As I said earlier today, I’m writing, writing, writing my thesis paper stuff, which, thank god, is not as painful as my writing process used to be just a few months back. It’s an engaging challenge putting my motivations for Kids Connect as clearly as possible…without using bullet points. 😉 Here’s one of my objectives, which will form the template/questionnaire for the thesis paper itself. Your feedback would be much appreciated. Here are some guiding words on clarity if you need them. If you prefer, add your thoughts on my page on the ZoomLab wiki.

Objective [1]: teach read/write media literacy and cultivate a critical stance to mass media

Why: One of the primary goals of Kids Connect (KC) is read/write media literacy. What does this mean? To be literate is to be able to read and write. A full understanding of media (new, mass and otherwise) necessitates practical know-how of audio and video recording/editing, creation and synthesis. [Quote Mark Twain about reading the river]. In order to be critical of media, you must be able to distance yourself from it. A practical understanding of the craft of media creation and manipulation cultivates that distance. Moreover, a one-sided conversation is a lecture. Few young people are learning how to master the written word, to produce a compelling argument in nouns and verbs. It is vital that young people learn to write media, to raise their voices over and around the constant shouting match and join the discussion.

How: In the first two weeks of workshops, students learn to shoot video with cameras of various quality, record audio with a variety of microphones, go on sound walks and video walks (experiential exercises in listening and seeing), composition and framing, editing and compression. Each technology is approached through exercises with storytelling, improvisational and/or experiential frames. For example, convey a given emotion through a sequence of still images. In the subsequent weeks, these skills are built upon in exercises exploring expression of identity, neighborhood and community experience. Example: take photos, audio and video of your home in your neighborhood, edit together a gestalt, share it through Second Life. Furthermore, we introduce our students to the world of live visual performance. They learn the techniques of live visuals and VJ-ing: how to mix and synthesize live, streaming, and pre-recorded media, how to express emotion and narative through abstracted light and sound, and to do this collaboratively over networks. They’ve [Some have] already given up on the written word [for formal purposes, e.g., an argument –thank you, Anton]: we teach them the new multimedia communication skills they passionately desire.

Evaluation: How can you tell if someone has developed read/write media literacy? By seeing what they’ve expressed through various media. At the end of the workshops, we will have a large collection of work by our students to examine, as well as many hours of teaching experience to consider. We’ll sift this for patterns and I will write it up in my thesis paper.

Tonight, I’ll be performing at Bunker at SubTonic, the 2nd show of a developing performance called Idle in the Saved Night, inspired by the writings of Deborah Levitt. It’s a mixed piece for live visuals and acting. In a nutshell, I’ll be playing video (of mental patients from the 40s) from my laptop to the projector, standing in front of the projection screen …acting funny… and capturing my strange behavior and gestures with a live camera, which’ll then get chopped up and spit back out to the screen on top of me. It will be divine. And since the music at SubTonic is curated separately from the visuals, I’ll be doing it mute. Instead of speaking the texts I’ve gathered for the videos, I’ll run them on the screen as text. ‘Twill be an interesting challenge.

By the way, I highly recommend EyeWash tonight. Most of the visual acts will be getting physical: from performance art to burlesque to unique interfaces. This is good. For did John not say, let’s get into physical/ Let me hear your body talk? Should be swell. I’ll be there if I get my patch ready in time.

This just in, a great show to see Saturday night featuring my Gunshow-mate Ryan Sturt:

Have you ever seen Showgirls? Pretty crappy right? What would make it better you ask? If it were done with sockpuppets! Yup. I’m in a sockpuppet version of Showgirls. It’s been running for a few years in Chicago and played in New York in 2002, and now it’s back in our city with fresh jokes and extra filth. It’s every Saturday night at 8pm until the end of June.

It’s super raunchy. The puppets will dance your face off! I’m playing a couple different characters in it, and the character voice stuff has been a lot of fun.

Come if you can!

