Conceiving Place // In Coversation with Mabel Negrete at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

mabel-conceivingplace
  
When: Friday, August 7, 2015 
Time: 5:00pm7:30pm
Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Front Door Gallery
As a culmination of the public programming associated with the current Room for Big Ideas project, Conceiving Place, Bay Area-based writer Dorothy Santos will be in conversation with Mabel Negrete on her work and ask questions that focus on social practice, defining place, current social and political climates, as well as how the project has evolved since its inception. The conversation will be for one hour between artist and writer and 15–30 minutes of facilitated Q&A.The evening’s program will open with a ceremonial workshop led by Khalil Anthony: SONGS FROM PLANET ZERO
Join artist Khalil Anthony on a voyage in creation and song creation. Through this interactive workshop, participants will breathe together, and create music with only their bodies and voices as instruments. Learn to use your inherent rhythm and beat making ability to conjure songs as a group and by yourself, in this improvisational based workshop that pull songs from Planet Zero; a mythical place where all things are possible, as long as imagination and vulnerability meet.From writer Dorothy Santos – “We all carry the burden of punishment in our everyday lives. But at the economic, social, and cultural level, these burdens remain invisible. Whether they are through the taxes we pay perpetuating the prison industrial complex to surveillance technologies, we live in a world where we are unable to truly navigate away from digital and physical landscapes withoutconsequence. MabelNegrete coined the term ‘invisible punishing machines’ as a response to narratives around imprisonment, political oppression, and systems of government. Her work relies on vulnerability, storytelling, and experiential practices that have resulted in works such as The Weight I Carry with Me (2010 – Ongoing) to her founding the research initiative Counter Narrative Society (CNS). The breadth of her work has served as an impactful project that aims to reverse dominant narratives that diminish the untold and often obscured stories of underrepresented and vulnerable populations.”See the entire August 2015 workshop schedule at http://thinkeringschool.sparkmakers.org/july-aug-2015-thinkering-activities/Part of the exhibition, Conceiving Place:

Through a series of public workshops, Conceiving Place will engage the Bay Area community in a conversation about our personal and societal narratives; ultimately turning the weight we individually carry into a communal work. This ever-evolving installation will also frequently include “hands on, minds on” experiences. See more at http://ybca.org/conceiving-place

Artist Mabel Negrete, the founder of Counter Narrative Society (CNS), is a multi-disciplinary artist exploring counter narratives about bio-power, urbanism, culture, and technology. Her project The Weight I Carry with Me is a reaction to the invisible punishing machine, an idiomatic, science fiction-esque research concentration she designed to examine the spatial and technological causes that produce inequality and invisible punishment — a consequence of mass imprisonment, political persecution of individuals, the prison-welfare system, urbanization, neoliberal policies, and social-urban control in the USA. She is a recipient of several recognitions including MIT Presidential Award 2009-2010 and MIT Architecture Department Fellowship 2009-2011, Zellerbach Family Foundation & W.A. Gerbode Foundation 2006, and Osher Memorial Merit Scholarship – San Francisco Art Institute 2003-2006. Her work has been presented in a variety of public spaces and cultural institutions: Boston City Hall, MA; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA; Art of this Gallery, MI; De Young Museum, CA, The Intersection for the Arts, CA; Galleria de la Raza, CA; Primo Piano Living Gallery, Lecce Italy; New College of California, CA; San Francisco World Affairs Counsel, SF; and University of San Francisco, CA.

CCA Spring Symposium 2014

The Honeymoon’s Over: Reflecting on the Internet Utopianism and the Arts Published to The Civic Beat

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of co-presenting on a panel with An Xiao Mina and Ben Valentine. Below is my excerpt of the full write up by all three of us published to The Civic Beat! Exciting!! Please feel free to share thoughts and comments. Or feel free to connect with me via Twitter @deedottiedot

*          *          *          *

After the wonderful opportunity of co-presenting with Ben Valentine and An Xiao Mina of The Civic Beat, I have to admit, I actually looked up the term “honeymoon period.” The good ole internet actually provided two distinct definitions. Apparently the honeymoon phase for diabetics signals the start of insulin treatment while the Urban Dictionary states, “The three-month maximum period between a person’s entry into a new situation and a person’s complete screwing up of said situation or essential elements of it. This phenomenon is backed by massive amounts of studies in social psychology and even more massive amounts of personal testimony from bitter, angry people.”

The second definition sounds about right. But this reliance on the internet for research needs, a good laugh, and engaging in human rights activism has some disadvantages to it as well. Taking into account the very name of our panel, we tasked ourselves the tough question of whether the internet utopian vision and ideologies of the earlier internet still rang true today. We had three different ways to discuss the question. Not so surprisingly, I answered with a desire to not forget the body and our sensations. From social networking to internet bots to memes, my plea to the audience for the evening was to not forget our sense of self and body in this highly mobile age.

While technology moves at a feverishly rapid pace, we may find ourselves lost even before we figure out the best way to look, research, and obtain exactly what we need. I decided to focus on how new media artists use the internet and mobile technologies that incorporate the body somehow. Whether through augmented reality or applications to actually embodiment of a fictitious or mythical character or creature online, I found myself interested in how new media artists are dismantling such ideologies.

During the presentation, one of the individuals I focused on was new media artist John Craig Freeman. He uses augmented reality in his artistic practice, which is heavily used by advertisers to overlay landscapes and buildings with branding for marketing purposes. But Freeman uses this technology to interrogate the politics of space. Essentially, anyone with a smart phone and the internet can find out about the objective and purpose of each of his interventionist projects.

For the past year, I have examined his piece, Border Memorial: Fronteras de Los Muertos, which enables a viewer to download augmented reality application Layar. Once downloaded, the user has the option of travelling to specific locations, in this case, the US Mexican border, and holding their phone to the landscape. Calacas or skeletons appear on the screen. These serve as markers to specific spots within the landscape where the remains of migrants attempting to cross the border have been found and identified.

Now, I don’t want to end on such a sad note but you’re probably asking yourself why I’m so interested in addressing the original question or problem statement with emphasis on such a tricky concept of embodiment. Quite frankly, the word alone makes me feel like I’m falling into an abyss. But it also reminds me that the internet has a way of making us forget about our bodies and our senses. Rather, it amplifies this need for us to only focus on vision.

Perhaps, my academic research and investment in in real life (IRL), physical activism prompts me to try and strike this unending balancing act. While I straddle the lines of loving and hating the internet, I’m forced to have a relationship with it. So I wonder if there was ever a honeymoon period to begin with? Am I not in the dating phase of still getting to know this rhizomatic entity that continues to excite yet infuriate me? Ha! Sure sounds like one a rewarding relationship and like any relationshipone that takes A LOT of work to understand.

Full write up can be read here.

You know you’re in Art School when…

Performance Piece by artist Ken Becker from Dorothy Santos on Vimeo.

One of your brilliant classmates hacks open a sculptural work during a performance piece. I will be posting more pictures this weekend but one of the graduate wide electives I took this past semester was Sound, Music, and Technology. Ken was in my class and when he proposed his project, it was difficult for me to envision it other than him destroying something he built. Then, the night of our final projects exhibition arrived. We all gathered in The Nave at California College of the Arts (CCA) on the San Francisco campus and watched his performance. Fortunately, I have pretty steady hands and was able to get Ken in action. Watch it and feel free to comment. Personally, I love his piece BUT I’m curious what you think before I start sharing my opinion and breaking it down. Enjoy!