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Archive for October, 2005

Mobile Video Phone Art Project | mo.vid.1 | video painting

Sunday, October 30th, 2005


mobile phone video artmo.vid.1"
is a mobile video project that updates every time a video is sent from my mobile
phone to the gallery, often several times a day. The display changes as new
videos are sent from the phone, though wireless networks, and to a computer
in the gallery. These are micro videos, fifteen seconds long, made wherever
I happen to be. They are projected on a large, vertical wall. A second projection
high above the first plays previous videos in random order.

The project is centered on the idea of remapping private spaces into
public ones, of reversing scale, of inverting and rejecting the consumerist
idea of "quality" and its technological expression in ever higher
resolutions by exploiting the limits of the devices. (The videos are really
pretty poor with all the compression
, and these limitations are exposed by using two Apple Mac G5’s
to drive the system and two high resolution projectors to display it)

In addition to the videos updating in the gallery space, they also appear online

The project also examines what it means to project very private space immediately
surrounding the body into meta-space. Many of the videos show objects little
more than a few centimeters beyond the tiny lens, often some body part, like
hands or forearms that obscure an unknown, overexposed background space. Other
pieces are gestural performances, recording the movements required when following
a line, or when trying to create shapes by moving the camera in certain ways.

Traditional paintings are often created over a long period. This project is
atomistic and performative. The bits (individual 15 second videos) pile up over
time, and the composite, the themes, are the paintings - collections of idea
streams, are captured in development, in process. This is a real time art piece,
and so the themes are being worked out over the course of two months. The next
iteration of this project will use different strategies and develop new themes.

At the end of this version I may end up with one or two or three pieces, and
some fragments and discards, like sketches. "Pieces" may be collections
of 4-12 short videos, which can be recombined in different ways.

mobile video artHow
it works

Each video gets sent from the phone to three places: two go to computers in
the exhibition space, one goes to

In the gallery are two Apple Macintosh Dual 2.7 gHz G5’s and Two Dell 5100p
projectors. All the major equipment was kindly provided as a loan for the exhibition.
When a video is made on the mobile phone (a Motorola v710) it is sent to three
email addresses. One of them is picked up by an email program (Eudora) and the
video is placed into a folder where a folder script, written for this project
by Jill Headen and
Tim Klein, grabs it and plays it full screen, looping back and forth. It continues
to loop until another video is placed in the folder. The second machine drives
the upper projector and works in a similar manner, only it plays each video
sent to date and plays them randomly once. Finally, the third email sends the
video to
where it is updated instantly. The site is built with Wordpress by Creative
and uses a special Quicktime plugin.

Basically I view all of this as a platform for creating and publishing/exhibiting
spontaneous work on a mobile device. The system will grow and change over time.
The next major iteration (mo.vid.2) will allow people to subscribe to the video
pieces directly so that they arrive on their phones.

Future versions of mo.vid will allow individuals to "subscribe" directly
to the mobile videos thereby creating a one-to-many publishing and distribution
model. This idea is in line with the trajectory of all content industries which
are in the irreversible process of bypassing established institutions and structures
and developing the idea of freely distributed personal media: mobile, variable,
interactive, automated.


Finally, the idea is to open up the gallery space, to tear down the walls through
networks and software. All content industries are struggling with 20th century
notions of content control. It’s all about opening these up - allowing outside
influence into the whitened sterility of the gallery and museum space, about
making things change in there. It’s about exhibiting uncertainty and the stops
and starts of process.

I can post anything to the walls of the space. They must trust me.


The piece is part of a show called Moving Pictures at
the Dallas Center for
Contemporary Art
that opens Friday November 4th. The basic idea is that
some video can work in the way that painting works: as an object of intermittent
contemplation, rather than media like television and film requiring dedicated,
sequential viewing.

John Pomara and I co-curated the show and several of the artists are current
or former students. There is a kind of critical mass of "video painters"
coming out of UTD and
our aim is to introduce this kind of work to the Dallas art community, as we
think this is one of the strands that will define the future of art in the region.
At the moment, no one is really sure what to do with it - how to exhibit, sell,
or even talk about it. This show should help remedy that deficiency.