For more info, directions, and tickets, here’s the flyer and the ticket link:


vade// will play at the Bunker as well — he has been absolutely tearing it up lately with his visuals — just brilliant work. He played at {R} A K E at Monkeytown with Larry 7 on Wednesday, an unusual pairing that kept them both on their toes. It was gorgeous. The entire evening was, to be precise, ecstatic. Now you know I am often accused of hyperbole and over-enthusiasm and to this I would retort: wake up! The world is full of beauty and interest and commonality if you’re paying attention. I pay attention. Hence, I enjoy things more fully, perhaps, than the next human.

Joyful details of which I speak, of {R} A K E, the evening of electro-acoustic music and visuals run by Satoshi Takeishi, Shoko Nagai and Adam Kendall:

  • the first act was Kato Hideki (solo bass guitar) and Giles Hendrix* (video). Kato was exceptionally sensitive to his instrument and the sound in the room. He drew unusual sounds out of the bass, from the lightest of touches with a bow to heavy slams of his fist against the body, punctuated with long, deliberate silences. Giles’ visuals were equally slow and exploratory. I must admit I went into a trance/fell asleep at some points, which sounds bad but felt great: I drifted lightly in and out of the sound and light. As I suspected, Kato uses a custom tuning system based on prime numbers. I suspected it was different — not that it was prime. 😉
  • How can I describe Vortex’s music? Words fail me. It was an ecstatic experience. Satoshi is a percussionist but not limited to struck instruments — he also played the waterphone with a bow that night. Shoko plays keyboards and (what I can only describe as) Pan pipes. They both do some Max/MSP manipulation and layering of the sound, which seems to run on auto-pilot mostly. Each time I’ve heard them play it’s been a unique performance, an environment of sound created entirely of the moment. Unlike many musicians, they respond to your visuals when you play with them; I feel honored that my first visual gig was with them at {R} A K E. Wednesday they played with visuals by Shimpei Takeda, who used only a video camera, a flashlight and a jar of water to make a truly beautiful light show. Chika whispered to me that it reminded her of my work with live camera, which is quite a flattering comparison. Seeing it gave me a shove to do a similar work with water and bubbles I’ve had in mind for a while.

  • It was an evening of synaesthesia, the visuals and the music combined – to use the oft-abused word — in synergy. The last act was no exception. Anton (vade//) and Larry 7 played the room like a drum. Monkeytown’s back room, if you haven’t seen it, is a hard-walled cube with projections on each wall. A visualist can easily blind the audience and break the mood with the combined light from the four projectors and I’ve been thankful for my earplugs on several occasions when the audio artists have found the resonant frequency of the room and made it ring how I imagine the inside of the fuel chamber of the Space Shuttle must sound. (Alright, that last was definitely hyperbole.) However, Larry 7 and vade// did no such thing. Larry, who I’m told used to work for Andy Warhol, played with a bunch of analogue electronics, tube amps, a multi-stringed instrument with mics on it, and four mics arranged in a cross on a rotating turntable. Also quite difficult to describe. Let’s just say he succeeded in his aim, “to set up situations where he has almost no control over what happens, so he can be entertained along with the audience.” Anton’s setup is as digital as Larry’s is analogue — just a laptop — and he usually doesn’t take his MIDI keyboard along so it’s all controlled with the mouse and keyboard.

Again, beautiful stuff. I almost stayed home to program but I’m so glad I went. Time to program now: the patch for tonight is almost ready. I rebuilt it from scratch to make sure I got the order of operations right.

* note: I am very envious of Giles’ domain name.


If you don’t bother to read my del.icio.us links in the spliced feed, you’ll have missed a great listening opportunity: an album of Radiohead covers called Exit Music – Songs with Radio Heads. I particularly recommend the cover of Just by Mark Ronson and Alex Greenwald, which reveals the hidden funk of RH with handclaps, djembe and sexy horn blasts. My Flickr photos are also in the spliced feed and I’m just about to upload a shitload of cameraphone pics featuring the flowers of which I spoke yesterday. Name the purple pom-pom, s’il vous plait.

Alright, you asked for it. And by ‘you’ I mean ‘me’, because, honest to jeebus, I’m really writing all of this for myself+20years. I’ve decided to braindump every night into this meager webvessel. Let Dan+20 cringe at my horrocious puns (see above x 3).

