Arts and Education


1/19/2005: 12:37 am: Arts and Education

Art by Mark Faigenbaum

Mark Faigenbaum, an old friend of my wife’s, is having an exhibition and reception January 21 (5-9 pm) and 22 (1-5 pm) at SF Recycling & Disposal, Inc., “also known as The Dump”, with two other artists. Mark is currently an artist-in-residence at the Norcal Waste Art Studio & Gallery. The pieces he will be exhibiting were all made from recycled materials obtained on location.

We’ve gone to several of Mark’s openings, and his work is absolutely mesmerizing. He previously did a residency with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He was in the Artist Studio/Artist Demo Program at the Legion of Honor.

More info about Mark from other websites:

8/22/2004: 7:12 pm: Arts and Education, Reviews, The Unusual and the Weird

The recently released Survival Research Labs “Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem” DVD was reviewed in Bright Lights Film Journal. You can pick up a copy for $20 + $7 shipping at Music Video Distributors.

I previously posted pictures and video from an SRL show in Berkeley last year.

And congrats to Mark and Amy on their new baby! Hopefully, they will make rocket fuel experimentation off-limits to Jake until he is at least in grade school.

8/17/2004: 12:01 am: Arts and Education

The Living Museum Art Center at Harbor View House is an arts program that is run by HealthView. Harbor View House is a non-profit residential mental health care facility in Southern California. The website has four pages of work (though unfortunately the first sent doesn’t appear in FireFox due to some IE proprietary HTML) done by people at the facility. Some of the pieces are very cool. Others are … well, hey, I’m not particularly impressed by everything I see at SFMOMA, either. But if you are into raw, emotional paintings, I think you will definitely find some pieces that interest you.

If you’re in the Oakland area and you find this artwork interesting, I highly recommend that you stop by Creative Growth Art Center. Creative Growth is a bit different in that the artists don’t actually reside there, but Creative Growth has a fantastic workspace for them to get engaged, experiment, and create art. You also get a lot of opportunities to meet with the artists.

The Living Museum is at 921 S. Beacon Street, San Pedro, CA, and their phone number is 310-547-3341 Extension 3154, and they are open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Jennifer, thanks for the email about the Living Museum. I’ll try to stop by next time I head down to SoCal.

8/3/2004: 12:04 am: Arts and Education

Tim Bray recently wrote a fine review of Cabinet magazine, A Quarterly Magazine of Art and Culture. I first learned of Cabinet about a year ago when a link from the Cabinet site kept showing up in my website referer log.

A couple paragraphs down on that page, you will find the following text:

Cabinet does not run reviews or news items about forthcoming events. There are excellent venues that do so (These excellent venues are often glossy and offer enormous writers’ fees. Follow this link to visit the best of them).

The PHP page linked to by the text “this link” redirects you to a rather special page on my website. This special page contains quite possibly the finest piece of prose that I have ever managed to emit. I’m not sure how they found it or whether they think my epic essay is funny or pathetic, but I was greatly amused when I read the surrounding text on their website. Follow this link to get to that link.

7/11/2004: 9:00 pm: Arts and Education, Reviews

Although I did make it to the Fire Arts Festival Friday night, I ended up being at work so late that I didn’t have time to go home and get my camera. I didn’t even have time to eat dinner. So, unfortunately, all I can show off are some poor quality photos taken with the camera on my Treo.

PyrocussionMore Pyrocussion

The Pyrocussion performance was pretty cool. Bob “Bonefire” Hoffman built these devices. When the performer pulls or hits with a drumstick on a rope or wire near the bottom, a burst of compressed gas is released out of the end through a whistle. As you hear the whistle blow, the small fire that is constantly burning at the top of the tube explodes into a fireball. The performers played the devices to the accompaniment of two drummers.

Singularity Machine Singularity Machine

The above photos really don’t do the Singularity Machine justice. Before each performance, the rocks in the center are soaked with a combustible fluid. After the fluid is ignited, two guys in aluminized high-temperature protection suits use big tubes to turn the fire into a raging vortex. I’m guessing the tubes were blowing air at high speeds, but I don’t know for sure. The end result was a twisting, tornado-like vortex of fire that extended up to fifty feet in the air. Supposedly it can reach 75 feet, but it was pretty windy Friday night. The wind added a little extra excitement to many of the performances that night.

Wally “PyroBoy” Glenn had a box of sand that was drenched in compressed gas. Flames danced on the surface of the sand. You could put on an aluminized glove and run your fingers through the fire zen garden to create cool patterns of flames. Even with the glove, my hand got really hot in just a few seconds. One downside of interacting with this artwork was that my hand smelled like gas for hours.

The Fire Arena was filled with many more art works that were consuming vast quantities of compressed gas. By 11 pm, I started to get a pretty bad headache. Having not eaten dinner certaily didn’t help.

Anybody riding BART through West Oakland Friday or Saturday night got a free peek if they were looking out the north-side windows when the train went by. If you didn’t know what was going on, it might have been pretty freaky to look out and see a 50 foot tornado of fire surrounded closely by about two hundred cheering art lovers.

Kasia Wojnarski’s Tunnel Vision was a roughly twenty foot long punched out iron tunnel with lines of compressed gas ending in steel wool. The tunnel was covered in flames. Given that the wind had made the night pretty chilly, my friend Michael and I took the opportunity to stroll through it twice. Not only was it nice and warm, it was pretty cool to walk through a tunnel of fire.

