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January 2019: Festival of the Not, Newcastle

January 03, 2019 12:21
I'm delighted to return to Newcastle this month, once again as part of a production by CIRCA Projects + Giles Bailey. This time it's a festival, entitled Festival of the Not and taking place at the newly re-opened Star & Shadow Cinema. I'm thrilled to be part of this, as our work together in the summer of 2017 was an incredible experience, and I've also been following the Star & Shadow's activities remotely (ever since performing there in Lied Music, with Mark Vernon, back in 2010).
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Kuusi Palaa: view from within season one

April 25, 2018 11:04
The Biathlon system that I have been co-developing since 2016 has been in use at Kuusi Palaa, a cooperatively operated project space in Helsinki. Kuusi Palaa opened on 1 March 2018 and will run at least until the end of June. The idea for Kuusi Palaa was to continue using the Biathlon tools that Temporary used (and operating in the same physical space), but to further decentralise the financing and become a legal cooperative. So now, instead of just the content and day-to-day operations being spread over a large and open mix of people, the paying of the rent and bills is also shared.
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Report on the Northern Pen90s symposium

April 25, 2018 10:45
On Monday, 10 July 2017, I was honoured to host The Northern Pen90s: Interrogating the Curr-ency Collective 1992-1999 at the Burnlaw Centre, one of the main sites of Curr-ency’s original artistic activity.
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World is Sudden: Summer Lab (+ bursaries available!)

June 19, 2017 07:34
I'm honoured to have been invited to participate in the World is Sudden: Summer Lab project by Giles Bailey & CIRCA Projects next month. The project will take place in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and the North Pennines, and I'll be one of the artists along with Anne-James Chaton, Rory Pilgrim, Giles, Christian Jendreiko, Christo Wallers and the Glasgow Open Dance School.
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Travelling (report/upcoming): Sheffield, Athens, and Sofia

April 21, 2014 21:05
Earlier this month I spent a few days in Sheffield, a city which I had visited only twice before and never for such a lengthy stay. I was participating in the Open Sourcing Festivals project, a Pixel network venture that seeks to open up the process of creating education-based cultural festivals. The idea is we will create a 'festival toolkit', all leading up to a festival in Sheffield one year from now. We were meeting at Access Space, the Sheffield partner and host of the forthcoming festival. Access Space is a brilliant concoction, existing somewhere between community computer lab, democratic art space, and social pratice centre; we were mostly spending time with James Wallbank and Jake Harries, two fantastic organisers who never stop moving and bring a tireless enthusiasm to everything they do.
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Followup to my open letter to the minister of culture

December 11, 2013 19:16
Yesterday, I wrote an open letter to the incoming Estonian culture minister, and against my better judgement I shared it on Facebook. What resulted was not surprising - a plethora of ‘likes’ from friends, and it was shared by about ten other people to wider audiences.
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An open letter to the new Culture Minister in Estonia

December 09, 2013 18:19
Dear Urve Tiidus,
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Miscellaneous expertise @ MoKS AVAMAA 2010

January 19, 2012 22:53

Next month I will be coordinating a workshop entitled Miscellaneous expertise: performance, unlearning stories and public speech at the MoKS Kunsti ja Sotsiaalpraktika Keskus AVAMAA sympsium in Mooste, Estonia.  This is a collaboration with my good friend Giles Bailey, and the workshop will take place over five days with the dissemination on the sixth.

We proposed Miscellaneous expertise as an experiment using the workshop format; we hope to explore some of the structural components of performance through a patchwork aesthetic, with a concentration on found materials, chance, and non-linear constructions.  One potential subtitle was Performance for non-performers AND non-performance for performers, though that's a bit too constrictive and I think "unlearning" is a better term to use.

The outcome of the workshop will be a panel discussion that dissects the nature of performance, which of course will itself be a performance, which of course will not be.  If you remember my post about last years Mutopia workshop @ AVAMAA, then youll know I valued the MoKS approach to creative practice, a flame that will hopefully burn through this.  

Details about the workshop (how to attend, as well as info on the other workshops and projects occurring during the AVAMAA week [Natalia Borissovas workshop looks amazing, and I wish there was some way to clone myself and do both]) are available on the MoKS website.  If youre thinking of participating in...
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Musings on Mutopia: a week of collaboration in rural Estonia

July 15, 2019 07:54
I spent the last 10 days in Estonia, mostly at the MoKS AVAMAA 2009 ArtSymposium.  While the symposium offered traditional workshops (on printmaking and sound electronics), I participated in Mutopia 3, an exploration of collaborative creative practices that is quite difficult to describe. Led by MoKS coordinator John Grzinich, the name is intended to combine the idea of Utopia with the process of mutation.  And Mooste, Estonia does seem like some type of Utopia to my city-stained soul.  A village of 500 people, about 40km from the also-charming Tartu, Mooste was far away from the distractions of my everyday life.  The workshop was very focused on Mooste itself (though Mutopia 2 was held in Portugal) – the ideas of place and space were perhaps the one common theme throughout.
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Random thoughts on advertising

January 19, 2012 22:53
This morning I found myself thinking about advertising in general - and just how completely normal it seems to me, a 28-year old who has grown up in the United States. Logos, slogans, and other residue of the coprorate advertising language are so ingrained into my life that I rarely take the time anymore to even think about what they mean. I imagine a teenager, growing up today, would be even less likely to question it. The corporate logo, when at it's most successful, is sigil magick in operation. Attempts to counter this (such as graffiti, or organised anti-consumerist projects a la Adbusters magazine) invariably end up using the same language of the advertisers, and therefore end up just being another commodity. I know this isn't a brilliant insight; yet I felt a strange awe at how the conglomeration of Nike swooshes and Apple logos is wrapped around my brain and I don't even think anything of it. "Our job is to manipulate the consumer by arousing his desires," says one of the executives in Putney Swope. "Then we satisfy those desires at a fixed price." This manipulation is completely taken for granted now; it has been granted access to every facet of our existence. I still remember going to the cinema in the days when you didn't see a bunch of 35mm commercials before the trailers (back when I was of the age that saw things like Stop or My Mom Will Shoot! in the theatre [yes, someone actually saw it {Stallone, I'll take my refund now, just email me!}]). These days I go to the cinema so rarely that I'm not used to it; I still feel a small bit of outrage each time I sit through an Orange mobile phone advert after I've paid £8 for a film. The rest of the theatre, often largely made up of of high school students, thinks nothing of it. A lot of people enjoy the ads and prefer them to a commercial-free zone.I watched an excellent 3-part documentary on Coca-cola last week, The Cola Conquest. It devoted an episode to the advertising battle between Coke and Pepsi, and specifically how they target developing nations. I've always been critical of cola companies for the way they push their products into cultures that lack proper nutrition and dental care, so this was a bit of 'preaching to the converted'. But in the past week I've started to notice the the red-and-white Coke logo everywhere, like it's a living creature - an organic form that replicates like rabbits or bacteria. It probably didn't help that I also just read Philip K Dick's The Simulacra, where commercials are living creatures that cling to people and shout their message until they are killed. I went to see a talk by Chris Cutler when I was an undergraduate, and he said something about how the continual bombardment of advertising affects him every day - I think he was trying to make some point about fair use and sampling - anyway, that really stuck with me. But I normally don't think about this saturation; it's easier to let it all wash over me and get on with whatever pursuits I'm normally engaged in. Every once in awhile I'll feel advertising's glossy ambience to be overwhelming, and then I have one of those 'breakthrough' moments. It's kinda like in They Live, where Roddy Piper puts on the sunglasses and sees signs everywhere that say 'Obey'. Of course that's another tired sci-fi metaphor. Yet it's definitely harder to notice things that are all around you.The merging of advertising and entertainment has been happening since long before I was born, but now I see it sliding into the realm of art (which is much more frightening). Lately I've been noticing a lot of 'viral videos' and guerilla marketing practices popping up on the various art/activism blogs I read. The faceless people at Wimbeldon is a good example; if it was the work of some subversive art organisation, it would have been amazing. Instead, it's just a marketing campaign for Lotus Cars. If logo satire/defacing and groups like the Yes Men are artists/activists who are co-opting the rules of corporations and advertising, then this Wimbledon thing is the inversion of that - predatory advertisers using the language of subversion to peddle their products. This, to me, is very dangerous. Maybe it's because I'm too concerned with intention; I have to know the motive behind an idea. Maybe I should learn to enjoy an art or action for it's aesthetic/cultural/comedic/thought-stimulating value, regardless of whether it was created by some impoverished Berlin artist or Nike. But I don't think I'm capable of that; I have to make the distinction. Would I be better to evolve past us vs. them mentality, and just get a kick out of something?I'm afraid that viral marketing is more of a virus than its name suggests. Yes, it will replicate, relying on people like you and me to spread itself, which is why it's called viral marketing. But it will also eat away at any efforts to oppose its goals. It uses surrealism, surprise, and shock to sell products, thus bleaching out the effects of these devices to critique and suggest alternatives to consumerism. Before I knew it was Lotus Cars, I viewed the faceless people stunt suspiciously, having just read Web Urbanists's excellent History of Guerilla Marketing primer. Viral marketing has already started to ruin my appreciation of actions like this; I want that 'innocence' back.
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