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The Change in San Francisco is Good, So Just Accept It and Other Fables

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I usually take my sweet time to write, but today I’m writing a fairly hasty response to an article I just read online by Gary Kamiya for San Francisco Magazine/Modern Luxury: San Francisco is Dead. Long Live San Francisco. Gary is a longtime resident of the city and while he’s both a former tenant and landlord, and feels strongly about the current plight faced by the fading middle class, the poor, the disabled, artists, activists, mentors and anyone else who can’t afford $3,000/month studio apartment. He doesn’t see the argument as black and white and writes intelligently about the many issues at play here now, and feels very strongly about the city’s ethnic diversity and maverick progressive tradition. He even wrote a book about it (Cool Gray City of Love.)

As do I, Gary does not approach the argument monolithically, which isn’t realistic and hardly useful in the end, I agree. Yes things have heated up to an extreme; it’s easy these days for politicians, activists and corporations to all engage in street theatre designed to attract ultimate media attention. And with a few proud exceptions, it’s hard to rely on the media to provide you with a sensible examination of all the issues. Kamiya’s article is thought provoking, well written, and attempts to suggest that the current “cultural, political and class war that has erupted in San Francisco – call it The Change – strikes me as wrongheaded to the point of surreality.” He argues that more of that surreality comes from the left, that there is no enemy and that there is confusion in making the argument about hi-tech companies and employees, new construction and city policies when the reality is about capitalism, pure and simple.

For the record I was part of the dot-com boom, an employee of high tech companies that collapsed when the first tech bubble collapsed in 2001 and was laid off twice. I became unemployed, then disabled, then broke. The circumstances then were not nearly this extreme, but still, many residents didn’t appreciate the new tech workers and their high salaries. That lack of appreciation was palpable and I didn’t like it. Today I rely on Social Security and am semi-retired, a transformed struggling artist and writer trying to survive and feeling very blessed to still be living in the city in my tiny and too expensive rent-controlled studio apartment. So like, Gary, I can see and relate to both sides too. Certain aspects of “The Change,” are about undeniable economic forces that are at play and may not be able to be stopped. And I agree it’s wrong to blankly blame or attack anyone, in this case tech workers, for being the sole cause of the problem. But I think that’s where I stop agreeing with him.

I don’t agree that that city elected officials can’t do anything to navigate and regulate this issue. To say only that “City Hall is in the business of stoking new business, welcoming new people and attracting new capital.” While Kamiya is also right to have us remember what an economic slump the city was in just a few years ago, and that we should appreciate the influx of new business and investment, I think that City Hall is in, or should be in, the business of a lot more than that. City Hall also enacts laws to protect its residents, to control development and to preserve culture here. While most cities do take the “Chamber of Commerce” approach to welcoming any business or investment at almost any cost, this is San Francisco, and the writer says he knows that.

I don’t think anyone knows at this point how all of this will play out. The city has enacted an affordable housing plan to build 30,000 new homes in a few years – we need more like 100,000 and that seems unlikely. As it has always been, city activism has it’s place, as do “we” artists, writers, activists, mentors, middle-class or low-income residents. As do many residents who grew up here and have been here longer than I, I agree that not only is city preservation important, and so is sound planning and development, sufficient affordable housing.  San Francisco should continue to be a supporter and voice for diversity, the disenfranchised,  low and middle income residents. I don’t want to see more artists forced out of the city. Including me. Now I’m going to continue to think about it all, and write about it some more.

Mark Gould

 

 

Mark Gould is an artist, writer and editor following trends in art, culture, technology and digital media.

Memes As Art: Media Installation Artist Dave Greber

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by Mark Gould,
Editor – Photosynthesis Media Arts and Theory Journal (republished from my other blog)

For a while now, I’ve wanted to write and introduce you to the work of media installation artist Dave Greber, part of the New Orleans based artist collective The Front. David belongs to a group of video artists, experimental cinema producers, writers and other artists who are exploring popular culture and it’s media conduit, exposing the often subliminal propaganda-style messages we are all confronted by every day, and in doing so invites all of us to examine media memes and the roles they play in social communications.

