Category Archives: motion

Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise — Saturday, June 8

on Saturday, June 8th — Lee Todd Lacks, Tom Swafford and i will appear at Matt Samolis‘ ‘Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise,‘ a new and interdisciplinary performance works events out at Nave Gallery in Somerville

Check out more info up on The Book, aight?

we’ll perform a new composition of Lee Todd’s written in A flat minor with relative wholetone flourishes and micropolyrhythmic, purposely dissonant percussive undertone accompaniment with a slightly woody taste wildly reminiscent of 1984 or so aptly entitled ‘Ghost Mall’ — you won’t want to miss it — i’m serious — well, okay, i really have no idea who you are right now, right? the technology i used to put this blogpost together can’t really dynamically detect who might be reading this post in the moment and then, based upon your innermost desires and personal likes or dislikes in music then assess whether you might or might not want to miss it, this ‘Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise’ that Matt Samolis is putting on out at that wickid cool Nave Gallery in the general Somerville districts of Massachusetts and all, but, hey, i have the write to pretend and play and let’s pretend for just a second that WordPress allowed for that post-humanic, überCreepy and simulated predictive functionality, okay?

woah

yeah

that’d be, like, kind of simultaneously amazing, this kind of stuff we dream up and invite, but also a little bit annoying and probably a little bit broken

like

it might not get it EXACTLY right, right?

but we’d kind of ignore the fact that it’d be a little ‘off,’ right? like we normally do — and we’d probably think, like, woah — oh my gawd, that’s pretty fucking awesome — who the hell dreamt this cool, new innovative trick up? how’d they implement that? was there some sort of direct emotional sensor that somehow reached out via webcam into my retina to pull out my wants, needs and personal tastes in music and performance art?

probably not

i bet it’d just be kind of random, but we’d believe there’d be this wonderfully creative and epically smart algorithm of pure genius behind it all — that somehow data answers every question we have and that any tiny miraculous event can be somehow utterly dewonderfied through scientific conjecture and fully quantifiable proof of anything seemingly magical, real or exciting

hey

i’d go out to this ‘Synthesize, Improvise and Otherwise’ — ‘sGonna be off da hook ‘n shit

i can tell it is

probably the best way you can spend your Saturday night { unless, of course, you’re going out to that competing Mobius event happening on the verySame night — jeez! }

let’s discuss design performance

i recently bumped across this rather incredible article on Co.DESIGN entitled, ‘4 Secrets For Doing Gonzo User Research‘ — and the article helped put some interesting historical context around one of the 4 major project streams i pursued and captured in my MFA Design thesis ‘confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy

so, in the Co.DESIGN article they discuss a form of first-person research as first formalized by the designer Patricia Moore — as a way to study the actual human experience of target demographic, Moore …

‘… dressed as an elderly lady, wearing prosthetics that restricted her movement and eyesight.’

moore-elder

the insight that Moore gathered by going undercover as an elderly woman with realistically limited visual and physical faculties helped influence her thinking as a designer, bringing a heightened awareness and perspective to her work — one more closely aligned with the actual people that would eventually use the designs resulting from her research and design work

Her experiences transformed the way Raymond Loewe’s team designed for less able users

as a user experience design professional with a secret nighttime, after hours life as a performance artist — my graduate work at Dynamic Media Institute at Massachusetts College of Art and Design quite naturally delved into explorations that combined these 2 areas of practice in ways i had never previously personally explored

my personal heroes — the original inspiration for the kind of performance art i do — came from the work of fantastic innovators that i’ve admired, like: Andy Kaufman; Sasha Baron Cohen; George Carlin; Alan Funt; Chuck Barris; Anaïs Nin; Carolee Schneemann; Rod Serling; and numerous others — but, first and foremost, my brand of performance art follows the interventionist and subversive spirit found throughout Kaufman’s work

from the outside of his ofttimes off-putting and controversial work, the majority of Kaufman’s target audience — apparently the general american public { mostly television watching, suburbanites } — might not even understand the prankish nature of Kaufman’s work — in other words, the audience is not in on the joke, which is very confrontational, very aggressive and unkind in many ways

