Located in an industrial complex in Brooklyn, at night, loooong two blocks from the subway, graffiti all over, small door… that gave way to heaven: young (I was the oldest hacker in that space, but I did not feel that way) energetic happy people tinkering with technology and proudly showing their “toys” (hacks, mashups, creations, or whatever). From the 15sec-at-a-time Star Wars fan-boy movie, to the shoot-the-DJ video game, including the bicycle computer interface, the “swim” in front of a kinect to navigate with a browser, the mesh-connected game-of-life sync router status lights, the iPhone jump-rope, the Tororo figure being sculpted by the MakerBots (Replicator and Thing-O-Matic), the GIF Booth Hack as demonstrated by Ashley and Katie… it was all great fun.
As a bonus, on the way back, I got a twilio tshirt, several stickers (Etsy, MakerBot, Alphaonelabs…) and great photo opportunities of the surroundings. That is what I call a great Saturday evening.
I just installed RePress: This plug-in enables you to magically uncensor any website on the internet from your own WordPress installation. Why and How.
Antony and the Johnsons performed last Thursday 26th, at the Radio City Music Hall SWANLIGHTS, a one-night-only performance commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), NY, the most amazing concert I have ever been to.
One would think that the fact that the performance took place in the world’s largest (and one of the most reputed) theater/music venue, or that the place was chock-full of celebrities (I had Björk right next to me in the line to pick up the reserved tickets), would add to the glamour and grandiose of the event. But the truth of the matter is that once the curtain was raised, that was another world: the magical world of Antony.
Indescribable, that’s the only word that comes to mind. His voice, his songs, his lyrics… anyone who has listened to Antony Heagrty knows his (gender in question here) is different. But when you add the scenography (lights, lasers, curtains, transparencies, floating elements, etc) then the whole show becomes absolutely breathtaking. If you want to read more, Antony himself talks about the show with WMagazine, Art Info, NY Times Magazine and Time Out NY. Here is the NYTimes review of the performance.
Thank you. Sincerely and deeply, thank you.
The net was all up in arms this week. After the marvelous uprising against SOPA and PIPA, the new battle ground was Twitter’s announcement of country specific censorship. Never mind that they are open about it (unlike Facebook), never mind that they are talking about their offices and employees in those countries where censorship is the law… if you hear “censorship” and “net” get up and scream! Wired has a nice piece about it.
This is what I call “automatic reaction”. Instead of learning the facts and engaging in a productive and constructive discussion, specific concepts (keywords, memes, hashtags, whatever) automatically invoke passionate reaction (for or against). Examples abound:
On a poster in the subway I read the following: “…T-Mobile and the magenta color are registered trademarks of T-Mobile USA…”. Automatic reaction invokes: “How can that be?!, How can they dare to say they can trademark a color?!!!” But fact-based reflexion would answer: a trademark consist of several elements (mark, logo, etc), including color. It only applies to specific products or industries, and only to the extent of not confusing the consumer. And while this has been used to censor free-speech before, it is unlikely T-Mobile people will start imposing color-restrictions any time soon (unless you are a telecoms company who wants to used magenta as your primary identification).
Or how about Google’s “goodtoknow” ad campaign (ad show here seen again in the subway, where most life seems to happen in NY, in the winter at least) to which Epic very adequately replies with “GoodToReallyKnow“?. Sure misleading advertising, and half-truths are a danger, but let’s start a conversation, not a flame war.
Campaigns, actions, and reactions, seem to foster polarity. Stop the cycle, avoid the trap. Get to the facts, learn, educate others, and engage in a conversation, or discussion (like Cory with the entertainment execs), not a battle or accusations cross-fire.
Last week I went to 3 exhibitions/events that have allowed me to see the importance of context in the interpretation (and enjoyment) of a work of art. Note that I differentiate “interpretation” and “enjoyment”, although for many of us, those two concepts go hand in hand. But this is just a short post, so the Phenomenological Aesthetics will have to wait (you can read Dewey, Hartmann, Adorno, Ortega y Gasset, Sartre, etc, etc in the meantime )
The first one was the opening of Enrico David’s Head Gas. A by-invitation only event, Mr. David talked and tried to explain about his work being shown at New Museum’s small Studio 231. The first impression his work caused was completely corroborated by Mr. David’s own futile explanations of his “mostly self-portraits” “during hurricane Irene while on vacation at the Hamptons”. But the best explanation I heard of the whole show was by excellent art critic Nebula, standing next to me, who said:
He tip-toed over his own work
The second was Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company UNTITLED FEMINIST SHOW N.Y. Premiere at the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
The program explained the very interesting author/director Young Jean Lee’s intentions quite well, and sure enough, full-nudity all show long did not become a point in itself, nor a shock mechanism, but a statement, part of the discourse, and eventually proof that feminism is NOT about looks.
An incredible show, one of the most interesting performances I have ever seen on stage, with a powerful while subtle message… one word away from perfection (substitute “feminism” for “womanhood”, since they are not the same and most of the performance refers to the latter, and you have a perfect show-description-concept).
The third was the Guggenheim Museum’s 7 hour finale of Maurizio Cattelan’s “All”. Apart from the live 10-15 minute interventions by an impressive roster of commentators (Arthur Danto, Adam McEwen, Virginia Rutledge, Doryun Chong, Aquila Theatre, Marc Etkind, Francis Naumann, Nancy Northup, Jamieson Webster, George Vecsey, Donelle Woolford, Michael Rush, Slater Bradley, Matt Wrbican, Rick Moody, Aquila Theatre, Sarah Murray, Mark Taylor, Drew Daniel, David Lipsky, Robert Boyd, Stewart Home, Thomas Lawson, Tehching Hsieh and Sandhini Poddar, Steven Schwartz, Tracey Emin, Not an Alternative, Proenza Schouler and Harmony Korine, Matmos, Amy Hollywood, Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno, Sina Najafi and Simon Critchley, and Courtney Love), the center (and only) piece of the exhibit was Cattelan’s potpourri work hanging from the museum’s ceiling.
While a very interesting in itself, the exhibition’s catalogue was what brought everything into perspective. Cattelan’s work seems to be devoid of its power and poignant message (criticism or otherwise) when subtracted from the right context. Most of his pieces do not want to be moved, and need to remain in their original context, need to be shown where the surroundings add to the message, in order to be fully appreciated. Is that why they decided to hang it all together, as if keeping it away from the walls, from the museum’s frame? Who knows.
In any case, last week, through art, I learned of the power and importance of context.
My shoulders and back still hurt, but it was previsible: one hour of Kendo with Ilaria Montagnani (Nike endorsed athlete, and one of the top trainers in NY according to the Wall Street Journal or New York Magazine), and you will not ever wonder how she got all those muscles in her body.
For some odd reason, Kendo feels natural to me. And I say odd, because I am usually lacking the required coordination and flexibility for almost any sport. But even holding the bokken feels right (as opposed to the racquet or bat, which make my hands develop blisters in a few minutes).
I know, in a previous life (if I only believed in that) I was a little samurai roaming the hills of Japan
One thing is for sure: when I move to Japan, I will learn Iaido (and also practice Aikido again). Someday.