These projects are smokin’!

Memory Cloud, Trafalgar Square

“Animating the built environment through conversation”

is the great tagline for the project Memory Cloud by Minimaforms, which was just presented at Trafalgar Square in London.

According to the website

Memory Cloud is based on smoke signals – one of the oldest forms of visual communication, for three nights the public will be invited to participate by sending text messages that will be grafted onto plumes of smoke. Fusing ancient and contemporary forms of communication, Memory Cloud creates a dynamic hybrid space that will project personal statements as part of an evolving text, animating the built environment through conversation.”

via Public Art Goes Up In Smoke

In 1999, Germaine Koh presented Prayers, an “ntervention with computer, electronic circuitry and fog machine,” at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

“Throughout the day, a computer interface captures all the keystrokes typed on another computer within the same building. In real time, it translates this raw data to Morse code and broadcasts into the surrounding atmosphere as Morse-encoded smoke signals (longer and shorter puffs of smoke from a standard fog machine) through a vent or other opening in the building. More and less active at various times of the day and its output more and less visible under varying conditions, the apparatus is a kind of exhaust system for the machine of daily industry. At the same time, it relates today’s electronic communications to previous revolutions in technology and communications: telegraph, binary languages, steam power, smoke signals. Everyday hopes and fleeting desires, channelled through the implements of daily work, are briefly given form as they are dispersed into the world at large, on the wing of a prayer.”

Also this past week, Ali Momeni and Robin Mandel presented Smoke and Hot Air at the Almost Cinema Festival in Vooruit, Gent.

Smoke and hot air animates my response to the relentless threats against Iran by a myriad of more fortunate countries in recent years. Sentences that include ‘attack Iran’ are scavanged from Google News and spoken using a text-to-speech synthesizer. The voice is then picked up by a microphone, analyzed, and translated into rhythmically corresponding smoke rings from a quartet of smoke ring makers.”
Ali Momeni

video here

A new direction for Banksy

Banksy has been most well known for adding his own brand of poetic street art to public spaces and toying with the establishment by altering classic imagery.

How long is permanent?

Lin Utzon tile mural, San Jose Convention Center

Scot Herhold wrote a pitch-perfect, elegaic question mark about the possible demise of the mural on the facade of the San Jose Convention Center.

“The reason? The convention center is planning an expansion that would add roughly a third to its overall square footage. And the Utzon mural is in the way.

“‘We know to make the expansion work, it’s smack dab where that piece stands,’ said Bill Ekern, the redevelopment project manager.

“‘We can’t save it as it is, or cut holes in it. You’d end up cutting so much of it off that what you’d have left would be marginal at best.’

“Is this an outrage that art lovers should band together to protest? When I ask people about it, I get a shrug. Even sadder, I shrug myself.

“That says two things. First, it’s tribute to our short memory span. It cost a million bucks 20 years ago? Well, that was then, and who remembers?

“Second, for all its joyous color, the Utzon mural never had much to do with San Jose. It could have been art designed by extraterrestrials landing on San Carlos Street.”


Symposium: Experimenting with art in public places

Experimenting with Art in Public Places is a symposium free and open to the public, which will explore ways to support and present experimental art practices in public places, including in the virtual realm, outside the traditional white cubes and black boxes of cultural institutions. It brings together local and out-of-town artists, curators, producers, and presenters for a collaborative conversation about the public sphere as a site for works of art and art practices that spark the imagination but also challenge perceptions – artistic, cultural, social, political.

Full schedule here.

Friday evening, there will be a keynote presentation by Seattle phenoms SuttonBeersCuller. Saturday will be a day of Pecha Kucha presentations and panel discussions. Saturday evening, registered symposium attendees can attend the hearSIGHTED party for R. Luke DuBois’ Hindsight Is 20/20 exhibition at the Weisman Art Museum for half price.


Experimenting with Art in Public Places is free, but seating is limited for the symposium, which takes place at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. To register and reserve a space, email

Keynote: SuttonBeresCuller

Friday, October 10
MCAD Auditorium
6:30 pm: reception
7:00 pm: Keynote

On Friday evening, SuttonBeresCuller (John Sutton, Ben Beres, Zac Culler), a 3-person collaborative from Seattle will give a keynote talk about their experimental art practice in the public sphere. Their work deals in the realms of experimentation and discovery through site-specific installation, performance and sculpture. The work is meant to be accessible, and it actively involves and challenges the viewer, discouraging passive viewing. It’s meant to create an ephemeral circumstance, caught perhaps in a fleeting glimpse, which removes the viewer from a daily routine and leaves them with a sense of bewilderment.

Saturday, October 11, MCAD Student Center, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

8:30 am
Coffee and refreshments

9:15 am
Welcome and Introduction: Steve Dietz, Executive Director, Northern Lights

9:30 am

Pecha Kucha: Art(ists) On the Verge

Northern Lights recently awarded grants to 6 emerging artists “working experimentally at the intersection and technology, with a focus on practices that are social, collaborative and/or participatory.” In part, Experimenting with Art in Public Places is an opportunity for these artists to “boot up” their practice, and, Pecha Kucha style, Avye Alexandres, Kevin Obsatz, Andrea Steudel, Pramila Vasudevan, and Krista Kelley Walsh will each have 6 minutes – 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide – to answer 3 questions:

  • What is the intersection with technology in their work?
  • How is their practice experimental and social/participatory?
  • What are they planning to do?

