SFAQ // International Arts and Culture // Issue 16 // May – July 2014

sfaq

Feeling incredibly honored to be a part of the latest edition of SFAQ. The issue is focused on arts and technology. I contributed answers to Peter Dobey’s article, “What is Arts and Technology?”.  Some of the other contributors to the piece include an all star line-up of community leaders, educators, and creatives such as Ben Valentine, Willa Köerner, Ian Alexander Adams, DC Spensley, Hanna Ragev, Sheena Vaidyanathan, and Marcella Faustini.

One of the questions we were asked was, “What does the relation {art, technology} mean for our time?” Here’s my answer to the first question,

Intersectionality. The idea of art and technology means an in-between space that has yet to even be defined. This sounds incredibly abstract, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Starting with the Experiements in Arts and Technology (E.A.T.) collaborative group formed in the 1960s by artists and engineers including Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver, the intersection of artistic practices with engineering and technology was in its nascent stages. These individuals were discovering what the other discipline could offer and what skills they could learn from one another. Art and technology also means convergence. Historically, artists and technologists seemed like such separate disciplines. But in contemporary art practices, digital technologies and programming languages are starting to become more common tools for creatives expression themselves.

 

Review of ZERO1 Artist, Christopher Baker’s installation, Murmur Study

Creating strategies around how to deal with technology can become tiresome and futile. Technology is constantly at our fingertips for the majority of our days and, sometimes, nights. When we go to bed and wake up, virtuality and the Internet remain ubiquitously present. We may as well have our mobile devices tucked safely underneath our pillows for fear of being disconnected. If alien life forms were to descend, they may wonder how we obtain and retain our information. How do you describe looking into a backlit rectangular screen for approximately eight hours a day as a way to intellectually and emotionally digest images and contextualize your environment? From the world’s ugliest dog to the political and social upheaval in the Middle east to socializing online has become the way in which we obtain meaning about our environment. The anxiety and anticipation we feel to connect with others further adds to the way we function and re-create ourselves within language. In Christopher Baker’s work, Murmur Study, his installation showcases our collective meanderings through bringing physicality to our digital exchanges.

As a 2012 ZERO1 biennial artist, Baker installed this iteration of Murmur Study in the back of the renovated and large exhibition space known as the ZERO1 Garage located in Downtown San Jose. The mottled, weathered, gray concrete that once served as a car repair shop now welcomes the footsteps of arts and technology patrons as well as curious newcomers. Baker reinvents micro messaging through circuitous wires and re-programmed thermal printers#. Far from reach, the printers are hung high on an exposed beam. Like soldiers at attention, they hold their post through the day and night without rest. Yet, the slow release of printed messages such as “That awkward moment when you’re eating fast food and some show about ‘how unhealthy the world is today’ is on tell…::whoops::?” provoke us to respond. Yet, the installation relies only on observation as the thin receipt paper cascade down and messages eventually reach eye level. On the gallery floor, the paper accumulates resulting in piles that resemble white discarded shoelaces. During the rush of opening night, bodies passed curiously by the work. As visitors passed the installation, the papers slightly billowed and reminded us of their presence.

Baker’s interpretation of our digital life siphoned from social media platforms into tangible form showcase our methods of thinking and communicating. Our thoughts, once untouchable, fall into the form of computation and transmission. The papers serve as remnants of our processing and constructions of everyday life. The work addresses the theme of Seeking Silicon Valley in that much of what we might believe is created in this technological region actually encompasses so much more than the physical location. Murmur Study captures the hashtags of our collective desires and beliefs, sometimes humorous and poignant, other times offensive and didactic. It reminds us that Silicon Valley is rapidly becoming way more of an idea than a tangible place. As one continues to read the papers in Baker’s piece, its easy to notice the stream riddled with vernacular and awaiting interaction. Although rigid, sleek, and so far up from eye level, the viewer is still able to see the thick, tangled wiring and circuitry behind the neatly hung printers. We watch slowly as one the most familiar objects in consumption dispenses information and data on how we might spend our time.

Originally posted to the ZERO1 blog here

Arts Organization Feature on Gray Area Foundation for the Arts

Asterisk Arts Organization feature on Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA)

On San Francisco’s bustling, highly trafficked Market Street, the organization Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), is changing the face of arts and technology in a significant and dramatic way. Seeing a lack of representation in the digital arts movement accompanied by a profound interest in creating a space where such art could be seen, founder and Executive Director Josette Melchor created the nonprofit in 2009 in the midst of a financial crisis. Despite the downturn in the economy, Melchor dedicated her efforts to creating a space for both aspiring and established artists and creative technologists. From interactive artworks and data visualization to creative coding, this organization has become one of the most prominent spaces for arts and technology, fostering change and innovation not only regionally, but also internationally.

