Green is the New Red, With Which to Paint the Town

First, we at the Poorly Kept Secret Society apologize for the title of this post.

Second, check out these images.  What do they have in common:

(Photo appeared on the Denver Post website.)

(Photo appeared on the Washington Post website.)

(Photo appeared on the New York Post website.)

Is this an act of civil disobedience?  A coordinated, suddenly national effort that will culminate in a social/environmental/economic message that will soon be revealed?  Is this the first battle cry for a new protest movement?

Or, a coincidence?  A couple of yahoos who think they’ll get their fifteen minutes via the mis-tint shelf at Sherman Williams?

Ooh!  Or, perhaps, a very clever consortium of rouge objects conservators who are drumming up business by hiring unsuspecting innocents to carry out this vandalism for the sole purpose of ensuring they will have work the next day!  Love a conspiracy!!

Here’re the stories:

Open question to all Agents and Co-conspirators of the Poorly Kept Secret Society: What elusive connection do the sites that were vandalized with green paint have in common?

I See What You Mean (Blue Bear) by Lawrence Argent

The Lincoln Memorial by Daniel Chester French

Washington National Cathedral

Joseph Henry by William Story

Once we know their common connection, we are that much closer to discovering the location of the Arc of the Covenant.

My apologies.  I am once again confusing my life with the movie I watched last night…


Several Agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society have been, for several years now, tracking a curious tag around the Denver Metropolitan Area:

The expertly formed tag was most compelling in concept: Fevers kept true to the name.  The tag popped up in many media, in many places: marker on electrical boxes, aerosol on retaining walls, bridges, road signs, billboards, on and on and on.  The tag itself was a fever, infecting the city.  The pace was frenetic, with a new manifestations of the Fevers disease popping up overnight.  Like the landscape itself was in the throws of the fever.  Or, perhaps, the tag itself was a symptom of some strange new social disease, a disease which compelled the poor patient to endlessly deface property all night: Turrets with spray cans.  It was disturbing and compelling.  Agents eagerly, yet with trepidation, sought out the next boil, the next rash, the next unusual locale for the obsessive Fevers tag to manifest.

And then… nothing.  Agents report that, though a few of Fevers tags remain, there have been no new cases to report in months.  The Poorly Kept Secret Society asks “what has happened to Fevers”?

Perhaps Fevers recovered, no longer compelled to scribble on lampposts and abandoned cars.  Perhaps Fevers has been arrested: sentenced to probation and community service.  Sobered by the experience, perhaps Fevers has given up the lifestyle.  Perhaps Fevers only tagged to keep the mind occupied through the Great Recession and now, gainfully employed in a cushy recovery job (I imagine building solar panels on a hefty government contract…) perhaps Fevers has no time, no energy to devote to the sickness.  Perhaps Fevers escaped the compulsive allure of Denver’s streets, and now fights the urge to infect some other town.

Whatever the reason, the fever has broken.

Some Agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society are saddened.  Some hope for a relapse.

Note to Agents: Chamber of Camaraderie

A community forms a Chamber of Commerce to represent the interests of business.  That is to say the “profits of business owners”.  They may have other stated goals such as community vitality and employment, but those are of course means to increasing profits.

We at the Poorly Kept Secret Society have no qualms about business, or indeed Chambers of Commerce.  (Well, no complaints about the concept of a Chamber if Commerce, at least. Their actions can sometimes be dubious…)

However, there are other aspirations for a city.  Other than the profits of business owners, I mean.  And, there are organizations, for- and non-profit, for whom the primary focus is the well-being of the city.  Where is their lobbyist?  Who is out there wooing new artists… or charities… or activists… to a city?  Where is their Chamber?

For discussion:  What does that organization look like?   What cities have experimented with that?   What if there was a Chamber of Camaraderie?

Agents may respond to this discussion topic in the usual manner:  leave a coded note pinned to the back of the scarf or fedora of a bleary-eyed hipster waiting in the ridiculously long line to get a breakfast table that is forming outside Jelly restaurant, 13th and Pearl in Denver.

Lynne Bruning

Here’s a stellar interview by Body Pixel with Denver’s digital dressed-up darling, Lynne Bruning.  (Special points awarded for alliteration.)

Interview with Lynne Bruning: Doing Groovalicious eTextiles!

