Do you ever wonder what house sitters do while you’re away? Ours made a short film about our dog, Elvis. The film went on to be a finalist in Tropfest, and screened before 13,000 people in Bryant Park on June 23, 2012. Now our dog is an “actor” who shook paws with the evening’s host Hugh Jackman and is listed as talent on IMDB. Thank you Mister Matt Hulse for giving our “wee chubby bullet” the celebrity we knew he deserved.
I’m going to be participating in the October 14, 2011 conference, Expanding the Documentary, at SUNY Purchase thanks to event co-organizers Michelle Stewart and Brooke Singer. Other participants include Steve Dietz, Skip Blumberg, Ryan Griffis (Temporary Travel Office) and a bunch of other rad folks. Hope to see you there!
From the conference website:
Artists, in recent years, have pioneered forms of interactive, environmental, and database art that document socio-political, cultural, and natural phenomena that were once the purview of the film and video documentary. While film and video had the ability to collect, record, narrate, and argue about the historical world, expanded documentarians utilize the full palette of digital media in order to engage audiences, participants, and users in the production, archiving, and mapping of the real. Interactive and multimedia works implicate spectators in the production of information and arguments about the world, foregrounding the public nature of the construction of knowledge. For these reasons, we believe this conversation about Expanded Documentary is timely and important, featuring workshops that highlight the newest practices in documentary work.
I started uploading old videos to Vimeo today. Some are home movies shot in Houston, Texas– many in my former home/church/cinema (Aurora Picture Show)– and others are documentation of projects I’ve worked on over the last five years. When I began cataloging these items, I realized I have a surprising number of videos of carnivals, circuses, and amusement parks. I hope you, and the cloud, enjoy these unedited video snapshots.
I’ve noticed that many artists are now shooting video with DSLRs because of their higher quality lenses and versatile shooting formats. I was hoping that I could purchase one for recording artists’ interviews and lectures, but I’ve learned that DSLRs can only record a limited amount of video (up to 29 minutes continuously) in most cases. Drat. This means I’m back to looking at video cameras.
Photo peeps, please recommend an HD video camera that can:
• shoot in a variety of situations, including low light in lecture halls
• has a microphone input
• has a kick ass lens
• costs around $1000 (stop laughing)
Triggered by the gift of a canoe from my dad this week, I started involuntarily reciting this 1981 Canoe Cologne commercial…
…which in turn reminded me that Ridley Scott had directed this Chanel commercial of the same era. “I am made of blue sky and golden light, and I will feel this way forever.”
As a kid in the ’70s, I grew up with commercials and their accompanying slogans and songs etched in my mind. Thanks to Barry Manilow’s “Very Strange Medley,” I have an entire medley of jingles jingling around in my brain.
To this day, I inadvertently blurt out slogans for Avis (We Try Harder), Irish Spring (Clean as a Whistle), Cocoa Puffs (Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs), Rolaids (How do you spell relief?), Sizzlean (Move over bacon), and dozens more. It’s insidious that I can’t remember yesterday’s activities but I can remember the tune and lyrics to the commercial for “Beautiful Mount Airy Lodge” which has been closed for a decade.
It turns out that there’s a name for this condition, actually, several names. According to Wikipedia when a portion of a song or other music repeats compulsively within one’s mind, this is known as an Earworm, Musical Imagery Repetition (MIR), involuntary musical imagery, or a haunting melody. In slang, a tune wedgy.
Arthur C. Clarke’s 1956 short story “The Ultimate Melody” (written long before the term “earworm” was coined in English) offers up a science fictional explanation for the phenomenon. According to writer Michael Chorost on the website of aleph, the story is about a scientist, Gilbert Lister, who develops the ultimate melody—one that so compels the brain that its listener becomes completely and forever enraptured by it. As the storyteller, Harry Purvis, explains, Lister theorized that a great melody “made its impression on the mind because it fitted in with the fundamental electrical rhythms going on in the brain”. Lister attempts to abstract from the hit tunes of the day to a melody which fits in so well with the electrical rhythms that it dominates them completely. He succeeds, and is found in a catatonia from which he never awakens.–Wikipedia
Before I left Pittsburgh in December 2010, I started this list of people I met who contributed to the “scenius” there. Some of these folks were just passing through the academic universe of CMU, others are full-time residents.
