List of Things That Are Not Going Away

The following is a list of things that are not going to go away, no matter how hard you clap:

 

  1. Hippies.  Dreadlocks, tie die, sandals; how is it that this, among all the cultural fashions that ebb and flow, this is the timeless aesthetic that people can continue to which old and young alike can commit?
  2. That cricket that keeps you up at night.  It will outlive anything global warming can throw at it.
  3. The internet.

 

Digital technology has opened up so many fascinating landscapes for artists to play with.  The one big hangup was always the wires.  You had to be plugged in to enjoy the art.  But, the web is just now going wireless; no longer so web-like.  As the wires that once held artists to the wall, and kept our lazy butts in our seats, are cut, what frontiers are open to the geniuses of this next great medium of art history?  And, more importantly for our purposes, how can artists motivate people to get up, get out, and get talking?

 

Here’s a few of the artists and organizations that we at the Poorly Kept Secret Society think are poised to exploit the wireless future.  Some of them have not quite yet ventured outside their parents basements and delivered us our wireless future, but these are some of the minds who will do exactly that.

 

Dina Kelberman, who curates marvels from the milieu of the www.  Her presentation still very much works in the realm of screens, mice, and cables.  But her mindset is miraculous, bridging the most intriguing corners of the internet.

http://www.dinakelberman.com/index.html

 

Mary Miss.  Her little ditty for the Indianapolis Museum of Art seamlessly weaves a smartphone app with a walk down the river.  An elegant cross between public and virtual spaces.

http://www.marymiss.com/index_.html

 

Mark Amerika.  His Museum of Glitch Aesthetics project asks you to rethink the visual implications of contemporary technological fails.  He frames up the digital version of reverb, and it turns out so pretty!  What he could do to your iPhone…

http://markamerika.com/

 

Denver Digirati.  Plus Gallery serves up video and animation for the town square.

http://www.denverdigerati.com/

 

Ben Rubin.  Working in reverse, his public artworks are re-imagined human interface on an urban scale.  King of the new breed of data mining artists; look out for this guy.

http://earstudio.com/ben-rubin/

 

Halsey Burgund.  Fucking up your mobile device, directly.

http://halseyburgund.com/work/mg/

 

 

About Places: Jenny Odell

Artist Jenny Odell offers a unique marriage of art and place.  The Agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society generally deal with art in the public realm.  However, artists like Odell create works about the public realm.  What is there to learn from this?  How does the artists perspective on place serve a more academic function?  Here’s an interview with Odell that appeared recently in The Atlantic:

 

137 World Landmarks in One Picture, and Other Crazy Google Maps Art

by JOHN METCALFE, JUL 09, 2013

Call Jenny Odell a collector of spaces. Some are public, like all the basketball courts in Manhattan; others are most decidedly not, like smoke-puffing nuclear cooling towers. She doesn’t discriminate – she just wants to get her hands on as many as possible, so she can lay them out into maddening arrangements akin to a nutty entomologist’s butterfly collection.

Odell, who’s 27 and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, creates her works on a computer (sometimes at a Mission coffee shop) by pulling similar structures from Google Maps and spreading them into complex arrays that measure as large as 3 by 5 feet. “The main thing that I want people to take away from them is a new way of looking at their surroundings, specifically the ones so banal we risk ignoring them,” she says. “Being humans, it’s easy to forget how uniquely human we have made our environments.”

The artist began her odd quest to categorize the planet’s components on a whim in 2009, when she decided to find out just how many parking lots there were in her native San Jose. And she’s still making her meta-maps today, working on a series that deals with the massive machinery behind shipping and container transport. (She also manages the fun Tumblr, “The Satellite Tourist.”)

Seeing as how Odell will be showing new work beginning July 11 at SOMArt’s Electronic Pacific show – a promising-looking exploration of Pacific Rim culture staged in a bunch of shipping containers in San Francisco – I asked the artist to explain a little more about her obsession with ultimate order from above. Here’s what she had to say, with examples from her “Satellite Series”:

“137 Landmarks” (the key is here)

How’d you get the idea for these things?

I had just moved to San Francisco from Berkeley and since I relied a lot on maps at first (I didn’t, and still don’t, have a smartphone), I was thinking a lot about maps and how they can be seen as selective abbreviations of space. Different maps choose different things to show and other things to omit. In other words, I was already considering maps as collections of a certain type of information, an extraction from something infinite (space).

The first collection I made was of 144 empty parking lots; I grew up in San Jose always vaguely feeling like I was surrounded by empty parking lots but wanted to see what they would look like collected all together. I was expecting the result to be as depressing as the actual parking lots, but instead what was revealed was, somewhat humorously, the “personalities” of the parking lots – the careful or not-so-careful landscaping, the angles and density of lines, the blobby shapes (never the same), the tire-marks of people doing donuts, etc. Something I had meant to show similarities actually ended up showing their differences and idiosyncrasies. And I never took parking lots for granted again, which can be said for most of the things I’ve made collections of.


120 Stadiums

Is constructing these intricate pieces a terrible chore?

It can be painful in the sense that it’s very time consuming and labor intensive. But it’s definitely also satisfying to build something that slowly and see it come together over time. The concreteness of this work, both in process and outcome, is sort of like my stand against the quickness, distraction and immateriality of our usual experience of imagery on the internet.

The amount of time I spend with the imagery changes my relationship to it (and, I hope, the viewer’s), forcing a level of contemplation that might not occur naturally. And yes, it is satisfying to wrest some kind of order from the infinitude of satellite imagery, even if that order is completely subjective and personal, like a child organizing his or her favorite things according to imagined systems.

Every Outdoor Basketball Court in Manhattan

Is there meant to be any commentary on humanity’s sometimes ugly effect on the landscape?

Of course there is an environmentalist bent in pieces like the collections of landfills and waste ponds, but on a much broader note, what I’m trying to illuminate is the utter humanness and strangeness of the marks we’ve left on the earth. Only humans would build boxes of chlorinated water in the ground to occasionally splash around in, or engineer something as complicated as a water slide for the sole purpose of entertainment. Imagery taken from the inhuman perspective of a satellite provides us enough distance to appreciate the time and species-bound specificity of our surroundings, and to see ourselves reflected in them.

964 Round Parts of Wastewater Treatment Plants

Recently, I have been making collections of largely infrastructural elements like wastewater-treatment plants and power plants (and, for the SOMArts show, structures related to container transport) to highlight, on top of the specificity of these structures, the sheer effort it takes for us to continue existing on this planet. It can seem, from within the everyday perspective, that civilization is somehow magically running itself. Depending on who we are and where we live, our experiences of these things can often be removed and abstract – like how I know when I throw something away it goes to a landfill, but I have never seen that landfill.

At some point, a large portion of reality seems to have dematerialized. So by cutting out and collecting things like landfills, transmission towers, dams and container ships, I’m trying to highlight in a concrete sense the material mechanisms we have built and that we remain completely dependent on for our current existence. Having spent a lot of time with this imagery, I can say it’s quite a humbling realization.


206 Circular Farms


Shipping Containers, from a new series


195 Yachts, Barges, Cargo Lines, Tankers and Other Ships


97 Nuclear Cooling Towers 

Images used with permission of Jenny Odell

 

Update on Dalek’s Boulder Mural, from StreetArtNews.net

This dispatch was received on Sunday from StreetArtNews.net

Dalek New Mural In Boulder, USA

Brooklyn-based artist, Dalek just finished working on this new mural in Boulder, USA where he was helped by the local community and specifically kids.
If you are in the area, you’ll be able to find it on the Victors & Spoils’ building on East Pearl Street.
Look below for more angles of this piece and then check back with us soon for more updates from USA.
We at the Poorly Kept Secret Society can attest to the delight and wonder that comes from pulling masking tape.  The big reveal!!  These young men are forever changed for the better thanks to the good Mr. Dalek.

Dalek Spotted in Boulder

This just in from the Denver Egotist:

#ShitToHit: Saturday-Wednesday – Help Dalek Mural the Outside of Boulder’s Victors & Spoils

For the next several days, the artist Dalek (aka James Marshall) is painting a mural on the exterior wall of Victors & Spoils’ relatively new space in Boulder. Both the artist and V&S want to extend an invitation to art and design lovers to come by, watch, take pics and if you’d like — grab a paintbrush. In true crowdsourcing fashion, Dalek and V&S would like for it to be a community event as much as possible. It’s happening today (Saturday) through Wednesday. All are welcome to come and paint alongside him.

Agents are being dispatched.  Can’t wait to see the finished work.

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.’

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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…

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

http://mahachishty.com/Paintings.aspx

Let’s all learn from Mahwish.

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.