Producing Art via 3D printing

Let’s not get too excited until the reviews come out, but it’s always nice to receive some advance press coverageScreen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.04.17 PM.

For this upcoming show, which is at the Peninsula Art Museum in Burlingame, I will be presenting my Data Crystals artwork. These have been written about extensively in the press, but not yet shown in an exhibition. That’s how it works sometimes.

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Exhibition Details:

What: “3D Printing: The Radical Shift”
When: April 26 through June 28
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays
Opening reception: 1-2 p.m. (members only), 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. (general public) April 26
Where: Peninsula Museum of Art, 1777 California Drive, Burlingame

Impakt Festival: Opening Night

The Impakt Festival officially kicked off this Wednesday evening, and the first event was the exhibition opening at Foto Dok, curated by Alexander Benenson.

The works in the show circled around the theme of Soft Machines, which Impakt describes as “Where the Optimized Human Meets Artificial Empathy”.

Of the many powerful works in the show, my favorite was the 22-minute video, “Hyper Links or it Didn’t Happen,” by Cécile B. Evans. A failed CGI rendering of Philip Seymour Hoffman narrates fragmented stories of connection, exile and death. At one point, we see an “invisible woman” who lives on a beach and whose lover stays with her, after quitting a well-paying job. The video intercuts moments of odd narration by a Hoffman-AI. Spam bots and other digital entities surface and disappear. None of it makes complete sense, yet it somehow works and is absolutely riveting.

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After the exhibition opening, the crowd moved to Theater Kikker, where Michael Bell-Smith, presented a talk/performance titled “99 Computer Jokes”. He spared the audience by telling us one actual computer joke. Instead, he embarked on a discursive journey, covering topics of humor, glitch, skeuomorphs, repurposing technology and much more. Bell-Smith spoke with a voice of detached authority and made lateral connections to ideas from a multitude of places and spaces.

michael In the first section of his talk, he describes that successful art needs to have a certain amount of information — not too much, not too little, citing the words of arts curator Anthony Huberman:

“In art, what matters is curiosity, which in many ways is the currency of art. Whether we understand an artwork or not, what helps it succeed is the persistence with which it makes us curious. Art sparks and maintains curiosities, thereby enlivening imaginations, jumpstarting critical and independent thinking, creating departures from the familiar, the conventional, the known. An artwork creates a horizon: its viewer perceives it but remains necessarily distant from it. The aesthetic experience is always one of speculation, approximation and departure. It is located in the distance that exists between art and life.”

In the present time where faith in technology has vastly overshadowed that of art, these words are hyper-relevant. The Evans video accomplishes this, resting in this valley between the known and the uncertain. We recognize Hoffman and he is present, but in an semi-understandable, mutated form. We know that the real Philip Seymour Hoffman is dead. His ascension into a virtual space is fragmented and impure. The video suggests that traversing the membrane from the real into the screen space will forever distort the original. It triggers the imagination. It sticks with us in a way that stories do not.

What Bell-Smith alludes to his talk is that the idea of combining the human and the machine won’t work…as expected. He sidesteps any firm conclusions. His performance is like the artwork that Huberman describes: it never reaches resolution and opens up a space for curiosity.

Later he displayed slides of Photoshop distasters, a sort of “Where’s Waldo” of Photoshop errata. Microseconds after viewing the advertisement below, we know something is off. The image triggers an uncanny response. A moment later we can name the problem of the model having only one leg. Primal perception precedes a categorical response. Finally, everyone laughs together at the idiosyncrasy that someone let into the public sphere.

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After Bell-Smith’s talk we had a chance for eating-and-drinking. Hats off to the Impakt organization. I know I’m biased since I’m an artist-in-residence at Impakt during the festival itself, but they certainly know how to make everyone feel warm and cozy.
galaNext up was the keynote speaker, Bruce Sterling, who is a science fiction writer and cultural commentator. He boldly took the stage without a laptop, and so the audience had no slides or videos to bolster his arguments. He assumed the role of naysayer, deconstructing the very theme of the festival: Where Optimized Human Meets Artificial Empathy. Defining the terms “cognition” (human) vs “computation” (machine), he took the stance that the merging of the two was a categorical error in thinking. His example: birds can fly and drones can fly, but this doesn’t mean that drones can lay eggs. My mind raced, thinking that someday drone aircraft might reproduce. Would that be inconceivable?