At its core, Gray Area works with established artists such as Aaron Koblin and Camille Utterback to expose the public to software-based works that are both interactive and immersive through various tools of technology, such as programming, coding and data visualization. Integrating audio- and sensory-based controls, the works you might experience at a GAFFTA exhibition or event undoubtedly showcase most ingenious and experimental uses of programming technology and how contemporary art is created. Even donations to Gray Area have been made into a work of art. The nationally recognized and award-winning work Seaquence is a virtual art piece intertwined with a participatory aspect where donors are given a gift in return: a musical life form. Resident artists Ryan Alexander, Gabriel Dunne and Daniel Massey co-created this interactive music platform, forming multifaceted art to dynamically and physically enable donors to see their contributions transform within a virtual environment, thus becoming part of an even larger visual- and music-based system. Gray Area artists, technologists and faculty are constantly forging radical new ways to bring the community into the creation and discussion of the work. Although the organization can easily boast its tremendous creative talent, the exceptionally skilled faculty aims to teach novice technologists within the community both technical and artistic skills such as programming and electronics. The goal is to draw different sets of curious minds into the discussion and progression, bridging the gaps between arts and technology.

Gray Area is particularly well known for weekend events called hack-a-thons, which gather creative professionals across multiple disciplines such as art, engineering, education, architecture, journalism and writing. These events facilitate the creation of mobile applications, with objectives such as fostering transparent communication between citizens and government officials. Hack-a-thon participants also produce conceptual artworks that transform public data into visually dynamic pieces. More recently, the nonprofit was awarded a $100,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts to put toward the implementation of a National Data Canvas Project. According to Gray Area, “The project will distribute data-driven art in urban environments across the United States and will include a mobile application for public use. Utilizing data.gov, the project will allow the general public an enjoyable and engaging way to discover new information through artistic data visualization and interactivity.” Essentially, the project will allow for artists, designers and developers across the nation to create works in their own region based on creative coding assembled by the San Francisco–based Gray Area team.

Situated in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, Gray Area wanted to take part in the overall revitalization of the neighborhood by bringing some the city’s brightest creative talent to the district to assist in affecting change. As this center takes on even more demanding and worthwhile projects, there is one particular initiative that is both notable and eye-opening. The Creative Currency: New Tools for a New Economy is the latest initiative seeking to bring community leaders and organizers, politicians, artists and technology professionals together to affect change within a community with their collective skills.

Originally published and posted to Asterisk SF Magazine, please click here to view

ZERO1 HackFlux at The Glint

Seventy two hours overlooking the San Francisco cityscape in a mansion atop Twin Peaks sounds like a pretty nice getaway, doesn’t it? For the artists and creative professionals last weekend at The Glint it wasn’t very much time to create a mobile application for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. But the groups pulled through with some amazing ideas and a network of new friends and potential colleagues. Hackflux participant, web developer, Anna Billstrom, remarked that it was,

“…nice being in a personal space. From the very beginning, from the first pitch, I talked honestly about what inspires me and even when ideas did not make sense, people went along with the them”.

Nika Jones, Cloud Computing and Web Developer shared a similar sentiment,

“I had the chance to collaborate with back-end designers, artists, and developers. It was an interesting space. It helped to bring out a lot of creativity and ideas. The people I’ve met here are people I would want to stay in touch with.”

Danielle Siembieda, ZERO1’s Community Engagement Manager, opened up the final day of the hackathon by introducing jury members and extending gratitude to The Glint co-founders, Alexandros Pagidas and Damian Madray, who were also jurors for the weekend’s event.

As ZERO1’s inaugural hackathon, the team gathered for a weekend of creative thinking and coding in the hopes of creating an application that could be implemented as a useable product for the ZERO1 2012 Biennial. In addition, the application is slated to be open source for other teams interested in creating their own iteration of the winning app. Cultivation of ideas and allowing other to build off of what has been created are only a few elements that help make hackathons successful. With open source coding, these apps and products are developed, reworked, and possibly cast into another format all together. For HackFlux, the jurors were looking for the following criteria:

  • Viability – Is it feasible to create the App with the resources provided? Can it be sustained and maintained?
  • Concept – What is the strength of the idea? Is it creative? Innovative?
  • Does it meet the scope of the App and beyond?

The jury consisted of the following individuals:

The tech advisory committee consisted of the following individuals:

  • Brendan Wypich
  • Dan Zeitman
  • Doniece Sandoval
  • Greg Gopman
  • Michael Shiloh
  • Myles Weissleder, SF New Tech
  • Rajiv Patel
  • Sarah Nahm
  • Sian Morson

PROJECT TEAMS

Team Visitor Information App (VIA): DC Spensley and Nika Jones

Spensley and Jones proposed an application that included three modes: scheduling, event, and mapping. The development of this particular app was based on the previous biennial. The idea was to have the end user experience the biennial with the convenience of planning and mapping out the experience they want! Ideally, the small events screen would take the user to event options with information pulled from the ZERO1 website. A “Share” option would be built so people are able to connect prior to an event. The map suite would be based on iOS mapping but work in conjunction with android and Google Maps. Parking availability pops up and the “Stars” signify where you have been. The user testing has been estimated at 90 days and would require receiving a ‘tickle’ via SMS or audio (for the visually impaired).

Team Parque Art: Romy Ilano, Athena Chow, and Timothy Evans

The Parque Art team presented a product feature to work in conjunction with another fully developed app. Essentially, the team envisioned (re)making the journey to biennial events as a basis for their work. They started their presentation with the idea that “parking is never a pleasant experience” and team member, Romy Ilano noted during the introduction, “Disneyland cleverly turns the trip from the parking lot to the entrance into a wonderful adventure (i.e., tram ride, fairy, etc.)”, which was the impetus for creating the Parque Art app feature. Since attendees spend approximately 10-15 minutes between their car or public transportation and the final destination, Parque Art, ideally, would help ‘set the tone’ for the overall biennial experience. The app would include soundscapes, simple mp3 audio (i.e., audio art, spoken word poetry, music, etc.) of participating biennial artists. Geo-location through a mobile web API would be embedded into the primary mobile website.

Team ZERO1 IN: Allison Holt and Lisa Benham

The ZERO1 IN team developed an idea that is a location based app/module that could serve as the foundation for a fully developed app. The ZERO1 IN app would include an interactive festival map and guide along with a “Printed Map” for individuals that do not have a smartphone but want to participate in the gaming experience. Overall, the app is an interactive scavenger hunt. The three levels of complexity included: 1) Feeling Clever, 2) Middle Path, 3) Where am I? The breakdown of level is listed below:

  • Feeling Clever: Ability to choose a language to explore the biennial (64 language via Google translate)! Very few dots and cryptic clues leading to artworks and exhibitions.
  • Middle Path: Less ‘dots’ on middle path (UNLESS you unlock), technologically, the experience would rely on human cleverness!! Artist’s text and cryptic photograph included on this level.
  • Where am I? Complete guide and details to the biennial! No guesswork!!

With enough development time, the team was hoping to develop features that would allow users to filter artists (i.e., music, LED-based, visual, etc.), take pictures, and create a mosaic of the biennial experience.

THE WINNING TEAM

Team REACTOR – The Reaction Trader: Anna Billstrom, Kelsey Innis, and Helen Mair

The Reaction Trader app idea by Anna Billstrom, Kelsey Innis, and Helen Mair would allow users to react to artworks with geo-location as a way to connect with other users. The app would allow crowdsourced reactions to artworks through drawing, speech, or texting. With every reaction, the user will receive two anonymous comments in return of the same artwork, which serves as an incentive to truly engage and interact with other biennial goers! The team stated there would be notifications based on location, log-ins to other social networking sites (i.e., Facebook, Four Square, etc.), and the ability to rate and flag reactions. The higher rating a comment receives, that comment would be placed into a public gallery for all users to see!! With the gamification of comments, the Reaction Trader is definitely a promising tool to promote interactivity. One of the impressive aspects of the Reactor Team’s weekend was an actual working demo to showcase on the final day! In the future, visualizations of reactions may be built into a living map of the biennial!! As the winning idea, the REACTOR team will work with the Core Team towards the development and launch (September 2012) of the application to approximately 100,000 end users! ZERO1 will market and be accessible beyond Biennial dates to work with the winning team!

ABOUT THE ZERO1 APP LAB

The objective is to create a seamless visitor experience through mobile technology for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial. This year’s theme is “Seeking Silicon Valley”. Our goal is to create a collaborative social science experiment exploring how an app can create community, interaction, and navigation in a clear and interesting format. We plan to utilize a variety of techniques and practitioners that will include, but is not limited to: alternate reality, geo location and mapping, mobile technology, storytelling, and augmented reality. Secondly, we plan to develop a ZERO1 API that can be built upon and used by ZERO1 artists, fellows and used for future ZERO1 Marketing, Programming and Garage.

