San Jose, California, is the 10th largest city in the United States. Surprisingly, it is not necessarily on everyone’s top 10 list of places to visit. If, however, you have even a passing interest in contemporary art, in particular the ways it intersects with contemporary (digital) culture and technology, San Jose is the place to be for the next two weeks.
Admittedly, as the current Artistic Director of the 01SJ Biennial I may not be an entirely unbiased voice in this matter, but let me share 10 reasons you should come to San Jose for 01SJ, September 16-19, and see at least some of 100 art installations, 46 commissioned works, 9 exhibitions, 20 workshops, 12 public artworks, 4 urban games, 1 drive-in movie theater, a nighttime street fair, a green prix of eco-locomotion, an epicurean multi-media dinner, a requiem mass for fossil fuels, audio ballerinas and robotic sitars, musical performances, operas, and more.
1. Largest DIY garage in the world
I don’t know if it really is the largest "garage" in the world, but Out of the Garage, Into the World takes place in the 80,000 sqaure feet (7,432 square meters) South Hall of the San Jose Convention Center. Essentially a domed parking lot, for two weeks, beginning September 4, 01sj.org/art/out-of-the-garage/ will publicly build their projects in and around a scaffolding structure designed by Madrid-based architect Angel Borrego Cubero. The projects run the gamut from a book-making workshop by Guggenheim fellow Monica Haller for war veterans the Eyebeam Roadshow to a contemporary hurache workshop by Pilar Aguero-Esparza and Hector Dionicio Mendoza to mobile archipelagos by Nova Jiang to a zipline "xAirport" wearing innovative wing designs over an artificial marsh "ark" for endangered frogs by Natalie Jeremijenko to public orchards, DIY solar sculptures , gift horses, i-weather, pirate radio, and much more . The entire "garage" is serviced by a full tech shop with laser cutters, CNC mills, shop bots, and industrial sewing machines.
Come often to see these works-in-progress September 4-14, admission is free, and only $5 for multiple visits September 16-19.
2. “Drive in” trip out
As part of Out of the Garage, Into the World, artists Todd Chandler and Jeff Stark and cohorts will be constructing Empire Drive-In, a full-scale drive in theater using salvaged materials, including the cars for seating. There will be a daily film program and nightly live cinema performances such as Chandler and Dark Dark Dark’s Flood Tide Remixed, Graham Weinbren’s 50 Letters, Stephanie Rothenberg’s Second Life talk show Best Practices in Banana Time, Zoe Keating’s remarkable cello in collaboration with Robert Hodgin’s visuals on Into the Trees, the California premiere of Rick Prelinger’s latest archive mash up The Lives of Energy, Sheepwoman by SUE-C & Laetitia Sonami, and a series of telematic performances, Domain, curated by Rhizome’s John Michael Boling, by Jeremy Bailey, Petra Cortright, Constant Dullaart, and JODI.
3. Art in the streets
Art is not just in the garage and theaters and galleries at 01SJ, it is also in the streets, everywhere. Luke Jerram’s acclaimed Play Me I’m Yours has 20 pianos throughout San Jose, which anyone can play – and decorate. Rigo 23 is producing a newly commissioned video projection, Oglala Oyate: Sister City for a Better Future. Chris Baker’s interactive projection, 01sj.org/2010/artworks/offscript/, will play nightly at Santana Row . Yung-ta Chang’s Signal Flow, in a nod to San Jose’s radio history, will greet visitors to South Hall along with Sabrina Raaf’s Meandering RIver. A half dozen works have been commissioned by the San Jose Public Art Program for 01SJ, and Chico MacMurtrie’s Inflatable Architectural Growth will expand on 1st Street during AbsoluteZER0 and the Green Prix.
