Blogs Field Guide

August Free First Saturday: LARPing

By Lindsay Kaplan Swinging swords and casting spells, Free First Saturday participants were teeming with LARPING (Live Action Role Playing) enthusiasm this month. Kids and parents alike came to build their own LARPING character complete with sword, shield and spell packets and then used them in a great battle of agility, honor and humor. If […]

By Lindsay Kaplan

Swinging swords and casting spells, Free First Saturday participants were teeming with LARPING (Live Action Role Playing) enthusiasm this month. Kids and parents alike came to build their own LARPING character complete with sword, shield and spell packets and then used them in a great battle of agility, honor and humor. If they were brave enough they may have entered the depths of the Portrait Chamber to have their likeness captured for ages to come. Check out all of the characters…

 

TAKE 5: Letters VS. Numbers answer 5 quick questions about Open Field

TAKE 5: Five Questions for blog posts from activity organizers on Open Field this summer Name: Letters VS. Numbers Occupation: LVN is an artist collective based throughout the world which experiments across all media through performance and presentation. City/Neighborhood: Minneapolis Open Field Activity: Summerize – A Letters vs. Numbers Music Video Description: Become part of […]

Letters VS. Numbers, an art collective, wearing their signature silver masks.

TAKE 5: Five Questions for blog posts from activity organizers on Open Field this summer

Name: Letters VS. Numbers
Occupation: LVN is an artist collective based throughout the world which experiments across all media through performance and presentation.
City/Neighborhood: Minneapolis

Open Field Activity:
Summerize – A Letters vs. Numbers Music Video
Description: Become part of Letters VS. Numbers! Direct, film, and perform in a music video for the song “A Pleasure.” Together, we will collectively make a music video by re-creating the quintessential activities for an ideal summer past. There will be music, bonfires, first kisses, lawn-games, beach balls, fort-building, and last dances. The evening promises to be true temporal dislocation!

http://lettersvsnumbers.com/apleasure/

Performers will be asked to wear silver LVN masks upon arrival and, using whatever they bring to Open Field, to film and photograph the event. Video, digital, flip, pinhole, and cell phone cameras are encouraged!! This will allow us all to become both performer and documenter on our very own nostalgia trip.

Performers can then upload their footage onto LVN’s vimeo account. The collective imagery will be edited together: creating a time capsule that encloses the summery dreams we don’t want to end.

VIMEO ACCOUNT:
www.vimeo.com
Username: mail@lettersvsnumbers.com
Password: openfields

Date of Activity: Thursday, August 11, 7-9pm
Check out this and other events on the Open Field calendar!

1) What’s your favorite public space, in the Twin Cities or beyond?

Seven Pools is amazing! Bryce Canyon, Mall of America, Crystal River, Tribeca loading bays, Socrates sculpture park

2) How did you find out about Open Field and why did you decide to host your own activity on Open Field?

We heard about Open Field through Machine Project’s summer residency.

3) If you could learn any skill on Open Field, what would it be?

Time travel… hula hooping, double-dutch, and woodworking skills

4) What is the ideal audience for your Open Field activity?

Everyone!

5) If Open Field had a mascot, who/what would it be?

The grassman…

TAKE 5: Five questions about Open Field answered by Chris Fischbach of Speed Submissions

TAKE 5: Five Questions for blog posts from activity organizers on Open Field this summer Name: Chris Fischbach Occupation: Publisher City/Neighborhood: Standish-Ericsson Open Field Activity: Speed Submissions Description: Coffee House Press editors want to hear your book idea! Stand in line to take a shot at getting published in a three-minute speed submission. This is […]

TAKE 5: Five Questions for blog posts from activity organizers on Open Field this summer

Name: Chris Fischbach
Occupation: Publisher
City/Neighborhood: Standish-Ericsson

Open Field Activity:
Speed Submissions
Description: Coffee House Press editors want to hear your book idea! Stand in line to take a shot at getting published in a three-minute speed submission. This is your chance to pitch your work directly to a Coffee House Press editor just before our open submission period begins in September. Time is limited, so you’ll want to get there early. We are especially looking for innovative ideas that are in the spirit of Open Field and the cultural commons.
Date of Activity: August 13, 2011 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Check out this and other events on the Open Field calendar!

1) What’s your favorite public space, in the Twin Cities or beyond?