Fragile Cities: The Price of Living Large

Sunday, October 16th, 2005


Published in the Dallas Morning News Points Section Sunday October 16, 2005


Rising gasoline prices have many people questioning their commuting lifestyle,
and with good reason. Will working downtown and living fifty or seventy five
miles away still make sense when gas prices are $4, $5, or $6 a gallon? Maybe
“Big D” is a little too big.

Katrina and Rita have demonstrated for us just how delicate the situation is,
and Bush himself has called it “fragile.” A blip in our energy supply
threatens the entire system, dependent as it is on enormous amounts of cheap

This calls into question basic ideas about how to build and organize cities.
If everything is separated from everything else, continually further away and
totally dependent on automobiles to make it function, what happens if there’s
a problem with the energy supply? The whole idea rests on the assumption that
oil will always be cheap and abundant, and both of these assumptions are no
longer valid.

Gasoline is up 72% in the last year. Natural gas, used to heat the new homes
that are twice the average size of homes built in the seventies, has risen 143%.
This is not a temporary situation. Oil is no longer abundant, and many of the
largest oil fields are “maturing.” Chevron has acknowledged in a
recent PR campaign that “the world consumes two barrels of oil for every
barrel discovered.” And even president Bush, in rare form, has asked Americans
to conserve in the aftermath of hurricane Rita.

The truth is that we’re drunk on oil and intoxicated with scale. The
imagined “bigness” we pride ourselves on here in Dallas is in actuality
a weakness. The city marketing slogan “Live Large” is really an
invitation to live precariously in a world that depends entirely on the exploitation
of fossil fuels.

And insofar as our national security rests on financial stability, this dependency
is dangerous. It destabilizes us politically, and we are obliged to compete
globally for energy resources. With an energy hungry consumer class rapidly
emerging in China, is this a game we really want to play?


The iPod Generation: Born to be Separated

Saturday, October 1st, 2005



I came across this advertisement while the newest version of iTunes was installing
in to my computer.

At first I thought these two healthy specimens were listening to two different
iPods, which is probably how they met. But they are sharing a single device.
Both walking along, audible world turned off, matching Gap denim. Nature and
marketing taking their course.

The young woman looks at you, and has her hand gently and suggestively on the
thin cord. They are outdoors - a rarity nowadays. But the sounds of the
world are coming in mono, sans the production value of the sounds in the other.
The suspension bridge intersects with her eyes and the kiss being delivered
to her ear by a mostly obscured male interest. Maybe he’s trying to whisper
the words of the song, or smells the sea in her hair.

She pinches a little tighter on the cable, the absurdity that dominates the
image. Creating a snaking white line from her ass, traversing the belly and
into her shaped hand, it then appropriately splits, traveling to opposing ears
of the two supposed lovers.

In a few years this advertisement will date itself very precisely. Not because
of the clothes or the graphical design. It will date itself because of the cord.
Like the decayed plants and animals that run our cars, the cord shows just how
crude the technology still is. A cord? But as the cable and the product disappear
into chips in our heads (or asses), the image becomes all-important. Who it
allows us to be, since most of our personalities are the color of moldy brown

The image seduces. It says: we’re carefree. We’re outdoors; we’re
in San Francisco, not some craphole like Atlanta or Houston, where it smells
like pesticides rather than herbal essences and salt water.

If we accept this condition, this splitting, this dual monaural soloing, maybe
there’s something we can make of it. Musicians could start making recordings
for people who share their iPods. Maybe both channels are the same. Maybe they
are completely different, like in early stereo recordings by the Beatles.

Maybe they are themed, or simply reflect different tastes. The guy can listen
to something abrasive, the girl can listen to something romantic. Or they can
switch, or mix and match. Or they can hear pre-recorded versions of things they
would like to say directly but are too shy to perform. Or maybe some expert
communicator can record appropriate phrases for them. Little nothings.

At least that way they will remain in their comfort zone of mutual
isolation, back to when they were just silhouettes in
the previous ads. Indistinct, separate. Random. Dancing alone.