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Counter Currents: Luke Fischbeck (of Lucky Dragons) on Videofreex

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Tomás Saraceno to Experimental Jetset and Josh MacPhee—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Luke Fischbeck of Lucky Dragons—which performs […]

Counter Currents_Videofreex

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Tomás Saraceno to Experimental Jetset and Josh MacPhee—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Luke Fischbeck of Lucky Dragons—which performs at the Walker May 13 as part of Devendra Banhart’s two night mini-festival—considers the influence of the collective Videofreex. Hippie Modernism opens at the Cranbrook Museum of Art on June 18.

Videofreex
Videofreex (l. to r.) David Cort, Bart Friedman, and Parry Teasdale (holding Sarah Teasdale) introduce Lanesville, NY resident Scottie Benjamin to Sony Portapak technology at Maple Tree Farm, 1973

Videofreex (1969–1978) was a close-knit, intensely collaborative group of artists united by the common goal of displaying a perspective they saw as missing from available media. They carried portable video equipment while participating in protest marches and acts of civil disobedience. They recorded the inside of a Washington, DC jail. At Woodstock, they turned their cameras away from the stage to show the health workers and the clean-up crew. They were the ideal audience: every museum or gallery show related to video as an art form was dutifully and meticulously recorded. They interviewed members of the Hell’s Angels, the Weathermen, and the Black Panther Party, crawling on the floor with a handheld camera to get multiple angles of Fred Hampton speaking to a small group weeks before he was murdered. They captured intimate moments of play and experimentation—birthday parties, lovemaking, and leisure time, laughing at an image of their composited faces, aiming a laser at the camera lens just to see what would happen.

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Videofreex Still from Lanesville TV Show (Re-re-edit 2013) 1974–1975/2013

Presented at weekly screenings in their communal SoHo loft, and later by means of a pirate television station in the rural community of Lanesville, New York, the tapes (some 1,500 of them) were viewed by the participants in the context of their making. What was this remarkable archive made to do? To redirect viewers to a new way of looking? To evaluate and refine a way of being in the world, as players reviewing practice tapes before a performance? Does every archive hope to contain some recipe for re-creating the reality that it was drawn from?1

Firmly in the context of “democratized” or “participatory” media movements of the time, Videofreex placed a premium on access to tools and techniques in their do-it-yourself publication Spaghetti City Video Manual (1973) and in their contribution to the compendium Guerrilla Television (1971). Unlike other projects that explicitly aimed to make production technology available to a wide and disparate public,2 Videofreex’s inward-focused archival impetus is what survives most intensely—the conviction that what they were seeing, and the way they were seeing it, should be preserved. The flatness of history, broken into freaky perspective, by “investing computer time and human energy in storing data about video people and video tapes in an information bank… aaah, spaceship earth, what’s in store for you!”3

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Videofreex Still from Lanesville TV Show (Re-re-edit 2013) 1974–1975/2013

In my own work as part of the collaborative broadcast project KCHUNG (2011– ), I have felt just how productive this balance can be: an affective impulse to open up the means of production, an active impulse to crystallize a collective point of view. The result, an archive of every single KCHUNG broadcast—more than 9,000 recordings that continue to accumulate—can be browsed, sorted, or searched, but can’t be comprehensively interpreted. It just sprawls, and in this sprawl, we come closest to representing the way we see.

KCHUNG TV (2014). Live weekly television broadcasts produced by members of KCHUNG’s contributing community in the lobby of the Hammer Museum. Image Courtesy of the Hammer Museum.

KCHUNG TV (2014). Live weekly television broadcasts produced by members of KCHUNG’s contributing community in the lobby
of the Hammer Museum. Image Courtesy of the Hammer Museum.

Notes

1 As with Erkki Kurenniemi’s project to continuously and obsessively document what he sees as an unstructured archive, does this collection of recordings contain some anticipation of an imminent age in which the viewer’s perspective can be reconstituted (as artificial intelligence)?