Tonight I prepped for my presentation in Media History tomorrow. Over-prepared, I should say, because I’ll probably only have twenty minutes to talk, seeing as there are three presentations and it’s the last class of the semester. It’s been good. Our professor Deborah Levitt I esteem most highly. She chose very illuminating readings.

This really is every thought that comes to me, a free writing thing. Except if I censor it afterwards to protect my interests (in case someone in particular reads this, e.g., the franchised citizenry + 20 years).

I’m preparing my final project for my Max class with Josh Goldberg. We’re in total agreement that I should do something entirely different from brush. I’m going to make a visual step sequencer that’ll take in streaming media, live camera or QT movies, buffer them and allow dynamic timelining/sequencing. I’m going to force myself to use GPU processing (jit.gl.slab) for effects, except in those situations where the CPU’s faster. Anton — who taught a fantastic Max/MSP workshop today, by the way, just totally on point — and I will be performing at the Bunker at SubTonic* in a couple weeks, i.e., as our final project. As long as it’s cool with Anton and doesn’t make a lot of extra work for him, I’d like to make my patches be modules in vade//, his (excellent) performance app. I will, of course, share my patches, yup yup, always on the Share mission, me.

Now to bed, to the hypnodrome, may the hypnagogues grant me entry, to cuddle with thrice great Hermes…

* run by the wonderful Chris Jordan and Giles Hendrix. 🙂

Sorry for the silence here — I’m spectacularly busy, as you might have guessed. I’ll try to post a few times a week: it’ll be brief, messy and the mundane will creep in but hey, doesn’t that describe everything? As I said 10 hours ago, my new thesis is Kids Connect, which brings together a lot of my interests: improv theatre, networked performance and collaboration, Second Life performance, teaching and has the added benefit of institutional support so more of the being-the-producer work is taken care of and I can devote myself to artistic direction and teaching. In other news, the semester is drawing rapidly to a close and I have a paper for Law, a presentation and a project for Media History, a project for Max/MSP/Jitter as well. Exciting stuff. I’m reading Deep Time of the Media by Siegfried Zielinski, key ideas of which can be found in this brief Rhizome interview — and I’m presenting on it and Spectres of the Spectrum (a messy, funny film collage — see this review) on Friday. Key thought from Deep Time for you before I get back to it: the present concentration of power is in control of time, not space. E.g., TV, pace Tivo. (Man, I hope someone gets that besides me.)


O, to be asleep instead of writing at 2:11 AM. O, alack this brain of mine.

The long and short, quickly: got back from Texas on Sunday. Four of us Share people went down to setup a Share jam at the Media Archaeology Festival at Aurora Picture Show. Went great, saw and met many wonderfully sweet people. Pics to come on the Share site.

The big news: my thesis has changed. A great opportunity fell in my lap; things folded together. I sat in on a net conference call two weeks ago and whiff-boom-bang! I’m suddenly co-organizing and teaching Kids Connect, a series of summer workshops for kids in theatrical and technological collaboration, sponsored by ZoomLab, the Waag Society and Polytechnic University. It brings together a lot of my interests and goals — it gelled quickly, a total no-brainer. One thing I brought to the table is the still relatively untapped potential for education and performance in Second Life and it’s that which is keeping me up brainstorming right now. What would make a compelling indigenous performance in Second Life? That is, one that is not virtual set dressing for a real life performance but a truly virtual performance that couldn’t be done in meatspace.

Wandering through SL, I’m struck again and again by how meatoid it is. Virtual human bodies walking on two legs and seeing with one eye. Houses with four walls as if there were a need for load-bearing members. It seems to me that an indigenous, exciting Second Life performance ought to be code-intensive (possibly generative), interactive, and transformative — literally body-changing — warping your avatar, multiplying and distributing its eyes and ears. Kaleidescopic eyes as big as houses. Think a live machinima of The Matrix: The Musical! with Vishnu as Neo, dance numbers choreographed by the mutant child of Busby Berkeley and Chris Cunningham). Hopefully this silly hyperbole sounds more exciting to you than listening to streaming audio while watching a jerky animation of a guy playing a guitar.

Not that I’m no longer into Real Life/Second Life performances, of course.

Maybe I can get to sleep now.


Inworld I’m Dan Magpie and here’s a link to my land.