Sunday, February 26, 2006

Department of Space and Land Reclamation / Counter Productive Industries

Department of Space and Land Reclamation / Counter Productive Industries

The Department of Space and Land Reclamation was a weekend long blitz of cultural production in public space. We created a "hub" at a local alternative arts space, the Butcher Shop, and made it into a 24 hour a day convegence space for people to meet, hang out, eat, sleep, party, and create projects to unleash on the Chicago. Our goals were twofold: first, by acting out in public in as many diverse ways as possible, we hoped to make visible the fact that every square inch of urban space has been consciously planned on some level to make us think or behave in a certain way. Space created as a way to get to and from work was transformed into a site of play, space created to sell us products became a canvas for self-expression. Second, we wanted to bring together a very diverse group of artists, activists, and community organizers and get them to think about how they can learn from the ideas and styles of each other and how public cultural practice can positively effect what they do and how they do it....

CPI show-n-tell

"DSLR Chicago: A Precursor to October Surprise"
By Nato Thompson, DSLR co-organizer

The Department of Space and Land Reclamation originated in Chicago in the Spring of 2001. Taking place at a collective print shop over the course of a 72-hour weekend, DSLR unleashed over fifty-nine reclamation projects into the heart of the windy city. Although 2001 was not so long ago, the political climate definitely had a different temperature to it. A year and a half after the historic battle in Seattle against the World Trade Organization, the period was rich with a desire for new forms of agitation. While DSLR was spearheaded by Josh MacPhee, Emily Forman and myself, its fruition was the result of many hundred disaffected Chicagoans; and that was particularly the point. Unlike art exhibitions where a select few projects are highlighted, we wanted a massive social uprising. Scale and participation outpaced any desire to glorify singular practices. We wanted to produce a ground-breaking social catalyst.

Each of us came from a grassroots organizing background and were interested in combining activist campaign models with those of some of the more radical forms of public art. Under the label 'reclamation' we united such disparate practices as pirate radio, sidewalk poetry readings, surreal public performance, kissing marathons, guerrilla gardening, and even general strikes. The range of projects each resisted the privatization and control of public space in their own charming way.

However, the public projects were only one facet of the campaign. From a central hub, DSLR operated as an ad-hoc social space where groups from varying communities in Chicago could get to know each other. With free food, couches, and good music, the hub became the space where the real long-lasting social connections derived. The campaign's ultimate goal was to strengthen the ties in the disparate socially conscious communities of Chicago. And the power of ambiguous aesthetics and reclamation provided a conducive atmosphere for cutting through the strange boundaries between radical communities. People enjoyed cooking, eating, hanging out and producing together. Suddenly, we realized we had produced a model that worked outside the typical art exhibition and street protest. Something unique, anti-capitalist, and anti-authoritarian was happening and we did not want this lesson lost. The model worked!

DSLR was developed specifically for the needs of Chicago. With that in mind, it is absolutely fantastic to see the project tweaked and refined to fit the needs of different urban settings such as San Francisco (DSLR West) and now Los Angeles. It is interesting to watch October Surprise consider the sprawling nature of the area into their design. With such an inspiring and vibrant radical community burgeoning in the heart of Southern California, DSLR should provide a tremendous shot of adrenaline. I would like to offer one lesson we learned from DSLR Chicago as something to bare in mind. October Surprise will provide a powerful range of opportunities for organizing for everyone involved. The trick is to not let that window shut before you have taken advantage of it. Be aware of the new communities that are possible and find tangible methods for building on them. Don't burn out. Keep the momentum going and pass the torch on to another radical community. To the barricades!

DSLR-West / The October Surprise

DSLR-West / San Francisco

The October Surprise / Los Angeles

Los Angeles is made up of a collection of diverse neighborhoods, each delineated by various physical and social geographies, and tenuously connected by a complex of shared economies, cultures, and desires. East of the LA River, stretching up along Figueroa Avenue and the Arroyo Seco, Highland Park is girded by Mount Washington, Montecito Heights, Glassel Park and Eagle Rock. Highland Park is but one town among many that could be called home. This section of Northeast Los Angeles will be home to the series of events documented in these pages, and include the efforts of artists, activists, and citizens concerned with the local manifestation of culture, politics, history and ecology.

While all kinds of efforts related to the upcoming national election are being mobilized, there are forms of political life necessarily neglected by the generalizations of party politics. Nearly every space in our life demands dealing creatively with poor urban planning, bad schools, privatized histories.... Yet we are encouraged to become global drifters instead - just more consumers wearing Hard Rock Café T-shirts from Bangkok, Paris or Disneyland. The aftermath of November will certainly impact us all, but the micro politics that exist on our streets have their own life and possibilities.

To explore some of these possibilities, October Surprise has created a space for site-specific installations and interventions that recognize THIS place as our home, revealing and celebrating the past, present and possible futures of Northeast LA. We Angelinos are brash, resilient and far more resourceful than we get credit for. We believe that this sort of grassroots action will allow Highland Park to diverge from the social patterns that define other gentrifying cities of today. In other parts of the country, land, history, political leverage and possibility disappears behind the need for speculative economic growth. To this, we say, “This is OUR city, let’s live in it!”

Other Chicago Initiatives & Initiators

CHAOS / Chicago Housing Authority

In late 2004, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) initiated a public relations campaign to put a new face on their Plan For Transformation, a plan that drastically reshapes the state of public housing in Chicago.

This PR campaign, authored by the advertising giant Leo Burnett, fused Chicago Housing Authority's acronym ‘CHA’ with the word ‘change’, resulting in a new brand identity: CHAnge. There are undoubtedly big changes happening with public housing in Chicago, including massive organizational restructuring within CHA and the tearing down of all high-rise public housing buildings....

Pioneer Renewal Trust

The Pioneer Renewal Trust is a hoax real estate agency that is used in projects which serve to highlight gentrification and housing issues in Chicago. Our first project was a show in a residential home gallery located in a in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. We initially offered the gallery up for sale in a straightforward way, with signs and flyers. As the show progressed, the signs, flyers, and interior of the gallery became more absurd, as we proposed to build a series of super-luxury condos inside the house. PRT also hosted a public forum with presentations and discussion by local housing activists and artists who have dealt with gentrification in past projects.

MISCPROJECTS (a.k.a Daniel Tucker)


AREA#2 builds on the stated goal "to be a shared space to fuel, debate, refine, express and implement our collective goals for a more desirable and livable Chicago and world." This particular issue will focus on food politics through the lens of local groups who are committed to urban agriculture, radical ecology and to creating an alternative food infrastructure in Chicago.

Pilot TV Chicago

Pilot Television is an artist-built temporary autonomous video production studio. The first collaboration was staged for four days in Chicago IL, October of 2004. Over 150 participants from all over the North American continent converged to collectively produce more than 35 projects, inspired by a theme of "feminist trespass."

BUILDING THE TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS TV STUDIO: A conversation with Daniel Tucker and Emily Forman about PILOT TV: Experimental Media for Feminist Trespass!!!

Pink Bloque

The Pink Bloque (2001-2005) was a Chicago-based radical feminist dance troupe dedicated to challenging the white supremacist capitalist patriarchal empire one street dance party at a time....