The Minneapolis Central Library

2) How did you find out about Open Field and why did you decide to host your own activity on Open Field?

Coffee House Press utilized Open Field for this event last year and had wonderful results. We really believe in the community resource provided by this free, collaborative space. Also, we feel like editors shouldn’t only be behind closed doors, impossible to get to. We should be out in the community, looking for work. We want to be accessible. Also, Open Field is one of the best things to happen to Minneapolis in a while. We want to be there.

3) If you could learn any skill on Open Field, what would it be?

Counterfeiting.

4) What is the ideal audience for your Open Field activity?

Anyone who likes to read or write and who has a great idea for a book.

5) If Open Field had a mascot, who/what would it be?

A wizard.

Field Office Fellowship: Reading Room MPLS, an Experiment In Intention

This Friday you’ll find Field Office Fellow Chris Fischbach in the FlatPak House reading a book. You’re welcome to join him if you like, in fact he’s highly encouraging it. For a couple of hours at a time between August 12th and 17th, Chris will be converting the FlatPak House into a public experiment in […]

Reader's Card, Reading Room MPLS

This Friday you’ll find Field Office Fellow Chris Fischbach in the FlatPak House reading a book. You’re welcome to join him if you like, in fact he’s highly encouraging it. For a couple of hours at a time between August 12th and 17th, Chris will be converting the FlatPak House into a public experiment in intentional reading.

When we first met Chris, Publisher at Coffee House Press, he told us that he was having trouble making time for personal, pleasurable, non-work related reading. In the same way that people are willing to pay for for an application that blocks their access to the internet for up to 8 hours at a time, Chris said that he’d actually pay to go somewhere, unplug, and just read. Remarkably, that place doesn’t exist. (And don’t say libraries! They’re full of computers, wifi signals, and people doing all kinds of things in addition to reading.) And with that, Reading Room MPLS was born.

Some questions that Chris hopes to answer through this experiment:

  • In our busy lives, will book lovers actually make time, intentionally, to go to a designated place solely to read a book, for an extended period of time, unplugged?
  • Does reading (a solitary act) somehow become more attractive, more meaningful when surrounded by others (a crowd) who also have taken time to intentionally read?
  • By putting a frame around the act of reading, will participants somehow gain a new appreciation for their time, and take Reading Room on the road?

As noted on the Reading Room MPLS bookmark (that you’ll receive if you attend), Kurt Vonnegut said that “Literature is the only art form in which the audience performs the score.” Starting this Friday, Chris Fischbach is setting out to see what will happen when a room full of people start performing, with intention, together.

Reading Room MPLS hours:

  • Friday, August 12th – 6 to 8 pm
  • Saturday, August 13th – 2 to 4 pm
  • Sunday, August 14th – 2 to 4 pm
  • Tuesday, August 16th – 12 to 2 pm
  • Wednesday, August 17th – 3 to 5 pm

Reading Room MPLS is taking place at the Walker Art Center’s FlatPak House in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Some links to learn more: Reading Room MPLS blogReading Room MPLS on Facebook, and Reading Room MPLS on Twitter. Hope to see you and your book at the Reading Room!

Looking at Exposed: Trading Surveillance Places

My project of looking ethically seems moot when “Surveillance” photographers switch the subject from human beings to institutions.  Images of a machine or building unencumbered by memories hardly inspires concern, respect, or reciprocity.  And the power of the intrusive camera is compromised by the relative power of institutions that can ward off prying eyes, confiscate memory […]

My project of looking ethically seems moot when “Surveillance” photographers switch the subject from human beings to institutions.  Images of a machine or building unencumbered by memories hardly inspires concern, respect, or reciprocity.  And the power of the intrusive camera is compromised by the relative power of institutions that can ward off prying eyes, confiscate memory chips, or make arrests.

Take top secret military sites, for example.  A chemical  and biological weapons testing complex is no poor immigrant blinking in the light of a magnesium flash:

Trevor Paglen, Chemical and Biological Weapons Proving Ground/Dugway, UT/Distance ~42 miles/10:51 a.m., 2006, 2006. Chromogenic print. Collection SFMOMA. © Trevor Paglen

The Dugway Proving Ground has so much control over its image that you can barely see it. When I clicked on its Google-listed web site to learn more about the place, I was stopped at the virtual perimeter by a blaring error message complete with my ICP address. Making public what an institution wants to keep private takes stronger eyes than mine.