More than 30 years ago, long before the concept of an internet meme became so popular and commonplace, media theorists and activists were studying the cultural effects of a meme, most usually defined as “an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture,” often passed along on a personal, family or neighborhood level but on a grander scale through the mass media, including television and the internet.

adbusters.org

Adbusters and many other similarly motivated groups have long used the concept of “culture jamming” to both explore and reveal how commercial, corporate, government and other media channels transmit messages through means of mass communications networks that operate on any number of different levels and in dong so, help deconstruct media messages. Neither media messages or internet memes are inherently subversive or deceptive, but the fact that they can be and often are have led to the comparing of these messages to similar processes in what is more narrowly considered to be usually dramatic, commercial or political “propaganda.” But more broadly defined, propaganda is the spreading of ideas, information to further a cause and/or influence public opinion or perception in many ways, through many channels.

These ideas have been explored by media studies scholars, activists and artists (“artivists”) across the cultural spectrum for a long time. What media artists such as Greber employ are devices studied in the field of semiotics, a general philosophical theory of signs, symbols and cultural codes that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, and semantics. From the Merriam Webster Dictionary (online)

Semiotics – Study of signs and sign-using behaviour, especially in language. In the late 19th and early 20th century the work of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce led to the emergence of semiotics as a method for examining phenomena in different fields, including aesthetics, anthropology, communications, psychology, and semantics. Interest in the structure behind the use of particular signs links semiotics with the methods of structuralism.

Having recently seen some of Dave Greber’s work on Vimeo, I think the inspiration for much of his work takes place as part of this exploration into, as he says, “the constant attack on our biological and cultural environments by commercial forces.”

I have been researching and exposing tactics of corporate television advertising that are, for the most part, culturally degenerative memes overlooked by the general public. I create a skeleton commercial built from the tone, cadence, verbal and graphic illusions that comprise a corporate propaganda campaign. I then fill the shell with my own agenda, which is to reveal that the form itself is psychologically manipulative. I infuse them with my own contemporary style and present them as a seamless loop, which translates them from a parasitic corporate language to one of viewer empowerment.

And along with the artistic and cultural exploration inherent in his work, Dave Greber also combines a very healthy sense of humor. He says, “I have a great time making and showing these. They make me laugh and they are intended to make the viewer laugh when they have a realization of their own.” I hope you will enjoy them too, while you’re also “getting the message.”

Dave Greber’s website
Dave Greber on Vimeo

Primer (2010)
a video installation
by Dave Greber, TV Boxes. Roel Miranda
Starring
Camilla Bergin, Andy Cook, Tessa Corthell, Stephen Kennedy, Roel Miranda, JJ Smith, Robert Ries, Jen DeGregorio, Valorie Polmer, Lea Downing, Alden Eagle, Katie Gelfand, Matthew Holdren, Brandon Meginley, Phil Rached
Asst. Director, Katie Gelfand
Camera , Dave Greber, Phil Rached
Music: Peter Leonard, Kevin MacLeod

The EFF Guide to San Diego Comic-Con

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The EFF Guide to San Diego Comic-Con (via EFF)

With the arrival of summer at EFF, you can hear the excitement in the stuffing of luggage and locking of office doors as our team prepares for some of the most important conventions in the world. Black Hat starts on July 27, with DEF CON immediately…

Continue reading “The EFF Guide to San Diego Comic-Con” »

VIDEO: World’s Largest Light Sculpture on San Francisco Bay Bridge

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via artinfo.com

(note: the lighting is tonight! March 5th – at 8:30pm, more information at thebaylights.org

(BLOUIN ARTINFO:) After more than 75 years in the shadow of its glamorous cousin, San Francisco’s “other” bridge is getting a chance to shine. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been turned into the latest — and by far the biggest — backdrop for New York artist Leo Villareal, who has individually programmed 25,000 white lights spaced a foot apart on 300 of the span’s vertical cables to create what is being billed as the world’s largest illuminated sculpture.

