Inspiration in the Paleolithic Room at the Natural History Museum

Museums are a great way to get inspired and at the Museum of Natural History in Vienna there are many wonders…

A new view of the Venus of Willendorf

I adored these incredible relief sculptures with pterodactyl and prehistoric gators in the dinosaur room.

The subtle details worked into the architecture of the museum are astounding. Floating around the central dome are sculptures of cherubs in conflict with a variety of different creatures. The one on the right in the photo above has his arm being smashed by a lobster’s claw.

Orien and I were feeling inspired upon leaving the museum and impulsively bought a tube of marzipan on our way home…

Presenting: The Wienus of Villendorf 

The ARS ELECTRONICA Gala

Austria,

I was thrilled when our 4 Aces collaborators ARS Electronica invited us to their annual gala.
Last Friday my friends Zel, Bruno, Cosima and I hopped on a train to Linz to celebrate with them.

Cosima and Zel Sleeping on the train

The Gala started with a humorous Robot dance performance.


And then they presented the six Prix ARS Electronica winners selected out of 2,703 entries from 77 countries. 

I was inspired by Project Fumbaro (meaning “hang in there”), by Takeo Saijo. It is a crowd-sourced volunteer platform benefitting earthquake survivors in Japan. He created the network after the 2011 earthquake to bring funding and helping hands directly to the people in need. His work is such a great example of how creative technology can provide avenues of productive change. 

Aftermath of the 2011 earthquake in Japan

Then there was BlindMaps by Markus Schmeiduch, Ruben can der Veuten and Andrew Spitz. 

They designed a special, technologically-advanced walking stick for people who can’t see. The walking stick uses touch-sensitive technology and GPS and talks to the user, guiding them to their destination safely. 

And then from the group Universal Everything from the UK there was Walking City, a really beautiful animation and sound piece of a creature walking and continuously regenerating its surface from crumbling buildings to slick white shards of glass.

They honored Roy Ascott, a visionary thinker and the great pioneer of telematic art. 

Possibly my favorite project was the intervention at CERN by Julius von Bismarck.

Details from the ARS Electronica website:

INTERVENTION IN PERCEPTION - NUMBER 1 - DARK SPACE
"As part of his residency, Julius is making interventions at the CERN laboratory. The first intervention took place in one of the hidden spaces at CERN where no one ever goes: the underground tunnels which have housed the archives of the organisation since 1954.
22 physcists were led in complete darkness through the  winding tunnels to another small, enclosed space which they had never seen before. They were placed in different positions in the room, being warned that other people could be in there too – their only sense of the space  and who might be there being generated when they spoke. Unable to see, deprived of their visual sense, they were asked to describe what they saw in this dark-space, after they had listened to an old recording of Bertrand Russell discussing Plato and his cave of representation. 


Wow. It’s striking work. It’s a science/art intervention. Sounds like fun too.

After the awards they served drinks accompanied with an array of pastas and we sat outside on the stairs underneath the red and yellow lanterns, across from the Danube. 

I like Linz~

Here is a video of the marvelous fireworks display at the ARS Electronica Festival. They lit the fireworks off the boats with a spectacular show of light, smoke and sounds.

Video by Perola Bonfanti

Strom in Linz

I was in Linz to attend the ARS Electronica Gala and after the event we crossed the Danube River to the ARS Electronica (Art and Technology) Museum to have some celebratory drinks at a place called Strom, which I loved. As we walked inside, experimental noise music streamed out of the loudspeakers which ran along the top of the building below a long row of solar panels.

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Everyone dining at Strom seemed to have a silent dress code agreement of black and white.

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I was enchanted by the myriad of plants growing all around the ceiling. It gave the place a healthy freshness. There is so much art and graffiti gracing the walls of the place which seemed to go on forever inside.image

The playful atmosphere is enhanced with a foosball table and there’s even a swing inside one of the bathroom stalls. We sat outside and I ordered a couple spinach and goat cheese samosas; greasy but tasty, but greasy.

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I was happy to find that their ketchup was not Heinz, but another brand which was BIO, german for organic. There is a real feeling of quality food in Austria and I think Europe in general. 

