For Living as Form (The Nomadic Version) Agitprop will facilitate an incubator project called Connect San Diego (CSD). CSD is spearheaded by Kirk Hinkleman whose aim is to design a program that assists people with developmental disabilities in establishing independent living practices through the mapping of localized “assets”. This program typically begins with what is called a “Person Centered Plan” that diagrams the goals of an individual so as to specify relevant assets to be mapped. “Assets” can range from technological devices, to the available knowledge of fellow community members, to the physical designs of the built environment, and so on.
In the incubator space occupying the UAG Agitprop will implement a strategy of “asset mapping” to extract knowledge resources at the UC San Diego campus as a method of assisting Hinkleman in developing CSD. This will result in a series of meetings with researchers from UCSD in the gallery space whose work may inform Hinkleman’s development of CSD as it emerges as a practice.
In parallel, CSD will apply strategies of asset mapping typically used in assisting people with developmental disabilities to Agitprop. This allows Agitprop to act as case study for CSD while simultaneously establishing a plan of action for Agitprop as a project to evolve over time. These meetings will take place in the incubator space at the UAG as well. All meetings will result in a series of workshopped diagrams that record the planning process and those involved.
Visitors with relevant knowledge to share with either of these projects are also encouraged to attend these meetings.
Dates and times of meetings:
Some images of the installation:
photos courtesy of Joy Boe]]>
Koren has been a publisher of interesting books about design and aesthetics since the 1980s but what makes this book compelling is the insight with which he looks back on his singular experiences withWET. There is much to learn here for creative minds beginning on their path of growth and development. As honestly as possible, he has tried to evaluate the decisions he made along the way in an ethical light, whether they be aesthetic decisions, business decisions, or decisions made in relations with staff, friends and partners. The result is a book that is as critical of its author as it is beautiful to hold–filled with thoughts, ideas and images that will stay with the reader long after the book has been laid down.
Illustration: Back and front cover design by Emilia Burchiellaro and Leonard Koren.
As a young UCLA architecture student, Leonard Koren became obsessed with the physically built environment of the bath, including the rituals that support it and the truths that give bathing its metaphysical reality. “Every bathroom,” writes Koren, “no matter how crude or sophisticated, comes equipped with all elements of a primal poetry. Water and/or steam, hot, cold and in between. Nakedness. Quietude. Illumination.”
Illustration: Bathing cap people photographs by Guy Webster. Design and Art Direction by Elizabeth Freeman. From WET July/August 1978.
A fluid publication of creative visual production, critical thinking and intersecting obsessions, WET developed organically from Koren’s individual efforts into an experimental collaboration among his ephemeral community of friends and artists living in Venice Beach, California. Before starting WET Koren had no prior publishing experience, but was blessed with a daring approach, a strong sense of aesthetics influenced by Japanese culture, his architectural studies and his love of photography. Under his guidance, WET the Magazine of Gourmet Bathing became a legitimate expression of hip beach culture. It gave voice to a kind of bohemianized water-course way that had taken hold among Venice Beach’s most creative minds. At its best, WET offered its readers a self-aware and watery hedonism (and some cases skepticism) based on the myriad possibilities of bathing as a metaphor.
Illustration: Contents pages designed by Leonard Koren.
Marshall McLuhan famously noted the similarities between taking a bath and reading a newspaper – both being relaxing interludes given to randomness and reflection. Browsing through the pages of Making WET invokes the essence of WET Magazine’s original appeal through playful design characterized by the non-linear approach implied in McLuhan’s observation. It is a story told predominantly through a stream of images: photos, drawings and illustrations of all kinds, while the element of language floats through the book like bubbles clustered on the surface of a visual bath.
Koren has described himself as someone who makes books “not intended for electronic devices,” and Making WET has a distinct hand-made quality. As e-books have have become more popular, the physical characteristics of paper and the tangible experience of holding a book have gained traction among a discerning community of artists, writers and designers dedicated to preserving the bookmaking tradition.
Illustration: “Concerning the Metaphysical Nature of Cigarettes” by Sharon Hennessey. Photo by Larry Williams. Design by Roy Gyongy. From WET November/December 1979.