 

Silent Winter at the Castro Theatre, Speak Your Peace at SOMARTS

Silent Winter at The Castro Theatre

Silent Winter at the Castro Theatre

San Francisco Silent Film Festival - Silent WinterThe San Francisco Silent Film Festival will exhibit five films on Saturday, February 16th as part of its Silent Winter program beginning at 10:30 opening and the screening of Snow White with musical accompaniment Donald Sosin on grand piano. According to the Silent Film Festival promotional material this film was Walt Disney’s original inspiration and is part of The Walt Disney Family Museum’s celebration of Disney’s Snow White. Other films are a selection of Buster Keaton shorts, The Thief of Baghdad, My Best Girl and Faust. Visit the festival site for more information about all of the films and find ticket information.

Venue

Castro Theatre

429 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114 Directions
(415) 621-6120
www.castrotheatre.com

Speak Your Peace Exhibition and Opening Reception at SOMArts

Bay area painters, along with digital, video and installation artists will be brought together through this exhibiton to explore intercultural communication, social justice and propose new iconographies for peace through visual art at SOMArts in San Francisco. Included works by more than 20 artists and organizations to present cycles of destruction and reconstruction through Japanese-American symbols of identity, draw upon traditional and symbolic Persian and Iranian cultural iconographies, debate the value of the prison-industrial complex in the United States and Cuba, reinterpret historic narratives relating to Salvadorian military histories, expose stories of radical, personal self-expression in the face of persecution through Persian-influenced graffiti installations and discuss the manifold ways popular media informs the way we envision and discuss peace.

 

What: Speak Your Peace Opening Reception

Where: SOMArts Cultural Center

934 Brannan St. (between 8th and 9th) San Francisco, CA

When: Friday, January 4th, 2013, 6-9 pm

How Much: Free admission

 

 

 

 

Art, Culture, Media and Technology Notes: December 14th, 2012

news and ideas from writers around the San Francisco Bay Area this week, curated and edited by Mark Gould

Republished to the new good.is platform from YouTube by Thrash Lab: Video: (Empty America) What San Francisco Would Look Like Without Humans. This is both a very beautiful and a kind of creepy, the good kind of creepy, video (as it is intended) … in the sense that it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up; Imagine the world with no people, that’s what Thrash Lab does to beautiful effect using Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere as their tool set – these skilled digital artisans  deleted every human and moving car from all the sequences. This short, the first of a series called Empty America, shows every landmark from the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street to Ghirardelli Square to the Bay Bridge, ‘wiped empty of tourists and traffic.

It’s very worth your while taking a look at Thrash Lab’s growing body of work on YouTube where they are accumulating sizable views and apparently, loyal viewers. Links to their web presence elsewhere are on that page. From what I’ve seen so far, quite the talented young group of creatives, hashtag #dreambigger

From Golden Gate Xpress: SF State artist forges storytelling craft
by Sean Reichhold

aprilcRather than simply picking one medium to master, April Martin Chartrand has gone so far as to completely create her own art form altogether.

Her art form called  ”fiberalchemy,” is her attempt to find the most personal and accurate way of expressing herself. She uses extreme heat or cold to manipulate the texture of painted fabrics to create hardened, colorful sculptures. Chartrand has been using this technique to make anything from earrings and necklaces to hand fans and wall pieces.

Her journey however, began decades ago with a simple sewing machine. (full story ->)

East Bay Express: Noise Pop 2013 Lineup Announced: Toro Y Moi, Amon Tobin, Rogue Wave, and More

by Whitney Phaneuf

2013noisepop-stackedlogo-lores-130x151Noise Pop is the music festival for people who hate music festivals, i.e. the all-day, drag-out, beer-guzzling, bro-fest that many of the weekend-long music festivals have become. Noise Pop 2013 will take place over six days, Tuesday, Feb. 26 through Sunday, March 3, 2013, and today organizers announced an initial lineup that includes Berkeley resident Toro Y Moi, San Francisco’s Rogue Wave, and experimental DJ extraordinaire Amon Tobin.
(full story ->)


