Beta-testing Duchamp

I’m looking for some beta-testers for “Playing Duchamp” — a new net art project.
login_duchamp

Working with 72 recorded games of Marcel Duchamp’s chess matches, I have created a computer program to play chess as if it were Duchamp. In a series of open challenges, I invite all artists, both skilled and unskilled at this classic game, to play against a Duchampian ghost.

You don’t need to know how to play chess well to try this out.

The official release for the project will be on November 30th. Stay tuned.

If interested, please email me at: lucky (at) kildall (dot) com

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.

14_y_entrance

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

csa

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

3_of_us

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.

intake_form

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.

scott_testing

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

scott_testing3

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.
minha_testing

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.

scott_testing4

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?”

scott_anaylzing

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

scott_analyzing

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.

scott_testing_rothenberg

Day 17: Into the Streets, Into the Museum

This was the big presentation day for Gift Horse.

We assembled our volunteer crew in the morning and they donned togas for the Green Prix parade.
four_person_crew

We already knew that the horse would clear the doorway, but others were concerned. Reality replicated itself and we got outside South Hall just fine.

out_the_door

We look like we are exerting ourselves a lot here, but it was easy to push with all of our crew.

scott_pushing

And thanks to Danny Lulu for his excellent photography!
hp_and_others

Some of the students from a local high school came out to help.

independence_high

After 2 hours or so, we made it the San Jose Museum of Art. Clap! Clap!
clapping_garage

In the next 3 hours, we quickly disassembled and reassembled the horse in the gallery space for the Retro-Tech exhibition.

At 4pm, we did a quick ceremony, where we presented the horse to Russ, one of the trustees of the museum.

museum_open_

He accepted the gift, but whoa! Look at all the viruses spilling out!

museum_open_2

museum_open_3

Now they’re on the floor as part of the “artwork” that makes up the horse.
viruses_on_floor

And a final shot of the horse, in its fully glory.
full_glory

01SJ Day 12: Gift Horse Done!

We are so tired and we are done. The Gift Horse was difficult, as expected — so many details. And now the 01SJ Biennial truly will begin. We’re excited and hope you can make it for the Green Prix parade and presentation at the San Jose Museum of Art on Saturday.

Because of the late-night fatigue, I’ll keep it to a series of pictures with minimal commentary.

Victoria and I were moving at double-speed past midnight.

blurry_ladders

A lot of detail work such as filling in the lines between the panels.

scott_fixing

All 12 viruses:

viruses_onhorse

virus_assortment

Kris and Noah and Clementine Lang from Electric Works stopped by in the evening.

krisnoah

And here is the corral where the horse will live at South Hall for the next two days.

corral

Viruses all finished, loaded up and ready to go.

viruses_in_belly

full_horse

SJ01 Day 11: Almost Done

Today is the second-to-last day we are in the garage. We’re getting pretty tired with the late nights and full workdays, but everyone has responded enthusiastically to the Gift Horse.

We still have more viruses to go, but a late night beer-and-virus session resulted in near completion. Here, Beth (from growBot Garden) and Jenny (from OpenSolarCircuits) are making a few.

jenny_beth

They were later joined by more of the garage artists wishing for a late-night break.

late_night_workshop

We have finally fit all the panels and you can see the legs all on and the belly exposed, with viruses inside. Yay!

full_body

And a bellyful of the viruses!

full_belly

Day 12 is the last garage day and we’ll be wrapping it up tomorrow. Lots of cleanup and detail work left to do.

01SJ Day 10: Horse Nearly Panelled

More viruses for the Gift Horse. Thanks to the docents of the San Jose Museum of Art and also the ZERO1 volunteers, we finished off 100 viruses today.

docents_making

Meanwhile, we began final fittings of exterior panels for the horse, after picking up the last reprints from the ever-patient folks at Electric Works, art gallery and press in San Franciscio. Due to inevitable minute differences between the virtual and the real, we had to cut some to fit, especially all of the leg panels. Sharpie marks on the back are the standard way to indicate what goes where.
legs_marking

11:30pm and Victoria is at it again with the jigsaw. You can see the nearly-finished Trojan Horse in the background.
v_sawing

Crap! I mismeasured one of the leg panels and cut off more then I should. My heart sank.

scott_badcut

…but I was saved by an off-cut leg panel, which fitted magically where this one was to be placed. It was clearly time to have a beer and go to sleep.