StreetREC Collective & Retooling Dissent

This video marks a period of dissent and experimentation around the February 2, 2002 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Manhattan (NYC) at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. The global executives and corporate elite attending the annual conference, usually held in Davos Switzerland, carved the streets of New York City into a police state. Meanwhile artists and activist--tactical media practitioners, from around the world created new tools and held workshops intending to send them a clear message: The September 11th attacks will NOT gag the critiques of globalization. This video explores the collaborations and ideas of four collectives working on projects at the WEF protests.

Projects include: modified bikes for printing messages on the streets as you ride by the Bikewriter/Affectech group from Boston, Pret-a-revolter (ready to revolt) protest fashions, New Kids on the Black Block dancing, and decorative Ya Basta! Style sheilds by the Barcelona Las Agencias, Rapid message placement system and other protest technologies for inserting your message into public space as well as large scale graphics displaying our desire to deface powerful people by the StreetRec collective, I-see is a web-based application developed by the Institute for Applied Autonomy, which shows users the location of surveillance cameras in Manhattan and allows them to chart their own paths of least surveillance.

The God Bless Graffiti Coalition, Inc.

The God Bless Graffiti Coalition, Inc. was founded in 2000 in Chicago in order to combat growing national and international anti-graffiti trends. We feel time has come time that people stand up against the massive misuse of public monies diverted towards graffiti abatement. Instead of spending millions to maintain the dull monotony of the urban landscape and to criminalize creative youth, it is time we demand a rational policy towards graffiti.

In 2002 we first published our Give Graffiti the Thumbs Up brochure to help educate the public about the truth of graffiti. Tens of thousands of copies of this brochure have been distributed around the world. The success of our initial brochure has led us to expand our activities, including subway ads and our latest endeavor, graffiti bible tracts....

Autonomous Territories of Chicago

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Invisible-5 is a two-CD, self-guided audio tour along Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It uses the format of a museum audio tour to guide the listener along the highway landscape.


Invisible-5 investigate the stories of people and communities fighting for environmental justice along the invisible toxic landscape of the I-5 corridor, through oral histories, field recordings, found sound, recorded music, and archival audio documents.


The route follows the I-5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with additional routing via the I-580/880 to San Francisco. Sites along the tour, which can be driven in either direction, include Livermore, Crows Landing, Kesterson NWR, Kettleman City, and Boyle Heights in Los Angeles.

The CD set, along with a companion map booklet, will be released in April 2006. Downloads of the project will be also available in April.


The I-5 is a critical pathway along the west coast for trade, tourism, and migration, and functions as part of the infrastructure bundle that parallels it - supporting symmetrical movement of water, oil, and gas.

Running along the San Joaquin Valley's west side, the I-5 is also vital for intermodal shipping, intensive ranching, farming and dairying, new housing development, waste dumping and the gas and oil industry. And Interstate-5 is an "Intermodal Corridor of Economic Significance" - a category of freeway "corridors that are most essential to the California economy in terms of national and international trade".

As California's major north-south highway connecting the state's urban hubs - San Francisco and Los Angeles - the 5 is usually driven at high speed.

Experienced as a blur, few drivers realize the spare, majestic landscape along the I-5 corridor is polluted. Often, there is little to see, smell, or taste of the mostly invisible pollutants: benzene and perchlorate in the water, dioxin and PM2.5 in the air. For residents along the I-5 corridor, often these manifest as just a hazy sky, a faint odor, or the sense that something tastes different about the water.

The few sites that hint at the pollution - the Covanta Incinerator, a menacing black cube topped with smokestacks and surrounded by 30-foot-high perimeter fence, or the visual and olfactory shock of the high-density feedlot just north of Coalinga - stand out like exclamation points. But as much of the pollution is transient, many of the tour's sites are fugitive.

And the movement of traffic along the I-5 itself creates a river of moving air, where sprayed pesticides mix with diesel emissions, creating a moving stream dense with small particulate matter (PM2.5).

Invisible-5 travels the invisible toxic landscape of the I-5 corridor, of pesticide drift, hazardous waste dumping and incineration, groundwater contamination, oil extraction, and large-scale dairying.

Invisible-5 tells the stories of communities tied together by the geopolitics of the I-5 corridor, and by their struggles for environmental justice along the route of California's major North-South highway.

The communities in the San Joaquin Valley along the I-5 are often hidden just out of sight of the freeway, where easy truck access moves toxic waste to landfills through small towns like Patterson, Kettleman City, or Buttonwillow. In the areas around San Francisco and Los Angeles, communities sit directly under or adjacent to the I-5, with homes, playgrounds, and schools just yards from the freeway.

Invisible-5 examines the historic reasons why polluting industries and businesses are often sited near poor, rural and inner-city communities of color in California, through the oral histories of people fighting for environmental justice along the I-5.


Invisible-5 is a collaboration between three artists and two 501c3 organizations. The collaborators on Invisible-5 are lead artists Amy Balkin and Kim Stringfellow, audio lead Tim Halbur, and organizations Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, and Pond: Art, activism, and ideas.



Amy Balkin is a San Francisco based artist whose recent body of work focuses on how humans create, interact with, and impact the social and material landscapes they inhabit. Her projects include This is the Public Domain, an effort to create a permanent international commons from 2.5 acres of land located near Tehachapi, CA, via legal transfer to the global public. Other recent projects include Public Smog, which examines the commodification of the atmosphere, through the economic mechanism of carbon trading.


Greenaction is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to mobilize community power to win victories that change government and corporate policies and practices to protect health and promote environmental justice. It has worked with diverse communities around the Western United States to win victories, stopping pollution threats at their source.


Tim Halbur has been producing and writing audio tours for Antenna Audio since 1996, making award-winning productions for the museums and historic sites such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Since receiving his degree from the radio broadcasting department of SF State in 1989, he had produced radio dramas and sound designs for live performances and played bass and accordion in a variety of bands and styles, including klezmer, gypsy, and bluegrass.


Kim Stringfellow's work investigates environmental and historical topics related to land use through hybrid documentary forms incorporating a variety of media, including photography, film/video, audio, installation and Web-based interactive multimedia. Project commissions include (Seattle Arts Commission) and Safe As Mother's Milk: The Hanford Project (Cornish College of the Arts, Arts + Activism series).

Her book project titled, Greetings from the Salton Sea: Folly and Intervention in the Southern California Landscape, 1905-2005 was published with the Center for American Places in 2005.


Pond is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to showcasing experimental, interdisciplinary art in a non-competitive and accessible environment.

Invisible-5 is funded by a grant from the Creative Work Fund

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Million Dollar Blocks / Laura Kurgan

New York City and Wichita, KS, are among the many cities in the United States in which the state regularly spends more than one million dollars to incarcerate prisoners who live within a single census block. Advocacy organizations, city planners, and community groups working with released prisoners are asking: where are these ‘million dollar blocks,’ and what’s happening there? The Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) at Columbia is working with the Justice Mapping Center to produce a range of maps of this phenomenon.

Million Dollar Blocks is the first of a series of projects to be undertaken by the Spatial Information Design Lab at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation (GSAPP), as part of a two year research and development project on Graphical Innovation in Justice Mapping. It activates a unique partnership between the Justice Mapping Center (JMC), the JFA Institute (JFA), and the GSAPP, enabling the Justice Mapping Center to refine analytical and graphical techniques within the research environment of the Spatial Information Design Lab, which can then be applied to real life policy initiatives through work with the JFA Institute. Reciprocally, input from state and local leaders is then brought back to the Design Lab for further development. This feedback loop is a valuable tool resulting in new methods of spatial analyses and ways of visually presenting them that reveal previously unseen dimensions of criminal justice and related government policies in states across the United States.

