May 30, 2010

It's hard to resist re-blogging Kim Joon's images; his words clinched it:

This is much like the way in which our lives are conducted in the larger social matrix. I want people to be able to feel the tension between human (in)ability to control desires and situations. That we have less control than we think in defying forces in capital-driven society.
More at WebUrbanist , which says the artist's images are entirely computer-generated; the green-skinned image is a detail from my previous post on the 2010 Dallas Art Fair (click on the image for a larger version).

May 29, 2010

Good/Bad Art Collective

In the spirit of appreciating our local art history,

"a collective group of artists founded in 1993 in Denton, TX, but have since expanded to include a facility in Brooklyn, NY. Puts on some of the strangest/most surreal/avante garde/most entertaining events i've ever had the pleasure to see. all events operate under one-night-only policy. if you miss it, too bad. some of my favorites over the years:

  • Overdue Paintings- Art on Reserve: an exihibit consisting entirely of art borrowed from a public library
  • a show where folk bands and space rock bands set up on opposite sides of The Argo, playing at the same time, competing for the audience's attention
  • Isolation Chamber: Three members were locked in a room with closed circuit surveilance for three days with nothing but 3 loaves of bread, 3 bottles of water and a see-saw that had to be kept moving at all times or a loud blaring horn would go off.
  • Rock Lottery: the names of 25 local musician were randomly drawn from a hat at 10a.m. to form five bands. they had untill that evening to write 3-5 songs (only 1 cover allowed) to perform for the rock show that night. there were 2 subsequent Rock Lotteries after this, and the event was also ripped off without credit by the clubs in Deep Ellum. best band names from the event: Magic Johnson: The Gathering, Gee Gee Allin Alda,
  • Benefit 25: Cornhole vs. The Dooms U.K.: one of my personal favorites. a full size wrestling ring was constructed inside The Argo. members of both bands had to come up with wrestler personas for themselves. the two bands then wrestled each other for the headlining slot.
  • Very Fake, But Real:a scale replica of the Good/Bad building was constructed, with a roller-rink around it on which rollerderby was played.
  • Benefit 31: "One man's ceiling": a "ceiling" was constructed above the stage at Rubber Gloves as though there were an apartment above the stage. fully furnished. throughout the night, as the bands played, the occupant of the apartment grew increaslingly agitated at the noise coming from below, stomped on the ceiling, yelled at his unruly downstairs neighbors and eventually came down and got in a scuffle with one of the bands.
  • Benefit 37: Pinch Hitter: there was a sign up sheet at the door, any one member of each band could be replaced for one song by anyone in the audience.
  • Good/Bad Burns!: rumors were circulated beforehand that the Good/Bad building was going to burn down that night. anyone driving by that night was treated to smoke machines billowing smoke and fake flames (the kind with orange/red paper having a light shown on it, being blown by a fan) in the windows
  • an event where the entire Good/Bad building was filled with styrofoam packing peanuts
  • during one rawk show benefit, all the members of E.F.F. played while jumping on a giant trampoline. not being able to take a drum set on the tramp, the drummer was driven around the crowd playing in the back of a pick-up truck
  • another personal favorite of mine, 3 frat boys [actually, there were 4] were lured off Fry Street and walled into a white room with only a keg, a microphone [and a video camera], some markers and a window for observers. they shouted into the microphone, scrawled obscinities on the wall, and when the keg was empty, broke down a wall and escaped."
From everything2.com. (Sadly, Good/Bad is defunct.)



Video via Richie Budd, one of the creators of the project (thanks, Richie!) Richie also has work in the current exhibition at CentralTrak (Dallas), The Non-Profit Margin.

May 28, 2010

May 26, 2010

Replacement for Clusty

Good news: as a replacement for Clusty (search engine that used to protect users' privacy but has been bought by the corporate borg), a c-Blog reader suggested Ixquick. Check out the Wikipedia entry.

I plan to try to replace the search box on this blog soon.

May 25, 2010

Clusty - Yippy - WTF

For some years, I've used Clusty as my primary search engine, because supposedly they don't track your keystrokes, etc.; i.e., maybe, unlike Google and virtually every other search engine I'm aware of (and I'm no expert, but), they actually were not evil.