Lynne Bruning is an award winning wearable artist, eTextile innovator and, as she likes to title herself, ‘a textile enchantress, lover of black sand beaches, tangerine bikinis and fast connections.’

Synaptic by Lynne Bruning, photo: Carl Snider

She holds an Bachelor of Arts in neurophysiology and Masters in architecture. Her artworks have been published in numerous fashion magazines, web zines and all over the blogosphere. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

Lynne is pretty active member and proponent of DIY scene in eTextiles and wearable tech fields. I’ve met her via Twitter a few months ago and since then I’ve been planning to bring her here for the interview…

Black Pirate TuTu by Lynne Bruning, photo by Carl Snider

When I saw that you hold BA in neuropsychology, somehow I wasn’t surprised that you are dealing now with eTextile, playing with Arduino, wires and electricity…

LB: Every girl’s dream is for a fast neural connection.  :)

You also hold an MA in architecture… how did you jump in these shoes and what fascinates you in architecture?

LB: This was a jump in scale, not function. My time in neurophysiology was working with electron microscopes focused on a cellular level research.  While architecture was about using cranes and concrete to design the built environment for those conglomerations of cells to inhabit.

Realistically, a human body and a building have all the same elements – circulation, respiration, temperature regulation, waste removal, skin, fenestrations, energy production ect.  Same functions. Different materials and scale.  Simple, yes?

Harlequin Coat by Lynne Bruning, photo: Carl Snider

Indeed, I love to be surrounded by beautiful well designed architecture.  Just to inhabit this type of space can elevate your spirits, dictate how people will behave or place you in majestic awe.  I recommend you seek out exceptional architecture every day and soak up the vibes of honesty, integrity, form, function and beauty. It will make you a happier person.

Does it mean that you see your textile design and fashion as a sort of sculpture?

LB: I see my creations as a symbiotic combustion of fashion, art, sculpture and science and the wearer adds dimension by breathing life into the textile product.

When did your interests in textile art start?

LB: I come from a family of sewers, quilters and knitters so I have always been surrounded unique textiles. I have slept under my great-grandmothers wedding ring quilt and worn prom dresses designed and sewn by my mother. As young children we were taught to seek unique independent shops to find speciality fabrics, buttons and yarns.  Yet, I think it all began when my mother brought me home from the hospital swaddled in a pink mohair blanket her father had found in Peruvian Andes.

Candy. C by Lynne Bruning, photo: Carl Snider

What inspired you to get into fashion design?

LB: I don’t consider myself a fashion designer.  Yes, I make garments that people wear, yet you can just as well hang them within a frame and they function as pieces of art. Fashion is simply a byproduct of my artistic and scientific process.

My creations are actresses in a performance art piece on the stage of the Theater of Life. Sometime the cloth is animated by motion. Sometimes by light.  All are at their best when being worn on life’s main stage.

DayGlo Weave by Lynne Bruning, photo: Carl Snider

When exactly did you first get into eTextiles industry and how did it come about?

LB: In 2006 I ordered stainless steel thread from Texture Trading Company. Once I had it, then I wondered what to do with it. Fortunately, the LilyPad Ardunio was soon released.

How would you describe your own work and aesthetics?

LB: I call it: exploratory innovations in textiles, garment construction and eTextiles.  Others simply refer to it as groovalicious.

Making the LED wiring harness for Mrs. Mary Atkins Holl

I’ve noticed that you like to play with prints and motifs on your garments… you’re not running away from colours and playfulness…

LB: I do love an infusion of intensely vibrant colours.  It’s like walking thru a tropical garden while the rising sun warms the skin and awakens your vibrantly illuminated world.

Can you tell us more about your artwork Haptic Coat for the Blind entitled Bats Have Feelings Too!

LB: Here is a little story for you that explains why I made Bats Have Feelings Too!  as a creative commons project.

When I was five, my Grandfather piled my brother, our 15 year old gardener Joseph, copper pipes, butane torches, plumbing supplies, a couple of goats and me into our ancient Ford Fairlane.   We drove deep into the Jamaican Blue Mountains to Joseph’s hamlet where there was only one water spigot for a community of hundred people.

Bats Have Feelings Too! by Lynne Bruning, photo: Carl Snider

That day, I watched and learned as Grandfather taught Joseph, and eventually an entire village, how to install copper plumbing.  Demonstrating as he ran the line from that spigot to Joseph’s one room concrete block tin roofed home.  This event was the beginning of many do-it-yourself lessons and is the grounding source of my ideal for democratization of technology.