Justice Mapping Center

The JMC is dedicated to helping government better understand its criminal justice resources. Through innovative geographical analyses of prison, jail, parole, probation, and other government agency data, the JMC assists states, counties, and cities in identifying highly concentrated areas and maximizing the benefits of their services in target communities.

"An Explanation of Justice Mapping: Three Examples"

Justice Mapping Center
Eric Cadora, Director
Charles Swartz, Associate Director

The vast majority of incarcerated people comes from and returns in concentration to a small set of inner-city neighborhoods. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) analysis, otherwise know as computer mapping, has become key to understanding how the removal and return of so many people from a single neighborhood is having an impact on the health, housing, employment, and social networks in those communities. When information about where other government needs-based program populations reside is added, the overlap between criminal justice and other needs-based services populations becomes starkly apparent.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


PLATFORM has been described as many things - an arts group, a forum for political dialogue, an environmental campaign - but, in essence, it is an idea, a vision of using creativity to transform the society we live in; a belief in every individual's innate power to contribute to this process.

PLATFORM - promoting creative processes of democratic engagement to advance social and ecological justice...


Catalysts for Change > harnessing the power of art, the commitment of campaigning, and the imagination of education to unleash citizens’ creative and democratic potential.

Individuals not Representatives > creating unique spaces where people from different backgrounds and perspectives come together in an atmosphere of trust to discuss complex issues - ‘communities of interest’.

Practical and Poetic > using a variety of strategies from research to performances, from walks to renewable energy systems, from publications to discussion-feasts.

Interdisciplinary Creativity > creating the work by consistently combining the skills and experience of people from many different disciplines - economists to artists, psychologists to environmentalists.

Here & Elsewhere > evolving long-term projects which embody a deep commitment to London’s ecology and peoples while also exploring the nature of the city’s impacts on the wider world.

Infectious Visions > feeding innovative ideas into the bloodstream of society like a benevolent virus.


PLATFORM’s work is created out of love for particular places, a way of working that has enabled us to make long-term commitments to specific localities. Since 1989, the geographical location of PLATFORM’s work has essentially been our home, the metropolis of London. We investigate the city as medium, metaphor and actuality, a city located in a tidal valley in Northern Europe, home for several million people and innumerable other species. An organism that eats and excretes, consumes resources and produces waste. A place of immense creativity, vitality and hope, as well as conflict and despair.

Freedom in the City

Critical Walks in The City

Since 2002, PLATFORM has been running periodic and experimental walks around contemporary corporate culture. We have focused specifically on how the world‚s first and most enduring transnational corporation - the East India Company (1600-1858) - has much to teach us. "Loot! Reckoning with the East India Company" takes groups of 20 people around the sites of the Company in London's "Square Mile" (financial district) and East India Docks, making parellels with contemporary ethical issues in transnational corporate business.

The public walks have been completely oversubscribed on each occasion, and it has become clear that the strategy of using a walk to learn from history about how we can address contemporary issues is really successful. The walks are run as rolling discussions, and always lead to a couple of hours more conversation in the pub afterwards with a core of participants... The experience has led into the founding of a second strand to Freedom in The City, Museum of the Corporation.

PLATFORM has long used the walk as an important form for public space work. We have explored walking as a research tool, as a ritual, as performance, as intervention, as a political tool, and as a tool for sharing insights and information. Our walks have been devised by artists, historians, community activists, psychologists, and environmentalists in collaboration, and as solo ventures.

We are currently exploring walks according to the following themes:

The City as if it had never been built, The City before memory. These walks will explore the land and water underneath The City, juxtaposing the current ‘given’ with its pre-history, thus opening the imagination to its future. The Roman City of Londinium was founded on two wooded hills with a fresh water stream - the Walbrook - running between them, the city's walls surrounded by marshland. What might re-seeing this tell us? Guided walks along the rivers Walbrook and Fleet form part of this.

The City that erases itself, The City of Forgetting. These walks will explore the questions of visibility and invisibility of the impacts of commerce in The City and have commenced with the walk "Loot - Reckoning with the East India Company", devised by historian Nick Robins and PLATFORM core member Jane Trowell.

The East India Company remains the most powerful corporation the world has ever seen, a precursor to today’s transnational corporations. Starting out as a speculative venture to import spices from the East Indies - modern day Indonesia - the Company grew to fame and fortune by trading with and then conquering and governing India. But visit London today where the Company was headquartered for over 250 years, and little marks its rise and fall, its innovations and its crimes. The walk takes you round this invisible behemoth... and asks in terms of contemporary corporate behaviour, what has changed, and what has remained the same ? Crucially, what can we learn?

The walks visit sites of the company's headquarters in Philpot Lane and Leadenhall Street, circumnavigating the huge complex of warehouses at Cutler's Gardens, and standing at the feet of bronze statues of key company figures such as Robert Clive and Lord Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington. These walks have been rolling discussions, as well as presentations.

I learn so much that day. Not just facts about the Thames, but a new way of relating to this city. Walking to the Thames along the Fleet offers a particular sense of ‘being in the world’, an ecological view that connects us to a networked environment that is both natural and cultural. Unlike reading a book or watching television, I am walking the river as I find out about it. Ley lines, song lines, story lines, some lines only speak as you walk them. The stories I was told that day are intimately connected with the places in which I first heard them.... These walks - actual and imagined - are storytelling in motion. In some cases, the work takes the form of a narrative unfolding through space, in others the events discovered on the way are enough to create the story. The spatial element of storytelling is stressed in French sociologist Michel de Certeau’s notion of ‘spatial stories’. Stories take place, asserts de Certeau. The ‘spatial story’ is a device that allows connections to be made between people and places. Through the act of walking, these connections are continually made and re-made, physically and conceptually over time and through space. Public concerns and private fantasies, past events and future imaginings are brought into the here and now, into a relationship that is both sequential and simultaneous. Walking is a way of at once discovering and creating the city.

"Imagination is the root of all change" / Jane Rendell

James Marriott (PLATFORM): Increasingly we’ve tried to utilize walking as a means by which other people can also embody the critical process. I think a good example is Gog and Magog. Gog and Magog is about trying to explore the nature of a contemporary corporation. What is this thing? What does it do? What is its impact on the world? How are we already inside it? One of the ways in which the work manifests itself is through a day-long event. People arrive here at ten o’clock in the morning. They view a presentation that explores the various impacts of BP and Shell on ecology, democracy, and justice. We also explore the companies’ structures, and point out how the members of the audience are already members of the structure, even though they may not be part of BP and Shell. Then we go out into the city and walk to buildings for three hours. Through that process, they physically get to see how all these different organizations fit together. Through the traffic and the heat on the soles of their feet, they embody the nature of corporate reality, and I think that’s incredibly important.

Carbon Web

"Unravelling the Carbon Web" is a project within PLATFORM's long term initiative, 90% CRUDE. Like all PLATFORM's work it is driven by a commitment to social and ecological justice, and is carried out in an interdisciplinary manner, combining the skills of research and analysis, creative writing and performance, listening and dialogue. For more information about the wide range of other work by PLATFORM please visit the PLATFORM website.