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We stayed there all day and into the night talking to different people. I had a great conversation with a guy who built an impressive digital art installation at the Vienna Airport and another with our project manager at ARS who is doing our app for the 4 Aces our interactive art project in Vienna. After chatting with a few more new acquaintances I hung out with the rest of our crew on the big steps across from the museum, drinking gin late into the night. 

And they had a most spectacular fireworks display.

To be continued…

Education, Exploration and Expression Threatened. The Internet Needs Us

You are using the internet right now I imagine, and so am I~
You might agree that the internet is our most powerful tool to unite people and to build a better future. But our internet is being threatened RIGHT NOW by Big Telecom. Our law-makers will soon make a landmark decision about our internet. September 15th is the last day for public input.

Right now our online world is protected through “Net Neutrality." the fundamental principle of the Internet that allows users to access the authentic world wide web freely without censorship or implemented errors and buffering, which you might know as the Spinning Beachball of Death (SBBOD).

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Image via http://www.mixcrate.com/

Huge corporations are threatening our internet freedoms, trying to create a two- tiered system where corporations who can afford to pay for the fast lane get wider access to the public. This means you may not get to see what you want to see. This means all of the grass roots organizations, the small business, the start-ups, get pushed down and you might have to wait a long time for their page to load.

And if that’s not bad enough, if this goes through I’m afraid it is just the beginning of the stripping away of our rights to information (generated by the whole of humanity) and the way we know the world today. The internet is education, connection, expression and so many other things. Can you imagine a world where you couldn’t find any alternative news or perspectives? Can you imagine an internet similar to main stream television? I shudder to think of that. It may seem extreme or very far away, but it’s brick by brick that builds a wall.

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Image via guardianlv.com

BigtelecomVstheWorld.org says:

"The clock is ticking: Key decision-makers are about to make a landmark ruling on this Internet slowdown – we have to raise a loud global call by the crucial September 15th deadline for public input."

I cannot stress how important it is to fight for this. For you, for me and everyone, please take a moment to sign this petition of three million and counting and share it with your community. Thank you, thank you~

The Flohmarkt, Vienna

I found it, I am so pleased. I found what is probably the best flea market in Vienna. Up until now, I was going to the Noshmarket near the center of Vienna perusing overpriced treasures amongst overpriced junk. Yesterday, my new Viennese friend Cosima took me to Wienerberg, to the best fleamarket I’ve seen here.

Old black and white photos for sale

I have to admit I was tempted to buy these classic pipe shot glasses, just imagine drinking apricot schnapps with these babies.

Things are CHEAP, everything is priced to sell. After perusing for an hour or so I acquired three fine objects; A Viennese police hat (for a friend), a periwinkle blue skirt, and a bold, red bag; perfect for art supplies. Total price, 11 Euro (about $15).

I am thrilled to know what I am doing every coming Sunday for my last month here. If you find yourself in Vienna, you can get more info about the Flohmarkt on their website. Cheers!

Everything is backwards, Everything is upside down.

I just read that the number of children with autism has gone from 1 in 5,000 in 1975 to 1 in 68 today - THAT IS CRAZY and is prompting me to write this post. It’s maddening to read about the immeasurable damage and heartbreak that our defective system is causing; the dying of bees, species extinction, the gigantic garbage patch in the ocean, the plastic, the plastic, the plastic, seeping into our water, into our land, the fracking, the oil spills, the WAR and senseless violence, the militarization of our police force, the GMOS, the pesticides that poison us and strip the land of its nutrients, the way animals are treated in factory farms, the fluoride they put in our water. I don’t mean to be a downer guys, but I am so mournful to witness it all happening. 

Michael Ellner said it well: “Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.”

The invasion of our bodies with trojan horses of toxins and chemicals especially troubles me. And many of us ask, what we can do? We are in this system, we were born in it, we prop it up with our everyday lives.  

There’s a lot we can do collectively, and small changes add up.
One of the things we can do that can have an enormous effect on this system is to simply boycott giant, unethical businesses like Nestle and Coca Cola. Its also important to educate ourselves and learn more about WHY we should boycott them and then spread the word to friends and others through the internet. We need mass awareness about this stuff really badly, REALLY BADLY PEOPLE, and with all of our modern day distractions, it can be tricky to get folks to really listen. But this awareness can grow exponentially. 

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Here’s a diagram of the largest companies, and of course they have endless subsidiaries to look out for. Some brands are even made to look like they are from small, friendly, independent companies. For instance, did you know that Honest Tea and Odwalla is owned by Coca-Cola and Pepsi owns Naked Juice? Seeds of Change, a line of organic seeds and herbs is actually owned by Mars, Inc., the same company behind GMO ridden Snickers and M&Ms? (Dang, I used to love peanut M&Ms).

Yesterday I went to the Indian grocery downstairs from my apartment in Vienna and found some authentic-and-delicious-looking curry paste. I rotated the jar and saw the Nestle brand on the back. A shudder passed through me. They are omnipresent. These companies own about 70% of available food. I started looking around the store at the other Indian products and so many of them were Nestle products in disguise. I was so freaked out. This is really scary because at some point, as they continue to grow, IF WE continue to support them collectively, we’re not going to have a choice in the matter anymore. It will be all there is to buy. This is already the case in many bodegas and delis in New York. When I was painting in Rockaway this spring, the deli next door carried ONLY Poland Spring, which is a Nestle product (bottling chemically treated ground water). The rest of the brands in the store also boiled down to the 10 companies you see on the spider chart, companies who all use GMOs.

The good news is that people are really waking up, thanks to social media, determined activists and word of mouth. A really amazing app was created to boycott businesses who have bad ethics or who support things you don’t believe. The app is called Buycott. You can use it to scan products at the supermarket and it will tell you what brand it belongs to and what company that comes from, and who owns that company etc. You can make your own customized boycott campaign and it will tell you if any of the products you are considering are against your causes. Check it out and use it! Tell everyone about it.image

We have so much power collectively. If we can reach a tipping point in awareness and action we can start to restructure the unhealthy way our food system works before it is too late. Your money is your vote, they want it and they will change their practices if they stop getting it. Try to buy from companies that are still owned independently, download the Buycott app (it’s eye opening), plant your own food if possible, buy organic, (but check to see who owns those organic companies), buy local, join a co-op, support small businesses, go to your locally owned coffee shop instead of Starbucks and pass the example forward to the people around you.

I leave you with a shortened version of the 100th Monkey Effect (long version here) adapted from ‘Lifetide,’ by Lyall Watson. 

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(Photo via ericdubay.blogspot.com)
On a remote island in Japan, researchers, as part of a study, started to give monkeys sweet potatoes to eat. They’d put them in the sand and the monkeys would eat them, all covered in grit. Then one young monkey started to carry the potatoes down to the water and washed them before eating. She found that not only did it clean the potato, but also gave it a nice salty flavor. She then taught this to her mother and slowly, step by step, the new sweet potato washing culture spread throughout the monkey colony. Within six years most of the young monkeys on the island were washing their potatoes. The only adults over five years to do so had learned the practice directly from their children. Then something incredible happened. The monkeys washing their food reached a kind of tipping point, estimated at around one hundred monkeys. Then suddenly, through some kind of critical mass, almost every monkey on the island was washing their potatoes. And get this, the new culture then started to appear spontaneously on neighboring islands, having seemingly jumped from the minds of the monkeys on the island where the phenomenon first appeared.

We’re not SO different from monkeys really, and the point is, the game can change in an instant, IF we can reach a tipping point of people power, and soon.  

The Rockaway Community Responds to Paint with Poetry

While I was in New York this Spring I had the pleasure of painting a Hearts of the World mural on Rockaway Beach Boulevard for Beautify Earth. This organization is bringing color and revitalization to the Rockaway Beach community, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Residents of Rockaway were invited to paint in their own unique heart. Locals lined up on the sidewalk to wait for their turn to express themselves in paint. When they were finished filling their heart with their thoughts, emotions, passions and dreams, we pasted them up to the wall. 

A mother fills her heart with the prints of her children’s hands and feet.

The finished Hearts of the World Mural

I was really touched to receive this poem, written by long-time Rockaway resident Ed Broderick, Have a read:

Seaside  Garden

of

Hearts and Flowers

Open to all of natures powers

Endures kanes and showers

Accepts the chill of deepest snow

Glories in the summers glow

A pure rainbow may be born

After the curse of a SANDY storm

Bows may have many ends

All full of hopes dreams and bends

 Hundreds of us who have seen this

Pause Reflect and silently Wish 

For our Bow’s end to fulfill

Our needs by GOD’S Will

 Ed Broderick