Sunday, December 28, 2008

Border Stripes on Brooklyn Asphalt

Reposted from Bryan Finoki's Subtopia Blog:
A Subtopian Rainbow Under Your Feet
A relatively innocuous borderline has been literally drawn smack dab in the middle of downtown Brooklyn, we are told, absurdly enough, a “de-militarized “zone” only about one foot wide” to be exact.
Apparently there is a little turf war going on between the city’s construction workers and the federal employees at the site of the new federal courthouse, where both contingencies are vying for use (and perhaps control) of the parking lot. Funny. The line was painted by the city to advise construction workers to respectively stay on their own side with regards to storing equipment, parking, etc.
Even though it appears there is nothing really contentious going on, it’s interesting to see that an actual line has been painted on the street to make perfectly clear where city authority ends and federal power takes over. “Until 9-11," the Brooklyn Paper mentions, "the street (Camden Plaza East) was open for drivers, who could use it as a straight shot from Downtown to DUMBO. But after the terror attack, the feds seized it, citing security needs.”
I don’t know, I kind of like that the line was painted, for whatever reason. Makes me want to cruise around the nation, going city-to-city, with maps of each, some GPS nav gear, and maybe one of those professional pavement stripers you see city dudes driving in the middle of the street converted into my very own personal borderline striping chariot, and paint more of them -- federal versus local geographic lines in the city.
Better yet, what if geography departments in universities across the country coordinated a nationwide semester curriculum, so that each class could be responsible for marking similar boundaries in their own state’s prominent cities. The universal assignment would be just that: to simply roll around downtowns everywhere and outline all of the little unknown, unseen boundaries that exist between federal and local aauthorities as they are territorially distributed, on the streets, over sidewalks, in front of courthouses, underground in secret tunnels, around bollards, behind secret DHS buildings, ICE detention centers, weaving together districts of federal offices and military recruiter outposts in meandering perimeters of nice wet paint, for all to see; not missing, of course, the secret NSA listening rooms harboring in phone company HQ buildings, or the TSA interrogation rooms within airports, the research labs bellied in even the most liberal universities, old industrial sites, toxic brown sites, mysterious test sites, even new border fence property acquisitions, or national landmark buffers, and so on.
I would love to see an army of students and their professors invading the city with hordes of pavement stripers scrawling the margins of various no-access zones like mad, leaving nothing behind but a fresh coat of visibly territorialized entrails in their tracks. Along these trails there would be collection meters so that people could pitch in a few pennies for more paint.
Maybe once finished tracing the perimeters of the fed’s sovereign landscape within America's urban heartland in a nice and glossy black, the next semester these cryptic pavement stripers reveal another colored urban geography: the corporate privatizations of public space in royal blue; the following semester we find the redacted acreage of seized public park space marked in harsh lines of cement gray, and the next one after that the nation’s CCTV metro-surveillance grids appear on the streets in red, and the newly designated ‘free speech and protest zones’ in pink, then the anti-homeless panhandling spheres pop up around ATMs in green, the restricted day laborer gathering spaces on various street corners and parking lots appear in yellow, and on and on and on.
In the spirit of Ronen and Francis’ illuminated borders projects, I’d love to bring these subtle and unmarked boundaries to the surface, in a kind of crisscrossing rainbow of longitudes and latitudes similar to the guiding lines you find in hospitals on the floors and along the walls, where separate colors lead you to different quadrants and different departments within the hospital; a kind of architectural navigation system for the institution's compartmentalized bureacracy.
People could then tour these rainbow grids at lunch, or on the weekends, and just take a little cruise of the hidden geographies of America’s urban landscape, along the way dropping a little spare change into the meters so all the kids could be supplied with fresh paint for next semester. By Bryan Finoki
Link to SUBTOPIA blog

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008


some images from the shoW!