The project works to reduce the environmental and social impacts of oil corporations, to help citizens gain a say in decisions that affect them, and to support the transition to a more sustainable energy economy.

Its aim is that those affected by oil and gas corporations' operations, and civil society as a whole, is democratically empowered to influence, and ultimately transform, those corporations.
Its approach centres on the 'Carbon Web', the complex network of institutions that make up the oil and gas industry, and the role each institution may play in activities that adversely effect people and the environment.

The 'Unravelling the Carbon Web'project began in March 2000, although its roots lie in the Crude Operators conference - a gathering to understand and challenge the oil industry - organised by PLATFORM and Corporate Watch in May 1997.

Museum of the Corporation

The Museum of the Corporation is a proposal for:

* an open space where people can debate one of today's most powerful influences on social and ecological justice in daily life and global politics, the transnational corporation

* a space where people from different sectors and interest-groups, including business, can access new ideas and rigorous information/analysis

* a reflective, critical and cultural space

* a dynamic space where people can meet each other in a spirit of mutual education and urgent ethical debate

* a space for the unexpected, using creative and art techniques to enable new thinking and new conversations

Remember Ken Saro-Wiwa

Remember Saro-Wiwa is a coalition of UK-based organisations and individuals encompassing the arts and literature, human rights and environmental and development issues.

On November 10th 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni colleagues were executed by the Nigerian state for campaigning against the devastation of the Niger Delta by oil companies, especially Shell and Chevron.

John Berger states that “the historic role of capitalism is to destroy history - to sever any link with the past and orientate all effort and imagination to that which is about to occur.”

The oil corporations would like nothing better than to have Ken Saro-Wiwa’s name erased from the collective memory, the debate to “move on”. But, through the Living Memorial, and numerous associated initiatives, the reverse is happening - the powerful message of the Ogoni Nine is now reaching a new generation.

"A Conversation with Platform: The Political is Personal" / Terri Cohn

Platform @ CIVICCentre

Platform @ The Monongahela Conference on Post Industrial Community Development

Platform @ The Ashden Directory

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lize Mogel

Lize Mogel is an interdisciplinary artist who works with the interstices between art and cultural geography, distributing and inserting cartographic projects into public space. Recent work asks viewers to become active producers of their local landscape. She also works with the radio collaborative neuroTransmitter, and is currently an Architecture/Urban Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.

Public Green

Public green space is an important factor in urban life- it is a respite from the concrete and asphalt environment of the city, and functions as a place to gather, relax, play, and experience a bit of nature. The Public Green project creates new meaning for these spaces, illustrating the complex and symbiotic relationship between the development of parkland and the growth of the city.

This mapping of publicly accessible green space in the city and environs is distributed throughout the public transit system, inside city buses and in transit shelters. Cartographic and textual information shows the distribution of green space across LA, locating public parks and giving the viewer an understanding of historical and current practices of acquisition, creation and maintenance of public green space in regards to Los Angeles economics, real estate practices, and history.

Public Green poses questions about ownership of land, and suggests the transfer of property from private to public use. Viewers are asked to rethink their local landscape, and to physically transform their environment. Through tactics of information distribution along existing transportation networks, the viewer becomes an agent of mobility and change. The information in the Public Green posters can be used geographically, to find parks locally or near daily commutes; or as a basis for community advocacy. Maps can be used for wayfinding or political means - this project suggests both functions.

Selected Projects | 1998-2004



Founded in 2001, nT is a radio collaborative utilizing analog communication technologies. Working specifically with radio machinations, neuroTransmitter propels signals through urban membranes and cellular formations.

To complement their fixed and mobile frequency performances, nT creates radio sonic installations, produces music, and converts utilitarian objects into radio transmission and receiving devices. neuroTransmitter has created visual works, performed, and broadcasted live on local bandwiths in public spaces and galleries throughout New York City; Columbus, Ohio; Helsinki, Finland; Aarhus, Denmark; Madrid, Spain; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Public Park: Personal Planning Kit

The Personal Planning Kit for a Public Park provides basic necessities for turning private property into public space. The kit, encased in a handmade oak box, contains signage that can be personalized; and an instruction booklet that describes how easy it is to turn any size piece of land-- from a front lawn to a parking space-- into a public park. The kit is meant to function with the economy of art objects; in that art collectors, who have disposable income to purchase works of art most likely own excess property as well that can become public space. For the gardenlab presentation, an example of the PPK will be on display. I will also make available "Public Park" signage for distribution which visitors to the exhibition can personalize and and use to claim any green spaces across Los Angeles as public parks- traffic medians, vacant lots, or other interstitial or underused green spaces in the city.

Recent Sightings:

Center for Land Use Interpretation
Center for Urban Pedagogy
Journal of Aesthetics and Protest
October Surprise
multi-disciplinary focus discussion
Fieldworks - Art & Geography
Genius Loci Symposium
Critical Cartography and Anarchist Geography

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ava Bromberg

In the Field

We explore the complex social constellations around urban land use issues. We work toward a broader understanding of what it means to creatively generate public spaces and autonomous neighborhood planning. We share ideas and take action inhabiting, transforming and opening up spaces around the world to new possibilities.

Projects / Publications / Field Guides

Belltown Paradise / Making Their Own Plans by Ava Bromberg and Brett Bloom

Urban communities have long tried to defend their neighborhoods from environmental and social blight. This book examines the diverse ways in which artists, environmental activists, and citizens work to revitalize their urban environments.

"Belltown Paradise" investigates grassroots renovation efforts in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, exploring the work of activists there, including their creation of the Belltown P-Patch community garden and conversion of three historic cottages into writers' residences and a community center. The volume also features the first in-depth survey of artist Buster Simpson's work in Belltown.

"Making Their Own Plans" examines preservation projects in Portland, Chicago, Hamburg, and Barcelona. From the Resource Center's work in Chicago to develop 6,000 acres of vacant city land into farms to the transformation of an old hospital into a community center, the book offers fascinating accounts of independent urban activism around the world.

Belltown Paradise and Making Their Own Plans present inspiring chronicles of how concerned citizens affected community change, making these volumes invaluable for activists and policymakers.


Unhoused gathers visual evidence of populations in Atlanta, Chicago, Kyoto, Osaka, and Monterrey (MX), enduring very local variations of a global housing crisis. This evidence is part of our ongoing research for a book on the work of inspiring groups and organizations that bring visibility and innovative approaches to successfully address unhousing issues, pumping new energy into the struggles to articulate and confront complex housing problems.


"Hamburg Action: A Field Guide" by Ava Bromberg and Brett Bloom / The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest

"Alley Walking with Frannie and Chai" / In the Weather

"Driving / Chicago to LA" / Ausgang

Mess Hall / Chicago

The Critical Planning Journal was established in 1993 to serve as a forum for the urban planning community to present current research interests, debate important issues, and share ideas about the field of urban planning. Over the years, the Critical Planning staff has expanded to include doctoral and masters students in the UCLA Department of Urban Planning, as well as a few Urban Planning students at the University of Southern California.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

LA Urban Rangers

L.A.-based geographers, environmental and art historians, artists, curators, architects, and others – who aim, with both wit and a healthy dose of sincerity, to facilitate creative, critical, head-on, oblique, and crisscrossed investigations into our sprawling metropolis and its various ecologies. Fashioned as a mobile and site-specific interpretive force, and appropriating the figure of the stereotypic park service ranger, we offer educational campfire programs and guided hikes throughout Los Angeles.

