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TPE: Emblem, Wabi Sabi 2

–Tenor (Themata): Catechism. The image on the left is the emblem Ulmer generated from his mystory, leading to design of his wide image in Noon Star. The formal rules from Koren’s relay generates theopraxesis by requiring that the answer to the catechism questions must be derived from one of the popcycle stories, each story used once only. The three capabilities are expressed in Wabi-Sabi by three M’s (resonating with the H’MMM disciplines): Metaphysics (Theoria); Morality (Praxis); Mood (Poiesis). Egents ask themselves:

1) which of the popcycle stories, received as a fable (parable), expresses their understanding of how the world works, the character of reality. The Japanese tradition answers, “Things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness.” For Ulmer, the Family story of the botched piano recital, the red star (not gold or silver) on the sheet music, is a parable of a reality in which one is continuously judged in endless competitions.  His epigram describes that condition.

2) Morality (Spiritual Values): which popcyle story is a fable of how one must act, given the character of reality? Wabi-Sabi proposes to get rid of what is unnecessary, ignore material hierarchy. For Ulmer, Custer’s foolish ambition serves as a negative example, a fable warning against Custer’s desire for glory. Ulmer’s motto expresses his lesson: Where are your Reservations?

3) The third question is Mood: given the necessity to act in that way, in a world of that character, how do I feel? Wabi-Sabi advises acceptance of the inevitable and appreciation of the cosmic order. Ulmer found his state of mind expressed in High Noon as a fable of duty: despite his contempt for the hypocritical community, the sheriff fought the gang of killers, after which he threw away the tin star. This gesture of discarding the badge of status determined the tin star as the icon of the emblem. In practice it is best to decide which popcycle story supplies the picture, and which question of the catechism that story answers, and the rest of the emblem follows from there.

The wide image has no innate form, and  is not confined to emblem poetics. It is inchoate, accessed intuitively, acquired during the early years of embodied visceral education. It may take many forms and manifest itself within the creative production of an egent. The heuretic frame of electrate pedagogy moves egents through the transition from a condition of privation, Steresis, impotence, potentiality of capability (Dunamis, Virtuality) into Energeia, Actualization, raising consciousness of their positioning and disposition relative to the archive of world culture recording in infinite variation the unfolding of the work of realization of life and death. Konsult is equipment for living (Kenneth Burke), thus, empowering in principle the egent with the resources of civilization available for a fatal encounter with disaster.

2018-07-30T01:53:14+00:00 July 30th, 2018|Categories: Assignments, Capability, EPS, Mystory, Popcycle, Theopraxesis, Wide Image|Tags: , , , |

MYSTORY: N. Scott Momaday

The Way to Rainy Mountain. Son of a White mother and Kiowa father, Momaday was raised on a reservation. His novel House Made of Dawn won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969. His autobiographical The Way to Rainy Mountain was assigned as relay modeling the micro form and overall structuring by means of signifiers repeating across levels of the popcycle. Rainy Mountain juxtaposes Kiowa myths Momaday learned from his grandmother; the actual history of the Kiowa symbolized in the myths; his personal recollections of his childhood on the reservation. The text manifests identification (with his grandmother Aho and his grandfather Mammedaty); the use of pattern (the unity of each section is created by the repetition of a detail within the exposition across the three discourses); the use of setting to express feeling (the memories of scenes from the reservation). Most important is the location of Momaday’s memories of childhood in the context of the traditional stories and actual history of his Community (Kiowa), thus bringing the three levels of his symbolic experience into contact–personal, historical, mythical (entertainment fictions in a modern point of view). The book is a collection of thirty-four three-paragraph units (plus introduction and epilogue) illustrated with drawings by Momaday’s father. Unit 3 is cited as example: the popcycle sequence is always the same: Mythology; History; Memory.


Before there were horses the Kiowas had need of dogs. That was a long time ago when dogs could talk. There was a man who lived alone; he had been thrown away, and he made his camp here and there on the high ground. Now it was dangerous to be alone, for there were enemies all around. The man spent his arrows hunting food. He had one arrow left, and he shot a bear; but the bear was only wounded and it ran away The man wondered what to do. Then a dog came up to him and said that many enemies were coming; they were close by and all around. The man could think of no way to save himself. But the dog said: “You know, I have puppies. They are young and weak and they have nothing to eat. If you will take care of my puppies, I will show you how to get away.” The dog led the man here and there, around and around, and they came to safety.

