Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009





Saturday, April 25, 2009


seeing if this works

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Article that Emily found and posted

This is a worthwhile article that Emily has posted to her blog, about the over-connected world. True enough. What is our human condition? Are we so connected to our technology that we no longer relate to the world without this mediated experience?

Following - another perspective

I think you should all read Naehma's great post about Following, as I think she is raising all the issues related to the assignment.

Great post, great rant, worth discussing. You are right, Naehma, no doubt about it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


The Following exercise was inspired by both Janet Cardiff’s audio walks (Two of which are Walk Münster by Janet Cardiff with Georges Bures Miller, 1997. Skulpture Project Münster 97, curated by Kasper König, Münster, Germany and The Missing Voice (Case Study B) byJanet Cardiff with Georges Bures Miller, 1999. Whitechapel Library organized by Artangel, London, England, June 17 – Nov. 27, 1999.) an example of the expressive, generative version of ambulant geo-notative locative art practice; and Sophie Calle’s Suite Vénitienne, where she used a conceptual strategy to create a document with photos providing evidence of her search to Venice to look for a stranger she met at a party. One student chose to follow five different people at his usual stop on the subway. Three of these people were “intimate strangers”, people he had observed frequently on his route, but
whom he did not know. Two people he followed, as a first encounter. He documented the experience of each trajectory, the time and distance traveled the fantasies and assumptions of each life, housing them all in a web-based map project.

Jean Baudrillard writes,
“To follow the other is to take charge of his itinerary; it is to watch over his life without him knowing it. It is to play the mythical role of the shadow, which, traditionally follows you and protects you from the sun – the man without a shadow is exposed to the violence of life without mediation – it is to relieve him of that existential burden, the responsibility of his own life. Simultaneously, she who follows is herself relieved of responsibility for her own life as she follows blindly in the footsteps of another. Again, a wonderful reciprocity exists in the cancellation of each existence, in the cancellation of each subject’s tenuous position as a subject” (1983 p.82).

Somewhat similarly, the responses of past students to the assignment ranged from one student’s realization that in her heart she loved to follow people – in fact, she realized that she had quite an “affinity for following people.” A city where walking is the main mode of transportation constantly puts people face to face, often the same people over and over. Since she moved to New York, it had frustrated her to find herself constantly surrounded by people she recognized but had never met. This assignment was her chance to figure out who these people really are. Yet, once she was asked to turn her curiosity into an exercise, the idea of following turned sour. She said, “I felt like I was invading not only their physical space, but their mental space too.”

A different reaction was elicited from another student, who was extremely threatened by the idea of following someone and allowing someone else’s physical itinerary to determine her movement in the city. Her sense of territory had distinct
racial and economic boundaries that determined her awareness of safety. Following another route was deeply disturbing. Her solution was to solicit the help of a friend to go with her. However, throughout the experience of following someone on an unfamiliar route, she commented that she had to “watch her back,” which became the next exercise for the class.

The Following exercise is similar to the Loca (Location Oriented Critical Arts) project. According to Evans et.al. Loca was initiated out of an interest in how surveillance and social control emerge as a residue or unforeseen effect of virtuous information systems and network technologies. Loca observes people's movements by tracking the position of the Bluetooth enabled devices that they carry. Over seven days more than two thousand five hundred people were detected enabling the team to build up a detailed picture of their movements. People were sent messages from a stranger with intimate knowledge of their motion. Over the course of the week the messages became gradually more sinister, the would-be friend mutating into stalker, "coffee later?" changing to "r u ignoring me?" For participants the experience of Loca is intangible, it unearths
what is not seen. The aim is subtle affect. As the developers note, “Loca is like a picture glanced at sideways, a message caught in the corner of the eye, or a mosquito swatted on the arm (http://www.loca-lab.org/).” It makes apparent the
kind of peer to peer observations that become possible as a result of the discomforts and dislocations associated with everyday surveillance.

Site Specifics #2

To continue unraveling this reading...

The philosopher Michel de Certeau, wrote a book called "The Practice of Everyday Life" which is on the Locative Media Bibiligraphy that was published by the Leonardo (MIT) eJournal.

In this book, he says that "space is a practiced place." What he means by that, is that urban planning writes a specific meaning onto place. The direction of roadways, the areas of division in economic strata (where rich people live, where poverty lives etc), the location of the city functions (post office, hospital, train station, etc). So, what de Certeau is saying is that place becomes space when it becomes active, when it becomes inhabited. The daily action of everyday life, in all its detail, shifts the meaning of place from its monolithic, static meanings, to those that are human, social, fluid, always changing. Even our experience of place is determined by how long we are in a location. "Thus the street geometrically defined by urban planning is transformed into space by walkers." "Space as a practiced place, admits of unpredictability." "If space is like the word when it is spoken, then a single place will be realized in successive, multiple and even irreconcilable spaces." Think of Patrick's score..."In comparing 'pedestrian processes to linguistic formations" de Certeau states that.. to walk is to lack a place." Think of Patrick's score done again as a walking score in the city...

