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

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,StretcherCreative Applications NetworkDaily ServingHyperallergicArt21, 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 AtlanticFast 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 HyperallergicSalon, 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.

Artist: Barbara Kruger

Since my mind has been on Surveillance Art the past few days, I couldn’t help but write about it (again). Specifically, my interest lie in the legal aspects and ramifications surrounding this particular art form and its effects on citizens. Aside from issues of safety and privacy, footage of any kind becomes art when you modify what it. With so much altering of anything these days (i.e., photos, audio, film footage, etc.); what is believable, verifiable, or trustworthy?

Last year, I did a Shotgun Review (by way of Art Practical) regarding the art collective, HUSH. Much of their art, let’s face it, may be perceived as intrusive and incredibly risqué art making, which is the best kind because you’re forced to discuss and ponder the aim of the piece. HUSH look at laws (cross culturally) and conduct surveillance themselves. Yes, folks, anything is possible and you may be the subject of art work and be completely unaware.  You’re probably being watched as you read this (imagine that, a camera somewhere recording your actions at this very moment). Something innocuous like reading this blog post on your phone or laptop. Not to increase paranoia but this is the world we live in.

Surveillance is meant to protect and serve people but, primarily, it’s used to dictate the actions of people. Subconsciously, people conduct themselves in accordance with the law but surveillance almost ensures compliance. Or, does it?  Within the realm of art, surveillance may be used to showcase the need for connection with others or how one method of perceiving and communication with the world (i.e., via digitally) has a negative affect (check out The Public Isolation Project). When you know you are being watched, you act and speak differently. There are no barriers other than your perception of what is being seen.

In any case, I will leave it at that today. Someone is probably watching…

Mattel's Video Girl Barbie

It takes a lot to make me uneasy. A couple months ago, I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) and heard a story about Mattel’s Video Girl Barbie, which piqued my interest considering the doll prompted an FBI warning. You can listen to the Morning Edition story here. It made me incredibly uneasy because innocent play seems strange all of sudden.

Technology not only moves us faster into a higher and more sophisticated level of surveillance, it almost dictates our behaviors and actions (on a daily basis). The Video Girl Barbie is just one aspect of how technology permeates through the ages. To play Devil’s Advocate though before angry mothers start bashing on the creator of the Video Barbie, many phones can capture video and some have HD capabilities. Almost anyone can produce some record and/or documentation of anyone. Considering that my 4 year old cousin knows how to navigate around an iPhone (i.e., the iTot Generation), well, a doll isn’t going to stop anyone from voyeuristic tendencies but it, certainly, has you thinking, doesn’t it? Growing up, my mother limited my phone usage and television viewing. These days, I’ll go out with my niece or goddaughter and I’m convinced they would be able to identify all the dents on their phones before they notice my new haircut. Being in my early 30s (I still consider myself very young), we fall on the cusp of appreciating chain letters, pager code language, and passing notes (not texts messages). As ubiquitous as phones have become, the mobile phone consumer now has the power of surveillance in their own hands. Vigilante surveillance? Goodness, now we have a taxonomy of surveillance! Insane, I tell ya!

There’s a lot of ground to cover here so I’ll just say that all this is prompted by Bay Area Curator and Writer, Hanna Regev‘s, upcoming work on Surveillance. I’ll post more but here’s a little poll based on Ms. Ragev’s questions regarding the topic at hand.

Opening Night – Friday, January 11, 2008

On the cusp of Downtown tucked away on 14th street and Valencia, you will find the Southern Exposure gallery.  As you step through the red door and proceed to the back of the gallery, you will find two metal detector installations set against a trans formative mural that goes from cityscape to a sprawling lush simulation of a Philippine Islands seascape (large durian boulder included), and a prominent Manila market place – ShoeMart.  The concrete floor and foreboding metal beams on the ceiling are the perfect compliment to Jenifer Wofford’s show, Unseen Forces.  The show itself touches upon the idea of surveillance and detection, which runs rampant in our modern day world.  From high school corridors to a weekend getaway, one encounters facets of security that, at first, become intrusive and over time become a fabric of normalcy and existence.

As Wofford states in her blog, Wofflings, “There’s something so simultaneously wonderful and awful about these clunky devices: they’re situated in such highly fraught but also totally mundane environments, in situations where masses of people must be processed and moved on quickly, efficiently and undramatically”.  Unseen Forces conveys this statement in an exemplary fashion.  Most, if not all, individuals on opening night passed through the pseudo detectors nonchalantly.  I, on the other hand, purposefully avoided them.  Knowing I had the choice to pass through was surprisingly liberating.  One would think there is no psychological effect of passing through something an artist has reproduced from our commonplace knowledge.  Yet it was amazing how Pavlovian it was to not hear the detector go off when I did eventually decide to pass through the makeshift security system.

Similar to Wofford’s collection of drawings and paintings, her installation and conceptual pieces certainly rouse a sense of anxiety and showcases the multi-faceted nature of the every day life we seem to negate due to everything that is mandatory and obligatory.  If it is necessary to pinpoint a primary objective for Unseen Forces, it would have to be the idea of human technologies and our relationships with our collective technological advancements and how the human no longer makes the subject but becomes the subject.

Please check out Jenifer’s site to see more of her work and read her awesome blog!

Originally Posted: January 05, 2008