I create ecosystems from existing military and industrial materials to begin a new story.
I want to change people’s perceptions about value through performative spaces, collaborative sculpture, and storytelling.
Art is integral to envisioning new worlds. By continuing to reimagine the public sphere,
I believe artists can work with community members to challenge corporate power dynamics,
increasing violence, privatization of the commons, and widening inequality.
When I was thirteen, I had a glimpse of factory farming, and became vegetarian. I spent the next fifteen years eating wheat, starches, beans, kales, rice, and nuts - but mostly wheat. When I was 28 I developed appendicitis. My appendix was surgically removed and subsequently I had four operations on my intestines over the course of a year, all due to complications with the first surgery. At the point of the last operation I weighed 98 pounds and there was no end in sight. I went to another doctor who discovered I had developed the antibodies for celiac disease, which is essentially intolerance to gluten. It's difficult to detect without doing an actual biopsy, but the antibodies can also be conclusive. Essentially, this autoimmune kills the cilia in people’s intestines so that those bodies cannot process incoming vitamins. These bodies then search for other nutrient sources. Having to change my diet overnight brought me back to eating meat, and for the next seven years I ate a limited diet of meat, between 1-2x a week. Today I am transitioning back to vegetarianism and maybe someday veganism. I believe it is one of the only planetary choices I can make.
Happy New Year
I can’t tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumor or a legend because it makes sense of what life’s brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honor. - John Berger
Cobalt is considered a “strategic metal” by the United States government. Strategic metals are defined as commodities integral to the national defense, aerospace, and energy industries, but threatened by supply disruptions due to limited domestic production. Worldwide, fifty percent of cobalt is used in the chemical industry to make pigments for glass, cloth, and porcelain as well as binders, drying agents, nuclear energy, and fertilizer. Super alloys from cobalt comprise 20% of the global market, and include hard metals, permanent magnets, carbides, and rechargeable batteries. The U.S. military consumes 62% of the world’s supply of cobalt.
In an era nationally defined by industrial labor’s exportation, Michigan’s Protect and Grow, part of the Michigan Defense Center’s “Arsenal of Innovation” is touted as one answer to a challenging consumer-industrial sector in the USA. With Protect and Grow, parts of Michigan’s auto industry are transformed to produce military-grade weapons and vehicles. The University of Michigan’s Automotive Research Center and other institutions are also in transformation, with programs like the United States Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center.
In late 2014, Michigan became one of three states producing cobalt, from a nickel mine north of Marquette called Eagle Mine. Currently, anywhere from 50-70% of cobalt extraction happens in the Democratic Republic of Congo. After being mined, it’s purchased by companies such as Huayou Cobalt (registered China). Huayou Cobalt acquired one of the largest cobalt mining permits in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It sells refined cobalt to consumer market clients including Apple (registered USA), LG Chem (registered Korea), Sony (registered USA), Volkswagen (registered Germany).
Studying the production, distribution, and use of Cobalt was the starting point for this exhibition. From craft objects to Impressionist painting and the contemporary Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye, Cobalt Blue has a significant art history. What does it mean though, to work with materials that are both seductive and linked to contemporary forms of violence? If the exhibition is a form of storytelling—what do these objects say?
Because of their ubiquity, the objects in the exhibition may veil their colonial histories, but in their modern replications, they implicate users in a massive extraction-based neocolonialism that can be deadly to the humans working in and living near mines. This is an extraction that also sacrifices the land, water, air, and animal life for economic gain.
The exhibition includes photographs and objects, many are transformed through boxing, bundling, rolling, cutting, stretching, and crushing; all techniques used to alter Cobalt.
Quote from Laudato si, pp. 36 eng. 51. Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining. There is a pressing need to calculate the use of environmental space throughout the world for depositing gas residues which have been accumulating for two centuries and have created a situation which currently affects all the countries of the world. The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution produced by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home, in the countries in which they raise their capital: “We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals. They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world. Generally, after ceasing their activity and withdrawing, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable”.30
"Confluence" is hosting all sorts of non-traditional tour guides this fall and in 2017 :)
I want Swale to reimagine public food, reinforce water as a human right, and co-create
our shared present and future through common spaces.
Papaya - space cat
On Trauma, Grief and Resilience: A project at the Museum of Modern Art.
How can art ask us to think deeply about resilience, and what it means to be resilient? Which experiences are supposed to be remembered and which are supposed to be forgotten? How can we begin to imagine a nonviolent world when we are rarely allowed to grieve over its violence? Objects can connect us through their histories and the powerful stories they carry with them. When we are able to change their form, it can be monumental. We can add our own voice and that can be healing. In the fall of 2015 I proposed a project to the Museum of Modern Art’s education department. What would it mean to take an object with a violent history and cooperatively transform it? How could a project work, and what shape would it finally take? Most of all, how can we begin to share our experiences and differences through an intergenerational, multiracial, and multinational conversation about pain, and love?
I hoped we could tell a story about changing national priorities – from a war and consumption-centered nation to one that is eager to learn from its own violence and vulnerability. Here’s what I proposed: I would purchase a US military trailer at government auction and the students would be the idea makers, the re-creators. They would architect the redesign, keep the budget, and be the project managers. I would facilitate, question, advise on, and ultimately champion their ideas. A trailer that had been redelivered to the US from Iraq was ours to work with. With seventeen high school students, we began with a series of architectural charrettes. We decided upon a criteria, or guidelines that defined what’s important to us that should be reflected in the project. It was overwhelmingly practical: what we had the budget for, our aesthetic positions, and most of all our concerns about safety. Even with all of us, this two-ton trailer was a force. In the following weeks, we created drawings and maquettes. We started and then later abandoned a series of ideas.
The things we didn’t end up doing: We didn’t turn the military trailer into a park or a garden.
We didn’t turn the military trailer into a mobile kitchen.
We didn’t turn the military trailer into a giant printmaking press.
We didn’t use the tires for tire swings.
We didn’t completely deconstruct the trailer and rebuild it into a sphere.
We didn’t turn the military trailer into an art studio.
We didn’t turn the military trailer on its side and project films on the trailer bed.
We didn’t melt the military trailer down and mold the steel into a sword.
Instead we made it into a social space that’s near impossible to define. It was a small piece of each of those things; it came from different voices and took months of compromise and working together. It came from a process of learning how to use new tools and taking time to teach each other the tools we were already skilled in. The project was not about resilience but instead about revaluing the ability to grieve. From there, it was about transforming an object into a symbol, and then into a space. We looked for a premade form to process some of those emotions collectively, but finally had to create a new one. After all, I wondered, what new potentials might develop if resilience was less valued? Like the faith many have in market expansion, resilience is a temporary fix, and has often been a way to leave the larger questions unanswered and problems unaddressed.
Make Art Not War at MoMA opens next week. Finishing the project!
KunstMagazin came to the studio
— MoMAteens (@MoMAteens) November 20, 2015
A Utopian Turn - Manifesto for a Nonviolent Art
Mary Mattingly, 2015 (excerpt)
In every way, shape, and form, we are at war.
A Manifesto for Nonviolent Art proclaims that art and utopian thought can cultivate systemic social change. Art can transform people’s perceptions about value, and collective art forms can reframe predominant ideologies.
1. A Violent Economic Order: From the supply chain to the landfill, if our systems of production, trade, and consumption use the social and ecological space of others, it is a form of violence. (Art and) A Nonviolent Economic Order: Make all works of art without participating in economies of violence. Boycott so-called Free Trade, companies that participate in slave labor, or militia-managed extraction. Demand fair wages on behalf of silenced workers and build informal, cross-border supply chains within interdependent Art World networks.
2. A Violent Political Order: Since supplying social services interferes with the military industrial power structure, military spending in the U.S. will continue to dominate and define the political order, and the US will continue making war in perpetuity. (Art and) A Nonviolent Political Order: Imagine and realize the replacement of war economies, war propaganda, and dominant strategies that oppress. Strengthen an understanding that a military approach fuels arms races, human rights abuses, and weakens economically hallowed-out States. Use social capital to transform multinational governing bodies like the *U.N. to be fair.
3. A Violent Education: The business of education and compartmentalized forms of learning best serves the people we work for, and those that they work for. With steady erosion of job security, it leaves us dependent while increasing their control. (Art and) A Nonviolent Education: Share underrepresented histories. Expand school curriculums and individual classes to include mutual education around peace, and nonviolence training towards active compassion. Flip the so-called script.
4. A violent ecological order: As increased desertification, land degradation, and water privatization continue to fuel global wars through droughts, famine, and resulting forced migration, investors trade in weather derivatives and reinsurance, profiting from ecological disasters. (Art and) A Nonviolent Ecological Order: Work towards worlds where humans serve as caretakers and stewards rather than private owners. Help to recognize the reciprocity of commons and indigenous rights to land, while protecting it from being sold off. Help to disempower the word “own”.
5. A Violent Social Order: Collective traumas are known to change our collective sense of what is possible. (Art and) A Nonviolent Social Order: Reset the dial by working together on utopian projects. Be a transgressor and an empathic lover. Promote difference not indifference. Remember that we have bigger battles to fight than those we may want to fight against each other.
6. Working Towards a Nonviolent Art. How can we dedicate ourselves to living nonviolently, today? This is not an ambitious question - it’s an essential one. In art and life, create flexible and inclusive schemes for living that encompass respect, non-hierarchy, nonviolence, and tolerance. Art making is powerful; and a nonviolent art is a duty.
Bodies such as the UN Can be useful and fair, if: It stops favoring rich nations. It represents Latin America and Africa, not just North America, Europe and Asia.It prohibits the abuse of war in self-defense. Veto power is taken away from most powerful countries. It enforces labor and environmental laws.
Dr. Bethany Wiggin's blog about WetLand:
Installing a commission for Percent for Art in SOM's Net Zero school in Staten Island - in progress
Robert Rauschenberg’s handwritten draft of a statement on photography first published in Rauschenberg Photographs, Pantheon Books, New York, 1981.
From the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Archives
For a long time I've thought art can be a form of nonviolent action. What I mean by this for me is, in a small way, I’m working towards a future that isn’t dependent on war, or a country that isn’t centered on a war economy. But for most of my life I’ve participated in small wars through the continual violence I inflict on the land, water, animals and humans through habitual consumption. I consider this the Taking Economy, and know that I have the capacity to more fully participate in a network of Giving, made of people who are not just net-zero but are able to make net-positive a way of life.
Just came across this writing by Dorothy Day on Cuba. And then one on Pennsylvania coal mining. HERE
"Francis escalated that line last week when he made a
historic apology for the crimes of the Roman Catholic Church during the period of Spanish colonialism — even as he called for a global movement against a “new colonialism” rooted in an inequitable economic order." NYTimes. I can't even express how I feel reading this. This is truly impressive.
07.03.15Working on a syllabus:
Reflecting upon the Violence of Consumption, I’m wondering if art and ritual have lost all meaning.
Extractive production and excessive consumption have become as violent as military activity. Can we extract consumption, gift in excess, and discuss ways that art, performance, and ritual can make spaces for mourning environmental loss?
Can we task ourselves with re-mapping systems of the post-industrial/higher education/military complex, and draft steps towards forming the spaces we want to inhabit?
Can we create more mindful rituals that point towards behavior change or even policy change? Could we spend more time discussing change with the choir? In an era of schizophrenia, can art still bring us closer towards embodying the world we want?
I just wrote a conversational piece about my time in Cuba for Art in America’s online journal. Part of what I wanted to express in this piece about my time in Cuba was this question (at the end of the article): Should United States citizens continue to demonize Cuba’s human rights records as our own country is one of the leading human rights violators? Instead of the guilty throwing stones, why not try to be leaders, and mobilize our country’s military/corporate/educational complex to change?
Paraphrasing Cornel West here: Young people of oppressive regimes have to be willing to tell the truth. We need to refuse to live within an empire, a democratic experiment that does not treat other human beings with dignity and decency.
Anyway, here's the piece:
Our rivers determine our land, livelihood, and lives, and the rivers of Des Moines are a force. It is with respect, honor, and excitement that we ready to install "Wading Bridge" on the Raccoon River in the coming days. As humans it is easy to forget how very dependent we are on each other, and on the built and more natural worlds we inhabit. Bridges are monuments. Over borders difficult to cross, they bring us together. Yet some of the elements we see as borders may not need to be, and it may be time to redefine them. To explain "Wading Bridge" is to explain the Value of both perceptual and physical experience, and the important practice of re-seeing. Crossing "Wading Bridge" and getting our feet wet can allow us a momentary intimacy with the Raccoon river. For me, "Wading Bridge" is about living with tumultuous change. Sometimes our bridges may be under water, but in unexpected ways they will still bring us together.
Push / Pull: The Art of Negotiation
It has been a privilege to collaborate with the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in this special project in Havana at a time when the relationship between Cuba and the United States is changing. As it turned out, in the midst of planning this installation, President Obama announced a new policy of engagement between the two countries. Due to changes slowly accompanying this political conversation (of course large-scale changes never happen overnight), I was asked to extend a projected three-week stay into a two-month period. On a personal level, the time extension meant that I would have to establish deeper relationships with a wider group of possible collaborators, including architecture professors at the University of Habana, local art students, and artists, as well as architects, builders, conservators and the entire team at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Together, we have been able to complete a two-part sculpture that will not only be up through the Biennale but for some time after, used and shared by a growing list of places and people in Havana.
Pull is a Proposal
It has been a personal mission of the last few years to propose a transformation of supplies once used by the United States Army’s longest war in history into sculptures that can represent another way, and another world. The blue tubing that transfers extra water to other plants and fish is part of this proposal. Some of the fabric that covers the sphere was also once used in combat. I want Pull to ask how could resources be redistributed from the many military complexes into something that can potentially begin to re-contextualize and reverse the traumas incited through wars.
Pull is an Ecosystem
Pull is made up of many human and nonhuman networks. Inside of the spheres, plants live with birds, fish, butterflies, and other insects. Plants depend on insects like butterflies, while the birds depend on seeds from the plants, and the fish depend on the rain and nutrients from the soil, and vice versa. People use the space to learn in, create in, convene in, live in, and be in. During my first weeks in Havana, I thought I heard a child wistfully calling his mother. I thought I listened him calling her every evening as I drew in my apartment in Vedado. One day a friend came over and told me it was a bird I was hearing, not a child crying. Bird keeping in Havana is tinted with symbolist (I know why the caged bird sings) and nostalgia overtones. Being here, I have become transfixed by the parrots, hummingbirds, and especially the songbirds of Cuba. This fascination has expanded the way I’ve described the ecosystem I’m building. I now realize that this was another component that I was often leaving for last; one that addresses nostalgia, loss, and love. The birds in Pull are as central to the ecosystem that I have created as the food that will lovingly grow over the next months in old juice containers, made by architects, students, and conservators. In a poetic way, the birds are an essential part of the team, together with the staff at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, the art students, Yoandy Rizo and Osmany Fuentes and their capable building team, and Ananda Morera and her extended team of city officials.
The Art of Bureaucratic Documents
I am aware that Pull can be seen as an absurd proposition, but my goal has been to inspire ways of being together, acting together, and with a larger world. At the core of this project is a performance in which the values of balance, strategy, and care hold central roles. Dragging large spheres full of precarious ecosystems to Havana’s Parque Central needed strategic maneuvering as well as a keen sense of bureaucratic tact. The trail of paperwork and permits necessary to allow the structure to be placed at different sites has been an important part of this process. Mirroring New York’s dizzying bureaucracy, this paperwork is the result of one attempt to navigate a Kafkaesque cyclical maze that makes up an organization, city, and country’s policies.
Pull - On Utopia
Art is a necessity. Without art there is less room for reflection and evolution. Pull takes into consideration our bodies’ spatial relations, expenditures, daily movements and chores. In a social system in which the individual lacks security or place, Pull proposes a utopian zone in which the many aren’t governed by the few, but act as interdependent agents, relating with each other and with the world. As the new policy of engagement between the United States and Cuba moves forward, there is a unique opportunity to learn from each other in many ways. With the collapse of entire cities like Detroit, which was dependent on one kind of industry, Americans could learn from Cubans about post-industrial resilience. In Cuba, when sugar factories closed, and entire towns suffered from the lack of jobs, the government subsidized adults to return to school. During the period of the Green Revolution, when industrial farming was being promoted around the world, most Cubans relied on Organopónicos, a less aggressive farming practice that only now is catching up in the United States. Other ways are possible.
Pull: A proposal for a place without a door and without walls, Pull is a sculpture in two parts. Pull is a negotiation, like two bodies, pushing and pulling, forming new histories. Elemental life-support systems cycle through the spaces. Pull is a performance. In a process of compromise, balance, and care it is pulled across the city. Temporarily inhabiting spaces outside at Parque Central and inside the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, it will be dragged to its next location in a long-term procession across the city, its route growing. Made through meeting, co-learning, compromising, and materials with past lives, Pull is brought together from all over Havana and New York City. Pull understands that interdependency with each other, with urban and rural environments is necessary now more than ever. When activated, it is a stage for storytelling about our shared future, and the ability each person has to narrate. A porous kind of island, ecosystem, and organism in formation, Pull is a poem and a tool.
Links on Military spending research:
The US government
spends more on defense than the next thirteen highest-spending countries combined. America’s military budget is equivalent to those of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy, Brazil, South Korea, Canada and Australia.
In fact, since the attacks on New York and Washington DC on September 11th 2001, the Pentagon’s base budget has
increased by nearly 50 per cent when adjusted for inflation, rising to a requested half-a-trillion dollars for fiscal year 2014. And that doesn’t include the costs of the wars the US has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would add another trillion dollars or more to the total.
http://thescore.peaceactionwest.org/ - vote tracker - see how your politicians voted on particular issues
A climate ethics is inextricably linked to a social and economic ethics.
Can we establish a climate ethics when we can’t even establish a human ethics?
What is the total impact of an increasingly unsustainable expansion of global consumerism?
What does fairness mean in an era of warming?
Artisterium,The Literature Museum, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia curated by Magda Guruli and Lydia Matthews.
A group (from SF, Great Barrington, NY, Berlin, and Tbilisi) took a bus from downtown Tbilisi to Shindisi (Cloud Library) – artist Mamuka Japharidze’s home up in the mountain. We took objects with us, wrote obituaries for them, bundled them and buried them – a small and intentional homage to their embedded social and ecological traumas… and some people might have been disappointed that there wasn’t a happier ending, that in a way it joined the rest of the objects we indirectly bury in landfills everyday.
It was as if God had decided to put to the test every capacity for surprise and was keeping the inhabitants of Macondo in a permanent alternation between excitement and disappointment, doubt and revelation, to such an extreme that no one knew for certain where the limits of reality lay. - Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
making soup with Art21 in the park
In his writing, Wantrup derived economic and social criterias for sustainability, irreversibility, unknown future probability, and “extramarket values” of collective goods. He integrated concepts of:
, the Precautionary Principle,
conservation land use planning, and the importance of protecting
endangered species and
Possibly his best know book: Conservation: Economics and Policies (University of California Press, 1952)
What Bloch wants to preserve for socialism, which subsists on scorning tradition, is the tradition of the scorned. In contrast to the unhistorical procedure of Feuerbach's criticism of ideology, which deprived Hegel's 'sublation' (Aufhebung) of half of its meaning (forgetting elevare and being satisfied with tollere), Bloch presses the ideologies to yield their ideas to him; he wants to save that which is true in false consciousness: 'All great culture that existed hitherto has been the foreshadowing of an achievement, inasmuch as images and thoughts can be projected from the ages' summit into the far horizon of the future.' - Habermas
To be sure, the promises of advertising and consumer culture are often false promises and often produce false needs, but their power and ubiquity shows the depth of the needs that capitalism exploits and the wishes for another life that permeate capitalist societies.
Love this woman!
With Rita Sharper
In a time of uncertainty can we revisit comprehensive systems that can offer educational support to each other and help us meet our daily needs?
Based on environmental and economic sustainability, WetLand is a proposal and a sculpture that resembles a partially submerged building. It is a cross-collaborative ecosystem and working living system with space for food production, water collection and purification, solar energy collection, and compost renewal systems. It also houses artists, writers, and teachers for up to two weeks while serving as an event and studio space. WetLand is currently floating on the Delaware River.
I’m writing this on Labor Day. There are union-organized events and parades all over Penn’s Landing. Reflecting upon the last month of building and opening WetLand requires some distance that it’s been hard to find. The space has become more active than I ever imagined.
Building in Public:
The Independence Seaport Museum was gracious enough to let us build WetLand on their pier here. Soon thereafter we began discussing building in public as a type of theater of labor, a description that I’ve began bringing with me into a broader examination of labor in all of its current forms. Even though we were working towards an end, the process involving many minds made WetLand what it is now. From artists to students, builders, ecologists, permaculture specialists, and the nautical engineer Rik Van Hemmen, we built a vessel that describes precarity but also happens to be seaworthy. We will continue to see it change.
WetLand Boat Banquet, August 16, 2014 Photo: Greg Lindquist
On August 15th WetLand opened to the public. Aside from a few days, WetLand is open all week, from 10am – 5pm, or 10am – 7pm, depending on the day. We have housed a variety of artists and writers from the East Coast, Sweden, Mexico, the Midwest, and Philadelphia. We have seen days with as few as fifty visitors and others with as many as 5000 visitors. The space has become very active, and is truly a place for mutual learning. We’ve taught and learned from each visitor who has come on board.
An observation hive built into WetLand’s window borrowed from the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild. Photo: Brian House
One thing I’ve realized is that the better our living systems can run themselves, the more growing our own food is a form of income, and the more collecting rainwater has a larger effect on our shared habitat. The better we compost, the more we can grow, and the more we can share.
WetLand at Penn’s Landing
– Mary Mattingly
Artist-in-residence, Brian House, writes: This week I am an artist in residence at Mary Mattingly’s
WetLand project — a sculpture / habitat / provocation floating in the Delaware at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. We’ve got chickens, bees, solar panels, a wetland habitat drawing from the river, ripening jalapeños, a rainwater bathtub … each day Mary, the
FringeArts staff supporting the project, and the fellow residents and I talk to the public about the future, ecology, technology, and DIY. Kids, coast guard, native Philadelphians, and international visitors have all been drawn to what is a bit of a spectacle here among the historical ships, hotels, and beach bars — today the hive was kind enough to let me share fresh honey with passersby.
Brian House with Bees
What I appreciate about this situation and Mary’s work in general is that it doesn’t shy away from existing in an indeterminate zone that invokes architectural, design, sculpture, conceptual art, and performance discourses without fitting very well into any of them. It is an exercise in interpretation, ultimately, and interpretation that exceeds the spatiotemporal bounds of the piece and slips into how we talk about ‘habitat’, or maybe ‘inhabiting’ in general. Bees, reclaimed materials, collective living, here they are conversation starters about what is novel, tolerable, exciting, or uncomfortable, and what it is that makes a habitat permanent or transient relative to the diverse everyday conditions of our visitors. In that sense, I don’t really read WetLand as a critique of our consumerism, nor a utopic vision of some bourgeohippy future, though it might easily be understood as such. I think it’s somewhat darker than that, where Mary’s living and (tireless, unceasing) labor are laid bare in an attempt to exist in conscious relation to a society that may be failing, or which we can imagine as failing. Her precarity stands in for our collective precarity. The form of WetLand is then simply her perspective rather than a polemic about how anyone should live. But that perspective includes the collaborations that she has cultivated to realize the work, from volunteers to artists to institutional support — and it’s openness to that participation and interpretation undergirds the richness of the piece.
For myself, I’ve chosen to take inspiration from that and make this residency less about producing a work as reflecting on the state of my practice and looking into future directions. I am reading theory texts, learning new software, and sketching out several small research works I’ll hopefully be able to complete in the next weeks. One of those is mechanism for rhythmanalysis, with no code or electricity involved, but through which I make temporal notations of my surroundings with the help of a stethoscope. That a boat is in constant motion makes it easy to bring rhythm into the foreground, and it has lent my time here a special kind of pulse.
Notes on Photography, Edward Burtynsky, and Ending Neutrality
ART HAPS and Viralnet Research Blog on June 26, 2014
“A cube of objects I’ve acquired, used, and wrapped with Sisal rope. Shot with a Hasselblad 503cw with parts manufactured in Sweden and sourced from Europe and Russia, with Fujifilm Fujicolor Pro 160S speed made from cellulose in Thailand, Silver Nitrate (iodine, bromide) from India, Aluminum smelting and ABS in China, scanned with a Hasselblad Imacon Flextight X5 scanner assembled in Japan… printed on Fujifilm Crystal Archive paper that uses Sulfur, Alum, Formaldehyde, Glyoxal, Saponin, Phenol, Thymol, Halide, Gelatin, Amoniac, and Silver Nitrate, with a no longer manufactured Lightjet printer… and diary entry written in Paper Mate Flair M pen made in Mexico purchased at Staples, Brooklyn, NY.”, 2013
Notes on Photography, Edward Burtynsky, and Ending Neutrality
Photography is often lauded for its ability to be ambivalent within narrative traditions. My work focuses on the framework surrounding photography as a subject, and collage as a method for describing webs of interconnections between geographies. I’m unable to separate a picture from the tools used to make it—including the cameras, computers, chemicals, inks, and papers—and the networked supply chains involved in their manufacture and distribution. From forensic photography to protestors recording police brutality, a photograph can operate as a form of justice, but the captured image is just one step in a process wrought with injustice.
In 2010 I received a grant from the Art Matters Foundation to travel to Bangladesh and study architecture in coastal areas that flood annually. It’s difficult to get in and out of Bangladesh, and for most people it’s nearly impossible to obtain or afford an exit visa. Many end up with company-sponsored documents, which are often linked to abuse and slavery. I was able to obtain a visa through a friend of a friend with a brother in Pakistan, whose uncle worked for the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI). The BEI had to approve my project and then lobby on my behalf. While in Bangladesh I interviewed people about living with flooding in an effort to bring ideas back to New York City. I went to Chittagong, a city known worldwide through the ship breaking industry. Along the way I met Mithu, a man who had assisted photographer Edward Burtynsky ten years earlier when he was documenting workers demolishing giant ships.
Edward Burtynsky, Shipbuilding #4, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000. © Edward Burtynsky
Mithu told me kind stories about working with Burtynsky. When Burtynsky’s photographs were exhibited in San Francisco, he invited Mithu to the opening. Of course it would have been nearly impossible for Mithu to get to the USA. Even if Burtynsky could have secured a visa on his behalf, Mithu would have had to give up his job in Chittagong. That gesture meant something, though. When the photographs sold, Burtynsky sent money to the shipyards that he was able to photograph so they could purchase improved safety equipment. I’m familiar with the neutral position Burtynsky takes with his photography, so for me this story added some decisiveness to his work.
Burtynsky of course understands that a photograph means something different to every viewer, and he rarely shares his own stance publicly. This position makes sense. It has been defined through centuries of oppressive, authoritarian state ideologies that utilize mass media and propaganda to demoralize, control, sell wars, enforce racism, sexism, and fascist regimes largely by appealing to emotion through campaign. Justified fears of authoritarianism have led to strong opposition to a positioned subject, and the neutral observation became the voice of reason.
The impartial document, now called “democratic” media, has a strong history of presenting perspectives that diverge from the dominant discourse and give a larger audience access to these counter narratives. Over time though, making and viewing images impartially has augmented a more liberal personality that is focused less on a common political sphere and more on independent consumer pathways. This impartial personality played a substantial role in a neoliberal, free trade ideology and illusions of consumer choice. Point being, pictures without a position have become purely product. One can argue that Burtynsky’s pictures have many positions, but when he doesn’t take one, we have greater license to conveniently choose what we want to see and what we want to ignore.
SOCAR Oil Fields #6, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006 Digital Chromogenic Color Print 48 x 72” ed of 6 © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy of HASTED HUNT KRAEUTLER, NYC / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.
We know that neutrality is nonexistent. For instance, none of us can look at a digital camera (with nickel most often sourced from Russia’s Kola Peninsula; carbon harvested in Inner Mongolia; PVC made in Guangzhou, China, lithium mined in Chile, Bolivia, and Guangdong, China; aluminum smelted in Tanzania; coltan for Tantalum mined in the DRC or South America) never mind a drone (Burtynsky’s current choice gadget), and believe that these tools—with their recent histories of social, political, and environmental oppression—can usurp that injustice because they are used to document. Can anyone truly claim neutrality today, and is the neutral position still a desirable one?
The jury may still be out on whether Burtynsky’s photography is art, but it doesn’t matter. Today we find ourselves inside of an authoritarian “democracy,” where so many have been disenfranchised for so long that they have given up the value of being heard. When I see someone in Burtynsky’s position of influence and power standing comfortably on a gold mine of self-proclaimed impartial, reflective pictures, I’m discouraged. When those who have power don’t take the challenge to let themselves be heard, then they end up further exploiting the exploited.
Flock House Project in Omaha Log:
March 13 – August 16, 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 13 | 6:00 – 9:00pm Artist Talk: Thursday, March 13 | 7:00pm
What if migratory homes with autonomous systems for rainwater collection and food production were the building blocks of the city of the future? Omaha residents will have an opportunity to consider just how our urban landscape might look in the decades to come when Mary Mattingly brings her Flock House Project to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Inspired by patterns of global human migration and pilgrimage, the Flock House Project is a group of mobile, sculptural, public habitats and self-contained ecosystems that are movable, modular, and scalable. This multi-phase project is part fantastic and part practical. It kicks off in Omaha on March 13, 2014, with an exhibition of Mattingly’s previous work at the Bemis Center. Unlike traditional exhibitions, however, the display will serve as the artist’s active research hub while she is in residence at the Bemis Center, offering a space where she can engage the local community to develop plans for, and fabricate, new mobile living systems to be installed outdoors at both the Bemis Center in the Old Market and at Carver Bank in North Omaha. Omaha artists will then be invited to occupy these living systems in order to promote and implement a broader integration between Omaha’s creative and urban design communities.
At a time when urban populations are faced with environmental, political and economic instability, dislocation and relocation become increasingly important to consider and reconcile. Addressing these themes and concerns, Mattingly first presented three Flock Houses across New York City during the summer of 2012. Her intention is to choreograph Flock Houses throughout urban centers across the United States. By constructing them, she seeks to enhance community-based interdependence, resourcefulness, learning, curiosity and creative exploration. Interactive community programs, workshops, lectures, performances and narrated tours focusing on Omaha’s history, current surroundings and future opportunities will occur throughout the summer. By engaging in a direct dialogue with Omaha’s history of community and innovation, the Flock House Project will provide area residents and visitors with an opportunity to ponder the future of urban living.
Flock House Project: Omaha would not be possible without the active participation of community members. We would like to thank the following individuals, who volunteered their time and expertise during our Design/Build Workshops in May to create and install both the Old Market and Carver Bank Flock Houses:
Travis Apel: Artist/Organic Gardener/Builder
Dwayne Brown: Architect /Writer for Edible Omaha
Denise Chapman: Carver Bank Artist-in-Residence/Performer
Devel Crisp: Carver Bank Artist-in-Residence/Performer
Matt Cronin: Gardener/Community Activist
Tricia Custer: Video Production/Artist/Gardener
Angela Drakeford: Artist
Chance Frank: Artist/Gardener
Matt Freeman: Community Gardener
Cynthia Gehrie: Artist/Gardener
Neil Griess: Artist/Urban Activist
Catherine Harrington: Gardener/Builder/Cook
George Hewitt: Artist, Post Hurricane Katrina Rebuild Volunteer, Furniture
Dr. David J. Hibler, Sr.: Gardening, Community Activism
Maya Jeffereis: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Installation/Sculpture/New Media/Performance
John Kerner: Architect/Artist
Jennifer Keys: Drawing/NAACP
Kim Reid Kuhn: Artist/Urban Activist/Teacher
Peter Langwith: Artist/Community Activist/Sustainable Living
Kayla Meyer: Landscape Architecture
Christina Narwicz: Artist/Gardener
Linn Norton: Art Education
Sarah O Donnell: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Sculptor
Katie Parker: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Sculptor
Dessi Price: Graphic Designer
Terri Sanders: Great Plains Black History Museum
Dr. Daniel Schober: Heath/Nutrition
Tyler Swain: Trash/Recycle Artist/Tinkerer/Construction
Travis Thieszen: Bemis Center Artist-in-Residence/Sculptor
Susan Thomas: Arts/Omaha Creative Institute
Liz Thrash: Gardener/Hobbiest
This interview between Mary Mattingly and David Brooks, which transpired over email, has been edited and condensed for Bomb Magazine, here’s it’s original form.
Mary Mattingly (MM): You have extensive collections of animal bones, rocks, shells, and odd things you have found from all over the world. Can you say something about some of the items?
David Brooks (DB): I think of these things less of a collection and more so as an array of idiosyncratic objects that are occupying very specific points in time. Even more accurate than “object”, would be to call them material documentations. I know that sounds a little lofty and harebrained, but it’s quite simple really. For instance, the carapace of a spider crab is a unique object, but more accurately it is a material documentation of the dynamic processes that came together for a duration of time into what was once a living being – the spider crab. The same goes for the petrified sycamore log found in a river in Alabama that is 250 million years old, or the piece of the Pantheon that is circa 2000 years old in its current formation, or the core of the 1800 year old redwood tree, or the very dramatically large megabat I acquired from the now defunct, “Mr. Potter’s Museum of Curiosities”, or the hank of handmade rope I found on a Cuban refugee raft washed up in the mangroves in FL, or any of the other highly unique individualistic bones, carapaces, architectural fragments, or animal forms. They all had a life, a morphological expression of that life, and now what remains is the residue of that expression of life lived. They’re kind of like fossilized entanglements of unique but disparate linkages of time and constituents, though all are in a constant state of entropy, even in my home and studio. In a tongue and cheek way, you could almost see them as momentary snapshots, or fading photographs, mementos or monuments to individual lives lived and the material forms that only lived lives can generate. This of course includes fragments of the built environment. They are absolutely no different.Your relationship to objects I know is radically different. Besides your frustration with the shear quantity of ‘stuff’ that accumulates in such a hyper-consumerist culture, does said ‘stuff’ ever emanate a material uniqueness or tell a story of individual importance beyond the suffocating wastefulness that brings such consternation to many of us? Or are you holding out for a way of life that is significantly more fluid, efficient and adaptable, which has no need to showcase or archive the particular objects at particular points in time?