That day Grandfather changed many lives by sharing the knowledge of how to use technology and a few simple tools to improve your world.  With Bats I hope I have shared a building block, a jumping off point,  for the global development and use of a ‘wearable cane’.  It is a project that can be made anywhere in the world.  It can be tailored to that specific persons aesthetics and mobility needs. Most of all it shares Grandfather’s belief that anyone can solve a challenge thru technology, ingenuity and determination.

Synaptic by Lynne Bruning, photo: Carl Snider

What has inspired you to create Synaptic coat?

LB: Synaptic was derived from looking thru too many scientific journals at day glo images of celular structure.  While her fluttery edges and triple layer structure remind me of sea slugs lightly skimming across the sand.

Could you describe a process of designing your interactive garments… More precisely, is your design process different when you design interactive fashion compared to when you design clothes?

LB: Interactive garments require more advance planing due to circuitry design and integration so I begin with that focus in mind.  While my art  develops from a fiber – it’s drape, texture, luminosity, transparency etc.  Even when I create or weave my fabrics I frequently don’t have the final product in mind. I let the fiber dictate the direction of the final creation.

What techniques and equipment do you use in your work?

LB: I have 2 looms, 5 sewing machines, knitting needles, irons, and a hot glue gun that I should use more often.

My techniques are rooted in a simple childhood lesson – that if I can dream it, I can make it.  That is, as long as I work really really really hard and ask for help when needed. Compromises in a fiber or method may be require as I problem solve my design. Yet, these alterations generally lead me to a final product that is even better than I dreamed of. Yet, ultimately, I rely on the gift of dreams, experimentation and perseverance.

What fibers and textiles do you use and why?

LB: I prefer natural fibers for their ecological responsibility, yet I have been known to weave with atypical elements such as surveyor’s string, grass, plastic bags because you never really know what will evolve from these experiments.  I also save and use all of my fabric scraps as with the patchwork series and then those scraps are used for the string series.

Li-po powersupply for the UV LEDs sewn to final lobster bustle
working processes on Mrs. Mary Atkins Holl

You are a truly active member of the international DIY scene… You have shared your experiences not only through workshops and classes but via web based projects such as Instructables and Makezine… What is your opinion on development of DIY scene in wearable technology context?

LB: eTextiles are an innovative global exploration where many of the cutting edge developers believe and support the principals of open sources and creative commons. By sharing our experiences over the internet we have been able to quickly advance our collective progress. I hope that sharing information and fostering DIY projects will continue as the field matures.

How do you see the future of wearable electronic technology?

LB: Vast. Exciting. Profound. Groovalicious.

Bright Paches by Lynne Bruning, photo by Carl Snider

Who are your favourite artists? And why?

LB: Leonardo da Vinci for his amazing unending creativity and innovation.

David Hockney: understanding and documentation of multiple perspectives in one piece of art. Documentary A Bigger Picture comes out this summer “John Tusa Interviews David Hockney (2004)”.

Louise Bourgeois: depiction of the psychosocial within her inhabitable spaces – The Spider, The Mistress and The Tangerine.

David Lynch: he’s so rad!

Mrs. Mary Atkins Holl by Lynne Bruning, photo: Carl Snider

You have worked for Burning Man Festival? What’s the atmosphere and the whole vibe there like?

For me the vibe on playa is about finding and understanding your super special talent.  We all have something we excel at.  Its your most natural talent.  Once you understand it, then you give it away to the community.  Frequently and freely.

When everyone comes together and offers their super special talent to the collective group – anything and everything is possible.  Be it large scale art as with Big Rig Jig or Serpent Mother.  Or individual playafashion or to actually building the city for 50,000 citizens.

Each one of us has something to offer that makes our collective time together all the more precious, real and vibrant. What will you be bringing to the playa this year?

Working processes on Mrs. Mary Atkins Holl, photo by Lynne Bruning

What advice do you have for a person who wants to mess around with textiles, wirez and electricity?

LB: Just do it! Its  a 3V battery, it’s not like you can hurt yourself. Then, go look at Instructables website for more information.

What are your future plans?

LB: I will be at Maker Faire in San Mateo 22-23 May. Please come say hello!

Lynne, thanks a lot!

Let’s all learn from Lynne!

Mahwish Chishty

Perhaps we humans are to be divided into two types: those who think our best days are behind us and, those who believe we are on the brink of better times.  Though they seem to be at odds, both are, of course, symptoms of the same disease.  Then, there are some who see things as they are.  They realize what is happening right now.  They fully appreciate both the promise and the horror of their moment.  Mahwish Chishty is one of those people. She paints traditional Pakistani patterns onto the silhouette of drone aircraft. Nothing assumed. Nothing done to grieve or critique. (At least, not on the surface.) She merely acknowledges her situation; the situation of her people. The beauty and horror of the subjects of everyday conversation in her life.  Of course, Chishty comes from that part of the world where introspection is more common.  But for us, her artwork reads as subtly biting.

Ew.  Did I just use the term “subtly biting”?  My apologies.

Let’s all learn from Mahwish.

Secret Assignment Complete

Agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society, working under cover, just completed the installation of artwork by Sam Flores, Dave Choe, and Highraff at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver. This clandestine graffiti installation brings three murals originally created at 2012’s Terminal Kings event back out on the streets.


Go see it.

Tell no one.

The Penguins of Taksim

Recently a profound social movement erupted in Istanbul. It quickly spread to a nation-wide protest. Some say it may rejuvenate the spirit of the Arab Spring, as Egyptians and Brazilians now fill the streets in their turn. With this heady world event unfolding, we in the Poorly Kept Secret Society cannot help but contemplate the Penguins.

The government decided that the public square in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, Taksim Square, could be privately developed.  Turn it into a shopping mall!  Make some cash!  Who needs a public square, anyway, when one can have a cheap venti double-shot latte with extra foam!  A venti double-shot latte with extra foam stands in for the public commons, right?  A full on social and political revolt resulted.  Feet in the streets.  Protests in Istanbul spread throughout the country.  And, the grievances spread as well: a general uneasiness about creeping fundamentalism (according to Western media sources…).  These developments have been the source of much discussion amongst Agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society.  The fact that a public space could be so vital, so consequential to the people of Turkey is heartening.

Nothing new, of course.  We all remember the outcry over the crass closing and demolition of the South Central Farm in Los Angeles.  What?  You don’t remember?  Look:

What do we learn about the built environment by examining those times in our past when we have taken to the streets, or taken to arms, over the Commons?  How does it relate to our Rights?  And, does this lead us to the Right to the City movement?  Some Agents in the Poorly Kept Secret Society think that is extreme.  Others think that might be inevitable.  Of course, some of our Agents also think that the third season of Downton Abby is a fine way to spend two solid days.  (And, for such actions they will be censured.)

The social and political movement in Turkey is all the more remarkable, and ironically charming, in just how it has developed  a cultural language.  As the protestors of Turkey were attacked by security forces, CNN Turk saw it fit to forgo the live footage of peaceful protestors being attacked, and instead chose to run a delightful documentary about penguins.  Those cute little tuxedo-ed fowl stood in for the uprising.  This abhorrent editorial gaff was quickly embraced by the leaders of the protest.  What better symbol for both the degenerate acquiescence of the world media and metaphor for the elite’s desires for our society: stand in line; act and look the same; be as we tell you to be; identify as identical so that we may profit from the industry of culture.


The Penguin began to appear in graffiti, on t-shirts, everywhere.  (This little diddy from The Guardian spells it out okay:  We, the agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society, think it should be a world-wide meme.  Embrace the Penguin as a symbol for the new Horizontalismo!  Encourage the peaceful reinvigorated world-wide call for Democracy!  Raise the flipper instead of the fist!



Miranda July and the National Security Agency

Agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society received their first missive today from Miranda July.  Her new project, We Think Alone, is an art project delivered directly to email accounts.  July is curating emails from the inboxes of her friends from around the world, and sending you a new collection each week.  The individuals who volunteered for this invasion of privacy are:

  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Lena Dunham
  • Kirsten Dunst
  • Sheila Heti
  • Etgar Keret
  • Kate and Laura Mulleavy
  • Catherine Opie
  • Lee Smolin
  • Danh Vo

The theme of the first message was “money”.

Our organization is still unsure if this project is: a) gooey-eyed celebrity worship mixed with voyeurism, or b) a tantalizing foray by an extraordinary artist into the banality of our modern communications.  Or, as some of our Agents hope, just a bit of fun at our expense.