Category: Performance

Music Box Village

Last week, I visited the Music Box Village in New Orleans. This is a true DIY space where artists, fabricators and more have built “houses” that make sounds/music/noise in various ways. Together, skilled musicians (which does not include me) can make an orchestra of cacophonous music.

John Cage would have loved this space. Any sort of noise even silence is music, as people witnessed with his 4’33” composition. I’ve always loved this idea, the very fact that the tension between performance and non-performance can be music. At this site, the structures become the instruments. Anyone can play them. They are rusty, brittle, gentle and beautiful at the same time.

I’ve gone to many, many DIY spaces. I’ve even helped build some of them, such as The Shipyard, which was a mass of shipping containers that I helped weld, wire and cut in 2001. But all of these felt self-serving, creating a community of those that we included and those, who were somehow excluded because they didn’t speak the proper cultural language of metal-working and whiskey-drinking.

The Music Box Village felt different. I watched some of the founders present the project at the INST-INT Conference the day before and they spoke about community engagement and pairing collaborators from different socioeconomic backgrounds, skills and ages to build the houses. Their approach was organic and they finally secured a more permanent home which has metalworking facilities.

I can’t help but be inundated with the banality of architecture. Houses pretty much look alike, entirely functional and rectilinear. Our commerce spaces are branded box stores adorning cities and suburbs. As humans, we are molded by our physical environment. Our eyes conform to corners. Our minds become less imaginative as a result.

One of my favorite artists who works with architectures is Krzysztof Wodiczko who worked for many decades projecting iconography onto buildings in order to subvert the function of the building, the war memorial and the political body.

He writes: “Dominant culture in all its forms and aesthetic practices remains in gross contradiction to the lived experience, communicative needs and rights of most of society, whose labour is its sole base”

We have so much more to offer in terms of human imagination and creativity than the buildings that surround us and are institutions of capital. I left my tour of the Music Box Village feeling rejuvenated. Then I promptly went to airport to catch I flight back home, engaging with the odd transitional space where air travel happens.

 

 

 

 

 

EEG Data Crystals

I’ve had the Neurosky Mindwave headset in a box for over a year and just dove into it, as part of my ongoing Data Crystals research at Autodesk. The device is the technology backbone behind the project: EEG AR with John Craig Freeman (still working on funding).

The headset fits comfortably. Its space age retro look aesthetically pleases except that I’d cover up the logo in a final art project. The gray arm rests on your forehead and reads your EEG levels, translating them into a several values. The most useful are “attention” and “meditation”, which are calculations derived from a few different brainwave patterns.

eeg_headestI’ve written custom software in Java, using the Processing libraries and ModelBuilder to generate 3D models in real-time from the headset. But after copious user-testing, I found out that the effective sample rate of the headset was 1 sample/second.* Ugh.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used the Neurosky set. In 2010, I developed art piece, which is a portable personality kit called “After Thought”. That piece, however, relied on slow activity and was more like a tarot card reading where the headset readings were secondary to the performance.

The general idea for the Data Crystals is to translate data into 3D prints. I’ve worked with data from the San Francisco’s Data Portal. However, the idea of generating realtime 3D models from biometric data is hard to resist.

This is one of my first crystals — just a small sample of 200 readings. The black jagged squares represents “attention” and the white cubes correspond to “meditation”.

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Back to the sample rate…a real-time reading of 600 samples would take 10 minutes. Still, it’s great to be able to do real-time, so I imagine a dark room and a beanbag chair where you think about your day and then generate the prints.

Here’s what the software looks like. This is a video of my own EEG readings (recorded then replayed back at a faster rate).

And another view of the 3D print sample:

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What I like about this 3D print is the mixing of the two digital materials, where the black triangles intersect with the white squares. I still have quite a bit of refinement work to do on this piece.

Now, the challenge is what kind of environment for a 10-minute “3D Recording Session”. Many colleagues immediately suggest sexual arousal and drugs, which is funny, but I want to avoid. One thing I learned at the Exploratorium was how to appeal to a wide audience, i.e. a more family-friendly one. This way, you can talk to anyone about the work you’re doing instead of a select audience.

Some thoughts: just after crossing the line in an extreme mountain bike race, right after waking up in the morning, drink a pot of coffee (our workplace drug-of-choice) or soaking in the hot tub!

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* The website  advertises a “512Hz sampling rate – 1Hz eSense calculation rate.” Various blog posts indicate that the raw values often get repeated, meaning that the effective rate is super-slow.

 

Welcome to the Party: @lenenbot

Say hello to the latest Twitterbot from the Bot Collective: @lenenbot

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Lenenbot* mixes up John Lennon and Vladimir Lenin quotes. The first half of one with the second half of the other.

Some of my favorites so far are:

Communism is everybody’s business.
It’s weird not to be able to run the country.
Revolution is love.

There are more, surreal ones. There are about 600 different possibilities, all randomized. Subscribe to the Twitter account here.

 

 

* I chose the name “Lenen” to avoid confusion. Lenonbot and Lenninbot look like misspellings of Lennon and Lenin, respectively. Lenen is it’s own bot.

Babula Rasa with Second Front

Second Front performed Babula Rasa as part of “The Artist is Elsewhere” — a one-night performance event hosted by ZERO1 and curated by Sean Fletcher and Isabel Reichert. These are some stills from the event.

My idea was to use Google Docs, specifically its spreadsheet as a virtual Tabula Rasa — a blank slate for performance. I had imagined word-play, formulas, formatting changes and text-upon-text revisions and edits. I’ve often found Mail Art to be a source of inspiration, where artists re-purposed communication networks for art discourse. I was hoping for a similar effect with Google Docs, a space normally reserved for business documents or household expense sheets.

However, my Second Front compatriots always surprise me and they quickly begain inserting images into Google Docs. Who knew? Apparently everyone else but me.

Projected live for 2 hours during “The Artist is Elsewhere” event, this quickly became a group collage. In the first 30 minutes what appeared was the “I Say” Shark, various blue women appeared, Patrick Lichty’s birthday cake, and lots and lots of cats.

Images from various Second Front performances popped up: Last Supper and Wrath of Kong. And lots of memes from popular culture, reminding me of How Conceptual Art Influenced the World Wide Web.

We could overhear the other performances live on a UStream channel. At one point, one of the performances seemed to be carrying on for a long time and someone (maybe me) uploaded Chuck Barris from the Gong Show.

At the 1-hour mark, the Shark is still there but now with the Shaggy D.A., the Tweets in Space logo, Dr. McCoy, an evil bunny and more.

Does this embrace, reject or dry-hump the New Aesthetic? That’s for you to decide.

And like all Second Front performances, we had to bomb the virtual venue when we were done…only this time with cats.

Participating Second Front members: Yael Gilks, Bibbe Hansen, Doug Jarvis, Scott Kildall, Patrick Lichty, Liz Solo with stealth guest appearance by Victoria Scott.

Volunteer for the 2049 Hotline

Are you interested in being an emissary from the future?
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For my upcoming “2049” show at the Dump in San Francisco, one of the artworks that will be featured will be a phone booth where you can talk to someone from the year 2049. People can pick up the phone (it will be set up as a live line) and talk to an ambassador-from-the-future, who will answer questions about what life is like in the year 2049.

What is 2049 like? It is up to YOU to answer this. You can change it for each caller.

I’m gathering a volunteers and if this is something you might be interested in, please email me at: lucky (at) kildall.com — its a 45-minute commitment — and will be a fun performance where you can pretty much do what you want.

The show is from

5-9pm, Friday May 20th and 1-5pm, Saturday, May 21st (Pacific Standard Time), you don’t have to be local to San Francisco to play.

Background
I am playing the role of a prospector from the future who mines the garbage heaps of a past civilization to build technologies to survive. Trawling through construction debris, discarded electronics and the scraps of people’s lives, I have etched blueprints and made imaginary devices such as an infinite battery and scent-based resource detector (a.k.a. “The Sniffer”).
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Prospecting from the Future

Last week, I began a 4-month residency at Recology San Francisco (a.k.a. The Dump) where I make art solely from the refuse that people drop off in their cars and trucks. I am treating this residency as a performance.

I am playing the role of a prospector from the future who mines the garbage heaps of a past civilization to build technologies to survive. Trawling through construction debris, discarded electronics and the scraps of people’s lives, I am making blueprints and building imaginary devices such as a food synthesizer and an infinite battery.

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I derived inspiration by props from films such as E.T. and The Science of Sleep. These contraptions obviously don’t work, yet they activate a child-like imagination, where we can build whatever we want from materials at hand. In this consumer culture where the desire for designed objects runs rampant, this project serves as critique and antidote.

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From the standpoint of new media artwork, I have been grappling with how to work with technology in artworks — I use technology precisely because our economy and values are so steeply driven by it. I have long ago moved away from interactive artwork for a number of reasons.

I want to celebrate the imaginary. This project lets me play the role of artist-as-mystic instead of as-technologist. I am free to create narratives in which I simultaneously critique our ecological disaster course but also to suggest possible futures. And, more than anything, have fun. Without this, we have zero hope, which is something we need at this time.

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After Thought at Art in Odd Places

Last Thursday, I exhibited After Thought, a performance-installation that I developed while at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center at Art in Odd Places in New York (check out their AIOP website, there’s some great projects there).

As the name implies, these performances that happen in unusual spots in the city, this one being at the 14th Street Y.

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We scheduled this to happen during the CSA pick up where folks were picking up their weekly organic veggies.

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Here I am posing with my two assistants: Minha Lee and Zack Frater. We used the lab coat + eyeglasses props to reel people in.

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I began with a short intake form with questions such as “What is your greatest physical fear?” I discovered that an inordinate number of people are afraid of snakes.

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After completing the intake form, people wear a brainwave-reading headset — I use the Neurosky Mindset — to capture stress and relaxation levels. They turn over flashcards while I monitor their reactions.

I can’t see what they are looking at. If their their stress or relaxation responses spike, I ask them for the card, then note it down on my result form. This person was especially negatively triggered by cockroaches.

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And this gentleman was relaxed by the guys hanging out in the hot tub. Give me that flashcard!

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Minha, who interned for me at Eyebeam also administered tests. This subject has no reaction, good or bad to the image of the police car.
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Here you can see how the intervention occurs. People had no idea why we were there. Many were suspicious, thinking that we our Scientology-style relaxation/stress test was trying to sell them something or lure them into a cult. Others were immediately intrigued. Some needed convincing. One respondent offered us a bundle of swiss chard for barter.

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Afterward, I would sit down with each respondent and we would talk about their results. “Why did you get stressed out by the cute puppy?”

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In the background here, you can see one of the two curators, Yaelle Amir, who demonstrates her ambidexterity by texting while typing.

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One of my last tests of the day was with Stephanie Rothenberg, a good friend of mine. I knew her too well to provide unbiased analysis. The image of the crying baby was one of her stress indicators. Hmmm.

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01SJ Day 5: Public Viruses

Today we shifted to the virus-making portion of Gift Horse, where anyone can assemble a virus sculpture to be placed inside the belly of the Trojan Horse. The gesture is to gather people in real space, give them a way to hand-construct their “artwork” and to hide hundeds of the mini-sculptures inside the horse.

The first virus to go inside, the Rat of the Chinese zodiac, was The Andromeda Strain, an imaginary virus from the film. This father-daughter team cut, folded and glued the paper sculpture together and she did the honors of secreting it inside the armature.

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It takes a long time to cut each virus from the printed sheet. This is where the lasercutter from the Tech Shop came in handy. In the afternoon, we traced the outlines of the Snow Crash virus and tried cutting it out. After about an hour of fiddling around with settings and alignment, I was able to get a batch done.
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Hurray for mechanized production!

This halved the assembly time from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, bypassing the tedious cutting step. Perhaps this is a compromise in the process of hand-construction techniques, but I’ll gladly make the trade-off for practicality.

The next person to sit with us was Jeff who worked on one of the freshly-cut Snow Crash viruses.

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Once finished, it joined The Andromeda Strain. Come on down to South Hall (435, S. Market, San Jose) and check us out — we will be holding workshops on building viruses all weekend.

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Wikipedia Art Remix (performance)

August 19th @ Benrimon Contemporary, part of Younger Than Moses: Idle Worship
514 West 24th Street on the 2nd floor
An evening of performances & screenings by Ryan V. Brennan, the Wikipedia Art Project, Genevieve White, Adam & Ron. Beginning 6:00 PM (come a little early for a Wikipedia Art Remix treat!)

kildall_wiki_logo_hi-resFor Sean Fletcher and Isabel Reichert’s Wikipedia Art Remix, two actors perform a scene appropriated from Edward Albee’s play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. The dialogue between the iconic characters George and Martha incorporates highlights from the “Articles for Deletion” page of Wikipedia Art, an intervention by Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern on Wikipedia, so the couple’s argument becomes one about whether or not art can exist on Wikipedia.

Sean Fletcher and Isabel Reichert have collaborated together on conceptually based performance works, interventions, writings, installations, videos, photography, and prints since meeting each other in 1994. Their work is about power and vulnerability; how it relates to relationship dynamics, society, and politics. Fletcher and Reichert use collaboration as a tool to integrate the negotiation for power into works of art.

Scott Kildall is an independent artist, who intervenes with objects and actions into various concepts of space. Nathaniel Stern is an artist, teacher, writer and provocateur, who works with interactive, participatory, networked and traditional forms.

Kickstart the Gift Horse!

We just launched the Kickstarter campaign for Gift Horse – a project for the 01SJ Biennial co-commissioned by the San Jose Museum of Art and ZERO1. We are seeking extra funding specifically to construct the sculpture from sustainable materials and also to teach several “build your own virus” workshops. Gift Horse is celebration of the viral nature of art and ideas.

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The 13-foot high Trojan Horse will be filled with paper viruses, built by the public. On September 18th, it will be part of the Green Prix – a parade of “green” vehicles. Several costumed Greek warriors will push it through the streets of San Jose and into the museum. At 4pm on Sept. 18th, we will “gift” it to the museum. Check out the video and please consider a donation.

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Gift Horse derived from No Matter (below), which was commissioned by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. (turbulence.org) and with both projects, we are partnering with Electric Works for the specialized printing techniques.

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