MM: I’m intrigued with mass-produced objects that have a use besides that of their original intention. Whether a spoon is repurposed to fix a broken car door handle, a tarp takes the place of an original roof or mass-produced objects are bundled into sculptures and made useless, their stories are the most important aspects. The object itself is just an indicator for the story it contains, a voyage of mythic proportions: one of a cycle of connection and disconnection that happens between people and things along the route of a supply chain, the life of the object and the underlying fact that everything and everyone in this cycle is a commodity. At a certain point in the project I’m working on now (that focuses on stories of an object’s creation, discard, and eventual reemergence as something else) I realized that the object is the least important part. It plays a necessary role in defining a story, and especially answering the “why” of mass-production, but many times the object is just a symbolic excuse to mobilize people, recirculate and reinvent capital. At this stage, most of the objects I own are bundled into large boulder-like sculptures.
You made it a point to talk about how the wood from Desert Rooftops was recycled after the duration of the project and made into permanent housing. Do you think it’s important to talk about the afterlife of a temporary project to defend the natural resources that are necessary to bring your projects to life?
DB: I think it relates to how I just described the material culture in my house and studio, above. It’s all part of a continuum, a flow, a momentary glimpse or document of an articulation at that one particular time. The act of bringing the materials together for that momentary articulation is only part of the artwork, as there is a greater life being lived that expressed itself in that particular time, material and place. How to convey, embrace, imply or portend the alteration of that material into something toward the future (as it was equally born of a history unique to it and only it) is an imperative, since it is simply the truth. So to not convey the future context of the material is to only convey partial truths.
I should say though, it is never a concern to “defend” the use of resources, as it is also true that you must break a few eggs to make an omelet. In fact, I choose certain materials to use because of the very fact that they have a baggage to them, because the energy it took to utilize that resource is materially self-evident and tells part of the story of the project. For instance with Desert Rooftops the roofs had to be built according to NYC building codes in order to get issued permits. The project had to be realized in real scale – not scaled down to a “representational” scale. It qualifies its existence by maintaining its true scale – a scale synonymous with the inundating sprawl of housing communities and the perpetual bursts of suburban development. It displays its materiality as both form and concept. There is an irrational beauty in this very entropic display (what Smithson termed the “ruins in reverse”), but also an absolute horror. It’s a sculptural event, but also a catastrophe. It’s a glimpse of normalcy, displaced from its conventional context that now awkwardly inhabits a full block in Times Square, awkwardly out of place like a beached whale.
You’ve also done a number of projects in the public realm throughout New York City. Besides the shear density of people in NYC, is there something idiosyncratic to its infrastructure and design that fuels aspects of your work? I say this because when you do works in the public realm in NY you don’t seem to choose obvious or easy sites to work in. It seems that the interaction with site for you is very particular, and I’m curious how you might describe that particularity, and whether or not it is a particularity inherent to the NYC built environment or something more…universal (I say that word carefully – and am perhaps referring to urban sites of conflicting energies that globally inhabit dense capitalist centers).
MM: Building home in New York is a lifetime occupation. Working in gaps between dense urban space and nature is a way for me to reinterpret sites that were economically vital as ports or sites of distribution and are now are preserved as parks or are forgotten zones by most people. In these sites I see a chance to work together to build spaces that connect and empower. Obtaining permission to live at these sites is important, because then they are cared for and we can work out an idea of a nature that includes human culture and livelihood and isn’t just a separate zone in the city. These zones have potential to bring together a site with communities, they can bring people to nature on the edge of the city and bring interdependency to the forefront. Beyond looking at a site as a distinct geographic location, I’m responding to it as a network of social relations, of political and ethical dimensions.
Triple Island was built on the edge of the East River in 2013, it’s a proposal. I wanted it to address the importance of decentralizing our basic resources by creating a regenerative living system providing food grown from cleaned river water, power from sun and tides, shelter, collected and purified rainwater for all other needs.
What do you consider in a site when you work on mobile sculptures such as Still Life with Cherry Pickers ? Can you talk about that piece’s relationship to both urban and rural space?
DB: I suppose that is kind of the whole work. I think one of the unique qualities of the time we are living through now is its heightened propensity for cross-disciplinarity. But not just a “anything goes” kind of spirit. But one in which we actively seek out disciplines to bridge and blur with others. One could just as easily look at the Socrates site (where “Still Life with Cherry Pickers and Palms” was installed in October 2013) as the result of a 4,000-mile glacial wall from about a million years ago; just as easily as one could look at Socrates historically as the illegal dump site on the East River until Mark di Suvero co-opted it with the neighborhood inhabitants and his fellow artists to make a sculpture park out of it in the 1980’s; just as easily and in the same moment of consideration one can understand it as a local gathering place, as a respite from the stresses of urban life today; but one can also see that this very feature of the park drives major development schemes that build high income housing and push out the very souls that formed its defining character. In short, a site is not a thing the way we conventionally understand things, but displays its power dynamics through its momentary forms. Architecture, infrastructure, access to water and open space, where trees are planted, migratory birds, how much sky is visible, transportation to and from, as well as use value are all equally the site. I think this idea of considering a site through the lenses of multiple disciplines simultaneously is such a part of our common language that it can now be embraced experientially as part of the site, and not just theoretically.
MM: What do you imagine the future of New York will look like?
DB: I suppose it depends on how far into the future you mean. In the short term, the city’s infrastructure will become more porous and designed for greater moments of adaptability. I say this because it has to, if it’s to alleviate the leaks of an antiquated coexistence with its own surroundings. We cannot simply import 20th century models of infrastructure into a 21st century world. The scale and context has changed. Not to beat a dead horse, but the storm surge of Sandy in 2012 illustrated exactly this, via sea walls that were easily breached and the vulnerable proximity of basement and street levels to the forces of the sea. It illustrated for a larger public consciousness how the severe demarcations between city over here and “nature” over there is simply an illusion, has always been an illusion, and has now reached a point of crisis for many. We hope for a consciousness shift in folks along with a clear, hardened, and conscientious understanding of the interrelationships between the impacts of our collective actions and reactions by the earth’s systems. That’s the optimistic side of my thinking. And I am an optimist.
The other side of my thinking is that perhaps there are no actual flaws in the built environment and its relations to natural systems, and we’re already doing all that we are capable of, as a people. Many biologists subscribe to this latter view – which would confirm that, yes, we are but a momentary glitch on the evolutionary timeline: we do what we do and what we do is perfectly natural for our collective capabilities, which would inevitably mean extinction – which is another way of saying “transition”. In other words, though our collective actions and impact on the biosphere may clearly lead to a self-extinction scenario, they are just as natural as the migration of the monarchs, evolutionarily speaking.
However, I don’t believe in quick apocalypses. And most certainly not for Homo sapiens! We’re more invasive and stalwart than anything the biosphere has produced. We affect geology on a short term and long term basis. We’re more pervasive than roaches. We most certainly are not going to go out clean and quick. We’re going to drag this ecological degradation into overtime, and we’re going to drag a whole lot of other species out with us in this slow slow decline. How do you think of duration/speed/time in regards to urban space? I mean that question in the most open of ways.
MM: Well I look at the movement and speed of cities through the lens of power, access, and control. I directly connect the speed of cities to its current capital flow. Those studies that have correlated the speed of walking with economic activity in an urban space, like Helen and Marc Bornstein’s research titled “The Pace of Life.” This firmly relates to urban development – the more capital, the more people can work on a project, the faster it’s completed and developers can move on to the next project. The more capital, the more political alignment is possible, the faster permits are obtained, and the quicker the city changes.
But the duration of speed must be connected to markets worldwide. While speed of development can be obtained by momentarily having the correct politicians align with the certain developers, like a company that needs higher returns each quarter to satiate its shareholders, speed and duration are complexly connected.
From a macro-level it’s argued that the historic weight of a city has an effect on each inhabitant. Histories, environments, and personal agency must all have an effect on speed. I think about Deleuze and Guattari’s Nomadology and the changing position of the nomad as either the underrepresented migrant or the deregulated Multinational, I’m especially concerned with property and the formalization of space, or those gaps that, when located and used in mass, change the space of the State – from what the state intended it for into something else. Deleuze has also described a disappearance of gaps, open spaces and times as the state of a control society. And finally, will we all get to the point when the ability to move is necessary?
I’m reading this book right now, Exhausting Dance. The author describes the “still-act” in dance, proposed as moments when a subject interrupts historical flow and practices historical interrogation. I’m paraphrasing here, but – With the “still-act” a person effectively interrogates economies of time, because it reveals the possibility of agency within controlling regimes of capital, subjectivity, labor, and mobility. In this case, stillness is defiance in urban space.
DB: Does this mean to issue stillness against the flow of capital, like a rock in a river? And isn’t stillness deceiving sometimes also – i.e. the notion of stillness that I try to demystify in A Proverbial Machine in the Garden? That landscape is dynamic; and any act of stillness (stasis) is an act of defiance against evolutionary processes and the truth of said landscape.
Can you explain “stillness” more in depth here? And do you see this as a metaphor, or as being an activist strategy, or is this a long game ideology to work toward?
MM: Well in this context, stillness remains alive and changing, but the pace is much different. It’s more akin to loitering. When I attempted to drag a ball of my things over the Bayonne Bridge a police officer was driving next to me at a slow crawl amidst the pace of traffic shouting at me to move faster. Speed is often competitive, whether it’s the speed of nature versus urban growth or someone walking versus driving, so here you are confronting a competitive pace. So I see it as a long game ideology to confront a pace associated with competition towards each other.
What are your thoughts on the speed of nature and (or versus) urban space?
DB: Maybe one way to think about that is to look at the recent history of invasive species around the world. It’s no surprise that in a global capitalist environment invasives circulate around the world at a faster pace than the biosphere can absorb the impacts. We know that invasive species is not a new development and not necessarily restricted to human intervention (in fact we ourselves would be considered an invasive species in N. America by many definitions). But the speed of it is. Speed is our contribution to this phenomenon. This is a degenerative act – no matter how you slice it: ideologically, ethically, and biologically.
The long-view of our built environment in relation to the natural environment is complicated by inconveniences. Just as you alluded to above, to think about our built environment in the long-term goes against how our economic system functions, and thus is terribly inconvenient. It is inconvenient to think of how every piece of packaging of every piece of food I consume each day will be dispersed daily, monthly and yearly. It is inconvenient to consider where my toilet sends things. It is inconvenient to think about how everything in my entire apartment, including my apartment, will end up as decomposed matter, garbage, rubble, and some dust, eventually. This reality is unavoidable, this reality is not hypothetical, we know this will happen, and the decision to ignore that is out of convenience. I think it is imperative to make comparisons and interweavings between natural processes and the conditions of our built environment – specifically to demystify their convenient bifurcation.
MM: When I heard about A Proverbial Machine in the Garden, it struck me that these machines in a sense resemble dinosaurs, their bones buried in our everyday landscapes. Will these machines be the dinosaurs of the future?
DB: It is indeed a piece that looks with a historical glance while also looking to the future where certain modes of shaping the land, harvesting resources, issuing a dominion over the natural systems and such, will become obsolete and anachronistic in concept and form. They will become obsolete because they must. They’ll exhaust themselves to nothingness if an evolution of behavior doesn’t arrive first. The status quo of shaping the health of the natural environment today is simply untenable beyond a few more generations. It just is. …Adaptation,…Evolution,…or Extinction
Not to sound like a Darwinian broken record, but there is really only two options physically, physiologically, philosophically, socially and psychologically possible: 1.) We struggle collectively to maintain a semblance of status quo in a world of over population and surplus economic standards. This world will endure a few+ centuries of parasitically straining the biosphere to a level of exhaustion until we render our own selves inhospitable as a population. Of course an exponentially increased number of extinctions of fellow species will unfortunately come from this trajectory. You can’t expect an innately flawed and self-serving system of manners to right itself. That’s just not natural! Or…2.) A complete and absolute consciousness shift occurs, collectively, globally. Just as the civil rights acts that came to an eruptive shift in ’68, bringing racial equality and feminist equality into a mainstream conversation, affecting – albeit slowly – policy, literature, art, education, and social exchanges. This philosophical impasse that is manifesting itself as an environmental crisis and ecological collapse does not discriminate by class, race or gender. In fact, from a ‘glass-half-full’ scenario, one could see this as an extraordinary moment in evolutionary history: the decline of biodiversity is one of the first topical events to have united not specific nations, but all of humanity. The social world can be unified for the fist time in its history by collectively addressing the physiological conundrum that we face on a global scale. Since we are all in the same boat, at last. As some say: “Evolution, not Pollution”, meaning a mere halt to polluting industries, a changing of light bulbs, or more bicycling will not induce the paradigm shift needed. Only with the fervor of a religious revolution, as propounded by dear Bruno Latour, could usher in the urgency of a total life change. Not even eminent death can induce this kind of global fervor!
You often think about different types of apocalypse scenarios or at least a sort of post-industrial-post-human kind of life. Can you talk about what the qualities of that life would be; but also in regards to time spans, evolution, and the rate of social change that is actually feasible, realistic, and anticipated?
MM: In the face of every new disaster, media and the marketplace continue to endorse a techno-utopian idealization of the future: as we alter our own ability to inhabit the planet, we continue to believe we can counter the damage with another technological innovation. This perspective is either naïve to or knowingly benefits economic and political interests. The future needs to be a time of repurposing resources or accounting for far away land and people. There will need to be increased value placed on repair and second-hand economies, and we will need to act interdependently with our neighbors, near and far, and as an extension of this a post human interdependency will need to grow, because these things are symbiotic. This is a scenario that could nearly avoid an apocalypse that I imagine would (yes) be slow and would resemble JG Ballard’s A drowned World where cities further from the equator become the tropics, new species proliferate as current species perish, inland becomes wasteland (as far as humans are concerned) with deserts expanding and water engulfing – and the poles become desirable with expensive forms of protection. I’m drawn to water-based communities and informal economies, because people who exist in those spaces are all operating in a future.
DB: I think that last sentence is the operative sentence here. I think that is a very sober statement on the future’s existence in today’s world – not one belabored with fantastical scenes of apocalypse, but one that accounts for actual processes – both economical and climatic. We already see microcosms of this sort beginning to plume. So then do you see your art-making as a way to engage in that conversation that is already taking place, or perhaps is your work more so preparing an aesthetic context for a “people to come” [Elizabeth Grosz once declared the role of art is not to speak directly into the present but to prepare a future audience]?
MM: Part of it is to offer narrative proposals that begin as experiments that subvert (as Rob Nixon says) the slow violence of ecological and economic oppression and find space for another way of living within a space that has become the epicenter of exploitation. For instance, water follows development and redevelopment and it lives under the radar of international law. The sea is where neoliberal globalization dictates the exploitation of the day, and where flags of convenience deregulate nation upon nation – it’s far from a residual space based on mercantilism but is rather the space where everything meets. I’ve been working on proposals for futures where the sea plays an enormous role, it also holds answers for a lot of questions about personal agency for our own daily needs: for example, where will the water we need to drink come from, where will our food come from, and how can we make our own energy, and be mobile if need be? I look at the water as a space ripe for a new continent, a “still-act” within an epicenter. Do you think about your work as an aesthetic response to the present, or warning for the future, or something else?
DB: It must be all of it, as long as it is generative. Again, I like to take advantage of the fact that we live in a time that can entertain the multiple dimensions that an artwork can occupy. It is a document of present conditions, it is also a response to its failings, but it is also an experiential moment that can potentially incite a sense of agency in its audience; and it is they who therefore shape a future.
Procession through Kitchener and Waterloo.
When: Saturday, June 21, 9PM – 12AM. Arrive at City Hall at 8pm.
Where: Begin at Kitchener City Hall and walk through King St. Regional Rt. 15 to Waterloo Public Square
How: Take as few or as many of your personal objects and bundle them together. We will each carry, roll, or otherwise transport this bundle with us along the route.
What: Seven people creating a procession with our bundled objects through Kitchener and Waterloo, from Kitchener City Hall through to Waterloo Public Square, passing malls and storage units.
The route of the procession narrates different rituals of production, consumption, and discard. We will bundle and strap objects to ourselves, carrying them with us, rolling or pushing them alongside of us through Kitchener’s main streets. We will pull our objects through sites that facilitate the consumption and storage of objects including: box stores, parking lots, and storage facilities, illustrating the absurdity of the performance, but maybe also the larger situation. Other sites like Waterloo Public Square and Kitchener City Hall are sites that illustrate local interconnection. The objects made, bought, and used affect everyone around the world, either directly or indirectly. It’s this interconnection that has led me to the procession. Considering every relationship that went into making these objects, can we care for an object’s life and death in a similar way to a human’s? What are the roles that these objects play in our lives and in the lives of others?
I’ve been thinking of the object wrappings as a reverse process of making the original objects, it doesn’t follow the same mass-production model of course, but then when I bring the bundles to the sites that retrace the pathways of their making, it makes me think about undoing a history, about walking backwards on the jetty back to the beginning again
I just reviewed "Ana Mendieta - Traces" for this month's Brooklyn Rail:
WIth Brian Zegeer and Katayoun Vizari for their radio show
I Ran into Iran - Episode 9 Divorcing the Ruin
Graham Harman's Gold essay - pdf
Flock House sketch - a Percent for Art Project for a new school in Staten Island designed by SOM
Part of Joshua Simon's Neomaterialism - pdf
Haunted Housing: Eco-Vanguardism, Eviction, and the Biopolitics of Sustainability in New Orleans YATES MCKEE - pdf
1) Why is the title WetLand? Do you remember where you were when you thought of it?
I’m concerned about the slow erasure of wetlands around the world as an important ecosystem that breeds aquatic and terrestrial life, protects the mainland from storms, and naturally cleans the air and waterways. They are often drained for large building projects and result in areas that flood, destructing homes and infrastructure in a loss that is for some unrecoverable. The largest loss is ecosystem diversity, which has tremendous reverberating effects throughout the natural world, and in the end makes the planet a worse place for us all to live. So I wanted to bring more attention to the necessity of wetlands, and pair it with a sinking house to describe causation through a symbolic artwork. I was also thinking about the combination in a very literal way: wet and land, to describe a watery, sinking future.
2) What’s the process of creation in such a work? Can you take us through some of the steps from idea to construction to opening?
Yes, in this piece I began considering the natural zone between the river and urban space. In many cities, it’s a space that is either overlooked or that undergoes a process of quick development. It’s a place where we must consider nature, because we are so close to it and dependent on it. Reconnecting the water with a row house puts many of us in the place of the inhabitant. I was spending a lot of time thinking about how we live in a social system that allows us an illusion of disconnect from nature. We expect our food to be in the grocery store, we are accustomed to clean water coming from the tap, but those are expectations most of the world doesn’t have, and they are things that we can’t always be dependent on. Marrying nature to the city directly describes these food, water, and energy systems we depend on. So the process involved many meetings, from high school students to community garden groups. I’m currently in the process of collecting materials to build with. Later this summer we will build the structure at Pier 9 and then float it to Penn’s Landing where we will begin inhabiting it. Along the way there are many other steps, including permits and insurance that we will work out.
3) I think in Chinatown, Jack Nicolson says, “The man had water on the brain.” How did creating work on water become what seems to be your dominant creative medium? How do habitat, water and art connect for you?
These things are all necessities for me, and I need one as much as the other. As artists we often work with our own needs and sometimes those are universal. Water has always been a particular concern for me. I grew up in an area that continually flooded, and where the drinking water contained dangerously high levels of agricultural runoff, having long-term effects. I understood the world much better by watching bottled water become a popular commodity and through learning about Bechtel and the World Bank’s privatization of water in Bolivia, which was eventually reversed through long protests.
4) You’ll be living on Wetland. Why is this important? What does having a person living in the environment affect the overall work? Additionally, there will be workshops and community-creating events there—and not just visitors—why is having communities being active within Wetlands important?
Living on WetLand is an essential part of an experiment that needs to be played out in real time. Like a form of performance art it’s an exploration through endurance, and we also keep the living systems running. It’s an act of creating an ecosystem from which three people will eat, drink, shower, work, sleep, learn from, and share.
4a) There is an interesting relationship between the very “outsider-y” aspect of an artist living in her artistic construction floating on the Delaware for a month or so, and creating programming within Wetlands that seems aimed to build a new kind of community. How do you see this relationship between the solitary artist and the need to construct a community?
Well like many people, I thrive on both solitude and solidarity. I believe we need to make more time and physical spaces to be together in, to strengthen the ties we have found in the virtual space and regain those that have been lost because of those separations. We need to make a better world to live in and when we are confined to inside spaces it’s easy to forget about the larger world around us, and how something we do here affects someone across the world.
5) There seems to be a distinct “manmade-ness” of Wetland; it is clearly a manmade structure in its visually striking appearance, and its materials, recycling of resources and how it uses natural processes—as oppose to a more “living in nature” situation. Why this choice?
Yes, it’s important for me to distinguish this work from doing something in a “back to land” context. Many times people leave cities because they want to be closer to land, and because they can. But many people cannot. Leaving the city in most cases is a luxury that allows for a different perspective. We want to be able to have more chances for some of that perspective here in our cities, and bringing nature and natural living systems to a city’s periphery is a way I’ve thought to do that. Living in a city is such an asset. There are always people around we can turn to, learn from, and work with. I believe that our urban centers will need to be the future sites that produce our daily necessities (especially food, energy, and water) and we need to strengthen citywide projects that focus on that production, on small scales with our neighbors, and on larger scales of our entire city. When we are solely dependent on a large supply chains for our daily needs, then we are beholden to them and it’s virtually impossible to see a larger picture, about how these systems exploit the environment and many different forms of human labor.
6) Do you have any advice for visitors to WetLand? Suggestions about how they should experience WetLand?
There are many ways to experience it. We will be there during the day and people are welcome to come by and stay for a while. Coming to an event is also a way to experience the space while participating in a workshop or attending a performance, and we will have events posted on our website and distributed in print.
FB: Artist from the Land Art Movement in the 60’s and 70’s desired to connect people to the land and bring art out of the gallery setting. Do you think the objective of your art overlaps with this aspect, or any aspect, of the Land Art Movement artists, such as Robert Smithson or Andy Goldsworthy? Why or why not?
MM: Smithson described site and nonsite, nonsite referring to the gallery. I’d add that site and nonsite blend together now more than ever as site and history is just as relevant to the gallery as well as to the spaces outside. The center and periphery blur and switch places as the engine of capitalism continues its colonization and expansion. As artists, we can’t ignore this as a particular context in which we place the work, ignoring all that came before it. In relation to Land Art I refer to Ana Mendieta who dismissed associations with Land Art, a category she associated with the brutalization of nature in order to glorify industry, and the modernist tradition in turn. I’m really looking through a context of pre-modern conditions, specifically as it relates to the interdependence between geography and land, animals, nonhumans, and humans.
FB: Oscar Wilde wrote that, “The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.” Looking at the process you went through with your own work, particularly the Own-it.us project, do you agree with that? What were you trying to express? Would you like for individuals to take action based on this expression?
MM: Our languages and actions are interdependent and symbiotic. One affects the other, so utilizing (and respecting) all of our available languages (verbal, gestural, symbolic) in concert is important. Our ability to express them together forms our own empowerment. It’s also necessary to recognize and account for the fact that languages change; they can become ineffective and lose their meaning. To me this means we don’t abandon them but rather need to continually rearticulate them.
FB: Your On Land exhibition causes one to look at ‘place’ in a new way. Do you feel a sense of place is important in your work? If so, when do you feel that it’s strongest?
MM: Yes, place is very important to me in my work. It evokes particular and specific stories that describe time, land, environment, social systems, and indirectly the fetishization of these things. In a way that was what a lot of the photographs were about, merging the relationship of one place to another in photographs through collage or objects out of their original context. Sometimes I evoke unspecific place, and this is just as important to me. It reinforces the relationships between the processes of production, distribution and consumption.
FB: In one of your videos, you mention how it is inevitable for the artists on the Waterpod to become part of an organism. Why was this important to you? Also organisms play a role in a physical environment, again, that notion of ‘place.’ How are the artists, as organisms, connected to that environment/place?
MM: Yes, I was referring specifically to our bodies partaking in a compact living system, where what we ate would directly affect the compost we made and the food we would grow the following season. But it could be a metaphor for many things, the energy of a living sculpture for example.
I read this and was really proud, wanted to remember it so am posting it here:
I wrote this in response to
Steve Lambert's paper: No Longer Interested -
In agreement with Steve Lambert’s call to action, I believe it’s important to consider historic frameworks to help recognize the ideologies we work within. Using passive proclamations like “I’m interested in” run counter to the way most artists work: with compulsion, urgency, and deliberate intention. Instead, that phrase reads as ambivalent and denies our agency as artists. This ambivalence can be interpreted as part ofan historic lineage, though. The more we comprehend these frameworks, the more we will be in a position to move past them.
Centuries of oppressive histories defined by mass media’s ability to proliferate autocratic propaganda have led people to continually redefine their social, political, and personal selves. During and after WWII, people worldwide carried a deep aversion to anything that resembled state ideology. Fears of authoritarianism have led to strong countercultural movements proclaiming the authoritarian voice to be out of touch with reason.
Later, as a more egalitarian media began replacing the singular voice of mass media, it proliferated all kinds of social space. An example of early “democratic” media can be found in “The Democratic Surround” by Fred Turner. He connects this type of media display to an exhibition of documentary photography in 1955 at the MoMA curated by Edward Steichen, “The Family of Man”. Here the viewer encountered an exhibition that provoked participation and paired disparate content through hundreds of photographs. This type of new media was especially important because it didn’t tell participants what or how to think.
Over time though, much political personhood would come to be replaced by a more liberal personality that was based on individual interests and forging independent pathways. Later, by a tolerant, free trade ideology and the illusion of limitless consumer choice (I’m thinking about Chris Anderson’s term “The Long Tail”). It’s clear today that the dispersal of a fragmented “democratic” media has continued to lead many people away from a political consciousness and towards a self-consciousness. Just think about all of the times we’ve chosen to avoid talking politics. It’s also clear that with current states of democracy that bridge authoritarianism, many people have given up the value of being heard.
Media, propaganda, and art have worked in dialogue for hundreds of years. For many of us today, a type of media (and mindset) dominates that is interactive yet focused on individuation. In exchanges online, in a museum, and in physical public space, we are both in control and controlled. We conveniently choose what we want to experience - and what we want to ignore. Individuation makes it hard to come together to achieve social change.
The position of being interested in something is a comfortable one in our current context of neoliberal expansion, where everything and everyone is a commodity. Being interested in something points to a detachment and furthermore a belief that we are liberated, autonomous actors. This seems to be what “democratic” media wants us to understand, yet we are never truly autonomous and always informed by the larger political field. These are all things to be aware of when we ask ourselves: Can we together build a world where we connect through differences, instead of indifference?
Case study: WetLand Philadelphia
1. Beginning with an idea and local, I look for interested partners, creating an “asset map” of people in the city of Philadelphia, finding others working in similar realms or with similar goals (whether schools, businesses, community groups, or individuals).
2. Then, reaching out and sharing the project plans, I inquire as to their potential interest in working together in some way, or if I can help facilitate their missions. This could be as simple as circulating information about their group through the physical and virtual spaces of the project, or as complex as asking for contributions.
a. For instance, students working in ecological design at Lincoln High School are taking a semester to design an efficient solar cooker for this project, and are using the same solar cooker for an entry into a science competition. The device is useful to the project, and we become their test subjects to collect data about their work. Of course WetLand is also a platform for their project.
3. Alternative Economies: The economies involved are important and worth investigating here. I’m either asking people to participate in a type of barter, mutual promotion, or asking them to accept a stipend for their contribution (of hosting a workshop, for example).
4. I try to establish roles and credit for mutual intellectual property in collaborative participation early on.
5. Networks and Audiences: After a process of asset mapping and finding people who would like to be involved and share similar goals, we have together created a network where for a short time, this sculpture can act as a node or even a hub to a created network. After the project’s duration, the network lives on. With this process, there is a built-in audience of stakeholders who can help circulate information about the project.
FOOD AND WATER NETWORKS: HOW TO
As environmental instability continues to transform our cities, how can we connect local networks and individual efforts to work together more cohesively? How can cities utilize the tools of resource decentralization and network interdependency found in global supply chains to provide for each other locally, and how can these local chains more clearly account for social and environmental costs embedded in production?
Recent volatility in global food and fuel costs has increased public awareness of the existing food supply’s vulnerability as well as the detrimental effects of industrialized food systems. As cities increase focus on the effects of climate change on lives, public officials need to fully consider environmental costs as well as the affects of dependency on exterior sources of shipping in food and water.
Strong movements have been building in urban communities across America. People are planting home gardens and forming community-wide initiatives that support urban farms, rainwater collection, and storm water management. Currently, NYC has 7 community farms, 390 community gardens, 3 commercial farms, 117 public school gardens, and 245 New York City Housing Authority gardens.
In 2009 I launched the Waterpod Project: a public space, habitat, and living system on a barge that navigated New York City’s waterways. One of the project goals was to subsist off of the food we grew, eggs from four chickens, solar and bike power, and purified rainwater. All of the materials were found or exchanged through barters arranged with businesses and municipal agencies in NYC. I wanted to figure out how much time was spent maintaining these systems versus our hourly pay working day jobs to purchase these supplies outright. After an initial large investment of our own labor, we ended up with a system that supplied us with all of our basic needs for around 2.5 hours a day.
In 2012 I embarked on the Flock House project: a group of three spherical public spaces that moved around NYC in 2012. Of significant difference was the fact that the Flock House living systems could not fully support a family or even one person. We relied on barter and trade with our neighbors to meet basic needs. One of the goals of Water and Food Networks is to emphasize working together and sharing tools that can empower each other. This booklet explores local ecologies, resource exchange, and practical techniques for small-scale water and food systems.
FOOD AND WATER NETWORKS was written for Performing Economies and Thirst.
The report attempts to project how the effects will alter human society in coming decades. While the impact of global warming may actually be moderated by factors like economic or technological change, the report found, the disruptions are nonetheless likely to be profound. That will be especially so if emissions are allowed to continue at a runaway pace, the report said.
It cited the risk of death or injury on a wide scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.
“Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger,” the report declared.
The report also cited the possibility of violent conflict over land, water or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.” The scientists emphasized that climate change is not just a problem of the distant future, but is happening now.
As part of a research project on counterculture movements I've been making totems from past projects that have included geodesic domes.
Artifacts from public spaces like Waterpod project (NY, 2009), the Flock House Project (NY, Boston, and Omaha, ongoing), and Triple Island (LES, NY 2013) are repurposed into three sculptural totems. They were once functional, utilized as domes, spheres, or walls that constructed spaces for inhabitants and guests.
I refer to Buckminster Fuller’s work with geodesic domes for several reasons. I believe in his rhetoric about considering accessibility through tools. For him the dome was all about making something that anyone could build. I believe it’s important for each of us to be able to make things that we can use with and amongst other people.
My views differ from Fuller's proclamations in many ways. Fuller argued that appropriate means of dissemination (smooth supply chains) was the answer to housing everyone. We are very aware that isn’t true. I’m concerned about the dependency many people have on large, complex supply chains to meet our most basic needs, and believe that powerful supply networks have enabled endless development, while numerous political and market-driven factors keep us from ever reaching Fuller’s utopian goals.
That same optimism of Fuller’s is clear in the symbol of the dome. Yet the photographs of mostly abandoned communes where the dome stood (symbolic for decades) tell a different set of stories. Those are the stories I’m interested in unpacking. What was this countercultural movement, actually? What can it tell us about the solitude of small communities? How did Fuller's intentions fit into this very Libertarian set of values?
I’ve been creating these living systems that always contain some aspect of function versus non-function, and always utilize steel conduit for part of the architecture. Often the conduit I use has been repurposed from buildings that require electrical wiring to be covered in steel. Using materials leftover from one building to create another has been a consistency in this work. It narrates a new space being built from an old one, but this time it’s severe, almost dystopian but with an element of potential through resource-sharing. Many times it’s mobile due to economic, environmental and political conditions. It’s about working with what you have, finding anything potentially suitable to build a structure, and many times the structure that can be built is round because of odds and ends that need to be pieced together.
With the totems I’m thinking about the final form, the non-utilitarian art object, the useless, and to me these are the most dystopian of all. Relics of hope turned luxury item.
What about a Fellow-share?
Not exclusive to a particular community, dislocation and relocation due to economic and environmental challenges are commonplace in New York City. Slow displacement from gentrification results in a competitive arena whereby people are forced into positions of offense or defense, seeking out or protecting precarious spaces around the city. On the contrary, quick displacement as the result of trauma from sudden upheaval or emergency often generates a communal response. For instance, stories surrounding devastation caused by recent Hurricane Sandy focus on unparalleled experiences of neighbors helping, housing, and sharing resources with one another.
Working with artists whose spaces are often in a state of flux, as well as people who have lost their homes or workspaces throughout New York City, I am dedicated to an art project that focuses on collaborations that emerge from space and resource sharing. A catalyst for alternative forms of living and working, the “Fellow-share” project enables collective experiences through collaborations based on non-monetary exchanges.
The first year of the “Fellow-share” project will begin by working with two specific communities: people within a range of businesses or municipal organizations are paired with artists. The artists’ work relates to the organizations they would “fellow-share” with. In exchange for space to work, artists are tasked with repurposing a percentage of the organization’s waste, diverting potential resources from the waste stream. This exchange could unfold in many ways. Artists may choose to use waste in artwork or find others who can utilize the waste, creating a networked supply-chain based on resource sharing. Sharing space and resources for the mutual experience of living and working interdependently is the crux of this project.
“Fellow-share” poses the questions: What could the effects be of artists integrating their studio spaces into a larger working community? What can the experiences be of individuals and community members who live and work in a city where integration is nurtured on this scale? How can the “Fellow-share” project become a catalyst for lasting relationships formed across-disciplines? In a world where sought-after resources including minerals, oil, and clean water are being depleted and polluted, waste carries social and environmental traumas with it, from extraction, to production, distribution, consumption, discard, and degradation. Can we find a way to repurpose materials in a direct, immediate way together?
The dialogic processes that build toward “Fellow-share” collaborations are creative and aesthetic experiences. From its moment of inception, the project will form networks of individuals, groups, and conversations that can be documented and persist as a blueprint. The “Fellow-share” project is a step towards a more long-term utopian social change, based on compassion, empathy, understanding, and mutual learning. Please contact me if you are interested in participating.
Notes on Allan Sekula
McLuhan liked to be known as someone who probed, never took a position but rather always learned and discerned, just continued to probe and respond. I think of Sekula in this way too, he continually probed deeper into his subject to tell a complex story.
Ninety percent of goods are still moved by sea. The sea makes physical a near global exchange that the Internet makes virtual. Sekula describes a network of ports through different communications devices including text, photography, and video. He documents the sea, focusing on “objects of globalization” such as cargo containers: everywhere, mobile and anonymous: ‘coffins of remote labor-power’ carrying goods manufactured by invisible workers who labor all around and far away. And then there is the sea and revolution – from mutiny to unions to the other side of the spectrum of deregulation, and the maritime industry’s role in distribution of commodities worldwide.