Emily Scott / Chief Ranger

Emily Scott is an art historian and park ranger/naturalist. In both academia and national parks, her work addresses visual culture and nature, with an emphasis on post-1945 art, media, and architecture that critically engages landscape and/or ecology. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in contemporary art and theory at UCLA, with plans to begin a dissertation this summer on land art and wasteland aesthetics.

Sara Daleiden / Senior Ranger

Sara Daleiden is an artist, curator and administrator who focuses on viewer experience through the creation of installations, exhibition systems and interventions within the city. Previous projects, stemming primarily from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, include Rust Spot, Wearable Sculpture Fashion Show and Travelling Wearables. She currently works as the Senior Programs Coordinator for the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles.

Therese Kelly / Senior Ranger

Therese Kelly is an architect, author, and editor. Her work explores the intersection of our natural and urban environments, conceptions of nature, and public space. She has edited numerous books and articles on architecture and design for ANY Magazine and Princeton Architectural Press, written for several design publications, and serves on the board of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. Therese holds degrees in architecture from Princeton University and UCLA, and is currently practicing architecture in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Price / Senior Ranger

Jennifer Price, a freelance writer and environmental historian, is the author of Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (1999). She has published in the anthologies Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature and The Nature of Nature: New Essays from America's Finest Writers on Nature, and in the L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Times, American Scholar, and New York Times. She has a Ph.D. in history from Yale University, and is currently living on Venice Beach and writing a new book about nature in Los Angeles.

the GardenLAb experiment

"Thoreau Goes to Los Angeles"

How can we write about nature in L.A.? Why have nature writers shunned this megalopolis? Why should L.A. in fact be a mecca for nature writing? Why would an interest in cities save nature writing from being so terribly boring? Ranger Jenny Price explores these questions and more as she surveys a wide range of urban nature stories that this literary genre has entirely ignored. Join her as she describes our connections to nature in L.A. through such topics as mango body whips, murdered chihuahuas, the social geography of L.A.’s air, and the saga of the L.A. River – which is arguably the most important L.A. nature story of all.

"End Landscaping: Los Angeles Freeway Gardens"

Everyday, countless Angelenos whiz along the freeway at many miles per hour without noticing the landscaping at their side. Join Ranger Emily Scott to learn more about who manages these edgy green spaces, which plants cover the more than 8,000 acres of sinewy freeway “gardens” in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, why various flora are chosen for their ornamental value and/or abilities to endure drought, buffer sound, control erosion, resist weeds, and even counterbalance auto emissions. Discover, also, the wonderful world of “transportation art,” intended for maximum community pleasure and minimum driver distraction. Finally, consider how and why these areas – first pitched as ideal picnic stops for leisurely Sunday afternoon excursions – are now almost entirely access controlled, or off-limits to embodied exploration and occupation.

"Los Angeles and the Nature of Time"

How we experience time in Los Angeles is structured by everything from cell-phones, which seek to minimize it, to movies featuring natural disasters in town, which seek to maximize it. Both are examples, however, of living only in the present. Ranger Bill Fox will help us rediscover time across a longer spectrum in Los Angeles – from the La Brea Tar Pits to the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks to the Mt. Wilson Observatory. Along the way we’ll detour into the human neurophysiology of time, how to make lava for Hollywood, and why Los Angeles has the largest collection of faux classical Italian sculpture in its gardens.

"Hunting and Gathering in the Big City"

Often when we think of hunting and gathering, ancient or “traditional” cultures come to mind. In many of America’s greatest cities, however, the urban poor still forage for wild and domestic food simply to meet their daily caloric needs. These resources are not just limited to discarded trash, but include wild and feral urban animals such as birds, cats and dogs, fish, and rodents. In cities like Los Angeles, those without daily food security may also be forced to trespass onto private property in order to collect fruits, nuts, and other edible plants. Join Ranger Pete Alagona as he explores L.A.’s networks for finding, collecting, sharing, and preparing these urban foods. How do these foraging activities change traditional notions of human ecology, hunting and gathering, and ecological resources? And what do these practices – and our reactions to them – say about urban America today?

"Toxic Tourism in Los Angeles"

Ranger Donna Houston explores the toxic history of Los Angeles from the perspective of environmental justice. Participants will learn about the history and politics of environmental justice activism in Los Angeles as well as become acquainted with some important sites of environmental struggle via a virtual toxic tour of the city. Toxic touring is a way of reclaiming landscapes blighted by industrial pollutants and wastes as places of community and cultural memory. Toxic touring involves developing different strategies for ‘walking in the city’ in order to recover histories suppressed through the often violent reorderings of L.A.’s urban and industrial landscape.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Historical Reenactment

Allison Smith / The Muster

The Muster is a public art event in which artist Allison Smith invokes the aesthetic vernacular of the American Civil War battle reenactment as a stage set for a polyphonic marshalling of voices in her artistic and intellectual communities. The Muster takes form in a creative encampment on the Fort Jay marching grounds of Governors Island, in which fifty enlisted participants fashion uniforms, build campsites, and declare their causes publicly to an audience of spectators. Smith creates a literal platform, complete with banners and flags, to identify the creative minds in her midst and to celebrate what they are fighting for. Smith directs but does not script the event, so that its outcome is only revealed at the Muster itself.

Allison Smith, a Brooklyn-based artist, is interested in the notion of “authentic reproductions” – a common if oxymoronic phrase describing contemporary objects or tableaux that conjure historical aesthetics and episodes. In her sculptures and mixed-media installations, Smith investigates the ways in which a simple prop, bridging past and present, can come to signify more than its appearance suggests. She creates colonial handcrafts, Civil War memorabilia, and 19th-century weapons, often arranged to transform the exhibition space into that of a historic home or period room. For the past ten years, Smith has conducted an investigation of the cultural phenomenon of Civil War reenactment, or Living History, founded on the belief that historical events gain meaning and relevance when performed live in an open-air, interactive setting. Smith has appropriated the reenactor’s aesthetic palette to produce sculptural installations that examine the role craft plays in the construction of national identity. Over the summer of 2004, Smith organized a weekend encampment on the Catskills property of Mark Dion and J. Morgan Puett in which artists came together to create their own unique historical event. Emerging from that experience, the Muster on Governors Island is the most complex project she has undertaken thus far, broadening the Civil War metaphor to reflect on current events, and involving potentially hundreds of participants. Smith was born in Manassas, Virginia in 1972. She received a BA in psychology from the New School for Social Research (1995), a BFA from Parsons School of Design (1995), and an MFA from Yale University School of Art (1999). She participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (1999-2000).

"Re-enacting Stonewall, Jackson that is" / Matt Wolf with Allison Smith


RFK in EKY, The Robert F. Kennedy Performance Project, is a series of public conversations and activities centered around the real-time, site-specific intermedia performance that recreated, on September 9th and 10th 2004, Robert Kennedy’s two-day, 200 mile “poverty tour” of southeastern Kentucky in 1968.

This webpage represents our attempt to capture both the essence and detail of the project – the material here reflects the four year development process, the performance itself, the ideas explored in a variety of formats, and the different directions the project is now heading . . . Like the reenactment itself, there are occasional points where the past and the present overlap, compete in some ways – we’ve learned to live with them by recognizing the ways they inform and challenge each other. As a point of reference, the performance is spoken of in the past tense, the project as a whole in the present – it is ongoing, and continues to find new ideas for evolving its exploration . . .