To get his image, photographer Trevor Paglen resorted to astronomy instruments to peer across the thick atmosphere separating him from the site. Even so, he hadn’t a long enough lens to make this invisible thing knowable, or to strip it naked for our scrutiny.

Instead, the indefinite image suggests a sublime landscape–transcendent as a painted heaven or wilderness empire. All this photographic document of distance can do, as long as its caption remains attached, is to make the military plant dimly present. Is this enough information to dispel our ignorance? To convince us to agree or disagree with these activities done on our watch?  Or is the whole thing just too far away to worry about?

Simon Norfolk’s also-ghostly  transmission towers from his series on the Ascension Islands are the instruments of a global dataveillance program.  They are also the objects of his concern about democratic controls on such projects.  The image alone, severed from its series, is an enigmatic play of wispy gray on gray.  It left me wondering about the fragility of technology rather than worrying alongside its author about the effect of shadowy global organizations on democracy and world peace.

Thomas Demand’s video loop of an ordinary surveillance camera seems a more obvious cautionary image: we are all suspects now it seems to say, monitored by machines whose capability to control people is a matter for their manufacturers to crow about. Instead of ignoring this brave new phenomenon, perhaps we should fight back:  map those CCTVs, zap them,  find out where to look and how to hide.

I did look, at least  for an image of Demand’s “Camera” to post as the touchstone for these questions about privacy, visual control, accountability and security,  It turned out the camera image was originally shown with another piece of the artist’s, “Embassy,”  which re-creates a nondescript Nigerian embassy office, where the early 2001 theft of some stationery seems to have changed the world.

That context changed the way I saw “Camera,” as though the image had been recaptioned. Instead of an all-seeing Cyclops, the fake camera became a blind witness to a future history it was helpless to prevent. Yawing compulsively on its cardboard wall, it seemed neutered, its soundtrack more annoying in the gallery than alarming.  What can any camera see?  What can it expose? Who owns it? Who watches its images?  Who has the patience to watch?

The issues these images raise seem more political than ethical, unless the two are bound up with one another.  Do we retreat into the delights of voyeurism and let power take care of its own business?  As viewers, do we accept the mystery  of hard-to-photograph state and corporate institutions?  Do we try to see through the distances that separate us from them?  If we look at photographs that do help us see our society’s well-protected institutions, are we responsible for this knowledge? Can we responsibly look away?

Postscript:  The August 8 screening at the Summer Music and Films program, (“I’ve Got My Eyes on You”) is “1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse.”  Our surveillance society has also been anticipated by an abundance of  surveillance sci fi novels, documented by countless photographs, and has engendered the academic discipline of Surveillance Studies. Countless web sites describe this environment, capitalize on it, advocate resistance or seek to understand it.

 

 

 

The Invasion of the Girl Scouts

No casualties reported, and the Art Lab remains intact. The activity of the hour was to design your very own miniature sculpture garden, and this particular troupe of Girl Scouts were only too happy to jump in. At the end of the session, Ilene and I found ourselves gazing at some wonderful pieces of work. […]

No casualties reported, and the Art Lab remains intact. The activity of the hour was to design your very own miniature sculpture garden, and this particular troupe of Girl Scouts were only too happy to jump in. At the end of the session, Ilene and I found ourselves gazing at some wonderful pieces of work. Check out the brainspawn of these budding artists – it’s enough to make this art major feel insecure.

 

Political Revolution takes center stage for the opening of Baby Marx

On the occasion of Pedro Reyes’ upcoming exhibition Baby Marx which opens next Thursday, we’ll have two intellectual power houses-Michael Hardt and Lauren Berlant-in conversation with Reyes to discuss some of the most influential ideas on politics and economy, as they relate to Reyes’ project and its complicated relationship to the current economic crisis. In […]

On the occasion of Pedro Reyes’ upcoming exhibition Baby Marx which opens next Thursday, we’ll have two intellectual power houses-Michael Hardt and Lauren Berlant-in conversation with Reyes to discuss some of the most influential ideas on politics and economy, as they relate to Reyes’ project and its complicated relationship to the current economic crisis. In this video teaser is a selection of clips featuring Michael Hardt in the documentary film Examined Life (directed by Astra Taylor, 2008, clips courtesy of Zeitgeist Films) and a full-length lecture recently given by Berlant at the University of Chicago that centers around her soon to be released book, Cruel Optimism.