A hundred years ago the Comanche Ten Bears remarked upon the great number of horses which the Kiowas owned. “When we first knew you, he said, “you  had nothing but dogs and sleds.” It was so; the dog is primordial. Perhaps it was dreamed into being. The principal warrior society of the Kiowas was the Ka-itsenko, “Real Dogs,” and it was made up of ten men only, the en most brave. Each of these men wore a long ceremonial sash and carried a sacred arrow. In times of battle he must by means of this arrow impale the end of his sash to the earth and stand his ground to the death. Tradition has it that the founder of the Ka-itsenko had a dream in which he saw a band of warriors,, outfitted after the fashion of the society, being led by a dog. The dog sang the song of the Ka-itsenko, then said to the dreamer: “You are a dog; make the noise like a dog and sing a dog song.”

There were always dogs about my grandmother’s house. Some of them were nameless and lived a life of their own. They belonged there in a sense that the word “ownership” does not include. The old people paid them scarcely any attention, but they should have been sad, I think, to see them go.

Each numbered section is unified around one “pedagogical object”: arrow, spider, horse, hunting and the like. The importance of Mammedaty in this world is documented in unit XXI, in which Mammedaty appears in all three of the popcycle levels. The Disaster governing this world is that of the reservation itself, the destruction of the Kiowa people.

2018-07-27T14:57:57+00:00 July 27th, 2018|Categories: Device, Draw, EPS, Mystory, Narrative, Popcycle|Tags: , |

Gest 3 (Family)

Family gesture: Nancy Kitchel provides a relay for how to locate mood or atmosphere in a local and family setting.

“Covering My Face: My Grandmother’s Gestures,” 1973 

How a particular Midwestern storytelling tradition resembles the landscape. How my aunt or my mother can tell a story in such a way that the peaks (of violence) are cut off and the low points are filled up (with details, with emphasis), until the whole is perfectly flat and contains the violence.

This family gesture may be linked with the iconic gestures found in religious art and contemporary entertainment media.

Gestures and Icons. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California, Dorothea Lange, 1936

Nancy Kitchel’s “grandmother’s gesture” may be seen as a series of variations on a gesture of worry and anxiety codified in this photograph taken by Dorothea Lange as part of a New Deal project to document the misery of migrant workers, sponsored by the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression. “Migrant Mother” is one of the most-cited pictorial images of our times.

A repetition of gestures of this sort opens a conductive inference path between (in this case) Family and History. If Kitchel were doing our assignment this gesture would justify a search in documentation of “the Great Depression” to find a metaphor to express the mood of her Family circumstances.

–Landscape Gest (Outer Scene = State of Mind). Kitchel provides another example of Existential Disaster (cosmic glimpse), inclulding visionary Whiteness.

“Last White (Interior Landscape)”, 1975

This idea I have that the whole inside of my head resembles this landscape (flat? nothing there?), that the particular, peculiar sense of great space, isolation in space, harshness, clarity, severity, the constant transitions, shifts, reveries, the wild swings form one state to another, forms the visual, auditory, reasoning, base for thought or action. A sense that I have been formed out of the quality of the landscape, that everything unnecessary is being slowly eroded by harsher elements. And the confidence that I will survive, denuded, or that something will survive, something will never stop.” 

Nancy Wilson Kitchel, “Visible and Invisible” Individuals: Post-Movement Art in America
Ed. Alan Sondheim

2018-07-25T21:52:55+00:00 July 25th, 2018|Categories: Assignments, Design, Device, EPS, Memory, Photography, Tutorials, Visceral|Tags: , |

Terms: Everday

  Everyday life is a dimension of the lifeworld addressed in the tradition of Arts &  Letters disciplines dating back to Marx’s commentaries on the revolutions in France (Paris) beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century.  The issue is central to electracy, in that the digital apparatus is associated with the rise of the industrial city.  The primary institutional condition to be remedied through a new (image) metaphysics is the impoverishment of everyday life codified in the concepts of alienation, reification, objectification.  Marx diagnosed the problem as due to the division of labor, and the new cultural and social environment created by the commodity form in market capitalism under bourgeois hegemony.  Life in the industrial city became “uncanny,” due to a discontinuity, disjunction, between individual agency and collective events.  An equivalent of the Unconscious opened within culture, a return of the repressed in which citizens suffered the consequences of their collective actions as if visited upon them by divine powers (commodity fetishism). “Routine” in this context is the habituation of daily ritual that must be dispersed by means of shock arts devices of estrangement (defamiliarization).