Sterling tackled the notion of the Optimized Human with san analogy to Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. For those of you that don’t recall your required high school reading, the main character of the book is Raskolnikov, who is both brilliant and desperate for money. He carefully plans and then kills an morally bankrupt pawnbroker for her cash. The philosophical question that Dostoyevsky proposes is the idea of a superhuman:  select individuals who are exempt the prescribed moral and legal code. Could the murder of a terrible person be a justifiable act? And could the person to judge this would be someone who is excessively bright, essentially leaving the rest of the humanity behind?

In the book, the problem is that the social order gets disrupted. Raskolnikov action introduces an deadly unpredictable element into his village. With an uncertainty to the law and who executes it, no one feels safe. At the conclusion of the novel, Raskolnikov ends up in exile, in a sort of moral purgatory.

The very notion of the “optimized human” has similar problems. If select people are somehow “upgraded” through cybernetics, gene therapies and other technological enhancements, what happens to the social order? Sterling spoke about marketing, but I see the greater problem one of leveraged inequality. If there are a minority of improved humans who have combined integrated themselves with some sort of techno-futuristic advantages, our society rapidly escalates the classic problem of the digital divide. The reality is that this has already started happening. The future is here.bruce Bruce Sterling concluded with the point that we need to pay attention to how technology is leveraged. His example of Apple’s Siri system, albeit not a strong case of Artificial Empathy, is owned by a company with specific interests. When asked for the nearest gas station or a recipe for grilled chicken, Siri “happily” responds. If you ask her how to remove the DRM encoding on a song in your iTunes library, Siri will be helpless. While I disagreed with a number of Sterling’s points in his talk, what I do know is that I would hope for a non-predictive future for my Artificial Empathy machines.

The Impakt Festival continues through the weekend with the full schedule here.

 

 

 

Imagine 2049 Time Capsule

As part of the “2049” project for the Regeneration show at the New York Hall of Science, I will be burying a time capsule called “Imagine 2049” on the grounds of the NYSCI.

I will be asking visitors both locally and remotely to submit inventions that might help people in the year 2049 such as medical devices, personal technologies and ways to sustain the planet. The letters and notes will be buried and opened 36 years from now in the year 2049.

It turns out that the old World’s Fair site will be harboring other time capsules as well. In the two World’s Fairs in Queens in 1939 and 1964, The Westinghouse Company buried two time capsules, called the Westinghouse Time Capsules.

Fortunately for me, both are scheduled to be opened 5000 years in the future, well after the Imagine 2049 Time Capsule.

Lunar Independence Flag

For the upcoming show, Moon Lust, this is one of serveral augments that I am making (in collaboration with Mark Skwarek) for Moon v Earth, which portrays a fictitious struggle of moon colonists for independence from Earth.

Sperm Bank – a popup show

This weekend in San Francisco, I will be presenting a popup show in conjunction with Wire + Nail Gallery called Sperm Bank.

Working with playful interpretations of the masculine seed, I will be selling various goods for the holidays. You can purchase plexiglass multiples for your wall, soap and vinyl cutouts with special versions for your laptop or bicycle.

Times: Saturday night, 6:30-9:30 and Sunday afternoon 12pm-4pm.
Where: Wire + Nail Gallery, 3150 18th Street, 104, San Francisco

I will also be displaying a spreadsheet reflecting the cost-of-goods and how much the pop-op shops makes as an experiment in open accounting.

Finally, we will have this animation on display (as a formally-editioned artist work):

Double Reflecting Dolores Park

Last Saturday, I did my first recording session with Double Reflection — a sculpture I made during a residency a few years ago at Anderson Ranch — in Dolores Park, San Francisco. The object itself is a human-sized sculpture with a two-way mirror and inside rests a camera which records what the artwork “sees” in portrait mode, capturing the scenery while people puzzle at its purpose in public space. The sculpture and resulting video will be on exhibition at an upcoming show, Keeping an Eye on Surveillance, at the Performing Arts Institute in San Francisco.