The anthropological understanding of place, is "formed by the individual identities, through complicities of language. local references, the unformulated rules of living know-how" (Auge/reading p.9), where one's location or position is known. Non-place is produced by passing-over place. Non-place designates two complementary but distinct realities formed in relation to certain, say, mobile or transitory ends (transport, transit, commerce, leisure) and relations that individuals have with these places. For example, the train station: all the people who pass through it, sometimes regularly, as in commuters, and those people who work there - selling tickets, working at the coffee shop, cleaning up, etc. As an aside, because I drive, I have become fascintated by the people who work at the food courts in the various road side rest areas of the New Jersey Turnpike, and I wonder what their relationship to those non-places are. For them, they are places. For me, the transient commuter, who drives in and out, I construct a fictional relationship between what I see and what the landscape is.

On page 11 of the reading is an important point:

Place and non-place re rather like opposed polarities: the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed; they are like palimpsets on which the scrambled game of identity and relations is ceaselessly rewritten. But non-places are the real measure of our time. (Auge 1995)

A palimpset is a paper that has been written on twice, the original having been wiped out.

One of the top five Neighborhood Narratives projects, was done by a student at NYU:

The project, titled Palimpsest FM, consisted of a device that houses a hidden speaker which plays back the sounds of the same spot from an earlier time, anywhere from thirty seconds to a day before. The replayed recording serves as an audio version of a palimpsest, a proof of what had been there before. Using sound as her medium, the student created a nearly seamless overlapping of past and present where the sounds of today cannot be discerned from the sounds of the past. Like a palimpsest, it will be unclear where the past ends and the present begins.

Gaston Bachelard (in his book, Poetics of Space) speaks of centering oneself in stable surroundings, but if your surroundings are constantly in flux (and also incidentally not just your surroundings) like they are in New York, it is no wonder a sense of ontological anxiety can result. New York City has often been described as a place where the physical environment changes so quickly that rebuilding without being able to erase what came before it becomes very obvious to anyone who has lived there
long enough to call New York their home. “You’ve become a New Yorker once you have the urge to point out a place and say, “that used to be . . .” The “that used to be . . .” that every New Yorker expresses is part of the inerasable past that is being built over, it is an expression of memory of a piece of their home and consequently a piece of their identities that is gone but not forgotten. It is embodied in the senses. The urge to tell others what used to be is an attempt to reassert one’s identity and the home they had carved out of the city. This project serves as another means of describing the “that used to be.” But instead of
subjectively telling the narrative of one person’s New York, it objectively captures what the place witnessed. The audio palimpsest played back in this project serves as a kind of memorial of what used to be in the immediate past. It stands to
commemorate the same everyday New York that its citizens quietly mourn when it is torn down and built over. It memorializes the trivial happenings that many may overlook, but still plays an important role in a place’s narrative and consequently a
person’s identity. By placing Palimpsest FM in Washington Square Park under the shadow of the statue of Garibaldi and the Washington Arch, a comparison can be drawn between the monuments that commemorate the selective history of the
victors to one that records and replays all voices of the city equally. The neighborhood narrative can then become more complete as it plays back everything it hears.

The original prototype for this project was made with a recording device in one of those "record your own message" talking greeting cards.

The last mention from the Site-Specific reading is the last paragraph where it says, "It is in such contexts that site-specific art frequently works to "touble" the opposition between the site and the work. Trouble is meant as critique, question, or to even create a problem, but all with the aim of heightening the exchange between the site and the work.

Site-Specifics + Three score projects

This reading is very dense, and I will go over it in class. Alot of it - the references to modernism, etc. will be confusing. Ignore what you do not understand, as there are a few key points in the reading that I think you will understand, and they are the important ones.

The key point is in the first sentence, that in site-specific work, which is what you are going in the final projects, the work is an exchange between the meaning of the work itself (whatever you create) and the place where you situate this work (the block, the park, the area, the building etc.) And the more that the work and the place have an integrated relationship, the more you realize that this particular exchange, could not happen anywhere else. It is specific to the place. There are analogies to semiotiocs, which is a theory in linguistics, but since we did not go over this in class, this is too complicated to reference. Some of you may have studied linguistics in your other classes, in which case, you will understand the references to sign and signifier. But in plain english and in relation to the projects, what this means is that if you can identify all the political, aesthetic (what does the place look like, is it beautiful or ugly, is it modern or historic, what are the visual conditions), geographical, institutional or whatever other issues make up the complexity of the place itself, that will inform and even determine what you create in that place.

What all the references to minimalism mean is that in minimalism, which is where the work of art is reduced to the simpliest form of an idea (an all white canvas for example, being a "painting", the reception of the work of art is shifted from the pictorial quality of the work itself, in the brain and physical experience of the viewer. The viewer has to work harder to make meaning from an all white canvas, and further still, based on where that canvas is located. This shift of interpretation of meaning - it is not in the picture, it is in the mind of the viewer, is similar to what happens with a site-specific work. Minimalism also played with the time and space of the viewing or experience of the work, and here is where it moves to the the work of "art" in the public sphere. It breaks down the notion of "what is art"... it opens the space of interdisciplinary discourse, it approaches the condition of theater, or an event, that has a "start" and a "finish" and something that happens in-between. It emphasizes the transitory and ephemeral experience of viewing.

This was beautifully illustrated by three scores I want to point out:

The writing of text, "I am grateful for the air I breathe" on the sidewalk. Emily said that she thought of it as a prayer ritual, which one could sort of see when someone else "performed" her instructions. There was the performance of writing; adding text the public space; text referencing the library where we were located, but released from the books, or screens of the computer. Text that remained as a relic of an event (the event started from the when the score was handed to someone and we started watching it be written, to the point where it was written and we walked away.) The time it took to wait for it to be written, and thus is slowed down the time of comprehension, during which we were taking in a variety of other sensations. The fact that the text remained when we walked away, washed off by the rain and scuffed away by footprints. The site continued to speak, and took on different meanings: when it was being written on, the act of witnessing, the act of it remaining as a silent public message, the act of its erasure, and after, when it had vanished. The text itself, breathing air, located at the doorway of the library, referenced the enclosure of the building - especially the library, which as a heterotopic space, has elaborate rules of entry, participation, and exit. So, air in that location, could also mean freedom from enclosure - physical freedom, referenced by breathing. Are we all grateful for the air that we breathe? And what air are we breathing?

The second score I want to point out is Mariam's array of jars containing highly pungent fluids. This could be considered a sculpture by how it was composed (formally lined in a row, in a handmade display holding the jars), and it had alot of cultural references for and from Mariam, in thinking of the project. As she said, the smells of her homeland, are part of what make her identify home. So, "home" and "away" became part of the smells as other people were interpreting them. The sculpture was portable - we set it on the floor in the classroom, we set it on the floor in the library hallway, and we handed it from one person to another. The portable experience - instead of us passing a fixed installation, it was passed around - was olfactory. By engaging the sense of smell, by isolating it and highlighting the act of smelling as physical, was as subtle and ephemeral as the writing and breathing of Emily's score.

The third score I want to mention is Patrick's score:

Call a friend with your cell phone
Speak to your friend interpreting a symmbol sheet of little pictures that include: sun, box, the number 18, arrow, a hand with two fingers, the letter Q, the word delicious, a Christian cross, a dollar sigh, a penis, a musical note, a bed, a flower, what looks like it could be fesces, a stick figure saying "hey", a heart, the word grotesque and angry face (stick drawing).
Let your friend interpret your interpretation of my interpretation.

So, Patrick is giving clues that this symbol palette is possibly a private language that he constructed to describe something. His location is a mixed reality experience, as we as the viewer/participants were watching Gaby phone her a friend (her sister?) and speak to her in Polish, which further obscured the "linguistic" understanding of the communication. There was language which referenced signs, which contained a language structure and for those of us who could not understand Polish, we were oblivious to the what it contained. For the the class, we experienced sound, and observed actions, but those sounds and actions were delivered to another somewhere, (where we couldn't see) and traveled through a no-where (the satelite system) to arrive in the anywhere of its destination. Patrick set this up to be a puzzle, a labyrinth that would unfold into a series of other labyrinths, that was by chance, interpreted by Gaby in a way that added very interesting and increasingly obtuse layers to the game. In effect, the cell phone became a way to exit the heterotopia that was not concrete. Gaby's voice left the controlled arena via an air wave... perhaps this is the air that we are now breathing?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Social Softwares and Final Projects

What I would say is most important is the sense of web 2.0 politics - open source, ground up authorship, networked, distributed. So, the integration of the social softwares such as blogger, twitter, Facebook or Ning, de.li.ci.ous, Flickr, Hipcast (or moblogging, podcasting etc.), Google Maps are core to the concepts of the class. If your projects can integrate with any of these applications, you get extra points. If you are doing something outside, but can include a web element, a map, a feature of some kind, extra points. If you can work on the idea of a MIXED REALITY experience - either a mixture of physical and networked experience, or mixed through sensory scrambling, or spatial re-organization etc.

The most effective projects have created experiences that start in one condition and end in another condition. Walking somewhere, putting something(s) somewhere and leaving them there, and that combine several of these concepts into one overall experience.

The idea of permanence vs. mutability, the ephemeral quality of technology as public art.

The idea that art and creativity can collapse multiple meanings into one experience.

Having the public or the class create the content for the project. You create the structure for gathering that content, asking for it, soliciting it, provoking it, creating it.

Heterotopias, Technology and the Final Projects

We started our class with an essay called "Of Other Spaces" and the argument can be made that the mixed reality spaces that are created by the simultaneous experience of real place and the metaverse of Cyberspace is a third, heterotopic space - a time out of time, and a place out of place.

If you add some form of technology to your projects, you extend the space of the project; alter it, change the sequence of time and experience.

The issue of space as it relates to your final projects

All of you have picked a place for your final projects. The creative part of the assignment is to design a project/event/happening/performance/encounter in that place that activates the space. To do that, you have to bring together three things: some aspect of the history or dynamic of the place that you have researched, some aspect of your own experience and some experience of the interrelationship of the buildings, events and interactions that make up that space.

... and you need to read p. 28 in the Mapping Cyberspace reading on Theorising Space. Rob Kitchin lays out the history of how space has been thought about - Aristotelian - space is static, hierarchical and concrete; Newtonian - space is an absolute grid, within which objects are located and events occur; Leibnizian - space is fundamentally relational and defined in terms of those relationships; Kantian - space is conceptualized as a form imposed on the world by humans.

Criteria of Evaluation in Final Projects

layers (how many)
thinking process
growth in your own work

subjectivity (how well is expressed or understood in your method)
objectivity (what you have gathered from research)
extending or extention (any of the assignments or elements of your art practice)
issues of democracy (figure that out)

Multiple Elements in your projects

Things that can be included in your projects. Using many elements and integrating them into an organic whole is the challenge.

Maps, charts, printed guides
More than one location
The bus as location
Physical activity
Virtual activity
Physical + Virtual activity at the same time
Hand-crafted elements - sewing, drawing, rubbings
Digital Material - video, web sites, radio, GPS
Cell phones
Elimination of one sense (blind-folds, head-phones)
The archeologic debris of the area
Team activity

Critical Vehicles

Krzyysztof Wodiczko, in his book Critical Vehicles, discusses his art work over the span of his career, all of it highly political in nature. What Wodiczko focuses on is designing for human interaction, and human relationship. What he higlights is the binary of power: victor/vanquished. This type of binary analysis of social space can easily be understood in relation to race and gender. What is interesting about his Prophet's Prothesis, is the idea of a doubling - the real person and the media double, both simultaneously walking through the city. Here we have the Derive or Drift retranslated through the integration of media. Inside/outside, real/virtual. These types of binaries fuse together so that the doubled experience creates a whole. Conceptually very interesting. One could even conceive of the doubled self - the real and virtual as a ying/yang.

On p. 13, his design summary could be considered a manifesto. He has articulated a social problem that he is trying to solve through design.

What we have said in this class, is that design solves problems. One must first identify the problem and then create the design to solve it.


Some examples, far out and not:

Joseph Beuys, German conceptual artist: http://www.artnotart.com/fluxus/jbeuys-manifesto.html

Fluxus manifesto: http://www.artnotart.com/fluxus/index.html

White Manifesto by Lucio Fontana, "We are continuing the evolution of art."

The Italian Futurists wrote many manifestos. They wrote manifestos on everything from art to clothing. http://www.italianfuturism.org/manifestos/

This show in Chelsea (Oct. 23 - Dec. 20) has some beautiful work which translates Zapatista manifestos into musical scores (each letter of the alphabet which is also a note, becomes that note, and everything else is a pause/silence.) Kent Gallery, 541 West 25th Street http://www.kentgallery.com/index.html

The Dogme95 film-making manifesto that I mentioned in class http://www.dogme95.dk/the_vow/index.htm

You'll love this one: The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism, Thomas Marinetti 1905 http://www.unknown.nu/futurism/manifesto.html

The Situationist Manifesto http://www.infopool.org.uk/6003.html

And this is the manifesto that will help you with the entire assignment and final project The Manifesto of Possibilities http://wiki.bbk.ac.uk/Buildingcultures/index.php/Manifesto_of_Possibilities