2 Compare with projects that sought out structured collaborations with under-served or excluded communities, such
as Experiments in Art and Technology’s Anand Project (1969), which promoted locally-produced educational programming for Indian television.

2 Feedback: Videofreex in “Radical Software,” Volume I, Number 5, Realistic Hope Foundation (Spring 1972)

Luke Fischbeck is a Los Angeles–based artist, composer, and organizer who designs and tests structures for collaboration. He is a founding member of the group Lucky Dragons (with Sarah Rara, 2000– ) and the collectively-organized broadcast project KCHUNG Radio (2011– ).

Counter Currents: OOIEE on Superstudio

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Tomás Saraceno to Experimental Jetset and Josh MacPhee—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, RO/LU cofounder Matt Olson—now creating under […]

Counter Currents_NewOOIEE
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism
, the series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Tomás Saraceno to Experimental Jetset and Josh MacPhee—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, RO/LU cofounder Matt Olson—now creating under the just-launched moniker OOIEE—reflects on the legacy of Superstudio and the Italian Radical Architecture movement. 

I was happy to be invited to write about something from the Hippie Modernism exhibition, but the experience has been a bit like returning from a trip to the ocean and having one of your friends ask, “Which wave was your favorite?” when you could honestly say, “I loved all of them.” That’s where I am now: I want to write about everything. All of it.

But maybe the only thing more impossible than writing about something is writing about everything. So maybe you can just agree to see it all in this post? The coded mist of knowledge and meaning here, not just the words. This slightly adjusted quote by Borges gets at what I mean: “In this blog post is the Blog Post. Without knowing it. The past tells the present the already forgotten story of them both.” 

Tolstoy didn’t like the word “love” because it means too much. So maybe that’s a good way to talk about this, as a love story? And since I can’t really write about everything…

Superstudio, Life: Supersurface, 1971–1973

Superstudio, Life: Supersurface, 1971–1973. Courtesy Archivio Superstudio. Photo: Walker Art Center

I remember falling in love with a few Superstudio images I encountered back in 2005 or so. It was love at first sight, truly. I didn’t really understand why and still don’t, but those images sorta came to get me. And there wasn’t really anything much on the Internet about the Italian Radicals at that point either. It created a longing. It seems like Superstudio knew back then what we’re learning (again) now, that the image, as a living idea, might be more important than the building in the image.

And so for a few years I tried to find more, and as I pursued what I couldn’t yet imagine, a whole world opened up. Gianni Pettena, Global Tools, Archizoom, pre-Memphis Ettore Sottsass, all the archi-zines

As this love and longing turned into motion and meaning I reached a place where, when I discussed it with friends, I would get nervous about my lack of “historical information,” and suddenly I was a little anxious about the things I loved. I wanted to understand the context which created all this. The political and cultural landscape. I was faced with the question of understanding in the more traditional sense rather than just appreciating and following a forceful, unknowable energy forward. But as I started to attempt this, I realized that any historical context I tried to create was, in fact, just that, a creation. A fiction. And as I attempted to turn the energy I was getting from these images and fragments of information into something I could intellectually pretend was an understanding, I noticed the love I felt around the work disappearing. Maybe the act of metabolizing it into a fictional arrangement was killing it? 

And then it hit me. It didn’t matter. I didn’t care. I wanted to trust the following forward of these things. The life of these things. I wanted to trust them. This work was teaching me that the Internet had freed history from an institutional and academic hierarchy told as a time-based linear story. Google images was the new context. History started coming to life in a whole new way for me—really coming to life—expansively pulling me forward into new projects of my own. Transforming me. It all seemed like waves. And a messy sky. And recently my work—created with my former studio RO/LU—was amongst theirs in the Superstudio retrospective in Milan. And it feels like the context was created by the Context.

A life without objects has, for me, morphed into a longing for a life without histories.

And I swear it’s love… and it does mean too much.

There's No Separation" by OOIEE at the Aspen Art Museum. 9.5ft x 14ft textile piece with photo of the sky used to cover Ryan Gander's sculpture.

