01SJ Day 9: Virus-making Sunday

I can’t believe we’ve been here 9 days now. The Garage has become our second home and the largest studio I’ve ever worked in.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted had a table full of eager virus-makers.

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More kids were here than yesterday and these two youngsters really enjoyed T-Virus from Resident Evil — this one turns you into a zombie. Fortunately, its just made from paper.

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Later in the day, a group of girls all made Andromeda Strain, from the movie well before their time.
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Many of the volunteers stuck around and made several viruses, helping fill the belly and for this, we were most appreciative.
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We also got the head panels attached!
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01SJ Day 8: Workshopping the Viruses

Today was a busy day with Gift Horse where we spent much of the day talking and working with the public and at the end of it, I was both happy and exhausted.

Out first helpers were Maria and Cecilia, two art students from San Jose State. They stayed and each built four viruses and even conquered the most difficult one to construct: Koobface.

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Here Joanna and Jennifer are demonstrating the proper technique for placing their viruses in the belly of the horse.

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My non-scientific observation was that Cooties was the most popular choice of virus.
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And Rabies, which this gentleman  is gluing together, was oft-selected.
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Throughout the day, we got a steady stream of visitors to the virus-construction table.
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After 5 hours of leading workshops (meanwhile, Victoria was cutting, fitting and adjusting the panels), we ran out of viruses. I rushed to my date with the laser-cutter and sliced and scored out 75 more in anticipation of tomorrow’s day. The lasercutter is the best thing ever.
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Here is a sheet of Andromeda Strain, which is the easiest one and is essentially like a 4-sided Dungeons and Dragons die (three, glued together)

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Meanwhile, all day we could hear the pounding of hammer against nails as our neighbors, MTAA, constructed their Art Barn.
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No complaints though, this is the Garage experience that we has planned for and we found ourselves taking short breaks and joking around with the other artists throughout the day.

By 7pm, the horse had about 100 viruses in it. Its getting there, but still lots more virus-building to do!
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01SJ Day 7: Download the Viruses

We started the today’s Gift Horse day by picking up the castle wall sections — printed onto the same bioboard as the horse panels — from our good friends at Electric Works. Here you see Victoria showing off her street-jigsawing skills as she slices through the panels on the corner of Mission and 8th St.

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An hour drive to San Jose and then we began our day by opening shop to virus-construction.

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Since we have deployed the laser-cutter to excise the outlines and scored the viruses on the card stock, all one has to do is use glue. For those of you unable to go to South Hall over the next week, you can download the viruses from our website. Here’s what the uncut virus sheets look like (this is ILOVEYOU)
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Annette Mees and Ken Eklund, who are working on the ZERO1-supported ZOROP artwork pitched in to make Dengue Fever and Cooties.
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By the end of the day, we had 30 viruses in the belly of the horse. I expect by the end of the weekend, to have many, many more.
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Also, a little more progress on the panels, though we got sidetracked by all the conversations and nice people we met.

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01SJ Day 6: Panels and Special Guests

Hello Gift Horse fans! The days at the Garage are pleasantly blurring together. Artists everywhere are building their projects and we are stage center in the construction zone.

Today was a divide-and-conquer kind of day. While Victoria was fitting the chest panels (don’t they look good), I was busy with the lasercutter and figuring out how to put score lines into the small virus sculptures. After two hours, I had handfuls of the next round of viruses, including Koobface, Dengue Fever, The Andromeda Strain and ILOVEYOU for workshops this weekend.

Here, we see a glimpse of what the Trojan Horse will look like when fully-paneled. Now that the dust has literally settled, we are beginning to clad the horse.

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We had a special guest stop by, Rudy Rucker, science fiction writer and thinker. He appropriately worked on a Snow Crash virus along with his friend, Chris.

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Here is his interpretation of Snow Crash. Take that, Neal Stephenson!
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Other visitors helped build paper sculptures as well. Pictured here are Diane and Sally, whom we caught in conversation fulfilling one of our goals to gather strangers together in real space.

