of my work of the past 30 years, but I’ve also been blogging contemporaneous posts which include:

film and book reviews; photography of landscapes, flora and fauna of California; poetry, essays, tweets and other writing; and video coverage of events like the Space Shuttle Endeavor passing through the Golden Gate, concerts, performances at various venue around the Bay, and coverage of Bay Area professional baseball.

Between now and the end of the year, I’ll be adding more material from the past and posting less contemporaneously, because:

at the end of this year I’m ending this blog

by producing it into a single book made from the content on this site. I’m going to make a single e-book of all of this material and then tie-off this blog as the place to find it.

The idea is to create, using this blog as the template, one book that covers the vast majority of my work between the ages of 14 and 45.

As it stands, there’s a lot of  half-complete content on this site. I will be adding the full texts and additional material that ties the work together in the completed work.

This  text, image and video “book” will be produced as an e-object, but I hope to make it available as a paper object as well that includes cd’s and dvd’s of the audio and video material. This work is as yet untitled, but I’m thinking of it as mid-career review.

Thanks for your support,

M.T. Karthik

[Postscript authored one month later]

P.S. None of you will read this while I’m alive.

but this is the best of who I was from fifteen to forty-five.

unknown artist, McGee’s, Oakland


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apparently there was a machine they sold in the 70’s that allowed one to cut into wood to create layers. Craft machines for hobbyists were popular in those days: rock tumblers, plasticizing half-dome machines and etc.

I’ve never seen the wood carving one, but this guy in the neighborhood of McGee’s in Oakland made a pretty good rendering  of the bar from across the street, saw it last week, my first time in this Oakland neighborhood spot.




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These three pieces of paper fell together on my desk and with just a few nudges of my tweezers ended up looking ike this.

“Hammernegger” – the name of which has a racist tinge to it, also has a weird socio-contextual vibe.

Northern California’s native, black entertainer turned entrepreneur MC Hammer and Southern California’s immigrant Austrian bodybuilder turned actor, turned Governor, side-by-side on  printed stock with red, blue and thin yellow stripes.

It’s like nothing and everything. It’s racist and not. It represents California and doesn’t. It’s a totally unique object … I have no idea what it is, except to say it doesn’t exist anymore, cause I am using each of these in different pieces.

file under funny things that happen round the studio while working on collage.

because this country, it’s not for one religion


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my full interview with Ziad Abbas, quoted above, is the second interview in the clip linked to below:

If you care at all about Palestine, please listen to these stories told to me by Palestinians in Bethlehem and Nazareth, and hear people being illegally taken from their land in East Jerusalem, stopped by the presence of myself and International media, briefly … this was 2003 … what eventually happened?