OOIEE’s There’s No Separation—a 9.5 x 14-ft textile bearing the photo of the sky used to cover Ryan Gander’s sculptureat the Aspen Art Museum   Photo: Tony Prikryl

Matt Olson works on projects related to contemporary art and design. Landscape and environments  furniture and objects, actions and scenarios, teaching and speaking. On 01/01/16 he began OOIEE (the Office of Int.\Est.\Ext. [Interior Establishes Exterior]) as a new backdrop for exploring the intersections of time and perception as they relate to space and the objects that fill it. Embracing an “open practice” in the belief that following forward and trusting the work the world presents becomes a poetic collaboration with the great “everything.” He was recently a visiting artist at Cranbrook and installed There’s No Separation, the studio’s first public project, at the Aspen Art Museum. He is co-founder and former director of RO/LU.

Counter Currents: Tomás Saraceno on Buckminster Fuller

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Dread Scott to Experimental Jetset and Lucky Dragons—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here artist Tomás Saraceno links the work […]

Counter Currents_6
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition
Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist Dread Scott to Experimental Jetset and Lucky Dragons—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here artist Tomás Saraceno links the work of R. Buckminster Fuller with Aerocene, his “series of air-fueled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world: becoming buoyant only by the heat of the Sun and infrared radiation from the surface of Earth.”

This is a memory of a story about the construction of a telescope. The first day we built a telescope of small dimensions, we looked through it and could not see anything. Then we built a bigger telescope, four times as big. We looked again and… nothing. So we built an even bigger telescope and we kept going… The telescope got bigger and bigger. Still… nothing. There is a moment when the telescope gets so big that others can see our telescope first, rather than, through it, us seeing them.

US Pavilion for Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller and Shoi Sdao, erupts in flames. Montreal, May 20, 1976

US Pavilion for Expo 67, designed by R. Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao, erupts in flames. Montreal, May 20, 1976.

“Welcome aboard Spaceship Earth!” R. Buckminster Fuller said while looking up to the sky and downward to the ground. He noted, “We are all pilots.” Astronaut Don Pettit, aboard of the International Space Station, could have easily replied to him, “From my orbital perspective, I am sitting still and Earth is moving. I sit above the grandest of all globes spinning below my feet, and watch the world speed by at an amazing eight kilometers per second. The globe is equally divided into day and night by the shadow line, but being 400 kilometers up, we travel a significant distance over the nighttime earth while the station remains in full sunlight. During those times, as viewed from Earth, we are brightly lit against a dark sky. This is a special period that makes it possible for people on the ground to observe space station pass overhead as a large, bright, moving point of light… Ironically, when earthlings can see us, we cannot see them. The glare from the full sun effectively turns our windows into mirrors that return our own ghostly reflection.”

Telescopes turn into microscopes, and all universe fits into it. From where I stand, I found the Universe in a spider web, its harmonic rhythms in the cosmic vibration of a silky string; I found my dreams of flying cities in used plastic bags. The options are infinite. Today I feel the urgency to sense the atmosphere, and I want you to feel it too, because, in the end, we are all already on-board.

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Fifty years ago, Fuller’s Spaceship Earth was a clever and sensitive metaphor. Today, this metaphor is a reality, concrete as the particles floating in the universe: the Earth is a Spaceship, with an endless journey and limited resources. And the geological Era we live in, the Anthropocene (critically renamed Capitalocene by Jason W. Moore), by privileging the endless accumulation of capital over all other biological, geological and meteorological forms of life—demands us to re-invent our resources. This is where Bucky Fuller would have comforted us with his ability to change perspective: “There’s no energy crisis; there’s a crisis of ignorance.” To which Marshall McLuhan could have added, “There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” This is “the paradoxical message that Aerocene bears: up from the sky it calls the necessity to be on earth, well-grounded.”1

When I look up, I see an Open Source Space Agency; I see Aerocene­—the opportunity to “de- and re-engineer the hydrocarbon and intellectual property infrastructures that envelop our world,”2 and to reinvent existing methods of flying in ways that do not harm the Earth. It is a new epoch without fossil fuels, engines, helium, or batteries… I want all of us to learn how to fly a 3000 m3 lighter-than-air vehicles that use only solar thermodynamics to become buoyant. We do not need to be all astronauts to explore the overview effect, because we are all pilots. By “all,” I mean it: to change the planet we can only Do-It-Together.