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Finally, Ken Gregory gave us a demonstration of his impressive whip-cracking skills. He will make an excellent slavemaster for the Green Prix parade, exhorting the Greek Warriors to push the horse down the streets.

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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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01SJ Day 4: Out of the Garage, Into the Parking Lot

Compared to last night’s construction frenzy, today was calm and involved detail work and time on the computer to preparing the paper viruses sculptures.

The horse did venture outside of South Hall and we were both anxious about whether or not it would fit through the 14-foot high rollup doors. We had taken measurements and had planned to make it with just 2 inches of clearance. But you never know about human error.
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Once again, the 3D model corresponded to reality. Phew.

Although the wooden armature is beautiful by itself, the printed wood panels that make up the exterior cladding will be stunning. But, the environment at South Hall is too dusty (our neighbors are both sawing lots of wood), so we are beginning what we can the “stagecraft” portion of the project — creating the illusion that the horse will appear like a 3D model. Here, we are painting what will be the spaces between printed panels, so that you see black in between. This will make more sense in a couple days.
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01SJ Day 3: Armature Assembly

The first part of the day was what I’ve often experienced while making projects onsite: several runs to box hardware stores looking around for the right fittings and being horribly inefficient. By mid-afternoon we hit our stride and fortunately, all the measurements we made in the Sketchup model of the Gift Horse translated perfectly to real life. Astounding.

By late afternoon we were finally assembling the wagon for the giant Trojan Horse, which will be pushed during the Green Prix parade on Saturday, September 18th by many costumed Greek Warriors. Later in the day, the horse will be “gifted” to the San Jose Art Museum, where it will join the Retro-Tech exhibition.

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Here is the wagon, finished and stable. It wheeled around quite easily.

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By now it,was 7pm and we were exhausted but we wanted to start assembling. We got help from last night’s dinner crew and constructed the main body of the Gift Horse.

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A headlesss horse wouldn’t do. We soldiered on and affixed with the head piece followed by the nose.

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Finally, a finished horse armature! Stay tuned, we’ll be putting on the panels in the next several days.

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01SJ Day 2: The Cart Before The Horse

Before we can assemble the horse, we have to build that cart that it will be wheeled around on.

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The cart is rated to hold 2000 lbs, which hopefully will be over-engineered since I’m not sure of the exact weight of the horse. With 8 casters on the bottom and trying to figure out a good wagon assembly, it took us a while to get a basic form assembled (a shout out here to our friends Brett Bowman and Zarin Gollogly who helped make this possible). By the end of the day, we were close but still not finished.

Sidetracked by socializing, we got a chance to catch up with some old friends, including James Morgan (pictured below), some of the aforementioned folks from yesterday and also some new ones such as Chico MacMurtrie, ex-San Francisco resident who now lives in Brooklyn.

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01SJ Day 1: Out of the Studio, Into the World

A long, long day but we managed to get all of the Gift Horse parts into a 17′ truck and into the South Hall site for the beginning of Out of the Garage, Into the World. I was amazed at how tightly-packed the truck was.

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South Hall is massive and with 80,000 square feet of space, you can imagine the difficulties of planning the space out — here is Jamie Austin (assistant curator for ZERO1) marking out our space with the Architect, Angel Borrero Cubero. Chalk lines demarcate the staging area for our giant Trojan Horse.
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Other people we got a chance to talk to include Ken Gregory, who was a generous donor of the Gift Horse Kickstarter campaign and DC Spensley, a pal of mine I know through Second Life. We also met two folks from Minnepolis Art on Wheels (MAW), who were telling me that their sketchy motel room came equipped with a baseball bat. Whoa! Everyone was setting up today. Lots of energy and friendliness abounded and I’ll have more on the various projects in the coming days. On the first setup day, the most visually striking thing I saw were all the wrecked cars from the Empire Drive-In project.
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And behind us is the TechShop building their shared ShopBot — the very machine that we used to make Gift Horse.

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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.

Foot-in-Mouth and More

This is a family of eight paper virus sculptures for the Gift Horse project, which has 12 more days to go as a Kickstarter project. You can donate here.

