May 25, 2006

Karaoke Ice

by Nancy Nowacek, Katie Salen, Marina Zurkow

Karaoke Ice is a delicious pop culture mash-up, an ice cream truck-turned-mobilekaraoke-unit, deployed to unite people in a collective quest to transform the streets of San Jose into a space of community interaction. Participants karaoke for an audience while sitting in the transformed front cab of the vehicle, and use a customized karaoke engine to select, sing, and record a song for later broadcast, as the truck makes it way to a variety of festival locations. Free frozen treats lure prospective performers to participate, distributed by Remedios the Squirrel Cub, who drives the truck and choreographs enigmatic rituals of his own to the tunes emanating from the citizen performers. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Superstition. Heart of Glass. The streets of San Jose transformed through flavor and song.

Karaoke Ice is a commissioned residency proejct by ZeroOne San Jose, San Jose State University, and the Lucas Artists Program at Montalvo.

Imagine an ice cream truck transformed into a mobile karaoke unit, driven by a squirrel cub with a penchant for cheap magic, deployed to spark spontaneous interaction between festival-goers, locals, and tourists in Cesar Chavez Plaza and surrounding neighborhoods. Customized with karaoke mics, disco ball, and speakers, and aesthetically "dressed" in a language of local vernacular (think lowrider neon, mariachi fringe, Chinese lanterns, and California cool), this "mobile magnet" not only serves as an information node within the festival network, but represents a "metanomad" who wanders the festival grounds, seeking and sharing information, catalyzing play among the Cesar Chavez populous, and delivering cool treats amidst the rays of the bright August sun.

The truck, or Lucci as she is known, is a tasty pop culture hybrid, one that brings two familiar expressions of "network culture" - ice cream trucks and karaoke bars--into conversation with one another. Dressed in song and shimmer, Lucci broadcasts tinny pop songs in endless, repetitive loops as she weaves her way through the zone of the Festival. This then, is her magic. The resulting mix is one that celebrates the power of song to entice and inflame, as well as the sense of community that can be fostered among strangers trapped in a terrestrial network.

Tinged with the themes of deception and illusion, of costume, character, water, and ice, Lucci and her pal Remedios draw participants in through sight, sound, and taste. Unable to resist the temptation to editorialize the festival goings on, she doles out festival news, providing her own sharp brand of observation and opinion on things seen and (over) heard. Patrons can read these printed missives as they are dispatched daily through a slit in Lucci's side. At nighttime, once their work for the day is done, it's time to let loose. They find a party to join, hustle some more karaoke, and enjoy the festival entertainment.

The Breadboard Band Comes Alive
Shosei Oishi, Masayuki Akamatsu, Kazuki Saita, Yosuke Hayashi, and Katsuhiko Harada

[Live at IAMAS (10.18.2005)]

The Breadboard Band is a performing band that uses breadboards made of freely constructed electronic circuits to play music. We produce audio and visual expression through the most minimal, fundamental elements in the form of showing the electronic components of an instrument while directly touching and forming the electronic circuit by hand. The electric signals released from hand-made electronic circuits releases extremely rough and ferocious wave patterns. This performance is based on improvisational interplay, and we pull powerful music into shape through each member's operation, while discovering new sounds by hand.

The Breadboard Band is one that uses a breadboard to perform music. A breadboard is a board that is perforated with connector holes into a grid-shape, to which electronic components are inserted in order to build a prototype of an electronic circuit. The electronic components can be inserted or removed with ease, making it simple to change the wiring with jumper cables. Utilizing the features of the breadboard, The Breadboard Band creates audio and visual circuits on the board, and modifies them during performance.

Today, 100 years from the public performance in 1906 of the Telharmonium, the first electronic musical instrument, The Breadboard Band raises objections toward black-box electronic musical instruments and computers. This objection is raised in the form of showing the electronic components of an instrument, directly touching and forming the electric circuit by hand, and producing audio and visual expression through the most minimal, fundamental elements. This can be considered the hardware version of software programming. The circuit change during a performance is called "On-the-fly Wiring".