Tomás Saraceno, Aerocene 10.4 & 15.3 During UN COP21 Climate Summit, installation view at Grand Palais, Paris, 2015, www.aerocene.com Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Tomás Saraceno, 2015

Tomás Saraceno, Aerocene 10.4 & 15.3, installed at Grand Palais, Paris, 2015, during the UN COP21 Climate Summit. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen’s Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Tomás Saraceno, 2015

Notes

1. Michelon, Olivier. “I bind the Sun’s Throne with a burning zone” in Tomás Saraceno (Ed.) Aerocene. Berlin: 2015.

2. Shapiro, Nicholas. “Alter-Engineered Worlds” in Tomás Saraceno (Ed.) Aerocene. Berlin: 2015.

Tomás Saraceno was born in Argentina in 1973 and is based in Berlin. His oeuvre could be seen as an ongoing research, influenced by the world of art, architecture, natural science, and engineering; his floating sculptures and interactive installations propose and explore new, mindful ways of inhabiting and perceiving the environment. He attended the International Space Studies Program in 2009 at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley, California. The same year, Saraceno presented a major installation at the 53rd Venice Biennale and was later on awarded the prestigious Calder Prize. Saraceno’s work has been shown internationally, in solo and group exhibitions such as Aerocene at Solutions COP21, Grand Palais, Paris, Arachnid Orchestra.Jam Sessions at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore, Le Bordes du Monde, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015), In orbit at Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen K21 in Düsseldorf (2013–16) On Space Time Foam at Hangar Bicocca in Milan (2012–13), and Tomás Saraceno: Lighter than Air at the Walker Art Center (2009), among others. Since 2012, he is Visiting Artist at MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST). His work has also been exhibited in public museums like Museum for Contemporary Art Villa Croce, in Genoa (2014), The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2012), and Hamburger Bahnhof, in Berlin (2011–12). Saraceno lives and works in and beyond the planet Earth.

Counter Currents: Thomas Lommée on Modular Systems

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Thomas Lommée of the […]

Counter Currents_7Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Thomas Lommée of the Brussels-based design studio Infrastructures weighs in on modular systems of the 1960s.

Being rooted in a context that offered easy access to both hallucinogens as well as pioneering new technologies, the works of the more “action-oriented” hippies produced perceptions, insights, and methodologies that have been guiding me in my daily practice as a designer ever since I’ve discovered them during my studies at the IwB (Institute without Boundaries) in Toronto, now almost a decade ago.

Buckminster Fuller’s lectures made me understand that things should be conceived within larger systems in order to support both the natural and technological cycles that produced them in the first place. Steward Brand’s observations pointed at the fact that constant iteration isn’t about correcting mistakes but rather about responding to an ever-evolving context. Victor Papanek’s books told me to measure success by impact rather than appearance, while Ken Isaacs’ manuals assured me not only to focus on the object but to also carefully consider the design of its surrounding services if I was to kickstart a co-creative design culture.

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Victor Papanek and James Hennessey, Relaxation Cube from Nomadic Furniture 1, 1973/2015

Victor Papanek and James Hennessey, Relaxation Cube from Nomadic Furniture 1, 1973

Victor Papanek and James Hennessey, Relaxation Cube from Nomadic Furniture 1, 1973

Ken Isaacs, page from How to Build Your Own Living Structures, 1974

A page from Ken Isaacs’s How to Build Your Own Living Structures, 1974

All these observations introduced me to a way of looking that somehow felt right. A perception that a certain point in time almost seemed to be forgotten but that is now being widely rediscovered by a whole new generation of people. Young, engaged, and (more than often self-) skilled citizens are building upon these very same principles while applying a completely new set of tools.

