Bits: 09.29.09

Open Your Eyes, a mural in Stephen (ESPO) Powers' "A love Letter for You" project, Philadelphia

• Yes! The Yes Men are the first ever recipients of The Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change, "presented by Creative Time to an artist who has committed her/his life’s work to social change in powerful and productive ways." [Press release pdf.] The prize, and presumably the $25,000 check, will be presented on Oct. 23 at The Creative Time Summit: Revolutions and Public Practice at the New York Public Library.

Combat Paper: In papermaking workshops, veterans cut up their combat uniforms, beat the pieces and form the pulp into paper which is later used to make 2D art. On view at last week's Week for Peace at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, it'll be on view at the Carleton College gallery in Northfield, Minn., Oct. 22–Nov. 18. (Thanks, Mark.)

• Dissident Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei has been hospitalized in Munich for a cerebral hemmorhage he says was the result of police brutality. He was being monitored in July by authorities for criticizing the government over alleged graft that exacerbated the effects of the 2007 Sichuan earthquake: local officials skimmed funds dedicated to school construction, leaving shoddy construction that killed thousands during the quake. Via Abitare.

ArtInfo looks at the Warhol Museum exhibition, Drawn to the Summit: A G-20 Exhibition of International Political Cartoons. And, Rob Rogers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette compares responses to the G20 to the treatment economy-wrecking financial execs got.

• Trailer: Finding Bibi, a documentary chronicling Iranian American filmmaker Bita Haidarian's cross-cultural personal journey to Pakistan in search of Mukhtaran Bibi, a woman who tried her rapists in open court and won.

• Fascinating gallery of photos from "Nollywood," Nigeria's film industry, which is world's third largest. Via @cmonstah.

• New York skywriter writes "CLOUD CLOUD CLOUD" in... well, the sky, of course.

• Via @cmonstah (again): "Autotune + Carl Sagan + Stephen Hawking + synth keyboards = I have no words."


Eyeteeth: Tenth best blog in Minnesota

Picture 1
Newsbobber says Eyeteeth is the tenth best blog in Minnesota (here's the top 100). It's calculated by an algorithm that averages "Google PageRank, inbound links measured by Yahoo, Google Reader subscribers and blog rankings from PostRank." I'm skeptical, but I'll take it!

Sophie Blackall's missed connections

Sophie Blackall's illustrations of Craigslist "Missed Connections."


After Survivaball arrest, Yes Men to file complaint against NYPD

CNN covers this week's Yes Men Survivaball protest, "Balls Across America," during which Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum was arrested. But fret not: In a press release on Thursday he said he was released after 26 hours.

"The judge just laughed," said Bichlbaum. "The police had a less well-developed sense of humor - and, it turned out, much less regard for the law. But all in all, I'm ecstatic that they arrested me."

The event, coinciding with a UN meeting on climate change, was a "scenic and mediagenic way to call attention to what our leaders need to do in the run-up to Copenhagen," said Bichlbaum. (Learn more at BeyondTalk.net.)

But that's not the end of it. Bichlbaum says the arresting officer last Tuesday lied, saying that he tried to jump a fence and escape, something his lawyer says is impossible since "the police arrived after the Survivaballs had all entered the beach." The cop also said the beach was clearly marked as not public, which Bichlbaum denies. He'll file a complaint against the officer with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

"My case doesn't matter in itself," said Bichlbaum. "In fact, I'm really happy it turned out as it did. But I hope we can help expose the systemic and nefarious culture of lying within the NYPD, that has had the effect of criminalizing protest in New York City."

"The police have to be told very clearly that they can't lie and expect to get away with it," Bichlbaum added. "The stakes are far too high."

"Bicycle Built for 2,000"

Aaron Koblin and Daniel Massey's Bicycle Built for 2,000 is among nine projects nominated for a 2010 transmediale Award. The project's description:
Bicycle Built For 2,000 is comprised of 2,088 voice recordings collected via Amazon's Mechanical Turk web service [through which you can hire individuals around the world, often for pennies per time, to perform small online tasks]. Workers were prompted to listen to a short sound clip, then record themselves imitating what they heard.
When aggregated, all these recordings make up a curious rendition of Harry Dacre's 1892 "Daisy Bell," the "bicycle built for two" song. The project site says the song "was made famous in 1962 by John Kelly, Max Mathews, and Carol Lockbaum as the first example of musical speech synthesis. In contrast to the 1962 version, Bicycle Built For 2,000 was synthesized with a distributed system of human voices from all over the world."

Via @vagueterrain

Bits: 09.26.09

Paul Shambroom, Martin Mace cruise missile, Interstate 75 Exit 146, Centerville, Georgia, 2008

• In the statement for his newest series, "Shrines" (above), photographer Paul Shambroom asks, "Why is a machine that was made for killing used as a memorial to the dead? Does it help a community mourn and heal from its losses, or is it intended to inspire new generations of warriors? Can it do both?"

• Swedish artist Tue Greenfort discusses his Project for the New American Century, part of Creative Time's just closed exhibition PLOT09/This World & Nearer Ones at Governor's Island, NY. (I'd be remiss if I didn't give props to friends at Latitudes, who first introduced me to Greenfort's work a few years ago.)

• Rob Walker, Buying In author and "Murketing" blogger, recently launched a new project: Significant Objects pairs thrift store purchases with creative writers, who invent a story to go with each piece. The story and object are then auctioned off on Ebay. For instance, a tiny metal boot -- purchased by Walker for $3 and "invested with new significance" by cyberpunk writer/futurist Bruce Sterling -- sold online for $86.

• At Smithsonian, art historian Henry Adams asks: Did Jackson Pollock hide his name in the paint swirls of his 1943 Mural? (Via Alex Kent on Facebook.)

• For its inaugural edition, the new Twin Cities-based literary and contemporary arts journal Quodlibetica opens with the theme of "wilderness."

• That's cool: Rather than hoarding their collection of 1,100 works by artists like Warhol, Diebenkorn, Twombly, and Kieffer for themeselves or in a named museum of their own, GAP cofounders Doris and Donald Fisher are giving the whole shootin' match to SFMOMA. (It might be a loan; the press release language isn't entirely clear.)

• LA artist Mark Bradford is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow. Congrats.

• Onetime Madison pal Tomasso Lesnick has been adding udders to things -- dinosaurs, bears, camels -- to awesome effect.

• To the chagrin of a NY Post (i.e. News Corp.) columnist, American Girl introduces a homeless doll. Meet Gwen Thompson.

Architectural stencil art in Lisbon

ICON Magazine, in Lisbon recently, shot this wall filled with architectural stencil street-art:
The selection indicates that this particular graffer both knows his onions and has good taste: Peter Zumthor's chapel in Mechernich, SANAA's school in Essen, OMA's Casa da Musica and one building that looks suspiciously like Valerio Olgiati's Yellow House, but we may be wrong. There are also classics, such as Jørn Utzon's Sydney Opera House and a collection of Oscar Niemeyer's Brasilia buildings.
Via noticias arquitectura / blog.

Yoko Ono to Ralph Nader: "Does she look like a tiny dragon?"

“I think it is so sweet of you to write a book about somebody who resembles me. I don’t mind at all, of course. Does she look like a tiny dragon?"

Yoko Ono, in a note to Ralph Nader after hearing a likeness of her appears in his novel, "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!"


Walker's "The Quick and the Dead" nominated for Guggenheim art award

The first annual Art Awards at the Guggenheim have a local nominee: The Walker Art Center -- the only non-New York American venue* nominated for a prize -- is up for best museum group show for The Quick and the Dead. In a twist, that show, curated by former New York-based Creative Time curator Peter Eleey, competes with After Nature, last year's show at the New Museum, now headed by former Walker chief curator Richard Flood.

Update: Given that artist Rob Pruitt's involved -- and the schlocky look of the prize (not to mention Mary-Kate Olson's participation) -- I should've known: this is part of a "performance-based artwork." Dur. (Thanks, Kristina.) That said, The Quick and the Dead, which closes this Sunday, is a fantastic show.

Pictured: Pierre Huyghe's Timekeeper (1999), a "circular abrasion to the wall, revealing the successive layers of paint from past exhibitions," from The Quick and the Dead.

* In solo shows, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, was nominated multiple times, but for exhibitions organized in collaboration with New York venues.


Painter/physician Dr. Sam brings affordable health care to Minneapolis artists

Elbowtoe street art, photographed by Jake Dobkin, via HragV.

A Springboard for the Arts study finds that Minnesota artists are twice as likely as the general public to be uninsured. Enter: Dr. Sam.

A painter and physician, Dr. Sam Willis has for two years been working to provide affordable, creative approaches to health care for artists and others who are priced out of the market. He offers a monthly membership for $60 a month, with a $36 per fee visit, and expects to have 500 members; if that isn't what you're looking for, office visits for non-members are $100. (Pre-existing conditions aren't a problem.) He even, on occasion, barters services for art, as he did for photographer Michael Shapiro, who traded a photo for five office visits.

Listen to Chris Roberts' report:

Blu and David Ellis collaborate at the Fame Festival


NYPD confiscates spoof Yes Men paper outside News Corp. HQ

Photo via The Yes Men, Flickr

When several volunteers headed to News Corp. building in New York to hand out copies of the Yes Men-produced spoof climate-change edition of the NY Post Monday, NYPD officers detained them and confiscated their papers.

So, why were the police using public funds to act on a corporation's behalf? Sure, the volunteers were passing out the fake papers outside the Post's HQ, but the paper itself claimed to be "flattered" by the spoof. But, more importantly, parody is allowed under the fair-use provision of copyright law. (The same day Yes Men co-founder Andy Bichlbaum was arrested while demonstrating the SurvivaBall, a self-contained living unit that safely silos an individual off in the event of war or natural disaster.)

John Bercovici of Daily Finance asks another question of the police action: "[D]id News Corp. -- a journalistic enterprise that has a vested interest in defending free speech -- have anything to do with it?" It would appear so. He talked with volunteer Melissa Lockwood, who had no trouble passing out 300 of the papers. But right after one of the volunteers managed to get a copy in the hands of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, Lockwood recalls, two cops showed up and took as many as 300 papers.

"The policemen said they needed to have the papers there with them, because someone from the Post was coming over to inspect them ... and they implied we would be in more trouble if we were still there" when that happened, she said.

The Yes Men tell Bercovici they're fine letting the incident go, "no matter how illegal it was."


Park(ing) Day time-lapse

Last Friday was Park(ing) Day -- an annual event in which intrepid citizens convert parking spaces into temporary parks -- and while I covered the fun for MnIndy, some MCAD students and staff were capturing the day's activities to make this time-lapse of their park(ing) spot.


Yes Men blanket NYC with climate-change edition of NY Post

In advance of Tuesday's UN summit on reducing carbon emissions, The Yes Men and 2,000 volunteers distributed spoof copies of the New York Post -- only every word of the 32-page paper is true. From the release:
The fake Post's cover story ("We're Screwed") reports the frightening conclusions (pdf) of a blue-ribbon panel of scientists commissioned by the mayor's office to determine the potential effects of climate change on the City. That report was released in February of this year, but received very little press at the time. Other lead articles describe the Pentagon's alarmed response to global warming ("Clear & Present Disaster"), the U.S. government's sadly minuscule response to the crisis ("Congress Cops Out on Climate"), China's alternative energy program ("China's Green Leap Forward Overtakes U.S."), and how if the US doesn't quickly pass a strong climate bill, the crucial Copenhagen climate talks this December could be a "Flopenhagen."

The paper includes original investigative reporting as well. One article ("Carbon counter counts New Yorkers as fools") reveals that Deutsche Bank - which erected a seven-story "carbon counter" in central Manhattan - not only invests heavily in coal-mining companies worldwide, but has recently entered the business of coal trading itself.

The paper has the world's gloomiest weather page, covering the next 70 years rather than just 7 days. The "Around the World" section describes the disproportionate effects of climate change on poorer parts of the world, including extreme droughts, floods, famines, water shortages, mass migrations and conflicts. Developing countries will bear the brunt of climate change effects even though they have done very little to cause the problem.


Shepard Fairey's studio hit with anti-ACORN stencil

Photo: The Eastsider LA

Rightwingers, normally champions of property-owners' rights, are apparently tagging LA with an anti-ACORN stencil, and they've reportedly hit, among other locations, Shepard Fairey's studio. A stencil reading "ACORN Funded Prostitution Zone" appeared on the wall of Fairey's Echo Park shop, leading Fishbowl LA to make the inane assumption that "its location suggests that Fairey or someone in his crew is behind the image." (That line is getting amplified by rightwing blogs like Michele Malkin's Hot Air.) While I find that legit street-artists aren't so prone to hitting pristine buildings, there's a bigger reason to doubt Fairey's involved -- aside from the fact that it looks nothing like his work: He had the historic building sandblasted and coated with anti-graffiti sealant to protect the brick, according to The Eastsider LA. The more obvious hypothesis is that Fairey's studio was hit in retaliation for his involvement with progressive causes.

Via Sadly No.


Rothko juice

Which one's the Rothko, and which one's carrot juice? Juicing veggies from my backyard garden, I was struck by the similarity. The tomato juice had a vague Barnett Newman feel, but couldn't pull off nature's forgery as well, thanks to the cutesy canning jar I used.


Paul Chan's "Top 5 Things that Would Get You Arrested" in Minneapolis

I mean, "Top Five Things We Ought to Do Together to Make Something Interesting." Chicago-based artist Paul Chan was in Minneapolis last night (while I was pecha-kuching, so I missed it). But apparently he talked with members of the Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council. Here's what he had to say on the aforementioned topic.


Panel tonight: "What is news now" at the Weisman

"What is news now?" The topic, gargantuan on its own, is one I'll be addressing tonight at 7 p.m. at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, but with some limitations. Befitting, perhaps, the quick-hit world of blogs and Twitter, I've been asked to do a pecha-kucha-style presentation on the topic: 20 slides, with 20 seconds to explain each. Speeding through the terrain of social media, citizen journalism and radical transparency with me will be fellow panelists Chris Ison, a professor of journalism at the University of Minnesota and 1990 Pulitzer Prize winner, and artist Kathryn Refi. Nora Paul, director of the U's Institute for New Media Studies, will moderate.

The night, part of the Weisman's recurring WAM Chatter program, is presented in conjunction with its exhibition Au Courant: Robert Rauschenberg's Currents, on view through October 4.


Bits: 09.15.09

Camera on city, Castle Williams, Governors Island, NY (2003) by Lisa Kereszi, from the Governors Island series [via > via]

• As Glenn Beck accuses the National Endowment for the Arts of being a propaganda outfit (and questions whether artists have "principles"), LA Times art writer Christopher Knight points out that the logo for the Glenn Beck-affiliated 9/12 march on Washington over the weekend "derives from century-old communist, socialist and other left-wing designs." Of course, it's not the first time Beck's opined about art.

RIP Jim Carroll.

Pranksters rickroll MIT: First eight notes of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" glued to the side of the school's Great Dome.

• Friday is PARK(ing) Day. Here's ground zero for the Minneapolis-St. Paul version.

Bill Viola bags on a conference with the Pope about restoring links between art and faith out of disagreement with the church's teachings. Via @TylerGreenDC.

Unurth unearths a lovely mural by art duo Interesni Kazki in the forest near Vorokhta, Ukraine.

• Trailer: Untitled, a spoof on the contemporary art world.

• The National Summit on Arts Journalism is Oct. 2 at UCLA USC. I wonder if Glenn Beck's going...

Visualizing Beethoven's Fifth.

• Test your knowledge: is it a cheese or a font?


Bits: 09.14.09

Looking at "how we value labor," Yumi Janairo Roth's carved pallets are often intricately detailed or inlaid with mother of pearl. Detail here. Via Gala Bent.

• They hate us for our design: In July, Homeland Security dismantled a sign at the U.S./Canada border, designed by Pentagram, out of fear the 21-foot name "United States" would be a target for terrorists. Designer Michael Bierut tells Ellen Lupton that the design team figured there could be nothing more neutral than the name of the country you're entering. He adds:
By the way, if you're looking for potentially provocative messages that our country shoves in people's faces at border crossings, I'd call your attention to one of my least favorite recent designs, the design of the new U.S. passport. It's filled with eagles, flags, passages from historic documents and aphorisms that may be heartfelt statements of patriotism, but they are absolutely anything but neutral.
• David Byrne imagines elements of the perfect city, citing Minneapolis' lakefront bike paths and Berlin's bustling Karl Marx Allee.

Princess Hijab is back and getting drippy a la Zevs.

• Artist wins $15,000 in New Zealand for work made out of the detritus of other contest entries.

• Video of Andrew Meyer's wood-and-papier mache hand-cranked automaton, Don't Tase Me, Bro.

• Steve (ESPO) Powers writes 50 giant love letters to Philly. Official site.

Reimagining the public pissoir.

• Hey New Yorkers: The Yes Men are looking for participants in a "GIANT, extremely FUN, potentially WORLD-FIXING shenanigans on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21."

My favorite musical YouTube video in ages (NSFW: cussing).


Seismic shifts in social media

Stats-rich presentation on the growth and ubiquity of social media. Takeaway: "Social media isn't a fad. It's a fundamental shift in how we communicate."

DC Tea Party protests

As Barack Obama addresses health care here in Minneapolis, anti-tax "Tea Party" protesters are doing their thing in DC. My colleagues at the Washington Independent are covering it. As I'm typing this, Obama just delivered these fitting words, which offer a good set-up for these photos of the fun back in the capital city:
Of course, what we’ve also seen in these last few months is the same partisan spectacle that has left so many of you disappointed in Washington for so long. Too many have engaged in scare tactics instead of honest debate. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points instead of working together to solve a long-term challenge.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is the time to deliver on health care.


Bits: 09.07.09

Stencil spotted on Plymouth Ave. bridge, Minneapolis

• Artist Robert Fontenot has been buying up textiles deaccessioned by LACMA and transforming them into his art: a 1954 Claire McCardle dress became a hobo bag, while a pair of knickers from 1925 were turned into boxing gloves (knickerboxers?). Studio 360 interviews the artist -- who's no friend to some in the fashion industry -- and LACMA curator Rita Gonzales. Via Unconsumption.

• Amsterdam is moving an offshore platform once used as a pirate radio station to be part of the city's Spaarndammerhout neighborhood.

• In Berlin, artists Delavega, Ephemera + Lascarr collaborate to realize a project imagined in Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities: "In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city's life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses [...]. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain."

• London police put the kibosh on artist Ben Turnbull's plan to install a vending machine filled with fake handguns outside a school. Via FAD.

Video of David Byrne's just-closed Playing the Building, an "audio installation [that]... turns the building into sort of a musical instrument."

• Pitchfork looks at Yo La Tengo's new album cover, which features a Dario Robleto sculpture. Here's what it's made from: "Cassette: carved bone & bone dust from every bone in the body, trinitite (glass produced during the first atomic test explosion at Trinity test site circa 1945, when heat from the blast melted surrounding sand), metal screws, rust, letraset; audio tape: an original composition of military drum marches, weapon fire, and soldiers' voices from battlefields of various wars made from Electronic Voice Phenomena recordings (voices and sounds of the dead or past, detected through magnetic audio tape)."

• The latest in artworld celebrity gossip: Björk and Barney split?

Buddha Pears!! Via WBE.

Déjà vu: Little Rock race protesters in '59 used same rhetoric as Obama foes today

A 1959 protest against racial integration of schools in Little Rock featured similar rhetoric as today's protests against ObamaCare -- that it's "Communism." Via the Library of Congress at Wikimedia. Detail:

But the similarities don't stop there: The middle sign says race mixing is the "march of the anti-Christ," a not unfamiliar notion today.


Cohen Morano's collaborations: The Rest Is Up To You

Cohen Morano's artistic collaborations with 118 artists, including Barry McGee (above) and David Choe, is finally a book. When he was in Minneapolis with his dad (Aye Jaye Morano) in 2007, he was just six years old:


Bits: 09.01.09

"An eight-story antigravity forest composed of 12,000 plants"
Patrick Blanc's vertical garden for London's Athenaeum, via Norwegianity

• As Wired profiles "an eight-story antigravity forest composed of 12,000 plants" (above), ROLU catalogues plant-based artworks including Mikayla Dwyer's The Hanging Smoke Garden, Mona Hatoum's Hanging Garden, and n55's City Farming Plant Modules.

• The AP gags the Noorderlicht. Photo giant forces Dutch photography festival to remove a curator's essay by former Magnum head Stuart Franklin because, after interviewing photographers and gathering shots in Gaza, he came to the conclusion that while both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have committed criminal acts, more blame should be assigned to the Israelis (via Conscientious). Franklin's response to the AP's quashing of free speech:
I have been asked, not by the photographers in the field, but by those who appear to own the rights to some of the photographs, to ‘substantially moderate’ my curatorial text – an analysis of the historical background to the work. I am too upset to do this since this would emasculate my perspective beyond what is reasonable. So having been offered, against all the principles of free speech that I cherish so much, two modes of capitulation: the replacement of my text with one not written by me, and the removal of my text, I choose the latter option. So I will say nothing and let the pictures talk. The pictures must speak and one day, we must hope, their stories will be told.
• Artist Paul Chan visits the Walker Art Center Sept. 17 for a free talk on "war, politics, religion, philosophy, and desire."

• "Unsettling old photos of the 'living dead.'"

• Video: What would it look like if a house was dreaming?

Flickr deletes the Obama-as-Joker Time cover due to "copyright-infringement concerns."

• Curator Rachel Hooper interviews artist Josephine Meckseper.

• The top 16 New York art shows Jerry Saltz wants to see this fall.

• A 2004 classic: A Tetris block just tries to fit in.