The performance of the circuits on the breadboard is less than 0.1% of that of electronic audio and video devices offered commercially. The electric signals released from hand-made electronic circuits releases extremely rough and ferocious wave patterns that might destroy a commercial instrument. However, the primal screams of ecstasy released from the electric circuits surge from the depths of modern society that is surrounded by sophisticated information technology, and stirs us with emotion.

The Breadboard Band's performances based on improvisational interplay, and we pull powerful music into shape through each member's operation, while discovering new sounds by hand. Various elements blend together, becoming one from beats made through analog oscillation circuits, riffs made through programmable chips, noises made through magnetic head, scratches made through a hacked iPod, and the videos of changing audio signals. It may be quite humorous to see the serious expressions of the performers as they grapple with small electronic components, but they match any band in vigor and potency.

Kok-Chian Leong: Corporate Sabotage

shown in conjunction with ISEA festival, San Jose, 2006

The project examines the private politics behind the corporate world, an environment where competitiveness turns into deceit. It focuses on the covert act of sabotaging office communications and equipment to reduce its efficiency in daily operations. This act creates a suspense in the strange imperfections, the unnerving fault finding performed on the equipment and the growing frustrations by the co-workers.

Weapons for the corporate armoury investigates the possibility of designing a weapon that inflicts trauma on your co-worker in a non-lethal manner, thereby allowing you to get ahead in business. The project examines the private politics behind the corporate world, an environment where competitiveness turns into deceit. It focuses on the covert act of sabotaging office communications and equipment to reduce its efficiency in daily operations. This act creates a suspense in the strange imperfections, the unnerving fault finding performed on the equipment and the growing frustrations by the co-workers.

The narrative
The relationship between the co-workers deteriorate as a result.. The consequences became so drastic that the victim's performance drops and eventually loses his job.

The tools/design
The Firefly tool intercepts the scanning job through the use of intermittent bright flashing lights in the scanner. The frequency of activation causes disturbances to the output. The result is random imperfect quality on the final scanned document.

The Woodpecker tool produces irregular stamping action in the printer. This action is synchronised with the mechanical movement of the print head to create an array of patches in the final printout, rendering it useless.

The Cateye tool is basically the eye of the saboteur. It is a spy camera that [provides a visual overview of the victim's actions and intentions. It has to be strategically placed within the operations area.

Scrapyard Challenge Workshop

The Scrapyard Challenge Workshops are intensive workshops where participants build simple electronic projects (both digital and analog inputs) out of found or discarded "junk" (old electronics, clothing, furniture, outdated computer equipment, appliances, turntables, monitors, gadgets, etc..). So far the workshops have been held 14 times in 6 countries with 3 different themes including the MIDI Scrapyard Challenge where participants build simple musical controllers from discarded objects and "junk", DIY Wearable Challenge where they create wearable tech projects from used clothing, and the DIY Urban Challenge where they work on public space interventions and other projects. The MIDI Scrapyard version includes a mini workshop where participants build simple drawing robots or "DrawBots" with small, inexpensive motors, batteries, and drawing markers that can also be connected to Serial or MIDI interface. At the end of the day or evening, the workshop participants have a small performance, concert, or fashion show (depending on the workshop theme) where they demonstrate and preent their creations together as a group. No electronics skills or any experience with technology is necessary to participate in the workshops.

The Scrapyard Challenge Workshops are built on the premise of encouraging an open and collaborative space for creative ideas and hands-on prototyping. Workshop attendees learn how to build simple instruments from found and/or discarded objects. We encourage attendance from visitors from multiple backgrounds and all skill levels.