WET’s editorial slant was always an exercise in the balance of many cultural influences and contradictions. Koren defines his vision with succinct clarity in a chapter titled “Gourmet Bathing: A Long Overdue Introduction.” He writes, “In a state that is the capital of the monetary, the capital of the self–the inventoried and reconceived self, the disguised and decorated self, the conceptual fun self–the only season is Open Season. On Columbus or Sunset or the Venice boardwalk, the shifting cast of vacancy–faced rock punks, S&M tragedian, cowboys, lumberjacks, vestigial hippies, and attentive trend collectors, there is an unsortable repetoire of styles and counter-styles. There is such camp drollery here, such androgyny, such runaway eclecticism, that there emerges a ruling aesthetic of Whatever Works–whatever evokes the almost terminal dislocation of this long intermission in history; the feeling of having no particular place, time or person to be.”
Illustration: Covers. November/December 1979 with Sissy Spacek. Photography and illustration by Lisa Powers and Taki Ono. Typography, design and art direction by Roy Gyongy. Cover and back cover, March/April 1981. Collage and design by Bob Zoell. Art Direction by Leonard Koren.
WET covers consistently presented strong and unforgettable statements. Koren did not shy away from intellectually challenging or controversial material. The image of the copulating pigs that appeared on the March/April 1981 issue is visually unforgettable but caused great anxiety among the ad sales team who feared it would make their job more difficult. By this time, WET was beginning to penetrate the mainstream so it was sold inside a brown paper wrapper to avoid giving offense at the supermarket checkout line.
Much of the WET’s iconic identity stemmed from its remarkable logo which passed through several iterations before settling on the final version shown above. Using sheets of Letraset rub-on type, Koren mocked up multiple versions. “I liked the rendition in the all-uppercase Kabel font best,” Koren writes. “Then I tweaked it a little. The W, fashioned out of two Vs, had a defiant energy similar to a swastika–but without the horrible associations. The E was frisky. The middle tine was cut off at a 45 degree angle; it felt sexy in a reductive sort of way. (I thought it was the typographical equivalent of a sly erection.) The T possessed a magnificent solidity. Together, all three characters conveyed a distinctive Teutonic strength, toughness, and linearity–the exact opposite of the soft, fluid suggestions of ‘wet.’ ”
Illustration: Max Palevsky and Leonard underwater in Malibu “sealing the deal” to secure capital investment for the magazine. Photograph by Guy Webster.
Making WET sometimes reads as a morality play on the limits of sustaining a community based on common creative goals. Koren traces the changes in his personality and his relationships with his friends and collaborators as WET became more successful. The pressure to generate advertising dollars gradually forced him out of his role as creative director and into the role of business manager. The creative side of the magazine was being left more and more often to others. The final chapters describe how WET’s essence inevitably began to dry up. By the end of its run there was “…a profound existential crisis looming. WET had evolved out of an art-making impulse: a spontaneous response to a need for a particular kind of artistic expression. For the first four and a half years, making the magazine was intensely engaging, both creatively and intellectually. But now the learning curve had flattened out. The once vibrant WET project had metamorphosed into a marketing exercise.” Koren decided to fold the magazine soon after, choosing to go out while the magazine was still on top and to prevent a painfully drawn out decline. Six months after closing the magazine Koren packed all his belongings into his VW Rabbit and moved to San Francisco to begin a new life.]]>
The awesomeness of Steve Jobs has been given a canonical accounting with the publication of Walter Isaacson’s 570-page authorized biography of his life. So just how did Jobs transmogrify the world? The CEO Messiah of User Experience claimed he did it by standing at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. But there’s much more to his story than that. By the end of the book one thing is clear – Jobs’ accomplishment at Apple Computer is the greatest legacy to come out of the Bay Area’s “turn on, tune in, drop out” hippie culture of the 1960s.
But at its heart this is also book about a man who was described by a former girlfriend as “an enlightened being who was also cruel.” To quote the dust jacket, he was “driven by demons. Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair.” Isaacson and Jobs agreed that the book should not sanitize his life and many episodes reveal a dark side to his personality. Jobs was given up for adoption as an infant and wrestled with deep-seated feelings of abandonment throughout his life. It is understandable how such beginnings might engender a defensive and spiteful attitude towards the world. But from Jobs’ point of view, his cruelty was not a psychological reflex but a form of truth speaking. He was given to rationalizing his rough manners as a way of ensuring quality control. He felt it was a part of his job description to be brutally honest when critiquing other’s work for the sake of the product and Apple’s reputation. For Jobs, being true to himself was a priority, no matter how ugly it might appear from the outside.