Lauren Berlant is the George M. Pullman Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Her work on political emotion includes The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (1997) and The Female Complaint: the Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2008), in addition to the forthcoming Cruel Optimism. She is also the editor of Intimacy; Compassion:  the Culture and Politics of an Emotion; Our Monica, Ourselves: The Clinton Affair and the National Interest (with Lisa Duggan); and a two volume number of Critical Inquiry, On the Case (2007).

Michael Hardt is a political philosopher and literary theorist at Duke University, North Carolina. Hardt’s recent writings focus primarily on deciphering various aspects of globalization through the style of writing he defines as eclecticism – or bringing together in one place and connecting the ideas of various thinkers such as Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Antonio Gramsci and Thomas Jefferson. His most famous works, Empire (2000), Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004), and Commonwealth (2009) were written in collaboration with Antonio Negri and are considered by many as major events in political and critical theory.

 

 

 

TAKE 5: Five questions answered by Milissa Link (Tree of Life Yoga) for Tot Mama Yoga

TAKE 5: Five questions answered by activity organizers on Open Field this summer Name: Milissa Link Occupation: Director of Tree of Life Yoga City/Neighborhood: Longfellow, Minneapolis Open Field Activity: Tot-Mama Yoga Description: Milissa Link, of Tree of Life Yoga, offers a plein-air prelude to Walker Art Center’s Arty Pants: Your Tuesday Playdate. Fun family yoga […]


TAKE 5: Five questions answered by activity organizers on Open Field this summer

Name: Milissa Link
Occupation: Director of Tree of Life Yoga
City/Neighborhood: Longfellow, Minneapolis

Open Field Activity: Tot-Mama Yoga
Description: Milissa Link, of Tree of Life Yoga, offers a plein-air prelude to Walker Art Center’s Arty Pants: Your Tuesday Playdate. Fun family yoga for hot mamas and their cool kids! Chill with playful yoga postures, songs, balancing games and a peace walk. Just what every toddler—and their busy moms—need to bring balance into their lives. Ms. Milissa will serve a light picnic snack for the children at the end of class while the moms get a chance to relax.
Dates of Activity: August 9 & August 23

1) What’s your favorite public space, in the Twin Cities or beyond?

Giggly Hills, by the Mississippi River

2) How did you find out about Open Field and why did you decide to host your own activity on Open Field?

I have had a longstanding relationship with Walker Art Center. I became a staff member during the period that Martin Friedman was director, and continued working in the Library/Archives when Kathy Halbreich stepped in. During my years at WAC I became certified as a yoga teacher and taught yoga to staff for over a decade. Now, revelling in nature and helping moms find calm moments with their toddlers are my greatest passions, so Open Field is a perfect space for Tot-Mama Yoga. It’s a way for me to give back to the community.

3) If you could learn any skill on Open Field, what would it be?

Levitating in Lotus pose.

4) What is the ideal audience for your Open Field activity?

Moms of 1 to 3-year-old toddlers, who want to connect with moms and their kids in a calm green space.

5) If Open Field had a mascot, who/what would it be?

The Jolly Green Giant. Ho ho ho…

Field Office Fellowship: Interview with Rachel Breen

This Monday we’ll hold the first of 6 public conversations with this summers Field Office Fellows, starting with Rachel Breen (see below for more details!). In anticipation of each discussion, we’ll be posting short interviews with the fellows. Here is what Rachel had to say: You’re an associate at On the Commons, can you tell us […]

Rachel Breen's The Bank of Our Common Wealth. Photo: Ashle Briggs Horton

This Monday we’ll hold the first of 6 public conversations with this summers Field Office Fellows, starting with Rachel Breen (see below for more details!). In anticipation of each discussion, we’ll be posting short interviews with the fellows. Here is what Rachel had to say:

You’re an associate at On the Commons, can you tell us about when and why you first started thinking about the commons very seriously? How did that lead to On the Commons? 

Julie Ristau, a friend I had done a lot of organizing work with, gave me the opportunity to get involved in On the Commons. It was appealing to me because it was political but in a very non-traditional way. I was attracted to the concept of the commons because its’ basic premise is a different way of understanding our economy and it steps outside the left/right political paradigm. It also gets outside the issue “silos” that progressive politics gets stuck in. So I see it as viable way of looking at the world that can contribute to progressive/sustainable social change.