now — of course — most of us watching the historic footage of Andy Kaufman’s appearances on the first episode of Saturday Night Live, on David Letterman, etcetera — remain part of the other side of these performances, but now that we understand that he’s a comedian delivering from the practice of performance art in the unusual context of mainstream televised media — now that we’re in on the joke — Kaufman’s work seems less threatening and a LOT more humorous, clever, and to some, like me, actually ingenious — the oeuvre of his work becomes a sort of ongoing performative social commentary meant to wake us up and start to question, as the audience, this one-to-many, one way, consumeristic broadcast delivery mechanism — and, much-like the very iterative and experimental way in which a traditional stand-up comedian tries out his or her bits on stage to eventually build, test and refine a set act of material, Kaufman very bravely discover and build his very own vocabulary in mediated performance art for the mainstream to then engage in this dialog of awkward self-awareness

at this point i think of Andy Kaufman’s comedy as something situated between Theatre of the Absurd and Theatre of Cruelty — he’s showing us in the 1970s just how silly television really is, how easily we are consumed by our own consumerist broadcast box but then also showing us, as the audience, just how stuck and defenseless we are as well-trained american citizens

if we watch some of Kaufman’s earlier appearances now, and switch our own perspective to imagine what it must’ve been like from Andy’s perspective to perform in this way — after all, i really think that’s what his work is all about at the end of the day — its more for him than us — he’s getting a total rise out of these subversive experiments with the medium of mainstream television — just looking at his later work of challenging women to wrestling matches alone exposes this aspect of his work, this sort of total provocation of the masses accompanied by a personal rise, even, in this case, quite literally, a sexual rise { as according to Zmuda’s Andy Kaufman Revealed!, Kaufman sexually enjoyed getting sexually excited in the ring, and most likely also got turned on during his rather ridiculous anti-femminist shouting matches with potential future female wrestlers, with his ‘weaker sexed’ adversaries — such a despicable ploy, to play the part of the male chauvinist asshole comedian }

Andy_Kaufman

so, it seems to me there are 2 rather valuable lessons to learn from this conversation about what Co.DESIGN calls gonzo design and what i am calling design performance — and as a design professional i very highly recommend we all start to get more active with our design processes and explore deepening our personal awareness of the experiential aspects of our potential designs using the following 2 activities or experimental approaches:

  • be the user / audience / participant — go ahead, put on a costume and get out there and experience the world with some semblance of a prototypic manifestation of the environment, object or experience you’re exploring in your design research — get all Patricia Moore on that shit, aight? — you’ll be delighted and surprised how much insight you can gather using this amazingly enlightening first person approach { although it can get a little risky at times, too, depending on how far you take it }
  • confront the user / audience / participant — take a well-established medium, like television in the case of Andy Kaufman, and be bad with it — do all the wrong things for a change — break some conventions, hurt people’s feelings, destroy all the typical expectations we all have with a medium we might all now take for granted — i’ll bet there’s some valuable terrain to discover, and things will get crazy sociological real fast in quite a wonderful and fun way — you’ll get a LOT closer to understanding context, delivery, mental and behavioral modes and concepts of distribution, consumption, use, and so on — this is definitely the path less traveled that could lead to areas of innovation, excitement and adventure

nobody said you need to sit on your ass in front of a computer to design, right? that’s just the toolset they keep pushing on us in academic and professional settings — its up to us, its our obligation as designers, to keep the field fresh and active and exciting and to make sure we keep the word DESIGN in the realm of an action verb, not just a noun that describes the final, object-based results of the actual living, breathing, writhing process we all know and love along the way when its done right, when its injected with the proper doses of vigor, vim and real human energy

Making a show of it

Artist Vela Phelan of Gang Clan Mafia — photo provided courtesy of JONATHAN WIGGS / GLOBE STAFF

Artist Vela Phelan of Gang Clan Mafia — photo provided courtesy of JONATHAN WIGGS / GLOBE STAFF

Its totally exciting to see the recent press about the vibrant performance art scene in Boston as covered by Cate McQuaid in The Boston Globe in her article Making a show of it { for some reason delivered with a re-imagined headline ‘Performance art is thriving in Boston‘ in the eVersion on bostonglobe.com }

