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Monthly Archives: March 2009

I’ve always been a mixed medium artist but my first love was the movies. Social Animal is located on the old Warner Bros. Hollywood Studios on Formosa Street just south of Santa Monica Blvd. Built in 1920 and called The Hampton Studios, the studio was purchased by the Mary Pickford Company in 1918 and renamed Pickford-Fairbanks Studios in 1919 following the merger of Hollywood’s “First Couple”. Fairbanks early classics “Robin Hood” (1922) and “The Thief of Bagdad” (1924) were made here. The name above the main gate became United Artists in 1921 although UA did not take ownership until 1928. UA controlled the studio until 1939 when Samuel Goldwyn became a partner and the studio was renamed The Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Goldwyn acquired complete ownership in 1955, after a long and bitter court battle with Mary Pickford. Frances Goldwyn, Sam’s widow, left the studio to the Motion Picture Home, who sold it in turn to Warner Bros. in 1980.

studio lot stage door

Walking around the studio, I’m reminded that many of the far off places that I saw on the screen, places like Frank Loesser’s New York from Guys and Dolls, were actually filmed here, the place that I go to work everyday. Luck IS sometimes a lady and, G-d willing, life sometimes works out nicely nicely.

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Ten Thousand Cents

Aaron Koblin’s collaboration with Takashi Kawashima, Ten Thousand Cents is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase are all $100. The work is presented as an interactive/video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, “crowdsourcing,” “virtual economies,” and digital reproduction.

Did you hear the one about the coder who was stuck in the shower? This joke killed them at ETech. This year I was honored to be invited as a guest speaker to present a sneak peak of Social Animal’s 360 degree interactive music video at the ETech emerging arts showcase, a platform for artists to present their vision of the intersection of art and technology at ETech 2009.

ETech is the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, O’Reilly Media’s flagship “O’Reilly Radar” event. It is a technologist’s R&D lab, workbench, and playground, specifically designed as a conference to expose new ideas and to learn from the people behind them. ETech is the only place for first access to the innovations and disruptions that are changing the way we live and do business – access people need to stay ahead of the curve in their respective workplaces. This year’s theme at ETech focused on how the way we live is changing — through policy, technology and ideas.

ETech is better experienced than described but I was pleased to be able to spend time with other artists who employ a technology approach like Aaron Koblin, who talked about making art with lasers (I drove up with said laser in our backseat), Alex Bisceglie and his partner in innovation Nick Spears, with whom I’ve been cooking up a collaboration involving video to be displayed in his wonderful spherical display, The Orb, and the guys from Uncommon Projects. Also really enjoyed talking with Nick Bilton from New York Times R&D, who convinced me that my quaint love of paper may not influence the company’s delivery method moving forward.

Jason Trucco at ETech 2009