How does your understanding of the commons play out in your art practice?

This project is giving me the chance to think about this more specifically. Social engagement has always been an underpinning of my artwork. But I’m also skeptical of artwork that is very literal or dogmatic. So – on the surface my work tends to look pretty abstract. The use of the sewing machine in the making of my work is one way that I convey the imperative to “repair” things that are broken – a metaphor for social change. Stitching makes connections visible and possible – so in a sense the work is always about the commons – but not in a very obvious way.

You’ve said that The Bank of Our Common Wealth is a new kind of creative project for you. Can you tell us how this is different?

The Bank of Our Common Wealth is huge departure for me in that it is a very public project – and also using money is pretty literal! I think it animates the idea of the commons in a fun and provocative way – which is also really new for me. I don’t think of myself as a very funny person and I greatly admire artists who use humor in their work – something I think is really difficult to do well.

Its interesting that so many people want to know what will happen with the train of dollar bills that is being amassed – for me the most important part of the project is the transaction that happens with people – the investment of the dollar bill in the bank and the act of sewing it together with the other dollar bills – not whether it is exhibited at some later date. The conversations that the project sparks and hopefully the thinking that might be jostled from public participation are “rich” (pardon the pun) and what the project is mainly about.

I’m asking people to make an investment – actually trust me by handing over something of value to them (a dollar bill) – that they won’t get back. For me, this is a huge request and I am truly humbled that so many people I have never met have been willing to participate in the project in this way.

I think people’s willingness – indeed – their great satisfaction in depositing a dollar bill into the bank signals their deep desire to change the debate about wealth in our society from being only about the individual to being about the community and the commons.

You’ve been setting up The Bank of Our Common Wealth at different public spaces around Minneapolis. Can you share some of the reactions you’ve received so far? How many people have contributed to the bank?

I’ve had about 125 dollars deposited into the bank so far. The biggest challenge is getting people to want to engage with me and find out what the project is about. When people take the time to hear about the project, it seems to really resonate and they almost always make an investment.

People also love seeing me work an old fashioned treadle sewing machine – it’s a beautiful old machine and many people, especially children have never seen one working before.

Last week at the Midtown Farmers Market some Somali women who did not speak English looked at me and burst into laughter when they realized I was sewing dollar bills together. A young girl who was with them asked me in English what I was doing and when she translated for the elder women they all nodded their heads in agreement. That was probably one of the nicest interactions I’ve had.

Some people have come up to me and given me dollar bills without hearing about the project – they just like that I am sewing dollar bills together. A lot of people want to know what I’m going to do with the dollars – and when I say I am hoping to exhibit them – they want to know what comes after that. I explain that the dollars will forever stay connected – that their “value” has been permanently altered to create something of a different kind of value and that sparks some really interesting conversations especially for people who don’t think about art very often. It raises questions about the value and importance of and role of art in society, about the value of money and about what the purpose of money is. I think it also raises some interesting questions about the art market as well. I could go one for a long time about this – if you want to talk more about this – come to the bank!

Is there another Field Office project that you’re especially excited about?

I’m excited about all of them. I’m excited about the project as a whole – I really like how diverse the projects are – we are approaching the question from such different vantage points. I’m most excited about the conversations we can have once we’ve tried our projects and can see what kind of collective knowledge emerges. I want to know what comes next?

Where can we find out more information about The Bank of Our Common Wealth and your other work? Where and when can we next find the bank to make a deposit?

The bank will be at the Midtown Farmers Market on Saturday, August 6th from 9-12. I’ve found that farmers markets are a great place to be – people are thinking about commerce since they are going to shop and also not usually in a huge hurry so tend to have a moment to stop and find out what I’m doing. I’m going to make a Facebook page today! I’ve been a little hesitant to dive full force into social media with this project – it seems like a lot of work to manage it but people who invest in the bank really want to follow it so I think I need to do it! So – look for The Bank of Our Common Wealth on Facebook!

Thank you Rachel!

Read more about The Bank of Our Common Wealth here. You’re invited to join Works Progress and Walker ECP staff for an open conversation with Rachel Breen on Monday, August 8th from 6 to 7PM at the FlakPak House in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. There will be refreshments!

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