I created a new performance work at the Rubin Museum for the inaugural event of Data and Society, a NYC-based think tank focused on social, cultural, and ethical issues arising from data-centric technological development, funded by Microsoft Research. Ingrid Burrington curated the awesome artistic program. Documentation to come.
The gesture of data is a performance that transduces the everyday into the schematized — an exchange of time for space. Open DB samples from the visitors to the Rubin in order to sound out the museum’s architecture, shaping a data center of sorts. The momentary disruptions of its clicks break our continuous conversations into the discrete, and we’re confronted not only with the physical reverberations of the data space, but with the strange authority that is the observant bodies of the samplers.
set from the other night at Machines with Magnets. was pleased to see some members of Battles in the audience, fan that I am. first time ever that I dropped four on the floor, but probably not the last…
A few days ago, the long-anticipated Apple Watch was released. As a design object, it is, of course, impeccable, and only possible given the ever-increasing tempo of technological advance. It is an object from the future made real – and it is made obsolescent…
On Sunday, I gave the final talk at A Better World by Design. I shared my work and hoped to complicate some of the technological determinism that flows through design discourse. I’m pretty sure I said something to the effect of: “A better future… is about making things weird”. The engagement from the audience, primarily Brown and RISD students, was fantastic, I’m looking forward to next year.
Each year, Better World by Design brings a global community of innovators to Providence, Rhode Island to reach across disciplines and unite under a common goal: building a better world. Presenters share engaging stories, workshops teach creative skills, and discussions re-frame perspectives. Better World is an immersive experience that deepens our understanding of the power of design, technology, and enterprise to engage our communities and sustain our environment.
This week I am an artist in residence at Mary Mattingly’s WetLand project — a sculpture / habitat / provocation floating in the Delaware at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia. We’ve got chickens, bees, solar panels, a wetland habitat drawing from the river, ripening jalapeños, a rainwater bathtub … each day Mary, the FringeArts staff supporting the project, and the fellow residents and I talk to the public about the future, ecology, technology, and DIY. Kids, coast guard, native Philadelphians, and international visitors have all been drawn to what is a bit of a spectacle here among the historical ships, hotels, and beach bars — today the hive was kind enough to let me share fresh honey with passersby.
What I appreciate about this situation and Mary’s work in general is that it doesn’t shy away from existing in an indeterminate zone that invokes architectural, design, sculpture, conceptual art, and performance discourses without fitting very well into any of them. It is an exercise in interpretation, ultimately, and interpretation that exceeds the spatiotemporal bounds of the piece and slips into how we talk about ‘habitat’, or maybe ‘inhabiting’ in general. Bees, reclaimed materials, collective living, here they are conversation starters about what is novel, tolerable, exciting, or uncomfortable, and what it is that makes a habitat permanent or transient relative to the diverse everyday conditions of our visitors. In that sense, I don’t really read WetLand as a critique of our consumerism, nor a utopic vision of some bourgeohippy future, though it might easily be understood as such. I think it’s somewhat darker than that, where Mary’s living and (tireless, unceasing) labor are laid bare in an attempt to exist in conscious relation to a society that may be failing, or which we can imagine as failing. Her precarity stands in for our collective precarity. The form of WetLand is then simply her perspective rather than a polemic about how anyone should live. But that perspective includes the collaborations that she has cultivated to realize the work, from volunteers to artists to institutional support — and it’s openness to participation and interpretation that undergirds the richness of the piece.
For myself, I’ve chosen to take inspiration from that and make this residency less about producing a work as reflecting on the state of my practice and looking into future directions. I am reading theory texts, learning new software, and sketching out several small research works I’ll hopefully be able to complete in the next weeks. One of those is mechanism for rhythmanalysis, with no code or electricity involved, but through which I make temporal notations of my surroundings with the help of a stethoscope. That a boat is in constant motion makes it easy to bring rhythm into the foreground, and it has lent my time here a special kind of pulse.
Earlier this week I was a guest at EcoHacker’s build, an art installation in the midst of the woods near Delhi, NY. The structure they created served as a platform for both dialogue on the themes of sustainability, open culture and decentralization, as well as an environment for site-specific performances and artworks.
For my piece, I set up a four-channel sound system projecting out from the structure and into the surrounding land. I sent pulses into each speaker whose rate was determined by the angle above the horizon of four celestial bodies (sun, moon, uranus, saturn — all accurate and realtime for our precise location thanks to the ever-useful pyephem library). The pitches of the pulses were generated via an algorithm mimicking Arvo Pärt’s tintinnabuli method of voice layering. Finally, the timbre and texture of the sound came from me, maintaining a note on a (vintage from the mauerpark market!) melodica for the duration of the piece. Thus my breathing and the transit of celestial spheres were implicated in the landscape, or something, as the audience wandered through it nearby. Also rain. And… noise complaints, which is a certain kind of success.
The designs projected on the walls of the structure set the tone and were by Jonathan Sims, with animation and additional hackery by Gene Kogan. Photo by David Kim. Special thanks as always to El Kalinov.
Starting on August 15th, Mary Mattingly‘s WetLand, a floating, self-sustaining ecosystem on the Delaware River, will open to the public as part of the 2014 Fringe Festival. WetLand will include living and performance spaces, gardens, a water filtration system, and potentially a beehive and chickens. In addition to hosting dozens of artistic and environmental events, WetLand will be home to a rotating cast of resident artists who will work and live on the barge. Brian House discusses his plans for his residency and how WetLand‘s ethos will interact with his own.
Incredibly excited for this year’s Eyeo Festival! I’m honored to be among the presenters:
How can music visceralize data? What is the tempo of code? What physical performances haunt our encodings, and how do we both resist and depend on those atomic metronomes in the sky? Brian House will walk, bike, and browse his way through recent ‘compositions’ and encounter ambivalent technologies and their implications along the way.