April 07, 2006

Prisoners' Inventions
Prisoners' Inventions by Angelo and Temporary Services

chess set

salt and pepper shaker

This project was a collaboration with Angelo, an incarcerated artist. He illustrated many incredible inventions made by prisoners to fill needs that the restrictive environment of the prison tries to supress. The inventions cover everything from homemade sex dolls, condoms, salt and peper shakers to chess sets. We collaborated on this project with Angelo for over two years. We had many additional collaborators who made a book, exhibition of re-created inventions and a prison cell possible. This page offers an overview of the project thus far.

"When first approached with the idea of illustrating examples of inmate inventiveness, I was skeptical, thinking that there would be little of real interest to depict. When I set my mind to the task, though, I recognized the surprising range of inventions and innovations that I had witnessed. I had just become so used to it all that the uniqueness no longer registered."

Temporary Services

As we live, so we work

Temporary Services is a group of three persons: Brett Bloom, Marc Fischer, and Salem Collo-Julin. We draw on our varied backgrounds and interests to incorporate our aesthetic practice within our lived experiences. The need to create change within our daily lives translates directly to our public projects.

The distinction between art practice and other creative human endeavors is irrelevant to us. We embed the creative work we present within thoughtful and imaginative social contexts and strive to create participatory situations.

We champion public projects that are temporary, ephemeral, or that operate outside of conventional or officially sanctioned categories of public expression. We appreciate such diverse activities as makeshift roadside memorials to accident victims, temporary housing encampments designed by homeless people, tree houses fabricated by children, and idiosyncratic public notices that get stuffed inside the display windows of free newspaper boxes. We like outdoor projects that are encountered by surprise rather than sought out with deliberation like exhibitions and special events. We especially appreciate those projects that do not have permission and challenge expected usages.


The Luddites were a social movement of English workers in the early 1800s who protested - often by destroying textile machines - against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution that they felt threatened their jobs. The movement, which began in 1811, was named after a probably mythical leader, Ned Ludd. For a short time the movement was so strong that it clashed in battles with the British Army. Measures taken by the government included a mass trial at York in 1813 that resulted in many death penalties and transportations (deportment to a penal colony).

The English historical movement has to be seen in its context of the harsh economic climate due to the Napoleonic Wars; but since then, the term Luddite has been used to describe anyone opposed to technological progress and technological change. For the modern movement of opposition to technology, see neo-luddism.

E. P. Thompson's view of Luddism
In his work on English history, The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson presented an alternative view of Luddite history.

Luddites are often characterised, and indeed their name has to some become synonymous with, people opposed to all change--in particular technological change such as that which was sweeping through the weaving shops in the industrial heartland of England. They are often characterised as violent, thuggish, and disorganised.

E. P. Thompson advances many arguments against this view of the Luddites. He shows that the Luddites were not opposed to new technology, but rather to the abolition of set prices and therefore also to the introduction of what we would today call the free market.

Thompson argues that it was this newly-introduced economic system that the Luddites were protesting. For example, the Luddite song, "General Ludd's Triumph":

The guilty may fear, but no vengeance he aims
At the honest man's life or Estate
His wrath is entirely confined to wide frames
And to those that old prices abate

"Wide frames" were the weaving frames, and the old prices were those prices agreed by custom and practice. Thompson cites the many historical accounts of Luddite raids on workshops where some frames were smashed whilst others (whose owners were obeying the old economic practice and not trying to cut prices) were left untouched.

Secondly, Thompson counters the view that the Luddites were thuggish. There were remarkably few Luddite arrests and executions, and yet they operated highly effectively against the forces of the state. Thompson's explanation for this is that they were working with the consent of the local communities (or indeed were part of those communities).

Thirdly, Thompson argues that the Luddites were not disorganised. He notes that some of the largest Luddite activities involved a hundred men.

In short, Thompson feels that in caricaturing the Luddites as 'thugs' who just wanted to smash up new technology we are simply continuing the propaganda of the time. The reality, in Thompson's view, is that the Luddites were normal people who were protesting against changes of which they disapproved.