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On the left: Steward Brand book “How Buildings Learn” and on the right: Thomas Lommée “Mural, the next big thing … “

Autarkytecture further explores the OpenStructures model on an architectural level.

 Thomas Lommée & Christiane Hoegner, Autarkytecture, commissioned by Z33, Hasselt, 2013

Today hippies write code rather than pamphlets, activists share 3D files rather than photocopied manuals, and protestors contribute to peer-produced texts rather than silkscreened manifestos. Though the content of what they are producing syncs up neatly with what was being produced 40 years ago.

Even though this contemporary movement is still largely operating within the margins of society, it has become globally interconnected and therefore holds the promise of pushing this thinking from the margins of society towards its very core. It is representing a movement that, in my view, is becoming increasingly important because it offers us a glimpse on a more human-oriented and value-driven networked environment, while at the same time reminding us about the initial ambitions of those who imagined the World Wide Web in the first place.

 

"Rethink the modular" USM exhibition Milan Furniture Fair, April 2015

Rethink the modular, USM exhibition Milan Furniture Fair, April 2015

The OS (OpenStructures) project explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. It initiates a kind of collaborative Meccano to which everybody can contribute parts, components, and structures. The ultimate goal is to initiate a universal, collaborative puzzle that allows the broadest range of people—from craftsmen to multinationals—to design, build, and exchange the broadest range of modular components, resulting in a more flexible and scalable built environment.

OpenStructures are influenced by Ken Isaacs’s Living Structuresopen design, not only designing the object but also the manual and offering this (almost) for free.

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Jesse Howard & Unfold, OpenStructures WaterBoilerFilter (left); OpenStructures parts on grid. Photo: Kristof Vranken for Z33

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Thomas Lommée, Jo Van Bostraeten & Andrea de Chirico,Triangle bike (Cargo version) (left); graphic by Thomas Lommée (right)

 

Thomas Lommée is the founder of Intrastructures, a pragmatic, utopian design studio, that applies product-, service- and system design as a tool for change. He is also the initiator of the OpenStructures project, a hands-on design experiment that explores the possibility of a modular construction model where everyone designs for everyone on the basis of one shared geometrical grid. Next to his activities as designer / design researcher Lommée has been teaching at the Social Design research program at Design Academy Eindhoven’s Master course and is the co-founder and mentor of the ENSCImatique at the ENSCI in Paris. He lives and works in Brussels.

Counter Currents: Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (LUST) on Marshall McLuhan

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing Counter Currents series invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (LUST) discusses Marshall […]

Counter Currents_7Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing Counter Currents series invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen (LUST) discusses Marshall McLuhan

“All media are extensions of some human faculty—psychic or physical.” —Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is The Massage

In front of the Eiffel Tower the main attraction of the 1900 world’s fair in Paris was the Palais de l’Electricité. Lit with thousands of electrical lights, it presented electricity to a large consumer market and a new era took off. In the century to come, a form of energy nobody quite expected made mankind’s ideas of the ultimate extension of the human faculty lift off in record time. At the same time, the world went through several radical cycles in society, from bright moments of insight to dark periods to a multitude of fights for freedom. As one of the few students who used coding as a tool I was aware of Marshall McLuhan’s notion of the Mass Age when I graduated in 1997 from the Design Academy in The Netherlands.

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects 1967; bottom: Peter Moore, Eye from The Medium is the Massage 1967 Photo by Peter Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, 1967; Peter Moore, Eye from The Medium is the Massage, 1967. Photo by Peter Moore/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Considering McLuhan’s notion that “the wheel is an extension of the foot, the book is an extension of the eye, clothing an extension of the skin, electric circuitry an extension of the central nervous system,” I made a small exhibition attempting to create awareness of the impact of these extensions to the mind at the moment the computer would become part of the extension. I needed five installations to cover all physical senses, seven to come as close as I could to the psychic, and all of them interactive, using Macromedia Director, to involve the visitor as much as possible. I was interested in the effect of cybernetics on our thinking, the way it would change how we see ourselves—just as, for instance, the camera did, in particular with the Earthrise photo taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968 and featured on the cover of Whole Earth Catalog a year later.