scott_saved

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.

many_assembling

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.

tvirus_kids

Later in the day, a group of girls all made Andromeda Strain, from the movie well before their time.
two_kids

Many of the volunteers stuck around and made several viruses, helping fill the belly and for this, we were most appreciative.
two_women
ron_viruses

We also got the head panels attached!
horse_with_head

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.

two__girl_students

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

two_women_placing

My non-scientific observation was that Cooties was the most popular choice of virus.
cooties_closeup

And Rabies, which this gentleman  is gluing together, was oft-selected.
guy_building

Throughout the day, we got a steady stream of visitors to the virus-construction table.
group_shot

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.
lasercutting_rabies
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)

lasercutting_andromeda

Meanwhile, all day we could hear the pounding of hammer against nails as our neighbors, MTAA, constructed their Art Barn.
artbarn_mtaa

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!
viruses_in_belly

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.

victoria_cutting

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

v_and_ica_person

cutting_table

three_assemblers

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)
virus_iloveyou

closeup_dengue

Annette Mees and Ken Eklund, who are working on the ZERO1-supported ZOROP artwork pitched in to make Dengue Fever and Cooties.
annette_and_ken_assembling

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.
30_viruses

Also, a little more progress on the panels, though we got sidetracked by all the conversations and nice people we met.

feet_closeup
wheel_closeup

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.

horse_panels

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.

rudy_assembling

Here is his interpretation of Snow Crash. Take that, Neal Stephenson!
rudy_snowcrash

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.

virus_workshops

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.

ken_whipping

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.

father_daughter
daughter_places
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.
lasercutter

many_snowcrashes

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.

jeff_builds

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.

andromeda_snowcrash

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.
horse_exiting
clearance
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.
stagecraft

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.

sandv_wagon_working

sworking_onwagon

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

finished_wagon

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.

headlesshorse

crew_looking_athorse

horse_nonose

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

putting_on_nose

nose_done

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

assembled

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.

_MG_3640

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.

gift_horse_intrick

gifthorse_parts
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.
southhall

jamieangel
gifthorse

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.
drivein

And behind us is the TechShop building their shared ShopBot — the very machine that we used to make Gift Horse.

techshop_setup

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.

first_four

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.

gift_horse_3d

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.

TroHo_partial_sketchup

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.

gift_horse_virus

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.

03_trojan_horse

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.

virus

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.

nm_trojan_horse_640x480

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.

after_thought_06

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.

future_memories_03

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.

home_stories_02

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.

Life 2.0

Last night I saw Life 2.0, a new film by a friend of mine, Jason Spingarn-Koff, which follows three storylines of people heavily involved in Second Life, an environment that I use in many artworks. As a veteran SL user and ex-documentary producer, I was deeply impressed.

Life2_filmstill1_am1-550x348

Spingarn-Koff expertly mixes live footage with that from Second Life (SL) and delves into the desires, motivations and homes of four subjects, covering three facets of the bizarre “in-world” culture of SL: romantic relationships, running a fashion apparel business and a journey into self-discovery.

What we watch unfold is tension between traditional notions of family and vast amounts of time the interviewees spend in Second Life. The film portrays people who live on the extreme end of SL culture, spending upwards of 14 hours a day in the virtual environment. One woman lives in the basement of her parents house in Detroit and is often shown smoking cigarettes and operating her business while wearing a shabby pair of pajamas. Another person, a 30-something man isolates himself from his fiancée while operating his avatar — a pre-teen (non-sexualized girl. The third storyline is a romance between two people who met in SL while in unhappy marriages and are now sorting out their SL romance while they break up their families..

As I watched the beautiful machinima, I kept thinking “this is not the Second Life that I know” as my own viewing experiences are ripe chunky graphics and awkward render legs. Its one I like about the environment: the lo-fi nature of it, but that likely wouldn’t translate well to the movie screen. The production values in Life 2.0 are excellent.

Spingarn-Koff deploys the classic tactic of “tell me a story” and connects us to the intimate world of several strangers, who live the lives that we simply do not want. And he does it with compassion to the subjects, displaying his sincere intentions. The stories are touching and the tone is subtle. The subjects are not misanthropic as many would think. Mostly serious, the film is punctuated with striking humor such as when a lawyer files a lawsuit against other avatars for copyright infringement then reads the avatar names of the plaintifs such as “Stroker Serpentine” and “Munchflower Zeus”.