4. City Hall reacts
Each Biennial San Jose’s Richard Meier-designed City Hall has been the canvas for a major public art commission. On Thursdsay, September 16, duirng the 01SJ Opening Ceremonies, the Rockwell Group LAB will power up Plug-in-Play, an interactive projection, which suggests a new type of environment where social interactions, citizenship, and personal activities are more dynamically reflected. Inside the City Hall Rotunda, Ken Gregory will present his sound sculpture, wind coil sound flow . During opening ceremonies, Benoit Maubrey and Ballet San Jose will perform Audio Ballerinas.
Now an annual event, AbsoluteZER0 is a vibrant street festival where the public can engage with art, music, science, and technology in new and compelling ways outside on city streets. From an Art Ark to CITY/SPACE/SHARE, a pilot project out of CCA intended to revitalize vacant storefronts and transform urban activity in the City Center of San Jose to Marcus Young’s solo dance program Can’t You Feel It Too? to Steven White’s two-person Ferris Wheel, Over the Top, AbsoluteZER0 is an event not to be missed.
6. Play in the streets
"Go play in the streets" is not just something your mean uncle said. At 01SJ it is a new strand of programming where artists use the city itself as a playground for "serious play." The world premiere of Blast Theory’s A Machine to See With is co-commissioned with the The Banff Centre, and Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Initiative. It mixes documentary material, stolen thriller cliches, and the films of Jean-Luc Godard and invites you to become someone else. Step inside a film as you walk through the city, receiving phone calls. Are you the protagonist or a bit part player? Start making decisions and you will find out. Participation slots are limited, and you can buy tickets ($12) here. You can also become a Zoropathian or participate in an EST-like seminar, LevelFive in commissioned projecs by Ken Eklund and Annette Mees and Brody Condon. And don’t forget to transform your favorite hoodie for an interactive game of zombie tag during AbsoluteZER0.
7. Artful eco-motion – the Green Prix
The Green Prix is a parade and all day festival of sustainable, ecological friendly, and fun modes of transportation—artful “eco-motion.” It will include and Aeolian Bike Ride, Art Bikes, a burlap 1964 Ford, a Gift Horse, Maria del Camino, a video game concept car , a mechanical elephant on wheels , solar cars and much more. And It is open for EVERYONE: artists, designers, families, schools, and anyone else who has or wants to create a new mode of sustainable transportation. It is your opportunity to create, participate in, and cheer on innovative projects related to eco-themed transportation. So break out your banana-bikes, self-propelled jet packs, soapboxes, and solar cars to come out and strut your stuff in front of a cheering audience. The Green Prix Parade will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday, September 18th. It’s not too late to register here . The Green Prix culminates in a special mass by O+A at St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Requiem for fossil fuels.
8. After midnight
During 01SJ, San Jose will be a 24/7 city. Three midnight concerts by contemporary sound artists curatd by artist and musician Stephen Vitiello will take place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night at midnight inside one of San Jose’s historic venues, Trinity Cathedral. untitled composition for piano, field recordings, sine waves by Olivia Block, Possible Landscape (for Donald Judd) by Steve Roden, and Untitled by Stephen Vitiello and Molly Berg . For other nighttime events check out the live cinema at Empire Drive-In, Randall Packer’s multimedia opera A Season in Hell , and KarmetIK’s symbiotic Robotic/Human Ensemble in collaboration with Abhinaya Dance Company.
9. Workshops and artist talks
At the heart of 01SJ is the artists, of course, and many of them will be participating in an artist talk series beginning Tuesday, September7, through Sunday, September 19. The full schedule is here. And you can do more than listen to many of the artists, as enlightening as that can be. Many are offering hands-on workshops open to the public from a barn raising to a biodiesel bus tour of San Jose’s urban orchards and farms to DIY solar sculptures to a youth workshop on future sounds to Imaginary Airforce Flight Attendant Training and much more. The complete listing of workshops is here.
10. Help 01SJ to continue
The 01SJ Biennial is one of very few similar events in North America. ZER01 receives very little support from government sources, unlike similar events in Europe, South America, and Asia. Help this important event to continue by chipping in whatever you can. Every $5 helps. Donate here.
Above all, come and visit. Tickets are online here.
See you in San Jose @01SJ.