Evidence for this point of view has been further developed by Prof Kevin Binfield ('Writings of the Luddites' - see [1] ).-

April 06, 2006

The Independent School of Art

The Independent School of Art is a nomadic experimental art school. Without institutional affiliations, degrees, or public funding, the school exists solely through the labor and efforts of it's participants, and thus fosters a proactive approach to college-level arts education, a real-world model where students are challenged to determine and create their own artistic realities. The school's barter-based tuition system makes explicit and direct the social contract between students and teachers and honors their collective labor as a vital form of cultural production. By existing without a site and locating nomadically, the school prioritizes social over physical architecture, and challenges students and teachers alike to imagine how their practice might intersect and respond to a larger set of physical situations and cultural possibilities. Since the ISA is not driven by tuition payments, employee payrolls, facility maintenance, fundraising quotas, degree granting and accreditation requirements it can be fluid and experimental, changing each semester to reflect the ambitions, personalities, and abilities of those in its community.

The Independent School of Art includes students of all ages, levels of experience, and disciplines in a one-room schoolhouse environment of shared learning and mentorship. The ISA prioritizes an action-based approach to arts education and cultural discourse and complements it's curricular offerings with student and faculty designed exhibitions, lectures, grants and publications. These multi-disciplinary public actions are a central part of the school's pedagogy, and serve a vital function by engaging the students in the direct creation of public culture.

founded by artist Jon Rubin

Big Box Reuse/Julia Christensen

The Sugar Creek Charter Elementary School
Charlotte, NC
Renovated K-Mart

As superstores abandon buildings in order to move into bigger stores, what will become of the walls that they leave behind? It is within the answer to this question that we are seeing the resourcefulness and creativity of communities dealing with a situation that is happening all over the country: the empty big box. Through travel and the study of buildings, Julia is researching the way people build their towns, creating the context for their own lives.

Julia Christensen began investigating How Communities are Re-Using the Big Box in January of 2004. Since then, she has been traveling around the country in her car, visiting the sites and meeting the people who are making these transformations possible. She has been collecting a growing collection of photographs, interviews, stories, and documents relating to the renovations, and has been giving presentations in these communities about how other towns are dealing with this common situation. While exhibiting photographs and installing video and sound work generated from her travels, she is currently working on a book documenting her research. Julia continues to develop her traveling exhibit of artifacts exploring How Communities are Re-Using the Big Box.

The term "big box" refers to a large, free-standing building with one major room. This model was made very popular by the corporations that created stores with minimal storage space, the stock items simply coming in off the truck and on to the shelves. Because "big box" is a fairly new term, and since there are variations on the concept, there have been several occasions upon which Julia has arrived at a site and the "big box" was not quite what she thought it was going to be. Nevertheless, there has been something important to be learned at each of this locations. Her research has led her down many side streets, as she has learned about the choices people make in order to shape their town in order to accommodate their community.

Afghan War Rugs

The Art of Making Their Voices Heard
For thousands of years, the woman of nomadic tribes in what is now Afghanistan and its environs have been weaving rugs by hand. The oldest known and intact example of these rugs in the world is the "Pazyryk" rug dating from the 4th century B.C. (currently housed in the St. Petersburg Museum). These traditional pieces of folk art have long depicted the same deeply rooted motifs and patterns, with occasional images derived from the artist's everyday experiences. However, about 25 years ago, all that suddenly changed. Following the 1979 Soviet invasion into Afghanistan, rug dealers began seeing drastic alterations in the content of Afghani rugs. Tanks replaced flowers, rocket launchers replaced vases and airplanes replaced abstract borders!