The project provides an opportunity to revisit the essential and still pertinent questions raised in Kennedy’s original visit (2004 being, like 1968, a pivotal election year): on the representation of marginalized populations in the national consciousness; the role of government in maintaining a quality-of-life safety net, and fostering sustainable economic development, educational and vocational advancement; ways to stem the out-migration of rural young people and the loss of natural resources; and the priorities of a government administration engaged in a protracted war. RFK in EKY, like Kennedy and those who created his tour, recognizes these questions are part of an important national dialogue for which Appalachia is only one of many possible settings.

Like the original tour, RFK in EKY focuses attention on the indigenous expertise and alternative visions of Appalachia. The performance re-enacted, with an all-local cast (of hundreds), the most significant events of Kennedy’s 1968 visit in order to hold an historical mirror to present day issues and ideas. The 48 hour performance recreated all aspects of Kennedy’s tour, including two official hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower and Poverty (held at Vortex and Fleming-Neon), roadside visits with individual families, walking tours of small communities and strip mine sites, stops at one-room schoolhouses, and speeches at courthouses and colleges. A series of contextualizing activities took place preceding the recreation, and surrounded the two-day performance itself. They will continue, in new forms, as the project evolves. These events range from the analytical to the deeply personal and use art as the occasion for creating public meeting space in rural communities.

These pages present the events prior to and during the performance: speakers such as Peter Edelman and Loyal Jones address the history and strategies of the “war on poverty” as it played out in central Appalachia, and the legacy of the programs’ spirit and ideas. Head Start workers focus attention on the last intact remnant of the “war on poverty” idea of “maximum feasible participation of the poor” in determining the direction of programming meant to help them. Artists from the project, including Harrell Fletcher, present an exhibition of memorabilia and commemorative artifacts gathered during its four year development process, and artists within the project conduct a public discussion of the integrated arts approach and the many pitfalls that led to the performance.

Initiated and led by the artist John Malpede, RFK in EKY is a project of Appalshop, Inc. Malpede, now in-residence at Appalshop, began developing the notion of recreating Kennedy’s visit during the American Festival Project sponsored Artist and Community Gathering in 2000, and evolved it into its present form during extended visits over the subsequent three years.

John Malpede is a distinguished, genre-bending performance artist and theater director whose solo pieces “Inappropriate Laughing Responses” and “Get” have been performed throughout the US. Over the past three years Malpede has been featured in five video works in Bill Viola’s series, “The Passion,” including “Quintet of the Astonished,” in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. Currently, Malpede is performing a one-hour monologue as Antonin Artaud in director Peter Sellar’s “Artaud/Jordan.” The piece has toured six European cities and is now touring the US.

In 1985 Malpede formed the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD), the first performance group in the nation comprised entirely of homeless and formerly homeless people. LAPD’s current touring project, “Agents and Assets,” originally produced in 2001, recreates a US House of Representatives hearing on the importation of drugs into the country by Nicaraguan Contras with CIA complicity.

The creative process of “Agents and Assets” merges experiential knowledge with contextual information, allowing both performers and audience a deeper understanding of the social and political forces that shape their lives. This model, mixing lived experience and context, is the basic groundwork for RFK in EKY. Local citizens, some of whom saw Kennedy as schoolchildren in 1968, will play national figures; children will play their parents; today’s political and community leaders will play their past counterparts. The construction of memory and commemoration is one context; environmental sacrifice and economic self-determination another; federal policy promises and failures yet another – the project exists to reveal both the imbalances inherent in our society and the extraordinary work and workers attempting to expose and rectify them.

RFK in EKY not only recreates an historic moment, it holds a mirror to it and asks people to join the conversations, exploring their hopes and analyzing what’s true in our relationships to government, community, and each other. Like RFK himself, the project hopes to give people the opportunity and the courage to listen, speak, and act as free citizens in a true democracy.

"RFK in EKY: Maximum Feasible Participation" / Jane Hirshberg

Jeremy Deller / The Battle of Orgreave /17 June 2001 / Orgreave, South Yorkshire

In 1984 the National Union of Mineworkers went on strike. The dispute lasted for over a year and was the most bitterly fought since the general strike of 1926 marking a turning point in the struggle between the government and the trade union movement.

On the 18 June 1984 there occurred at the Orgreave coking plant one of the strike's most violent confrontations, begun in a field near to the plant and culminating in a cavalry charge through the village of Orgreave.

Jeremy Deller's The Battle of Orgreave was a spectacular re-enactment of what happened on that day, orchestrated by Howard Giles, historical re-enactment expert and former director of English Heritage's event programme.

The Battle of Orgreave was filmed under the direction of Mike Figgis for Artangel Media and Channel 4, and was aired on Sunday 20th October 2002.

Dramatic photographic stills from the clashes in 1984 are intercut with footage of the clashes re-enacted in 2001, teasing out the truth behind this bitter struggle.

The English Civil War Part II

Rod Dickenson

The Milgram Reenactment is an authentic reconstruction of one part of Stanley Milgrams Obedience to Authority experiment conducted at Yale University in from 1960 for several years.

The Promised Land / Rod Dickenson’s re-enactment of Jim Jones’s miracle healing

Waco Psychological Warfare Re-enactment

Artist Rod Dickinson will reconstruct the FBI's secret psychological warfare assault on the infamous Branch Davidian religious community in Waco, Texas, at a secret, remote location close to London, on Thursday 16 September.

In 1993, the FBI laid siege to the religious community led by David Koresh for 51 days, intimidating them with a continuous barrage of white noise, rock music and an array of repetitive sounds played at 110 decibels.

Using first-hand testimony from interviews with survivors and academic researchers, Dickinson will recreate some of these original sounds, which included babies crying, circling helicopters, high pitched rabbit screams and dentist drills. The reconstructed audio will be broadcast at 100 decibels at a remote location surrounded by wire fencing and bright floodlights.

The reconstructed audio from the psychological warfare siege will also be streamed over the internet, in real time, for 24 hours a day for over a month.

Artur Żmijewski: Repetition

Artur Żmijewski's 39-minute film Repetition (2005) is a complex and riveting documentary of his reenactment of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment. In place of college students, Żmijewski hired unemployed Polish men to enact the roles of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison environment.

Filmed with hidden cameras, their behavior quickly progresses from play acting to acts of seemingly genuine frustration and anger. Confrontations between prisoners and guards escalate ominously, but just when it seems that Żmijewski's experiment will replicate the traumatic results of the original, things take an unexpected turn in a manner that raises questions about the differences between art and science, and whether either can offer convincing conclusions about human nature.

Greta Pratt

Greta Pratt is the author of two books of photographs, Using History, Steidl, 2005 and In Search of the Corn Queen, National Museum of American Art, 1994. Pratt's work is included in major public and private collections, including The National Museum of American Art; Smithsonian Institution, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and The Minneapolis Institute of Art. Pratt’s photographs have been featured in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, American Art, and Photo District News. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

Nineteen Lincolns / Using History / In Search of the Corn Queen

Ahistoric Occasion / MassMOCA / Opens May 28, 2006

Historians, theorists, philosophers, and everyday folks have described the 1st decade of the 21st century as a period unaware of its own history; a period that has managed to step outside of time itself. Where are we now? How did we get here and where are we going? Have we reached the end of history as proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama or have we entered a new historic period that has changed the rules? In answer to this question, artists from around the world have taken up the charge and begun resituating and analyzing historic events. Whether it is the accuracy of the official story, the impossibility of historic memory today, the recreation of the past into the present, or the obstinate refusal to accept an ahistoric period as acceptable, these artists cull from the landmarks in the global timeline to position the present and give shape to the future.