My main criticism is that he portrays only the addictive side of Second Life with people who overuse the environment and become mired in it. Life 2.0 is one of the few mainstream windows into this unique culture, and the film reinforces the media perception that this space is ripe with addicts. My personal experience is that this p.o.v is overstated as most people in SL are moderate users of the environment.

Don’t miss this one! Its on the festival circuit right now. Also, the interviews with Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, are fantastic. He looks like an avatar!

The next screening is in New York on May 11 at IFC Center.

May 11 at IFC Center:
http://stfdocs.com/films/life_2.0/

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.

Wrath-group-photo

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.

Book Review: A Field Guide to Getting Lost

gettinglost

I began reading this book while I was lost. For the last several hours, I had been riding a rental bike around Berlin with its flat terrain, mixed-up architectural styles and streets whose names perpetually change as they twist along imaginary rivers. At a coffee break in a Turkish cafe in Kreuzberg, I read her introduction which described my day: a deliberate act of surrender where time ceases to matter. I had entered a geographic state of uncertainty — of being lost — where the mind can be fully present. Her field guide came in handy.
Embracing the geographically unfamiliar is an old concept, rooted in histories of adventurers and the imagination of childhood, but our society is drifting towards fixedness. Maps, knowledge and time are increasingly objectively quantified, such that Solnit’s field guide becomes well-needed.
After her powerful introduction follows a series of short plotless narratives— its hard to categorize these texts, which combine her personal history with larger cultural patterns.  She writes of the color blue and speaks of the infinite horizon, the science of molecules and of Yves Klein’s leaping into the void. She meanders about ruins, Blade Runner, punk rock and urban renewal. She discusses Borges’ labyrinths, the Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca and the film, Vertigo. These strands of thought all revolve around themes of getting lost and we fall into the words, not knowing what comes next.
While her personal narratives are less interesting than her ability to wind together historical threads, nevertheless, her own stories are the ones that activate the imagination. This book is a departure point. Like getting lost, it opens up possibilities rather than resolving them. I’d recommend reading it while you are traveling alone, and then you can apply the principles insid

“A Field Guide to Getting Lost”
by Rebecca Solnit

I began reading this book while I was lost. For the last several hours, I had been riding a rental bike around Berlin with its flat terrain, mixed-up architectural styles and streets whose names perpetually change as they twist along imaginary rivers. At a coffee break in a Turkish cafe in Kreuzberg, I read her introduction which described my day: a deliberate act of surrender where time ceases to matter. I had entered a geographic state of uncertainty — of being lost — where the mind can be fully present. Her field guide came in handy.

Embracing the geographically unfamiliar is an old concept, rooted in histories of adventurers and the imagination of childhood, but our society is drifting towards fixedness. Maps, knowledge and time are increasingly objectively quantified, such that Solnit’s field guide becomes well-needed.

After her powerful introduction follows a series of short plotless narratives— its hard to categorize these texts, which combine her personal history with larger cultural patterns.  She writes of the color blue and speaks of the infinite horizon, the science of molecules and of Yves Klein’s leaping into the void. She meanders about ruins, Blade Runner, punk rock and urban renewal. She discusses Borges’ labyrinths, the Spanish explorer, Cabeza de Vaca and the film, Vertigo. These strands of thought all revolve around themes of getting lost and we fall into the words, not knowing what comes next.

While her personal narratives are less interesting than her ability to wind together historical threads, nevertheless, her own stories are the ones that activate the imagination. This book is a departure point. Like getting lost, it opens up possibilities rather than resolving them. I’d recommend reading it while you are traveling alone, and then you can apply the principles inside.

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.

100 Performances for the Hole (Take 2)

If you’re in San Francisco this Saturday night (March 6), you’re in for a performance-art treat: 100 Performances for the Hole (Take 2) at Somarts. 100 artists each do 2-minute performances inside a mechanics pit. I’m on at 8:54pm and will create a Cagean surprise. The first performance is at 5:58pm and the evening ends at 1am.

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This is a follow up to Justin Hoover’s event at The Garage of the same name. Here is where I presented a live-mediated performance called In the Hole, where crawled into the mechanics pit, placed a cover over myself and then called up Justin’s cell phone. He then handed this to a stranger (this part was pre-arranged) who came over and held my hand and guided me out of my self-created psychological space.

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).