10:15 am

Julie Lazar, A History and Future of Experimental Art Practice

Julie Lazar is a trail blazer in the support and presentation of experimental art. She was a founding Curator then Director of Experimental Programs for The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1981-2000). As a curator, Lazar specializes in commissioning new art works in all media.

11:30 am

Panel: Playing in Public

Moderator: Jack Becker, Executive Director, Forecast Public Art
This panel will look at a range of projects that have played with our expectations for art in public spaces.

R. Luke DuBois’s
Wing Young Huie’s
Piotr Szyhalski
Marcus Young

A buffet lunch wil be available in the MCAD cafeteria, next to the Student Center, for $7.50.

1:00 – 3:00 pm: Breakout Session: Forecast Public Art
This grant-writing workshop will discuss Forecast’s annual grant program, provide an overview of recent innovative public art projects, provide time for artists to brainstorm and discuss their own project ideas and hear about the experiences of past grantees. More information here. To reserve a space in the grant-writing workshop, email Forecast.


Panel: Technologies of Engagement

Moderator: Carl DiSalvo, Assistant Professor of Digital Media in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia.

New technologies have clearly enabled new means of engagement with an audience, whether through networks of delivery or interactive and partciipatory installations or both. Technologies does not always mean “Computers! or Internet! or iPhone!”, however, and this panel will explore a more nuanced idea of the technologies of engagement, from the recent past into the near future.

Chuck Olsen
John Schott
Scott Stulen
Diane Willow


Panel: Building an Audience / Community for the Experimental

Moderator: Diane Mullin is Associate Curator at the Weisman Art Museum.

If “build it and they will come” was part of the first generation of technology-enabled community-building projects, experience has shown that building a true community for experimental public art that goes beyond the memorial or the plop is not an easy matter. This panel will explore successful strategies for building a committed audience for experimental art practice over the long term.

Tom Borrup
Doryun Chong
Carl DiSalvo
Doug Geers
Peter Haakon Thompson

7:00 pm – late

Performance: hearSIGHTED AT THE Weisman Art Museum

hearSIGHTED is an evening of music, dancing, food and drink at the Weisman Art Museum, presented in celebration of the exhibition Hindsight is Always 20/20 by R. Luke DuBois. See the exhibition and hear performances by University of Minnesota electronic music students in the galleries. Catch a special musical performance by DuBois at 9:30 p.m. Following the performance, kick up your heels to electronic grooves spun by Minneapolis-based DJ ETones.


Experimenting with Art in Public Places is free, but seating is limited for the symposium, which takes place at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. To register and reserve a space, email


Experimenting with Art in Public Places is a public progoram presented by Northern Lights October 10-11, 2008, with the support of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and the Jerome Foundation, through its support of the Art(ists) On the Verge grant program. Northern Lights is supported by the McKnight Foundation.

Full schedule here.

Call for Art Exploring Real-Time Connectedness

Call for Proposals: “Live Bits”

Ars Electronica invites artists and scientists to submit proposals for new and novel ways to connect, in real time, people to people and people to environments in different physical locations. The goal is to expand and explore meaningful exchanges between remote groups of people.

The one essential requirement for all proposals is “live bits:” real-time digital information via any network, of any viable quantity, and in any modality. In addition to symmetrical two-way communication, asymmetrical two-way communication and even one-way communication will be considered as long as a live component is present. “Fresh” and “canned” bits, as well as physically transported objects, may also be incorporated.

We will award up to 20 commissions of 10,000 EUR each. But you must act quickly and we will reciprocate.

Deadline for submission is 31 October 2008

Notification of recipients will be 30 November 2008.

The commissions must be completed by June 2009, for inclusion in “80+1: A Journey Around the World,” an 80(+1) day event in the Linz Main Square and the Ars Electronica Centre, 18 June – 6 September 2009, for Linz09, European Capital of Culture.

Full details here.

Listen to the public art

Corporate Head, 1990, by Terry Allen and poet Philip Levine was a response to the $500 billion Savings & Loan bailout. According to Michael Several,

“As ethics took an extended holiday during the 1980s, fiscal irresponsibility at the highest level was joined by a pervasive nation-wide moral bankruptcy. . . . By taking aim at the values and ethics of the foot soldiers and icons of the Reagan-Bush years, Corporate Head instantly became one of the most popular works of public art in Los Angeles. Though small in size, it raises large issues with its critique of the greed and the lack of moral direction that define corporate mentality.”

Corporate Head, Terry Allen + Philip Levine

Corporate Head is located near a Washington Mutual JPMorgan Chase & Co. branch office.

via [view] from a loft

Next time you’re in London

Check out Drift 08, a new annual art exhibition in public space in London.

Drift, London

According to co-organizer Carline Jones

“‘We found that by putting art in unusual places, the general public were more likely to come and have a look – they weren’t as threatened as they can be by the White Cube Gallery space,’ says Illuminate’s co-founder Caroline Jones. ‘Then we went one step further and thought: Why not take the artwork straight out there to the public?'”

The six artists featured in Drift 08 include Craig Walsh, whose Incursion 37:20:15.71” N – 121: 53:09.51” W I commissioned for the San Jose City Hall as part of the 2nd 01SJ Biennial. His hour-long, 12-channel projection on the interior of the Richard Meier-designed city hall was transfixing, and if the other work at Drift is of a similar quality – and I’m sure it is – it will be well worth the trip.

It’s also interesting to note how the ambitions of the 2012 Olympiics may be at work in the culture scene in the UK:

“Drift 08 has been organised with the Corporation of London and British Waterways and there are plans to double it in scale each year, eventually moving up the Lea Valley towards the Olympics site in time for 2012.”