The amazing historic reference to Raphael Montalez Ortiz’ destructive Fluxus work aired on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show way back when — direct references to Mobius all over the article, and deservedly so — mention of all the groups and spaces that’ve come and gone over the years, like Meme, Oni Gallery and others { they failed to mention Cambridge’s legendary venues, like: Zeitgeist Gallery; Out of the Blue Gallery; Open Faucet Productions; Squawk; Naked City Coffeehouse; the Art Cheerleaders; and Burlesque Revival Association ( better known as BRA ) as well as other more musicky venues that regularly support performance art on a regular basis, like: Lizard Lounge; TT the Bears Place, Middle East Café; Precinct Bar; PAs Lounge; Milky Way Lounge and Lanes; Midway Café; Middlesex Lounge; Book Cellar Café; Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center; The Actor’s Guild Workshop; Club OBERON; and so on, etcetera }

Of course, front and center and most vital to the performance art scene to me and to SO many others growing up in the Greater Boston Area is the legendary and incomparable Marilyn Arsem — the founder of Mobius and such a passionate performance artist, educator, mentor and performance artist community leader in Boston and around the world — without her contributions and the amazing and gentle spirit she brings to performance art, and without the photodocumentary contributions of her incredibly visionary and talented late husband Bob Raymond — I think the Boston performance art scene wouldn’t be what it is today

And what better time than now to experience and celebrate live performance art? The article quotes Arsem’s definition of performance art as:

‘An action designed and executed by an artist that takes place in time and space with or without an audience’

… and as vague and confusing as that might seem, its such a refreshing and honest way to describe this rather unique and elusive artistic, expressive medium — and its actually far more specific than the now seemingly rather outdated, original New York City definition of performance art by RoseLee Goldberg from her book Performance: Live Art Since 1960. Goldberg says performance art is:

‘Live art by artists’

Seems a lot simpler than Arsem’s definition, right? I think Goldberg does go on to elaborate more on the extreme interdisciplinary tendancies and potentials for performance art, as do most folks trying to help drive better understanding about what performance art is and isn’t — but I prefer Arsem’s definition mostly because it describes an audience, and as a user-centered and experience design professional this concept of audience is at the core of what experience and performance art is all about — and then, in the end, I also tend to trust Arsem’s definition of performance art more just due to the fact that Marilyn is a living, breathing, passionate performance artist, whereas Goldberg comes from the comfortable and removed distance of being an art critic and historian

Anyhow, back to the point — so cool to see this recent press about performance art and the promotion of such amazing professionals as Marilyn Arsem, Bob Raymond, Vela Phelan and others working in this space — you can read the full article here on Boston Globe dot com — and if you’re not quite up to speed on the vast and interesting history of performance art as a medium, you can check out more context on Wikipedia here, which I personally hope will lead you to deeper research and reading on the topic in books, journals, magazines and on Amazon’s Kindle eReader { but not The Nook }

brilliant little streaks a light ::..

driving through Boston @ night … capturing light w/ my digital camera + some purposeful jigglings … check it out … see if you like …

Cimatics likes this …

check out this amazing vimeo clip from cimatics … looks like 3 projections with live dj-ing … i love the nature imagery + the general synthiness of the mellow groove behind it all … peace

photos for sound + texture

i took these shots over the weekend to capture some of the conceptuals for my Sound for Dynamic Media course ( taking it by night this summer as part of my grad work through The DMI ) … we started by capturing audio samples … then, the idea was to put image representation to the sound … and now, this week we need to have our first time-based ( video or video-like ) piece ( part 1 of 2 parts ) done by Wednesday …
my idea ( which came to me shortly after collecting the sound ) is to create some point-of-view visuals from the perspective of some creature … i’m thinking of making it all in Flash ( since my copy of AfterEffects was completely ass ) … i’m thinking a nice pinhole-like mask that moves about the screen … quick scurrying images w/ little stops + starts here + there … that’s the idea that i’m running with for now … of course, the titles of things come easier to me than the actual work ;] … so i was thinking of calling it something like automagicCreature # ( inserts #s 1 through whatever for the version # … or perhaps automagicCreature beta through versions 2.0 … something sort of software, semiSurreal, nice ‘n’ chocolatey ) …

group of 9 | Art Rock kcoR trA

that’s Deb + i … you could probably recognize the shot of Deb from the previous one, eh? ;] … anyhow … smiles everyone, smiles …