Konsult is an experiment in overcoming alienation as part of an electrate public sphere, drawing upon a counter-movement in modernity that began in Bohemian Paris, the cabarets of Montmartre, the emergence of the avant-garde arts. Walter Benjamin theorized Paris as the Capital of the Nineteenth Century, featuring the life and poetry of Charles Baudelaire as the paradigm.  This invention stream of a new metaphysics, grounded in aesthetic practice, spread through world culture in the style of surrealism, was extended by the Situationists (Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle), theorized by French post/structuralism (especially Tel Quel), and promoted by thinkers as diverse as Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau.  Konsult experiment is to design and test a practice (theopraxesis) that makes aesthetic experience in all its dimensions (poiesis, aesthesis, catharsis) available as a capacity of everyday life, serving the interests of well-being in the public sphere. As always, the unspoken expectation is: what is that for me (what is my everyday life?).

See Stephen Johnstone, Ed. The Everyday (Documents of Contemporary Art).

2018-07-25T01:19:12+00:00 July 25th, 2018|Categories: EPS, Orientation, Terms|Tags: , |

Assignment: Avatar Emergency 3

  Situation.What does it mean to approach Everyday Life with an aesthetic attitude? There is nothing novel about framing one’s quotidian roles in some state of mind — wisdom, science, religion. As practice, the aesthetic attitude is included within a situation, adding to the intentionality of some project the distance that generates aura of signification.  “Situation” is a guideword, evoking the existentialist point that circumstances become a situation when considered from the point of view of one’s “project,” the goals of a practice, encountering a scene not indifferently but according to its affordances for some purpose.  In a Visit (for konsult) this project or purpose is given an aesthetic frame.

Ulmer’s Visit documented in Chapter 13 (Wisdom) of Avatar Emergency offers a relay for our instructions.  What is Ulmer’s situation:

  • Family:  Mother’s Day holiday, with three generations of relatives sharing a rented house.
  • Work: Ulmer continues to ponder the perplexities of a theoretical question (the image metaphysics of electracy: the diadoch Damascius).
  • Memory: A formative experience in Ulmer’s past — a night in an olive orchard in Spain, 1966.
  • Current Events:  History of the present unfolding in daily reports and analysis of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
  • Site: Place, Ponte Vedra Beach on the Atlantic coast of Florida.
  • Form:  The Aesthetic Attitude includes familiar forms and genres, constituting a mythology: popular culture for laymen, but for Ulmer (academic) the forms are high art (Titian’s Allegory of Prudence,Kafka’s aphorisms).

A relevant context to Visit as the construction of an epiphany is the common experience in the history of creative insight of the Eureka moment appearing during some ordinary activity:  Archimedes in his bath; Poincaré stepping off a bus.  In Ulmer’s relay, adopting the Aesthetic Attitude means that he consciously scans his setting for some feature he recognizes as an objective correlative for his state of mind, registering the Mood or atmosphere attuning as vehicle and tenor (outer and inner) dimensions of his life world.  The feature he recognizes, promoting it to object @, is the sand castle built by his granddaughter the previous evening.

2018-07-25T00:15:37+00:00 July 25th, 2018|Categories: Assignments, EPS|Tags: , , |

Cosmic Whiteness

The motif of metaphysical whiteness provides some practice with flash reason, conductive inference charting patterns emerging in the repeating signifiers of the popcycle. Such repetitions cause figurative and even archetypal connotation to emerge from ordinary scenes. To emphasize this design principle we include for the curricular archive a few touchstones of cosmic white in American letters.

For Once, Then, Something
Robert Frost

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs 
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something

–Melville, Moby Dick: the whiteness of the whale.

What the white whale was to Ahab, has been hinted; what, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid. Aside from those more obvious considerations touching Moby Dick, which could not but occasionally awaken in any man’s soul some alarm, there was another thought, or rather vague, nameless horror concerning him, which at times by its intensity completely overpowered all the rest; and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable was it, that I almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible form. It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me. But how can I hope to explain myself here; and yet, in some dim, random way, explain myself I must, else all these chapters might be naught. […]

  But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous–why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Christian’s Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind.

Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a colour as the visible absence of colour; and at the same time the concrete of all colours; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows–a colourless, all-colour of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues–every stately or lovely emblazoning–the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colourless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge–pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear coloured and colouring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?


Image: Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting

2018-07-23T20:56:20+00:00 July 23rd, 2018|Categories: Disaster, EPS, Tutorials|Tags: , , |

Device: Gestus

Excerpts from Bertolt Brecht’s article “On Gestic Music,” translated by John Willett. This principle helps us see how images become wide.; how the primal scene is generalized into a personal category. The wide image is the generator of a gest. To adapt the analysis to mystory, extend “class struggle” to all the ideological categories, and associate the term creative with “political.” Gest constitutes interface between microcosm and macrocosmic disaster. Pedagogy becomes heuretic when objects of study (such as Brecht or Blanchot) become relays for konsult.


  “Gest” is not supposed to mean gesticulation: it is not a matter of explana-tory or emphatic movements of the hands, but of overall attitudes. A language is gestic when it is grounded in a gest and conveys particular attitudes adopted by the speaker towards other men. The sentence “pluck the eye that offends thee out” is less effective from the gestic point of view than “if thine eve offend thee, pluck it out.” The latter starts by pre-senting the eye, and the first clause has the definite gest of making an assumption; the main clause then comes as a surprise, a piece of advice, and a relief.


The musician sees this initially as an artistic principle, and not a specially interesting one. It may perhaps help him to set his texts in a particularly lively and easily assimilated way. What is more important is the fact that this principle of looking to the gest can allow him to adopt his own political attitude while making music. For that it is essential that be should he setting a social gest.


Not all gests are social gests. The attitude of chasing away a fly is not yet a social gest, though the attitude of chasing away a dog may be one, for in-stance if it comes to represent a badly dressed man’s continual battle against watchdogs. One’s efforts to keep one’s balance on a slippery surface result in a social gest as soon as falling down would mean “losing face”; in other words, losing one’s market value. The gest of working is definitely a social gest, because all human activity directed towards the mastery of nature is a social undertaking, an undertaking between men. On the other hand a gest of pain, as long as it is kept so abstract and generalized that it does not rise above a purely animal category, is not yet a social one. But this is precisely the common tendency of art: to remove the social element in any gest. The artist is not happy till he achieves “the look of a hunted animal.” The man then becomes just Man; his gest is stripped of any social indi-viduality; it is an empty one, not representing any undertaking or operation among men by this particular man. The “look of a hunted animal” can be-come a social gest if it is shown that particular maneuvers by men can de-grade the individual man to the level of a beast; the social gest is the gest relevant to society, the gest that allows conclusions to be drawn about the social circumstances.


  Suppose that the musician composing a cantata on Lenin’s death has to reproduce his own attitude to the class struggle. As far as the gest goes, there are a number of different ways in which the report of Lenin’s death can be set. A certain dignity of presentation means little, since where death is involved this could also be held to be fitting in the case of an enemy. Anger at ‘the blind workings of providence’ cutting short the lives of the best members of the community would not be a communist gest; nor would a wise resignation to “life’s irony”; for the gest of communists mourning a communist is a very special one. The musician’s attitude to his text, the spokesman’s to his report, shows the extent of his political, and so of his human maturity. A man’s stature is shown by what he mourns and in what way he mourns it. To raise mourning to a high plane, to make it into an element of social progress: that is an artistic task.

2018-07-25T14:50:12+00:00 July 22nd, 2018|Categories: Disaster, EPS, Tutorials, Wide Image|Tags: , , |


1) The Writing of the Disaster. In Konsult egents articulate or reoccupy (retrieve) the conventions of microcosm/macrocosm by which pre-modern peoples oriented themselves (determined their EPS): As above, so below (one’s fate was written in the stars, and to read it one consulted oracles and astrologers). A contemporary version shifts from vertical to horizontal dynamics: As without, so within, The historical collective  and the individual person become mutually intelligible when articulated in the proportional analogy of hypotyposis (The Writing of the Disaster/In Me). Such is the conceit of this genre organizing pedagogy in the digital apparatus. The guiding idea of Project #1 (heuretics of Konsult) is an encounter between egents and disaster, in which egents translate their image of wide scope (Wide Image) into a diagram, to function as an original hypothesis addressing the impasse (aporia) of Disaster.

–Mystory. In order to undertake Project #1, egents first must engage the nested Project #2, Mystory. Mystory is a genre for finding/designing an Image of Wide Scope (Wide Image; WI). We will devote considerable attention to this genre, which is the core of electrate pedagogy. The first insight is that electracy does not shift the disciplinary curriculum of literacy but rather the pedagogy. The rationale for this shift comes from Gerald Holton, history of science, argued in such books as Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought: Kepler to Einstein (Harvard, 1988). Holton notes that the practice of science (and all productive knowing) includes three primary dimensions, of which two are routinely taught while third remains latent, implicit. Discipline learning is organized around verification (knowledge after it is discovered or invented): making as techne, which is considered to be teachable. Techne as practice includes empirical facts (materially tested); and analytical tools. The third dimension (not taught or considered not teachable) also operates nonetheless, Holton insists. It is the dimension of discovery, creativity, which Holton calls thematic– making as poiesis. The empirical and analytical are objectively present in the disciplinary institution; the thematic is subjectively personal to the egent. Its origin is one’s disposition, a unique mix of nature and nurture, referring to one’s state of mind or attunement, attitude. Holton approaches the history of science from the side of themata, existing as archetypes in the history of thought and patterns of imagination specific to individuals. They are not provable, but are the source of hypotheses. Here is a key: Disposition generates original hypothesis.