In the nearly 20 years since my graduation, technological developments have taken off even more. Looking back from now one could imagine that since the Palais de l’Electricité we’re about halfway to actually knowing where this evolution will truly lead us to. Along with the scientific progress, how will information and stories fluidly move from one medium to the next? What will we filter out along the way? Will we only share and like what can be bought, or also what is not for sale? What do we choose to see, or who is the one that makes that choice? And will borders between the digital and physical completely vanish when VR and AR are becoming consumer products in 2016? An Internet of Humans in between reality and delusion? Or would the extension eventually become the replacement of what is was supposed to extend?

As Cedric Price asked himself: “Technology is the answer, but what was the question?” Maybe it’s about time to formulate the question. We should use the hyperconnected knowledge as a find-engine to create a new human process of self-generated thoughts about the future. Let us use technology as a tool to take us from doubt to a curiosity driven by an idealistic observation. We have reached the point where a long series of smaller changes in cybernetics became significant enough to cause a larger, more important change. We are the tipping-point generation.

Data as an extension of the superorganism of all mankind’s thought.

As two persons meet, new forms of computational movement emerge. Actions initiate reactions, and information is felt as a spatiotemporal incursion within the realm of bodies. Yet, expansion becomes synonymous with dispersion. Movement becomes frantic, immediacy foreign. Distraction is not an interruption, but the very condition of bodies in code. Project : lustlab.net/#type-dynamics

Type/Dynamics, LUST/LUSTlab in collaboration with Ruben van Leer and Lukáš Timulak, recorded at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 2014. As two persons meet, new forms of computational movement emerge. Actions initiate reactions, and information is felt as a spatiotemporal incursion within the realm of bodies. Yet, expansion becomes synonymous with dispersion. Movement becomes frantic, immediacy foreign. Distraction is not an interruption, but the very condition of bodies in code.

Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen is a visual philosopher in art, design and technology. He studied at the Technical University of Delft and the Design Academy Eindhoven. Within his autonomous and applied work he researches from the perspective of several disciplines the affect and effect of digital culture with the aim of humanizing the unhuman and exploring the missing links between the digital and the physical. Besides giving talks at numerous places around the world, he teaches at several art academies including Sandberg Institute Amsterdam, curates and initiates exhibitions, symposia, thinktanks, and hackathons, and is one of the supervisors of the Sandberg@Mediafonds masterclass. He is co-director of the multidisciplinary design studio LUST and the research-based art and technology laboratory LUSTlab. Here new pathways for art and design are explored on the cutting edge where new media, information technologies, performance, architecture, urban systems, graphic and industrial design overlap.

Counter Currents: Geoff Manaugh on Haus-Rucker-Co

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Tomás Saraceno to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, writer and curator Geoff […]

Counter Currents_6Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Tomás Saraceno to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, writer and curator Geoff Manaugh examines a provocative and participatory installation created by Haus-Rucker-Co in 1973.

 

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Haus-Rucker-Co, Grüne Lunge (Green Lung), outdoor installation at Kunsthalle Hamburg, 1973   Courtesy Archive Zamp Kelp, Photo: Haus-Rucker-Co

 

The best speculative art projects have a peculiar ability to come true, years later. In 1973, Haus-Rucker-Co, a “Viennese architectural collective,” in the words of Esther Choi, installed Grüne Lunge (Green Lung) at the Kunsthalle Hamburg. In essence, Green Lung was an architectural breathing apparatus; it pumped artificially conditioned indoor air through a series of inflatable ducts to a grape-like cluster of transparent plastic helmets suspended to a pole in the square outside. Visitors—that is, any public passer-by who wanted to pop his or her head into a helmet—could thus breathe the rarefied atmosphere of an art museum, inhaling airs that only minutes earlier had been gently rolling over the painted surfaces of Romantic landscape scenes and delicate statuary.

