visiting the Center for Land Use Interpretation

6 January 2010 | by | In process

While visiting family for the holidays, I stopped by the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Culver City, CA.

What a wonderful visit! The current exhibit being shown is Urban Crude: The Oil Fields Of The Los Angeles Basin all about the oil field underfoot throughout the Greater Los Angeles area. Having grown up in Culver City, sporadic oil pumps were just an occasional part of the landscape, but as a child of course I had never stopped to think in-depth about what their presence meant, and definitely never realized the complex and unique network underpinning the entire endeavor.

I was also lucky enough to meet Matt and Sarah, and I told them a bit about our project and they shared some ideas about potential connections to stuff they are working on. When Marek arrives this evening I’m looking forward to relating all this to him and I think we should consider applying for CLUI’s residency program in Wendover, Utah.

After hearing about our project, Sarah recommended You Are Here: Personal geographies and other maps of the imagination by Katharine A. Harmon, which I purchased and have just begun reading. It is a collection of many people’s uniquely personal maps and relates quite nicely to some things we are trying to do with [here][now]: mainly, aggregating subjectivities into something that hopefully creates a whole greater than the sum of parts.

looking ahead

5 January 2010 | by | In process

Marek and I have been reading about the upcoming 01SJ Biennial put on by ZER01 and others, and taking place in San Jose, CA in September.

We’re super excited about the show, and especially about the possibility of participating in it, as it seems exactly in line with many of the ideas we are interested in with [here][now]. Mainly that people can not just affect, but literally shape their world, just by participating in it. The path to meaningful change consists of thoughtful observation, conceptualization, and confidence in the belief that we all possess the capacity to re-program our environment.

Some literature about the show proposes that contributing artists are “invited to either interpret the UN Millennium Development Goals or to propose goals of their own.” The goals are listed as:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

The thing that initially strikes me about all these items (except for perhaps the last) is just that they are such massive problems despite many possible solutions existing, and despite the fact that most people clearly agree they are problems.

One reason for this disconnect — between the world we all want and the world we have — is our inability to recognize our ability/responsibility to change things. In this “information age” now more than ever before, as life becomes data and data becomes digital, we all possess the capacity to reprogram the pathways and architectures that define society. Technology can be a democratizing force or it can simply reiterate past structures. The key is to recognize and harness it’s distributed capacity, to realize that we can come together to talk to each other, and collaborate to visualize and make the future.

back at Montalvo

4 January 2010 | by | In process

Yesterday I arrived at Montalvo Arts Center for another residency. I’ll be here until January 16th and Marek arrives on the 6th to stay until the 20th. It’s been great to see lots of familiar faces and some new ones and we’re looking forward to another productive time here.

On the evening of January 12th we’ll be doing another showing of our work in progress. If you are in the area stop by! And we’ll posting more reports and documentation of progress here over the next couple weeks.

simulation and urban space, an abstract

15 November 2009 | by | In process

I recently submitted an abstract for a paper to the “Taking Up Space” conference at Duke University.

The abstract describes one potential theoretical framework for understanding some of the ideas addressed by the project. It focusses on urban space as understood through simulation, and touches on our use of psychogeographical methods in constructing virtual urban worlds.

The abstract is here: Neither Here nor There: Simulation and Urban Space (pdf).

there`s no there where?

3 August 2009 | by | In process

We realized last night while working into the wee hours that, with this installation, what we are essentially creating is a virtual space that must be experienced in person in real life.

… which is kind of hilarious.

The midnight oil burning was due to the fact that we needed to rewrite of a huge chunk of the Java code, and almost all of the VRML — the details about why that was necessary will be included in another post to come soon.

image-gathering dérive

30 July 2009 | by | In process

At some point towards the end of our stay at Montalvo, we realized that we needed more textures for our 3D architectures — computer graphics lingo meaning the wallpaper that we paste onto the planar surfaces of the structures that you see — and decided to scour our surroundings there, taking pictures to use for this purpose. This has become one additional way in which every installation of the project is specifically of the place where it is being shown.

As we walk around Seoul, to and from our workspace at Nabi, we’ve been consciously always taking different paths, wandering around through different neighborhoods, and snapping pictures to use as textures along the way. Our workshops are helping to determine what types of images to gather.

This morning as we were doing this, we realized this process is really essentially an example of the Situationist dérive — a way of kind of trying to understand a place on an empirical level, without any preconceived notions such as zoning rules, socio-political history, etc. If [here][now] is an example of our society as spectacle, then these walks, manifested in the project via the images as textures, are a way of understanding the real reality that the project represents virtually.

organizing electrons

29 July 2009 | by | In process

So most of the day yesterday I spent a lot of time doing a lot of really boring work. But it needed to be done. Essentially, I had to take all our server code (ie, the stuff that manages the database that we use to store data about avatar location and appearance) and install it on the server machine that we will be using for the installation. Unfortunately that server is now several years old and so this process was quite laborious and riddled with hoops that needed to be jumped through.

Continue reading organizing electrons…

First test run at nabi

29 July 2009 | by | In process

Really happy with how everything is looking so far though we still have a long way to go …
nabi01nabi02nabi03nabi04

Continue reading First test run at nabi…

laughter and forgetting

29 July 2009 | by | In process

Stumbled across this:

In 1975, Milan Kundera moved to France. There he published The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979) which told of Czech citizens opposing the communist regime in various ways. An unusual mixture of novel, short story collection and author’s musings, the book set the tone for his works in exile. Critics have noted the irony that the country that Kundera seemed to be writing about when he talked about Czechoslovakia in the book, “is, thanks to the latest political redefinitions, no longer precisely there” which is The “kind of disappearance and reappearance Kundera explores in the book.” [3]

That is from wikipedia.

But this idea of forgotten geographies was an early motivating idea to the project and has shaped several key elements of the piece.

communication and dialogue

12 June 2009 | by | In process

“… Communication and dialogue have taken on a new specific weight and urgency in modern times, because subjectivity and inwardness have become at once richer and more intensely developed, and more lonely and entrapped, than they ever were before. In such a context, communication and dialogue become both a desperate need and a primary source of delight. In a world where meanings melt into air, these experiences are among the few solid sources of meaning we can count on. One of the things that can make modern life worth living is the enhanced opportunities it offers us — and sometimes even forces on us — to talk together, to reach and understand each other. We need to make the most of these possibilities; they should shape the way we organize our cities and our lives.”
All that is Solid Melts into Air by Marshall Berman.

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