Today, the Clusty home page changed to Yippy, and says, "Welcome to the Cloud!" That was not reassuring. As I wrote in 2007:

As my three readers know, I'm very concerned that, at least partly through the instigation of right-wing authoritarians but also partly through the more or less semi-witless facilitation by the rest of us, the internet is rapidly being transformed into a potential top-down surveillance and mind-control system easily manipulated by gummints and corps (for more details, see my previous posts on the subject, most recently here).

I never thought I'd see Microsoft as on my side, but in its current battles with Google, that's how it's shaping up. Google is actively promoting its "cloud" model of the internet, in which not only software but most of your data live on the 'net -- i.e., in hardware owned and controlled by others -- while Microsoft continues to favor a distributed model in which most of your software and data live in your PC.
See also another, earlier, 2007 post in which I wrote,
Free speech in general and the internet in particular seem to worry control freaks.

As of 2000, just five megacorporations – Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, and Viacom (formerly CBS) – controlled over 90% of the media industry in the U.S., with General Electric's NBC a close sixth (see here, here, here, and here).

In 2003, despite the largest public outcry in FCC history, the FCC adopted rules loosening restrictions on media ownership (stories here, here, and here). Although courts ultimately threw out the rules, the FCC is now trying again (stories here and here).

Certain people have spent a lot of money to gain all that control, and notwithstanding claims of hard times in the media biz, the investment has proved profitable; but one of the main benefits that might have been hoped for – control over the agenda and messages reaching audiences of any significant size – is threatened by the 'net.

Internet freedom, neutrality, etc. have accordingly been attacked on a variety of fronts.

In an earlier post, I discussed conservatives' plans to replace the internet as we know it with something called the "Worldbeam" (a.k.a. the "Cloud"), a system in which, instead of storing all your personal docs, files, and software on your own computer at home, everything would be stored on larger computers elsewhere, and you would just have a box that would be little more than a gateway to the Beam.

Instead of buying your own copies of applications, the most basic might (or might not) be provided on the Beam for free, and you'd pay license fees for anything fancy, so vendors could force you to upgrade whenever they liked. Although access to your own data would theoretically be protected by a password or other security, the gummint or others who controlled the Beam could access, modify, or simply delete any or all of your or others' data much more easily than now. [ . . . ]

I was worried, but thought it would be some years before the "Beam" replaced the 'net as we know it.

Duh. It's finally dawned on me, there's no need for those desiring Beam-like control to engineer any single, vast switch-over to a new system. They're simply colonizing the 'net little by little – and many of us are unwittingly helping them.

Think MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, MeetUp, LinkedIn, del.icio.us, Ancestry.com, and yes, Blogspot – you upload or create tons of data about yourself and your activities, opinions, social and other relationships, and personal preferences into online facilities that are maintained and controlled by other people. You may or may not even keep copies on your own computer of everything you put on the 'net. Think online banking and investment, every airplane ticket you've ever bought and hotel you've booked, every comment you've ever posted, and every purchase you've ever made esp. from vendors like amazon that keep track so as to make recommendations. Think on-line spam filter services (I realize AT&T is probably already giving the gummint copies of every e-mail that passes through AT&T's "pipes," in direct violation of our constitutional rights -- see here -- but hey, we
managed to shut that down, didn't we? Oops, guess not.) [ . . . ]

The fact is, many of us have for some time been eagerly shifting vast portions of our lives into Beam-like facilities that are based somewhere out there and are only nominally under our own control.
. . .
So I clicked on "about" Yippy to find out if this was just a name change, or Clusty had been acquired by evildoers, or what; and what I got was not reassuring:
About Yippy

MISSION STATEMENT:

We are the creators of all that is good and helpful. Our mission is for the good in everything. Our products and services are for those who desire a protected place in which to conduct computing and online activities through the .yippy VPN grid. Yippy is simply hardware mated to dynamic software sets through a worldwide LAN using a virtual ubiquitously connected web-based operating system. . . . Yippy will promote the positive and shun the negative of the digital world.

What we do is just good!