While playing with questions of inside vs. outside, of public vs. private, of enclosure vs. space, the project also came with the larger conceptual implication that air itself could be treated as a kind of readymade object. Charged with both sensory and poetic significance, air is an index of the circumstances within which it is found. Air is perfumed with context.

 

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Haus-Rucker-Co, Oase Nr. 7 (Oasis No. 7), installation at Documenta 5, Kassel, Germany, 1972

 

In its time, a commentary on everything from curatorial practices to urban air pollution, Green Lung has been oddly, if uncomfortably, upstaged today by the business practices of everyday capitalism. A café in smog-choked Beijing has begun charging its customers for clean air, for example, and this is only the latest symptom of an emerging clean-air market in China and elsewhere. Fresh air packaged from the Chinese mountains has been canned and sold to enthusiastic urban customers, even as various airs taken from idyllic foreign landscapes—the Canadian Rockies among them—are being imported by firms such as “Vitality Air,” who have found a small fortune to be made in selling atmospheres. Their products—which the CEO’s admits began as a prank—include canisters of “Lake Louise Air” and “Banff Air” (“On Back Order!”).

 

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Photo: China Stringer Network

 

A 2014 marketing stunt by a Chinese tourism firm played on this notion by setting up a temporary outdoor air bar for urban residents to give them a whiff of pristine countryside. Photos of the event look like a Haus-Rucker-Co installation, with futuristic blue air bags suspended on wires and poles, and people strapping medical facemasks onto themselves and loved ones. In other words, given a sufficiently dystopian atmospheric context, 1973’s Green Lung has smoothly transitioned from a curatorial provocation to a viable business model.

Geoff Manaugh is a freelance writer and curator, as well as the author of BLDGBLOG, a website launched in 2004 to explore “architectural conjecture, urban speculation, and landscape futures.” His latest book, A Burglar’s Guide to the City, about the relationship between burglary and architecture, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in April 2016.

Counter Currents: Fritz Haeg on the Cockettes

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Fritz Haeg discusses the […]

Counter Currents_6Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist-archivist Josh MacPhee and artist Dread Scott to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here Fritz Haeg discusses the Cockettes.

When the anarchic gender-queer theater troupe left the warm circle of their Haight-Ashbury commune for a much-anticipated East Coast debut performance at the Anderson Theater nearly 45 years ago, everyone was there: Liza, Candy, Holly, Andy, John, Yoko, Gore, Truman, etc. But something fundamental was lost in translation from their West Coast hippie amateur anti-money free-for-all community across the continental chasm to Manhattan’s professional circles of downtown cool, and many of New York City’s coolest walked out before the show was even over.

 

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Fayette Hauser   The Cockettes in a Field of Lavender   1971   Photo courtesy the artist

 

To them the Cockettes were unprofessional, unrehearsed, and unskilled, qualities that endeared them to their regular hometown audience at San Francisco’s Palace Theatre. What happens when culture is formed, nourished, and developed so thoroughly in one place, for one particular community, at a certain moment, that it may not be fully appreciated or understood once it leaves? What is lost when work is made to travel, for any place, any one, any time? Today’s global art world can give us many things, but it also takes away some of the most precious and intimate moments of making and experiencing art.

 

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Bud Lee   Lendon   c. 1971   Courtesy Sergio Waksman

 

I have occasionally experienced chasms of misunderstanding when my own work has traveled from the eastside Los Angeles community that nurtured it to institutions that commission it for the crowds. It can feel like a failure to connect, but sometimes I think of the Cockettes and want to dig in and resist—perhaps to stubbornly create work that is not quite cool enough, and slightly indigestible to the global industrial art complex.

