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I am THRILLED to co-present along with An Xiao Mina and Ben Valentine at the Dissident Futures Art and Ideas Festival. Please RSVP through YBCA’s site here. It will be good times and lots of great conversation. It’s been a great year thus far. Although it’s been extremely challenging to balance work, school, and freelance work, I’ve been handling it without my head completely rolling off and away from my body! Please consider checking out the festival and paying our panel a visit and talking to us. 🙂

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Dissident Futures Art and Ideas Festival
Sat, Nov 23, Noon–9 PM
Grand Lobby, Screening Room, Third Street Courtyard, Youth Arts Lounge
FREE w/ RSVP

YBCA invites you to participate in a one-day interactive festival in conjunction with the Dissident Futures visual arts exhibit in our Downstairs Gallery. The festival will bring our communities together to explore and investigate possible futures envisioned by artists, urban planners, environmentalists, scientists, robotic experts, designers, programmers, and food activists through dynamic workshops, lectures, performances, interactive media, music, and more.

In the Bay Area, there are a wealth of future-facing projects, involving practical innovations in technology and science. Some of these creative yet pragmatic endeavors are informed by utopian dreams and fueled by a local culture that looks to the future with hope and a predominant strain of optimism at what may come. The worldwide effort to consider and shape the future is being conducted by diverse actors including artists, scientists, teachers, and activists. The breadth of ideas and emergent forms ranges vastly, and given the scope and rising pace of these activities, ideas, and aspirations around the future, it is an exciting time for us to look critically at the participants and the outsiders in this conversation.

We want to bring people together in dialogue with members of our Bay Area community who have the tools to envision a future that expands on the best of our aspirations and builds on our technological advances, but keeps in check negative vectors such as climate change, rising income inequalities, and gaps that exist for power distribution and influence. We want to look at the entire ecology and foster discussions that move us forward.

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Noon: Opening Remarks by YBCA Executive Director Deborah M. Cullinan and Talks by Ray Gilstrap and Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR), Grand Lobby

Noon–8 PM: Artist booths by Fantastic Futures, Takehito Etani, Peter Foucault, Young Gifted and Black, GAFFTA, and Institute for the Future, Grand Lobby

Throughout the Day: Food, Music, Performances, and Mini Maker Faire, Third Street Courtyard

1–8 PM: Artist Presentations

1–2:30 PM: Future Cities Lab: Work of Future Cities Lab, Screening Room; Walidah Imarisha: Workshop on Sci-Fi and Social Movements, Youth Arts Lounge

2:30–4 PM: Code for America: Discussion on Open Government, Screening Room; Long Now Foundation: Manual for Civilization and GAFFTA: Creative Technology for Social Good and Urban Prototyping, Youth Arts Lounge

4–5:30 PM: Institute for the Future Fellows: Creating a Future for Good, Screening Room; Green House Project: Urban Agriculture—Rethinking Urban Density, Youth Arts Lounge

5:30–7 PM: InsTED Talks with Jaime Cortez, L. M. Bogad, Bill Hsu, and Jenifer Wofford, Screening Room; Kal Spelletich: Research and Survival in the Arts, Youth Arts Lounge

8–9:15 PM: Video Game Monologues, Screening Room; Dorothy Santos, An Xiao Mina, Ben Valentine: The Honeymoon’s Over—Arts and Culture Criticism in the Age of Networked Power, Youth Arts Lounge

2–4 PM: Performance by Michael Zheng, Grand Lobby; Performances and music by Brontez Purnell, Majo, Pangea F.C., Third Street Courtyard

7–8 PM: Performance by Jenifer Wofford and Kyle Herbert, Grand Lobby; Music performances, Third Street Courtyard

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Dorothy Santos is a freelance art writer, blogger, curator, and visual and critical studies geek. Born and raised in San Francisco, she holds bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of San Francisco. As arts editor and curator of Asterisk San Francisco Magazine + Gallery, and blogger for ZERO1 and Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), she enjoys writing about artists and engaging with the community. Her work appears in ArtPractical,Stretcher, Creative Applications Network, Daily Serving, Hyperallergic, Art21, and Planting Rice. She serves as a board member for the SOMArts Cultural Center and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in visual and critical studies from the California College of the Arts. Her research emphasis is on computational aesthetics, programming, coding, and open source culture and their effects on contemporary art.

