"The Rogue Film School is not for the faint-hearted; it is for those who have travelled on foot, who have worked as bouncers in sex clubs or as wardens in a lunatic asylum, for those who are willing to learn about lockpicking and forging shooting permits in countries not favoring their projects. In short: for those who have a sense of poetry. For those who are pilgrims. For those who can tell a story to four year old children and hold their attention. For those who have a fire burning within. For those who have a dream."
Sep 23, 2009
Sep 11, 2009
The Swimming Cities website describes the project:
"SWOON’s boats are inspired by dense urban cityscapes and thickly intertwined mangrove swamps from her Florida youth. The Swimming Cities of Serenissima are built from salvaged materials, including modified Mercedes car motors with long-tail propellers. The boats’ crew is made up of 30 collaborating artists from the United States.
I'm reminded of the book The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. This book, published in 2000, is an examination of the Hercules-hydra myth that has long been a tale of imposing order and the battle for power. The authors introduce their writing project by stating:As the Swimming Cities move toward Venice, the crew will collect and install keepsakes in an ark-like cabinet of wonders that will be on display on the boats when they arrive. Once in Venice, the boats and crew will offer intimate performances that incorporate music, shadow puppetry, and story.
The vessels are imagined as a hybrid between boats and bits of land broken off and headed out to sea. Watching them approach the shore is like seeing a floating city in the distance, as improbable as Venice itself. To the real life crew, the boats are a place of refuge – both a home and a way of moving through the world. To those who encounter the boats for the first time, they are a reminder that anything that can be imagined can be built."
"From the beginning of English colonial expansion in the seventeenth century through the metropolitan industrialization of the early nineteenth, rulers referred to the Hercules-hydra myth to describe the difficulty of imposing order on increasingly global systems of labor. They variously designated dispossessed commoners, transported felons, indentured servants, religious radicals, urban laborers, soldiers, sailors, and African slaves as the numerous, ever-changing heads of the monster. But the heads, though originally brought into productive combination by their Herculean ruler, soon developed among themselves new forms of cooperation against those rulers, from mutinies and strikes to riots and insurrections and revolution. Like the commodities they produced, their experience circulated with the planetary currents around the Atlantic, often eastward from American plantations, Irish commons, and deep-sea vessel back to the metropoles of Europe.”Although not overtly stated, I read the Swimming Cities as a sort of hydra (with many beautiful - American! - heads) that demands a new context for art and, if only for a time, a different way of life. Ahoy maties!
Sep 10, 2009
Sep 8, 2009
Community Memory was the first public computerized bulletin board system. Created by Efrem Lipkin, Mark Szpakowski, and Lee Felsenstein, Community Memory first appeared at Leopold's Records in Berkeley in 1973. Utilizing an SDS 940 timesharing system in San Francisco that connected via a 110 baud link to a teletype, users were able to enter and retrieve messages.
While initially conceived as an information and resource sharing network linking a variety of counter-cultural economic, educational, and social organizations with each other and the public, Community Memory was soon generalized to be an information flea market. Once the system became available, the users demonstrated that it was a general communications medium that could be used for art, literature, journalism, commerce, and social chatter.
Several of these machines popped up around the Bay Area -- at the original Berkeley Whole Earth Access Store and another at the Mission Public Library in San Francisco -- but each one varied in content and physical manifestation. The only photo I've been able to find shows the machine housed inside a large but homespun box (apparently, the machine was very loud and the record store asked that the sound be contained). Users operated the pin-ball shaped object by sticking hands through arm holes in the front of the brightly painted box.
Community Memory eventually disappeared from public life, its function eclipsed by other early iterations of the internet. From what I can tell, the project was more or less abandoned by 1974 yet I've heard rumblings of its creators writing a memoir. I'm so curious to know more about Community Memory -- what it looked like, what kind of information was gathered, if it was useful, how it served as a reflection of the Bay Area in the early '70s, if in fact communities were created by these machines and their archive of messages. I wonder if any part of the half-dozen or so Community Memory machines still exist. Wouldn't it be interesting to revisit Community Memory 35 year later? What would a contemporary Community Memory look like? With the advances of the internet, have we surpassed any need for localized, shared information? How did short-lived, home-grown initiatives like Community Memory usher in a more globalized information network and what are we to make of these legacies?
Sep 1, 2009
I'm reading an entertaining novel -- White Teeth -- by the young and talented Zadie Smith. I've come across a passage that made me pause.
"To Alsana's mind the real difference between people was not colour. Nor did it lie in gender, faith, and their relative ability to dance a syncopated rhythm or open their fists to reveal a handful of gold coins. The real difference was far more fundamental. It was in the earth. It was in the sky. You could divide the whole of humanity into two distinct camps, as far as she was concerned, simply by asking them to complete a very simple questionnaire:a) Are the skies you sleep under likely to open up for weeks on end?b) Is the ground you walk on likely to tremble and split?c) Is there a chance (and please tick the box, no matter how small that chance seems) that the ominous mountain casting a midday shadow over your home might one day erupt with no rhyme or reason?Because if the answer is yes to one or all of these questions, then the life you lead is a midnight thing, always a hair's breadth from the witching hour; it is volatile, it is threadbare; it is carefree in the true sense of that term; it is light, losable like a keyring or a hairclip. And it is lethargy: why not sit all morning, all day, all year, under the same cypress tree drawing the figure of eight in the dust? More than that, it is disaster, it is chaos: why not overthrow the government on a whim, why not blind the man you hated, why not go mad, go gibbering though the town like a loon, waving your hands, tearing your hair? There's nothing to stop you -- or rather anything could stop you, any hour, any minute. That feeling. That's the real difference in a life. People who live on solid ground, underneath safe skies, know nothing of this; they are like the English POWs in Dresden who continued to pour tea and dress for dinner, even as the alarms went off, even as the city became a towering ball of fire."