 

KQED Pressrom: KQED’s QUEST Science Series Expands Nationally with $2.5 Million National Science Foundation Grant

Grant will support a six-station public media science reporting collaborative

Contact: Sevda Eris, 415-553-2835, seris@kqed.org

questSan Francisco, CA  — KQED, public media serving Northern California, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a two-year collaborative multimedia science reporting initiative, QUEST Beyond Local. The grant will support KQED and five other public media organizations in creating content under the theme of “Science of Sustainability” on television, radio and the Web, along with educational assets and community outreach. QUEST Beyond Local is scheduled to launch in January.

“We are pleased to see how QUEST, with its history of being organizationally and technologically innovative, is expanding its science reporting model,” said Valentine Kass, acting deputy division director in NSF’s Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. “QUEST Beyond Local builds new capacity in local and national media channels to address current science and environmental issues with local authority and national relevance.” (full story ->)

 

 

 

Art and Culture Notes From The City: Saturday November 17th, 2012

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The Louvre will share art with San Francisco museums in new pact

via San Jose Mercury News

A five-year agreement between the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and France’s famed Musée du Louvre could bring priceless works of art to the Bay Area.

Museum officials said the pact will allow for an exchange of antiquities, paintings, sculptures and other objects between the institutions. The Fine Arts Museums operate the Palace of the Legion of Honor and de Young Museum in San Francisco.

“The accord will not only bring forth new scholarship through the collaboration of our colleagues, but it will also give our visitors the opportunity to see great works of art from both museums in ways that would otherwise not be possible,” said Richard Benefield, Fine Arts Museums’ deputy director, in a statement.

The agreement includes exhibitions, art conservation projects and public education programs. (full story at mercurynews.com – Contra Costa Times ->)

Johansson Projects presents SHEBAM! POW! BLOP! WIZZ! featuring work by Rachel Kaye

 

Artist Rachel Kaye has an upcoming show at Johannson Projects in Oakland beginning November 29th with a reception on December 1st from 3-5pm. Kaye’s textile playgrounds channel the eternally dramatic love affair between art and fashion. Ripped from fashion magazines today’s top trends melt into mazes of color and pattern, pure visual stimulation devoid of opinion or moral stance. As if conducting an operation, Kaye deconstructs the visual fabric of her physical fabrics, letting the symbiosis of art and fashion exist on the same picture plane. Eventually any trace of the textiles’ former life as a clothing object is forgotten as the patterns invite comparisons to graffiti, the internet, hieroglyphics and even technicolor cartography.

 

Rachel Kaye
SHEBAM! POW! BLOP! WIZZ!
Show Runs November 29 – January 12
Reception: Saturday, December 1, 3-5pm
Johansson Projects
2300 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, California 94612

 

SFMOMA: Six Lines of Flight

Shifting Geographies in Contemporary Art

Source: http://www.sfmoma.org/exhib_events/exhibitions/446#ixzz2CWEqRhpK

September 15 December 31, 2012

This international group exhibition convenes artists from six cities around the globe that have become burgeoning artistic centers: Beirut, Lebanon; Cali, Colombia; Cluj, Romania; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; San Francisco, United States; and Tangier, Morocco. All of these places have active art communities that extend beyond their own regions to become international places of exchange. The exhibition showcases the work of artists who have developed institutions, collectives, or associations that have had a major impact on their respective communities; the contributing artists include Yto Barrada, Tiffany Chung, Wilson Diaz, Futurefarmers, Adrian Ghenie, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Helena Producciones, Lamia Joreige, Dinh Q. Lê, Victor Man, Oscar Muñoz, Ciprian Muresan, Luis Ospina and Carlos Mayolo, The Propeller Group, Graziella and Jalal Toufic, and Akram Zaatari. In bringing together work by artists whose efforts have anchored each city’s cultural scene, this exhibition illuminates the dynamic, global, interconnected spirit of 21st-century art.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

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