–From Disposition to Hypothesis. The first lesson from Holton is to track this relation between disposition and hypothesis, since it establishes exactly the place of the Arts and Letters archive in electrate pedagogy as creativity. The insight to register for now is that disposition is precisely the concern of much of Philosophy, especially Continental thought, as in Heidegger’s question of how things stand with me, with us, Dasein (there-being) and Ereignis (collective enowning of event). Underlying Existential Positioning Systems is Existential Phenomenology, for example. The import for curriculum is that inquiry into disposition draws upon the traditions of Philosophy. The Image of Wide Scope designed through mystory puts into form and brings to expression egent’s disposition. Similarly, the best resource for learning how to formulate and translate this disposition into hypothesis is through study of literature (transmedia). The authority here is Northrop Frye, who in Anatomy of Criticism stated that literature and fiction as such are hypothetical. In short, this thematic dimension of science (of knowing) opens onto the Humanities (Arts and Letters) disciplines, locating the frontier articulating “the two cultures.”

–Albert Camus, Lyrical Essays. Holton observed in his study of revolutionary science that the work of individual creators manifested a pattern organized around a few (four to five) images (the Wide Image). Albert Camus anticipated this insight in reflecting on his own career, commenting on the reissue of his early collection of essays, The Wrong Side and the Right Side, which serves as an epigraph for mystory.

Nothing prevents one from dreaming, in the very hour of exile, since at least I know this, with sure and certain knowledge: a man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened. This is why, perhaps, after working and producing for twenty years, I still live with the idea that my work has not even begun.  (Albert Camus, Lyrical and Critical Essays, 17).

2018-07-16T20:38:12+00:00 July 16th, 2018|Categories: EPS, Mystory, Wide Image|Tags: , , , |



3) Heuretics. In the context of differend (Lyotard) among apparatus metaphysics, electrate learning turns to the human capability of creativity. Thomas Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) differentiated between revolutionary and normal science. KE takes up the challenge of designing a pedagogy for revolutionary science (recognizing that “science” is a catachresis in this context). An assumption of heuretics is that creativity is a procedure with its own methodology and modes of evaluation, such that it may be taught with the same degree of confidence assumed in teaching methods of criticism and critique.

–Image of Wide Scope. Gerald Holton, historian of science, identified an image of wide scope (wide image) organizing the imaginations of the most productive creators in modernity (from Kepler to Einstein). Holton identified the wide image as a pattern emerging within the oeuvre of innovators. The pattern was constituted by four or five images, anchored in a scene of childhood memory. The prototype is the career of Albert Einstein, and the memory he recorded in his autobiographical statements, of the gift of a compass from his father when Albert was four or five years old. It is possible posthumously or at the end of a career for an historian to note the uncanny symmetry between the compass and the physics of electromagnetism. The wide image is just that: a vehicle and a tenor. The vehicle for Einstein is the compass; the tenor is “invariance.” Commentators have suggested that the theory of relativity might be better dubbed a theory of invariance. Vehicle: the compass needle pointing north; Tenor: the speed of light. Subsequently, analysts have identified wide images in the careers of hundreds of figures across all fields of culture (see John Briggs, Fire in the Crucible).

–Mystory. The genre of mystory was created to enable students to discover and design their wide image at the beginning of their productive lives, rather than waiting for a biographer to extract the pattern posthumously. Nor is revolutionary science a measure of the success of this genre, in that it supports learning as equipment for living (Kenneth Burke) as well as for productivity. Mystory reoccupies (retrieves)  the pedagogical tradition of Memory Palace and topical logics from manuscript culture, as a means to connect a primal scene of childhood experience with a disciplinary aporia. Mystory documents the egents’s EPS (Existential Positioning System) in the popcycle of their culture. It is a documentation of interpellation, registering the position with which one identifies in each of the primary institutions of an apparatus: family; mythology (entertainment); history (community); career (profession). These four levels constitute a mandala of civilization, and will be tracked throughout KE. Dante is famous for codifying this typology structuring Medieval metaphysics. The immediate point is that egents’ wide image is formed before they enter university and declare a major (career). Mystory as genre brings this inchoate intuitive mental model into material configuration, providing the point of departure for the design of an image of wide scope.

2018-07-13T00:21:42+00:00 July 12th, 2018|Categories: EPS, Overview, Popcycle, Uncategorized, Wide Image|Tags: , , , |