YIPPY is foremost the world's first fully-functioning virtual computer. A cloud-based worldwide LAN, YIPPY has turned every computer into a terminal for itself [i.e., for YIPPY – that's the point of cloud computing]. On the surface, YIPPY is one-stop shopping for the web surfing needs of the average consumer. YIPPY is an all-inclusive media giant; incorporating television, gaming, news, movies, social networking, streaming radio, office applications, shopping, and much more . . . .

The custom YIPPY OS is fully-operational and currently installed and running on existing hardware devices. . . . Computing must be made more personal to the end user and contain programs relevant to their personal lifestyle. This is accomplished through a VPN network grid with the ability through DB to cookie cut software packages together quickly and efficiently for consumers or businesses.

Below the surface:

YIPPY is an advertising vehicle. Recurring revenue is generated by unobtrusive ad programs that are strategically placed in the OS driven locally on the device. These advertising impressions would be demographically and geographically quantified by the user’s registration and extremely valuable to the bottom-line. The consumer is exposed to not only ad banners in an array of IAB standard sizes, but rich media advertising, video advertising, CPC, CPA and in-player banner advertising delivered directly into the entertainment stream. All advertising is database-driven and fully customizable according to the needs of the marketer. Advertising can be delivered via geolocation or targeted to particular demographics according to the section of the site visited. Do you want to advertise only to visitors who use TWITTER? How about only to users who are interested in football? YIPPY can deliver that. Time-on-site statistics are also significantly higher on the YIPPY platform due to the inherent enticement provided by the web-based OS.

The YIPPY video player features an array of licensed television shows with unlimited capacity for expansion. . . . With YIPPY, you can tailor your ad dollars to your audience. . . . The YIPPY player also supports the capacity for shows to be controlled by trusted partners [emphasis supplied] through a web-based upload form. . . .

Oh, we should say that we are a very far-out group of people. Everyone is a certified genius here and we work together for our goals for the love of it all. Good vs. Don't be Evil ... We are too smart to sell out to Porn, Gambling and other things that infect our society for profit. Good always wins, and conservative values will bring us our victory in the market place.

Summing it up !!!

God controls all creative thought it's what you do with it that defines who you are.
"!!!" indeed! At first I thought this must be a hack or joke.

Per Wikipedia, On May 14 2010, Clusty was acquired by Yippy, Inc.; no other helpful info available as of this writing (at least not through my new, Yippy search engine).

So here's the problem. It doesn't matter how good or evil the company really is, BECAUSE if it's privately owned, once it's got a lot of users, somebody "evil" can come along and buy it or take over its Board of Directors (I put "evil" in quotes 'cuz I don't think I believe in good and evil, but use it as shorthand for something else that's a whole 'nother discussion).

That's why it's better if certain things are owned by the gummint – oh wait, that's privately owned now, too (literally as well as figuratively; e.g., AZ, CA et al. selling off public infrastructure and assets to private corps. at fire sale prices).

That's why I keep saying, there are certain chunks of internet and other facilities that need to be literally owned by the USERS.

Even that's not a sure fix; but we need to start slowing the "evil"-doers down enough so the rest of us have a better chance at catching up.

And can anyone recommend a new replacement for Clusty – quick?

May 19, 2010

My Kind of Boating

Esp. the castle part.


May 18, 2010

Iceland

From Sean Stiegemeier (thanks, Ben!).

May 17, 2010

How to Get a Job in P.R.



(Thanks, Julie!)

May 16, 2010

Mark Your Calenders: "ART WORK" in Dallas

. . . a conversation about art, labor, and economics.


A series of events will be presented relating to the newspaper issue, ART WORK, published by the Chicago-based collective, Temporary Services, on the subject of how hard economic times affect artistic process and compensation and how artists respond in their own and others' behalf. The series is produced through a collaboration among S.M.U.'s Michael Corris and Noah Simblist, U.T.D./CentralTrak's Kate Sheerin, and Carolyn Sortor.