After the Soviet departure from Afghanistan the new ruling power instituted the strict Muslim Sharia law which governs the religious, political, social, domestic and private life. This law stripped many Afghani women of basic rights including banning them from talking to men outside of their family, walking outside alone, or working. Women were also made to abide by the practice of purdah which is the seclusion of women from public observation by having them wear concealing clothing from head to toe, like a burka, and by the use of high walls, curtains and screens erected within the home. This separates the women from learning about the outside world in order to make them ignorant of the practicalities of life and deprives the woman of economic independence by not allowing them to work outside the home. In order to keep females submissive, women know only what their fathers, husbands, and sons want them to know. The women who practice purdah have no voice or free will.

For women who break the fatwas, or edicts, associated with Sharia law, including purdah, there are dire consequences including harsh beatings or even death. Additionally, since Sharia law dictates that it is taboo to represent animate subjects in art; weavers were no longer allowed to portray images of birds, animals or people.

Thus as the artists iconography changed so did their outlets for expressing it. Those living outside of the war-torn Afghanistan can't comprehend the reality of living in a world where the images depicted through the rugs are a part of everyday life. To the women of Afghanistan the rugs have become a way to make their voices heard and to communicate to the rest of the world what they live with everyday.

This new category of rugs has been termed "war rugs" and has sparked an underground movement in the art world. Many collectors see the rugs not only as art, but also as historical documents and a testament to the times.


Afghan War Rugs: A Sub-group With Iranian Influence, An Exhibition of a Variant Type
by Ron O'Callaghan,

Recycled Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap

Recycled Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap
by Charlene Cerny

From Library Journal
The focus of this volume (and the associated traveling exhibition) is the increasing tendency of the world's folk artists to utilize the discards of our industrial and postindustrial consumer world as materials for their creations. In 11 essays, various scholars discuss topics ranging from the renowned history of the development of steel drum bands in the Caribbean to lesser-known examples of "recycled" art from India, Africa, Latin America, and the United States. The whimsical nature and surprising practicality of many of the objects depicted make the accompanying photos a visual delight. Highly recommended for academic collections, but the charm of the objects should make this appealing to the general audience served by public libraries as well.?Eugene C. Burt, Art Inst. of Seattle Lib.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Imbenge Telephone Wire Baskets

Imbenge Telephone Wire Baskets
For centuries South Africa's Zulu people have been famous for the sturdy and beautiful baskets they weave from grasses and palm leaf. The weaving was so tight that the best ukhamba baskets were actually used to store beer! Today these baskets are still woven in the countryside, but the Zulus living in urban area have invented a new kind of basket, the imbenge basket woven entirely of recycled telephone wire. The baskets are as bright and colorful as the telephone wire, and very sturdy. They are also completely washable! In recent years people in craft cooperatives in the the neighboring nation of Zimbabwe have developed their own distinct style of telephone wire basket,

Detail of Jaheni Mkhize at work on a"soft basket".

Woven Telephone Wire-covered Bottle
Unknown artist - Zulu people, South Africa
Recycled telephone wire on glass bottle
(11 1/2" h. x 3 1/2" w.)

bombing the neighborhood with fresh, aerosol-free knit graff!
Music: juice newton, knitta!
Movies colors
Television: who has time with all the tagging?
Books: new york subway cozies for the soul
Groups: Graffiti Artists , Rebel Art Grrrlz , Purl and Hurl , Stitchin' Bitches , Rubber Coin Purse Group , buy adrian landon brooks art , MARFA or BUST ! , Revolution Grrrl Style Now

article in the Houston Press, 12/15/05 Lupton

Ellen Lupton is a writer, curator, and graphic designer. She is director of the MFA program in graphic design at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. She also is curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City, where she has organized numerous exhibitions, each accompanied by a major publication, including the National Design Triennial series (2000 and 2003), Skin: Surface, Substance + Design (2002), Graphic Design in the Mechanical Age (1999), Mixing Messages (1996), and Mechanical Brides: Women and Machines from Home to Office.

She met Abbott Miller as a student at The Cooper Union, where they graduated in 1985. They have two kids, Jay and Ruby.

National Design Museum: ndm/
e-mail Ellen: