This thank you goes out to everyone who sent me a message, gave me a thumbs up, shared their energy, drove me to the hospital, smiled, laughed, held me when I cried, cut my skull open, taught my class, wiped my ass, showered me, fed me, stuck needles in me, listened to my story attentively, put screws in my head, broke my nose, sucked out snot and puss with a vacuum, scraped infected bone out of my sinus, put cream on my bed sores, stacked pillows under my back, rubbed my feet, cleaned up my puke, gave me motor tests, PT, OT, Cog T, Psy T,and dealt with me freaking out in the MRI…I love you all, and I’m going to keep surprising everyone…even myself.
There are certain moments that drastically alter the trajectory of a life-path. Being open and aware to those instants is absolutely essential regardless of one’s career.
I returned from the Libre Graphics Meeting that was rife with inspiration. The event was hosted at the Pianofabriek in Brussels, Belgium May 27-30. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience, here’s what I learned:
I arrived in London, downloaded Jolicloud which is based on Ubuntu and started to play around on the train to Brussels. The issue was that I’d not used Unix/Linux since I worked in Motorola in 1999…my how things have changed, so easy to use (yes I like GUI)! So I thought that I was going to give my presentation using Open Office, well when I saw How to Run an Art School on Free and Open Source Software by Florian Cramer, Aymeric Mansoux, Michael Murtaugh I was blown out of the water by their image-centric presentation. I got to chat with them after the talk, and they told me about the FOSS program Impress!ve.
At this point, Christopher Adams showed me how to use a shortcut (alt + F2) to access the repository by calling on gksu synaptic.
So at that moment I scrapped my plans of the standard Power Point-esq (gasp) presentation. After just a few hours at the LGM I already knew how to utilize new tools, and put down some roots with other artist do-ers with similar interests. Rad.
After a vegan lunch we relaxed in the courtyard drinking Belgian beer (thank goodness for the Westmalle tripel) and getting to know our peers.
Another important aspect for me was the instant application of what I learned. WiFi was free and available all over the complex, so while you were watching a talk you could download and try out the software to apply the concepts that were being explained. In addition, birds of a feather (BOF) meetings were scheduled so that people with similar interests could gather to speak about a topic. In my case I was inspired by Susan Spencer’s talk and her project relating to OPEN FASHION. You can learn more at Sew Brilliant. In the BOF meeting, she pulled out one of the most amazing contraptions I’ve ever seen, it was a brass pattern adjuster, that would change scale by rotating a series of screws in a certain order. She even had the manual that dated from 1888.
Basically it was a slide rule for tailors and seamstresses. Susan’s and her partner Steve Conklin (who is a developer for Ubuntu) have a vision where a designer can upload a pattern, another person (who may not be the same size) can adjust it to fit using the program which is based on scalable vector graphics, print and tape up the pattern and sew the custom garment. What an excellent idea, so naturally I included it into my talk. Now check out the video of Pete Ippel relating Asian stitching, 80’s sweaters,Tron, quilts, and weaving to open source graphics.
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Confused? Ask for help
It is incredible how generous people were at the conference, as a n00b it was invaluable to be able to ask a question and get a straight answer, and if the person asking didn’t know, they would refer you to someone who did…The organizers wore aprons and buttons and were always available for help.
Reclaim your tools
I began to understand this overarching theme after a few days into the conference. Formerly I’d been envisioning code as magic. After seeing the Nodebox 2 demo, I downloaded the beta and was able to modify an image or a line of code to make changes to an output. That was a huge breakthrough for me I saw directly that through transparency comes understanding. That’s what F/LOSS gives when code is viewable and modifiable the developer and user are on an even plane, and both can create new tools to suit their needs. There exists a sense of community that is absolutely impossible with closed code.
I’ve been licensing my art under Creative Commons for a few years, and I am confident that as the young people who have “grown up digital” and the first generations of free culture pioneers continue to push for more openness and transparency on many facets of life from government to software, clipart to color we are in for a very exciting ride.
Resources for downloads mentioned in this post
Desktop publishing Scribus
Vector graphic editing Inkscape
Bitmap editing Gimp
Bitmap editing and painting (check out the new brushes) Krita
3d modeling and animation Blender
A new software application for creating generative art using procedural graphics and a new way to approach graphic design Nodebox 2
Ditch hierarchy Peer-To-Peer Design Strategies
How I got involved in Free Culture / F/LOSS / Creative Commons
Often growth is sparked by a change in community…prompted by a different geographic location.
In October 2002, I had just moved to San Francisco and was looking for community. Leaving the comfort of my undergraduate institution and support network in New York, I was seeking attachment to my new home.
I initiated a project called “Free Memory” where the intent was to give away an anonymous gift that brought attention to technology and our relationship with memory both on a disk and in our mind. Looking back at the task I stated that free meant free from price, obligation, need to pay, and also free content.
I desired to connect with the folks on the street, and get out from behind the computer screen…to enrich online life with offline life and vice-versa. Looking back, mobile computing was not an option for me, I had a desktop computer. That project grew and spread so that I even got a video response from across the country:
Alan Toffler states in his book Future Shock from 1970, “…that enormous changes ahead…overthrow our values with respect to money and success.”
After creating the project OBAY.INFO I was contacted by council for Ebay.com and subsequently looked to Lessig’s Group at Stanford (which lead me to Creative Commons), was fingered in a Canadian Ad Campaign, and was invited to the To Share Festival in Turin Italy. Read all the posts about Obay.
Following Obay project I took a job working as a mentor for pre-professional dancers at the San Francisco Ballet. Over the six years I was there, I learned that a robust community was built with freedom. What I found was that kids would act more like adults when they were given the opportunity to do so. The same was true when I coached high school basketball for 4 years.
I left the Ballet at the end of 2009, and when I moved from San Francisco to Ventura, California, I began an intense production phase to kick-start my full-time art career. By comparing pixels to patchwork, vectors to stitches, bitmaps to patterns, and layers to quilts, I started to discover the aesthetic and community relationships between open source graphics and the fiber arts.
So why does all this happen? Enjoy the following video to gain some insight on the cognitive reasoning:
While I was in the process of opening my studio space for the April version of First Fridays Ventura, I did not notice an accidental shift in my art storage area. One of the corners of a framed drawing distorted the stretched Tyvek of an ink painting by pressing the face of the painting laterally about two inches.
Because Tyvek does not have the exact same properties of canvas or paper, I was unable to moisten the painting to make it tighten to the stretcher.
I began to shake the painting and noticed that it snapped when moved abruptly forward and in reverse. Free play, curiosity, exploration, and intuition are what drive the creative act. In this video you have a window into my art practice.
Earlier this month I participated in SOMArts Community Center’s show “MOMENTS (Bringing Back the Now)”. At the opening, Justin Hoover, the newly hired director of the gallery space, re-created the 100 Performances for the Hole that he formerly curated out of his Garage San Francisco’s Pacific Heights Neighborhood.
For 100 Performances for the Hole Take-Two, the dimensions of the hole were expanded, and moved from an automotive trench to a sand casting pit.
I issued four instructions to the group:
The hole is defined as the cut in the cement.
You may not get in the hole.
Any bill that lands outside of the hole must be kicked into the hole.
Any bills that you snatch with your sticky hand are yours, any bills left in the hole after the two minutes are mine.
“Free Money, Stick Fingers” involves the art market, memory of childhood games, issues of control, gift giving, and philanthropic aims.
In addition, there is a cameo appearance of “Free Money, Sticky Fingers” toward the end of the short video “A Day in San Francisco” by Rossita Dove.
Check out the Photos and the press release (below) for more information about the exhibition.
100 Performances for the Hole – Take Two is the opening event (#1 of 3) of a month long exhibition called: MOMENTS (Bringing Back the Now). This show features a series of live art events that transform the gallery into a contemporary art laboratory exploring the intersection between visual mediums, performance art, and time-based sculpture.
Conceived of by SOMArts Curator and Gallery Director Justin Hoover, this exhibition examines the state of contemporary live art in the Bay Are by inviting the collaboration and participation of over 100 performance artists working in a variety of styles and methods. MOMENTS (Bringing Back The Now) is structured around three events examining performance art today: a series of 100 two-minute, site-specific performances performed one after another, a ballet with heavy machinery that was inspired by a previous performance choreographed by youth in a housing complex, and a series of time-based and mobile/ephemeral sculptures.
According to curator Justin Hoover “the lived moment is often greatly under-appreciated, in life and in the arts. Largely, in the mind of the public, fine art is relegated to objects and environments, and rarely is the emotionality and the nuance of a lived moment evidenced as an artwork. In the contemporary moment, art has long surpassed the realm of objecthood and some of the most innovative new forms reside i experience. By highlighting local performance artists and performative installations, SOMArts gives Bay Area artists and audiences a chance to exchange ideas and build attention around a developing form that rarely finds its way into a gallery. MOMENTS (Bring Back the Now) brings immediacy back to the experience of contemporary art viewership.”
Additionally, this exhibition will work in conjunction with the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) to upload this live program directly to cable television.
100 Performances for the Hole – Take Two breathes fresh life into a formerly disused part of the SOMArts Main Gallery, namely what remains of the mechanics pit from the building’s former life as the Union Machine Company. Through a simple hole and an open call for ephemeral performance artwork, 100 Performances highlighting the contemporary timescape of today and invigorates a wide swath of the performance art community, one that is vibrant, innovative, playful, and elusive. This tour-de-force of the ephemeral is juried by Kevin B. Chen, Peter Foucault, Justin Hoover, Jackie Im, Lex Leifheit, and Lucy Kalyani Lin.
Payment For A Crispy 100 Dollar Bill By Pete Ippel
For Justin Hoover’s project Radical Practices: The Seduction of Duchamp, Pete Ippel auctioned off a crispy 100 dollar bill with opening bids starting at $5.00. Ippel’s project brings into question context, gift, value, and the art market. The unaltered bill sold for $115.00, the proceeds were split between Justin Hoover (auctioneer) and Pete Ippel (artist). Video documentation to follow.