I’ve been responding to networks in a different way, working on projects that (while they are material and based in storytelling) are built to supplement and augment existing local and non-geographic networks. I’ve been working in zones on the periphery of the water and land. These zones have potential to bring together a site and community, they can bring people to nature on the edge of the city and bring the interdependency between the natural and the urban to the forefront.
Deborah Fisher interviewed for A Blade of Grass with Mutual Art:
OWN-IT.US - Uploading a decade a day. I began this archive in order to part with each object. Researching each item’s history is a way to begin an extended funeral prayer, illuminating rituals and tragedies embedded in objects in a precarious world. From the over-extraction of the earth, to the working conditions of the makers and distributors, to the chemicals that enter the air and water affecting everyone, each object is embedded with trauma. After the item is archived I add it to a bundle. The courses of these bundles continue to be traced as they now face their own circulation.
Begining the CalArts Blog
Why live there?
We want to understand and learn from the site. Living in conditions where our behavior had to be ascetic carried with it a tension characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from indulgence. Our lives there involved slow rituals, necessitated patience and empathy.
Freight and Volume produces a catalogue for Brolab's upcoming show. We do an interview together
11. 20. 13
Site is composed of not only a distinct geographic location but also a networkof social relations, of political and ethical dimensions. It represents an accumulated and continually interpreted past, present, and future. Spatially, shifting entities interact with a site both through integrating and standing apart. Site is active with energy, agency, and political undertone.
Site as geography: As a location, site comprises a combination of physical, experiential, and social elements. Geographically, it’s a myth to draw distinction between a natural and human-made site, as visible and invisible networks that influence a place need to be accounted for to comprehensively understand a location. From landowners to corporate resource extraction and zoning decisions, a site is determined through multiple stakeholders and histories. Complex institutional, political, and social frameworks constitute it.
Site as virtual: Site is configured through patterns of information, data collection, human and nonhuman contributors, and server space. A virtual site requires physical hardware to access it. This hardware is mined, produced, and stored in various locations that become its equivalent physical network to a virtual location.
Site as proposal: A site is mythologized, theoretical, and circumscribed. With embedded histories, it can propose a number of things. For instance, it can re-propose a commons, and then a more horizontal power structure through cooperation, communing, care, and mutual consideration. Simultaneously, it can propose a space where displacement and alienation create potential for being in between. Alterity and multiplicity can continually propose revised frameworks. Site as a place is both learned through resistance and acted upon.
Center versus periphery: If the colonizing engine that seeks to subjugate, conquer, and collect everything of speculated value has caused center and periphery to coalesce into the condition of site as described here, it is near impossible to draw distinction between “center” or “periphery” (or Nonsite/Site) in physical space. Perhaps today periphery is only information-based. This periphery consists of repressed or hidden facts about what happens in or on a site, insulated from peoples’ fields of knowledge and aided by fragmentation.
Artwork as actor: An artwork contains both its site of annunciation and its site of dissemination. Art commonly carries the burden of a museum or exhibition space (an expected site for artwork), and can impose an austere zone on a site that in some cases can reframe it. While an artist or group of artists may or may not have firsthand knowledge of a site they interact with or act upon, what might the benefits be of importing new perspective to a site, and how may brief encounters become residual?
In Buffalo at UB with Stephanie Rothenberg, Paul Sargent, and Mark Shepard, getting ready for a lecture tonight. Staying at the Lenox Hotel, a nice change from Triple Island. It's snowing. Last night Stephanie and I attended a potluck dinner a few co-op houses put on. We focused conversation on how their co-op models were working, on homesteading in Buffalo (where people buy vacant lots for a few hundred dollars and turn them into small vegetable farms), the recent influx of capital, and resulted quickly changing cityscape.
I was impressed to learn about Buffalo Barn Raisers (www.buffalobarnraisers.com) a group who puts out a monthly calendar of free skill sharing classes but who also gets together a few times a year for "work vacations" where they undertake larger homesteading projects as a group of around 20-50 people on each other's properties. They have also rezoned their homes as family homes. By law, groups of people from different families living under the same roof changes the use of the structure, which means a building has to be brought up to code of a business. Sprinklers have to be installed, and in Buffalo steel framing above doorways must be used instead of wood (expenses that can discourage co-op living). However these groups have set a new precedent and were able to have their home zoned as a family home, in effect expanding the definition of family within the political bureaucracy that is important to influence.
At one point we talked about the definition of art, which is a continuous conversation in NYC and I think it was said well by an artist I met last night: I consider the work I make to be art because it does not have a clearly defined outcome. It is defined by chance and not expectation. Mierle Laderman Ukeles would add: It has to exist in the realm of freedom, not predetermination.
found images from the show at Robert Mann Gallery
@ triple island with Andrea De Pascual and Daniel Duran
Lyle Rexer paraphrasing a poem by Hugo von Hofmannstal: Go my song to Atlas and tell him to take a vacation. And ask him, why wouldn't I have the strength to carry the world in my arms for him and laugh about it when I already carry it in my head.
After studio visit with Sergio Bessa I'm able to rediscover the work of Lygia Clark:
“If I were younger, I would be in politics. I feel a bit too at ease, too integrated. Before, artists were marginalized. Now, we, the proposers, are too well placed in the world. We are able to live—just by proposing. There is a place for us in society.There is another type of person who prepares what will happen, other precursors. They, they continue to be marginalized in society. When there is a struggle with the police and I see, in Brazil, a seventeen-year-old killed (I put his photo on my wall, in my studio), I realize that he dug a place with his body for the generations that will succeed him. These young people have the same existential attitude as we, they unleash processes whose end they can’t see, they open a path whose exit is unknown. But society resists them, and kills them. It’s thus that they work all the more. What they try to force is perhaps more essential. They are incendiaries. It’s they who shake up the world. We, sometimes I wonder if we are not a bit domesticated. That annoys me.”– Lygia Clark
Triple Island opens at Pier 42!
building @ pier 42!
Upcoming class @ MoMA with Eyebeam
Working on the syllabus for the MoMA class this summer. Using free software and simple cameras I want to remix histories, mashup space, sample ideas, and collage works from MoMA’s collection into our own original works. Using photogrammetry and Autodesk 123D Catch we can upload 3D sketches of MoMA’s collection to the cloud, combine works and outside elements to create our own languages, histories, and tools. We can explore copyright, the Internet commons, and cycles of an object’s life, from its production and distribution to its use, disposal, and repurposing.
Two pieces that will be in an upcoming show at Robert Mann Gallery this fall:
Beginning the building of Triple Island: a scalable, amphibious ecosystem. As a public experiment about living within the altered environments of our shared future, Triple Island is an approach to living in a future New York replete with an acceleration of environmental challenges. Home to over 30 crops, mushrooms, animals, beneficial insects, and compost systems, it addresses the importance of decentralizing our basic resources by creating a regenerative living system that provides food, power, shelter, and water to its inhabitants from natural systems. I want the project to promote community-based interdependent networks to further establish means of resource and skill sharing in our daily lives.
June 1, 2013. Adopted a second kitten at Flux Factory's Kitty City event to befriend Papaya. No name yet.(UPDATE: He is El Bandido aka The Bandit aka El Bantito, aka Rothko aka Oresteia) Moira Williams is reading the kitten adoption oath she wrote.
FROM THE UNDERGROWTH AND RADIOHIVE WITH JOSHUA KOGAN AND TRAVIS SIMON:
Undergrowth Episode 5 - Mary Mattingly
5/28/13- This week Travis and Josh hang out with
Mary Mattingly at The Undergrowth. We talk deadly day-dreams, autonomous living systems, seed banks and much more...
Walking across the Bayonne Bridge, struggling with my objects. The permit was just approved to increase the height of the Bayonne Bridge so that the largest container ships can pass underneath with ease, eliminating a previous barrier to the staggering amount of objects that could be brought into Port Newark, servicing the entire East Coast through the Midwest, USA. The walk was a celebration of the bridge as it is, a nuisance for the shipping industry and a natural slowing of the NY/NJ economy and ports. At each place we were either monitored or confronted and told to leave the site, as this large disk-like shape of objects contained the unknown. It spoke to the curiosity and interest of the sculpture, to me, that we did not get shut down until we were usually done, with police and Homeland Security as onlookers.
The intense struggle of bringing the large sculpture over the bridge was painful. A minute pain to that felt the world over, from the over-extraction of the earth, to the working conditions of the makers, to the chemicals that enter the air and water affecting all of us. This sculpture contains the stuff wars are started over. How can I be complacent? How can I expect it to not be painful to carry these things, laden with hurt, a 1/2 mile uphill with a police escort?
The camera is a portable tomb.-Smithson
…and if we think, after all, that the boat is a floating piece of space, a pace without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack, from brothel to brothel, it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why the boat has not only been for our civilization, from the sixteenth century until the present, the great instrument of economic development… but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure, and the police take the place of pirates. -Michel Foucault, Des Espaces Autres, lecture for the Cercle d'études architectural, March 14 1967
Often, photographers are criticized for exploiting their chosen subjects with a camera. Before this is questioned, I would like to ask who and what else is being exploited along the way to the photographer even being able to take a picture? What ethical decisions are made in the production of the photographic apparatus?
Reading about interdependence, here's a nice quote from William James: The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
Flock House at Boston University
Episode 40: The Conversation with Aengus Anderson
"Mary Mattingly is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. We learned about her through the Flockhouse Project and traced back to discover the Waterpod and her earlier work. Mary’s art explores the environment, sustainability, housing, and community structure, among other things. We have spoken to a fair number of environmental thinkers in The Conversation, but Mary is the first whose work directly explores individual survival in an unstable world.
There are lots of reasons you’ll like this episode. Aside from the Mad Max/Waterworld quality of our conversation, Mary looks at environmental change in a way that is totally unlike anyone else in the project. Thinkers like Tim Cannon, David Miller, and Robert Zubrin have viewed anthropogenic environmental change as morally relative and potentially positive while others, like John Zerzan, Jan Lundberg, and Wes Jackson, describe it as a crisis to be averted. Mary is somewhere in between, admitting that a future in which humans exert great control over the environment could be dark, yet embraceable. Does this put her in a camp with Tim Morton?
Also, the maker economy shows up in Mary’s conversation and connects her to Alexa Clay and Douglas Rushkoff though, in Mary’s vision of the future, the maker spirit is more of a life-and-death necessity than an economic statement. Her interest in resilience may remind you of the end of Chuck Collins’ conversation, too.
There’s a lot more to talk about. Specifically, we’re interested in the coexistence of individualism and communitarianism. Are they in tension or in balance? Rest assured, Micah and I won’t cast any light on this."
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. - Rilke
The future is but the obsolete in reverse. - Vladimir Nabokov
I've been telling stories about our movement through and within temporary settlements, reflecting a sped-up cycle of building, collecting, packing, decomposing, destroying, and rebuilding. Using photography, I have mapped and categorized architecture in places I've lived, from Dhaka to Manila, from New York to Yuma, Arizona, and have observed how improvised building materials and fragile infrastructure indicate new construction. A cyclical “ruins in reverse,” new buildings point to planned obsolescence within a market-driven cycle of building and rebuilding, buying and rebuying.
- What advice would you offer students about to embark on a career in the arts?
I think about an art career as a survival mechanism for an artist. The way in which you survive in the world as an artist can take many forms, and the career of an artist is always unconventional. I believe that if making art is foremost a necessity and habit then it will also become your career in a way that is bound to be different from the way it works for any of your peers; there's no right way.
- How do you maintain your creative practice? What keeps you motivated and engaged?
Through constant curiosity, and witnessing a project come to fruition.
- Could you describe a moment or experience that profoundly changed the nature of your work?
While no single experience has profoundly changed the nature of my work, it has been a combination of small moments that daily alter my perspective and process, influencing the artwork I make.
Exhibition at the University of Arizona Museum of Art with Greg Lindquist, William Lamson, and Chris McGinnis. We visited Tucson for the opening in Mid-November,visited Greg's mom and traveled to Yuma.
for safe keeping and to listen to later:
audio link with disclab
Found: On the corner of Tomas Morato and Kamuning Rd. in Quezon City - a week or so old kitten. She just made it back to New York with me as "carry on" luggage
“If to work and communicate as artists today is to extend this cybercapitalist desolation and contribute to the dis-ease of metropolitan togetherness, it seems inevitable that we've arrived at a splentic experience of abstraction. Whatever community we share now is the one that constantly sabotages itself: the anti-community of networked souls. Franco Berardi and others have written about a depressive epidemic that's both symptomatic of and structurally integral to capitalism's development as an info-sphere, to economic deregulation under conditions of high=speed exchange. The posthuman speed of circulation means that the world now escapes our capacity for attention and that we've lost our time fro otherness, and therefore for ourselves. Under the present dispensation, connection is defined as the functional relationship between formatted materials or components...” - John Kelsey (Next-Level Spleen, Artforum, summer 2012)
There are a lot of significant events that have happened in Manila housing-wise since I've been here. The biggest example is a violent takeover of an informal settlement on September 24th. The barangay was raided by police and a private team of builders with bulldozers. They fought against residents, their friends and supporters, and eventually they tore it down. It went mostly unreported by the newspapers.
People have been steadily moving from the countryside to the city for the past ten+ years due to new factories opening up, and the possibility of jobs that aren't tied to land owners in the countryside (who are in many cases brutal). So entire families move here looking for work, and a lot of them don't find it but still prefer living in Manila where they can get an odd job or start a resourceful small business selling garlic necklaces or something equally as arbitrary seeming. Politicians term them Urban Poor. Most of the homeless have been evicted from these temporary settlements in the last year or so when they have been torn down in this manner.
From what I've learned, the majority of land in the Philippines is owned by a few families. As architect Paulo Alcazaren said, we are all informal settlers in a city where everything is temporary and building code is made to be ignored.
Architect Paulo Alcazaren
NDRRMC's Major Reynaldo Balido Jr.
NDRRMC's Major Reynaldo Balido Jr.
Action without reflection is blind - reflection without action is impotent - Paraphrased from Paulo Freire
Here's a link to
chapter 2 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed
“The only myth that is going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet, not the city, not these people [or those people], but the planet, and everybody on it. …The society that it’s got to talk about is the society of the planet. …When you see the earth from the moon, you don’t see any divisions there of nations or states .This might be the symbol, really, for the new mythology to come.”—JOSEPH CAMPBELLL
On smARTpower: It's impossible to do a project until you fall in love with it and its surroundings. Today I fell in love with Manila.
Sunday farmer's market
On planning the project and reflecting on the Flock House project, cycles, and circles: "Whoever has no interest in sphere formation must naturally avoid amorous dramas, and whoever steers clear of eros excludes themselves from the efforts to understand the vital form." -Peter Sloterdijk
University of Philippines: Mobile clinic and an eyeglass shop run by Merv's friend at MA Nella L Sarabia Optical. After years of barely passing drivers license vision tests I'm finally getting good glasses.
Day 3: Kamuning area. On the emotions of being relocated: "It is to late to dream ourselves back to a place under celestial domes whose interiors would permit domestic feelings of order. That security in the largest circle has been destroyed for those in the know, along with old homely, immunizing cosmos itself.. Here, following a venerable tradition, this place bears the name "sphere." The sphere is the interior, disclosed, shared realm inhabited by humans-in so far as they succeed in becoming humans. Because living always means building spheres, both on a small and a large scale, humans are the beings that establish globes and look out into horizons. Living in spheres means creating the dimension in which humans can be contained. Spheres are immune-systemically effective space creations for ecstatic beings that are operated upon by the outside." Peter Sloterdijk
Welcome dinner with Green Papaya:
Photos by Jed
First day in Manila with Merv Espina and Tony Perez: US Embassy visit, Green Papaya visit, and nearby artist studios
Slowly, I've been restructuring this site. After moving homes, studios, and storage units consistently the chronological organization of the work
I've done and am doing became necessary to establish a trajectory within it that I determine acceptable.
smARTpowerSM in the Philippines launched
smARTpowerSM builds on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vision of "smart power" diplomacy, which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools - in this case the visual arts - to bring people together and foster greater understanding. The smARTpower initiative is an integral part of the United States' people-to-people diplomacy efforts that engage people, especially underserved youth, and create opportunities for dialogue that build a foundation for greater understanding among people of all cultures, communities, and countries. smARTpowersm is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, administered by the Bronx Museum of the Arts, with additional support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation; and Lori Schiff Chemla and ALTOUR.
smARTpowerSM is sending fifteen American artists abroad to work with local artists and young people around the world to create community-based art projects. Selected artists will design and develop programs in cooperation with local arts organizations in host countries including China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kosovo, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Venezuela. Green Papaya Art Projects has been appointed local partner organization in the Philippines.
SELECTED ARTIST FOR THE PHILIPPINES
Mary Mattingly has been selected to take up a fellowship in Manila from September to October 2012. Mattingly's work addresses nomadic themes within current and future global environmental and political conditions, focusing on the interdependence of communities facing challenging political and climatic conditions. Mary Mattingly has been exhibiting since 2000, and is the recipient of several awards. During the summer of 2009, she led a group of artists, builders, civic activists, scientists, and marine engineers in the creation of the Waterpod Project, a mobile, sculptural, autonomous habitat and public space built on a 3,000-square-foot barge. The Waterpod Project was designed to be an experimental platform for assessing the efficacy of onboard living systems, as well as to provide a public space for conversation and questioning the status quo concerning energy, water, food, and shelter. Over 200,000 people visited the Waterpod and participated in programs ranging from tours to classes, tutorials, music, and meet-ups. Green Papaya Art Projects has organized a smARTpower Program Team composed of Lian Ladia, Merv Espina and Sidd Perez to help Mary realize her project and ensure a successful implementation of the program in Manila.
WEARABLE PORTABLE ARCHITECTURE BY MARY MATTINGLY
Call for workshop participants
Wearable Portable Architecture / Workshop Background
What could our urban surroundings look like if our built environment is designed to move? How can we use art and creativity to tap into new solutions for our everyday surroundings? What considerations need to be taken into account for designing, building, and dwelling in a mobile city?
Mobile structures acknowledge and plan for dynamic conditions (both human-made or natural). Beginning with conversations about architecture and buildings, art, and community, we will begin brainstorming and exploring strategies for flexible and modular sculptural interventions in the city through sketches and discussions, experimenting with soft architecture, camouflaging/patterning techniques, and answering questions such as: What are the advantages and disadvantages to modular building? What building materials are available in the local waste stream and what materials exist naturally in the Philippines that can be used? What resources are being lost from a common building and how can we harness these? How can we make waterproof or inflatable materials? Where can we deploy/exhibit these structures in public?
After these exercises we will begin designing and creating itinerant architectural interventions that can be assembled and disassembled with ease. Disassembled, parts of the units may be worn by the participant. (Each wearable unit can become the property of the participant who can design and fit the unit to their body.) Assembled together, the spaces become larger and are able to collect rainwater, solar energy, space for food production, and even have the ability to float. As an amphibious structure these sculptures can fit into a model for a future Philippines, reliant on mobile infrastructure. This project can also be a model for dwellings that rely less on centralized resources.
When and where?
The workshop will be conducted between October 1-25, 2012 at Green Papaya Art Projects in 41B T. Gener Street, Kamuning, Quezon City. The workshop will run for 3-4 hours a day and 3-4 days a week, final workshop schedule shall be posted soon.
Who may participate?
Public high school students, out-of-school youths (preferably Kamuning residents), Architecture and Fine Arts students, NGO/community workers and contemporary artists. There is NO workshop fee. Participants will be provided with workshop materials and snacks during the workshop. Number of participants will be limited to 20.
Interested participants may contact Lian Ladia, smARTpower Manila Project Director, at +63999 3811217, or Merv Espina, smARTpower Manila Operations Director, at + 63921 6653943, or email email@example.com
For updates please log-on to www.greenpapayaartprojects.org, papayapost.blogspot.com, plantingrice.com
READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW
And so the old nest enters into the category of objects. The more varied the objects, the simpler the concept. But as our collection of nests grows, our imagination remains idle, and we lose contact with living nests. -Bachelard
The average American is largely disconnected from the land and animals that support him or her. Automated mechanisms that remove people from the subjects of their necessities allow for lack of knowledge or caring for the natural systems we depend on. As the USA transitions from industry and micro-scale specialization to post-industrial life, looking at and understanding systems as a whole (or sphere, in the case of the Flock House) I think requires a level of re-skilling. I’m working towards full integration of fact, fiction, human-made and natural living systems by setting up living systems as intervention/situations through which experiments, dialogues, and skill-sharing can happen. These projects are in part to spark that. I focus on whole living systems and learn while I’m making. I’ve been working on making contained living systems and ecosystems with holes that leave room for necessary sharing within the experiment while I try to understand how humans will survive in the future, so perhaps this is a bridge between the present conditions and the future. With some of these projects like the Flock House, I’m predicting a time when supply chains like we have in the U.S. today are less reliable and humans turn towards their community for goods and services, and are prepared to move more for reasons including more frequent political, economic, and environmental shifts.
July 27, 2012: Flock House in the NY Times > >
Sustainable Living Forum and Photography Show (Friday, and continuing through Aug. 15) An art installation composed of habitable structures made with green technology — some of which are now standing at sites in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan — is the subject of a discussion and photography show at the Visitor Center in Poe Park, the Grand Concourse and 192nd Street, the Bronx. On view are photographs, drawings and other items associated with the structures in the “Flock House Project,” that was initiated in 2010 by the artist Mary Mattingly. On Friday at 2 p.m., Lonny Grafman, an instructor of environmental resources engineering at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., will talk about the project, for which he was an adviser. The photography show can be viewed Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both are free, but reservations are requested for the talk and can be made by e-mailing
From a Flock House in Brooklyn: After being here for a few days, elevated and overlooking the Manhattan Bridge, dependent on the vagaries of weather, working closely with my new neighbors, it is clear to me that we are building something.
From a Flock House in Brooklyn: Trying to use Amelia's Telephone system to tether wifi. It's in and out. The house is comfortable and a good place to write from, draw from, and photograph from. Working on techniques for floating architecture using water encased in a membrane as the structural element. Imagine packable sectional bridges.
Moving Flock Houses: They're complicated to move. Working on making them simpler. If I had enough time I would make a platform/hitch for them to ride on. Right now I guess that sounds more complicated than moving them the way we have been doing.
It's initially no more than a hollow-bodied sculpture awaiting significant further use. -Sloterdijk
News 12 Brooklyn just did a piece about the Flock House in DUMBO. (
http://flockhouse.org/images/press/20120715Record3.mov) The Flock House in the LES is wild. Not sure why I agreed to put one in a playground. Like the insects in Flushing Meadows we can't keep the kids out and everyone who has tried inhabiting it is frustrated after a day or so with the kids.
Artists, Environmentalists and Engineers Bring 'The Flock House Project' To New York City (PHOTOS) (VIDEO)
July 13, 2012 12:52:20
Artists, engineers and environmentalists are bringing mobile, self-sufficient living units to the parklands of New York City this weekend. It's all a part of "
The Flock House Project," an exploration of alternative systems for living organized by artist
Mary Mattingly. Now through September, the project is installing four new "
Houses," all inhabited by project volunteers, that will migrate from Flushing Meadows to Battery Park to Van Cortlandt Park with a few stops on the way.
The units are built collaboratively using reclaimed and redesigned materials. The environmentally-friendly artists and engineers who serve as the architects and residents of the homes utilize rainwater capture methods, inner-city agricultural techniques, and solar energy technologies to create the mobile living centers. The shape and aesthetic of the units take into consideration the necessities of migration and pilgrimage, so that the walls and contents of the homes can function as transportable spaces. The resulting structures look like like angular, patchwork eggs equipped with gardens and interiorly decorated with hammock beds and a few personal items.
The project was initiated in Brooklyn in 2010 and has since set up shop in urban centers across the country seeking to enhance community-interdependence, resourcefulness, and creative exploration through the installation of these mobile habitats. The spaces were inspired by the current phenomenon of global human migration and the pressing need for urban communities to address issues of environmental and economic instability. Accompanied by workshops, lectures, performances, narrated cell phone tours and an interactive website, the project brings attention not only to the innovation of the self-sufficient units but also to the history and opportunity of the various areas that become the Flock Houses' temporary hometowns.
One of the homes is currently located at Pearl Street Triangle in DUMBO, Brooklyn and is inhabited by Brooklyn-based artist
Amelia Marzec. She has set up a
live video stream from the "Flock House," and will be demonstrating the various living systems involved with the home (energy, food, water, shelter) as well as the communication systems she has installed, such as phone booths and community wireless.
Check out photographs taken by Marzec below and let us know what you think of "The Flock House Project" in the comments section. The installations are completely interactive, so if you're curious about the living systems or the artists involved, visit the website and head to a "Flock House" nearest you!
Photos: Shaun Alvey
Ellis Island is portrayed as a place that is ‘likely to connect with more of the American population than any other spot in the country’ and as ‘one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country’ (The statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc. website) since about half
Islands have a tenacious hold on the human imagination due in part to their provision of stability amongst the watery chaos of their surroundings (Tuan 1974, 118). Islands have a peculiar relationship with the concept of mobility> Gillis (2003, 2004) notes how islands can represent both separation and continuity, isolation and connection: ‘the idea of the island brings with it at once the notion of solitude and of a founding population…islands inhabited by human beings are never enclosures only: they are crssroads, markets for exchange, and while sail remained in the mode of transport they were essential and frequent stopping off points for re-provisioning (2004, 33). of all Americans are able to trace an ancestor who once passed through its gates
Scott Wiener on the Flock House Project:
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
- Aldo Leopold, The Sand County Almanac
Bennington College exhibition and lecture
A most immediate nexus between architecture and mobility comes in the form of bridges. Bridges often embody the rather stark and most certainly binary choice of mobility as being either possible or not: they enable the crossing of a river or a gorge where, in their absence, none or none as direct, ubiquitous and temporarily stable would exist (Harrison 1992)
The last day in the Flock House prototype. It was easier to focus on working on the living system before it was built and I was inhabiting it. What about Water? Feeling on display in a cage. What is it like to live in a bubble? Myopic? Inside of an inside? Nest? Shell? Power reading? All of my things are living inside of eight drooping bags.
The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room. Pascal, Pensees, 136
Secrets of the Deep
What lies beneath the surface of New York Harbor? For starters, a 350-foot steamship, 1,600 bars of silver, a freight train, and four-foot-long cement-eating worms.
"The steady transformation of New York’s waterfront from wasteland to playground means more of us are spending time along the city’s edge. That can lead a person to wonder: What, exactly, is down there? Until recently, we had patchy knowledge of what lies beneath the surface of one of the world’s busiest harbors. What we did know came largely from random anecdotes, and depth soundings done the way Henry Hudson did them—by rope and lead sinker. This first GPS-era picture comes from the team at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who have methodically swept the lower Hudson with state-of-the-art sonar. LDEO’s Dr. Frank Nitsche stitched together their data, along with several other researchers’ work, into this elegant color-keyed map, which we’ve supplemented by talking with sea captains, historians, and the divers pictured above. There’s a whole other city down there. Here and on the following pages is your guide."
Chelsea, Manhattan + Winter
Fuller: “sustainable standard of living for all humanity” 1983 foreword
FH is a physical manifestation of a proposal for a possible world where all infrastructure is based on motion, parts are interchangeable, morphing. There’s space for ritual, island mentality dies “Our beds are empty two-thirds of the time. Our living rooms are empty seven-eights of the time. Our office buildings are empty one-half of the time. It’s time we gave this some thought.” B Fuller
Material required for the domestic rituals of sleeping, eating, bathing, and resting, and eliminates the need for personal possessions. The user borrows only what is needed in the immediate present and no more.
The equalization and reduction of socioeconomic, ethic, and gender roles enables a greater sense of collective responsibility for the city as a home as the apt unit loses its status as domicile the city becomes home to the resident. The inhabitant has the freedom to live anywhere, taking personal ownership over the greater region. Additional worldwide areas allow free migration from city to city without the towing of residual material or territorial obligations.
Driving across 14th Street we saw a blazing fire in the trash can on the south east corner of the sidewalk at 7th Avenue. More interesting may have been how comfortable pedestrians were as they stood nearby checking their phones, looking around, waiting for their turn to walk across the street. Impressive that nothing else in the area had probable burning potential, everything was cement, steel, or brick. It was cold. If I was standing on that corner I probably would have been thankful for the warmth of a nearby fire.
Gordon Matta-Clark's Conical Intersect circles: The Flock House positives reference the negative spaces made by G.M-C.
"Time has turned into space and there will be no more time, till I get out of here." - Samuel Beckett
For the duration of the bubble’s life the blower was outside himself, as if the little orb’s survival depended on remaining encased in an attention that floated out with it. Any lack of accompaniment, any waning of that solidary hope and anxiety would have damned the iridescent object to premature failure. But even when, immersed in the eager supervision of its creator, it was allowed to drift through space for a wonderful while, it still had to vanish into nothingness in the end. In the place where the orb burst, the blower’s excorporated soul was left alone for a moment, as if it had embarked on a shared expedition only to lose its partner halfway. But the melancholy lasts nor more than a second before the joy of playing returns with its time-honored cruel momentum. What are broken hopes but opportunities for new attempts? The game continues tirelessly, once again the orbs float from on high, and once again the blower assists his works of art with attentive joy in their flight through the delicate space. At the climax, when the blower is as infatuated with his orbs as if they were self-worked miracles, the erupting and departing soap bubbles are in no danger of perishing prematurely for lack of rapturous accompaniment. - Peter Sloterdijk
Henry James believed that hotels constitute “a synonym for civilization, for the capture of conceived manners themselves, leading one to ask if the hotel-spirit may not just be the American spirit most seeking and finding itself." In the paintings of Edward Hopper, hotels were meant to represent loneliness, transience, and the disconnection between people who sit alone in their rooms staring off into an interior world. Alfred Hitchcock utilizes hotel space to represent the impermanence of human identity and the predicament of people in transition.
Building at Eyebeam: Amelia Woodside, Robert Wall, and parts of the Flock House.
Spent this morning at Catherine Hooper's
Black Umbrella office, browsing through her journal during an insightful meeting about planning and priorities. She's genius.
EAI - Watched Matta Clark's "Food," "Tree Dance," and "Clockshower" on the 23rd. At Harvard (in the deprivation tank) Cage realized that there is no such thing as silence. Silence just permits bodily noise. Then later Santiago Sierra reveals he's a minimalist with a guilt complex. The Happening. Based on the passive "It is Happening to Me"... "Rebirth" in which the audience is shunted through an experiential laybrinth, based on fear. Flock House. What has to come before I can confess I love?
“In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”
Is Times Square the transcendental woods in our era? My eyes were seared by the haze of Times Square’s white light that emanated from the inner burning light of screens. So intensely blinded by this glowing scrim, I dreamed later that night of being sunburned. Times Square, Robert Smithson would have said, is both a non-site and non-continuance: Non-site because its proliferation of screens take you in a moment to multiple moments where you are not. Non-continuance because in its preternatural light, you are experiencing neither a sunrise or sunset, a light condition of morning or afternoon. You are outside of time, place and atmospheric specificity.
Stars are now pixels in the sky of Times Square. They still awaken a certain reverence as Emerson describes them. Painter Ben La Rocco once wrote that if art is the corpse of time, then Times Square is its tomb, time as monument to light and color. This statement has remained with me for some time. Yet, if skyscrapers are tombs for the living as Marshall McLuhan imagined, then Times Square is the heavens for our technological soul. Time Square is the technological sublime. (
Met with Mae recently, back from Bard. Sensitive. genius. She lived with me for a hot minute around 2002, after Joe moved out and when Stephanie and I were in Bed-Stuy. She's been traveling to Spain, France, and Germany to get ahold of Benjamin's original texts, letters, momentos, and retrace his walk before his death on the France/Spain border. I can't help but cling to Rebecca Solnit's description of rewalking his walk, which is all I really had to offer as a comparison now updated by Mae, of Spain at least. If I were to dissect my memories of Spain (never having been there) it would be directly linked to the stories of Elena Bajo, Juan Puntes, Libia Castro, and probably relies heavily on The Sun Also Rises. Romantic and likely untrue or at least of course outdated... So Mae is working within a framework for absurd theater based on an idea or an historic event, that is then recreated by giving a set of hired workers a few cues, and documenting the hell out of it. She proposed a Flock House version. We need to revisit.
On Hypothetical Landscapes by GL
Total fresh water withdrawn in a given year, expressed as a percentage of total renewable water resources. / Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions Per Country - Updated Yearly.
It’s been months since I’ve let myself write, but for the last week or so I’ve been awake most of the night (whether it’s jet lag I’m not letting myself recover from or what, I’m not sure) and tonight I wanted to begin a recap of the past few months, beginning with the Flock House project, a project I’ve been working on for the past year at least, but since I’ve been at Eyebeam I’ve been able to concentrate specifically on it and its surrounding world. Flock House a series of egg-like habitats reflecting the necessary future of urban and rural space. The spherical shape of the shell is made up of a series of rings that mimic data patterns of current global human migration. Intended as a series of habitats constructed of recycled and re-purposed materials, the Flock House living systems will be completely movable and modular with the ability to merge. Flock Houses are interstitial in that they exist as both autonomous self-sufficient structures, yet depend on their local communities for mobility and use. Katherine DiPierro and I recently conducted an interview about Flock House, for a bit more background:
Katherine DiPierro: Most of your projects center around accessibility to basic necessities - shelter, clothing, water - and play with the definition of what’s considered a typical way of looking at those necessities. What experiences led you to develop this body of work?
Mary Mattingly: In the year 2000, Bechtel, the World Bank and other organizations privatized water in parts of Bolivia. Thousands of people protested this in Cochabamba, as many were no longer able to afford it. With a concrete example of an essential need being sold for use at prices people can’t afford, and then studying the pervasiveness of water commodity trading and growth through globalization I realized if the present Military-industrial complex wasn’t already, then the future would become inhuman. At that time in my life I was continuously moving and studying architecture, media, and politics at different schools, always trying to travel with less belongings than the time before. I began researching practical inventions while re-learning how to create, find, and utilize necessities, and building “Wearable Homes”.
KD: Your latest project is the Flock House, which you’re hoping to develop during your Eyebeam fellowship. What do you think are the biggest challenges in producing and displaying these extremely mobile homes?
MM: Flock Houses are fairly mobile because they are lightweight and small, but they will depend on vehicles already heading in the direction of their next landing-place for the most mobility. Choreographing each stop beforehand and then figuring out which vehicles may be willing and available to let a Flock House hitch a ride takes some planning. Designing living and communication systems that can support a couple of people in a fairly small space (even by New York City standards) and within the other parameters I’ve set for the structures (including utilizing reused, local materials with a minimal power grid) has also been challenging, but these design and choreography demands are both parts of the process I enjoy. The present challenge is to arrange a framework so when the Flock Houses take to the world, the rest is spontaneous. The things I can’t plan ahead for will be the biggest challenges and the more rewarding experiences.
KD: Since the recent Occupy Wall Street movement (and the events occurring in solidarity, Occupy Together) has entered public thought, I feel as though there’s an increased interest, or at least an awareness, of infiltrating urban space. What’s your take on it; additionally, do you see current events impacting your Flock Houses?
MM: This endeavor is both a living space and an interactive public artwork, exploring and expanding the boundaries of housing and usable spaces. The structure and people residing inside will engage with the surroundings at each stop and be dependent on these places for additional sources of food, water, and electrical energy (largely generated through human power). We are working towards making a program to exchange resources, services, and skills, to continue what we are experiencing (and will continue to) at Occupy Wall Street and other movements: spreading ideas, knowledge, mutual cooperation, and democratic participation.
KD: In addition to the Flock House, do you plan to work on any other projects or seminars during your fellowship?
MM: Yes, I’m working on a couple of other things. One is a film project, and I'm working on expanding the "Wearable Homes" project to "Wearable Scalable Architecture". I’ll work on these units linking together and providing or storing necessities: shelter, food, and water.
A couple of days ago I met with the Nike Better World team (
http://www.nikebetterworld.com/) and learned that they will soon be releasing over ten years of materials research in an index titled the "Considered Design Index". Soon after they will be able to make all of their new patents public, including cardboard boxes using 35% less cardboard than the previous box. For them, this ongoing work is done to sustain their industry. They realize that their industry will only be profitable if they take large steps towards making business sustainable on every level: considering air quality, peoples' quality of life, water quality and abundance, waste and natural resources.
http://tinyurl.com/7b9vehn They acknowledge they still have a lot of work to do in this area. I was impressed, considering an article that caught my eye in Harvard Business Review a couple of months ago on Value Chain Indices called "The Sustainable Industry". The article suggests businesses form rating systems for products based on the entire cradle to grave cycle, that can be used by stores' buyers as well as customers before they decide to purchase something:
http://hbr.org/2011/10/the-sustainable-economy/ar/1 The index they are suggesting in the article is what Nike Better World has been creating for the past ten years with the Considered Design Index. Its launch in February could help designers, artists, builders, and others find hard-to-locate information on a material's past, present, and future ecological and human impact.
Some of my photographs displayed in a grain silo in Lianzhou.
LIANZHOUFOTO DAYTIME OPENING
LianzhouFoto 2012 was held in a series of old factories and grain silos in Lianzhou, China. This is the press opening.
LianzhouFoto's main opening included dancing, fireworks, speech by Chirstopher Phillips, and the Mayor of Lianzhou.
Joanna Lehan wrote the essay, and Sunni Hong translated it:
Exploring informal rooftop housing in Kowloon, Hong Kong (center image HK Island, view from my window)
Jimmy balancing at Mom and Dad's house / Lonny Grafman delivering the Engineering 101 students' work - here is a sheet of hard plastic made from 6 ironed plastic bags.
"The Occupy movement has been a test -- a national MRI -- that has allowed us to check-in on the health of our democracy by allowing us to see what's going on underneath the surface of America's power structures. And the results are dire. What the movement, and the response to it, has shown is a government almost completely disconnected from those it purports to represent."
- Arianna Huffington
Eyebeam's Urban Research Group's first outing: Alan Sondheim leads a tour of the African Burial Ground, Taeyoon Choi leads a tour of POPS, and Mark Shepard leads a tour of urban planning and security functions in Lower Manhattan.
from the United Nations General Assembly Global Pulse Briefing. Check out
HUNCHWORKS (beta) more on this soon...
I’ve been working on a project called Flock House: a series of egg-like habitats reflecting the necessary future of urban and rural space. The habitats are collapsible, movable, and modular with the ability to merge. see
In the fall of 2012, I will spend 45 days in Manila, the Philippines, taking part in the smARTpower program's first year:
link to the U.S. Department of State
smARTpower is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State in partnership with the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Click here to learn more about the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and
click here to learn more about The Bronx Museum of the Arts.
Office of the Spokesperson
October 18, 2011
U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Bronx Museum of the Arts launched smARTpowerSM., a new initiative that sends 15 American artists and collaborative artist teams to 15 countries worldwide to engage in people-to-people diplomacy through the visual arts.
smARTpower builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools – in this case the visual arts – to bring people together and foster greater understanding.
For up to 45 days during the next year, the following American artists will travel to all corners of the globe, where they will partner with local arts organizations to engage with underserved youth and create community-based projects. The first smARTpower artist, Kabir Carter of Brooklyn, New York, will depart October 24 for Istanbul, Turkey. Other artists will follow throughout 2012 with travel to China, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, India, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Venezuela.
The artists participating in smARTpower, the countries to which they will travel, and their in-country partner arts organizations are:
More than 900 individuals from nearly all 50 states and U.S. territories applied to the program. Those chosen include both emerging and established artists who work in a variety of media, from site-specific happenings to portable art installations. Selection criteria included the strength of the artists’ work, and their experienced commitment to community-based art making.
Wearable City Demonstration at deCordova (from single unit, to tent, to scalable architecture).
By 2000, politics will simply fade away. We will not see any political parties. (
deCordova Museum in October - families building wearable portable architecture.
Lecture at Columbia College: Photography, Utopias, the Future. Anna Kunz and Judy Natal's class.
"By 2000, politics will simply fade away. We will not see any political parties." -Buckminster Fuller
dream, in, the, act curated by Nicholas Steindorf - Kunz, Vis, Projects
Temporary Settlement on the Border of Monsoon, 2011 c. Mary Mattingly
Thinking about the cities of Dhaka, Chittagong, Barisal, Khulna, and Benapole as well as constantly shifting chor islands and the Sundarbans mangrove forest in Bangladesh. I traveled to Bangladesh to better understand architectural infrastructure and vehicles for mobility in cities and villages where yearly monsoons are standard. While apprehending coping-mechanisms for recurrent flooding as well as other water-related issues including naturally occurring arsenic, I recognized the pervasiveness of micro-businesses and NGOs, extensive systems for material reuse, natural building, plumbing, low-impact farming, and learned about the prominence of certain poets, literature, and lore.
Ship Making, 2011 c. Mary Mattingly
(link)Temporary Structures: Performing Architecture in Contemporary Art is on viewat deCordova from September 18–December 31, 2011. This exhibition features thirteen artists and collaboratives who underscore the changeable and active nature of our built environment. In doing so, they take architecture beyond its obvious function as shelter and design and examine its social, psychological, and cultural resonance in our lives. Video, sculpture, installation, and performance converge to address architecture through three broad themes: intervention, mobility, and participation. Over the past 50 years, architecture’s agency in society has emerged as a growing concern for contemporary artists. Be it the white-cube space of the gallery, the historic walls of a specific site, or the loaded evocations of Modernism embedded in glass and concrete surfaces, artists and theorists agree that there is no such thing as a neutral environment—every space speaks.
Featured artists: Vito Acconci, Ant Farm, Mary Ellen Carroll, Kate Gilmore, Liz Glynn, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mary Mattingly, Sarah Oppenheimer, robbinschilds, Alex Schweder La, Ward Shelley/Douglas Paulson, Mika Tajima, and Erwin Wurm.
"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."—Winston Churchill
Churchill delivered this truism in response to the wartime bombing of the House of Commons in London. An unsteady climate asks us to pause and reexamine our surroundings, as ideals and places that we once thought infallible and reliable begin to crumble away—a symbolic building, a free market, housing investments, or political ideals. In the aftermath of recent man made and natural disasters, and in the decade since the attacks on the World Trade Center towers there has been a media wave bearing collective witness to the unreliable nature of architecture’s capacity to protect and shelter us. The artists in this exhibition infuse buildings or the idea of buildings, typically considered static and stable, with the element of time through architectural interventions, changeable environments, and participatory performances. In approach and framework, these artists merge two dominant strains of art practice today—time-based performance and architectural subject matter. They ultimately destabilize our idea of fixed space and present a collective notion of the changing, almost living, nature of architecture, blurring the lines between the organic and built worlds. Accordingly, buildings are viewed as active agents within our social lives, informing and performing human behavior, changing states, and telling stories.
Wearable Portable Architecture (for a scalable world), 2010-2011, Mary Mattingly
Knowledge emerges through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry
human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other. - Paulo Freire
August 27, 2011: New York and Oklahoma
(Rerouted my flight from Korea to Tokyo to D.C. In Union Station, Washington D.C. waiting on the 3:15am train, one of the first trains that may not terminate at Philadelphia.)
It certainly seems like we are coming to the end of it. Art careers & temporary credit.
Ugh, a bad morning...Missed my flight to Korea, I don't want to say why...
in the airport...
Looking forward to arriving...tomorrow...a day later.
In New Zealand!
exhibition link in Indyweek
Just finished giving a lecture on Wearable Homes and Wearable Cities to Procter and Gamble. The future just got even stranger...
The final day at Art Omi.
Do tears not yet spilled wait in small lakes? (Boat slowly sinking), 2011 c. Mary Mattingly
This has occurred to me many times, and again after a conversation tonight, that melancholy is an almost entirely ego driven response.
"Today we say all art is political. But I'd say all art has to do with ethics. Which after all really comes to the same thing. It's a matter of attitudes." -Igmar Bergman
Language and order are covering rather than discovering
The Floating Neutrinos, "Son of Town Hall"
Take to the Water!
A Discussion with Artist-Nomads on the Aquatic Open-Field
6:30 - 8:30pm
EFA Project Space, 323 W 39 St, Fl 2
In conjunction with the Sea Worthy exhibition, EFA presents Take to the Water! an evening of presentations and conversation focusing on three significant creative movements that involve the rejection of land-based conventions in order to establish platforms for new possibilities on the ubiquitous waterways. Join us as Constance Hockaday shares stories of her work with the Floating Neutrinos, Swoon talks about her activities with Miss Rockaday Armada and the sea-borne Swimming Cities collective, and Mary Mattingly describes the vision and realization of the Waterpod project. Following the presentations, Sea Worthy curatorial team member Dylan Gauthier will lead a discussion and talk-back with the artists.
Flock House Test Space, 2011
In 2001 I attended the Yale School of Art fellowship program at Norfolk. This spring at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Open Studios in Brooklyn I ran into Sam Messer who invited me to come back for a few days to present my work. Working on art at Yale during the summer of 2001 completely changed my process of thinking, responding, and making.Overall it made me face myself and be honest with myself, understand what I was doing, what I could do, what I wanted, and why. It was an honor and pleasure to go there and meet the students currently working in the program. Only two weeks in, they are not wasting a second. The pond looked the same but the cafeteria was much different.
Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone. - Jorge Luis Borges
After Shrimp Farming | Between the Border Walls at Benapole | Back in Dhaka
Sitting in a café in Dubai International Airport, one of the wealthiest airports in the world. Landed at 12am, catching a connecting flight back to NY at 8:30am. Slept in a lounge chair for a couple of hours, and I realize that I miss them. I'm already longing to be a part of the lives of my new friends from Bangladesh and the vibrant culture, the cities and countryside… and I’m more repulsed than ever by the disparity between what people have and don’t have, on all levels. Half asleep, I'm reminding myself of the four-year-old boys carrying wood bundles to their homes that were larger than their bodies, or the boys, some younger still, who work with their fathers taking care of the customers in his outdoor tea shop (over cha break).
Serving Tea at Midnight in Jessore
Here in the airport I watch a little kid ride the horizontal escalator backwards over and over, bored. It is likely that the young boys of BD have never seen an escalator. I think about the unending need to make art: right now it is essentially a borderless form. I’m fixating on education as I watch the young woman across from me photograph her muffin (maybe she will post it to her blog? I imagine a post something like, “I’m having a blueberry muffin this morning at Starbucks in the airport on my way to ...”)
I’m deeply saddened and disappointed by the plenty we are surrounded by and what little good we seem to make of it all.
It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. - Albert Einstein
Contain, Maintain, Sustain
A group exhibition that takes stock of the ways in which concerns around sustainability are being
articulated and visualized by contemporary artists today.
Curators: Welmoed Laanstra, Public Art Curator, Arlington Cultural Affairs
Sara Reisman: Director, Percent for Art Program, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
Ernesto Santalla: DC based architect, interior and graphic designer.
Thursday, May 19 - Sunday, July 17, 2011
Reception: Thursday, May 19, 7-10pm
Terrace Gallery at Artisphere
1101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA 22209
Gallery Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-9pm; Sun, 11am-6pm
Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value. - R. Buckminster Fuller
Day 5- Architecture and Mobility workshop, Mary Mattingly, 1mile2, Guelph Ontario, Canada
(from email) Last night we came up with a bunch of phrases to begin defining what alternative economies mean to us in a “Guelph EcoNetwork”
A map of the Guelph Ecosystem shows recycle and reuse networks, alternative education networks, local food sources, financing alternatives, artistic centers, ecology centers, and community centers.
Tonight my friend Lonny (who started this website:
http://www.appropedia.org/Welcome_to_Appropedia) will talk with us at 9:30, to help us design a mapping system. We can use Appropedia to host it – it is open source and anyone can go onto the site to make a change, they just need to create a login. People can add things anonymously, or with their own name. Other benefits to using their site as a host are: it’s free, they provide an alternative economy, they have a worldwide community that focuses on appropriate technologies and design with an extremely local focus, promoting local building methods. Also, everyone working on the Appropedia infrastructure is very responsive, so tech support wouldn’t be a problem. They want to expand their network and move into the realm of this type of community mapping. So far, they do host a few groups/towns/cities mapping websites.
The downside is that there isn’t complete design control (this site would be inside of Appropedia’s frame, for example, here is the Waterpod on Appropedia:
http://www.appropedia.org/Waterpod) but Google Maps, videos, photos, and sound can be easily added. So it’s something to talk about, because we could also simply use a blog, crowdmapi site, or something that is more standalone, or maybe we could find an existing web infrastructure that is Guelph-based – maybe this map could be under the umbrella of a Guelph-based site like village toolbox.
(from email) Yesterday was spent distilling some ideas into 3 main projects:
1. Mapping the “Emergent Community 2.0” (resulting in both a physical map similar to yet expanding upon the Green Map, and online via a wiki-format website that uses geotagging in Google Maps). This would begin as a document that encompasses many of the other mapping projects going on in Guelph right now, in order to really understand Guelph and community action on a macro level.
I’ve attached a quick compilation I made last night, and we may decide to weed many of these groups out, or add more specifically focused on alternative economies.
2. Another thing that came up yesterday after a brief meeting with Ed, is that he is willing to talk about providing space for a “lending library” in the building that we are meeting in. The space would not be large, but he likes the idea and is willing to work with us provided we come up with a plan for how it would work, and could pay him a small rent after it gets going. This could involve the membership and late fee scenario, or a $1 an item scenario, tiered upwards depending on the item. That said, he sounds really easy going about a structure. This building, catering to a number of businesses and needs as well as being so central would be ideal, in my opinion.
3. Finally, we came up with an interesting idea for a public art piece that would tie a bunch of these ideas together. It involves setting up one or more phone booths and phones in the city. When the phone is picked up, the listener hears a series of menu options, including but not limited to: a listing of working groups, public projects, a description of the Guelph Creates initiatives, a list of projects people want to do and how to get involved, a list of skill shares that are going on, a listing of barter networks, and is able to record his or her own message.
I’m going to follow up with some aspects of that project by calling Bell Canada and some other folks, and will have more to report tonight! As well as working on these ideas tonight, Caroline Woolard of
tradeschool.org is going to talk with us at 9pm.
My online presentation on Alternative Economies:
Notes from Day 1:
Through the process of brainstorming and conversation I think we narrowed down a large pool of ideas into a smaller pool, and I'm trilled about the potential to form something that can be of interest and use to people living in Guelph!
I strongly believe that there is no idea that is not worth doing, and ALL that were discussed today are definitely worth doing!
While we can't do all (I think we all expressed being mindful of the resources and time that it will take to pull off some of these ideas), I'm looking forward to focusing on one, and hope you are too! I am personally excited about investing time and resources in any of the ideas discussed during and after my stay here in Guelph for several reasons: the value of experience, experiment, the possible outcomes that could arise, and the opportunity for working collaboratively with everyone that was in the room today.
Here are some of the main ideas we came away with:
• Organizing to facilitate a service, such as: skill sharing, bartering services, lending library services, resource center, and/or creating a resource map or a way to connect organizations doing work in alternative economies.
• We established that these services would be best distributed with both an online and physical component (physical: permanent space - storefront, bulletin board, cabinet, or festivals, booth at a market).
• Let’s not duplicate services in Guelph, or reinvent the wheel.
What would these organizational models involve?
• Deciding whether one needs to become a member or not. If so, what is the membership process?
• What partnerships would we need to create? One for:
B. Possible staff,
C. Possible resources,
D. Potential teachers,
E. and most of all members (or teacher-members).
• Who will benefit from direct involvement and ownership?
• Is there a built in community value system? If so, what is that system? We agreed that the idea of social capital is very useful in an alternative economy.
• What exchange value is assigned to skills?
• What would a barter network look like? Non-monetary exchange, service, value-based?
• How is participation encouraged? Or, in what guerilla ways is outreach done?
What would a business plan look like?
It would answer: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
Here are some considerations:
• What is the capacity of the community, and of this organization within the community?
• What are the assets latent within the community?
• How can we facilitate sharing those assets?
• How will this be self-sustaining?
• How will this provide something?
• What is the code of ethics
A. With a lending library?
B. With a knowledge-based resource?
Here are some concerns:
· Peoples’ acceptance.
· A community's willingness to work together in these ways through an organizational structure.
· Meeting financial needs/human resource needs for these plans.
Specifics: What could a skill share library look like?
· A virtual listing of peoples’ skills, or a listing on a bulletin board.
· A physical space where classes are held, and a reservation is made by the teacher/participant.
Why? (Some ideas we came up with related to the skill share:)
• To develop self-esteem for people giving/learning new skills.
• To develop business skills: this could help with creating new jobs.
• To help people build poly income streams: a person can uncover a skill they never thought profitable.
• To present/generate survival skills: as we come out of a post-industrial economy here, let's re-learn how to make things!
• To underscore niche creation.
Specifics: What could a lending library look like?
· What is available for lending?
· Is it a physical space or is it an inventory of what people have at their own homes that they are willing to share:
o A. Once an inventory list is created, a type of “lending phone book” can be created that lists each person’s inventory and contact information. This can be both an online resource and a physical book for everyone in the library.
o B. If it is a physical space, what is the collection process?
o C. Who will work there during open hours?
Why? (Some ideas we came up with related to the lending library:)
· A lending library saves money.
· A lending library cuts down on consumption.
· A lending library increases our sense of “Community” and sharing.
· Depending on the business model, a lending library can create jobs or internships for the people supervising the library.
Here are some ideas that came up that we might want to further explore:
· Storytelling services: How can we provide a platform for a storytelling service so that stories can be passed down?
· Creating jobs: How can we use this project to create jobs for people in Guelph? Perhaps through skill sharing, or by designing a business model that allows people to be paid for work in a physical space.
· A mobile unit: What vehicle? What services?
• Given our general time/energy constraints, it makes sense to me that the course of the rest of this workshop should be focused creating a plan for this to happen. I would imagine that this would take the form of a business plan.
• At the end of the workshop we will come away with a plan that we can then act on, or give to others to act on.
• That said, I would still like to do some outreach to see about the availability of space for any of these shares, and hope to do that tomorrow and Monday.
One GREAT comment on the brainstorming paper, "When people work together, a lot of time is spent defining things." I think that this point is awesome, and I almost showed this video today, but it's rather easy to sum up. The story is about a forest in Iowa City. A group of people got together to form a coalition against its development, when they heard that it was being looked at as a potential site for housing development. The film is abstract, and the dialogue over the entire film is the conversation from the meeting when the group is writing their mission statement. The film consists of beautiful shots of nature in the park, and slowly injects scenes of bulldozers. The last scene is a walk through a path in the forest, and the camera pans down at the ground, to the newly paved walkways. All the while the dialogue continues - the coalition is still deciding on the wording of their mission statement.
I took away a lot from that film. Big business always has the bottom line goal in mind, it's easy to figure out how to move through channels effortlessly to get to the end goal. With alternative economies, the end goal is developing a different type of capital. Since it is not as one-directional, it has many more obstacles and considerations. Because of that, though, there is a lot to be said for embracing the business language that our cultures use when structuring something that you hope will be mainstream, and won't take a long time to create.
I don't take any of it lightly. I've been told that I'm wrong by many people, but I do tend to believe that if we separated the world into 3 types of people, it could easily be: people who protect the people/things that are taken advantage of, people who exploit those things (intentionally or not), and people who don't pay attention. I feel like there are enough people in each group so that things spin out of control rather slowly, with the upper hand that exploiters have in a system filled with loopholes in "the commons." However, the other side is closer and closer to catching up, or a "tipping point" (Gladwell) every day.
A friend of mine breaks it down this way:
under capitalism you can survive by 1) making money by being exploited by others, 2) making money by exploiting others and the environment, or 3) trying to live outside the system by setting up cooperative/democratic non-money-based communities
#1 is probably the easiest, #3 is probably the hardest
but as #1 and #2 get harder because of the built-in limits of capitalism, #3 starts to look easier and will start happening more and more
i call it the soft revolution, because #3 could happen today, without violence as more and more people agree that it makes the most sense for everyone.
Today we say all art is political. But I'd say all art has to do with ethics. Which after all really comes to the same thing. It's a matter of attitudes. (
Arrived in Guelph, Ontario today. The Airtrain to Newark Airport, Porter Airlines 1.5 hours, Tornoto, ferry, drive, walk. It was sunny and cold. The sun sets later here than in NY this early in the year. For the past weeks I've been studying an array of successful alternative economies. Dozens of books have been written on the subject in the past decade, and that is less than 1% of available information on projects, communities, life choices and lifestyles, necessities, local currencies, barter and swap networks, and the list goes on. The story I'm putting together centers around a few main themes, subject to change: A Brief History of economic thought centered around labor and property; The Commons; Ownership; Thinking about society on Many Scales; Participatory Economics; Collaborative Use; Organizational Models; Social Capital; Ecology; and Community as Priority. More on this soon
The New York Times on Cell Phone Use - Finally!!!
WATER WATER EVERY WHERE:
BRIC Arts, Brooklyn, NY - OPENS Wednesday March 16th, 2011 - More information
Today I had the pleasure of guest critiquing Vito Acconci's Architecture seminar with Maria Aiolova.
WATCH: CHRISTIAN MARCLAY - "THE CLOCK"
LISTEN: FRAZEY FORD - "BLUE STREAK MAMA"
READ: JOHN CAGE - "SILENCE: LECTURES AND WRITINGS"
GO: TURNTABLE ARTIST MARIA CHAVEZ AT THE STONE
This week’s installment RADAR NYC is brought to you by
Mary Mattingly She shared with us some things that inspire her and offer a glimpse into her world, including a book from a famous experimental composer, an Italian organization that focuses on smart city planning, and an avant-garde turntablist from Peru. And while they all come from very different backgrounds, each of the artists she chose have something in common – they all find creative and brilliant ways to reevaluate things that are part of our everyday lives, from time to silence to the city itself.
Pratt Institute Visiting Artist Lecture tomorrow:
Artist Mary Mattingly will speak at Pratt Institute about her influences, artwork, and career as part of the 2010-2011 Visiting Artists Lecture Series (VALS), from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., Tuesday, February 8, in the Engineering Building, Room 371, on Pratt's Brooklyn Campus. The lecture is free and open to the public. The Pratt Visiting Artists Lecture Series is an annual year-long series organized by the Department of Fine Arts in the School of Art and Design at Pratt Institute to welcome nationally and internationally recognized fine artists to share their experiences with the Pratt community.
Visitors can enter Pratt Institute's campus on DeKalb Avenue or on Willoughby Avenue between Hall Street and Classon Avenue. The closest subway stop is the Clinton-Washington station on the G line. For directions to campus or parking information, visit
Arlington Arts Center - On the Road opens today
Northern Passage - as soon as 2035...
Swiss Weigh Future Role of Bunkers in the Alps
Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”:
Whoever has emerged victorious participates to this day in the triumphal procession in which the present rulers step over those who are lying prostrate. According to traditional practice, the spoils are carried along in the procession. They are called cultural treasures… For without exception the cultural treasures [the observer] surveys have an origin which he cannot contemplate without horror. They owe their existence not only to the efforts of the great minds and talents who have created them, but also to the anonymous toil of their contemporaries. There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. And just as such a document is not free of barbarism, barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted from one owner to another.
The Waterpod's nautical engineer, Rik van Hemmen of Martin, Ottaway, van Hemmen, and Dolan, has just put this book out (link: http://www.navesinkmaritime.org/home.html)- A Chronology of Boating on the Navesink. It's a great book!
13D Research describes worldwide risks and encourages investors, money managers, and economists to consider stocks that effectively hedge on these risks that the current world is facing. Their latest newsletter discusses the effects of worldwide migration. Studying human migration is one of the main thrusts of my work, so I was obsessively interested in reading what they had to say. Here they bet on purchasing stocks of vaccine producers and antiviral drug manufacturers, as well as well-positioned water and agricultural-related companies. For me, it's more than interesting to see how everything is connected. While this may have little effect on the migrant condition, the investors in these stocks have a vested monetary interested in the severity of the migrant case.
"Many of the consequences of climate change are relatively straightforward, such as warmer temperatures, changes in the hydrologic cycle, increased ground-level ozone and enhanced pollen production. However, more significant are the indirect impacts of climate change, resulting in large-scale alterations to the earth’s natural systems, which ultimately pose the greatest risk to human health.
Rising temperatures, along with shifting rainfall patterns and increasing humidity can affect the transmission of diseases by vectors, as well as through water and food. Vector-borne diseases are presently fatal to about 1.1 million people annually. Climate change could swell the population at risk for malaria in Africa by 170 million by 2030, with the global population at risk of dengue fever rising by 2 billion by the 2080’s.
Regional changes in precipitation, causing increased drought and flooding, more frequent natural disasters, and severe water scarcity, are all likely to combine to force people in many locations to abandon their homes. Coastal areas will be particularly vulnerable, because over one-third of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of the shore and less than 50 meters above sea level. By 2050 200 million to 1 billion people could be displaced due to climate change.
Population displacement will accentuate the spread of infectious disease. US intelligence officials consider the spread of diseasse as one of the four primary climate change-related security concerns, because outbreaks of disease can destabilize foreign countries, overtax the us military and undermine social cohesion and the nation’s economy. There is a gap in our surveillance to even determine whether the vectors are changing, and new diseases are being created and spread,” notes Dr. Joy M. Miller, the senior global health security adviser for the National Intelligence Council."
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 19
The Invisible Dog and Opalnest presents LOW TIDE CHORUS, a one-night performance event curated by Helen Homan Wu (Opalnest), featuring a group of seven visionaires – blending avant-garde performances, sound-visuals, electro-acoustics, disembodied musical instruments, a nomadic utopia – all coming together like a paradoxical chorus. “Low Tide Chorus” welcomes the present moment to reflect upon revelations. Opening the night’s ambiance is Brooklyn’s own Shamos, performing inimitable otherworldly sounds, and a tundra of kaleidoscopic projections by visual artist Michelle Hinebrook. Tonight, lighting conceptualist Eiji Sumi will charge up the underground with minimalistic organic forms, morphing along the music of Paris-based band Windy Hill Mill –sonic rhythms that will slow your heartbeat. Orchestrating as if out of an animal kingdom, Zemi17 (aka Aaron Taylor Kuffner) is a solo musician and composer of visceral multi-point sound environments. Audiences will also have the opportunity to plunge into multi-media artist Mary Mattingly’s “Nomadographies” and fall into the existential trance of Butoh dancer Vangeline (Vangeline Theater). Our final performance is avant-turntablist Maria Chavez – culling from her collection of needles, dubbed “Pencils of Sound” – renowned for her distinctive approach to live sound installations. Ms. Chavez’s rare solo appearance will encourage audiences to experience through the run of tonight show.
Dave Smith practicing with me before the show
... as a trickster____________________________________________
Remote-controlled Cassette Players had their first accident on the studio floor.
It's sad to live in a society surrounded by drones.
Mycotecture, or the creation of architectural forms with fungus, is being pioneered by Philip Ross at Far West Fungi in California. Mushrooms are grown by packing sawdust into airtight bags, then steam cooking the packed bags for several hours. After these pasteurized wood chips have cooled down small pieces of mushroom tissue are introduced into the bag, which eagerly devours the neutralized wood. As the fungus digests and transforms the contents of the bag it solidifies into a mass of interlocking cells, slowly becoming denser and taking form. Like plaster or cement, mushrooms can be cast into almost any shape.The Ganoderma fungus takes two to four weeks to eat the sawdust and solidify into what looks like a decrepit cake.
After the mushroom tissue has colonized all of the sawdust the tops of the bags are cut off and moved into a growing room with high humidity. The bricks are then unwrapped and moved to a drying room for about a month. Mushrooms digest cellulose and transform it into chitin, the same material that insect shells are made from. The bricks have the feel of a composite material with a core of spongy cross grained pulp that becomes progressively denser towards its outer layers. The skin itself is incredibly hard, shatter resistant, and can handle enormous amounts of compression. Shaping and cutting the bricks destroyed our files, rasps and saws.” [Source>
six weeks of polyphasic sleep - 1.5 hour naps throughout the day.
The title, The Anatomy of Melancholy, is taken from a textbook by Robert Burton (1577-1640) titled, "The Anatomy of Melancholy, What it is: With all the Kinds, Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, and Several Cures of it. In Three Maine Partitions with their several Sections, Members, and Subsections. Philosophically, Historically, Opened and Cut up." The textbook was first published in 1621 and went through roughly five compulsive editions, to make the final edition one of totality. Among the topics addressed are love, religion, and medicine.
Robert Burton's textbook combines utopia and melancholy in a way that reflects my approach toward this photographic initiative, through which I document specific places, years or decades after their initial utopic or imperialist vision and thriving. My work objectively examines locales of utopia and loss, simultaneously creating projects and spaces that reflect these environments, to impart deeper understanding of the effects of social, psychological, and physical environments on the ascent and decay of communities.
Three Gorges Dam in Central China
Inscribed in a salt and pepper slab of Maine granite is a quote by Mike Davis, "Borders Are Acts of Violence Inscribed in Land" dropped into the lake on the property line. Questioning the segregation caused by borders and ownership, and leaving a message to possibly be found in the future when the local geography migrates | 2010 | Mary Mattingly
I'm getting ready to go to Chicago to work with Jim Duignan of the Stockyard Institute at DePaul University.
Today was the final day of the prototype Flock House at Smack Mellon
(http://flockhouse.tumblr.com/). The artists who resided inside of the Flock House worked on a number of engaging projects.
On Flock House: Flock House is an airborne habitat that imagines, projects, and adds another level onto the city’s skyline.
On June 20, it will be a living prototype, inhabitants will imagine and experience some level of the capsule living in
a future dependent on mobile cities (the flock house will have wheels on the bottom) while the elevated habitat will be able to
cope with rising sea levels. In 2025, the Global Urban Observatory predicts that city dwellers will reach 5 billion.
New Yorker’s can: move to the water, inhabit Governor’s Island, crowd Long Island, and/or take to the sky.
Flock House is a proposal for a space where “the sky’s the limit...”
The Wilhelm Reich Museum
The man was ahead of his time.
I saw sunset and dawn, but between the two I found myself a shelter. W. Benjamin.
Skowhegan Library: Heterotopia
Two weeks of polyphasic sleeppatterning. I found a schedule that works pretty well. It consists of a 1.5 hr. nap after lunch: 1-2:30, a 1.5 hr. nap after dinner: 7 - 8:30, and a 3.5 hr. nighttime sleep: 3 - 6:30am. The second schedule that works equally as well is taking a 1.5 hr. nap after lunch and a 5 hr. sleep at night from 2:30 - 7: 30am. My schedule is different than everyone elses when I do this though, and I notice a lull in productivity around 9pm that replaces the lull in productivity I usually feel at 3-4pm. Overall, however, I add 1.5 hrs. to my normal waking hours using polyphasic sleep, but another drawback is that I notice my sleep can't be as flexible as it usually is with a monophasic sleep pattern.
(or After Bueys: How To Skin a Dead Hare): A trip to Saratoga Springs to particpate in Tom Brown III's Tracker School with the company Black Umbrella. By making this video and by holding the camera, It became the actual viewer and I controlled the camera. By controlling the camera, I was not a direct witness.
FOURTH OF JULY in a small town in Maine
The goal is not to live in unreality but to change reality
The world I experience is a complex, excelerated, mutating, dynamic and if I am to be in any way "honest" then my art has to reflect this, and try to resist a still prevalent modenrist legacy, of searching As cities increasingly turn themselves inside out, their ragged edges are redeemed by mythic integrities figured in the phenomena of edge cities, malls and themed environments. In the United States in the 60’s, nomadic lifestyle seemed a logical response to new technological capabilities: caravans were proposed as were space capsules. Cheap, pop, ready-made, portable, and immediately inhabitable.
It's our second night at Skowhegan. Daniel Bozhkov gave an informative lecture on the history and present of the fresco medium. I'm looking forward to making and using fresco, as is almost everyone here. Everyone is great, and I have a 20x10' studio with unbelievable light, cement floors, and white and blue walls with heavy water stains. We are told it rains a lot. I just returned from Tom Brown's Tracker School. See:
R&D notes. Flock House opens at Smack Mellon on Sunday. I just launched a
blog, while I continue to work on the website in the meantime.
I am looking forward to attending
Tom Brown Jr's Tracker School next week through a company that has commissioned me to design some of their gear,
Black Umbrella. A few days later I travel to
Skowhegan, Maine, while Sara Harbo, an artist based in Denmark and traveling to NY sublets my room. Then I head back to NYC to install Flock House for Sara Reisman's
curation at Smack Mellon, back to Skowhegan, to New Zealand to speak at the
SPARK conference, and back to NY in September for a
Marie Walsh Sharpe studio. Soon after I will travel to Bangladesh, through a travel grant from
Art Matters Foundation and assistance from the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute. In the meantime:
I'm on the train after spending the day at M.I.T. with the Senseable Cities Lab, talking about Waterpods, water cities, amphibious architecture, and mobile connections. Afterwards, we went to Legal Seafoods, a place I had never been to when I lived on Boston but had always been curious about. We talked about the fetishization of universities in America.
In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag wrote, "Harrowing photographs do not inevitably lose their power to shock.
But they are not much help if the task is to understand.
Narratives can make us understand. Photographs do something else: they haunt us."
As the spectacle grows larger and larger, so the action may need to as well
It is hard to reflect the moment that you are in. Now, months after the Waterpod journey is complete I think about the day-to-day trials of surviving the space, and the epic moments of which there were many. It features itself in my mind like a dream at times, full of hard work, hot sun, large parties, meeting more people most days on the Waterpod than in a month in the city. Our social contract was with 200-300 people a day, mostly strangers, and we acted as tour guides, completely engaged in our surroundings and the visitors. Although they were also on display, our cabins became our refuge, and the rest of the Waterpod was fair game. Now as posthumous actions are made as a result of it’s memory, new recollections distort older ones and its path migrates through the past; it is in a sense morphed, continually reinvented and reconfigured.
“The nomadic state has the potential for positive renaming, for opening up new possibilities for life and thought” (Rosi Braidotti).
I have the immediate need to put more complete contents of the concepts of migration into words. When I think about migration, I am not just relating to species migration, or human migration due to social, political, or environmental conditions, or the general migration of sentient beings, I'm thinking about the migration of languages as diversity diminishes and we are left with polyglot mergers and Esperanto-like leftovers into a superfluid global tongue, I'm also thinking about geological migration: the time it takes for a forest to migrate across a mountainside, or the land extension that is the result of a volcanic eruption, or man-made addition of Manhattan Island. The nomad is a subject who has relinquished all idea, desire, or nostalgia for fixity.
- mobile buildings
- is geographical migration considered Land Art?
A few days ago I was in Denton Texas for the Fluid Frontier symposium on art and the natural world ,the philosopher
Emily Brady discussed the sublime in nature and the translation to art. Those moments of sublimation described perhaps best as a "delightful horror" of the subject, I equated to most every moment in life. At my laptop right now = delightful horror. The fried chicken joint outside and sidewalks littered with chicken bones = delightful horror. Times Square = horror and delight. The desert. The same. The suburbs. The same.The future. Delight and horror. Technology = at times, delight and horror. Can we be struck by the sublime in every waking moment? Maybe it is too much for us to bear so we dull our nerves.
http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=620 - on writing and cell phones. On technology and human conditioning. I think that this writing is pretty interesting and I'm a big fan of C-Theory "So do we serve technology, or vice-versa?"
The only way to escape New York is to fake your own death.
I just returned from Denton Texas, from the
Fluid Frontier symposium.
EXIT ART 475 Tenth Avenue NYC 212-966-7745 www.exitart.ort
When: 8:00pm Fri 2.26.10
Music performances by:
Lemonade : This popular brooklyn trio are reinventing electro-dance-rock through their big beats and entrancing shows. Lemonade replicate "that first sensation of losing yourself in a peak-hour, strobe-lit reverie where the communal act of dancing teeters between liberation and disorientation," says Pitchfork.com, "imagineMetal Box-era John Lydon bellowing out Sigur Rós' Hopelandic lyric sheet-- but layers it with Arabic-accented melodies, machine-gunned synths and a pounding 4/4 beat." http://www.myspace.com/bananasandecstasy
Class Actress : Elizabeth Harper, deemed "Brooklyn's very own Madonna" by NY Press, with her new electro-pop trio Class Actress, is using older 80's syth influences to break new ground in music and peformance. Pitchfork.com describes them as "freely appropriating the sullen synthetics of New Order, the Human League, and Depeche Mode [while offering] a playful, breathy coo that hearkens back to hipster queens like Blondie's Debbie Harry and Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell." http://www.myspace.com/elizabethharper
Brahms: Newly formed in Brooklyn, Brahms is already making big waves with their electro-pop beats and creative performance style. They are quickly taking over the local music scene, as Deli Magazine notes, with a line-up of great shows with well known bands including Telepathe, Boy Crisis, Body Language, Javelin and Lemonade. http://www.myspace.com/brahmsisaband
Shana Moulton will perform her piece "Nature Mediation." Moulton is a video artist listed by Paddy Johnson in Art Fag City and L Magazine's "Art: Best of 2009," who uses video and performance to "create oblique narratives combining unsettling humor with a low-tech, Pop sensibility. Moulton's work frequently involves a character that navigates the enigmatic and magical properties of her home decor while interacting with consumer products toying with an issues about commercialization, subcultures of self-help and low-brow spiritualism." Moulton has performed pieces at Performa '09, the Bellwether Gallery, Art in General, Socrates Sculpture Park, Smack Mellon, and has an upcoming performance at the Kitchen.
Brina Thurston is a multimedia artist who works with video, sculpture and photography and social practice. "Seeking out the humor, sexuality and absurdity in the everyday while maintaining a critical view of our contemporary social systems, many of these pieces are steeped in institutional critique and become reactions/interventions to the artists immediate surroundings." Thurston has exhibited at Rivington Arms, Dean Projects, Gavin Brown @ Passerby, Location One, and was part of the 2009 Frieze Fair Projects.
Aleksandra Mir's art focuses on "faith in possibility, and those coincidences that make an expanding world a little smaller. Her work is about social systems,demography,ephemera,distribution, and tourist economies. Mir advocates new ideas of community by forming strong collaborative relationships and encouraging public interaction with her art." She has had numerous solo exhibitions at museums including the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and the PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. This will be the first public screening in New York of her video "Gravity."
Simone Leigh will present her video, “Uhura (Back and Forth), 2008. Leigh’s work has been exhibited nationally, including solo shows at Rush Arts Gallery Project Space and Momenta Art gallery and in group exhibitions at Exit Art, The Kitchen, The Fine Art Work Center, Rotunda Gallery and more. Leigh uses the "anthropological term skeuomorph as a reoccurring concept in her work, describing a derivative object that retains some sort of physical or metaphorical elements of the original, a substitute used to ease a sense of loss."
Charles Stankievech,an artist, writer, educator and curator was an "artist in residence" on the Waterpod. He will screen his film "Ghost Rockets" from his series of rocket launch spectacles occurring at sites around the world tracing the history of ballistics. Adapting the form of a rock’n roll world tour, each site is paired with a pop song, which often becomes the performance’s title and inspires a choreographed spectacle involving amplified sound on location, smoke grenades, lighting effects, and the rocket launch. "Ghost Rocks" will be exhibited at an upcoming exhibit at Palais de Tokyo in Paris
From Hannah Whitaker's text about
her exhibition opening tomorrow at Kumukumu Gallery:
Rules for Invention:
7. You should make pictures about nothing. You should learn to look at an empty sky and feed its total dark sublime. You should make the last word the first. You should tear the energy of the old world down from the heavens and embrace a different virtue. You should recognize that we inhabit a finite world of limited possibilities, which are still largely unexplored.
MoMA's RISING CURRENTS EXHIBITION: The Rising Currents exhibition and studio work at P.S.1 demonstrated the challenges that New York City faces from climate change, as well as the opportunities we have to rethink how we interact with the built and natural environment.
New York City already faces real and significant climate risks. We currently experience hot, humid summers and severe weather events, including heat waves, torrential downpours, snow and ice storms, and nor’easters. These weather events affect every New Yorker. As our climate changes, increasing our resilience to these events will become even more necessary.
BLDGBLOG: River City
If you're near New York City tomorrow night, Friday, January 15th, Exit Art is hosting an event in honor of the Waterpod project, exploring the twin ideas of interactive architecture and "reinventing social spaces."
The Waterpod, if you are not familiar with it already, "was a floating, sculptural structure designed as a futuristic habitat and an experimental platform for assessing the design and efficacy of living systems fashioned to create an autonomous, fully functional marine shelter." It traveled around the waterways of New York, bringing equal parts aquatic farm, mobile bio-utopia, and urban sci-fi to the hydroscape of the city.
As a self-sufficient, navigable living space, the Waterpod showcased the critical importance of water within the natural world. Collectively embracing the richly-patterned folkways of the five boroughs of metropolitan New York, the Waterpod reified positive interactions between communities: private and public; artistic and societal; scientific and agricultural; aquatic and terrestrial.
The New York Times described it as "an independent project [artist Mary] Mattingly dreamed up three years ago to explore the possibility of creating a self-sufficient community on the water—a kind of aquatic version of the Biosphere 2 complex built in the Arizona desert in the 1980s—that might offer an alternative to living on land in the future, if 'our resources on land grow scarcer and sea levels rise,' she said."
Tomorrow night will feature three short presentations by Natalie Jeremijenko, "an artist whose background includes studies in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience and precision engineering"; architect Maria Aiolova, cofounder with Mitchell Joachim of Terreform 1; and myself, followed by a panel discussion and public Q&A. For my own part, I plan on discussing a number of hydrological topics, including the vernacular design of artificial glaciers and other kinds of "ice reserves" as a response to global water shortages, and, given time, to present a brief look at the history of weather control and urban storm cultivation.
Entrance is free, although there is a suggested donation of $5, and there is a cash bar to ease the mood of a Friday evening; things kick off at 7pm, and you will find us all gathered at 475 10th Avenue, near 37th Street. Here is a map and more info about the night in general.
Hope to see you there!
the sixth of the SEA (Social Envrionmental Aesthetics) program, is a survey
of the Waterpod's five-month voyage around the boroughs of New York. It
includes videos, photographs, relics, art works, journal entries, and ephemera
that tell the story of this unusual public art project.
Waterpod was a floating, sculptural structure designed as a futuristic habitat and an experimental platform for assessing the design and efficacy of living systems fashioned to create an autonomous, fully functional marine shelter.
A New York-based multinational team, led by founder and artistic director Mary Mattingly, drew upon the talents of artists, designers, builders, civic activists, scientists, environmentalists, and marine engineers to launch the Waterpod, a free, participatory project and event space that visited the five boroughs and Governors Island, for a voyage between June and October 2009.
In the event of global climate change, desertification, overpopulation, and rising sea levels, the Waterpod offered a pathway to sustainable survival, mobility, and community building. It intended to prepare, inform, and offer alternatives to current and future living spaces.As a self-sufficient, navigable living space, the Waterpod showcased the critical importance of water within the natural world. Collectively embracing the richly-patterned folkways of the five boroughs of metropolitan New York, the Waterpod reified positive interactions between communities: private and public; artistic and societal; scientific and agricultural; aquatic and terrestrial.
The Waterpod is in Bayonne, NJ right now in storage for a couple of weeks until we begin the take-down. I got back to land about a week ago and since then, have been tending to a slew of the last-minute details. The Waterpod was a wild journey! I’m currently working on so many things including typing up 5 months of journal, and redoing my website, and a new public project. Last night I showed a video in a show about performance from one of the journal entries. It’s strange to be back in the city. I have been house sitting for Cory and Leslie, and looking for an apartment. This time feels slightly relaxing and vacation-like. Unlike getting up with chickens on the Waterpod, I’ve been sleeping in until 9. It’s raining today. If I was on the Waterpod I would be really happy about it, but being back on the grid I’ve contemplated staying inside all day because it is just so nice not to get wet. I found all of this writing from a couple of years ago and put it in the blog where I thought it belonged -
The Red Coats Are
Coming MP3 for Lifeboat, a project I did with Paul Middendorf
The Singularity of Humans
McLuhan said, “When an environment is new, we perceive the old one
for the first time.” McLuhan also wrote at great length about Continuity
in Discontinuity, or chiasmus: the reversal-of-process caused by increasing
its speed, scope or size. Kurzweil states that, with the exponential acceleration
of development in technology and so-called progress, the human condition
will reach a point when we can no longer process our environment from our
present perspective as the accelerating speed of growth outpaces our faculties.
However, Bertrand Russell made an excellent point, saying that if the bath
water got only half a degree warmer every hour, we would never know when
to scream. Perhaps it is only with the acceleration of change that we can
notice and react to it. Finally, Vernor Vinge defines the Singularity as
the postulated point or short period in our future when our self-guided
evolutionary development accelerates enormously.
The Singularity, though, has been a condition felt by humans that perhaps began before Gutenberg, with alphabets, cave paintings, with artistic expressions that removed us from ourselves, and with the Greeks who abstracted and objectified nature by creating their own cosmos. With these advances, humans need and accept history as myth and an “electric merger of past present and future become today”. In 1962, the philosopher William Barrett used an image of Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture to illustrate his book, Irrational Man. Irrational Man is a story told (by Kierkegaard) of the absent-minded man so abstracted from his own life that he hardly knows he exists until, one fine morning, he wakes up to find himself dead. When the condition of existentialism was defined (maybe with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in the first half of the 19th century, described by philosopher Edmund Husserl and his student Heidegger, but perhaps we finally had a poster-boy with Jean-Paul Sartre), we understood Ivan Turgenev’s nihilism, which Heidegger defines well as "there is nothing left of Being as such," and we understood existentialism as the consciousness of death, the purposlessness of life, the individual construction of identity to fill the void of meaninglessness. Giacometti was friends with existential and surrealist writers like Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Paul Eluard and André Breton.
The discussion of human civilization evolved from a human-death dilemma to human-machine civilization. Kurzweil is predicting singularity as a future happening, but as far as I can tell, it is already here and will continue to grow. It has been depicted by artists from Giacometti to Bellmer, to Friedrich, Goya, Godard, to some interpretations of Reinhard’s black paintings, to name just a few. Technology aids in abstracting us from our face-to-face community, and can be a surrogate for real people. When people are imbedded with different forms of technology, from the wireless to the plastic to the drug, and when we procreate solely outside of the body, we just continue the abstraction from nature and person that began before the Greeks invented the cosmos.
c.1340, "alone, apart," from O.Fr. singuler "single, separate" (Fr. singulier), from L. singularis "single, solitary," from singulus (see single (adj.)). Meaning "remarkably good, unusual, rare" is from c.1400, though this was a common meaning of L. singularis. (www.eytmonline.com)
Other Definitions of Singularity
Mathematical Singularity - a point where a mathematical function goes to infinity or is in certain other ways ill-behaved.
Technological Singularity - a theoretical point in the development of a scientific civilization at which technological progress accelerates into infinity or beyond prediction. This is believed to occur when artificial intelligence or intelligence amplification reaches a certain level.
Singularity - (operating system) - an operating system research project by Microsoft.
Gravitational Singularity (physics) - an infinity occurring in an astrophysical model, involving infinite curvature (a mathematical singularity) in the space/time continuum, namely black holes, white holes and worm holes.
According to the standard big-bang theory, our universe sprang into existence as "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. Singularities are thought to be zonesof in finate density that exist at the core of "black holes." The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density. Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, and infinitely dense.
Prandtl-Glauert singularity (sometimes referred to as a "vapor
cone"), is the point at which a sudden drop in air pressure occurs,
and is generally accepted as the cause of the visible condensation cloud
that often surrounds an aircraft travelling at transonic speeds, though
there remains some debate. It is an example of a mathematical singularity
(http://www.big-bang-theory.com/ and www.wikipedia.org)
Speech prepared for Bloomberg’s arrival to the Waterpod and Atlantic Salt Company:
The Atlantic Salt Company has been a wonderful, inviting harbor for us, and we know it will remain so for decades to come. It has been a magical and wondrous privilege during our short sojourn here to witness the ongoing evolution, reconstruction, and beautification of this landing place.
The Waterpod could not have happened without the generous and energetic help of cores of supporters, including the Mayor’s Office, the City of New York, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the NYC Dockmaster Unit, our legal counsel Blank Rome, GMD Shipyard in the Brooklyn Navy Yards, and dozens of foundations, corporations, and individuals, not the least which have been artists, scientists, engineers, and volunteers.
They say that the first recorded European contact with Staten Island was in 1524 by Giovanni da Verrazano, and all of us have been truly blessed by its Dutch and British successors, as well as the rich fabric of recent arrivals on these shores.
Our main purpose and objective in this venture has been collaboration, innovation, recycling, transformation, self-sufficiency, resourcefulness, learning, curiosity, human expression and creative exploration. I am not exaggerating when I say that we are deeply grateful to the citizens and government of Richmond County for augmenting, catalyzing, and affirming our mission and our voyage. - Mattingly
The Gift Economy: The Waterpod has been functioning somewhere between a gift and barter economy since its inception. This book was given to me by Cory Mervis during the build out in the GMD Shipyard. Judging from this photograph and the description in the book, I'm pretty sure I spotted their barge in Staten Island's infamous "ship graveyard" on our visit there. Initially I had wanted to invite three close girlfriends to live with me on the pod, so the story was uncanny. It still is, as part of my initial impetus for wanting to create the Waterpod was the same as was the impetus in "Sold to the Ladies", and I almost purchased barge #1 for $1.
life on the Waterpod.
6:30 am. Feed the four chickens, clean the coop
7:00 am. Water the gardens, prune gardens, make coffee
7:30 am. Have breakfast
8:00 am. Clean the deck, put things away, prepare for the day
9:00 am to 11am. Personal work (one person giving tours on Thursday and Friday)
11:00 am. Meeting: Work for the day and for the future
1:00 pm. Work on Waterpod and give tours
3:00 pm. Feed chickens
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Waterpod personal work
7:00 pm. Prepare dinner, evening tasks
8:00 pm. Eat dinner, clean up, water gardens
9:00 pm. Free time: Read, Email, do artwork
on a sustainable cycle:
Capture rainwater with a first flush system that collects from the different structures and drains into a potable tank. Water is pumped via bicycle and solar to a purification system and a 55 gallon potable drum at mid-level on a crows nest. When we need to use it, it is gravity fed to a sink and shower at 4.5’ high. After use, that water enters a greywater purification system: a series of seven 4’ bins with different irrigation materials including gravel, sand, and freshwater plants. At the end of the seven-bin cycle, the water can be reused to water the gardens. The gardens grow a variety of different vegetables and fruits, and four chickens have been producing roughly 3-4 eggs a day. We have begun to fish.
Since this project takes place inside and off of the grid, we have been surprised with the number of gifts given to us at both the South Street Seaport and Sheepshead Bay (since we began living on board). Captain Jack Schachner of White Cap Marine Rescue Services Inc. came to the Waterpod on Friday morning with a 4x 4’ fish cage. When fish are put inside the cage, the cage is kept under water until we are ready to take them up to eat them. Later that evening, Captain Jack returned with his red tug and put seven fish, caught that day, into the cage. The next day an interested couple came by and taught us how to kill, skin, and prepare the fish to be eaten. Not two hours ago, a woman asked us what we needed if she came to visit us again. She returned a few minutes later with a bag of ground coffee. These moments of physical gifts or emotional gifts (whatever the reaction of a person who comes on board), given to us, in exchange for gifts that we attempt to give back with this project, and after, I hope will help start many chain reactions. The gift elements have all been a surprise but have all increased the wellbeing of our spirits and systems on board (a woman in Tribeca brought us a homemade worm box that we have been using to create compost).
Compost is a big part of the system. The chicken and scrap food compost is extremely useful to replenish soil nutrients after a harvest.
Since we are starting with seeds grown this year, we would ideally give ourselves another year to can some of the first harvest to use in times when the next cycle is growing. We would also need to make the gardens into a greenhouse.
Waterpod is simultaneously an intervention and a gift, brought to life by a collaborative group of forward-thinking artists, designers, and activists working with numerous companies, groups, and communities on a pro bono publico or “for the public good” basis to create a space that is both an inclusive public resource and an experimental private dwelling, an interior and exterior malleable space, an aquatic and terrestrial mobile hybrid.
This project is a work in progress that demands simultaneous creative engagement of producers, designers, builders, visitors, residents, and guests. The design of Waterpod is made up of a mode of social, political, and ecological actions and engagements that describe mobility, autonomy, and relational freedom while respecting water, nature and natural systems. Waterpod is an expression of collective decisions and intent, based on available resources, trial and error, as well as an object and a space that continues to be negotiated through democratic participation and implementation. We are aiming to launch June 1 from South Street Seaport.
NOMADOGRAPHIES OPENING AT ROBERT MANN GALLERY
Everything you own, including the shirt off my back. The installation I am working on is full of the boxes that I have been traveling with for years, indistinguishable from the boxes I found on the streets around the studio in the Lower East Side, or traveling in Mexico and brought back, or picked up and saved during other trips, some are heiroglyphic relics from the future, and others mysteries from the past. Some of these boxes caused me such agony carting them around, treasures of other people that i became responsible for, struggles to remember things
Collage is the way we now interface with the world, our broken up communications frayed by urban striations, collage mentality is realer than you and I. What is our functional space now? Advertising, Internet...
After being in Mexico, in the hospital, and back to work on the Waterpod, Two weeks before Nomadographies opens at Robert Mann.
Veronica Flores just arrived in NYC!
UPCOMING ROBERT MANN GALLERY SHOW
and Culture Blog
Oil and rising waters don’t mix
My advice to every architect and civil engineer: dikes and levees are going to be hot.
In its 11th hour, the Bush Administration has authorized a new US Arctic Policy (National Security Presidential Directive 66), which will serve as a continuing, broad policy guideline to government agencies until replaced. That is, it has effect until the next Arctic policy (which can take years to produce). It governs seven broad areas of the American approach to the Arctic: national security and homeland security, international governance, extended continental shelf and boundary issues, promotion of international scientific cooperation, maritime transportation, economic issues, including energy resources, and environmental protection and conservation of natural resources.
Although there is sceptical acceptance of ‘the effects of climate change and increasing human activity in the Arctic region’ the main focus is access to oil and gas reserves on the extended continental shelf, beyond current territorial waters north of Alaska. These reserves are technically recoverable and would be easier to control.
One intended audience is the US Senate, where as the Guardian summarizes: ‘One of the main obstacles to staking a [American] claim on the Arctic seafloor [ie. the extended continental shelf] has been opposition in the Senate to ratification of the United Nations’ 1982 Law of the Sea Convention’
In concert with this policy, US News and World Report mentions that in one ‘midnight regulation‘ by which the outgoing President is attempting to tie the hands of incoming US President Barack Obama,, the Administration recently eliminated an important provision in the US Endangered Species Act requiring “independent scientific reviews” before construction or drilling can occur in an endangered species’ habitat - such as polar bears.
Another major focus is on the right to over-fly and also to freely navigate the Arctic - which will be contested by Canada should the Northwest Passage routes across its Arctic Archipelago become ice-free enough to transit. China’s Xinghua News Agency quotes Bush saying:
Preserving the rights and duties relating to navigation and over flight in the Arctic region supports our ability to exercise these rights throughout the world, including through strategic straits.
The document ignores the signing of the Ilulisat Declaration by all Arctic coastal states, claiming ‘aggressive moves by other countries’. This raises fear without providing facts, as Gunnar Sander notes in a comment to a Wall Street Journal article. Although commentators do not appreciate it, one key audience of this policy is likely to be China, which plans its own voyage to the pole in 2010 and anticipates that a shortcut route over the pole to Europe will become its main shipping route for goods if the polar cap melts.
Ironically, anticipating that melting ice will make access to hydrocarbon and other resources easier is rather ghoulish: give the extra absorption of solar energy by dark-coloured ocean compared to the white ice (the albedo effect) this implies that the planet will have been heating up at a faster than anticipated rate with sea-level rise affecting major capitals: New York, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Mumbai, all of Bangladesh, the Yucatan, the San Francisco Bay Area and so on. Perhaps the extra fuel will be needed for the lifeboats or for constructing dikes.
(Followup: Google this)
In Process: Waterpods . Ten Steps To Create Waterpods
1. Research and investigate available vessel/floating platform sources within a 50 km radius
2. Describe the project to local nautical professionals and generate interest, enthusiasm, and willingness to give guidance.
3. Link in and get the support of municipal officials, both at a high level and at an operational level.
4. Secure a sufficiently large vessel/floating platform and negotiate insurance, environmental permits, and the ultimate disposition of the vessel/floating platform.
5. Assemble a design, engineer, and building team, and link in local educational, artistic, and scientific resources and programs.
6. Secure a team to help raise funds via grants, donations, and internet-driven support from foundations, government bodies, corporations, and individuals.
7. Plot out a reasonable voyage with appropriate docking locations that celebrate the historical, social, commercial, cultural, civic, architectural, geologic, and maritime development within local waterways.
8. Secure towing resources and/or mobile power for the vessel/floating platform.
9. Via the internet, engage and organize volunteers to operate the programs, live on the vessel/floating platform, and help build the structures.
10. Encourage others to create similar programs in coastal, littoral, riparian, riverine, limnological, or harbor-based aquatic environments.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time humans have lived on this planet we’ve lived in tribes, groups of 12 to 36 people. Only during times of war, or what we have now, which is the psychological equivalent of war, does the nuclear family prevail, because it’s the most mobile unit that can ensure the survival of the species. But for the full flowering of the human spirit we need groups, tribes.” - Margaret Mead
fix' ship sets sail with plan to dump iron - New Scientist
Level Rise: We Decide How Much - Worldchanging.org
" I'm a bohemian type, so I could scarcely be bothered to do anything "financially sound" in my entire adult life. Last year was the first year when I've felt genuinely sorry for responsible, well-to-do people. Suddenly they've got the precariousness of creatives, of the underclass, without that gleeful experience of decades spent living-it-up.
These are people who obeyed the social contract and are *still* getting it in the neck. The injustice of that upsets me. The bourgeoisie who kept their noses clean and obeyed the rules, I never had anything against them. I mean, of course I made big artsy fun of them, one has to do that, but I never meant them any active harm. I didn't scheme to raise a black flag and cut their throats because they were consumers." -Quote by Bruce Sterling: Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2009
On some form of apocalypse: The background level of extinction
known from the fossil record is about one species per million species per
year, or between 10 and 100 species per year (counting all organisms such
as insects, bacteria, and fungi, not just the large vertebrates we are most
familiar with). In contrast, estimates based on the rate at which the area
of tropical forests is being reduced, and their large numbers of specialized
species, are that we may now be losing 27,000 species per year to extinction
from those habitats alone.
Opening Reception: February 18, 5 - 7p.m.
Anxious Ground: Contemporary Landscape Photography
Curated by Anita Allyn and Sarah Cunningham
February 18 - March 25, 2009
NOTE: Closed 3/9-15
Anxious Ground will explore the distinctive currents in contemporary photographic practice and examine the condition & perception of landscape at the beginning of the 21st century: the future utopia, the invisible, the dismantled, the post-apocalyptic, the over-romanticized and the constructed. The landscape itself and idea of the landscape will be interrogated by artists working in diverse photographic media including: film and digital; print, video and installation; object-based and conceptual. Artists include Edward Burtynsky, Stephen Chalmers, Danny Goodwin, Sze Tsung Leong, David Maisel, Mary Mattingly, Christine Nadir and Cary Peppermint, and Holli Schorno.
The College Art Gallery, The College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing, NJ 08628. Gallery Location: 111 Holman Hall, Regular Gallery Hours: Tu, We, Th 12p.m.-7p.m.; Su 1p.m.-3p.m.; and by appointment www.tcnj.edu/~tcag 609-771-2198
http://www.celestemattinglylcsw.com/aboutcm.html my Aunt Celeste
WHAT's going to happen to the climate over
the next 10 years or so? Is it time to buy that air conditioner you considered
during the last heatwave? Should you rip up your garden and replant it with
drought-resistant plants, or can you expect more rain - perhaps even floods
- in your part of world? The other possibility, of course, is that your
local climate will change little in the near future.
On the one hand we have weather predictions for the next few days. On the other we have climate forecasts for the very distant future. But what happens in the middle? Why don't we have forecasts for, say, 2010 or 2018? Knowing how temperature and rainfall will change over the next few years would be invaluable to many people, from farmers to the tourism industry to those in charge of our water supplies. Yet while you might think predicting how the climate will change over the next few years would be a lot easier than saying what it will be like in 2030 or 2050, it's actually harder.
Nevertheless, some meteorologists and climate scientists are now trying to make just these kinds of forecasts. It is a new and controversial field, but over the past year some groups have published the first short-term forecasts. So what are they predicting - and can we trust their conclusions?
Underlying trends:For long-term forecasting, what matters is underlying trends, and at the moment the key trend is warming due to rising levels of greenhouse gases. Predictions made two decades ago are pretty close to the mark. In the short term, though, natural variability matters more than the underlying trend - global warming does not mean that each year will be warmer than the preceding one.
The problem is a bit like trying to predict how the weather in New York will change over January compared with how the weather will change from January to July. It's hard to say whether the last week of January will be colder than the first, but you can confidently predict that it will be colder during January than in July.
So making forecasts is all about figuring what dominates the state of the atmosphere on various timescales. Some things, like accumulating greenhouse gases, matter over many decades while other things, like warm and cold fronts, dominate over days and months. Over periods of a few years, there's growing evidence that the oceans are the key - and this is encouraging researchers to attempt short-term forecasts.
Ocean oscillations: "It takes the oceans a long time to heat up and cool down," says Doug Smith, who runs 10-year forecasting trials at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, Devon, the UK's official centre for climate change research. "That makes it a lot easier to predict than the atmosphere. We now think we can predict the key ocean fluctuations 10 to 20 years ahead."
The oceans are crucial because they store so much heat. It takes more than 1000 times as much energy to heat a cubic metre of water by 1 °C as it does the same volume of air. Globally, this means that if the oceans transfer just a tiny fraction of their heat energy to the lower atmosphere, there can be a big rise in surface air temperatures. Conversely, if the oceans soak up more heat from the atmosphere, there can be surface cooling.
(read entire article)
Thanks to: J. Halverson. LUX VFX these renderings have been created
Laying out the Waterpod: structural design, architecture, plan. This one after Duchamp's Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even). Also, my mission is to try to mimic the surrounding land. The Waterpod layout is actually a map of Manhattan and the five boroughs, turned counterclockwise.
Cory Mervis, John McGarvey and I met with John Daskalakis from the National
Parks Services at a diner on Rector Street, before attending a council meeting
hearing on the abandoned vessels in the New York Waterways. It was pretty
disturbing to find out how little some of the NYPD officials actually know
about what is going on out there, and how many derelict and abandoned vessels
that there are in these waterways. We took a trip with Ralph Mannetta of
the NPS last week and saw at least 30 abandoned boats in Mill Basin alone,
and this was just what we could see. Many more were submerged, and we had
to get quite close to them to view the massive gravesites of trash left
Later, Cory, Leslie, and I met with Richard Singleton and Glen Oxton of Blank Rome, the law firm that is doing pro bono work for the Waterpod. They are outstanding to work with and we are very excited about joining forces with them.
Later in the evening, we met up with Dan Glass and Derek Hunter, and we plotted peak oil, theories about what people will do when they really begin to get scared: the hoarding, the greed that we already see in the latest being Maddoff, multiplied exponentially. Here is a relevant link on a quiet situation going on with water in the United States (coming soon to a city near you):
An important article on water privatization from the WSJ:
Sunken vessels around the rockaways, left by their owners and retrieved by the Parks Department
I was 19, I remember I was about to move from the shed in Somers, Connecticut
(I lived in the shed in my parent’s backyard) to Boston, MA with an
old classmate from high school. Finally, my move date was two weeks away
- I would move there in mid January, 1998. I had spent a year and a half
attending Manchester Community Technical College to get some credits behind
me before applying as a transfer student to Massachusetts College of Art.
As a resident of Massachusetts, that college is relatively inexpensive.
I didn’t get in to Mass Art the first or second time I applied, but I was working three jobs that I liked and they supplied everything I could need. I worked on films. It wasn’t until after I decided that I was moving to Oregon that I was finally accepted as a film major. Unfortunately, by that time my mind was set on Oregon, and I convinced a friend from the bookstore I worked at to accompany me. We found an apartment in the newspaper, and applied for it over the phone. 3 bedroom for $725 on SE 92nd Street. We would get another roommate. We drove to Oregon a few weeks later. I went to school and worked a number of odd jobs out there, literally from the sacred to the profane, before events sent me back to Connecticut. After studying at Yale for a summer fellowship I moved to New York, to study there and to finally be in the city that had first challenged my ideas, strength, peaked my interest, and impressed my eye. It was like that week all over again. The months ahead were economically frightening, I took whatever random job I could for skills I had halfway. I was a printer, a scanner, a designer, a wedding photographer, an assistant, a digital tech, an organizer, a babysitter, anything. Through those things and a community of good friends, I managed to feed myself most of the time. Now...however...apparently I need to eat better...
Over the last few days, friends, family, and I have been passing this link back and forth:
Here are some of the responses that the article has received (I think that Marguerite's response propelled me to write the above):
From: Fred Fleisher -18 Nov 2008 4:38 pm
Subject: Re: Fw: WILD Prediction!
huuuuhh, this sounds like the collapse of capitalism leading to Marxist change - kinda like what Marx said.
don't know. I don't eat much anyway . . . but it's good to be prepared with, I don't know . . . MOBILE PERSONAL SHELTERS like Mary's been saying?????
On Tue, Nov 18, 2008 at 5:34 PM, Jim Mattingly <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
lets hope he's wrong, or maybe not so right
--- On Wed, 11/19/08, Fred Fleisher <email@example.com> wrote:
Date: Wednesday, November 19, 2008, 9:59 AM
I second that one for sure!
On Wed, Nov 19, 2008 at 12:09 PM, Marguerite Day <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Hi Fred and all,
Wait, what is negative about this? The man is just saying that instead of Christmas being all about $$$ and consuming more and more that people will now turn to making gifts for one-another. Isn't that much closer to the spirit of Christ? Of course no one wants to go hungry, but since people are starving to death in the US right now, maybe if the rest of us start to understand that kind of hunger then ultimately a solution will come out of this so NO one starves. I'd be willing to take a few years of pain, if ultimate we have a better world as a result.
Fred Fleisher responds: i also agree with these points. maybe pain isn't the word. Maybe everyone will live a bit more with a sane agenda and life. biofuel takes FOOD and makes it into environmental problems -- everyone needs more info so NO ONE will starve. Maybe this time (instead of the 70s) people will actively make things work for ALL. While still maintaining a free market system with social concerns. - F
From: M. Ajerman <email@example.com>
Date: Monday, November 17, 2008, 7:58 PM
> as for infowars.com...not the kinda thing that i would wanna watch before bed - but the most important thing is people livign in their means -- i personally think there is going to be a great job growth in the renewable resources industry -- heck it's been one of the few growing industries over the past two years -- image what obama and co can do with the industry and investments...
From: Alison Ward <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, November 17, 2008, 11:32 PM
it was a fox news interview after all...
In 1934, Walter Benjamin asked "What is politically progressive culture?" In his essay "The Author as Producer" he answered, "It's not the progressive content of culture which makes it progressive. The bourgeoise apparatus of production and publication can assimilate astonishing quantities of revolutionary themes, indeed can propagate them withhout calling its own existence...seriously into question". That is, the most radical of political themes, expressed through standard cultural forms, seem to threat to the most conservative of pollitical systems.
Prix Pictet opening, Palais de Tokyo / Nane and Kofi Annan / Some of my photographs
The Prix Pictet event was held at the Palais de Tokyo on October 30, 2008. Benoit Aquin won the pictet prize for his work including a series that he did on China's Dust Bowl. He has done many other series of work on pertinent topics related to the environment, and is one of the nicest, humblest photographers I have had the pleasure of meeting. My personal highlights of the event were meeting Kofi Annan, the organizers of the Pictet, and especially the other photographers. I have wanted to meet Susan Derges for some time, and she is another person, like Benoit and others, who does incredible work and is yet extremely humble at the same time. The short time that I spent in Paris was very enjoyable, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't think about moving there for some time. It is very apparent that one could do nothing else but spend months on end in the Louvre, Pompidou, d'Orsay, and hundreds of other museums in Paris and be completely fulfilled. It was an extremely envigorating trip to say the least.
Detail shots of Paris / Musee D'Orsay
an interview that Mie Olise Kjærgaard and
I just completed after the show opened at Standpoint: The
exhibition The Ruins of the Future at Standpoint Gallery in London
is an intriguing collaboration between the two highly praised and young
artists Mie Olise Kjærgaard and Mary Mattingly. The exhibition is
a voyage of discovery into an abandoned land which shows our failed utopian
ideas and possible future in which nature lies. Mie Olise Kjærgaards
video work installed in an elevator shaft absorbing paintings and a site-specific
architectural space is jointed with Mary Mattingly’s reflective and
aesthetic photographs of her “wearable homes” and “Kart”.
How do you know each other? And what fascinates you about each other’s work?
MOK: Fiona curated us, a year ago, so we met up in New York during the summer, and I really understood why Fiona had paired us. Our work discuss the same topics, yet it is has different angles and expression. I am extremely fascinated with Mary’s way of seeing the world, the ecotopics, and her new project Waterpod. I am going to New York this spring to participate, and Mary says that she will include an artist space for me at “the pod”, yeah!
MM: I met Mie through Fiona and became awestruck by her paintings, a distortion of her architectural background, but much more than that. Like me, she is fascinated by remnants of cultures and abodes, combining these symbolic objects with her architectural manipulations to create post-world environs. I have never met anyone who was as thrilled by refuse as I, and for this reason and many others, I am very excited to collaborate with Mie. Also, as we worked together, we both accepted each other’s ideas, and were at once pragmatic. This is very important when collaborating.
How did the exhibition at Standpoint gallery become a reality and how have your collaboration with the curator Fiona MacDonald been?
MOK: Standpoint is a non-profit organization. So it is something you do because you really believe in the project. I liked Fiona’s idea, and love Mary’s work. Mary and me e-mailed a lot before the show, because we wanted to do collaboration with our sculpture work.
MM: Yes, we emailed a lot prior to the show, to decide on the best ways that our works would compliment, merge, and play off of each other’s work. It was a necessary exploration but really came to life when we were face-to-face in the space. I think that Fiona was very curious to see how our collaboration would turn out, especially since she paired us initially. Fiona and I had collaborated the year before on a performance at Braziers, and through that I knew that she was a Powerhouse!
Can you point out 3 of the most important aspects in the exhibition?
MOK: The collaboration, that is a merging of Kart, a bike construction, with boxes, a structure that Mary made and photographed earlier this year in Mexico – and the structure I made cutting through the elevator. We wanted the boxes to meet and merge with the larger and heavier structure, and up in the air, near the ceiling. My structure cuts through the space from the entrance, through the elevator shaft, and out again to meet Mary’s.
And another thing for me is the fact that so many disciplines, video (sound), sculpture, photography and painting are put together in a smaller space, yet still connects very well. Constantly you see things of resemblage, through the medias, even through the artists. I think that is exciting. Because discovering the exhibition itself, is like you would if you came to one of the specific places we are describing.
MM: I agree, the collaboration is one of the most important aspects. I like how it evolved, and how the elevator successfully suggests a mineshaft, and the struggle between an immobile, old structure with a mobile, kind of fantastical one. It was interesting to find close links within the show, like some of my “Anatomy of Melancholy” photographs evoking the same mood of despair as some of Mie’s video stills of Pyramid City. Lastly, the beginnings of new works that will evolve from this point in time, forward. For instance, Mie’s paintings and objects as new instruments, or perhaps my mobile sculptures merging with the immobile. Also, the beginning of further collaborations with Mie Olise Kjærgaard.
One of the main themes of the exhibition is dealing with remote places and disintegration of utopian ideas. Why are you interested in these themes?
MOK: For my part it is a fascination with the Uncanny idea of approaching something abandoned. Curiosity paired with alertness and fright, and the questions it raises. I see these structures as empty pores of a bigger society. That are open for mutation or inhabitation, A utopian idea that fell to the ground and can become the base of a new idea. It is a fractal structure that I see in all scales of the world, man-made and in nature. In the end I have to admit to a very romantic and melancholic interest in the failed ideas and dreams - the dead! The mourning of the lost. If you think about conceptual ironic, sarcastic and humoristic art, this is the opposite; the pathetic well-meant mourning. Fx the sound of the video really is almost too much, so it starts to become a little like you don’t know what if you should laugh or cry – I like that feeling. Last year in Istanbul I showed a video with a Swedish distorted folk tune that Goodiepal made, this had the same effect.
MM: For me, perhaps a little bit disillusionment. From reading futurist novels as a child to growing up in an idyllic countryside where only imagination keeps you from absolute boredom, I have always desired a better place. As a child, I would organize events in the town like a circus, or dig underground forts. As a teenager, I became fascinated with underground dance scenes and would create and hold rave parties in abandoned warehouses. It occurred to me at some point in time that it is necessary for me to create and to live in an environment and reality that I create, and maybe I am trying to create a space like this with the Waterpod, but with decades and centuries of historic failures to observe, learn from, and be aware of.
The exhibition is also a reflection on failed human stories and the discovery of possible futures. Why are you both engaged in this matter and which message is the most important for you to bring forward to the viewer?
MOK: I think I just try to communicate something that I find extremely fascinating myself, something that goes to my stomach and moves me. I would like to evoke these feelings in others. I also think it has a lot to say about the world and society – and that is for people to go and experience. It is not to be explained, that is why we have to build, paint, photograph and film…..
MM: I am very apprehensive about the future of human life on our earth if we keep traveling the same destructive pathways. We see misuse of water creating mass desertification, consumer waste at it’s historic height, and it is very sad to see the current situation in the United States that consists of towns full of houses that were almost never lived in, built during a boom that has come to an end. I think that this is very sad, but somewhere there is a twist in my thinking and I imagine that these towns could be our future playgrounds, and that excites me. I believe that unless we are aware and decide to make changes, perhaps personal or revolutionary changes, we will be forced into a world that we did not take care of and have no choice but to live in and with our refuse.
The exhibition is structured around the elevator of the gallery’s, where Mie Olise Kjærgaard have created a architectural space functioning as a room divider and as a movie room. It seems that the space has grown out of the gallery’s construction, Mary Mattingly’s “Kart” and Mie Olise Kjærgaards experience from the North Pole. It must have been a challenge to unfold and develop such a site-specific space. What is the most important meaning behind the creation, and why did you choose this construction?
MOK: we discussed different ideas. When you approach a new space it always has it specific problems and features. The elevator in the middle of the room, makes the room impossible as a white cube gallery room, but it immediately became something for us to want to work with. The problem becoming the challenge. Both Mary and me had different ideas about structures to work into each other, and we kept it open until we stood next to each other in the Gallery Space. And then it came naturally. Transformation through space; entering, breaking, heaviness, lightness, the static and dynamic all coming together as a journey through the space.
MM: Mie and I both like challenges, and the shape of Standpoint felt more like our work, so it was quite exciting to have the ability to inhabit and alter it.
Mary Mattingly, what has inspired you to make art narrating the beauty of nature and humans in a hostile climate?
I do like the dichotomy between something that is equally beautiful and hostile. Nature has more vastness and power than people ever can, and we try to change it, but it just destroys us as we change it. I like to surround myself with things that I am in awe of. I like to see how I can deal with challenges I put in front of myself, and create a blueprint for hostile conditions, and I hope that other people can learn from my research, experiences, and creations, as these conditions become more and more omnipresent.
Mary, your intriguing photographs for this exhibition visualize failed utopian structures and visions of the future, but what reality do they address in 2008?
Well, besides the current “failures” that we see all around us, I suppose right now it is directly relational to our political and environmental struggles, not to mention the current economic crisis, as it is being termed in the US. It implies that the chaos of over-inflated economies (like the US) are now forced to deal with the outcome of excessive leveraging, improper use of derivatives, poor structuring of mortgage-backed securities, over-speculation and non-transparent, misguided regulation in forms of trade including credit default swaps that have gotten many economies into their current states of chaos, and that are basically now being realized as fictional, unreliable systems the more segmented that they get. This is a very interesting failed utopic system that we will constantly try to revive and sustain, because it is in balance with many systems of control, that at times do and will continue to fail (think of prison revolts and health care in the US, or Bechtel in Bolivia in 2000). Honestly, I hope that they remind people to learn from history.
Have your “wearable homes” and “Kart” been applied by others than you?
In a way they are both replicating and extruding what is around all of us. The mobile sculpture “Kart” is inspired by the somewhat regular action on a street in Brooklyn that I lived for many years, where these wild, accumulative, prophetic, and tragic structures are created. To me, they describe the food chain, the cycles of capitalism and waste, our need for sustenance, and the value of the forgotten things that our societies produce: some peoples’ refuse heaped into carts inside of bags, tied with bungee cords, stacked with furniture, locked with bike locks. The Kart sculptures that I have been creating are made of items found in the streets, and the structures that I am using to travel with have items that are very important to my survival, so they are more exact and less, you could say, whimsical.
I began working on wearable homes largely as a result of the year 2000, during which I moved five times. I imagined that I was acting as a model for future nomads, as now we are beginning the culmination; to a point where everything is flexible, because it needs to be, because living is about survival, functional space is a luxury, products all want to be smaller, houses all want to be prefab, and waterfront property is on a market downturn. A wearable home should not only be equipped for the city nomad but for the future nomad who will need to travel through each of the prevailing climates of the near future: arctic, desert, and waterlogged tundra, illustrating different modes of survival. Prescriptions like this are a reality that more and more people may take part in. It is predicted by the United Nations University scholars that about 50 million people worldwide will be displaced by 2010 due to rising sea levels, desertification, dried up aquifers, weather-induced flooding and other serious environmental changes. Others may have their own sort of wearable homes as they begin to travel more for positions at jobs that are more global, and so forth.
Both, what is your next project and where is your next exhibition?
MOK: I have all these residencies to go to, first Iceland, then Berlin, Tokyo, Los Angeles and New York. I have been making 3 big exhibitions this year. So I am trying to take some time to experiment, read and reflect on what has happened… I have group shows in Dublin and Italy. A solo show in Berlin later this year. And then I am talking to institutions and a few galleries. But for now, I want time to study and reflect. I am going to build big constructions to make music from at Iceland, and will invite musicians Nikolaj Hess, Goodiepal, and others to come up and play along;-) And then I would like to collaborate and exhibit more with Mary;-) We have different ideas cooking.
MM: For the immediate future, I am going to Palais de Tokyo to take part in the Prix Pictet exhibition that opens this Thursday. In April I will have a second solo at Robert Mann Gallery in New York, and in May the Waterpod will open. I will live and work on this structure for the entire summer, and in October, have a show at the non-profit space called Occurrence in Montreal. Intermittently, I will have work at the Tucson Museum of Art and plan to collaborate with Mie! Next fall I will build a permanent Waterpod that will be my new home.
The standpoint show opens later today; it's 2am, and I returned from a very nice dinner at the home of Fatima and Eskandar Maleki in honor of the Prix Pictet. I actually relaxed for the first time since arriving in London, but not completely. Besides being awestruck by the incredible pieces of artwork that they own, so many that one could get lost in a world of her own thoughts amidst crowded rooms, people that I spoke with tonight were hopeful about our future and especially about the heightened awareness of individuals everywhere for the earth that we inhabit (and want to continue to inhabit). People I spoke with also had a great deal of concern for the upcoming United States elections. People are in awe of Barack Obama and hopeful about what good he can accomplish in office.
At Standpoint, it has been wonderful to work with Fiona, and to meet Elsa Tierney, who has been helping Mie and I out for the last couple of days. Elsa is truly superhuman. Not only can she find anything in London give her a half hour, she can also construct future architectural spaces with us, and we suspect that this is just the beginning of her superpowers.
the generous assistance of the City of New York, the
has acquired a barge.
On Sunday I fly to London to install a two-person show with
Mie Olise Kjærgaard. at
t a n d p o i n t (The Ruins of the Future opens Thursday 23 October 6-9pm),
from there I head to Berlin to stay with Eve and work on the Waterpod, and
finally go to Paris for the Prix Pictet opening event, held at the Palais
Today, I drove a U-Haul truck up to Chelsea and Somerville, MA to deliver
a crate to Marion Intl. I am on the train heading back now. A full train
because of Columbus Day. The train has halted in the Bronx. We have been
here 15 minutes with no announcement. People are starting to wonder and
sigh...The LHC in Cern stopped working.
The flight was long, there was an extra stop thrown
in. It made sense. Going to New York from Cancun, the flight was almost
empty. I’m back at the studio now, after a long day of traveling,
and barely getting by on what little Spanish I know. Food in the airport:
A coconut smoothie for 30 pesos. A coffee: 15 pesos. Three magazines: Economist,
Time, National Geographic: $16.80. This week the US news is centered around
Pakistan, (pitbull) Palin, North Korea, and the arduous process of economic
reform that the USA is currently undergoing. The direct monetary cost of
the Iraq war for US taxpayers has reached $653 billion, very close to the
amount of the bailout bill ($850 billion would be needed here). I presume
that this means that on average, each US taxpayer would have to pay around
$7000 to bail out Wall Street, although the government and Paulson hope
that by just investing this money back into the quite unstable stockmarket,
the value of these corporations will be brought up to a level that will
allow for some savings to be acrued to government funds: sounds too perfect!
"This is scare tactics to try to do something that's in the private
but not the public interest. It's terrible." -- Allan Meltzer, Carnegie
Mellon School of Business "If Wall Street gets away with this, it will
represent an historic swindle of the American public -- all sugar for the
villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims." --William Greider,
Working with Veronica on this project has been very special, and full of surprises. Overall, I am happy with what got done there.
Being in Mexico: I can’t imagine anything nicer than waking up to her particular view of the sunrise. We went to Mexcaltitan. It is believed to be the first settlement in Mexico of the Aztecs, who roamed the land until they witnessed a holy symbol of an eagle atop a cactus eating a rattlesnake. They settled the island Mexcaltitan using some of the most advanced building techniques and high-tech aquifers known to man. The roads formed, and still form, a compass, going directly north, south, east, and west. We ate shrimp fished locally (not from massive shrimp farms that destroy mangrove forests) and dried in the sun on the lagoon-like sidewalks, then fried. People took canoes, paddleboats, gondola’s, and kayaks around the streets and along the island’s perimeter. There are no cars, but I noticed a few bicycles with large basket frames built into the front wheel.
am here sitting under the lamp with a crooked neck, the only light
in the room, and my shadow is big, projected onto the white clay wall. The
computer is on the desk with two mugs, both with some leftover tea, one
still warm. I have been here for several days now, knowing a little more
about Mexico and Guadalajara, and about the struggle to hear myself when
there is less noise around. I am trying to make a film about hunting down
void, about being stuck in the circular pattern until one dies or realizes,
I will never die. I am here to be tortured and it will never end. We
were preparing to embark on our exploration.
She (the void-hunter) will have the bike filled with boxes out in the summer heat tomorrow. We will roam the jungle on the way to the mountains and coastline to find the place that some of the first rituals done on Mexican soil, the place that they were done on.
The room is dark, waiting for sunlight again. Bug repellant on the end table, round, table: round, glass jar with water: round, lamp: round, phone cradle: round. Derrida in Spanish on the table. The duvet, the wool blanket, the bamboo on the closet doors, the lamp in the hallway with green jewels and chestnuts hanging from wire, reflecting striated teeth-mark patterns on the ceiling above it. The bathroom door that is always left open because the bathroom is so long, and the toilet separated with a partitioned wall. The wood stove in one corner of my room, made of clay. Books on round bookshelves, everything is curvy and nothing is smooth.
The long night of drinking wine and storytelling with her oldest friends in Spanish, and there was something Fellini-esque about this entire dramaturgical explanation, the notes on how the friend will do it, the friends yelling at her to get over herself, the bottles and bottles and cigarettes and marijuana passed around like it was all part of the party and all part of the script. I kept trying to pursuade her to leave and get going but I had to learn to take time.
would ride through towns on rock-filled dirt roads, while kids ran out of
the way, while owners moved their horses aside, while dogs watched, where
the character of an old man could be seen on the face of a 4 year old kid
who opened the gate for us to leave the little road that we paid 20 pesos
to enter. Here we were, exiting, meeting with him again not more than five
minutes later. We had some things to see! The bike is a giant thing piled
well with boxes and their contents, the things that we will or may find
that we need along the way.
We went to dinner after that. I had mango chicken. We both drank. We had sashimi and talked about when we met.
Then when finally we dressed up in the uniform and began functioning as nomads from some time in the not so far off future, she understood, she realized the way things would work. There is something unlike any loneliness that we can imagine, and we are heading towards it.
Here all night at the airport in Mexico City. Finally, it is 4am, and the terminals will open back up. I am now allowed to check back in to the waiting area for the short part of the trip, from Mexico City to Guadalajara. Cafes are just opening up for the early morning passengers, and I am first in line after the cold night and the row of chairs in the the airport’s lobby, where some of us huddled for warmth. For part of the night I played the main character of the film I am coming here to create - the immobile mobility of carting around three pieces of luggage back and forth, up and down the corridors of the lobby, looking for a comfortable corner to just stop and sleep. The large suitcase weighs 35kg and contains most of the equipment, and the other two carry-on size. Not good for exploring in my current tired state, every step is forced. Now I sit and watch, with an extremely good Bustillo brand espresso and condensed milk (brand Nestle of course), watching sparks fly over a drywall barrier that is obstructing the rest of the view, where it seems a ship is being welded or something to that effect... I'm overly cautious about my body's ability to ingest the different microbes in the water here with my current health being still so-so.
days after my birthday, going north. Last year at this time I was in Alaska,
so in some way it's natural that I should be going north again. As opposed
to Northwest Airlines, there is nothing like taking Amtrak. Maybe it is
nostolgia for the train now that the plane is so commonplace. I don't take
Amtrak often enough, mostly because it's quite expensive to go anywhere
in New England or New York, and I usually don't have the luxury of that
much time to go further, especially since most American trains are extremely
slow, and even more so when they venture outside of the East Coast. Amtrak
rents the use of train lines from the bigger freight train companies, so
it's not unusual to be six hours to one day late upon reaching your destination.
Today, the special day that it is, I am heading from New York to Montreal.
We are passing Lake Champlain at 2pm, the current time. The train departed
at 8:25am and should arrive at 7pm.
Eve K. Tremblay
and I spent the last five days working intensively on the
from New York. Eve has an opening this week in Val-David, the town that
she grew up in located a half-hour outside of Montreal. We will work intensively
in the countryside, and attend Waterpod-related meetings in Montreal. The
bus is an overnight shot, about 7-8 hours, and the train is 11. 11 glorious
hours in the lunch car with a sprawling table, a laptop, drawing pad, camera,
cup of tea, and streamlined oval window for gazing at the intensely beautiful
nature and countryside spotted with red-roofed homes.
On my birthday, I spent the morning writing emails, the afternoon at the DMV renewing my license, the evening at the New Museum, and the night at Clandestinos, one of my new favorite hangouts in the Lower East Side, a couple blocks from the studio.
What I learned: Matt Jones has two new tattoos (although he claims to have had them for some time), one is a giant 12, like his series of paintings. I don’t know how I feel about that, although I have been thinking of getting a new tattoo. Actually the tattoo I want to get is a giant 12 too…hmm… (this is probably funnier to me because when I had a small circle tattooed on the inside of my left arm, that is what my friend Adrian Gaut said to me, and he DID get the same tattoo...hmm...anything's possible)
Kadar came by too, and he now works right down the street from Clandestinos as well, at Terrance Koh’s studio. Others that it had been too long since I had the chance to sit down with: Stephanie, Orly, and Fred. Fred was doing a show in Switzerland and had been gone for a very long time, Stephanie has been nomadic and super hard to keep up with, Orly has been recovering from a hospitalization, and then Mark Gibson…wait, Mark didn’t come… Anyway, it was a blast and thank you Alison for bringing cake, and the awesome bartender who was so sweet, and Jason for even more cake. It was extremely fun! And sorry Mae and Donna for not being there much later than midnight…I was pretty exhausted from all of the sweat and tears Eve and I had been plummeting into grant applications, meetings, research, and model building… Lesson 1: Get some sleep before birthday party.
Guadalajara, Mexico. On September 25, I will meet Veronica Flores in Guadalajara. We set the parameters for a pilgrimage to the end of the world, a pilgrimage that has no defined end, one that will revolve around creation and construction: of mysteries, of spatial adventure, and nomadographies. Since it is undefined, I do not hope for anything.On our pilgrimage, the passage of time will help us understand our own ephemerality. The ephemeral is the truth of our habitat. Mobile, variable, retractable structures roam our living theaters. I call it my one-piece paradise. Paradise. A word grabbed from the languages of advertisement and propaganda. It is a one-piece world. The six wheels can transform into a boat for the tides.
After spending weeks on end in bed, and after inventing story after story, plan after plan for my wishful agenda upon leaving the hospital, I was told that I had to stay on a liquid diet, stay away from any strenuous activity and not to lift anything over ten pounds - for up to four months. On week three, I convinced a family member (John) to accompany me to Arizona (I didn't lift anything heavy and kept pretty much to a liquid diet). On a trip that began as a Speed Voyage and ended in a crawl, we spent time touring the Biosphere II (Biosphere I being Earth, we are told), the Titan Missile Museum, and a missile ruins site. Aside from a variety of strange Inns that we managed to stay in, the highlight was meeting Chuck Penson, an archivist and very knowledgable man at the Titan Missile Museum. We stumbled upon luck meeting him! Our final mission was to make it to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff before nightfall, but an unusually stormy day caused an oil tanker to flip over in the middle of the highway. Traffic was lined up for miles, engines off, waiting for news. Occasionally cars turned around. This was the one road from Phoenix to Flagstaff (well, there are others if you drive 3+ hours out of the way but we didn't think that we had the time), so we waited for a couple of hours to see if the road would reopen, but finally decided to reevaluate our route. Our new trajectory took us not far from the Hoover Dam, so we slept nearby for the night and in the morning we drove to Vegas where John flew back to Connecticut and I stayed on for a couple more days.
made it back safely and is now planning to visit his sister in Germany.
He teaches highschool and tries to travel in the summer. Last year he took
a summer-long road trip with my brother and uncle.
Cory and Leslie, who are letting me housesit their abode this summer while they work in Las Vegas, agreed to take some time off and meet up, so we took their Airstream up through the Nevada Test Sites, past Yucca Mountain, the Electric Test Sites, and on to Mono Lake where we parked for the night. Mono Lake is the spot where an approximate 80% of birds are born within the state of California. We explored Mono Lake, and headed north to Bodie. Around this time, there were still a total of 8 fires burning in California and we could see, feel, and smell the residual smoke, thick on the horizon and in the surrounding air.
with VSD Magazine, France:
VSD: In Seven Firm Oligopoly and in The Overaccumulation crisis, you show a pessimistic vision of the future of the earth. Do you really think it could happen to our planet?
MM: I grew up in a flood-prone area and would regularly worry about, clean up after, and protect against floods. During my youth, water was a controversial topic in the town, as pesticides such as DDT from the surrounding farms had polluted the well water, and buying city water was a new solution to the pesticides found in the water table. I really started researching issues surrounding water when its privatization started to become more prevalent. I was reading articles about riots in Cochabamba, Bolivia, because the city’s residents were not able to afford the price of the newly privatized water. That same year, the news described cataclysmic, devastating floods from the UK to Cambodia, and Madagascar to Mozambique. There was immense flood damage that year. Simultaneously, here in the United States, bottled water and jugs of water are an essential commodity in our society. Watching the position of water drift from being a natural resource to a commodity just literally scared me. It continues to scare me that, as an overall trend, people are depending on buying things, while forgetting how to make things, or, for instance, depending on a large levee and relying on an inadequate evacuation system. These are quick fixes for a global trend of not taking care of nature, and of no longer knowing how to.
I began working on wearable homes largely as a result of the year 2000, during which I moved five times. I imagined that I was acting as a model for future nomads, as now we are beginning the culmination; to a point where everything is flexible, because it needs to be, because living is about survival, functional space is a luxury, products all want to be smaller, houses all want to be prefab, and waterfront property is on a market downturn. A wearable home should not only be equipped for the city nomad but for the future nomad who will need to travel through each of the prevailing climates of the near future: arctic, desert, and waterlogged tundra, illustrating different modes of survival.
For my recent work, I have been traveling to places that were and are in danger of drought, in need of water, or that have an excess of water due to melting glaciers or storms. I was able to experience hardships from lack of water and difficulties communities face from changing climates first hand, to study floodgates and rising tides, and at times I was fortunate enough to be able to help in relief efforts. With the inclusion of sculptures, the images that I make border fiction and reality. Depending on the particular image and the sentiment that I want to evoke in the viewer, I use 3D imaging programs and digital editing programs to create or alter initial photographs so that they may tell a story and suggest a feeling that borders between a warning and a reality I believe we are heading towards.
Are you inspired by the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC about the future of climate? Where do you find inspiration?
In October of 2005, the United Nations University predicted 50 million environmental refugees by the year 2010, as the result of environmental crisis and slow-motion disasters due to the instability of infrastructures resulting in famine, drought, disease, sea-level rise. I try to figure out survival solutions daily, especially for the nomadic, whom I feel will become a population majority in time. I have learned a lot through studying Inuit cultures that have been surviving in extreme cold for centuries, and nomadic desert tribes like the Tuareg tribe in Africa. This also helps me learn more about human nature and fragility, needs, strengths, and our intuition. I have worked much of this information into the Wearable Homes. I am inspired by a lot of work by different organizations including the IPCC. I read blogs related to the environment and technology, I regularly read magazines like The Economist and Mother Jones, am inspired by attending conferences, listening to a variety of podcasts, and reading a variety of theory as well as fiction.
Do you know what scientists think about your art? Did some of them come for example in New York, at Robert Mann Gallery, to see it?
The scientists I have met are largely intrigued by what I am trying to do, which is partly to add imagination to ideas based in science. Some own installations or photographs I have made. I have made “inventions” that are do-it-yourself interpretations and solutions to problems like purifying dirty water, for instance, by reusing three plastic bottles to create your own easy-to-make water purification system. My urge to make useful, easy to use and easy to recreate inventions comes from the need I feel to relearn people on how to live with nature, because we will need to. Some of what I try to express in my photos is the danger that comes with forgetting how to make things. We become dependent on having the option to buy everything, and that gives the sellers so much power over us. The Waterpod project is allowing me the chance to work closely with more scientists and inventors.
What about the Waterpod, is it currently floating around Manhattan?
The Waterpod will launch May 2009. Initially, I had planned to launch it this year, but the city of New York promised more support if I were to wait a year to do the project. This alongside the fact that in December and January I went to the hospital for two separate operations due to appendicitis. The additional year to work on the project has allowed me to expand it a great deal, I am now working with three other artists and a growing team of volunteer scientists and “green builders”. We now have more time and are gathering more support to do a wider experimentation with materials and the portability of the overall design.
What is the message you want to send to people?
I want to raise questions about the role of the individual in a society and on our earth. I want people to question their proscribed societal roles, and be independent from markets and other systems of control. I want to motivate people to feel that they have the ability to change things, make things, to create and recreate reality.
What do you think about the behaviour of US government about climatic problems?
The United States was, as of 2005, the largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. The US government is largely ignorant and extremely slow in dealing with climatic problems, and it is apparent that this is because of the interest in big business. The fact that the government will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol until there is participation by developing nations is extremely immature and irresponsible. On the other hand, there is a very large grassroots movement (and not-so-grassroots movement) in individual states, towns, cities, in Silicon Valley, within organizations, and on individual levels. -mm
Innovation only really occurs when people with desperate human needs can afford to pay for solutions to those needs. The great innovations of civilization generally followed either a great equalization of wealth (e.g. the printing press, the assembly line) or a huge crisis (e.g. modern 'catastrophic' (monoculture) agriculture, nuclear power). For the last 50 years neither has been present and innovation has arguably almost completely ceased.
This is an effort to design very low-footprint houseboats inspired by various traditional waterborne communities in Asia, North America and Europe, using modern materials, designs and construction techniques. In addition to providing an excellent platform for testing self-sufficient designs these shelters may provide a means to quickly provide semi-permanent emergency housing in areas threatened by innundation from rising sea levels.
The new transnational [corporation] became so global by the 1980s
that a single government had power over only a part of the firm's
total operation. The size of many transnationals, moreover,
dwarfed the size of many governments. Of the hundred largest
economic units in the world of the 1980s, only half were nations.
The other half were individual corporations. (10)
As such, community is invoked through the appeal to military defence, national security and civil order, and with greater legitimacy after the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11. As fear is increasingly globalized, anti-terrorist laws are used to target those who fit the 'racial profile of white anxiety': Arabs, people of colour, Muslims, black youth, 'but also anyone with an unusual head-covering'. (20)
Providing a model for global export, the United States is refashioning authoritarianism as a form of rabid patriotism. This is coupled with anti-terrorist legislation that legitimizes limiting civil liberties and basic freedoms while sanctioning the surveillance of dissenters and the arrest, if not torture, of those marked as a threat to the collective safety. As Mike Davis points out, however, government and corporate elites do more than translate collective fears about uncertainty into privatized concerns about individual safety. They also create the conditions for a 'fear economy' that fuels corporate profits. In addition to being frisked, searched, monitored, scanned and interrogated, the populations of the United States and its allies will also be subject to the pressures of venture capital that will make 'germ warfare sensors and threat profile software', along with 'discrete technologies of surveillance, environmental monitoring and data-processing ... into a single integrated system. "Security", in other words, will become a full-fledged urban utility like water and power'. (21)
As important as immanent critique might be, it always runs the risk of both representing power as being in the absolute service of domination and failing to capture the always open and ongoing dynamic of resistance at work in alternative modes of representations, oppositional public spheres, and modes of affective investment that refuse the ideological push and institutional drive of dominant social orders. (54)
Ruins of a Titan Missile Site in Arizona, 2008
Alexander and his group have built a movement which, in their words,
”lays the basis for an entirely new approach to architecture, building
and planning, which will replace existing ideas and practices entirely”.
At the core of this movement is the idea that people should design houses,
streets, and communities for themselves. This idea may imply a radical transformation
of the architectural profession, but it emerges quite simply from the observation
that most of the beautiful places of the world were not made by architects
but by the people. "For centuries, the street provided city dwellers
with usable public space right outside their houses. Now, in a number of
subtle ways, the modern city has made streets which are for "going
through," not for "staying in."
year, through various examples, Adam Greenfeld showed how “we killed
the street” due to cars, traffic, overplanning, the “repeating
module of doom” (succession of franchises) leading to what Augé
calls “non-places” and Rem Koolhas refers to as “junkspace”.
This is an interesting solution to our ever-growing problem of non-place or unusable public space. What will we do with the ghost towns of the early 2000's in America? The rows of empty tract housing and community developments that may never be inhabited? After the credit and financial crisis is smoothed over, the bankruptcies all filed and in place, Can they eventually become part of the commons? If so, there should be a set of controls in place to urge their growth and use. Can we make them into tourist attractions? Bed and Breakfast or Hotels for the ever-increasing populations of nomads?
refugees from a plague city, they carry that which they fled with them.
As soon as they arrive, the subdivisions start multiplying, a strip mall
goes up (inevitably, as has been noted, bearing the name of the local landmark
it replaced), and people start clamoring for Starbucks and high-speed Net
access. Pretty soon, people look around, say 'this place ain't what it used
to be,' and start looking around for the next place to go. ...With their
power tools, portable generators, weapons, four-wheel drive vehicles, and
personal computers, they are like beavers hyped up on crystal meth, manic
engineers without a blueprint, chewing through the wilderness, building
things and abandoning them, altering the flow of mighty rivers and then
moving on because the place ain't what it used to be." - Neal Stephenson
quoted by Alex Steffan
biggest experiment in particle physics: the Large Hadron Collider is the
atom-smasher ever built - will be switched on this
year. Better yet, according to
Irina Aref'eva and Igor Volovich, a pair of Russian mathematicians,
the LHC might just turn out to be the world's first
time machine. More on LHC from Wikipedia -
(since I wrote this, the LHC is set for a 2-month cooling phase to fix a
It has been a month, and I have spent it in two different hospitals, New York Presbyterian (68th St.) and Baystate Medical Center (Springfield, MA), both of which I found to be excellent stays with great doctors and compassionate, extremely competent nurses on my recent mandatory tour of hospitals. This is time number three in the past few months, due to complications from an appendectomy (actually my first surgery) back in December. On the mend, I have a prescribed liquid diet for another week, have taken to ordering packages upon packages of books from Amazon, the latest being Buckminster Fuller's Universe and Alternatives to Economic Globalization (second ed.) In creative moments I found myself photographing the shadows on the walls and the 70's orange that hid the radiators in a faux cabinet, atop rested my father's copy of Accounts of Padre Pio, that same orange on the spine. It’s amazing how resilient our bodies are. After nearly a month of being fed intravenously, my arms were bruised beyond belief. That was two weeks ago, and there is no longer any physical sign. Reflecting on the stay and my thoughts during, I understand patience, peoples' sufferings, pain, and happiness on a slightly deeper level. Tomorrow is the 4th of July. On Wednesday I will take a trip to photograph some structures in Southeast Arizona, and head Northwest towards Mono Lake.
on the fringes of U.S. suburbia becomes untenable with rising gas costs
By Peter S. Goodman
Published: June 24, 2008
ELIZABETH, Colorado: Suddenly, the economics of American suburban life are under assault as skyrocketing energy prices inflate the costs of reaching, heating and cooling homes on the outer edges of metropolitan areas.
Just off Singing Hills Road, in one of hundreds of two-story homes dotting a former cattle ranch beyond the southern fringes of Denver, Phil Boyle and his family openly wonder if they will have to move close to town to get some relief.
They still revel in the space and quiet that has drawn a steady exodus from U.S. cities toward places like this for more than half a century. Their living room ceiling soars two stories high. A swing-set sways in the breeze in their backyard. Their wrap-around porch looks out over the flat scrub of the high plains to the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
But life on the distant fringes of suburbia is beginning to feel untenable. Boyle and his wife must drive nearly an hour to their jobs in the high-tech corridor of southern Denver. With gasoline at more than $4 a gallon, Boyle recently paid $121 to fill his pickup truck with diesel. The price of propane to heat their spacious house has more than doubled in recent years.
Though Boyle finds city life unappealing, it's now up for reconsideration.
Fuller: Starting With The Universe, Whiteney Museum
About the Exhibition
on view June 26 - September 21, 2008
One of the great American visionaries of the twentieth century, R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) endeavored to see what he, a single individual, might do to benefit the largest segment of humanity while consuming the minimum of the earth's resources. Doing "more with less" was Fuller's credo. He described himself as a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist," setting forth to solve the escalating challenges that faced humanity before they became insurmountable.
Friday, September 12 - Saturday, September 13
The Great Hall of the Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street, at Astor Place
Visionary designer, philosopher, poet, inventor, engineer, and advocate of sustainability, Buckminster Fuller was one of the great transdisciplinary thinkers of the last century with a legacy that extends to nearly every field of the arts and sciences. This symposium takes its cue from Fuller's dictum, "I always say to myself, what is the most important thing we can think about at this extraordinary moment," and explores the diverse ways in which contemporary scholars and practitioners are pushing Fuller's ideas and projects into the 21st century.
I was walking along a path with two friends—the sun was setting—suddenly the sky turned blood red—I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence—there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city—my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety—and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature. – Edvard Munch
I was just asked to answer some of these questions: In what ways does your work reflect a concern with environmental changes? From what sources do you gather information pertinent to your art? If you feel artists have a sense of social responsibility, how does your work reflect this? How does the prevailing point of view in your work connect to the way you choose to live? Artists have the ability to grasp momentous changes, so how can the arts have an influence over public consciousness? How can art institutions—such as museums—make a crucial difference to the future? If you feel that environmental activism is a movement that will define a generation, or help to define the beginning of the millennium, what would you say is key? In what way is your choice of medium influenced by the statement you want to make? How is your career fed / fueled by politics? (sense of idealism, despair, distress, activism) How do you think art – or a painting—can solve or help to solve global problems? What can an artist and art really do to change the world a little? How interested are you in art’s influence over the public consciousness? Since your work reflects the state of the environment, how does your work promote or convey your critique and commitment to change/activism? I thought they were very interesting...
I just received this email in my inbox. Really nice! :
Collaboration available for 85¢
Whitney Museum of American Art Bookstore
April 2, 2008
The art collective M80 announces Collaboration
a limited edition piece in the form of a postcard. It is not a reproduction
of art, but is, through the process of interacting with the public and museum,
the art itself. Created to compliment the Whitney Biennial 2008, the piece
becomes fully realized when purchased, as the purchaser becomes a collaborator
in the project. To receive a certificate of authenticity and edition number
(out of 250), collaborators can emailM80collab@gmail.com. All proceeds go
to the Whitney Museum of American Art.
M80 is a New York-based team of visual artists who use benevolent guerrilla tactics to promote awareness of, and solutions to, issues facing the art world. Begun as a think-tank in 2007, M80 seeks to identify systems and behaviors in the art world that can lead to conformity, detached commodification, gender and race exclusion, elitism, and passivity. After a process of problem identification M80 then creates projects that, via example, offer hopeful solutions.
A good friend of mine, Derek Hunter, (
just constructed a truly unusual "camera" for his exploration
of Islamic Mysticism, specifically the Sufi dance called whirling of which
his wife (and my collaborator on the Waterpod), Mira Hunter, studies. The
results of this machine brings the ideas of the "virtual camera"
into the realm of the physical world, by capturing "bullet time",
a surround view of an object in motion that (until now) only a virtual camera
31 Under 31: Panel Discussion on Photography
night, I spoke on a panel about women photographers that was held at 3RD
WARD by Humble Arts, and moderated by Amy Stein. The rest of the panel consisted
of Tema Stauffer, Dina Kantor, Cara Phillips, and Sarah Small. It was interesting
to hear peoples' perspectives on the photography market, experiences with
mentors, with jobs, galleries, magazines, working with models, and struggles
with living in New York.
As the panel progressed, we were asked basic yet important questions that need to be asked and re-asked because they are questions that our answers constantly change for: How does your sense of gender identity inform your work? Everyone's experience is going to be different, but to contextualize each experience under the umbrella of females doing photography is important. My gender identity is a part of me that I am proud of, but I really think that to feel one's gender is essentially to feel one's humanity. We try to not let any one label define us of our work, but it is important to realize what the label means, how it is contextualized and how it changes meaning. I also think that it is important for artists to understand and know their influences if they want their own work to progress, and that mentoring is a two-way-street; if it stops with us than it is not real mentoring. We need to give and to get from all of our relationships. I am greatly inspired by Francis Alÿs because of his overall compassion that comes through in his work, his critique over systems of control that is also always present, and his participatory actions. I am also inspired by Sophie Calle for her experimentalism, Rebecca Horn, Werner Herzog, Andrei Tarkovsky, Constant Nieuwenhuis, Don Delillo, and Ray Kurzweil to name a few.
think the consensus on living in New York was that we are all glad to live
here, because of the exponential energy and opportunities available. Then
we went on to discuss living expenses in New York. This standard-of-living
debate is something discussed in all circles of New York life, but probably
the most in the art world. I found people to be surprised to hear that I
spent as much time working on art as I do, and after the panel, as I reflected
on this surprise, I concluded that these are simply the choices that we
make. I chose to not attend graduate school at this point in my life, so
that I wouldn’t be fighting with debt for the next ten years over
things that I believe can be provided by a rigorous community of art cohorts,
and I choose not to pay an expensive rent, and in general live sparsely
because it allows time for art.
We were asked to give advice to emerging photographers, and I would answer: Be disciplined, structured with your time, put pressure on yourself to move past your own ideas. Your friends are also very important. A circle of people that you respect who you will allow to critique your in-process work has definitely been a very important part of my practice, and finally, be even-keeled about peoples' responses to your work. I get excited about art when I am making it, but rarely do I let myself be emotional about others' responses to my work. Overall, I hope it was informative and keeps these discussions moving forward.
At the LMCC studio building the Waterpod Beta
Carving the Foam
1, 2008, in honor of Women’s History Month, Humble Arts Foundation,
in collaboration with Ladies Lotto, will present “31 Under 31: Young
Women in Art Photography,” a month-long exhibition celebrating 31
of the most innovative young women in emerging art photography under the
age of 31. The Exhibition is co-curated by Lumi Tan, Director of Zach Feuer
Gallery in NYC, and Jon Feinstein, Curatorial Director of Humble Arts Foundation.
It opens Saturday, March 1, at 3RD WARD, 7pm.
Pinkham Ryder lived on thirteen cents a day, slept in a carpet roll, wandered
bridges, ferries, and waterfronts of NY “Soaking up moonlight and
watching shadows of sailboats upon water.” The artist must “live
to paint and not paint to live. He should not sacrifice his ideals to a
landlord and costly studio. A raintight roof, frugal living, a box of colors
and God’s sunlight through clear windows keep the soul attuned and
the body vigorous for one’s daily work”. - Quote from "Has
Robert Barry in 1968 – "The world is full of objects more or less interesting; I do not wish to add more". In Holland I visited the studios of many artists. The spaces were so large in comparison to most of the studios I have been to in New York, and many were stocked with years and years of artwork. I remember thinking how transformative our cities would be and how creative our streets would be if all of the art was displayed on the outside and the blandifying color-coded buildings were not the norm. Why the aesthetic zoning laws? Am I missing something?
than half of the nearly 7 billion humans on this planet now live in cities,
in ecosystems that are disconnected from the resources and places and plants
and animals that we depend on for food, water and energy. To that extent,
cities are 'artificial' environments -- they are not sustainable without
resources that come entirely from outside them, 'mysteriously' (because
the people in the city have no direct personal experience or knowledge of
how their food, water and power gets to them). Children in cities can be
excused for thinking food 'comes' from the grocery store, that water comes
magically from the tap, and that electricity comes from the switch.
We cannot expect people to care about factory farmed animals' misery, because to them it is invisible. It is no more 'real' than what they read about in story books. We cannot expect people to care about the end of oil or the end of water or the end of electricity or the end of telecommunication because they don't see or know where these things come from, and their scarcity is a mere abstraction. I have spoken to people who lived through the Great Depression, and deliberately read first-hand accounts of the incredible suffering and deprivation that those people lived through, and their astonishment that things they had 'taken for granted' could disappear so quickly. But this is lost knowledge, and we cannot expect people to care about it now. - Dave Pollard
We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well -- for we will not fight to save what we do not love. - Stephen J. Gould
plastic foam is changing my life
and John Snyder visited the studio today.
The scar after my operation
The horse that grows in the kitchen | Scoreboard on Marguerite's fridge (she put that up there for me)
Scouting at Fort Tilden with
for a film.
Theory W.J.T. Mitchell
Text I'm working on for the Waterpod: A FLOATING WORLD
The Waterpod demonstrates future pathways for nomadic, mobile shelters and water-based communities, docked and roaming. It embodies self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, learning and curiosity, human expression and creative exploration. It intends to prepare, inform, and provide an alternative to current and future living spaces. In preparation for our coming world with an increase in population, a decrease in usable land, and a greater flux in environmental conditions, people will need to rely closely on immediate communities and look for alternative living models; the Waterpod is about cooperation, collaboration, augmentation, and metamorphosis. As a malleable and autonomous space, the Waterpod is built on a model comprised of multiple collaborations. The Waterpod functions as a singular unit with the possibility to expand into ever-evolving water communities; an archipelagos that has the ability to mutate with the tides. The Waterpod codifies the language of mobility in contemporary architecture and historicizes the notion of the permanent structure, simultaneously serving as composition, transportation, island, and residence. As with all art forms, architecture is largely about stories: stories of its inhabitants, its community, its makers and their reflections on the past or expectations of the future. Based on an economy of movement, this structure is adaptable, flexible, self-sufficient, and relocatable, responsive to its immediate and shifting environment. The Waterpod is an extension of body, of home, and of community, its only permanence being change, flow, and multiplicity. It connects river to visitor, global to local, nature to city, and historic to futuristic ecologies. With this project, we hope to encourage innovation as we visualize the future fifty to one hundred years from now.
Sick in the hospital:
Before Miami, I drove to Key
West to scout for filming. A deserted beach...
The Shoot. (Then a piece that
Orly did for the Jersey City Museum)...
Miami. Containers. Versace Mansion.
Martin Margolis Collection
Way We Dress.
For the people who wonder why I don't sport a Wearable Home more often in New York, let me explain. Usually, I test them out in rural locations, in places with fewer resources, to see if their adaptation methods fail or succeed. Part of the appeal of the Wearable Home to me is the aspect of uniformity, given time, within choice. I believe that in the not so far off future, our choices could be limited for a number of reasons, and we may not even realize or notice this change in our perspective on choice. It is for the future what our uniforms are today. The Wearable Home is as much about survival as it is about being the uniform for the future. It camouflages you with everyone else just like Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, Dockers, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel, Benetton, Armani, Gap, Guess, Lacoste, H&M,
Disney, Diesel, Ralph Lauren, Polo, Dior, Hermès, Gucci, Ecko,
Chanel, Calvin Klein... do today. In this case, I believe that the way to
affect change is to slowly seep an idea into the fabric of society. There
are Wearable Home items that I make and wear singularly - to bridge the
gap between one set of uniforms to the next.
In preparation for the launch of the Waterpod, I have recently started wearing anything that references nautical culture. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to being on the water.
Imagining the Future
The typical image of the future might be one of: advanced gadgetry, pollutants, and space issues derived from "overpopulation". It is of course a common misconception that the future is going to be slick, one propagated by movies and sci-fi stories for a ubiquitous future frequented by “replicants”, clones, and avatars. This view is quite unfeasible aside from the elements that will exist in outcrops (i.e.: forgiving any disasters in these areas, it is most likely that cities like Tokyo, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Delhi, New York will grow in numbers and could, perhaps, look like a scene from “Blade Runner” in the future, but their future is probably better described in the movie “Brazil”).
With economic globalization comes a backlash against it, a "re-tribalization" says McLuhan, and a fight for ones “community” and oneself. I don’t doubt that tribes (by tribes I mean any group of people, usually banned together by viewpoints and person/group identity or birth) will continue to have wars about this.
With the overproduction of goods will come a lack of resources (as we already are seeing), and a necessary reusing of products (think of tee-shirts made in the USA in the 60’s that have just reached India through the and can be seen on kids in Bangalore). Simultaneously, we see corporate power at a high and a global move to “Do It Yourself” – the Internet is a big propagator of this. DIY sites are all over the web, and “First World” missions to infiltrate and “help” “Third World” states, through NGO’s, companies, and grassroots movements are all based on this methodology, if successful. So again, we have an action and a reaction, a balance. As we make strides in biology and technology, we tread backwards environmentally, for example. As Vietnamese strike at a Nike factory in Hanoi, a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) closed its manufacturing facility in Ansan, South Korea, and Zamil Steel, based in Dammam, is to build a new factory in Thailand.
As I assume that Robert Bigelow will continue to send billionaires into space more and more frequently in the future, the disparity between rich and poor will continue to grow, the need to be mobile will continue to increase (with the instability of borders, the environment, and with the ease of mobility as a social goal), and the need to reuse our finite resources will be a new economy. People will still want and be able to obtain power: monopolies, mergers, and oligopolies, “One-World Governments,” will continue to strive to be a new communism – expanding and expounding their products on masses of mobile populations. Imagining the future requires a broader scope.
"The Life of Reason", the philosopher Santayana said, "Those
who cannot remember the past are
condemned to repeat it." Mark Twain said, "The past does not repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes."
NYPL - part of exhibit Time Is Falling Asleep
Published on 4 Dec 2006 by Energy Bulletin. Archived on
4 Dec 2006.
'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US
by Dmitry Orlov
China "The glaciers that ripple off the peaks of Anyemaqen, a
mountain range in the western China province of Qinghai, are shrinking rapidly,
endangering hundreds of millions of people who depend on the waters flowing
eastward through the Yellow River. 0801 02
With the rest of the country punished by record heat waves, floods and droughts this summer, it’s no wonder that Beijing, which has long viewed global warming as a problem that rich nations should solve, is waking up to the fact that China may be especially at risk.
Qinghai, a poor, Texas-size stretch of the northern Tibetan plateau where yaks outnumber humans, became the unusual focus of attention when U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson visited there Monday at the start of a four-day trip to China.
Rather than climbing the peaks, he visited Qinghai Lake, a saltwater body about 200 miles away, to demonstrate U.S. concern for the effects of global warming.
“What’s happening in terms of climate change globally is impacting the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau, and what’s happening here also impacts the global environment,” Paulson said, according to news reports.
Deaths from floods, lightning and landslides across China in recent weeks have reached nearly 700, state media reported this week, and officials warned that global warming is likely to cause even more violent weather." -San Francisco Chronicle
(links found on:
To Save The World)
FRONTIER - GALERIE ADLER
at Galerie Adler opens next Thursday
Speedvoyage Alaska 07
With the severity of price cuts and decline of reliable airline service, I am at once surprised and largely unburdened by getting to Anchorage 8 hours later. The first night was spent at the Chelsea Inn Hotel on Spenard. This hotel reminded me of all of the live-in hotels Gabriel used to take up residence in over in Oregon. The smell, the insects, the shower mold, the leaky faucet. Upon entering through the side door, a guest walks up the steps and into a fascinating lobby where deer, elk, and moose heads reside; adorning the forest-green walls, landscape paintings of the Alaskan frontier, a mini-cooler for ice, and a coffee pot. I checked out at 8am, and headed for Seward. Every moment was a view, and every 200th view was a photograph. It's day one and half of my film supply is used. At Seward I took a boat equipped with binoculars, two video cameras and two still cameras. I sat underneath the vessel to begin writing this, protected, watery scene-after-scene framed in the 2' long windows and I'm thoroughly thanking God for glass and sealed structures. After today I know that I only have 3.5 days to get as far as I can by car.
This is a picture of my current key chain. There are keys to three apartments in NYC, the LMCC studios,
a card for a grocery store and a gym, a compass, a light, and a tag. Being a nomad in New York is virtually impossible without friends.
in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier returning
to the range, admire?
Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator's projection: its umplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8,000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: Its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including billions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents: gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs, and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe) numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90% of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon. - James Joyce (Sent by Mira's friend Raphael who is currently writing her thesis on Joyce with a Foucauldian approach.)
Some thoughts on Adorno in Aesthetic Theory, with more to come: Mediated by exchange value, forms are never perfect. Yet, however compromised, artworks may by the structure of their forms, the coherence of their references, and their very exalted status as fetishes "strive to escape the confines of universal practice" and function as "anticipation of a nobler condition." It's my birthday. After driving back from Valdez, through the breathtaking Thompson Pass, Bridalveil Falls, Copper town, I found an amazing Bed and Breakfast in Palmer, Alaska, and wow. It's the second night on the trip that I haven't slept in the rental car out of sheer exhaustion from travel. I will post pictures when I return to New York. The place itself couldn't have made me happier.
It’s still amazing to me, the way that we let ourselves be completely controlled by others, or our heartstrings. These five days in Alaska are about being, alone. Not an artist colony in England, not a primordial festival in a desert with 50,000 people, but it is myself on my own, and on my birthday, which has a very sad tinge about it to me, but I did it for that reason. I want it to be a time to let myself be sad or happy or to just to see how I was feeling, to experience nature and this side of reality, to think about what my relationships mean – uninfluenced, to be minimal, to let myself be alone like maybe we always are.
The real-time five-act opera in the desert. This was the first year that I stayed through the burning of the man and the temple, however I arrived after the first time that the man burned. It burned twice. The drama was unprecedented. The feeling was conspiracy, the irony was "green", the camps were spirited and maybe the best thing to redeem the tragicomic conceptual representation of whatever this figment becomes or has become.
History repeats itself, but the special call of an art which has passed away is never reproduced. It is as utterly gone out of the world as the song of a destroyed wild bird. - J. Conrad
Madame, do you know what your house weighs?
is a malleable space. It is built on a co-acting model made up of multiple
collaborations. It codifies the language of mobility in contemporary architecture
and simultaneously historicizes the notion of the permanent structure. It
is a composition, a transport, an island, and a residence. Residing on watered
bodies, the Waterpod is able to dock temporarily or travel to international
waters, where it can acquire the status of a contained micronation.
As with all art forms, architecture is largely about stories: stories of its inhabitants, its community, its makers and their reflections on the past or expectations of the future. The Waterpod is heavily networked with communications technology, exemplifying a trend towards immateriality, an objectless but continuously recorded space. The Waterpod acts as a singular unit with the possibility to expand into ever-volving water communities that mutate with the tides. It connects river to visitor, global to local, nature to city, and historic to futuristic ecologies. The Waterpod is an extension of body, of home, and of community, the only permanence being change, flow, and multiplicity.
* The Westerly Wind asserting his sway from the south-west quarter is often like a monarch gone mad, driving forth with wild imprecations the most faithful of his courtiers to shipwreck, disaster, and death. - J. Conrad
Braziers castle, Yason Banal on a bench made by Andrea Heller, and one image of the magnificent detailing throughout.
Braziers, Oxfordshire, England, has been my home along with 15 permanent residents, 25 artists-in-residence and seven artists-as-coordinators for the past two weeks. Tomorrow is the opening, when we will display our projects on 50 acres of land.
A sample of Veronica Flores, Juan Pablo Echeverri, and Marianne Engel's work.
“The Celestial Telegraph"
An exploration of extra sensory perception
35 people (from 16 countries) on the Chiltern Moors have discovered a new group state of mind. Activities such as presentation of individual philosophies, myths, folklore, perceptions and dreams have enabled them to develop a hidden language. Group dancing played a large part in the creation of this altered state, fostered by group rolling – whereby rapid rotation on the ground was alternated with slow peddling of large rolls.
An altered group state ensued involving all members and even some astonished spectators. All experienced a new clarity of inner vision, which allowed a group perspective that could be applied by each person to making work seemingly effortlessly at extraordinary speed. All were documented in detail; they form the historical basis for the phenomenon. Participants look back in awe. - A summary of the experience by Dennis Glaser.
is a study of a small shed in a remote locale,
and its effect on its inhabitants’ personality. The space is composed
of the character traits of past residents of the shed, pop icons infamously
associated with sheds, conspiracy theorists, and the current denizen of
the shed. B.T. represents a state of paranoia about the present and future,
about technology, communications, the reality of being continuously watched
and in turn becoming a watcher. It exhibits personal boundaries and their
natural extension into geopolitical borders. It foretells the future in
the form of a seed-bank collection, bunker-like provisions, and architectural
plans preparing B.T. to be fit for its natural exposure to the periodic
flow and rise of the River Thames, until a river runs through it. Floruit
Tamesis, floreat Tamesis.
Barn on Thames
Tale of Three Cities. Being in England again (for
the second time), I am, well, reminded of the first time. Yes, hitchhiking
and backpacking through England with Larry at nineteen. The goal of living
in every city is to keep moving, some sort of a necessary continuous movement
to grow with the place, and to live with the place, is a generous requirement.
In every city I have resided in, I have attempted to move to at least three
different neighborhoods within that city, although usually I can't help
but to move more than that.
Boston: Brighton, Allston, Jamacia Plain, (Everette)
Portland: NE, SW, SE, NW
New York: Bed-Stuy, BK, Crown Heights, BK, East Village, Upper East Side, and LIC coming soon...
from Freeman Dyson that I read today:
We are moving rapidly into the post-Darwinian era, when species other than our own will no longer exist, and the rules of Open Source sharing will be extended from the exchange of software to the exchange of genes. Then the evolution of life will once again be communal, as it was in the good old days before separate species and intellectual property were invented.
He also wrote about the idea that new tree species could be engineered to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into liquid fuels instead of cellulos, and predicts that open source sharing will be extended from exchange of software to exchange of genes.
Society and its Future:
40. In modern industrial society only minimal effort is necessary to satisfy one's physical needs. It is enough to go through a training program to acquire some petty technical skill, then come to work on time and exert very modest effort needed to hold a job. The only requirements are a moderate amount of intelligence, and most of all, simple OBEDIENCE. If one has those, society takes care of one from cradle to grave. (Yes, there is an underclass that cannot take physical necessities for granted, but we are speaking here of mainstream society.) Thus it is not surprising that modern society is full of surrogate activities. These include scientific work, athletic achievement, humanitarian work, artistic and literary creation, climbing the corporate ladder, acquisition of money and material goods far beyond the point at which they cease to give any additional physical satisfaction, and social activism when it addresses issues that are not important for the activist personally, as in the case of white activists who work for the rights of nonwhite minorities. These are not always pure surrogate activities, since for many people they may be motivated in part by needs other than the need to have some goal to pursue. Scientific work may be motivated in part by a drive for prestige, artistic creation by a need to express feelings, militant social activism by hostility. But for most people who pursue them, these activities are in large part surrogate activities. For example, the majority of scientists will probably agree that the "fulfillment" they get from their work is more important than the money and prestige they earn.
41. For many if not most people, surrogate activities are less satisfying than the pursuit of real goals (that is, goals that people would want to attain even if their need for the power process were already fulfilled). One indication of this is the fact that, in many or most cases, people who are deeply involved in surrogate activities are never satisfied, never at rest. Thus the money-maker constantly strives for more and more wealth. The scientist no sooner solves one problem than he moves on to the next. The long-distance runner drives himself to run always farther and faster. Many people who pursue surrogate activities will say that they get far more fulfillment from these activities than they do from the "mundane" business of satisfying their biological needs, but that it is because in our society the effort needed to satisfy the biological needs has been reduced to triviality. More importantly, in our society people do not satisfy their biological needs AUTONOMOUSLY but by functioning as parts of an immense social machine. In contrast, people generally have a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their surrogate activities. We suggest that the so-called "identity crisis" is actually a search for a sense of purpose, often for commitment to a suitable surrogate activity. It may be that existentialism is in large part a response to the purposelessness of modern life.
74. We suggest that modern man's obsession with longevity, and with maintaining physical vigor and sexual attractiveness to an advanced age, is a symptom of unfulfillment resulting from deprivation with respect to the power process. The "mid-life crisis" also is such a symptom. So is the lack of interest in having children that is fairly common in modern society but almost unheard-of in primitive societies.
Without an element of curelty at the root
of every spectacle, the theater is not possible. In our present state of
degeneration it is through the skin that metaphysics must be made to re-enter
our minds." Antonin Artaud, Theater and its Double
The White Box show, Theater of Cruelty, was one of the strongest shows I have seen in a long time.
Droughts and floods.
July 18th: Water find 'may end Darfur war'. A huge underground lake
has been found in Sudan's Darfur region, scientists say, which they believe
could help end the conflict in the arid region. Some 1,000 wells will be
drilled in the region, with the agreement of Sudan's government, the Boston
University researchers say.
water link from the BBC: A team of divers who set out to solve the mystery
of the drowned village of Bowood in Wiltshire has found the remains of buildings
under a lake. These are both sides of the future of humans' relationship
Forestry: to represent the prosthetic collision
of nature and technology. These trees are a cross between cell
phone towers and natural trees. Webs of copper wire and other braided or
latticed semiconductors surround these hybrids, with satellites made from
maps and with variety of metal antennas.
As we know, a recent connection has been made between cell phone towers and the harming of nature, specifically, the bee population. Scientists are stating that a 25% loss in bee population in eleven countries may be due to their homing sensors conflicting with the amount of cell phone radio waves running through the air. Maps from every country suspected of bee loss due to cell phone rays were used to make satellites and bee hives on Advanced Forestry.
J. Lehan took these stunning images of Art Omi
Top 15 Books that have shaped and influenced me, in no particular order:
America: Jean Baudrillard, Silence: John Cage, In the Absence of the Sacred: Jerry Mander, The Revolution of Everyday Life: Raoul Vaneigem, Valparaiso: Don DeLillo, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art; A sourcebook of Artists' Writings, Phenomenology of the Spirit: Hegel, Irrational Man: William Barrett, The Sun Also Rises: Ernest Hemmingway, Eroticism, Death and Sensuality: Georges Bataille, Pale Fire: Valdimar Nabakov, On Being Blue: William Gass, The Lover's Discourse: Roland Barthes, The Ten Trusts: Jane Godall, and The Fall of Public Man: Richard Sennett. These are all books I still fully recommend.
2: A brief history: For years, patents for Mach 2 were pursued but suffocated
by the oligopolistic reaction of the travel industry. The danger in Mach
2's ranged from their DIY nature (they can be homemade from common materials
and custom fit to the user) to their renewable source of energy (they are
charged with Hydrogen Peroxide). Run through the patent M2 filter, the most
polluted of waters would sufficiently complete a Mach 2 engine. Upon closure
of the digital divide, D.I.Y. Internet sites circulated the plans globally
until they were commonplace. In 2009 the airline industry began to embrace
different forms of the Mach 2 because the common man finally demanded personal
flights. Flying a person out to a private destination had become the norm.
Airline industries regulated a brand of Mach 2’s that exist alongside
the unregulated called "N-wave": the car for the modern man, the
extended environment, the bubble, the appendage, the prosthetic.
Here for More on Mach 2 at Art Omi 2007/2008
Forestry includes the study of prosthetics, fakery, the common machine,and
Aside from the United States, other countries reporting bee disappearances are: Canada, Spain, Poland, Greece, Croatia, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal, Germany, and England. This is speculated to be a virus, radio waves, or maybe all of those Monsanto plants...It's very bad, whatever it is caused from.
A cell phone tree "nursery" at Preserved Treescapes International in Oceanside, California.
Mach number is the number of times the speed of sound an object or a duct, or the fluid medium itself, move relative to each other. It is named after Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach. I have spent the last three days on 88th and CPW at the Snyder/Lawrence residence using John's wonderfully complete shop to construct Mach 2 (successfully surpassing the speed of sound).
Day 2 of 3 of the C6 conference in Chicago has concluded. Tonight at 9pm, Lynn Hershman Leeson's film "
Culture" will be screened at the Art Institute, but I decided to
use that time to digest, discern and reinterpret the conference so far.
I arrived late on Thursday due to increased cancellations and overbookments
of flights to Chicago from New York. I heard the tail end of a truly riveting,
moving, open, and affecting keynote given by Peter Sellars about the somber
Altarpiece" made by over 112 women in Hamburg, South Africa. For
the part I was fortunate enough to hear, Sellars spoke of everything from
(“Monsanto would like nothing more than to be the sole source for staple crop seeds in this country and around the world," said Joseph Mendelson, CFS legal director. "And it will aggressively overturn centuries-old farming practices and drive its own clients out of business through lawsuits to achieve this goal.") - Center for Food Safety
to nature to death to evil (evil equals the straight line
because the straight line can never be equated with equality) to the cultural
weight of African cloth and the cultural reality of AIDS deaths yet the
plain love that one can see within the community and the family, the support
for the weak and the hurt, and the togetherness this results in. He quoted
Rumi, "The wound is where the light enters" after stating that
in America the weak are constantly under attack (because success is our
only standard). His keynote ended with a standing ovation, his passion poured
out like water on fire, and his dedication was so earnest in his tears of
sorrow and joy that would erupt from his entire body as he spoke to a room
I was of course immediately determined not to miss a minute of the conference, and rushed out onto Michigan Ave. to locate my hotel, check in, change clothes, and rush back, just in time to be 15 minutes late for Tiffany Holmes, a very progressive artist, cultural thinker and "new technologies" professor. She explained Second Life,
bombing as forms of public art. She had a terrific perspective but her
talk was unfortunately limited to the idea that new technologies, when used
by a dissenter, could inspire audiences to take their own voice. I came
away not sure whether to applaud the dissenters' efforts that she covered
or whether to see them as nothing more than novel distractions, not really
doing anything positive or negative, rather as just sort of cool and just
sort of there but hidden (greasemonkey) and you are cool if you know about
it. Then she touched on some work that was more affecting like polluted
air sensors (think of MOMA's SAFE show) and then her art, which is incredibly
good. She works with eco-visualization concepts that allow a viewer to translate
data into pictures. Of course the history of this is the richest - map making
and its evolution is an absolutely amazing study.
Anne Pasternack gave an infinitely interesting rundown on
Time and how it came to fruition. She talked about
Finley and a project they did together called 1-900-ALL-KAREN, their
expansion from New York. Ms. Pasternack was an extremely funny, genuine,
and caring speaker. She spoke fast to cover a ton of information in her
twenty minutes, and it all enforced what a caring facilitator she is, and
what a prominent, powerful, and provocative institution Creative Time is.
After her, Ruby Lerner took the microphone and spoke about another great
non-profit arts realization group,
Capital. She talked about the markets, her interest in microfinance
and new ways of thinking about and getting the most from invested money,
about their working process with artists and creating a legacy of a piece
of artwork. It was so wonderful to hear both of these powerful and strong
women talk about their complete dedication to art.
Here were some other interesting explorations from day 1: "
institute for the future of the book"
of the Ordinary
I caught a little of the next panel but left at about 3:45 to head over to Chicago Art, the art fair where Robert Mann Gallery is exhibiting.
Day 2: Today. John Winet was the first speaker and moderator of an interesting panel. He is an artist, activist and heads the Intermedia program at the University of Iowa. He had us watch a
Tube clip that he really loved because of the multicultural aspects,
the mass appeal (Houston Rockets jerseys) and the insane amount of passion
they had for the Backstreet Boys song "I Want it That Way". He
showed another video and talked about citizen journalists and citizen artists,
wanting to get both of those things away from their stigmas and their elitist
club-like nature. He shared a lovely Gibson quote, "The future is already
here, it's just unevenly distributed" and that summed up his message
nicely. Francesco Bonami was the second speaker. He curated the 2003 Venice
and Conflict. The Dictatorship of the Viewer" and he had great
points to make about the shift from a supply market to a demand market in
the art world. He later spoke about that shift being a positive in other
situations, where an audience could demand a company to be a better company
and they might listen to keep their audience, but he is right in the fact
that art doesn't have to be there for mass approval, it has to be stretching
boundaries of thought, ideas, platforms, interactions, everything. Like
companies who have to do better than their last quarter, every quarter,
a museum now acts that way. They need to do more blockbuster shows and may
or may not feel comfortable doing an edgier show because it probably will
not bring in the numbers that Cezanne to Picasso will, for example. I'm
convinced that this has a lot to do with peoples' overconsumption, with
wasting resources, and almost every unethical business practice. This is
the need propelled by shareholders to outdo oneself every quarter and every
year, propelled by the media's portrayal of a company's situation. They
are under attack from their demanding audience and their motto is to outdo,
outsource and over expand.
Susan Harris was the next speaker. She works with
Without Borders, a truly necessary institution that helps publish translated
books, that publishes their own translated books and periodicals, and had
an important website with translated texts. She spoke about the insidious
way that our government tries to keep these texts, especially from embargoed
countries like those included in the "Axis of Evil" (one of the
most bigoted catch phrases and media buzz words I can remember) countries,
Cuba, Iran, Sudan, North Korea...She points out that this censorship allows
the US to promote these countries as backwards and inferior when a country
like Iran produces 10,000 scientific papers yearly that are of course banned
from translation in this country. This was a truly inspiring talk.
I missed a couple talks in there but was back in time for Rick Lowe, who discussed hybridity: of space, of ways of public interaction, of ideas, his
Houses in Texas, and subsequent projects done in New Orleans. He discussed
with us the need for a criticality that exists within the art dialogue for
centuries to be transferred onto community art, but now there are too many
reservations. He wants to "raise the criticality bar".
Day 2 part 2 began with an inspiring and energetic lecture from Erica Dalya Muhammad. She talked about electrocultures, futurist Diaspora media, and her amazing
Hip Hop Arts Center project that she has turned into a social entrepreneurial
model with the next one opening in Miami. Simone Aaberg Kærn walked
the audience through an exciting project that she did called "
Sisters", named after a girl raised in Afghanistan who wanted to
fly. Simone entered a dangerous mission to reach Afghanistan in a baby plane
from Denmark. She described terrifying calls with governments and army patrols
that said that they would shoot her plane if she dared enter into some territories.
She, of course, went anyway with the fitting motto, "If you are small
and persistent, nothing can stop you." After Kærn, Steven Burkes
spoke about his design work for groups like Aid to Artisans based in Hartford,
CT. right near my hometown. Finally, the keynote speech for the evening
Ferguson. To sum up his speech, here are some thoughts: Art has gone
from supply driven to demand driven. "The word is coming to an end."