Check out photos from HackFlux on Flickr here

Originally posted to ZERO1 blog, please click here

Transcending Borders: The Intersections of Arts, Science, Technology, and Society on a Global Stage

Photo by Ars Electronica ~ Click the image above for event details!

Check out this opportunity to sit in on a web cast regarding the intersections of Arts, Science, Technology, and Society! I’m particularly excited Executive Director of ZERO1, Joel Slayton, will be participating on the panel, “Transcending Limitations: Two of the World’s Foremost Art/Science/Technology Curators Discuss Creativity at this Intersection and its Impact on our Future”. Details and links below!

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Transcending Borders: The Intersections of Arts, Science, Technology, and Society on a Global Stage.

Join the live webcastfrom 5:00-7:00 PM EST at arts.gov and join in the conversation via Twitter at #neaartsci.

This international dialogue around the nexus of art, science, technology, and society in the 21st century is convened by the Salzburg Global Seminar, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Embassy of Austria in Washington, DC. Today’s artists and scientists improve our critical understanding of the world by provoking new ideas, experimentation, and creative strategies. This conversation will feature artists-scientists teams, along with policy makers and curators who champion their work, to examine the impact creativity and collaboration across these sectors can have to shape the world of today and tomorrow.

ZERO1 Artist Alum, Scott Kildall ~ Tweets in Space, Experimental Art and Live Performance

ZERO1 artist alum, Scott Kildall, is working on yet another amazing arts and technology project, Tweets in Space. The project has been covered by BBC, Forbes, Scientific American, CNET, Tech Trendy, Tech Mash and many other media organizations! Below, you will find a full description of ‘Tweets in Space’ and links to the Rocket Hub fundraising page and the project site.

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Official Press Release and Text Source: Artists ‘Tweets in Space’ Project Site

Artists, Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern will beam Twitter discussions from participants worldwide towards GJ667Cc – an exoplanet 22 light years away that might support earth-like biological life. Anyone with an Internet connection can participate during two performance events, which will simultaneously take place online, at the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2012, New Mexico), and in the stars. By engaging the millions of voices in the Twitterverse and dispatching them into the larger Universe, Tweets in Space activates a potent discussion about communication and life that traverses beyond our borders or understanding. It is not just a public performance; it performs a public.

The artists will collect all Twitter messages tagged #tweetsinspace and transmit them into the cosmos via either a home-built or borrowed communication system. Our soon-to-be alien friends will receive scores of unmediated thoughts and feedback about politics, philosophy, pop culture, dinner, dancing cats and everything in between. All tweets will also be streamed to a live public website, where they’ll be permanently archived, as well as projected – as animated twitter spaceships towing messages – at the Balloon Museum and planetarium-like digital dome (IAIA), in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Your donation will help buy equipment that will enable the artists to build their own open-source transmission system, upgrade an existing one through partnership with another institution, and/or time with one of the world’s extant high-powered communicators. Any funds above our goal will pay for a better system, or go towards online coding, design, and promotion. RocketHub is not an investment or charity. It is an exchange: funds from fans for rewards from us: both the ability to send Tweets into Space, and then some. It’s an All & More funding mechanism for us: if we don’t reach our financial goal we get to keep what we raise. But if we do reach our goal, we get access to exciting opportunities.

Tweets in Space asks us to take a closer look at our spectacular need to connect, perform and network with others. It creates a tension between the depth and shallowness of sharing 140 characters at a time with the entire Internet world, in all its complexity, richness and absurdity, by transmitting our passing thoughts and responses to everywhere and nowhere. These “twitters” will be stretched across all time and space as a reflection on the contemporary phenomenon of the “status” updates we broadcast, both literal and metaphoric.

Please click here to help fund Tweets in Space via RocketHub* and to learn more info on the project, click here.

Kildall and Stern are slated to launch the project at ISEA — the International Symposium on Electronic Art — this September in New Mexico, and are excited and are now trying to raising $8500 since it turns out it’s pretty difficult to send messages into the cosmos.

* What is RocketHub? RocketHub is very much like Kickstarter, only a better fit for our project. They do direct credit card payments, instead of going through Amazon Payments, they can handle international orders and have more of a science focus.

Originally posted to ZERO1, please click here to view