An Xiao Mina is an artist, designer, writer, and a technologist. In her research and practice, she explores the intersection of networked, creative communities and civic life. Calling memes the “street art of the internet,” she looks at the growing role of internet culture and humor in addressing social and political issues in countries like China, Uganda, and the United States. Her writing and commentary have appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, Fast Company,Wired and others, and she has lectured at conferences such as the Personal Democracy Forum, the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium, and Creative Mornings. She is a 2013 USC Annenberg / Getty Arts Journalism Fellow and is co-founding The Civic Beat, a global research group and publishing platform focused on internet culture and civic life around the world.

Ben Valentine is a strategist and contributing author for the Civic Beat as well as a freelance cultural critic, curator, and creator based in Oakland. He recently organized Global Space, a groundbreaking exhibition for the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art on the changing face of the individual in a neoliberal and networked world. Valentine also co-curated the world’s first Tumblr Art Symposium, which included commissioned essays, panelists, and an exhibition on the visual networked culture emerging all over the world, especially on Tumblr. His writing has appeared on publications like Hyperallergic, Salon, and Medium. He is currently preparing for a residency at the Internet Archive in San Francisco and working on building a Spanish and English Twitter translation platform for citizen journalism across linguistic and geographic borders.

zero1

Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of being in conversation with writer, culture critic, curator, and artist, Ben Valentine at ZERO1 for the Bring It! Summer programming. Admittedly, it was a small and intimate group that joined us for the talk. When I got home, I read and wrote because I walked away from the evening with many big ideas. One of the things that kept coming up (even well into this week as I mull over the discussion), was a question by ZERO1 curator Jaime Austen. It had to do with responsibility.

What do you feel is your responsibility in terms of my writing, research, and scholarship?

There are so many ways to answer the question. Being a blogger since 2007, I’ve experienced different ways of looking at my writing practice, research, and what this means not only for me but the community I am trying to build around writing, critical theory, arts and technology. It definitely starts somewhere and a writer/theorist life can be rather lonely because it’s not as prolific and doesn’t promise benefits from efforts made to produce content (whether its for media outlets, a personal blog, and/or for print). So, how did I answer the question…well, I’d like to think that the work I’m putting into the community is helping answer that question.

Do you have a story around your commitment to the arts? What do you feel is your responsibility? How do you feel the virtual landscape facilities and allows or hinders and distracts your objectives? I would love to read your stories.

New Catalogue + Judd Greenstein. This is a Present from a Small Distant World, 2012; installation view. Courtesy of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale. Photo: Dorothy Santos.

The New Catalogue artist collective, composed of Mary Voorhees Meehan, Neil Donnelly, Jonathan Sadler, and Luke Batten, collaborated with composer Judd Greenstein to explore humanity, history, memory, space, and the unknown in their exhibition This is a Present from a Small Distant World: New Catalogue + Judd Greenstein, at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. When viewers first enter the exhibition space, the large-scale installation is enclosed by two parallel white walls covered with friendly messages written in black bold sans serif type. Multicolored light boxes illuminate printed words such as “coffee,” “vinyl cutter,” “advice from a family member,” “string cheese,” and “twenty books.” These are only a small fraction of the humorous, endearing, and poignant answers to questions about communication with extraterrestrial beings.

Walking through the red carpeted interior of the makeshift corridor, flat-screen monitors pose questions to the public. Classical music permeates the space. Between the exposed, unpainted, raw wooden beams, questions on newsprint paper invite viewers to participate in an analog discussion. Some of the questions include “What are ten things aliens would need to see/taste/touch/experience to understand life on earth?“; “Which five songs would you bring to space so alien life could understand us?”; and “What do you imagine aliens are like?” Answers to that last question included “Lady Gaga,” “Nikki Minaj,” and “Michael Jackson,” suggesting that some of the most colorful human beings in the public eye are the most foreign and otherworldly.

These human observations ask us to consider what would happen if we could transmit and receive communication with alien life. Based on the posted responses, possibilities range from humankind’s greatest accomplishments in the arts and sciences to the sharing of radical and pointed views about our political and social state. The responses also speak to something deeper and more existential. New Catalogue and Greenstein have created a work that reminds viewers of the qualities philosophers and scientists have posited separate humans from other species: the ability to introspect, activate memory, and create awareness.

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

Check out the following,

Arts Blogger Challenge Question:

New York has long been considered the cultural capital of America. Is it still? If not, where?

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Screen shot from the site, Envisioning Technology (ET), which led by emerging technology strategist, Michell Zappa

Please click on the image above to visit Envisioning Technology

The San Francisco Bay Area can easily serve as a contender. Its moniker as the Golden State takes on an entirely different meaning when it comes to both monetary and cultural capital. But New York City boasts of a million more opportunities for those interested in corporate life or a fruitful creative existence. The long withstanding tribal aspect of the New York City art community is, virtually and literally, incomparable. Quite honestly, I don’t believe a culture capital exists in America. Period. Globalization eradicates this concept of one physical place serving as the lone beacon for cultural sustenance. Being a San Francisco native, I was almost fooled into thinking and arguing the point that my home state and city would be the newest place for culture consumption. Then, I started to realize something, much of what we collectively do occurs on screens and mobile devices. Silicon Valley is a great example of this. The name alone refers to physical stretch of the Bay Area landscape where innovation occurs but it’s only a name, a signifier. Bottom line: The cultural capital of America is not a physical place. It is a virtual place where people take part and realize ideas at the intersections of arts and technology and social media, which occur all over the world.

From forums to blogs to open source systems such as Processing, one of the clear manifestations of arts and technology occurs through a constant exchange of programming language on a global scale. Recently, The Creators Project organized an arts and technology festival in San Francisco showcasing the work of artist-technologists based in the Bay Area. The highlight of the weekend was sitting in on artist talk and drawing workshop led by UCLA professor Casey Reas, co-creator of Processing. His talk included a brief history of artists that, similarly to Reas, took language and created art through innovation and unorthodox methods. The drawing workshop was especially eye-opening. The exercises included a set of instructions that asked the participants to draw what they read (totally reminded me of Sol LeWitt whom Reas mentioned during his artist talk AND John Balderssari’s teaching methods). The hybrid artist-technologist innovates and affects change at a rapid rate. With open source programming playing an integral role into the way people are using tools of technology for function, critical thinking, and art creation, virtual spaces like github and Processing forums serve as the new cultural capitals.

If arts and technology serves as the intersection of a culture capital, social media is the seemingly colossal skyscraper where rapid information exchange occurs. Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Google+, and the like all allow for copious information and data consumption. It is where we find out about our world (whether we like it or not). People are more likely to find out about a high magnitude earthquake (or a friend’s bagel preferences) than on syndicated news channels and sites. Social media culls, most if not, all the information that interests us. The need to know has quite the narcotic effect. Nevertheless, it’s one of the, if not the primary, ways we stay connected. Again, there is no one place where a cultural capital exists. Although places like New York and San Francisco captivate the minds and hearts of many business folks, entrepreneurs, and creative types, it becomes clear that the existence of a physical culture capital is diminishing with our lives driven so heavily by what we witness on screens and what is, literally, at our fingertips.

Please visit the 2012 Great Arts Blogger Challenge and vote for ‘Dorothy Santos’ here.

We Feel Fine...but do we really? Click here to see what the rest of the world is feeling...

We Feel Fine is  on exhibit at the Adobe Museum of Digital Media. First, I’m utterly smitten and enthralled with data visualization work. Harris and Kamvar created this project back in 2005 and wanted to show the world’s feelings, individually and collectively, to showcase the human condition in a way that was both engaging and begs the question of whether we are truly alone in the way we feel. The answer is yes (and no). As unique as we all are, there are universal ideas/concepts/feelings humans experience everyday and We Feel Fine is a contribution to the digital media and arts movement that is evidence of the desire to be connected to the world, to each other, whether we admit it or not.