The Modern Art Popular Culture show that were held at MOMA where "high"
art was refreshed by the "low". Now, are we in the third period
of art? Post Colonial environment, mediated, post... representations of
all standards, cultures, and visions: 1- cinema 2- TV 3- the Emerging Hybrid
Screen. The Mausoleum of Imperialism can't be kept any longer. Mass Culture
is the dominant form of culture: Oprah, Brokeback Mountain. Crisis and opportunity
is the redemptive moment?
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Is Globalism just a new form
of cultural tourism, of neocolonialization? The net/web condition. The fact/fiction
condition. They can't be separated. Atlantic Monthly listed Howard
Roark as the most powerful person. Are we living in a global theme park?
Weapons of mass distraction? Swag. spam. spin. Libraries without books exist
but more paper is being used than ever. The increase in production of information
does not equal the increase in production of knowledge. Freedom on the Internet
is a delusion. Brazil, Turkey, Iran, etc. 35 countries only have deep web
penetration, and most countries have 8.5% access. Can technology ever be
a substitute for mourning? Can one grieve in the same way by taking a pilgrimage
on the web? Cell phone culture. Swarms. Porn: loyalty, interactivity. Duchamp
said that the artist thinks he is a genius, but he has to wait for the approval
of the spectator. Referring to something in a work of art is NOT forming
an argument. Art is part of the attention economy. We are going in a circle.
From the world of literature and language and text BACK to sound and image.
A new Esperanto is organically emerging. Recent arguments state that reading
and language actually stunt creativity. Language can de-emphasize other
sensory knowledge. "Spatial Literacy" was recently coined. A term
that allows us to dumb down our culture with some scientific theory that
begs us to consider this a good thing. Like doublethink, doublespeak, and
double entendres such as "wage management initiative" meaning
to fire people from jobs. The shift away from narrative and to common sense,
understanding of role and meaning "Complex semantic map" collision
of popular and elite. Art can have intervention, discursively, etc. however,
responsibility and ethics are ever more important. Everyone may have a voice
but these voices matter. He ends with a quote by Godard and Proverbs 23
Verse 18: People perish and there is no vision.
Day 3 - Natalie Jeremijenko,1999 Rockefeller Fellow, starts
off with a discussion of structures of participation and how it fits in
to sociotechnical change. Natalie created a website called
Stuff Is Made documenting the labor conditions, manufacturing process,
and environmental impacts involved in a product. One of my very personal
upsets is the
explaining the shrimp process with the shrimp market's destruction of
ecosystemic mangrove forests that provide much of the protection needed
to protect against storms and to breed healthy ecosystems in estuaries where
many shrimp are farmed. Another wonderful project was titled "
Backwards". Natalie created electronic ducks that could interact
with real ducks by remote control and camera/sound control. Then there was
Bruce Mau. Mau talked about his book Massive Change. His motto for massive
change is Global Media=Pessimism and Massive Change = Optimism. He acutely
pointed out that optimism is a structural necessity for sustainability.
Massive Change needs to be about seduction where "green movement"
has come to stand for punishment. He spoke about E. O. Wilson and Ray Kurzweil,
and Kurzweil's time and learning curve trajectory. Like art, one of Mau's
goals is to liberate design from "the eye". He ended with a quote
from Stewart Brand, "If you really think things are getting worse,
won't you grab everything you can while you can? If you think that things
are getting better, you invest in the future." Jennifer Siegel followed
Bruce Mau, and her talk was identical to a talk she gave a year ago, all
the way down to the same Paul Virilio quote, so that was less interesting
for me even though I really admire her work, and she mentioned the fact
that she is now buying up property to sort of start her own sustainable
town which is a very admirable feat and really exciting to hear. Lucy Orta
was next, and she is sweet and passionate and it really comes across when
one hears her talk. She creates wearable protective units to draw attention
to homelessness and community, and talked about her new project in Antarctica
called Antarctic Village. She covers tents with flags and inhabits Antarctica
with other artists and some scientists creating a free community, as Antarctica
is owned by all. Then we all had the privilege of hearing a discussion between
Lawrence Weschler and David Buckland. They discussed David's Cape Farwell
project after we all watched some video clips, saw some of David's video
work about time and breeding and posthumans. Ruskin said curiosity is always
optimistic and Ian McEwen said "Pessimism is intellectually delicious,
even thrilling, but the matter before us is too serious for mere self pleasuring.
Are we at the beginning of an unprecedented era of international cooperation,
or are we living in an Edwardian Summer of Reckless denial? Is this the
beginning or the beginning of the end? We finished the conference with artworks
from Amy Balkin who was also working with public space (Antarctica) but
with these interesting projects of collecting space for sale or free and
taking steps to make it public, or taking steps to protect the atmosphere.
The "atmosphere of commons". The "Kyoto gold standard".
Her work was humorous and serious and just really brought the problems to
light. Daniel Peterman showed us some great projects. My favorite things
said were, "I use the art world as a receptacle. A place where things
can spend time and gather meaning". That aptly describes some of the
more random pieces, like the blown up airplane flight stub that I guess
over time gathered the meaning or the questioning, "What is it worth
getting on a plane? (What is my carbon footprint?)" Fun.
all ads are inverse ads
advertising is aimed at "hacking" our human capacity to ignore
A real sign of the times (what isn't?)
The End Is Near.
Recently, there have been more and more studies that say
cell phones don't cause cancer. Over a billion people use cell phones today.
In the late 1990's, George Carlo ran the cell phone industry's six-year
research project into mobiles' potential for harm. Carlo concluded that
they were dangerous, increasing cancer risk and affecting pacemakers. The
companies disputed his claim and told him they would no longer be requiring
his services. I like to think of this as coincidence. Nevertheless, my suggestion
would be this: as text messaging and email phones become more and more common,
consider using the keypad more frequently. When you start to notice RSI,
head for the closet and plug in the rotary. Here are a few interesting links
sent to me by Leslie:
Gate from January 14th and one on
Migration. Finally, find cell towers in your area:
Lately, as I read statistic after statistic of land-loss, desertification rates, factory farming land-depletion, and so forth, I have felt more and more passionate about the fact that humans are steadily creating (our) own destruction. This week's New York Magazine has a wonderful article on "Skyfarming", the brainchild of Dr. Dickson Despomier. "Skyfarming" is a way for cities to be local producers of their own fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. These skyscraper greenhouses could allow for replanting and returning of precious forests and wildlife sanctuaries, and let factory farming move indoors. In the design, the building is outfitted with solar and wind power, titanium glass, and is modular and circular for maximum efficiency. At first glance, this would also seem to eliminate the need for GM technologies (many of which have been harmful to animals and sooner or later, people) as insects and animals will not have access to this indoor ecosystem. The planned date of arrival - 15 years. Much too distant. The prospective makers? Dubai, Iceland, and Japan for starters. Perhaps a more affordable version could be adapted, opening up the door to a plethora of cities and countries. With an overabundance of monsoon storms in parts of India such as Uttar Pradesh, only one growing season has been allowed. One ideal place for a "Skyfarm" would be Delhi. If Delhi could build a rendition of "Skyfarm", it would be useful for the people living in the city as well as the people on the rural farmlands, making food a less expensive commodity: smaller transportation cost and a more abundant food supply.
yesterday I read Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff's book, The Ten Trusts.
They published this book in 2003, and it is a wonderful summary of their
work with animals, their environmental work, the state of the world, and
what we can do about it, including inspiring stories and the creation of
and Shoots" program. This was a phenomenal way to prepare for some
of the work that Mira and I plan to do on the
Waterpod testing begins in June. Mira and I will experiment with new sail
designs, new calendars and seaworthy maps, domed organic garden designs,
local animal research and outreach, as well as a scholarly program on storytelling.
Economics: Largely, in the current exonomy, the success of a company is determined by its ability to achieveconstant growth and upward mobility. The pressure of shareholders in a public company seems to have reached a highly accelerated rate. Instead of a slower, sustained growth, companies now reach a tipping point much sooner at the expense of ever-decreasing resources and the waste that inevitably accompanies this. I learned recently that after rent, Starbucks's second greatest expense is milk, not coffee. Milk, what a giant, disturbing business (and not the most disturbing, by any means). Growing animals in a factory farm (
article in NYTimes link) is a major cause of rainforest destruction,
desertification, leading to speed up rates of global warming, species extinction,
food and water waste, alongside air, land and water pollution.
small steps: Burger King has just announced it will stop getting its pork
and eggs from farms that confine animals to cages or crates. Some of
the more viable solutions that I have read about salvaging the environment
demand that the earth be included in economic trade. For instance, if the
carbon trade is done right, it could mean that a company actually paid a
tax to its particular government, and that tax money would be used to clean
up the damage done to the earth. In the Forbes April 16th issue,
Jesse Shapiro wrote an article called "Should Clean Water Have a Price?"
raising very poignant questions regarding the respect people give to products
that they must purchase over handouts. Studies conducted through Harvard
Business School show that when a person has to pay even a small amount for
something, he or she is much more likely to get a better use out of the
item. Ben Franklin once said, "When the well is dry, we will know the
worth of water."
from The Ten Trusts is that if we are the more intelligent life
forms on earth, then we need to be the stewards of the earth. (
Dave Pollard has 10 suggestions for something each of us can consider)
A philosophy of the Western world has largely been that of "humans
first". That belief has misled us as a capitalist culture, as we assume
the right to overuse the land, unnecessarily kill animals even to the point
of extinction, dredge swamps and wetlands to build malls, etc. etc. etc.
Here is a quick sum up:
• Human beings are adding to their current population of over 6 billion at the rate of 100 million new people a year; by 2050, a world population of 9.2 billion is predicted according to a just-released UN assessment.
• Industries have chopped down half of the world's rainforests and over-fished 70% of the costal areas, lakes and major rivers, causing numerous side effects including destroying essential mangrove forests and leaving nothing for locals.
• In a warming world, glacial ice and permafrost arerapidly melting in the Polar Regions, Greenland, and mountains, destroying animal habitats and creating millions of environmental refugees through rising sea levels and destructive storms as a result of warming weather. Many species will die because of increased heat and disease, including ourselves.
• Human consumption levels currently exceed the planet's regenerative capacity by 25 percent.
The SpeedVoyage began three and a half hours after the sleepy Kansas City Airport. It began when Stephanie Dedes and I picked up our Avis Ford Focus in Los Angeles, and plugged in the borrowed GPS system. We explored the desert-jungle called Los Angeles that night and awoke to a Los Angeles sunrise. Warm, vast, simulated, joyous. We arrived in Joshua Tree midday, where we unpacked our many recording devices and cameras, did some minor rocketry, tree testing, sampled the water, and took specimens of every plant we came across. The desert: a truly extrordinary piece of drama. We met up with two Californians and ate at the Carousel Restaurant, a place on the edge of the park. The Restaurant reminded me that I was in movieland, as I suddenly realized that I had turned off Lost Highway to find this Fellini mansion full of ex-circus workers on their way to try out for Carrie 2. The restaurant was spooky, dramatic (the word "bitch" and tears were flying from the eyes and mouths of the waitstaff), topsy-turvy, and spectacular. Later, we examined the specimens against a book of native Joshua Tree plants, to see what changes in their makeup had occurred, since the time that the book was written and the recent environmental disasters that have taken place. At 4am, we were heading towards the Salton Sea. The speed of driving continued to clash with the slowness of geology. Sunrises are enormous on flat land, and south of Palm Springs, California, it is quite flat. Amazed, we stopped and mediated this experience in every way possible. We spent the majority of day number two circling the sea, exploring the contents; the fish, the once beckoning and now nearly abandoned towns, the springs and the wildlife surrounding Salton Sea South. We chatted with the neighbors and tried to understand the wasteland before making our way to the Imperial Sand Dunes and the Chocolate Mountains, and finally on a whim, down to Mexico. By the time we crossed the border in Mexicali to get back into the US, it was nearly dark (7:30pm became our necessary bedtime on dark open roads after driving nonstop). We slept overlooking the sand dunes and awoke at sunrise (6am in March) to the slow, subtle appearance of windblown dunes. We collected some sand to use later, and spent day number three exploring middle California: a pastoral land America has deemed "reservation", some groves producing fresh oranges, numerous types of Californian drip coffee, and even a strip mall or two, reaching LA again at 5pm, avoiding the worst of the parking lot California calls I-10. Here the desert has been turned into an inhabitable series of loops and gracious curves, promising flux and mobility, and finally merging with the stillness of the land. We spent the evening in LA attending a lecture at the Skirball Cultural Center, had a fine dinner, camped out at a magnificent hotel, and stayed in LA until 5:30am. We pulled out of the hotel to the glow of another LA sunrise, movie-magic, warm and cool, effervescent and calm, dead and undying. Finally, we traversed much ground and reached Death Valley at 4:30pm, through Shoshone to Devil’s Golf Course, at the center of the dry seabed, where the salt loomed 5' thick, tall, hard, static. Death in all of its majesty. It was luxurious to tour like we just had, and now we would spend the rest of our time here in Death Valley, so we started on foot from Devil's Golf Course, to test fate. We slept under the stars and after four days, the full became the empty, and the silence the screaming life, the invisibility, and the discovery.
night, I attended a wonderful dinner party at John and Jenny Snyder's
home. In a room filled to capacity with writers, naturally the conversation
about the positive and negative sides of a digifying textual world
were brought up. I have been working on a collaborative story, in an accessable
choose-your-own-adventure style, that has not made itspresence online yet.
However, the website does contain
space for it. In the meantime, I would love to know peoples' thoughts
on an ever-changing medium. If people are so inclined to share thoughts
on the present stage of writing, I would like to use that space to publish
these thoughts. Recently, I have been studying some of the theories of N.
Katherine Hayles. She is one of a handful of theorists who promotes the
many facets of digital change in writing, including collaborative writing
and other experimental forms of digital texts. I am interested to see if
people think that these experiments might be a progressive or regressive
step towards something, and to see what people think about collaborative
storytelling (is this closer to natural tendencies? Will it create wonderful
things or just bad, garbled texts?) Is a proliferation of producers a good
thing, as it inspires, stimulates, and adds to our collective experience,
or a distracting thing, as it creates more often mediocre or poor results?
New Studies have found a 10 point drop in IQ Over a Day's Time With the BlackBerry and Similar Partial Attention Devices
In our Always-On World that includes constantly scanning for opportunities within a galaxy of possibilities, BlackBerrying under the table at dinners or meetings has been found to keep people in a stage of ADD-like alertness from 7am-10pm, and finally cause them to seek refuge at a yoga or meditation class at some point before, after, or during a mediated meltdown. Recent studies have shown that the output of good work getting done during these hours is 30% less, and the ability to have a "decent" conversation 15% less. (Paraphrasing Linda Stone, formerly a senior executive at Apple and Microsoft, in an article published in the Harvard Business Review of Feburary 2007)
the public finally took notice, it was 43 years ago. Two billion people
worldwide were mobilizing through desertified lands. 1/5 of Amazonia had
been destroyed in fifty years' time. That escalated in an astounding unprecedented
feedback loop. Nobody had suspected the impending doom. Constant seismic
shifting had destabilized our continental understanding, as we veered back
towards Pangaea. Pangaea Ultima. What had remained of the forests were only
fields of petrified wood, and as technologies proliferated man's existence,
the only remainder of forests were cell tower farms, that had been molded
to look like trees. In extreme places here, the sewers were overflowing
into the land, corroding its edges and seeping into the clean water reservoirs
in the lower water table. The sewer pipes had corroded and rusted due to
mass excavation of irons and other toxic metals. When the human population
reached eight billion, rainforests were turned into deserts. Entire lands
were paved and as the permafrost began to melt, it would cause the concrete
to wither and melt, buckle and sink into the earth. Where once there were
grass and shrubs, now there was a black, bubbling, netherworld.
Pulled from the Stern Review: Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen, and it interacts with other market imperfections. Three elements of policy are required for an effective global response. The first is the pricing of carbon, implemented through tax, trading, or regulation. The second is policy to support innovation and the deployment of low-carbon technologies. And the third is action to remove barriers to energy efficiency, and to inform, educate, and persuade individuals about what they can do to respond to climate change.
The feedback loop and the notion of reflexivity: that which is used to generate the system is in fact part of the system, and as it relates to the economy. The notion of the self creates the rise of the economy (Mataronos neologism meaning self making: autopoiesis)
difference between cognition and consciousness...is huge. cognition can basically be found in any living or nonliving entity, this places less emphasis on consciousness which usually links with embodiment, making it a small step. whate about distribulted cognition with web programs uniting many people working on the same document
dismanteling our body boundaries
by the body not in the body, and they are all prostythes - the computer even the body, is there an external memory storage option for our bodies?
I think this will be amazing (launching February) WiserEarth: an open source editable relational database of social and environmentally responsible businesses or organizations that need to connect. This is really an enormous movement, but until now, each organization was in relative disconnect from its like-minded brothers and sisters. This will be a great resource and most likely a giant alliance-maker. It has the possibility to give a place to an exponential, placeless movement.
Recently, I have had a handful of inquiries about my title
choice with "
Loss-Accountability of Top-Down
Ontologies" and "
so I just wanted to put it out there. Loss-Accountability is about the political
struggle of nature versus large corporate agendas, and similarly Seven-Firm
is on the globalization struggle and the shrinking seven bodies of land.
Currently, I am working on a video where the land begins to head back to
Times Link) Yes, I''m not the only one who thinks so.
Right now, human activity is producing 300%more carbon dioxide per year than the earth's natural carbon sinks can absorb. (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Ecosystems and human well-being; synthesis report. Washington DC Island Press 2005). It is fascinating that humans have come to the high-plane on the scale of evolution wherein we know that we are causing our own extinction.
Ramsay Barnes got married! Momi, whom he met via his scooter in
Baltimore, is a very talented artist, amongst other things. I flew to Oahu
(my first time in Hawaii) on Friday for a SpeedVoyage, and currently I am
in the Atlanta, GA airport waiting for my connecting flight back to New
York. Wow! What majestic, magisterial, magnetic vistas, views, and voyages
over there. The wedding was one of the most heartfelt, lovely, loving and
touching weddings I have ever had the pleasure of attending. Ramsay asked
me if I wanted to photograph the wedding, and looking back I am thankful
I did not, as I have a talent for screwing up weddings. More than that,
it gave me a better chance to meet and talk with Momi and Ramsay's new friends,
listen to the sermon on the hillside, let my thoughts drift off with the
sunset...and that’s how the whole week went, drifting off into the
sunset. So the wedding was unforgettable, held right next to sacred Polynesian
grounds, and right in front of the South Pacific. The next day I was off
for the Big Island. I landed in Hilo around 10am, picked up a rental car
and headed up rt. 11 towards Volcanic National Park, stopping to check in
at the lovely "My Island Bed and Breakfast" run by Gordon Moore,
an author and photographer as well as owner of this fine B&B nestled
an acre away from Old Volcano Rd. in Volcano Village, in the oozing green
mossy paradise sprinkled with flowers and heavily wooded. I headed straight
away for the Volcanic National Park and was literally blown away by the
first steam vent emitting from the earth that I crossed, and probably spent
an hour photographing that one not realizing that an entire park-load was
awaiting my next twist around the bend.
after breakfast, I make my way to the southern most tip in the US - quite
a jungle down there! Really rickety windmills next to their progressive
new counterparts, and then the bakery the best on the island. I had some
bread, and headed back up to cloud level - 4000ft. Today it wasn't raining
so I cut it as close as possible and re-photographed everything I had photographed
the day before, but this time in the sun and light mist, before racing down
to Hilo for a helicopter’s view of the volcanic action. WOW! I filmed
and photographed the place to death. So then we land. I wind my way around
Banyan trees and waterfalls before finding RT 200, which takes me up to
the dizzying height of 9000ft above sea level. Enough to make you sick driving.
And on the way...the snarled land had been ripped, torn, uprooted, shredded
into globular, mangled black messes. Every 100 feet, a petrified tree would
stand, tall and ashen. At the top, the air was thin. Cows grazed, the wheat
glowed iridescent in the sun, a few shrubs, lava fields, dirt; red red dirt.
I wandered until about 6pm when I decided to coast back to Hilo, get some
take out and return to the Volcanic National Park, this time sans room,
only with car. We camped together in the gloom and creep of the park at
night. I warmed up the car 3 times and took it out to the southern rift
once. Parked, watched the sky as it was quickly swallowed up by sulfur surrounding
and suffocating me like a ghost. I returned red to his parking spot and
we slept. At 4:30 I was up for good. My flight leaving the island was at
9, so I decided that if I left then, I would make it down to Pahoa, and
then from there could go see the molten lava, but from the opposite side,
at Kaimu Beach. It took me all of an hr. to get there and at 530, it was
still dark except for my headlights. At 6am I reached a "road closed
except to residents" sign and since I could see nothing beyond the
sign I decided to obey it. It sounded as if the ocean was right there. Well,
it was 6, I had a few more hours. I was a bit nervous to get out of the
car. I decided to go to the southeastern most point of Kapoho Bay and take
the highway to it, then make a loop back to Hilo to catch the plane. As
I embarked down this narrow road, I could feel the water close in. The road
was like a covered bridge; giant banata trees expanded a block and covered
the sky with their entwined leaves. The monstrous Banyan trees with their
hanging vines and roots and doorways made me uneasy in the dark. At the
first reflection of a sun on the earth, I could see the waves crashing up
almost to the side of the road itself, the sinister water.
FORE CAST - MIDNIGHT MASS
I'm not sure just how many people attended the Midnight Mass performance on Christmas morning, but people came and left and came and recame and people stayed. The midnight mass was 2.5 hrs long, and accompanied by the hymns of my family; the McElheron Family Singers. Armed with blow torches and other implements, Corey Mervis, Jenn Wirtz and I performed the candle-lighting ceremony.
is, to quote John Maynard Keynes, "Practical men are usually the slaves
of some defunct economist."
The prisoner's dilemma: China is building a coal-fired power station a week to feed demand, and India's economy is close behind. If either decided to suddenly stop (or even could stop) their carbon-fuelled development to lift their billions of people out of poverty they would face a revolution, yet if they continued, rising CO2 and temperatures would kill off plants and produce famine. (I paraphrased this from Jeremy Lovelock, with whom I consensually agree on this matter)
alternatives to the fiction that is the Market? Here is a sampling of a
variety of economic strategies:
Community Market economies
We need to create our own "churches", our own societies, our own mutual-aid collectives. We need to create our own viral words for such things, to adopt the connotation of church as community while eschewing its ideological baggage.
For the past year, I have been inspired to keep a dictionary of a new word per day. There are two kept, actually. One is a word that is new to me and the second is in collaboration with David: a newly invented word per day. Here are the top three in the 2006 dictionary of words/phrases/concepts new to me:
AN OPERA by MARY MATTINGLY with live performance by Derek Junck and Mira Burke with THE REDCOATS ARE COMING!
Opening December 19, 2006 at 6pm – December 25, 1am.
WHITE BOX. 525 W. 26th Street. New York, NY. 10001
Cast is a clarion call anticipating the looming environmental urgency. Fore
Cast is an interactive Opera, opening at White Box on December 19, 2006,
at six o’clock pm. Fore Cast will transform White Box’s space
into a waterlogged, apocalyptic swampland, soundscape, and videosurround.
The opening night will feature live performances with an original opera
score by members of The Redcoats Are Coming! Antonious Block and Apples
Entering a water-filled and truncated landscape, viewers witness the land’s predicted end-state, a reversion to its primeval condition and a topographical perspective of the new world. The marshy waterscape is the setting for the future of a civilization ensnared in an unceasing loop of WWIV, a war Albert Einstein foreshadowed as being fought with sticks and stones. The installation explains the tragic outcomes of this hypothesized war in the not-so-distant future.
Multiple video projectors arranged in a circle fill the walls of White Box and present a “Fore Cast” that will loop for six days and one hour. (A new week, according to Mary Mattingly’s proprietary uniform time scale, derived from ancient Assyrian and Babylonian astronomical methodology and translated to a system for future use.) The videos play continuously in White Box's waterlogged space. The main screen portrays WWIV, fought by six groups of combatants ---The World Economic Forum, The Council on Foreign Relations, Bechtel, Nestlé, The United Nations, and B.R.I.C.--- colluding to capture and assert political and economic control over a shattered and borderless world. The belligerents’ leaders plot together in corporate conference rooms, ultimately degenerating into intercontinental world-scale conflict fought with the weapons of Cain and Abel, sticks and stones, the war unfolding in aqueous and terrestrial environments everywhere.
Fore Cast will run for six days and one hour, from the morning of December 19, until 1:00 am on Christmas morning. (I will be living in the gallery.)
(My bed at White Box during the show)
(Derek Junck's sculpture "Artists Survival Suitcase" was part of the Fore Cast installation)
Art In the Age of Global
Communication, Commodification, Consumption, and Celebration.
Art Basel, 2006. It was a brief trip for me. Since the last time I attended (two years ago), the already abundant fairs had multiplied. At least 12. The art could be seen from the highways, projected onto the sides of buildings, from the beach, oozing out of shipping containers, from the sidewalk, hotels emitting videobox light and the proliferation of flyers leading to a never-ending paper trail of rented space for a small show to an impromptu performance in a parking lot. In a way, I want to equate it to Burning Man although at the essence, one has to do with Fame and Fortune, while the other still prides itself on Community and Collaboration. Of course, there's more: One takes place in a major city and one in the middle of the desert, one you buy a ticket at the gate, and the other you sell your soul for (ha!) - however, they both do like to have an enormous amount of give-aways and spectacles. The DiVA fair in containers at the beach was quite seductive (I stumbled onto it at night, with the spotlights illuminating the sand, water, and comparitively low-lying containers, arranged into a fitting panopticon shape, with the center being "The Village." White Box had a great installation the night I came by. Micaela Giovannotti and Joyce Korotkin, both exceptionally intelligent people who curated a really well-done show that I was part of called "Out of True" (an architectural term for skewed construction) - a show about a varying array of visions discerning our contemporary world and the disparity between reality and dis?reality, was, surprise surprise, one of my favorite exhibitions. Perrogi also had a great show on the Antarctica Ice Block, cut out and saved by Tavares Strachan with the engineering help of MIT. On Friday, Dave Smith and I took a small road trip to the everglades area, stopping on Key Largo, in Florida City and the speedway, Manatee Bay- where we saw a vast array of those monstrous beauties, the mangrove trees. We stopped at tree farms, gas stations, empty lots, and out of all that, but the mangroves were my favorite sights. We probably spent most of that day in traffic talking about the ego and art - a subject not to be ignored at a location such as Miami in December. All in all, every art fair came complete with its own style, and each style was redeemable. Of course it has to be, styles change so fast. You have your classics, your Yves Saint Laurent’s, to your Issey Miyake’s and of course your Imitation’s of Christ.
Midnight Mass at White Box Christmas Eve
Tonight. 12.04.06. 10:44pm, and the first time in months I have sat down to write. I have been working diligently on Fore Cast, a water-opera that will open at White Box, a non-profit art space in Chelsea, NY, on December 19th. With tree stumps, sand, salt, steam, sonorous operatics, streaming video, sea-water, and a story about WWIV, Fore Cast is about the future. People wear masks (just like in Victorian England), and really, time is time, time is unexplained, irrelevant, played with and time is completely over explained, in 360 degrees, in the new week, in the fact that I will live at White Box for the entire run of the opera.
On October 4, 2006, The Financial Times Energy Editor wrote "The incidence of moderate drought will double to affect half the world by the end of the century unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed, according to a study backed by the british government. It also suggests a rise in extreme drough from 1 per cent at present to 30 per cent. I saved this article because the study's results are horrifying and political action is necessary. This article in the FT was following a series of articles in the New York Times about the current water crisis in India and the developing world; the rationing, the lack of any clean water, the rancid water pollution, the economic expense, and the death.
Like millions of others, I have become fascinated with Second Life, but not from playing it, but from reading about it. Could this be like Burning Man was for me? I was fascinated from afar by Burning Man. To a great extent, even when I was there, I was fascinated from afar. How much does one really understand something without fully immersing him/herself in it? How can we compare the experience of book knowledge next to the physical experience? Can Second Life ever be the physical experience? Will I really see people buying from American Apparel? Is abstract literally the new realism?
In an article titled "The Cosmic Triangle: Revealing the State of the Universe," which appears in the May 28, 1999 issue of the journal Science, a group of cosmologists and physicists from Princeton University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory survey the wide range of evidence which, they write, "is forcing us to consider the possibility that some cosmic dark energy exists that opposes the self-attraction of matter and causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate." The simplest explanation for dark energy is that it is simply the "cost of having space": that is, a volume of space has some intrinsic, fundamental energy. This is the cosmological constant, sometimes called Lambda (hence Lambda-CDM model) after the Greek letter ?, the symbol used to mathematically represent this quantity. Since energy and mass are related by E = mc2, Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts that it will have a gravitational effect. Although Einstein later abandoned the cosmological constant, calling it a blunder, it would not go away. It is the one theorized form of dark energy that does not change with time. Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute said, “We see it doing its thing, starting to fight against ordinary gravity,” about dark energy. Adam is the leader of a team of “dark energy prospectors,” as he calls them, who peered back nine billion years with the Hubble and were able to discern the nascent effects of antigravity. -NY Times and Wikipedia
I was in awe of the beautifully simple title adorning the front page of the NY Times, Science Times, Tuesday, November 14. Ancient Crash, Epic Wave. The article explores something I had never heard of, chevrons in the earth's surface, composed of the ocean floor. They contain deep ocean microfossils and metals formed by COSMIC IMPACTS. This article was about the discovery of four new chevrons near Madagascar, "as deep as the Chrysler Building is high". The explanation is a large asteroid or comet smashed into the Indian Ocean 4,800 years ago, producing a Tsunami at least 600 ft high, 13x larger than the one that engulfed Indonesia almost two years ago.
There was an interesting article in New York Magazine on the 27th of November about weather patterns, hurricanes, and how New York is long overdue for its big storm. The article went on to lay out the devastation the city would face, with the buildings acting as wind tunnels, a "Bernoulli effect" (named after the Dutch/Swiss mathematician/scientist Daniel Bernoulli which states that the sum of all forms of energy in a fluid flowing along an enclosed path [a streamline] is the same at any two points in that path.) Apparently, 5 years ago, Malcolm Bowman, a SUNY professor must have been reading my blog :) because he met with the heads of the Port Authority to propose a trio of massive hydraulic gates to protect New York from the huge storm surge in the event of a hurricane. I read that and felt like something good came of those late nights of exhaustive stream-of-consciousness gushing about apostruptures and how NYC needs to build a sea-wall out into the streaming, feeding, connected world.
TIMES article: How that slick, a highly toxic cocktail of petrochemical
waste and caustic soda, ended up in Mr. Oudrawogol’s backyard in a
suburb north of Abidjan is a dark tale of globalization. It came from a
Greek-owned tanker flying a Panamanian flag and leased by the London branch
of a Swiss trading corporation whose fiscal headquarters are in the Netherlands.
Safe disposal in Europe would have cost about $300,000, or perhaps twice
that, counting the cost of delays. But because of decisions and actions
made not only here but also in Europe, it was dumped on the doorstep of
some of the world’s poorest people.
So far eight people have died, dozens have been hospitalized and 85,000 have sought medical attention, paralyzing the fragile health care system in a country divided and impoverished by civil war, and the crisis has forced a government shakeup...
Ivory Coast, September 2006
In 1994, Robert Kaplan wrote an essay called "The Coming Anarchy" in the Atlantic Monthly, predicting that environmental scarcities would contribute greatly to insurrection, civil disturbances, and finally the next world war. To speed up the expedition of clearcutting Asia's rainforests deadly violence is taking place in places like Iran Jaya. Israeli-Palestinian conflicts are over water as much as anything else, and in the Ivory Coast and Liberia cocoa, diamonds, and timber are the cause of most civil wars. With the enormous and steady population growth, these situations will only worsen until societies plan with a sustainable infrastructure, until people provision, repair, and replenish. We can be aggregators for our community, and potentially a limitless audience of users.
The Japanese Esquire team comes to my studio, 2006
When Buckminster Fuller was alive, he predicted that housing would one day become a service, similar to the service that he assumed water would be. Something that should be provided to everyone. His idea was a polemical change in the way we are starting to think about housing. As a nomadic lifestyle becomes more and more necessary, the wearable home will become a more sensical, practical option, and the printable wearable home will have the opportunity to be a free service worldwide. Right now I have been spending a lot of time designing the WaterPod, a good alternative to overcrowded, shrinking landmasses and a great place to stop and rest for the nomad.
I have been reading a book on Posthumanism, a collection of essays. Half-way in, an essay by Baudrilliard is particularly interesting. He writes that viruses (biological, network/computer related) and "terrorist acts" all keep humanity at bay from our ultimate goal and quest of a completely networked posthumanism. In another essay, Paula Rabinowitz states "Eliminating the distinction between action and articulation, deed and word, the posthuman body is still saturated in the stories of humanity that circulate around it; it speaks through a language straddling the borders between health/sickness, male/female, real/imaginary. It tells its stories, however, through those already told." ... So, Richard Sennett wrote this book called "The Fall of Public Man", and one part that has stayed with me to this day (and probably will continue to stay with me) is his deconstruction of eras, particularly the Victorian Era with his description of the masks people learned to wear. It is 12:30 on Tuesday morning and I am in the studio, working on photographs, a drawing, doing some reading and rewriting the opera's script. Yes, all that. Today, I did get out. I went to Laumont and Beth Schiffer, then spent an hour at Le Gamin, a cafe near the studio. I had a coffee with fruit and yoghurt at 2pm. Shirley and Katherine came over around 4pm and we sculpted some mangrove trees and worked on a tower of babel sculpture. We also had a few pieces of swiss chocolate with pralines that David brought by. Delicious. So I have been here all day for almost the entire weekend, I am working on these files that are too big for Photoshop CS to (re)open, so I have to transfer the files to open them in another program. It occurred to me tonight, looking at test prints, looking around the studio at the gold masks, the drawings of the gold masks, and the wearable homes, that they all act as barriers. The composition in the photographs, especially the recent photographs taken out west, all contain natural barriers before getting to the subject. Bodies of water, trees, plants, or a human with his back towards us. A subconscious distancing. What happens when subconscious finally becomes conscious? Hopefully, I'm a step closer to posthumanism through photography.
Tuesday and Wednesday evening were both openings for the ICP's triennial. Below are pictures of Bob and Orly, and some pictures of the outside of the ICP, to illustrate an extremely large "New Mobility of Home (The Nobility of Mobility)" on the building's side. Wow!