Quite a few performances occurred on a stage in the middle of the Fire arena (a formerly vacant lot / parking lot). The Kabari fire dancers were excellent. Just six months after taking a class from Belva Stone at the Crucible, they put on a great show. There were lots of other great performances, but I have to catch a 6 am flight to Dallas tomorrow morning, so I’m afraid I won’t be covering them here tonight.

The Oakland Tribune [1, 2] ran some articles on the festival, but I couldn’t find the photos online. The articles in the paper were accompanied by a couple of nice photos.

7/8/2004: 11:31 pm: Arts and Education

There are still two nights left for you to attend the Fire Arts Festival at the Crucible on 7th Street in Oakland.

DESCRIPTION: An incendiary and landmark exhibition of fire and light artistry at The Crucible’s industrial arts facility and a 100,000 sq ft outdoor Fire Arts Arena in West Oakland! A wealth of workshops, classes, lectures, exhibits and stimulating demonstrations culminating in one night of artist lectures and three nights of ground-breaking art and mind-blowing performances – different performances each night!

I’m planning to be there Friday night. If I can shoot some decent photos and video, I’ll post them here later. It costs $20 to get in Friday night, but you get a $5 discount if you are in costume.

The schedule for Friday night is:

MC: $teven Ra$pa
7:30pm          Gate Opens!
7:30-8:30       DJ Vordo
8:30-8:55       One People Voice Company Balinese Gamelon Orchestra
9:00-9:10       Kabari, fire performance troupe
9:10-9:15       Luna, blacklight bellydance with flaming sword and wine glasses
9:15-9:25       Capacitor, dance fusion
9:30-9:45       Infinite Kaos - "Sacrifice"
9:45-9:50       Kook Troupe - excerpt from "Elementica"
9:50-10:50      DJ Vordo
 -      Monkeyboy, poi
 -      Fire Arts Collective, fire jump rope
 -      Karisini of Pyrostura, double staff
 -      Pyrocycles, oil rig fire bicycles
 -      David Sloves, double staff
10:50-11:10     One People Voice Company Balinese Gamelon Orchestra
11:10-11:25     Copper Lantern Fire Theater
11:25-11:35     Pyrotruck - with members of Xeno
11:35-11:40     Grand Finale with soprano Marisa Lenhardt, The Fire Conclave and all fire performers and fire sculpture!
11:40-12:00     Fire sculpture continues quietly

7/7/2004: 11:35 pm: Arts and Education

Congratulations to all the people who have contributed articles to Wikipedia. The site just passed 300,000 on the article-o-meter. If you haven’t checked out Wikipedia, yet, you definitely should. The community system for writing encyclopedia-style articles has worked out amazingly well.

Hmmm, I just noticed that there are no articles on “incinerating toilet” or “incinerator toilet”. Some day I may have to fill that gap.

5/19/2004: 6:22 pm: Arts and Education

The funniest man in America, Jon Stewart (no known relation, unfortunately), delivered the commencement address at William & Mary to the extremely lucky Class of 2004. I have no memory of the deliverer or the content of the commencement address at my graduation from Rice, although I am quite confident the speech wasn’t nearly as amusing as Jon’s.

1/9/2004: 12:44 am: Arts and Education

There are tons more photos and some reviews of the SRL show in Berkeley at the SRL website. The people taking these photos were much closer to the action than me, so you should definitely check them out. They also took a bunch of very cool pre-show photos. Also, because of where I was standing, I completely missed out on the flame tornado.

1/4/2004: 10:03 pm: Arts and Education

On November 12, 2003, I attended a live performance by Survival Research Labs at the Berkeley Art Museum. In addition to taking a couple photos, I used my Canon S400 to shoot some video. I’ve finally gotten around to scaling the video down enough in iMovie to post here. Get ready to see and hear the firing of a V1 rocket engine, a Tesla coil sending 20+ foot sparks into metallic sheets hanging from trees, and a set of 150 dB pulse jets.

The original videos were 320×240 resolution, 15 fps AVI files. The S400 lets you shoot three minutes of video before it needs to dump the audio and video from internal memory to a Compact Flash card. Three minutes of video at that resolution ends up being close to 45 MB. I used iMovie to get the two clips down to 7 and 3 MB.

The last two segments ended up being the best. This first segment highlights the firing of the V1 rocket engine. Near the end, there is some good footage of the huge Tesla coil sending 25-30 foot sparks into what appears to be sheets of mylar hanging from large trees.

The Hovercraft also makes an appearance. You can see it in the background as a couple people drag it out of the path of the V1. It has 4 pulse jets. Each one is four feet long and glows red hot while in operation. The two pairs of jets can be rotated around on the top of the Hovercraft, giving it sort of a radar antenna feel. The jets glow red hot when in operation and they make a very cool wailing sound that you hear throughout most of the video. The SRL website describes the Hovercraft as:

The loudest robot in the world at 150 decibels. Louder than a cruise missile until it blows up.

The Hovercraft didn’t blow up during the show, although two of the pulse jets did burst into flames. Maybe that counts as blowing up. At an SRL show, it’s hard to know whether something has caught on fire on purpose or by accident.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This QuickTime movie is about 7 MB and the video lasts three minutes.

First SRL video segment

The second segment starts with some absolute Tesla coil mayhem, before the V1 kicks back in with full effect. As you watch these videos, keep reminding yourself that this is happening in the courtyard of a University art museum in the middle of Berkeley.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This QuickTime movie is about 3 MB and the video lasts just under two minutes.

Second SRL video segment

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