While browsing through "This American Life" every morning, Kate found this section on Letters, where people read aloud their letters.
Letters have this bizarre intimacy that seem strung out on a limb because of their blatant hope for correspondence. Its almost like talking to yourself; hearing these bits of others without knowing the whole story throws me off a bit but in a way that I feel slightly suspended over the narrative.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New Public Sites - Symphony Terrace Vista

Symphony Terrace Vista is a continuation of the New Public Sites installation series where I invite participants to explore invisible or unseen public spaces. For NPS-STV I set up neon pink "x"s leading people to the circular, landscape brick terrace structure in front the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra building at Preston Street and Park Avenue. After climbing the odd HVAC structure, one finds three yellow strips of tape that both orient the viewer and frame a fantastic cityscape vista.

08 12 07 NPS-STV inside docu 01.jpg

08 12 03 NPS-STV outside docu 05.jpg

08 12 03 NPS-STV outside docu 09.jpg

This installation was a part of the Wandering: You Are Here show at MICA's Middendorf gallery that ran December 3-10, 2008.

VXW-MTR Crossing Guard performance

For this performance I served as a crossing guard along the busy stretch of Mount Royal Avenue where a month prior I had set up my "Visionary Crosswalks - MTR" installation". VXW-MTR Crossing Guard" was a playful experiment in helping pedestrians cross the dangerous thoroughfare while also exploring some of the hidden behavioral constructs of that public area. I was not impersonating anyone or acting as a character, but rather genuinely serving as a direct action, volunteer crossing guard. I am myself during such performances, and am prepared to face any sort of consequences my actions may provoke.

08 10 31 Crossing Guard performance at VXW-MTR 05.jpg

I served as a crossing guard for approximately one hour while fellow artist Jeni Mattingly so graciously shot video of my every move. The reactions I had were varied, and I was mildly surprised by the slow pace of people crossing mid-block. I ended up spending a little over half of the time hanging out in the median strip while looking out for potential jay-walkers to help. I would say that of the people I did manage to help across the street, half seemed to ignore me, a quarter were outwardly supportive and grateful, and the rest seemed lest than trusting to tried to avoid me altogether.

08 10 31 Crossing Guard performance at VXW-MTR 09.jpg

Eventually I was stopped by a MICA police officer who was concerned for my safety. He made it clear I did not have approval from the school to be a crossing guard and said I needed to stop. I tried to respond with a positive attitude, noting that I had sought permission from the school only to discover that they "couldn't help me out because they do not own the street or sidewalks along Mount Royal Avenue." The officer suggested that I do my thing at a real crosswalks, and not mid block on a busy street. I said that I was just following the pedestrian traffic, and offered him a compromise. I asked if it would be okay for me to simply let people cross during gaps in traffic, as we usually do, while I simply "go through the motions" of being a crossing guard. The officer did not seemed convinced, but could not say no as I had pointed out that this was not the schools jurisdiction.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leon Ferrari

These are some images of Leon Ferrari's mail artworks that I mentioned during Siobhan's critique yesterday. I scoured the internets and these were the best I could find to illustrate what I was talking about. Still not great, but most of these images come from Jeffry Cudlin's (Arlington Arts Center's curator) blog:
And here's a blurb about Ferrari's work at the Arts Center: "eón Ferrari, winner of the Golden Lion in the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Ferrari will exhibit his heliographs—large prints that resemble labyrinthine city plans, and reflect on the political oppression of the Argentinean military dictatorship in the 1980s."


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

this american life: you are here

Three stories, three people, and three sets of maps. Stories of people trying to figure out where they are in the world in the most literal and least literal ways possible. We explore what it's like to be lost — how we all struggle in that moment not to give ourselves over to fear but try to enjoy it.

august 1999

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Recent exhibition at THE BOX in Los Angeles. Take a look...

The archives of This American Life have a great broadcast about mapping from October 2007. It's free to listen. Enjoy!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hey if anyone has documentation of the opening of Tread Meal can you please email it to me

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Mr. Attenborough gets cuddley with albatross.