Exhibition at U.T.D.'s CentralTrak: "The Non-Profit Margin"
Where: 800 Exposition Ave. at Ash, Dallas, TX
When: Opening Sat., May 22, 6:00 - 10:00 pm; exhibition through July 24

Works that confront the global economic crisis by challenging the avenues for exhibition and consumption of art and the art experience, by Richie Budd, Gary Farrelly, Thomas Riccio and Frank Dufour, Ludwig Schwarz, Marjorie Schwarz, give up, and Temporary Services. The ART WORK corridor will also include materials on works and/or writings by Gregory Sholette, Harrell Fletcher, Liam Gillick, Not an Alternative, Mel Chin, Lize Mogel, Maria Lind, Research and Destroy, Robert Projansky and Seth Siegelaub, W.A.G.E., Michael Corris, Hollis Frampton, Don Celender, and Julius Getman. The opening reception will also include "Son of Trunk Show," presented by Shelby Cunningham and featuring eight other artists. Organized by CentralTrak Director Kate Sheerin and Carolyn Sortor. Gallery hours Wed. - Sat., noon - 5:00 pm.

Symposum at S.M.U.: "ART WORK: A Local Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics"
Where: O’Donnell Hall in Owen Arts Center, on Hillcrest at Grenada, Dallas, TX (FREE PARKING in the "U-Lot" just south of Owen Arts Center)
When: Sat., June 12, 1:00 - 5:00 pm

A symposium on how cultural workers have responded to depressed economies past and present and the aesthetic contexts for Temporary Services' ART WORK project. The symposium is co-sponsored by S.M.U. and U.T.D.'s CentralTrak. Speakers will include Michael Corris, Chair of the Div. of Art at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts; New York-based artist Maureen Connor; artist Bryce Dwyer of the Chicago collective inCUBATE; Marc Herbst, co-Editor of The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest; and Brent Brown of bcWORKSHOP. A panel discussion with the speakers, moderated by Noah Simblist, associate prof. of art at SMU's Meadows School, will follow. Free parking in the "U Lot" just south of the building.

Program at CentralTrak: "ART WORK: Readings"
Where: 800 Exposition Ave. at Ash, Dallas, TX
When: Sat., June 19, 7:30 - 10:00 pm

Readings of excerpts from ART WORK, including history, fiction, autobio, and other writings by Temporary Services, Artforum writer Gregory Sholette, artist Nicolas Lampert, author Cooley Windsor, writer Brian Holmes, "Anonymous," and others. Support for actors' fees is provided by Undermain Theatre; organized by Carolyn Sortor. Doors open at 7:30; program starts at 8:00 pm.

For more info, see the facebook page for "Temporary Services "Art Work" in Dallas." You can also download a complete copy of the newsprint issue here. There's also more info and links re- Temporary Services and the ART WORK issue/project here.

UPDATE: For a review of the exhibition at CentralTrak, see Art Lies. For visuals of the exhibition, see here; for visuals of the symposium, see here; and for visuals of the readings program, see here (thanks to everyone for turning out!) To "like" the ART WORK in dallas series on Facebook, go here. For some of my reasons for instigating this project, see here.

More Re- "ART WORK"

Temporary Services' one-off newspaper explores how hard times affect artistic process and compensation, and artists' responses in their own and others' behalf. The issue assembles writings by Gregory Shollette (contributor to Artforum and co-editor of The Interventionists: Users' Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life); Holland Cotter (Pullitzer-winning writer for The New York Times); Julia Bryan-Wilson, author of Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam Era (2009); artist/writer Nicolas Lampert; artist/writer Harrell Fletcher; artist Lize Mogel; and Cooley Windsor, author of Visit Me in California; and many more.

Here's Temporary Services' intro:

Things have become demonstrably worse for artists and arts organizations. A 2008 report from the National Endowment for the Arts tells of an astounding 63% increase in artists’ unemployment from 2007 to 2008.

Why is visual art, which can be understood as a basic foundation for human communication, not funded as an integral part of our lives as Americans? Why don’t we think being an artist is a “real job”?