Top row (left to right): Andromeda Strain, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, T-Virus (from Resident Evil), Rabies, Smallpox
Bottom row: Foot-in-mouth disease, Snow Crash, Dengue Fever

Virus All_screen

The synopsis: Victoria Scott and myself are building a 13-foot high Trojan Horse for the 01SJ Biennial to celebrate the viral nature of art and ideas. For 10 days before the event, we will be leading public workshops where we will teach anyone to build a virus using basic papercraft techniques of cutting, folding, and gluing.

The hundreds of viruses will go into the belly of the horse and will be released into the San Jose Museum of Art on September 18th in a boisterous public ceremony.

Smallpox, Dengue Fever, Andromeda Strain and Tobacco Mosaic

These are the first 4 viruses that are part of the Gift Horse project for the upcoming 01SJ Biennial, built originally as 3D models and then translated into paper sculptures. We are making 12 in total and stuffing hundreds of them inside the 13-foot high Trojan Horse.

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From left to right, we have Tobacco Mosaic Virus — the first virus ever discovered, then Smallpox, historically significant since it was eradicated (save for two repositories in storage); then Andromeda Strain — an extra-terrestrial virus — from the 1971 movie. Finally there is Dengue Fever, which has no known vaccine, is usually non-fatal, and is spread through mosquitos and is significant due to its rampant increase from climate change, especially in non-western countries.

We based the physical models on these reference images, abstracting designs from them.

Andromeda Strain

Andromeda Strain

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

Smallpox

Smallpox

Gift Horse-in-progress

After the first month, we are 31% funded on the 13-foot-high Gift Horse for the 01SJ Biennial. A good initial run, but its starting to feel a little tight, so please consider a Kickstarter donation to the Gift Horse project.

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We have been busy working on the internal structure and final models in Sketchup. The skeleton proved to be an advanced wood project since the exterior printed digital panels (see model above) will be exactly fitted to make it look like giant-sized 3D model of a horse.

Working with our friend, Rob Bell, we have come up with this preliminary Sketchup design, which will be computer-cut with his ShopBot. This awesome piece of machinery, along with his expert skills, takes the 3D files and makes exactly the shape we need from a sheets of 4×8 wood.

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We’re trying to build this as sustainably as possible with recycled wood and a bioboard cladding. This makes it more expensive, so again, please consider a donation to help us complete this project.

Finally, it will be stuffed full of viruses. Paper viruses, that is.

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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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After Thought goes to Flux Factory

I just finished writing the software which tracks your emotions using brainwave analysis. From a flashcard-style test, it creates a custom video for each participant from a melange of silent clips such as balloons floating in the sky, a tapping foot and an angry dog. This weekend Flux Factory along with The Metric System will be presenting The Science Fair, (New York), where I will showing After Thought, which I developed as a resident artist at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center.

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This project expands my deep interest in personal emotional spaces created by video. My first exploration was with Future Memories in 2006, which sources the “in-between” shots from Hollywood cinema to create a series of black-and-white videos which evoke feelings of displaced familiarity.

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With my Home Stories (2008) project, which I call an “experimental narrative,” I use a silent, looped 5 minute edit from assorted 8mm home movies (including my own parents, now deceased) and invite 5 different storytellers to come up with narratives for the video.

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I’m excited to see the possibilities. If you are in New York this weekend (June 5-6), you will be guaranteed a memorable experience by coming to The Science Fair.

Performa Book launch with Wrath of Kong

If you are in New York this weekend, come on out to P.S. 1 this Saturday for the Performa 07 book launch. We’ll be there in spirit or maybe even in Second Life.

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For Performa07, Second Front performed Wrath of Kong, which mixed the Kong Kong legend with the pop-culture iconography of Donkey Kong.

Featured in the catalogue essay on virtual worlds is an analysis of the early performance art works in Second Life, including work by the Mattes, my own Paradise Ahead series, Patrick Lichty, Gazira Babeli and of course Second Front.