Isaacson has traced Jobs’ phenomenal guru-like influence over others through extensive interviews with friends, family and colleagues. Throughout his life, Jobs repeatedly inspired those working around him to go beyond themselves. In a burst of inspired geek-speak Bud Tribble, a software designer at Apple in the early days of the company, coined the term “reality distortion field” to describe Jobs’ effect over others. Chapter Eleven recounts a conversation between Tribble and Andy Hertzfeld who was a new Apple employee at the time.
Tribble remembered the term from an episode of Star Trek called “Menagerie” in which the aliens have the power to construct reality out of the sheer force of their mental powers. Job’s distortion field had a positive and a negative side. “It was dangerous to get caught in Steve’s distortion field, but it was what led him to actually be able to change reality.”
The launch of the Macintosh was one occasion in which Jobs deployed the distortion field in order to spur his engineers to hit a seemingly impossible deadline. The timing was critical. Apple had launched its remarkable 1984 Super Bowl ad campaign and expectations for a revolutionary product were running high. Any delays would have undermine the carefully constructed expectations surrounding the launch of the Mac. The only problem was the engineers were still behind schedule with the operating system. At a conference call they prepared to give Jobs a recommendation to send out a demo version of the software to be followed up with a final version two weeks later. They carefully pleaded their case and sat back…
…and he did.
Perhaps the most poignant example of the distortion field working against Jobs was when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. Isaacson observes, “The flipside of his wondrous ability to focus was the fearsome willingness to filter out things he did not wish to deal with.” After his initial diagnosis, Jobs put off medical intervention for nine months. He had been a vegetarian almost all his life and was known for his adherence to strict, some would say insane, eating habits, including binging and purging of food. He often spoke of the energy and mental power his diets gave him. Therefore he was reluctant to undergo what he considered orthodox medical intervention and instead pursued a series of diet cures and new age remedies. Despite a phalanx of friends and family members urging him to do what was best for his health, he resisted. In the end, facing death after an eight-year battle with cancer, he expressed regret he had not acted more aggressively in battling his illness when it was still in its early stages of development.
The word Zen is often associated with the ease of use of Apple products and is a direct result of Jobs’ study of Zen Buddhism that he began as an undergraduate at Reed College in Oregon. Chapter Three of the book describes the years Jobs lived on a commune after dropping out of college. He was responsible for tending a grove of apple trees on the commune grounds. He learned to prune, water and harvest the apples and sell them to earn money for the commune’s operating costs. During this time he also practiced meditation and dropped copious amounts of LSD. All this activity disciplined his mind in an intense way and honed his ability to sustain single point focus for long periods of time. “Jobs’ intensity was evident in his ability to focus. He would set priorities, aim his laser attention on them, and filter out distractions,” explains Isaacson. Nourishing the mind’s powers of intuition was at the root of his integrity as a human being and of his Promethean creativity. Jobs respected direct experience. He disdained decisions based on committees, Power Point presentations and market studies. He dismissed people who did so as “bozos.” His faith in the mind’s intuition over rational thinking and logical decision-making was the fruit of his Zen spirituality and it lay behind the design philosophy of all Apple products. Bodhidharma, the Indian patriarch renowned for bring Buddhism to China around 475 AD, identified the mind as the source of enlightenment. The following passage is from the “Breakthrough Sermon”
The mind is the root from which all things grow. If you can understand the mind, everything else is included. It’s like the root of a tree. All a tree’s fruit and flowers, branches and leaves depend on its root. If you nourish its root, a tree multiplies. If you cut its root, it dies. Those who understand the mind reach enlightenment with minimal effort.
The metaphor embedded in the quotation has obvious relevance to the history of Steve Jobs and Apple Computer Inc. But it is also indicates that at the root of his success in the field of technology was a worldview based on the idea of the universe as an organism. This binary narrative of the organic and the technological was woven deeply into Apple’s culture and distinguished it from Microsoft and other competitors.
Now that Jobs is no longer alive and the force of his distortion field begins to fade, the public image of the man and his company is bound to shift. But for the time being his legacy seems to be how he humanized technology by force of his will. Isaacson returns to this theme repeatedly. The final pages close with Job’s speaking in his own voice. “Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science. I like that intersection. There’s something magical about that place. There are a lot of people innovating and that’s not the main distinction of my career. The reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a deep current of humanity in our innovation.”
“My project is a mini mobile museum of sweeteners, which I call MMMsweet cart. The mobile cart presents information about artificial and natural sweeteners by traveling the streets of San Diego and possibly other cities in the future. Adults and kids will be invited to participate by taste testing sweeteners, playing a game, taking a quiz, inventing a sweetener, creating a new soda, etc.. The world of sweeteners is about as complex as food itself. I’m fascinated by where typical packaged food comes from and how it’s made. Food Scientists and the food industry work together to create new products for consumers and most of us get fooled by the advertising and the excitement of a new product.
I began a few years ago with designing the mobile cart to resemble an old fashion ice cream cart. I struggled for months to create characters to go with each sweetener. I was inspired by Charlie Harper’s style of illustration and I studied Pokemon characters. I painted lots of creatures with my two kids, until I finally found some that could resembled sweetener heros.
The ironic heros on the trading cards are meant to recruit followers to be concerned about what they eat? My big questions are, What are these sweeteners doing to our bodies? Which ones are better than others? How do we decide what sweeteners we should eat, if any?
The sweetener mobile cart includes a collection of natural and artificial sweeteners in jars. At every event, I will unveil a new trading card. The trading cards will be given away for free and include a donation jar to fund printing costs for future trading cards. I anticipate about 18 trading cards distributed over the first year of the project. Nine trading cards have been completed but I need funds to print the cards and pay the graphic designer to set up more trading card designs. I also need funds to purchase sweeteners for tasting events and soda invention activities. Thanks for your support.
$520 initial printing costs of the first 9 trading cards, 1000 each.
$300 graphic designer cost to set up the front and back of the next 9 trading cards
$180 for sweetener samples, soda making supplies and photocopying for public events.
To find out more about the Sugar Museum’s past projects, please visit
Designing Geopolitics: Computational Jurisdictions, Emergent Governance, Public Ecologies, is an interdisciplinary conference that will organize scholars from a wide range of disciplines and professions around these critical issues. We have made initial invitations to participants from the Visual Arts, Political Science, Philosophy, Systems Ecology, Engineering, Computer Science, History, Architecture, Literature, Interaction Design, Anthropology, Information Sciences, among others. We have also extended invitations to key strategic thinkers at some of the private companies whose work most directly bears on our issues. The conference program will align the design, the humanities with technologists and scientists and will place Calit2 at a critical interface between these academic and private missions. The event is supported by UCSD through Calit2, the Division of Arts and Humanities, and the Department of Visual Arts.
All presentations will be streamed live.
For additional information about the event and the speakers please visit: http://designgeopolitics.org/dg2011/
3139 University Ave. North Park, San Diego 92104
Friday, June 25, 2010 7pm
Join us Friday evening for two film screenings about urban space. Drinks and bites will be provided.
7:00pm- Lost Book Found by Jem Cohen (35 min.)
This short film is a Walter Benjamin-inspired portrait of New York City.
8:00pm – The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte (58 min.)
While working with the New York City Planning Commission in 1969, Whyte began to use direct observation to describe behavior in urban settings. With research assistants wielding still cameras, movie cameras, and notebooks, Whyte described the substance of urban public life in an objective and measurable way.
an installation by Megan Willis
Opening reception Saturday May 15th 2010 at 7pm
Free Space is an installation that looks at disparate tactics for appropriating and reclaiming residual spaces in the urban landscape for both public and private use. Residual Spaces are interstices in the city that are abandoned, underutilized, leftover, liminal, and indeterminate. These spaces oscillate between public and private. Residual spaces take the form of alleys, parking lots, building recesses, window ledges, sidewalks, roof tops, fire escapes, blank facades etc. As a starting point, Free Space focuses locally on the residual spaces of C Street in downtown San Diego. This installation uses video documentation, maps, duct tape and furniture to examine these tactics of appropriation.
ART Produce is located at 3139 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104
Saturday May 15th 7-10pm (or so)
2837 University Ave (behind Glenn’s Market, on Utah)
San Diego, CA 92104
Louis M Schmidt is currently working on his MFA exhibition, which is a large show entitled There’s No Place Like No Place- it runs from June 8-11 at UCSD’s Visual Arts Facility (Main Gallery), with a closing reception on the evening of June 11. Please join us for drinks, snacks, and an awe-inspiring new installation.
2837 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
San Diego artist and designer, Christopher Puzio, will share prototype studies for large sculpture at this one night event.]]>
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