The first season of PRNT SCRN has officially ended! It’s been such an incredible learning experience. For this episode, I speak with Bay Area-based artist Jenny Odell. Learn more below!

Lastly, and most important, I want to thank the brilliant team over at Art Practical! They’ve given me an awesome home to create the content for PRNT SCRN. Special thanks to Leila Weefur (EIC for Audio/Visual), Marissa Deitz (Editor), Vivian Sming (EIC for online publication), Michele Carlson (Executive Director), Fiona Ball (Managing Editor), and Mia Nakano (Communications Manager) for being such a wonderful team of people to work with.


In an age where we are inundated by a seemingly endless scroll of images and living within an economy that demands an inordinate amount of our attention, it feels necessary to ask what is the value of doing nothing? It is much more evident now than ever before that social media platforms are another tool for advertisers and corporations to learn our desires through likes and clicks encouraging us to stay glued to our screens and monitors. In 2017, Bay Area-based artist Jenny Odell gave a talk at the annual EYEO festival titled “How to do Nothing,” which resulted in a book of the same name. I have been following Odell’s artistic practice and writing since she was in graduate student pursuing her MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. With a background in literature and having taught Internet Art at Stanford University for several years, her wealth of knowledge related to networked culture to free things advertised on Instagram that aren’t actually free, she has an uncanny ability to craft stories emblematic of our digital age. In this episode, The Value of Doing Nothing, I spoke with Odell about exercises in attention, space for refusal, bonding over our experience of an Ellsworth Kelly painting at the SFMOMA, and much more. The irony of Odell’s call to action, being that of doing nothing, leads us to the multitude of ways that stepping back from time to time enables and affords us the opportunity to learn how to observe the world around us, actively listen, and fastidiously mind the details we might normally overlook.

Hear Jenny Odell speak on her new book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy at East Bay Booksellers on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 7 pm. Read more about the event by clicking here.

For more information on this week’s Screenshot, the app ULTIMEYES, click here

Give episode 6 a listen and let me know what you think! 😉

You can also access all of this season’s episodes here!


Jenny Odell is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer based in Oakland, California. Her work generally involves acts of close observation, whether it’s birdwatchingcollecting screen shots, or trying to parse bizarre forms of e-commerce. In one of her favorite projects, she created The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a searchable online archive of 200 objects salvaged from the San Francisco dump, each with photographs and painstaking research into its material, corporate, and manufacturing histories. She is compelled by the ways in which attention (or lack thereof) leads to consequential shifts in perception at the level of the everyday.

Her visual work has been exhibited at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the New York Public Library, Ever Gold Projects, the Marjorie Barrick Museum (Las Vegas), Les Rencontres D’Arles, Fotomuseum Antwerpen, Fotomuseum Winterthur, La Gaîté Lyrique (Paris), the Lishui Photography Festival (China), the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, apexart (NY), East Wing (Dubai), and the Google headquarters. She’s been an artist in residence at Recology SF (the dump), the San Francisco Planning Department, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Palo Alto Art Center, Facebook, and the Internet Archive. She teaches internet art and digital/physical design at Stanford since 2013.

Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, SFMOMA’s Open Space, McSweeney’s, The Creative Independent, Sierra Magazine, Topic, and Real Future. My book, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, was recently published by Melville House. She is represented by Caroline Eisenmann at the Frances Goldin Literary Agency.


Hello there! I have been the worst at posting my work and projects. I am starting to come up with a schedule for myself to be a bit more consistent. Better late than never! I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of my first season as a podcast host. The brilliant team over at Art Practical have given me an awesome home to create PRNT SCRN and I’ve learned so much this past year. Special thanks to Leila Weefur (EIC for Audio/Visual), Marissa Deitz (Editor), Vivian Sming (EIC for online publication), Michele Carlson (Executive Director), Fiona Ball (Managing Editor), and Mia Nakano (Communications Manager) for being such a wonderful team of people to work with.


Virtual reality is not a new phenomenon. From dioramas to panoramas, the allure of being enveloped in a place or tableau outside of one’s reality has mass appeal considering the popularity of virtual reality technologies such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Through 360 filmmaking and photography, the creation of space within the virtual realm has become commonplace. From journalism to entertainment purposes, while virtual worlds enable a new way of seeing fantastical worlds, artists and designers must consider format and aesthetics. In the second part of a two-part series, “Not Your Average Playtest,” I look at how artist Veronica Graham translates her drawings and paintings into digital architectures within the virtual world. She also touches upon how she must reconcile physical and digital perception to create immersive experiences.