 

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Fritz Haeg (at right) creating Domestic Integrities A05, a 30-foot handmade rug, with volunteers at the Walker in 2013   Photo: Gene Pittman

 

Fritz Haeg is an artist based in California. With the 2013 Walker Art Center residency, exhibition, and public projects Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City the Minnesota-born artist came back to his roots to conclude a decade of of serial projects including Edible Estates and Domestic Integrities. In 2014 he began new chapter of life and work on California’s Mendocino Coast with the purchase of the historic 1970’s commune Salmon Creek Farm, being revived as a long-term commune/farm/homestead/art project.

Counter Currents: Adam Michaels on Blueprint for Counter Education

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Are.na and artist Tomás Saraceno—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Adam Michaels of Project Projects […]

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Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Are.na and artist Tomás Saraceno—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Adam Michaels of Project Projects and Inventory Press highlights the innovative nature of Blueprint for Counter Education as one of the defining works of radical pedagogy from the Vietnam War era.

 

Blueprint for a Counter Education

Blueprint for Counter Education

While I generally avoid hyperbole, I can say in good conscience that Blueprint for Counter Education is a truly unique cultural artifact. The outcome of a sustained iterative research, writing, and diagramming process that took place between Brandeis sociology professor (and future dean of Critical Studies at CalArts) Maurice Stein and his then-student Larry Miller, Blueprint’s innovative form and format were then developed by the graphic designer Marshall Henrichs as a mind-expanding example of carefully structured (and mass-distributed) anarchy.

Maurice Stein and Larry Miller, Blueprint for Counter Education, 1970, as installed in Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia. Photo: Greg Beckel

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Counter Currents: Are.na on Ted Nelson’s Computer Lib/Dream Machines

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist Dread Scott and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Adam Michaels and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Charles Broskoski of […]


Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from artist Dread Scott and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Adam Michaels and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, Charles Broskoski of Are.na discusses the reverberating influence of Ted Nelson’s Computer Lib / Dream Machines—an icon of counterculture which anticipated the interconnectedness of the World Wide Web—on the making and evolution of Are.na.

“‘Knowledge’ then—and indeed most of our civilization and what remains of those previous—is a vast cross-tangle of ideas and evidential materials, not a pyramid of truth. So that preserving its structure, and improving its accessibility, is important to us all.” —Ted Nelson, Dream Machines

 

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Ted Nelson   Computer Lib/Dream Machines   1974

 

In an alternate reality, I would have composed this piece of text using Xanadu, a dual hypertext library/document editor that could have taken the place of the World Wide Web. Any references I made would have been pulled from the Docuverse, my sources linked explicitly to their original documents, and vice versa, with the original documents linking back to my post. It’s easy (or maybe just funny) to imagine Xanadu as some kind of nightmarish version of Borges’ Library of Babel, a Windows 95–esque software iteration with every conceivable variation of every text ever, all linked to each other in a dense criss-crossed web of sources and citations. (more…)

Counter Currents: Dread Scott on Emory Douglas

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, artist Dread Scott discusses […]

Counter Currents2Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Hippie Modernism, the ongoing series Counter Currents invites a range of individuals and collectives—from writer Geoff Manaugh and artist-archivist Josh MacPhee to Are.na and Experimental Jetset—to share how countercultural artists and designers of the 1960s and ’70s have influenced their work and thinking today. Here, artist Dread Scott discusses the influence of Black Panthers artist Emory Douglas.

In 1966, the world was much the horror that humanity faces today. Black people were catching hell in America, and Huey Newton and Bobby Seal formed the Black Panther Party to end this. The BPP was revolutionary and there was nothing like them in America at the time. They had their black leather jackets and looked badass. They were armed and defended the people against police violence and brutality. And they were attempting to apply Mao’s “little red book” to making revolution in America and putting revolution in the air in a big way. They were truly radical. Soon after the Panthers formed Emory Douglas became their Minister of Culture and was designing their newspaper, The Black Panther, including many of its covers.

 

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Emory Douglas   We Are from 25 to 30 Million Strong… / Warning to America   June 27, 1970
Courtesy the artist; ©2015 Emory Douglas/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

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