Artist, writer and musician Jennifer Baron is Pop Filter arts and culture editor for Pop City Media, and author of a column on historic signs for Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, a publication of the Senator John Heinz History Center. Baron runs Fresh Popcorn Productions, a locally made line of craft products, and is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade, Pittsburgh’s first and largest independent craft fair, which received the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s “People’s Choice Award” in 2007 and 2009. She is co-editor of the award-winning book, “Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania” (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2009). Baron also was a founding member of the Brooklyn band, the Ladybug Transistor (Merge Records), and has played in Saturnine and the New Alcindors. In 2009 she started the Pittsburgh-based girl band, the Garment District.
Kim Beck is an artist and educator. She grew up in Colorado and currently lives and works in Pittsburgh and New York. She has exhibited widely including at the Walker Art Center, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Smack Mellon, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center. A recent fellow at the MacDowell Colony, she has participated in other residencies at Yaddo, the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, the International Studio & Curatorial Program, Cité Internationale des Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and VCCA. She has received awards from ARS Electronica, Pollock-Krasner, Thomas J. Watson and Heinz Foundations and her artist’s book, A Field Guide to Weeds, was published through the Printed Matter Emerging Artist Publishing Program and is in its second edition. She is currently developing a project for the High Line in New York City for Fall, 2010. She received her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and BA from Brandeis University.
Bob Bingham makes art that incorporates systems of growth, live plants and natural materials with mechanical and electronic devices. Through this combination of systems he addresses issues pertaining to a sustainable future where technology and nature exist in a symbiotic relationship.
Lowry Burgess is an internationally renowned conceptual and environmental artist and educator. He has been an educator for over forty five years and is a Professor at Carnegie Mellon University where he is a Distinguished Fellow in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. As the former Dean of the College of Fine Arts he has founded and administered numerous departments and projects at the institutional level. Burgess served as coordinator of the Graduate Program at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
Alisa is the founder of Third Termite Press, an independent, extraordinary letterpress studio. Dix is married to Greg Pierce, film collector, filmmaker, and Assistant Curator of Film & Video of the Warhol Museum.
Amisha Gadani is an artist interested in naturally occurring forms and systems; from sinuous curves to swarming patterns and super organisms. Her work, often drawing from curious creatures and their behaviors, attempts to instill in her viewers a portion of the wonder and awe she finds in these subjects. From her underwater video of seductively descending monsters to her flock of motorized slivers of fabric her fascination with each subject beckons viewers to share in her hand-picked wonders of the world. She is currently working on a series of “animal homunculus” drawings to visually compare differences in sensory and motor adaptations in the animal kingdom, and a fourth animal defense inspired costume to partner her blowfish, porcupine and skink dresses, this time inspired by ink-squirting cephalopods. Amisha lives in Pittsburgh where she has been working for an interdisciplinary arts research lab within Carnegie Mellon University called The STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. Previously she worked at the hands-on Exploratorium Museum of science, art, and human perception in San Francisco as an educator, exhibit support fabricator, and assistant on various projects toward the development of their “Geometry Playground” exhibition.
Pablo R. Garcia is the founder and principal of POiNT, a collaborative and multidisciplinary research studio based in Pittsburgh. POiNT is dedicated to experiments in the spatial arts–architecture, design, and the visual and performing arts, in a variety of scales from the portable to the urban. In addition to POiNT, Pablo is the Lucian and Rita Caste Chair in Architecture and Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, Pablo was the 2007-2008 Muschenheim Fellow at the University of Michigan College of Architecture + Urban Planning. From 2004-2007 he worked as an architect and designer for Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Pablo has taught at Parsons The New School for Design and Princeton University. He holds architecture degrees from Cornell and Princeton Universities.
HackPittsburgh is a non-profit, community-based workshop that allows members to come together and share skills & tools to pursue creative projects. Their membership is open to everyone but typically comprises inventors, engineers, scientists, programmers, hobbyists, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, and arts and crafts enthusiasts. Their focus is on collaboration, education, and community outreach. They are a benevolent group and do not promote or condone illegal activities. The term “hacking” is used in a benign sense, in the context of deconstructing and understanding objects and systems and re-purposing existing materials for new and innovative uses.
Riley Harmon is an artist currently pursuing an interdisciplinary MFA at Carnegie Mellon University. As an artist, he is particularly interested in the blurring of physical and virtual experiences, philosophical concepts of authenticity, and détournement. He has exhibited work and performed throughout Europe and the United States. At the STUDIO, Riley constructed and manages our website and provides server, technical, and software support as needed. Riley comes from from the University of Oklahoma where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Arts with Distinction.
Is a writer, artist, music critic, and journalist, and the creator of Public Record and Old Weird Albion, among many other projects.
Incite! is a journal of experimental media & radical aesthetics, edited by Brett Kashmere, filmmaker and educator.
Artist, roboticist, animator and Lamettrian Geppettoist.
Brett is a Canadian-born, Pittsburgh-based filmmaker, curator, and writer. Combining traditional research methods with materialist aesthetics and hybrid interfaces, Kashmere’s experimental documentaries explore the intersection of history and (counter-) memory, geographies of identity,and the politics of represenation. Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the National Film Board of Canada, the Saskatchewan Art Board, and the Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, his films and videos have screened internationally at the London Film Festival, Made in Video: International Video Art Festival in Copenhagen, Anthology Film Archives in New York, the Kassel Documentary Festival in Germany, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center in Buffalo, the British Film Institute, and The Images Festival in Toronto.
Heather is currently conducting her doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and running Marilyn Monrobot Labs in NYC, which creates socially intelligent robot performances and sensor-based electronic art.
Golan Levin develops artifacts and events which explore supple new modes of reactive expression. His work focuses on the design of systems for the creation, manipulation and performance of simultaneous image and sound, as part of a more general inquiry into the formal language of interactivity, and of nonverbal communications protocols in cybernetic systems. Through performances, digital artifacts, and virtual environments, often created with a variety of collaborators, Levin applies creative twists to digital technologies that highlight our relationship with machines, make visible our ways of interacting with each other, and explore the intersection of abstract communication and interactivity. Levin has exhibited widely in Europe, America and Asia.
Patricia is a visual artist and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University whose professional training is multidisciplinary and includes graduate studies in both molecular biology and visual arts. She often works collaboratively on projects that intersect the biological sciences and the visual arts. Integrating her interests in molecular genetics and psychology, Maurides probes issues of identity and origins in her art practice. She frequently uses her body as subject, screen, or conduit for memory play. Maurides teaches “Art and Biology”, a studio laboratory artmaking course that explores interactions between art and biology.
Marek Michalowski is a co-founder of BeatBots, a group of roboticists who design interactive characters and machines for entertainment, research, therapy, art and toys. Their popular robot Keepon was built to engage in nonverbal interaction with children, particularly those with autism. Michalowski holds a Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and B.A. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science and Psychology from Yale University. He has held visiting researcher positions at institutions in Japan (ATR, NICT), Korea (KAIST), and France (CNRS); he is collaborating with a group of robotic artists on the New Artist project; and he has recently worked with Syyn Labs to design Rube Goldberg machines.
Jill Miller received a BA from UC Berkeley in English Literature in 1999 and an MFA in Art from UCLA in 2004. At UCLA she worked with Paul McCarthy, John Baldessari, and Mary Kelly. Her work has been exhibited internationally; recent exhibitions include Collectors at 2nd Floor Projects in San Francisco and Playback at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in France. Miller has received grants and awards from Arts Council England and D’Arcy Hayman Foundation, among others. Her work has been collected around the world, including a recent acquisition by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. She currently teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and the California College of Arts.
Jonathan is an artist and filmmaker who investigates human experience in extreme environments and the evolutionary dynamic between nature and culture. Recent documentaries have featured communities of extremophiles; the nomads of Mongolia, deep sea oceanographers, scientists searching for extraterrestrial civilizations and artists working in outer space. Communities of interest include the nomads of Mongolia, deep sea oceanographers and astrobiologists, the SETI program and the emerging culture of humans in outer space. At the STUDIO, Jonathan is specifically involved with the Moon Arts Project where he records certain events and meetings and directs and edits all associated documentaries. Jonathan has a joint degree in Fine Art and Anthropology from Carnegie Mellon and previously worked at his alma mater’s College of Fine Arts as an advisor to prospective joint degree students.
Margaret Myers is the Associate Director of the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. She has over 25 years of experience in managing programs for artists and has a track record of success in creating environments for creativity and in assisting artists in finding funds for their work. She was previously the Executive Director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers and a grants program director in Media Arts and Theatre at the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has been a grant panelist for numerous agencies and an Adjunct Professor for the Arts Management Program. She served as principal investigator for several projects including the Creativity in Collective Project funded by the NEA and for the Pittsburgh Creativity Project.