15 hours of magic

CPoV Wikipedia Conference

Here is a blog posting on my talk (co-written by Nathaniel Stern) at the CPOV Conference in Amsterdam, which is a decent run-down and I chuckled when the blogger called me a “short man” (I am 5′ 8″). I can only hope she didn’t comment on everyone else’s physical appearances!

My talk was a more detailed look into the theoretical issues behind the Wikipedia Art project, initiated just over a year ago.

The most compelling presentation from Day 1 was that of Jeanette Hofmann, who discussed the interplay of experience and expectation, outlining a general trend on web-based ventures such as Wikipedia. With a move that discards past experience, people create a new systems which challenge the paradigm through experimental new means. However, these often lead to bloated administrative layers, regulatory systems and general ossification. The creators often feel a sense of disappointment as a result.

Wikipedia CPOV Conference

CPOV in Amsterdam + Interview

Round 2 of the CPOV Conference, this time in Amsterdam (March 26-27). I’m flying out on Friday, where I will be presenting a paper and presentation on Wikipedia Art in collaboration with Nathaniel Stern. On the CPOV blog is an interview by Juliana Brunello, featuring Patrick Lichty, Nathaniel and myself.

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This conference is a follow-up to the amazing WikiWars Conference in Banglaore. I’m looking forward to meeting the next group of critical thinkers with high hopes based on the January gathering. Thank you to the Institute of Networked Cultures for putting this together!

The Great Avatar Challenge

Live from New York this Saturday: The Great Avatar Challenge. This mixed-realities performance is a collaboration with Stephanie Rothenberg for Eyebeam’s Mixer: Olympiad in New York. Get your tickets now, as it will be certain to sell out.

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Our performance is one of many spectacular events going on in this two-night series. We will be conducting races where real-life contestants will compete against my Second Life avatar, Great Escape. The course winds through Eyebeam’s main space and is a hurdle-sprint, in a gesture of pure physicality against a simulated one.

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Projected against the real-life wall at Eyebeam, our Second Life track will be an extension of the real-life space.

Wafaa Bilal lecture at SFAI

My good friend and colleague, Wafaa Bilal, will be speaking this Wednesday at the San Francisco Art Institute. I’d highly recommend the talk.

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You might remember him from the “Shoot an Iraqi” project where he lived in a gallery for a month and had a paint ball gun setup to point at him. You could shoot him with the gun for $1 (I couldn’t resist spending a couple bucks).

He also created “Virtual Jihadi” were he re-engineered a US training video game so that you could be a suicide bomber instead (the piece got shut down by Rensselaer). Its unbelievable that a shut-down like this could happen well-after the censorship debates of the 60s and 70s.

He has an amazing history as a refugee from Desert Storm and US transplant. His brother and father (both civilians) were both killed in Iraq by American drone attacks in 2004.

Hatch and Afterthought

New documentation! During my 6-month residency at Eyebeam, I worked on about 6 different projects. Two of them: Hatch and After Thought are now documented on my site.

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Hatch is the first of a series of acrylic plexiglass installations. This one depicts a mass of sperm (up to 200!) which swarm around a doorway. This was cut with the Eyebeam’s lasercutter, can be site-specific in its installation, and is cheap to ship.

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After Thought is the most experimental of my individual works. Here, I use a Neurosky Mindset to test people while they look at flashcards of charged imagery. I monitor their responses in a subjective application of science, noting their responses on an indicator sheet (below). After their test, I feed their results back into video generation software that I wrote which makes a custom video (5 minutes) that reflects their emotional state of mind.

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Another artist that I am close friends with, Luther Thie, uses the same headset for the Acclair project in compelling but conceptually different repurposing of the brain to computer interface (BCI).

Gandhi Released

Last Tuesday, Second Front was invited by Joe DeLappe to enact a performance in Second Life around the Gandhi Release Party and subsequent hootenanny.

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Gandhi has been imprisoned for a year, mirroring his historical imprisonment.

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Several of us congregated at the gates to the prison, from left to right is Bibbe Oh (aka Bibbe Hansen), Great Escape (aka Scott Kildall) and Liz Solo. The full Second Front ensemble was there including Tran Spire (aka Doug Jarvis), Gazira Babeli, Fau Ferdinand (aka Yael Gilks) and Man Michinaga (aka Patrick Lichty).

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We began the break-out with jackhammers and drills, but the jail ceilings were constructed out of a digital composite that resisted our tools. Ever resourceful, we upgraded to bulldozers and then to dynamite.

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KA-BOOM! The door popped open and out came Gandhi. Free at last, free at last!

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Our special surprise, for Gandhi was Cicciolina (played by Patrick Lichty) popping out of cake. Happy Release, Gandhi!

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After a year being cooped up in prison, I’m sure that Gandhi appreciated the lap dances from Second Front (Bibbe’s thong pictured here)




Flo McGarrell

Flo McGarrell was a friend of mine who died in the earthquake in Haiti. A fellow alum of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he was the director of Fosaj (Fondation Sant D’A Jakmel), an art school in Haiti where he passionately worked to build a community engaged with a contemporary art practice. Much more than I could do justice, this NPR story describes the school and his amazing contributions to the people around him.

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WikiWars Reportback

I just returned from Bangalore, India as part of the WikiWars Conference (see previous post). Organized by Nishant Shah and Geert Lovnik as part 1 of CPOV: Critical Point of View (as opposed to Wikipedia’s NPOV), the conference featured speakers from 27 different countries.

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Nathaniel Stern and I presented Wikipedia Art: Citation as Performative Act in the final session of the 2-day conference, where we performed the presentation, based on the impetus behind the Wikipedia Art project, performative citations and used examples from The Miracle on 34th Street and The Digital Dark Age.

Part 2 will be in Amsterdam in March and the result will be a free book featuring a compendium of writings from the two events, which will be distributed to universities and libraries worldwide — a unification of academia and open culture philosophy.

This was one of the best conferences I’ve been to: well-organized with thoughtful presentations, plenty of time for in-depth discussions and a warm group of people, which resulted in some new friendships.

I was particularly impressed with Stuart Gieger’s discussion of bots in Wikipedia culture as well as Mark Graham’s analysis of uneven geographies in Wikipedia.

Stay tuned for the Amsterdam session and you can follow the CPOV blog here.

I have many more photos from the India trip on my Facebook page.

Wikipedia Art goes to Bangalore

I am flying to Bangalore (Bengaluru) tonight. Here, I will be presenting an academic paper at WikiWars Conference with my colleague and close friend, Nathaniel Stern.

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Looking at what we call “performative citations”, we will be focusing on the infamous Wikipiedia Art project and introducing a contemporary application of the performative utterance — as applied to Wikipedia.

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This will be the first of a two-part gathering to put together material for the Critical Point of View (CPOV) Reader. The second will be in Amsterdam in March. I’m excited.

See this show: Oil by Edward Burtynksy

Burtynsky’s work is a powerful indictment of capitalism’s effects on our planet. With striking compositions of mass production, strip-mining and congested highways, taken from a aerial point-of-view, his photographs are both disgusting and aesthetically beautiful.edward-burtynsky-oil

In his TED talk here, he speaks about the tension between the depressing content and the sheet beauty of his work, directing the viewer away from a didactic dialogue about human effect on the planet and instead infiltrating our artistic sensibilities with environmental issues.

The show runs through November 28.
At Hasted Hunt Kraeutler Gallery
537 West 24th Street, New York

Astronauts without a home

As part of the Postgravity Art: Synaptiens event which invites hour-long interventions into a 50-hour performance cycle, I will be enacting a two-person performance: Space Age Love.

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Here, Victoria Scott and myself will be floating in space — in Second Life space — and communicating via chat, while our cameras point at one another and our astronaut avatars perform acrobatics. The two viewpoints will be projected onto the Synaptiens structures at Eyebeam. This is happening today (Nov 12 2009) along with performances at 2:30 by Jamie O’Shea and 4:30 by Rashaad Newsome.

I call this an auto-biographical performance as the two of us are floating between San Francisco and New York, working out opportunities, desires and finances to find a home. The chat will be entirely improvised, discussing these issues in live space at Eyebeam.