Recent Projects

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Terminal Air is a project that explores complex interconnections between government agencies and private contractors involved with the United States Central Intelligence Agency's extraordinary rendition program. Since the mid-90’s, the CIA has operated the extraordinary rendition program, in which suspected terrorists captured in Western nations are transported to secret locations for torture and interrogation. A thoroughly modern enterprise, the extraordinary rendition program is largely carried out using leased equipment and private contractors. These private charter planes often use civilian airports for refueling, making their movements subject to public record and visible to anyone who knows which tail numbers to look for. However, while these missions are carried out under the guise of protecting the American people, the nature of the program has thus far remained out of reach to both American and International law. With only the knowledge of what these planes have been used for in the past, human rights activists are left to view their movements as a vast “black box” and can only speculate whether any specific plane is currently carrying human cargo en-route to being tortured in a so-called CIA “dark prison”.

Terminal Air was developed through a partnership between Trevor Paglen and the Institute for Applied Autonomy. Support has been provided by Rhizome, Kurator.org and the Plymouth Arts Center.

 

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The 13th Screen is an installation of community-shot video, orginal shape note songs and ephemera from the Route of Progress tour, part of the community art, video, and music project The Subliminal History of New York State.  This past June and July, The Route of Progress Tour traveled to six towns and cities along the Erie Canal, stopping in the various locations for up to a week each: Troy, Rome, Palmyra, Lockport, Lily Dale, and Schenectady.  At each place, the artists held public singing and video workshops, created a series of location-based shape note songs, and filmed the community shot video The 13th Screen.

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This video installation is based on three photo collections of street images from Seoul and Tehran and New York City, originally initited as a Flickr group. Urban particle supercollider links these cities (and their local participants) through street images: Seoul, Tehran, and New York City are composed out of various street objects from their neighborhoods -ranging from torn newspaper fragments to fast-food stands- resulting in a catalogue of images repleat with personal and cultural significance.

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Whereas mysticism and religion describe the world in terms of the interaction of opposites, Black and White interprets information, the text and numbers flowing through a computer network, as a primal dance of zeroes and ones - opposing forces.  Black and White is an "un-visualization" that translates the lowest level data, a stream of zeroes and ones, into a drawing using a black line and a white line.  The occurrences of zero and one in the data push the black and white lines in opposite directions, while the lines also attract toward their mutual center.  The liens circle on another, drawing out the information quite precisely yet a a form that cannot possibly convey meaning as we know it.  Black and White is about dissolving information.  It points to the inherently indescribable experience that lies just outside the reach of our language.

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In fall of 2002, RSG gathered 500 printed pages (1 ream) of data from MTAA using the Carnivore client installed at the Eyebeam’s studios. Each 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper was then encrypted by tearing each sheet of paper in half and then sealing the two stacks within a plexi glass display. This lo-fi data encryption attempts to fuse the minimal aesthetics of Gordon Matta-Clark’s cut paper stacks from the 70’s with Patriot Act surveillance of the early 00’s. 

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JJ is an autonomous software agent who displays facial expressions appropriate to the emotional content of the words that are presented to him. Implemented as a Carnivore Client, JJ literally "puts a face" on the information transmitted through his host network, in order to provide a data visualization of the network's "emotional content." JJ operates according to a mapping established between two well-known psychological databases: (A) Ekman and Friesen's set of "universal facial expressions" — the set of face photographs which have been shown to embody basic cross-cultural human emotions (namely: anger, fear, surprise, disgust, sadness and pleasure) — and (B) the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) dictionary by Pennebaker, Francis, & Booth, which categorizes the "emotional associations" of several thousand common English words, and provides an efficient and effective method for evaluating the various affective components present in verbal and written speech samples.

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PoliceState is a Carnivore client that attempts to reverse the surveillance role of law enforcement into a subservient one for the data being gathered. The client consists of a fleet of 20 radio controlled police vehicles that are all simultaneously controlled by data coming into the main client. The client looks for packet information relating to domestic US terrorism. Once found, the text is then assigned to an active police radio code, translated to its binary equivalent, and sent to the array of police cars as a movement sequence. In effect, the data being “snooped” by the authorities is the same data used to control the police vehicles. Thus the police become puppets of their own surveillance. This signifies a reversal of the control of information appropriated by police by using the same information to control them.

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com_muni_port is a portable radio broadcast unit created for short range pedestrian broadcasting. com_muni_port models itself after historical military, scientific, and media-related mobile communication devices. Yet, to distinguish it from its predecessors, com_muni_port activates the local, and functions as a tool for information dissemination and public participation.

com_muni_port is a self-contained backpack transmitter unit used for broadcasting ‘on the fly’. While itinerant, its transmission range is determined and limited by the plateaus and canyons of urban space - its dispatch is an invisible membrane of suspended audio whose radius moves with the user.

com_muni_port consists of an FM transmitter, CD player, microphone, headphones and multi-channel mixer, all powered by a battery pack. Its portability renders its use within political rallies and marches, by mapping audio frequency within a city, and spontaneous interviewing and broadcasting. com_muni_port has myriad communicatory and interventionary functions, all in one unit.

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In March 2007 MediaShed were invited to the Manchester Arndale Shopping Centre as part of the Futuresonic Festival to make a film combining free-media with free-running. Parkour or free-running involves fluid uninterrupted movement adapting motion to obstacles in the environment. Like free-media, free-running makes use of and re-enrgises the infrastructure of the city. Free-media film adapts environmental and discarded hardware to make filmmaking accessible to all.

Working with Southend based professional parkour breakin' crew Methods of Movement a choreographed performance was filmed in the shopping centre over three consecutive nights. The film was shot using only the existing in-house CCTV network of 160 cameras operated from the central control room, with a soundtrack created entirely from the foundsounds and noises recorded during the performance.

The finished film was screened at the Manchester Arndale (10th - 20th May) on the infrastructure plasmas, in an exhibition pod and inside eleven stores as part of a ten day exhibition entitled Art for Shopping Centres. The project represents the first official UK implementation of Gearbox: the free-media video toolkit developed by MediaShed with the Eyebeam Studios in New York, as part of Eyebeam's 2006/07 commissions program.

 

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Working with the philosophy and technology; hardware, wetware, and software, of avatar and human-organic distress and their interrelationships. As an example, the Buddhist four noble truths/processes appear in Second Life - where pain physically cannot occur, but neither can its cessation; where the Way may be stated or inscribed, but where the Way cannot be grasped or ungrasped: 
http://www.alansondheim.org/pain.mp4

This example is through speech transformed into text; usual texture-mapping, more difficult and discomforting examples may be created. I want to work all of this through choreography, live performance, issues of mimesis. I'm most interested in the retardation of the virtual - slowed up and obdurate, abject and messy, troublesome - and thinking through the politics of this, such a collapse, and such an opportunity