Give episode 5 a good listen and let me know what you think! I’m all ears. 😉

You can also access all of this season’s episodes here!


Veronica Graham is an Oakland based visual artist primarily working in print and digital mediums. Inspired by today’s rapidly changing environment, she sees her art practice as a form of world building. Each work is the creation of place or artifact, calling attention to how fiction is weaved into our reality. In 2012 she founded Most Ancient, a design studio focused on small press and digital production. Her books have been collected by SFMoMA, MoMA, The New York Public Library, The Library of Congress, Stanford University, Yale University, and other public and private collections. Graham has received grants from Kala Art Institute and Women’s Studio Workshop. She is now designing virtual worlds and her first VR project called  “The Muybridge Mausoleum” was completed in 2017 for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift platforms. In addition to her own practice, Graham is an active member on SFMoMA’s Games Advisory Board and an arts educator who has taught at San Francisco Art Institute, Southern Exposure, and Creativity Explored.

The panel at ArtUp and ArtPractical’s “Re-engineering: Arts and Tech in the Bay Area” (photograph by Joshua Kim

SAN FRANCISCO — As fleets of shuttle buses take employees to their respective Silicon Valley campuses, resentment and tension grows in the Bay Area. Last week, protesters blocked one such Google bus in an effort to draw attention to the widening gap between the technology industry and the communities it affects; a union organizer impersonated a tech worker to incite dialogue through performative gesture. Within days, further demonization of tech figures, like the entrepreneur Greg Gopman — guilty of making crassly disparaging remarks about the Tenderloin area of San Francisco — continued to fuel divisions across the city.

In an effort to broaden and expand the conversation, ArtUp, a “community blog, meetup and monthly grant,” partnered with online magazine Art Practical to host the “Re-engineering: Arts and Tech in the Bay Area” event at Ratio 3 gallery in the city’s Mission district on December 11. The night started off with a panel discussion between Anthony Discenza, Josette Melchor of Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), Olof Mathe of Art Hack Day, and Dena Beard with the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. [Read the rest here]

Chris Johnson and Hank Willis Thomas. Question Bridge (still), 2011; video installation. Courtesy of Oakland Museum of California, Oakland. – Photo Caption

The opening of Question Bridge: Black Males (2011), a new-media work by Chris Johnson and Hank Willis, is a timely response to events like Trayvon Martin’s death and the Oscar Grant case. By mimicking a roundtable discussion, Question Bridge excavates and delves into issues around the notion of the African American male, forcing participants and viewers across the spectrum of human experience to witness a thought-provoking exchange.

Originally, Johnson began the Question Bridge project in 1996 in order to address concerns regarding divisions within the San Diego African American community.1 Close to a decade later, Willis approached Johnson about collaborating, which resulted in interviews gathered from black men in different cities across the United States.2 The work consists of one hundred fifty videotaped black males from a diverse range of demographics (age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation, to name a few), answering questions about violence, health, intelligence, masculinity, education, fears, lifestyles, and sexuality. The installation speaks directly to the collective consciousness, for although there’s never an easy time or place to discuss race relations, posing questions around the topics of race, gender, and cultural amnesia feels especially urgent.

Johnson and Willis asked participants to provide questions as well as answer questions from other participants. In response to a vehement question about the code of the streets, the answers vacillate between the prevalent street mentality that silence is the ultimate code to anger and frustration that young black men perpetuate the cycle of violence. For some of the younger participants, respecting the unspoken commandment of the streets—in the belief that “the streets will take care of that” with “that” being the violence inflicted or received from an assailant—is common and strictly observed.3

Yet, as others noted, the code of the streets is a mere “set of playground rules” that some may or may not grow out of to deal with the complexities of violence and power struggles found within a disenfranchised community. All of the men speak of solidarity but are unaware of how to bridge the differences that exist between them.