The reactions were amazing, capturing the gaze of curious passer-bys. Many guessed there was a camera inside. Others thought it was a “grooming station” and one person ventured that it was a solar cooker.

As I moved the sculpture to various sites in the park, I would sit on a blanket nearby, watching the interactions with a sly grin on my face. Was I making fun of people? Sort of, but more than anything, this was an experiment in sculpture performing in public space.

What has changed since I built the work in 2008 was that surveillance in pubic spaces such as a park no longer seems to bother most people. I explained that there was a camera inside to some folks. Did anyone care? Absolutely not. I attribute this to the naval-gazing culture of Facebook rather than the proliferation of CCTV cameras. People have become comfortable with their images being captured and reproduced by others in a surprisingly short amount of time. This strikes me as a beautiful media gesture, accepting ourselves for how we appear rather than cowering from it, and understanding that our image is beyond our control.

I will release the video soon, but will wait until after the show opens on September 10th, 2011, just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Interview at Futherfield

Ruth Catlow from Futherfield interviews Scott Kildall (that’s me) and Nathaniel Stern during the Made Real opening

Perhaps its the Budweiser-in-hand which makes Nathaniel so enthusiastic during his description of Wikipedia Art. But I suspect that is his nature. He later shows a more pensive angle when describing his beautiful piece, Given Time, which I was thrilled to finally see in person — the visuals do it proper justice.

Meanwhile, when I discuss Playing Duchamp, you can see how excited I get about the chess commentaries — these were so much fun to do and will be finally processed and online soon.

How to display net art

Last week, I installed Playing Duchamp — a Turbulence commission — at Futherfield Gallery for the “Made Real” show. The work is a net art piece, existing only on the web, which presented obvious difficulties in a gallery setup where: (1) people tend not to engage with an online chess game and (2) the gallery doesn’t want to give access to the operating system or other applications.

Here’s how we solved this. First, we used a monitor embedded in the wall and then placed a 5′ x 5′ white platform in front of it. Adding a step, a white chair and white table, made it so that the player crossed an invisible threshold, making them part of a “living sculpture”

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Inspired by the “Singing Sculpture” image from Gilbert and George as well as “One and Another” by Antony Gormley, which invited 2400 different people to stand on a plinth at Trafalgar Square for one hour and do whatever they wanted, I designed the exhibited artwork to be both the viewer and the contents on the screen. It worked! Each player made a decision to step up and play and spent time with the game while others watched.

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The second issue was a technical one and was easily solved by one of the assistants, who turned me onto a free browser called Plain View. It is a simple browser which goes into full screen mode and locked out other applications. Combine it with a wireless mouse and an alternate version of the Playing Duchamp website, which disables external links and there you have it: a net art kiosk that feels like a genuine gallery-quality artwork.

Gift Horse Installation at ArtMRKT San Francisco

Yesterday, Victoria Scott, my collaborator on the Gift Horse — a 13-foot high sculpture of the Trojan Horse — managed the installation of the giant sculpture for ArtMRKT San Francisco, from May 19th-May 22nd. Who wasn’t there? That’s right, me — I was busy installing my “2049” exhibition at The Dump — and am so thankful that Victoria was able to run this one out.

Here’s the morning load-up from Yosemite Studios. Tamara Albaitis and Noah Lang (special project manager at our gallery: Electric Works) and Victoria push the chest through the studio and into the freight elevator.
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Here, Noah Lang is assembling panels while listening to a reading of Homer’s Odyssey for inspiration.
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Jessica (the fourth member of the crew) assembles panels on the hexagonal wheels.
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Here the horse stands naked before being panelled.
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And in its final form, the horse, peers through the entrance to ArtMRKT — come and see it, along with all the other great art at this new San Francisco art fair!
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Made Real at Furtherfield in London

I’m excited to be in Made Real — a two-person show with Nathaniel Stern in London at Furtherfield Gallery

I will be featuring my 2010 Turbulence-commissioned Playing Duchamp along with Wikipedia Art (in collaboration with Nathaniel Stern). Also, I want to acknowledge the other Wikipedia Art collaborators: Patrick Lichty, Jon Coffelt and Brian Sherwin, who made Wikipedia Art such a success.

The show details are here — the opening is on May 26th.

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