Eric Paulos is the Director of the Living Environments Lab and an Assistant Professor in theHuman-Computer Interaction Institute with courtesy faculty appointments in the Robotics Institute within the School of Computer Science and in the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. Previously Eric was Senior Research Scientist at Intel Research in Berkeley, California where he founded the Urban Atmospheres research group – challenged to employ innovative methods to explore urban life and the future fabric of emerging technologies across public urban landscapes. His areas of expertise span a deep body of research territory in urban computing, sustainability, green design, environmental awareness, social telepresence, robotics, physical computing, interaction design, persuasive technologies, and intimate media. Eric is a leading figure in the field of urban computing, coining the term in 2004, and a regular contributor, editorial board member, and reviewer for numerous professional journals and conferences. Eric received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from UC Berkeley where he helped launch a new robotic industry by developing some of the first internet tele-operated robots including Space Browsing helium filled blimps and Personal Roving Presence devices (PRoPs).
Richard Pell is a founding member of the highly acclaimed art and engineering collective, the Institute for Applied Autonomy. His work with IAAincludes several robotic, web and biologically based projects that call into question the imperatives that drive technological development. IAA projects such as the robotic GraffitiWriter, iSee and TXTmob have been exhibited in art, activist and engineering contexts such as the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Mass MoCA, CAC in Cincinnati, Australian Center for the Moving Image, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Hackers On Planet Earth and the International Conference On Robotics And Automation. IAA projects have been chosen for an Award of Distinction and two Honorable Mentions at the Prix-Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria and were selected for RES Magazine’s 10 Best New Artists of 2005. His narrative and documentary videos explore the individual’s relationship to authority. His most recent video documentary entitled, Don’t Call Me Crazy On The 4th Of July, won the Best Michigan Director Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2005, took 1st prize at the Iowa International Documentary Film Festival has screened in numerous festivals internationally. In 2007 he was awarded a prestigious Rockefeller New Media Fellowship for the establishment of a new museum entitled The Center for PostNatural History.
Assistant Film and Video Curator at Warhol Museum, film collector extraordinaire with a specific interest in home movies and camera originals.
Ragona teaches a range of courses in the College of Fine Arts at CMU including MFA Academic Seminar, sophomore required surveys in both Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture, as well as various intermediate and upper level seminars in art history, film, sound, aesthetics, and critical theory. Ragona’s critical and creative work focuses on sound design, film theory and new media practice and reception. By forging approaches from the disciplines of film studies, art history, and new media technologies, her work has sought to present a more complex aesthetic, theoretical, and historical foundation for the analysis of contemporary time-based arts. Her current book project, Readymade Sound: Andy Warhol’s Recording Aesthetics examines Warhol’s tape recording projects from the mid-sixties until the late 70s in light of audio experiments in modern art as well as contemporary practices of pattern matching and information visualization.
Rossum’s is a working group for robotic artists and engineers. The group is devoted to creating and showing new art work which combines the digital and mechanical in embodied forms. The Rossum’s group meets semi-regularly to discuss practical and conceptual issues in our work. We also often invite external speakers to present at our meetings in a relaxed seminar format. Most of the group is concentrated in Pittsburgh, but the wider Rossum’s network includes members in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Indiana.
Jon Rubin is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores the social dynamics of public places and the idiosyncrasies of individual and group behavior. His projects include starting a radio station in an abandoned steel town that only plays the sound of an extinct bird, developing a hypnotized human robot army, running an autonomous nomadic art school, and operating a working restaurant that produces a live talk show with its customers. He has exhibited at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico; The Rooseum, Sweden; Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Germany; Nemo Film Festival, Paris; as well as in backyards, living rooms, and street corners.
1. computer scientist specializing in machine learning and its applications in language, biology, and social computing. 2. singer-songwriterand musician, proficient at several instruments and known to perform live on occasion [see also delicious pastries]. 3. freelance graphic designer, web developer, and mixing/mastering engineer for audio-type stuff. 4. founder of the annual february album writing month challenge [see fawm.org]. 5. traveler, lover of languages, wordplay addict, and armadillo enthusiast.
Natalie is an artist who engages the often-parallel concerns of art and science. For over a decade her work has lead to collaborative projects with researchers in biochemistry, botany, physiology, and zoology. In 2007 she lived and worked in Cambridge, UK independently researching Victorian design and topics in biology for her work in the Natural Motif series of drawings on paper and wall. Settles is a 2008 Wisconsin Arts Board Fellow. She is currently based in Pittsburgh, PA where she teaches in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University and is the artist in residence at the Tonsor Lab for Plant Evolutionary Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh.
Suzie Silver is an artist working primarily in video and performance. Her works have screened at the New Museum and Whitney Museum in New York; the Worldwide Video Festival in The Hague; Documenta IX Video Festival, Kassel; the London Film Festival; The Moscow Film Festival, gay and lesbian film and video festivals in Austin, Chicago, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Stockholm, and Tel Aviv; and dozens of other venues worldwide.
Eric Singer is a Brooklyn-based musician, artist, engineer and programmer with 20 years of arts and multimedia programming, engineering and performance experience. He holds a BS in Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon; a Diploma in Music Synthesis (Magna Cum Laude) from Berklee College of Music; and an MS in Computer Science from New York University. He has performed and lectured throughout the world with electronic musical instruments, as well as touring and recording with many bands on tenor, alto, and baritone saxes. He is a founding member of the Brooklyn-based arts collaborative The Madagascar Institute, and he has contributed to many of the group’s spectacular projects in addition to reaching the semi-finals with the MI-originating team “The Brooklyn Benders” on The Learning Channel’s ‘Junkyard Wars’ television show. He is also the founder of LEMUR (League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots), a group of artists and technologists creating robotic musical instruments. In addition to directing LEMUR, he currently works as an independent Arts Engineer and Consultant.
Straschnoy is a visual artist born in Buenos Aires in 1978. He lives and works in Helsinki.
Astria Suparak, a curator known for her efforts to highlight emerging and international artists, was appointed director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Miller Gallery, effective March 1, 2008. Suparak’s cutting-edge exhibitions often employ a variety of media, from painting and photography, to craft and electronic arts.
Jer Thorp is an artist and educator from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in New York. A former geneticist, his digital art practice explores the many-folded boundaries between science and art. Recently, his work has been featured by The New York Times, The Guardian, BusinessWeek and the CBC.
Mary Tremonte is an artist, educator, activist and DJ. She is a member of Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. Mary is a Youth Programs Coordinator at the Andy Warhol Museum and volunteers at Artists Image Resource and the Braddock Neighborhood Silkscreen Studio. She is consumed with printmaking, totally teens, collaboration, communication and the politics of social space, especially the dance-party.
Douglas Vakoch is the Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, as well as the only social scientist employed by a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) organization. Dr. Vakoch researches ways that different civilizations might create messages that could be transmitted across interstellar space, allowing communication between humans and extraterrestrials even without face-to-face contact. He is particularly interested in how we might compose messages that would begin to express what it’s like to be human.
Dawn is a multi-disciplinary artist and co-founder with Jon Rubin of Conflict Kitchen.
Dan is an artist, programmer, and performer also known as Robot Cowboy.
Garth is a roboticist, artist, and co-founder of Rossums. He is a researcher at the Robotics Institute, and specializes in “minimalist mechanisms, compliant manipulation, and legged locomotion.”
I’m reading two books with opposing philosophies simultaneously: You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier and Everything Bad is Good for You by Steven Johnson. The former argues that technology is reducing humanity to bits of information, and the latter argues that technology is contributing to mental evolution. As my reading progresses, I’ll post some highlights from both books (provided my brain doesn’t explode).
Let’s start with Mr. Lanier, who presents the following themes in the Preface and Chapter 1: Missing Persons.
Technology (software, file formats, web platforms, etc.) that is inflexible in design and isn’t adaptive to a range of future possibilities can lock-in patterns of human behavior that are reductive rather than expansive and can stunt the overall course of social evolution. (Lanier uses MIDI as an example of a pervasive standard format that has unintentionally limited the potential for digital music because it is too hard to change.)
Digital technologies stimulate different potentials in human nature, and current Web 2.0 designs are trending toward the reduction of users (people) to fragments. The way people engage with platforms like Twitter and wikis, by providing bits of succinct information, is ultimately toying with social engineering and changing how humans express meaning.
And the counterpoint, Mr. Johnson’s Introduction.
The Sleeper Curve
Despite the assumption that culture is being dumbed down, today’s video games, television shows, and movies are far more nuanced and advanced than those previous, and they ultimately encourage cognitive complexity that is causing culture to grow more sophisticated, not less.
Games vs. Books
Reading books is not necessarily more cognitively complex than playing video games. Video games have open ended narratives that require probing and telescoping (probe, hypothesize, reprobe, rethink), which is a basic procedure of scientific inquiry.
RELATED LINKS GALORE:
• An excellent story, Text without Context by Michiko Kakutani in the 3/17/10 issue of NY Times.
• The forthcoming book by Nicholas Carr, The Shallows, explores how the Internet is affecting our brains.
• A transcript of Caleb Crain’s talk on How the Internet is Changing Literary Style.