Monday, August 14, 2006

Wrpping it up.

Sunday Afternoon, and I’m in the OC writing to Honor about Saturday’s festivities. A week was just LONG in regards to keeping everything in my mind. Woke up still reeling from SRL, and got to the Wetware Hackers workshop. As a student, I felt it was my duty to support the group.

Stayed through to the Sonic Culture panel with Shawn Decker. Gave a great history of the project and the genre of electroacoustics. Brilliant.

Wait, wait, wait – Went to the C4FE and Edge Conditions, as well as Kathy Aoki @ the SJMA. GREAT show. I especially loved Thompson and Craighead’s “Light from Tomorrow”, C5’s terrain piece, and Igor Stromajer’s World Processor. Enjoyed Goldberg’s nanomechanical “Fallingwater”, and it was the first time I saw Listening Post. Functionally, it may not do much new, but it’s just such a wonderfully formal piece.

I also enjoyed SimVeillance, with its eerie dual screens of surveillance cam and sim.SJMA. Modelling the actors on video footage from previous days was a nice touch, but I may not have noticed it if I had not been told.

The Kathy Aoki paintings were another favorite, although not part of the Zero One fest. Her Cult of The Cute was a small show of about ten works, and while I can’t comment too much on the body of works I saw beyond being good representatives of her work, I enjoyed the Aoki show as much as the New Media in the galleries.

Jennifer Steinkamp, is well, Jennifer Steinkamp. Her abstract dynamic CGI projections have become emblematic of her style, and this particular show is a great representation of these works. The incredible part of Steinkamp’s work is her sheer formalism and technical prowess; her ability to fill a wall to the edges with seamless seamless multiple projections as if it were a display is impressive as usual.

Took a rest, and picked up the Acclair gang for drinks – headed over to 1st street for the Block party.

The C5 Quest for Success was really strange – a cross between American Idol and a Guggenheim Fellow grant. Participants on stage gave their presentations before prominent curators, before a relatively large audience, and it just hit me oddly, but in a really fun way.

Then, off to do some Karaoke Ice Battle. Hung with the polygonal squirrel, and did Prince’s “Kiss” for a crowd including Georghe Dan and Josephine Bosma…

By that time there were some interesting vj sets in the street, including an impromptu one with shopping carts and an inflated bag screen and MAX/MSP…

In all honesty, by then it was Midnight, and I was ISEA/Zero1’ed out.

In San Jose for six days, nearly non- stop New Media. Incredible. The organizers (aznd I have said this repeatedly) have done an amazing job. Since the Zero01 fest is planned to be an annual affair, I’ll be interested to see how it develops in the coming year beyond the ISEA conference…

That’s about it – I hope that my informal style has been acceptable, as co-producing the proceedings left me in no mood to be precise this week. Once in a while, a little hedonism is good, and this week supplied it in ample amounts.

If you want any other highlights, let me know. With the digital sieve that is my mind, I’m sure I left something out.

I hope you enjoyed my reflections.

All my best,

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Survival Research labs

There are a few groups who are so clear, so unique that they have become iconic in technoarts. SRL is one of them. After waiting in a 1/2 km long queue, paul Vanouse and I wound up nearly standing in the 'mosh pit' near the huge van de Graaf generator. Many of the pieces were classic ones like the 2x4 chucker, and the subsonic pulsejet.

So spectacular. So deadly. Violet tendrils and pulsejets aimed in my face. So amazing. I also realize that while some people were yellong abotu the people standing int e front, but I also understood that there were millions of volts flying around feet from me, crackling of propane tanks. Really gave me a sens of perspective.

Friday continued

After going to City Hall, the trip back to the conference as another journey of reunion with old colleagues.

However, i was finally able to get to Jenny Marketou's 99 Red Balloons, which was cancelled due to high wind. Off again to CRUMB's Crisis to Bliss to spaned some time with Sandy Stone, who gave story therapy, and is the most human person I know. She's just such an amazing person.

Next, off to Lynn Herhmann Leeson's movie draft on Steve Kurtz' troubles, "Strange Culture". All in all, I think it's a movie that needs to happen, but there were rough spots that I think a lot of people in the community are going to be generous with their feedback.

I was going to see DBox/SuperVision by Builder's Association, but with a good case of bronchitis on the way, I decided to get dinner and Im with my wife for a while.

Saturday - entering in

Once again, ISEA has been a consistent blast of material. No way to attend it all, or even process it. I'm very active to younger colleagues like Eddie Shanken who have the energy to really try to be everywhere and comment on as much as possible via the ISEA Rapporteur.

I will merely use quick entries to try to describe things, and to try to gie a wide view of my experiences.

City Hall - Shu Lea Cheang's "Baby Love" and Acclair
For the first work, large Disneyland-style teacup rides with huge clone babies played a mix of MP3 love songs uploaded from the website as you rode around. Huge, colorful, and fun.

Acclair was a performance in which participants allowed wo be scanned to determine their "Neurocapital" to determine commodification of experience and 'security' value of the individual. Very slick, very good.

Friday, August 11, 2006

FRIDAY Morning

Friday morning at ISEA2006...
Thursday's engagement was a little thready, for no particular reason. Because of the late nights, I have been rising at about 11 AM, so the morning panels have been right out.

Intelligent Agent @ ISEA2006 is sold out. We'll print a lot more. No problem. Just go to the site and order yours.

The social scene is always as interesting as the show itself. Just came up from nice chats with Bonnie Mitchell, Sue Gollifer, Andra Polli, and my roomie, Paul Vanouse.

Came back up here to blog for you all.

So - yesterday...
Saw the Community Domain panel, and Trebor Scholz was great as usual, I loved Kevin Hamilton's Absence in Common. Go read it at Intelligent Agent.

After the panel, it was Beryl & Sarah's Crisis to Bliss at the Convention Center. it's pretty funny in that you have to almost scale the mount to valhalla to get there. Really wonderful, like travelling to Shangri-La.

Josephine Bosma and I hung out for a bit, and just a lot of wonderful people shared tea and traded ideas under the wartime UK poster "Be Calm and Carry On". A few of the folks included;
Jon Ippolito
Thompson & Craighead (wonderful discussion)
Sarah & beryl,
John Winet
Josephine Bosma
And a lot more.

One of the main conversations that I got very engaged in was the archival one, and I still believe that there has to be a material record, as electronic archiving of any type is intrinsically ephemeral. Not saying that paper is the only fallback, but for so many reasons, the electronic archive will eventually fail long before the atomic record. I'm no Luddite; merely a technological prqagmatist.

Afterwards, went to Randall Packer's USDAT speech (another great one), and saw the ETOY mission.Eternity container. Really stange; it reminede me of the movie Freejack, in that ETOY is considering hardcopy backup and transmission of the posthumous. Really amazing.

Drinks with Randall, et al...

WEnt to the Institute for Distributed Creativity meeting at 8PM. Met Chris Byrne and saw Jill Scott, just a lot of people from that list.

Dinner with Jon Ippolito, Jolene Blais, and Brooke Knight. Just a great conversation on permaculture, art as antibody, and committed art. Invigorating as all get out.

Finally saw Khan et al's "Fruits of our labour" at midnight. Seeing an LED movie on unseen workers in infrared on my cell phone and not in person was really powerful.

Wanted to see Tim Jaeger's VJ set at Glo, but when I went to drop off my computer, my roomie and i were exhausted... Called it a night.

Now 11:39 AM San Jose - Should probably get going.
Will see Builder's assn & SRL tonight.
My knees are dying, but I'm going to squeeze two more days out and pack em in ice in Chicago.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Digital Kakejiku

I also remember seeing this iece last night. Akira Hasegawa, D-K San Jose was one of the best pieces I saw so far. Just beautiful. I thought hat the idea of repurposing the public space as a foprm of massive Japanese wall scroll might be a little trite, but it really surprised me. For a conceptualist/activist like myself, i was a little shocking to be drawn into this space so strongly. I think what surprised me was the fact that so many people inhabited the space and were playing with the piece on the catwalks, and just thoroughly enjoying themselves shows me the qualitiative/transformative difference public art has.

Thursday Morning, Continued

Continuing on, I want to recognise the universe of discussion happening around ISEA.

Doesn't seem to be much there yet (? maybe it is my browser ?)

media arts network [ma-net]
North West UK perspectives, great plane story, no comments on the art yet.

CRUMB Crisis Centre
Amazing recipes! Any comments on the art?

New Zealand perspectives & anecdotes & a positive review of the
(wonderful) Listening Post project.

Patrick Lichty's perspectives
Last updated from a queue in O'Hare Airport. Patrick, did you make in to
San Jose?

Ken Gregory's Perspectives

Reflections on Wednesday:
Being that I've put forth my standard question interrogating the nature of the festival itself (usual for me) ,et's get to the work.

This place is overwhelming. So much work in so many spaces. You can't see it all.
My afternoon was in or near the Symposium, and I saw Franck Ancel and Alison Sant give their talks. The presentation space is staggering, with three screens, a wonderful sound system and a beautiful stage space. The audience 'lounge' space is also unique, and offerea agreat atmosphere.

Christiane Paul and I gave a quick thinks for having Intelligent Agent involved with producing the papers proceedings. The 400 copies are now gone, which is really gratifying. You can get the papers online at our site,, or order your own copy, for an inexpensive eight dollars or so.

I ound up missing Bill Viola and went to South Hall, where there was just a ton of work... Again, the mapping work was really interesting, like De Costa et al's pigeon blog, who seemed to be finding the carbon monoxinde levels to be at a medium level near the City Hall at the time.

Natalie Jeremijenko's feral robots and the visualization of their travails in London were most interesting.

A small array of LCD 'Book-watches" were just captivating, and I intend to return to look at them again.

Three pieces of note: P2P, (Power to the People), a wireless light bulb matrisx and light switch array where people can flips switches to create their own messages on the side of the building is probably one of the most elegant pieces in the show. In talking with the creators later at the Habitat Gallery party, they mentioned something really remarkable; if they did not turn it of, people in the wee hors would not vandalize it. They would actually become protective of the piece and the taggers would create their tags ont he board, which I found just wonderful.

Another piece right next to it was Pimp My Heart, which had a specially designed steering wheel with biometric sensors that would sync your heart rate and other biometrics with the beat and accoutrements on a 'pimped-out street mobile/sound system'. Seeing Natalie Jeremijenko and her kids in their car playing with the system was just priceless.

One of the most brilliant sets of works was probably the "Contaner Culture" series in South Hall,
I especially liked Kate Aprmstrong's IN[ ]EX (I am carrying a sensor as we speak), and the Tokyo work, Driftscape, which was just a beautiful metaphor on noise and information surfing.

Honor, I saw Paper Cup Netowrk, and I appreciate it a great deal as a conflation between the most primitive and contemporary technologies, as I'm getting up to speed with some Slow Scan TV exhumation. Unfortunately, as I was walking up to it, someone pulled the string from one of the cups, rendering it a little less than functional. I'd really like to see it again at another time.

One last peice in South Hall that I loved as a series of LED panels called Cloud Recognition Series, that stretched down the hall on a series of 10-foot tall LED panels with series of different cloud formations (could not find the colophon to see what the interactive component was, but it was just gorgeous.

Went to SpecFlic over at the library; more info if desired....
Also went with Marcia Tanner, Germane Co, Steve Dietz and Sarah Cook to Live Cinema Nights. Saw Sue Consable (songs about videos) and the Synasthete set. This couple sets convinced me again about the state of live cinema as in a developmental stage, reminding me once agan of Surrealist cinema. However, at this point, I wonder about how compeelign the work really is, and how the human connection can be improved. We can talk about this if anyone wants to.

Today is a workshop with Troika Ranch, and I'll be getting nto the performances over the next couple days.

I apologize for the informal natur eof the posts, as there is a lot of digest, and i want to cover as much ground as possible.

Again ZeroOne has done an outstanding job.

Thursday Morning

Wow. ISEA got of to a pretty overwhelming start, and there it is, Thursday Morning.

As a brief exercise in inquiry, I think I'd like to make a point regarding zeitgeists, and why they are resonating with us. For example, the threads in ISEA. There are many topics, like Locative media, data mapping (something that I do myself), ecologies, and so on that are being explored. On a retoricl level I have to ask whether these are the right ones and why these are the ones that are compelling to us.

More or less, it has to do with the zeitgeist of technology driving the art or the artist probing the zeitgeist of technology. The show makes it obvious that the two are linked if one considers the state of technological development.

However, there are some questions that I have, such as the collapse of mass interest in exoscience, the desire to layer geomapping (has Google Earth been THAT influential?), the lack of the overtly critical or political in New Media in an age where politics are ubiquitous, historically self-referential works, and so on. Regardless of its breadth, New Media has a remarkably monocultural swath on a number of levels, and this makes me wonder. I hope that this is a seed for a larger discussion.

Now, on to the work.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tuesday night

So, after the Wetware Hackers, I went over toe see De Costa's pigeon blog event over at the SJMA. Unfortunately, we got there about a few minutes late. This particular piece caused a bit of furor with PETA, which, as in Jeremijeno's talk, as no small irony in that there were issues relating to lab practice and violence to animals, of which DeCosta's project presented none that I know, or no more than radio collars.

And furthermore, where I might have expected a Olympic-style settng forth of the doves, with the centrality of the project on the festival poster, I was told that there were maybe a few to a dozen set loose. My only crit was that the hypw of this particular project might have been a little unfair to De Costa.

After this, we hooked up with a number of other artists, including Decker, Vanouse, Catts, and Kumao and hit some of the works in the Gallery crawl on First Street.

The first piece we saw was Osman Khan et al's "Fruits of Our Labour", which is a Kubrick-esque monolith studded with IR LEDs showing videos of various laborers that Khan and his collaborators gained from the San Jose area. The only problem with the piece is that although you can only see the IR imagery from digital cameras, it only worked after 7-8 at night, as it was outdoors. I would have liked to have seen it indoors, that's all.

To be perfrecty honest, one piece seemed to be a video game environment full of characters and a Quija-like interface tot he multimedia piece - all together, well done.

The next was Frontera Electronica, a series of Latino New Meid works that played with the issue of borders and the net, which had a few good points. One was a work called "Talking to Stangers", in which you could talk to an on-call Mexican from the gallery via a video phone (how many times have I seen this sort of thing before?), and Another that has a very nicely done terrain map amd a data visualization of the Western Hemisphere by Torolab that was very nice.

I apologize For my lack of detail but at the time I was just exhausted.

The last set of works I saw over the night was just not up to my level of fatigue, but there was a wonderful psychedelic Max/MSP work on a plasma screen, and while all of the other imaging works were well done, there were a couple large prints that were so amateurish that they stood out against the otherwise professional work.

So, as I write this after an early evening, I apologize for my lack of detail and will try to get a little more information with today's events.

Org and Tuesday

As for my trailing post on rganization, it seems that ever since 96/96 ISEAS (Montreal/Chicago), there have been some concerns about organization. For a non-profit who has to organize civic, private, and non-profit functionaries, I think they've done a great job.

On to tuesday.
I was in the Wetware Hackers lab with Paul Vanouse and Natalie Jeremijenko, and I really regret not attanding the previous day with Catts & DeCosta. Learned a lot about lab protocol and practice, the reasons for sterile conditions, and so on. Really interesting.

Vanouse gave a great demo on DNA gel electrophoresis, and we learned much about representational/critical issues about DNA analysis. Great stuff. Jeremijenko had a similarly good talk about nutrient cycling in the ecology, and we engaged in part of her Hudson River 2.0 project in which we thought about food sources that would be fun and nutritious across many species that would act as chelation agents to cleanse ourselves of heavy metals and PCBs. After I gassed many of my colleagues after leaving out a brick of indonesian shrimp paste, we made a series of 'cuisine' that she would share with the fish at the local water park.

Two things struck me in regards to this - I forgot about the idea of heavy metal accumulation and meat consumption, as well as environmental footprint. A pretty compelling argument for the vegan diet. Secondly, we didn't exactly have a full kitchen to work with, so our foods were "interesting". I'm not sure how appetizing my shrimp paste, rice, and squid comfit with herring bound with peach Jell-O would be. It looks good, though...

However, Natalie made a very good point and we had a great time working with her and her great kids in creatng these projects. A lot of fun, with a great sense of humor.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

First Night

Hello, everyone.

First night in San Jose, got in at 9 PM; had no idea what I woudl do until today. Got into the airport and a table woth flyers and posters for the ISEA festival were waiting for visitors, but I didn't see anything set up at the airport. Wasn't sure if I remembered there being commissions there, but I could be wrong.

Got into town, and the convention center sign was blazing with the festival graphics, banners were everywhere. Settled in for a late night bite and got a call from Paul Vanouse, mentioning that one of the parties for the fest was at a nearby hotel.

Walked out and noticed a GPS piece of a 'hitchhiking' historical figure in computation who is supposed to be hijacked and taken to the City's historical heritage office. This really appealed to my impish side, but having gotten up at the equivalent of 5 am, I wasn't up for carrying a 40 pound standee around town.

Got to the party, and many of the usual suspects were there. Christiane Paul, Marcia Tanner, Trudy Lane, Sarah Cook, Paul Vanouse, Roger Malina, Mark Bohlen, Oron Catts, Streve Dietz, Joel Slayton, Sarah Diamond, Beau TakahARA, Machiko Kusahara, Nina Czegledy, and many others. Sorry if I don't have your name here.

Eddie Shanken was also promoting the ISEA Rapporteur project (link coming later), where we can get a conversation going about the fest. I'll get things set ASAP on that point.

The party was as intimate as a 200+ party was, and we eventually went out front to see the Karaoke Ice Cream Truck. The only piece I remember was "I Wanna be Sedated", and a large polygonal squirrel mascot was dancing about the whole time. (I thought polygony was outlawed in the US). It was truly a "what the hell was that?" moment, and everyone sighed in disappointment as it shut down, with the Windows shutdown sound issuing forth from the truck's PA.

In conversation, the usual comments about disorganization began to stir, and I'll put my two cents in on this. For some reason, I don't think I've seen an ISEA since Chicago or Montreal that has gotten high marks from the attendees for organization. I think the issues are obvious, and I'll finish up on this as my morning crew has shown up.

Day one (for me) begins!

Monday, August 07, 2006

In queue

At O'Hare waiting for the plane. I get in late tonight, and then go to Wetware Hackers all Tuesday. I have tickets for most of the major events, and am looking forward to seeing Tim Jaeger's VJ set, as well as SRL, who are some of my favorite tech artists. Last time I saw SRL was at the Austin Speedway in Texas, and their type of spectacle is never to be missed.

I wait here in the queue, writing away.
I may post again before going to bed upon arrival if there's anything interesting that presents itself.