Artists include: Paul Chan, Jeremy Deller, Peggy Diggs, Felix Gmelin, Kerry James Marshall, Greta Pratt, Dario Robleto, Doris Salcedo, Yinka Shonibare, Allison Smith, Eve Sussman

Jacqueline Donachie / A Walk for Greville Verney

"A Walk for Greville Verney" celebrated the life of the last of the well-known Warwickshire family to live at Compton Verney. The walk was led by a 20-strong Irish pipe band, actors from the Kineton Theatre group, and a team of horses and riders, each representing aspects of his life and passions.


An Arts-Based Exploration of Mao's Long March

La Commune / Paris, 1871 / Peter Watkins

Article: Patricia C. Phillips / Art Journal / Spring, 2003

Article: "Doing It Again" / Iain Aitch / Eyestorm

Saturday, February 04, 2006


In the world of modern electronic music and sound art, Ultra-red distinguish themselves for their intrepid blend of political commitment and innovative sound. Rejecting both self-satisfied formalism and convenient political posturing, Ultra-red have for over ten years pursued a precarious but dynamic exchange between art and political organizing. Collectively, the Los Angeles-based group has produced radio broadcasts, performances, recordings, installations and pubic space occupations (ps/o).

Working within a variety of urban ambiences, Ultra-red have investigated the spaces of needle exchange (Soundtrax, 1992 - 1996), public sex (Second Nature, 1995 - 1998), public housing (Structural Adjustments, 1997 - Present), resistance to global capital (Value System, 1998 - Present), labor (Social Factory, 1997 - 2002) and education (School of Echoes, 2001 - Present). Throughout each of these efforts, Ultra-red have pursued two aesthetic-political objectives: to explore acoustic space as enunciative of social relations and, secondly, to radicalize the conventions of electro-acoustic art.

Founded in 1994 by two AIDS activists, Ultra-red have expanded over the years to include activists and organizers from a variety of social movements both in Los Angeles and abroad. In 2004, on their tenth anniversary, the four members of the group launched a restructuring of Ultra-red into an aesthetic-political organization. The newly reorganized Ultra-red permits a greater diversity of projects and campaigns on a local and international level, with multiple groups and alliances taking up the Ultra-red moniker.

Ultra-red has established partnerships with community-based organizations like the Union de Vecinos in East Los Angeles and, internationally, with Ballymun Women's Resource Centre in Dublin, Ireland and the Germany-based migration and anti-racist network Kanak Attak. In addition to these groups, a number of artists have entered into tactical and provisional alliances with Ultra-red for purposes of specific and on-going cooperation. Some of these artists include Eddie Peel (of Sony Mao and Needle), Elliot Perkins (fka Phonem), Terre Thaemlitz, and others. To offer an outlet for the release of projects to come out of these alliances, in 2004 Ultra-red launched Public Record, a fair-use on-line archive for audio, text, image and video documents.

Since the late 1990s, Ultra-red have featured the following four artist-activists: Elizabeth Blaney (artist, organizer, Union de Vecinos), Pablo Garcia (musician, organizer, Valley Family Technology Project), Dont Rhine (artist, AIDS activist), and Leonardo Vilchis (artist, organizer, Union de Vecinos).

Public Space Occupations

Listening Material

Public Record

Public Record is the internet-based archive of the Ultra-red organization established for the distribution of work by Ultra-red members and allies. The Public Record archive serves as an interface between the organization and its publics. Born in 2004, Ultra-red's tenth year, Public Record expands on the group's mission statement: first, to facilitate cooperation between artists and social movements; second, to occupy the borders between art and organizing; and, third, to radicalize the conventions of electronic music and sound art.

Blok 70

Since the summer of 2003, Transit Migration has investigated the current profile of migration in the former Yugoslavia. The cultural portion of Transit Migration's Yugoslavia project features the audio activist group Ultra-red. Combining field research and cultural praxis, the members of the project team have focused on the various communities that come together in a particular shopping market in Novi Beograd's "Blok 70".

"Time for the Dead to have a Word with the Living: The AIDS Uncanny" / The Journal of Aesthetics & Protest: Issue 4

"Art and the Politics of Public Housing" / Planners Network

Friday, February 03, 2006


Spacing is a magazine about Toronto's public spaces and urban landscape. We cover any and every issue that concerns life in the city's public realm.

Spacing was launched in December 2003. The magazine has quickly become an integral voice in debates and discussions about the joys, obstacles, and politics of Toronto's public spaces. In December 2004, Spacing was nominated Best New Title by Utne magazine's Independent Press Awards. In January 2005, the second issue of Spacing was awarded the Best Single Issue design by Applied Arts magazine. Spacing has also launched a collection of 1-inch buttons that replicate the visual landmarks and tile art of Toronto's subway stations. The success of the series has been called the “civic pride fashion statement of the year” by the National Post, and earned the magazine numerous television, radio, and print features.

The Spacing Wire is designed to act as a hub for news, articles, events, websites, projects, and ideas about public space issues in Toronto and from around the world. We believe that for any of us to fully understand whose space is public space, we must know the current events that help shape our cities, for better or for worse.

The Toronto Public Space Committee is a grassroots non-profit organisation run completely by volunteers.

Founded in 2001, we have quickly become one of the loudest voices representing Toronto's streets, sidewalks, parks and alleyways.

We are dedicated to protecting our shared common spaces from commercial influence and privatisation. While some see the streets as an untapped source of advertising revenue we see protected public spaces as a fundamental pillar of a healthy democracy. If only wealthy advertisers have access to our visual environment, then freedom of speech suffers in our city.

We are citizens first, and consumers second. Public space must reflect this distinction, and should be fully and equally accessible by all who walk through it. Public space is the guarantee of a space for citizens to engage in society and interact with each other without commercial influence.

Through our advocacy projects we affect municipal policy, help shape the debate and create a space for concerned citizens to get involved and participate. Through our community events we lead by example by beautifying the city without a big budget, without sponsors and without logos. Together, we are reclaiming our streets and creating community.

We invite you to join us!

[murmur] is an archival audio project that collects and curates stories set in specific Toronto locations, told by Torontonians themselves. At each of these locations, a [murmur] sign with a telephone number and location code marks where stories are available. By using a mobile phone, users are able to listen to the story of that place while engaging in the physical experience of being there. Some stories suggest that the listener walk around, following a certain path through a place, while others allow a person to wander with both their feet and their gaze.

[murmur] believes interesting things don't just happen at the Rogers Centre and Nathan Phillips Square -- the city is full of stories, and some of them happen in parking lots and bungalows, diners and front lawns. The smallest, greyest or most nondescript building can be transformed by the stories that live in it. Once heard, these stories can change the way people think about that place and the city at large. These are the stories that make up Toronto's identity, but they're kept inside of the heads of the people who live here. [murmur] brings that important archive out onto the streets, for all to hear and experience, and is always looking for new stories to add to it's existing locations.

