May 31, 2009

ALLOY Conference 1970

One notable event that operated as a think-tank/networking opportunity/celebration of community was the ALLOY conference, organized by Steve Baer with Barry Hickman, March 20-23, 1970. It was a weekend event conducted at an abandoned tile factory near La Luz, NM between the Trinity bombsite and the Mescalero Apache reservation and was framed as a conference on new building technologies. Participants were welcomed from a variety of local and national communes and the Whole Earth Catalog was invited to report on the weekend’s events. Discussion at ALLOY ranged from concrete to cardboard to 3M tape to dope to evolution to magic and it entertained questions like “What sort of research do we do to use the technology in order to improve our minds?” and “Am I this 6-foot body or am I something else that could exist beyond it?” Very little of the information in the article is useful or cited, and the piece functions more as testament to the fact that something happened, that people attended, and that a particular spirit was in the air. This manner of stylistically relaying incomplete information is perhaps exemplary of the moment’s priorities. Although inspired by the idea of an information network, the connections being made were primarily social, ideological, aesthetic.

Some outtakes from the article:
"New Mexico is the center of momentum this year, and maybe for the next several. More of the interesting communities are there. More of the interesting outlaw designers are.

Baer had in mind a meld of information on Materials, Structure, Energy, Man, Magic, Evolution, and Consciousness, so he invited individuals with amateur or professional interest in these areas to take responsibility for their coverage in the discourse.

150 people were there. They came from northern New Mexico, the Bay Area, New York, Washington, Cardondale, Canada, Big Sur, and elsewhere. They camped amid the tumbleweed in weather that baked, rained, greyed, snowed, and blew a fucking dust storm. Who were they? (Who were we?) Persons in their late twenties or early thirties mostly. Havers of families, many of them. Outlaws, dope fiends, and fanatics naturally. Doers, primarily, with a functional grimy grasp on the world. World-thinkers, drop outs from specialization. Hope freaks."

I've come in contact with the man who owns the old tile factory and will visit the site this summer. I'd really like to know more details about the ALLOY conference and consider what the present-day equivalent might be. ALLOY 2009? What information would be shared? What would the format for the conference look like? Who would be there? To what end?

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