The editing of the video footage makes it appear as though men on separate screens are looking at one another as they pose and answer questions. Each of the speakers seems to express genuine and sincere interest in listening to and addressing the questions of his interlocutors. The illusion that these men are in discussion together, in the same physical space, makes the artwork less of a physical object and more of a glimpse into the experiences of African American males and the issues and concerns often obscured by the media, silenced by culture, or cloaked by hyper-masculinity.

The nearly pitch-black installation space and editing of the videos also implicate us as witnesses as we listen to these conversations between men. As we wait for a question and answer, our heads might slowly turn from screen to screen, as if watching the trajectory of a ball in mid-flight. These gestures echo the connecting of complex ideas and thoughts between and among the participants.

Despite the power and effectiveness of the work, it would nonetheless be advantageous to expand the scope of the Question Bridge project. Participants identifying themselves as gay or queer were certainly incorporated into the discussion and, understandably, the work focuses on African American male experiences. However, the absence of African American transgendered men suggests another aspect of the male experience that remains concealed from the public. This lack of representation certainly does not make the work deficient, but it  raises the question of how American culture defines the male experience.

Indeed, what happens in the space between the participants serves to remind the viewer that the archetypal black male is nonexistent. One participant’s question, “What is common to all of us?” provokes a flurry of answers. Though the participants’ commonalities overlap time, space, sex, gender, color, beliefs, and much more, a more significant commonality emerges from their responses. These men are willing and ready for engagement. All that they needed was for someone to ask the question.

QUESTION BRIDGE: BLACK MALES IS ON VIEW AT THE OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA THROUGH JULY 8.

Originally posted to Art Practical, please click here

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NOTES:

1. “About Question Bridge,” Question Bridge website,http://questionbridge.com/index.php/about.

2. Ibid.

3. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are from the interviewees in the artwork.

Farhad Bahram. Reciprocality (2012); color photograph; 4 x 12 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

It has been too long since my last Shotgun Review for Art Practical! I wrote about In the Current show, which showcases some phenomenal Iranian artists! Below, you will find my write-up. Please enjoy and I highly recommend stopping by the exhibit. Enjoy!

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In the Currents, an exhibition of Iranian-American artists curated by Taraneh Hemami and Lucy Kalyani Lin, complicates and makes personal the ways in which Iran and Iranian culture are portrayed in much of Western media.

In Azin Seraj’s video installation, kaseye sabr labriz mishavad (bowl of patience, 2012), four Iranians speak about how their lives have been affected by the United Nations sanctions against Iran. Seraj layers the footage of the speakers with that of droplets of water filling a bowl, creating contorted and muddled images of the speakers, though their voices are clearly heard. Curiously, the visual rippling effect forces a viewer to concentrate on the intonation of words—even though only Farsi-speaking viewers are likely to understand them.

Farhad Bahram’s piece, Reciprocal Subject (2012), also complicates the view of its subjects. Like Seraj, Bahram empowers the subjects and makes them anonymous, but  they share in the creation of the work. Bahram and each subject simultaneously took pictures of each other in open public spaces, and Bahram arranged the resulting color photos on a board in an apparent order or system that mimics a scrapbook, with names appearing beside each photo. Each of the faces is partially obscured by a camera, frustrating any viewer’s desire to identify the subjects. The public spaces that serve as backdrops add an additional level of neutrality and anonymity. Still, there is a complicity that only exists between Bahram and each subject, leaving viewers curious about their relationship.

Another notable piece, Flag (2012), from Sanaz Mazinani’s series “Conference of the Birds,” uses photographic images to create a patterned flag reflective not of a particular region but of a specific idea. Her flag is rooted in solidarity as opposed to being grounded in a specific physical location. The repeated images coalesce to form a tightly knit pattern that creates a visual mesh of people, places, and cultures. Mazinani’s work, along with that of Seraj and Barham, blurs the expected lines of perception and demands that viewers participate in the act of seeing not only their works but also their culture.

IN THE CURRENTS IS ON VIEW AT THE ASIAN RESOURCE CENTER GALLERY, IN OAKLAND, THROUGH JUNE 15, 2012.

Original posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

Click on the images below… 🙂

One of the best tweets (ever)

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A description of Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical by Alyse Mason Brill (an AMAZING editor, by the way)!

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What Alyse had to say about my piece on Tim Roseborough's work, "Notes in/troducing Englyph