Geostash is a public art project that uses the city of Toronto as its inspiration and utilises Global Positioning Technology (GPS) and the web as a means to achieve its creative goals. Geostash takes its cues from the practice of Geocaching - a sort of high-tech treasure hunt that was originally conceived in 2000, and has spread worldwide through websites promoting this activity. Each artist will hide a "stash" somewhere in the city and post the GPS co-ordinates of where the stash is hidden on the Geostash website. The stash may contain a set of instructions requesting an in-situ performance, or could contain objects, materials and a manual to create temporary public art. Once the stashes have all been placed in the city, each participating artist will be randomly assigned another artists' stash to find using a GPS receiver. Once found, the artist will transform the contents of the stash into an ephemeral work of art.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Art & Geography

Fieldworks: Art-Geography 2005
Symposium at the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, May 5-6, 2005

The 'field' is a shared and privileged space for both art and science. While geographical information gathered in the field is conventionally recorded and translated into graphic form, artists often engage landscape or the city for raw materials. New technologies and critical frameworks are currently transforming the nature and meaning of the field, the practices that take place there, and the ways both artists and geographers identify, secure and circulate field-founded knowledge. This symposium includes an evening of performance and a day of discussion to bring together practitioners from art, architecture, and geography to present original (field)works and address emerging relations between geographical science and artistic production.

"Geography and the politics of mobility"
Generali Foundation, Vienna, January - April, 2003

GEOGRAPHY AND THE POLITICS OF MOBILITY sets out from the transformative quality of geography in a time of increased mobility in which subjects are no longer tied to one specific location. These "transitory existences" constitute and transform the space that they cross or temporarily occupy due to migration or new working conditions. Human trajectories but also the traffic of signs, goods and visual information form particular cultural, social and virtual landscapes which inscribe themselves materially in the terrain.The resulting locations and non-locations re-articulate in their turn the relationship between social and territorial conditions.

In a directly geographical sense, the exhibition traces the logic of human economic circuitswithin a changed world order: the feminizedteleservice industry in India, illegal refugee boats crossing the Mediterranean, smuggling routes over the Spanish-Moroccan border. Different proposals of geographical practice are manifested both in the way the projects operate as a network, and in their esthetic strategy with regard to a "politics of space." By combining electronic and material landscapes, the art projects address systems both of representation and of navigation. The exhibition thus brings together connective and transgressive artistic practices: on the one hand it takes a critical look at an increasingly consolidating Europe and its borders, while on the other it presents emerging formations of artistic and activist geographies.

The exhibition includes five collective projects conceived by international artists, some of which will be presented here for the first time: Bureau d’études from France, Frontera Sur RRVT from Spain and Switzerland, Makrolab from Slovenia, multiplicity from Italy and Raqs Media Collective from India

Guest curator: Ursula Biemann

Trevor Paglen

Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and experimental geographer working out of the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is working on a dissertation/book about the spatial aspects of military secrecy. His work involves deliberately blurring the lines between social science, contemporary art, and a host of even more obscure disciplines in order to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to interpret the world around us.

His work has shown at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art (2003), U.C. San Diego (2004), the California College of the Arts (2002), and numerous other arts venues, universities, conferences, and public spaces. He is a contributing editor to the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest and develops tactical media projects with the prison-abolitionist group Critical Resistance. Paglen’s writing has been published in Blu Magazine, Art Journal, and will be included in the upcoming collection Spaces of Terror (Routledge, 2006).

Interview: "The Black World of the Military"

Article: "Hitching Stealth with Trevor Paglen"

Article: "Spying on the government: A UC Berkeley geographer maps the secret military bases of the American West – where billions of dollars disappear into creepy clandestine projects"

The Secret Bases

A series of projects that explore and document the "secret" military landscapes that are all around us: from clandestine installations in the remotest regions of the desert, to the massive military infrastructures that are hidden in plain sight.

This project involves limit-telephotography, expeditions, long-term military monitoring, amateur geospatial intelligence, and other strange techniques. The work itself is presented in written, installation, photographic, lecture, and participatory forms.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Center for Urban Pedagogy

CUP makes educational projects about places and how they change.

Our projects bring together art and design professionals - artists, graphic designers, architects, urban planners - with community-based advocates and researchers - organizers, government officials, academics, service-providers and policymakers. These partners work with CUP staff to create projects ranging from high school curricula to educational exhibitions.

Our work grows from a belief that the power of imagination is central to the practice of democracy, and that the work of governing must engage the dreams and visions of citizens. CUP believes in the legibility of the world around us. What can we learn by investigation? By learning how to investigate, we train ourselves to change what we see.

In 1997, CUP launched its first project, a small booklet entitled "A How-To Guidebook for Urban Objects." At that time, CUP was an informal group of people with diverse backgrounds but a shared interest in making interpretive projects about the city. Since then, CUP has grown organically as a vehicle for collaboration. CUP received its 501(c)(3) designation in 2002 and hired its first fulltime staff members in 2005.

CUP has organized or participated in exhibitions at Storefront for Art and Architecture, Anthology Film Archives, Apex Art Curatorial Program, City University of New York Graduate Center, and PS 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York; Mess Hall and the Chicago Architecture Foundation in Chicago; and Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna.

CUP has worked with nonprofits such as Sustainable South Bronx, Place In History, the Municipal Arts Society, the Fifth Avenue Committee, REPOHistory, Temporary Services, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Global Kids, the Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), the Public Housing Residents of the Lower East Side (PHROLES), the Legal Aid Society, the Community Service Society of New York, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, the Fiscal Policy Institute, the Met Council on Housing, the New York City Public Housing Residents Alliance.

CUP has worked with over 700 students since 2001, working in city-run Tier II shelters, City-As-School, the Academy of Urban Planning, Math and Science Upward Bound, the Heritage School, Monroe High School, Parsons the New School School of Design, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Wyckoff Houses, and PS 164.

Exhibition: "Lost futures of Governors Island"

A zany and sobering exploration of the Governors Island that could have been. Damon Rich, CUP’s Creative Director, will present a series of unrealized plans for the 172-acre island, which was used a military installation for over 200 years. The plans date from the turn of the 19th century to the turn of the 20th, and include a luxury housing complex, 2000-foot antenna, homeless shelter, casino, and airport. The lecture will examine the rise and fall of these schemes, and how they have left their mark on the Governors Island of today and tomorrow.

Interview: "Q&A: Civic Boosters: With lively exhibitions and a tongue-in-cheek walking tour, the Center for Urban Pedagogy urges individuals to actively shape their city."

Project: "Code City"

This Code City module examines some of the issues involved in the public administration of the built environment. It focuses on an extreme example of public administration - the 170,000 units of public housing administered by the New York City Housing Authority - and its relationship to racial segregation.

This website will provide a number of educational documents - interactive maps, databases, legal texts, and interpretive essays - to provoke you the viewer to engage issues of how a society should decide on the shape of its environment and the distribution of its amenities and citizens.

Article: "Deciphering the City’s Hidden Code"

Exhibition: "Shadow Cabinets in a Bright Country" curated by Ted Purves

Invites a selection of artist collaboratives to create projects that seek to fill holes left in the social sphere by the retreat of government interest and support.

September 5 - October 5, 2002

Collaboratives: Temporary Services, The Center for Urban Pedagogy, Marksearch, Nuts Society, and It Can Change

Presentation: MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies