Ok, I finally get #000000book

It took a while. A little over a week I guess. However, it finally clicked — FAT Labs’ latest project #000000book is starting to make sense to me in terms of how big it could be.

Part of the problem may have been just the early overview of the project that circulated the blogs: #000000book is an open repository for sharing and archiving motion captured graffiti tags. Tags are saved as digital text files known as GML (Graffiti Markup Language), which can be captured through freely available software such as Graffiti Analyisis (marker), DustTag (iPhone), EyeWriter (eye movement) and Laser Tag (laser). Graffiti writers are invited to capture and share their own tags, and computer programmers are invited to create new applications and visualizations of the resulting data.

Robotagger: GML + ABB4400 from Golan Levin on Vimeo.

It just seemed to me, initially, that there would be this collection of tags that had been sort of digitized through an open platform, but I kind of thought, so what? But, I knew that it had to be kind of groundbreaking. Most of the projects that involve this mix of technology and graffiti that I’ve seen come out of GRL or FAT have been very, very cool, in the way that they think about mixing tactics and tools.

#000000book is no exception, as you can see above, Golan Levin hooked up a robotic arm to read from the GML database to reproduce a tag. We are in the future.

[via today and tomorrow]

Snow, LEDs, Flights, Fill-in-the-blanks, Proofs, and Postcards

Meeting twice in a week is awesome. I can’t say that enough. So much time makes us way more productive and makes it a lot easier to be OK with not having everyone there all the time.

First on the list, doing some really, really quick tests of the potential of embedding LEDs in ice or snow. We know, it’ll probably kill the battery and potentially the LEDs themselves, but we have some ideas that might make that worthwhile.

Continue reading “Snow, LEDs, Flights, Fill-in-the-blanks, Proofs, and Postcards”

Save the City: Listen to the City

The details: Sunday, January 24, 2010 (8pm) at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave W, Windsor)

As part of the Broken City Lab: Save the City project, Broken City Lab researchers will facilitate a community workshop to brainstorm, uncover, and share personal histories of Windsor, inviting a range of community members to participate in the process. The workshop will begin with a discussion about the importance in personal histories alongside official histories of a city, and then lead to the opportunity for community participants to share their own stories about Windsor.

Throughout this part of workshop, we are going to help you to record one another’s stories on portable MP3 audio recorders and encourage the retelling of stories throughout the workshop. After the workshop, the recorded audio stories will be uploaded to the Broken City Lab website and offered for streaming and downloading. As well, a copy of the edited collection of the stories will be donated to the Windsor Archives.

We think that the best way to start understanding this city is to hear the stories from the people who live here.

With that in mind, we’re going to ask you two questions about the city:

What brought you here? and Why are you still here?

See you on the 24th!!!!

Broken City Lab: Save the City is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

Save the City: an overview

The Save the City project aims to create a concentrated series of positive community-based activities facilitated by Broken City Lab in collaboration with community members. The project will address a number of issues and ideas specific to Windsor, Ontario through various collaborative community-based activities. As Windsor is situated in precarious economic, cultural, and geographic positions, the Save the City project will serve as a much needed injection of positive collaboration, engagement, and dialogue with the city itself and its diverse communities.

The objectives of the Save the City project are to prompt and initiate creative solutions for social change within Windsor through direct connections between emerging artists and community members. Save the City will focus on the process of creative and artistic practice extending into the community and the everyday, selecting and inviting a range of collaborators and participants from within the many communities of the City of Windsor.

The Save the City project will bring together emerging artists and city residents to imagine and prompt creative social engagements and civic activation. Within the project’s series of five activities, the content of each activity will be based on a creative interaction with a part of Windsor’s current and historical social, economic, and regional culture.

Below is the schedule of events (with some details still to be announced):

January 24, 2010 – Listen to the City : Community storytelling workshop to brainstorm, uncover, and share your personal histories of Windsor  (Phog Lounge, 157 University Ave W, 8PM)

February 28, 2010 – Sites of Apology / Sites of Hope : Social Mapping event of the places we need to apologize for and the place we need to care about (362 California Ave, 1PM)

March – Sing to the Streets : A celebratory parade of French history, singing French Folk songs to French Streets (meet at Pelissier and University)

April – Things Worth Saving : Help us to document the thousands of things worth saving in this city, we’ll turn them into free postcards to send out to other cities (362 California Ave)

May – How to Save a City : Community think tank / artist talk / open forum, asking how in the world do you save a place like Windsor (TBA)

Broken City Lab: Save the City is generously supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

How We Spend Friday Nights: Planning, Writing, and Mapping

Meeting twice in a week can make such a difference in terms of how much we can get done. We’re still in the thick of planning for the first event of Save the City. We met earlier last week to go over the basics of finalizing our adjusted budget, put together the first round of promo, and just to sort of regroup after the holidays.

It also really helped to keep us from losing track of where we were, which seemed to be the case when we went a week (or sometimes more) between meetings. Certainly, it’s a bit more intensive, but it gave time and brain space to start talking about some larger ideas (about projects and our practice in general), and really helps to keep multi-tasking things moving.

It might seem like a lot of sitting around and talking and writing, but this is how we get things done!!!

Continue reading “How We Spend Friday Nights: Planning, Writing, and Mapping”

Getting Things to Talk: Arduino + LCDs

I spent the better part of the day on Saturday doing some more basic research into connecting an Arduino and LCD for this ongoing project. For the most part, it’s pretty basic and following the wiring diagrams and tutorials online is fine.

I ran into a problem with getting text on two lines, which I’ll detail below. Next on the to do list is to order a different LCD, maybe a 4×20 display and maybe something even smaller and then do some work on the text processing part of this whole thing.

Overall, it was a good start and I’m anxious for later this week when I’ll have a block of time to continue with the next steps in this early research.

Continue reading “Getting Things to Talk: Arduino + LCDs”

For Windsor, Realistic Expectations and Imaginative Solutions

Read Tom Lucier’s recent blog post. He spells out nearly everything he does in this city, for free. He draws on examples of other talented people in this city who continue to try to stick it out for who knows what reasons. He makes a compelling case for having to give up some of these things he does as labours of love.

It was upsetting and it was terrifying.

That there remains any talented creative people in this city (and I suppose I’m being slightly narrow in my definition, thinking of artists, musicians, actors, writers) is kind of incredible. As much as I believe in this city, I really don’t believe we are giving enough people enough reasons to stay.

So, I have to suggest some ridiculous and likely impossible ways to get people to stay, because that’s what we do — we look at problems, invent solutions, and then sometimes we even try to act on those solutions.

We need to establish a social innovation fund. This will supply micro-grants (up to $2500) for people who want to do something creative and amazing here in Windsor.

We need to identify and make accessible studio spaces that can be shared, are safe, up to code, and very reasonably priced. This will create a place for people to work out of should we be lucky enough to entice them to stay.

We need to figure out how to convince the huge number of people who graduate and leave every year to stay just a little while longer. This will give us ample opportunity to get those talented people invested enough in this place to want to stay.

We need to figure out how to convince more people to pay more money to retain the talent we have in this city, or we probably need to figure out how to find value in what we already do. This will provide a base level of income to keep people like Tom writing and reporting instead of having to do something like take up a paper route.

We need to put Windsor on the map, the world map, as a place in which to do more than just pass through. This will enable all of the above things to happen, and happen sooner rather than later.

We needed to do this yesterday. Realistically though, it’s already too late.

Phone Calls and Budgets – Tuesday Morning Productivity Extravaganza

Tuesday felt like the first day back from the holidays should. We were tired, well Josh and I were tired, we were motivated and anxious to get to work, and we got a lot done. It was a very great way to start the new year!

We spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon planning for our upcoming project, Save the City, which will involve a number of community events over the coming months, and the details of which we’ll be announcing soon.

Basically, we’re hoping to start a larger conversation with the City of Windsor, trying to determine all the details that make this place what it is, while also imaging new ways to document it at this moment in time. It’s going to require the participation of as many people as we can get, and it’s going to be the start of something even bigger. Needless to say, we are excited!!!

Continue reading “Phone Calls and Budgets – Tuesday Morning Productivity Extravaganza”

Love in a Cemetery: Art as Examination

If you haven’t already signed up for the Art&Education email list, do it now. Also, make sure you tick off at least the E-Flux list too. It’s nearly always a joy to get these in my inbox, always making me wish I had more time to read, to apply, to attend these exhibitions and schools and conferences that I see advertised on these lists.

Love in a Cemetery is just the most recent interesting thing to come from these lists, with the title taken from a quote by Allan Kaprow that goes like this, “Life in a museum is like making love in a cemetery.” With L.A.-based visual artist Andrea Bowers and curator Robert Sain, students from the Otis College of Art and Design and community organizations from throughout L.A. are participating in this exploration of aesthetics, pedagogy, and cultural politics.

Ok, sounds pretty good, definitely something that we’d generally be interested in, but here’s the really good part…

The project features a unique take on art as examination, as investigation into the future of cultural organizations, including art schools and community-based activist groups in the same learning circle as the better known museums of L.A.


Sain considers the opportunity and obligation for arts organizations to be socially responsible and responsive in an age of diminished resources and uncertainty.

By the way, this is all part of the new residency model that 18th Street is attempting to generate, with this year’s cycle called Status Report: The Creative Economy.

18th Street itself has recently shifted from running a standard gallery program to an entirely different model for using the space — making it active by curating artists involved in process-based work continually. It’s still art, it’s still curated art, but it’s committing to thinking about what art can do or what art can be today.

It’s exciting to read this stuff. You should be excited. It’s exciting because this is part of what we try to do and it’s nice to know that other people like doing this as well.

[via Art&Education]

A Collection of Art Collectives

Though not necessarily an exhaustive list, but definitely worth your perusal and bookmarking, Shawn Moore over at Socialart.com has created a “loose history of art collectives.”

It’s a pretty quick read and helpful to contextualize what we do here at Broken City Lab, as we locate ourselves as a part of this lineage. I’m always wanting to spend more time thinking about the context in which we place ourselves … we’ve had the opportunity to do this in small bursts on a number of occasions (one of my favourites being our trek to New York back in September), but I also think this is where the talk around generating some kind of larger text (dare I say, self-published book) keeps hanging around in the back of my mind.

Ultimately for the sake of thinking through the larger discussion that we continually have around our practice and to counter the limits that this blog format seems to present, I’d love to say that we’ll write a book this year, but don’t hold us to that.

[image of the architecture collective, Ant Farm’s Media Burn from Make]