We can optimistically point to times in the past when things were more hopeful and better for artists and arts institutions. For example, the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Arts Program once had money and was empowered to hire artists to take photographs, make murals, write stories, compose poems, and document the tremendous times the country was going through. Federal funding employed and nurtured some of the greatest American artists: Dorothea Lange, Langston Hughes, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, Zora Neale Thurston, Thomas Hart Benton, and many others. It left us with tremendous public works, glorious murals, and a sense of strength and abundance that should be reclaimed out of the ashes of dirty capitalist shenanigans. However, this program was only possible after much pressure from the Left, from unions, and from artists themselves. It also worked because of leadership that carried out a vision that the free market could not harbor – nor would tolerate for long. The infrastructure that sustained programs like the Federal Arts Program was completely dismantled.

We’ve often been amazed at the fact that so many students and younger artists have no idea what kinds of great things received government funding [before the] Culture Wars [inaugurated with Reagan] and before the neutering of the National Endowment for the Arts. [Among other things, o]ne can trace the origins of early encouragement for even as vast a genre as Video Art through looking at the record of NEA funding in the 1970s.

We are in a moment very much like the Great Depression. Unfortunately, we cannot depend upon the creation of governmental programs, the learning institutions, museums, and archives, or even basic social planning to help ease the situation in the U.S. for artists. According to a report made in 2006 by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit Washington, D.C. based think tank, the top 5% of income earners in the United States own 60% of the average U.S. household net worth. At least twenty percent of us live in debt, and while we struggle to contribute to society and create art that carries meaning and hope for all, the top 5% earners effectively make decisions for all of us through their daily economic and cultural choices. Many of those top 5% are on the boards of directors for both corporations and cultural institutions. Is it any surprise that our major museums increasingly are using corporate sponsorship to lead their programming and name their galleries? Is it any surprise at all that even the language of art discourse is being invaded by business terminology?

For far too long, the rhetoric and logic of the market has dominated the production of discourse and livelihoods around art. Letting the market decide, as Reagan, Milton Friedman, and other ghosts of capital past cried, has drastically limited what we think art is and can be in our society. We have seen how quickly the commercial market collapsed, hurting large numbers of people. The art market in the United States has hemorrhaged gallery after gallery, and there will be no bailout to save them or the artists they represent.

This newspaper asks us to consider how to do several things: to work for better compensation, to secure opportunities to make art in diverse and challenging settings, and to guide art attitudes and institutions, on all levels, in more resilient directions. It is also an examination of the power that commercial practices continue to wield and the adverse effects this has had on artists, education, and our collective creative capacity. In recent times, resistance to the status quo has been minimal. Artists for the most part have been hiding and hoping things will get better. Now is the perfect moment to gather, pool knowledge and resources, question, confront the system, and create alternative models using the inspiration and energy we reserve in more stable times for other kinds of artistic production.

Please read this paper, copy it, share it with others, and use it as a springboard. Share it with your classroom, make an exhibition, start a discussion.
In Julian Schnabel's film adaptation of Cuban artist Reinaldo Arenas' autobiography, Before Night Falls, Arenas remarks something to the effect that tyrants invariably seek to suppress artists, because they fear what they can't control.

To be continued . . . .

Trend? --

from Nimoy Sunset Pie (thanks, Ben!), which presents 93 variations on that theme to date; see also Selleck Waterfalls Sandwich and Bea Arthur Mountains Pizza -- or is it just one creator?

(ggremlin notes, in the Star Trek episode, “Revenge of the Possessed Computer,” Spock commands the computer, “Compute to the last significant digit the value of pi,” and the computer responds, “Pi, Pi!, I’ll give you PI!!!” However, Eric Weisstein and others i.d. the episode as "Wolf in the Fold.")

May 13, 2010

What Cheney's Chernobyl Looks Like, So Far

"Mississippi River water (left) meets sea water and an oil slick that has passed inside of the protective barrier formed by the Chandeleur Islands, off the coast of Louisiana, on May 7, 2010."

Per dailykos, an "acoustic switch" costing $500,000 could have prevented the catastrophe; the failsafe is required in off-shore drilling platforms in most of the world, but not the U.S. This requirement among others was eliminated following Dick Cheney's secret meetings with oil industry reps during W's first term.

Lots more great images at boston.com.

May 12, 2010

May 11, 2010

A flashmob infiltrates the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco in support of a boycott called by the hotel workers, who are fighting to win a fair contract and affordable healthcare: