OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Andrew Scott Ross

My century Zoo (Detail)
2011
Mud, Paper, Wood
18 x 10 x 12 feet

OtherPeoplesPixels: You have partitioned your practice into two ongoing series, Rocks and Rocks and Rocks which is is a mix of drawings and ephemeral sculptures and Bones and Bones and Bones which is a mix of short narrative videos, wildlife photography, and sculptural objects. Which themes that you address in your work are distinct to each series? How do the two series differ from one another aside from the media distinction you make and what do they have in common that may speak to overarching themes in your practice?
 
Andrew Scott Ross: The defining work for the Rocks and Rocks and Rocks series is Paper Caves and Habits is the primary piece for the Bones and Bones and Bones series. These two series originated with these works. The video Habits which depicts a bunch of scattered living earthworms slowly forming a perfect circle came from my interest in the incredible habits of blind animals and how they can be an interesting metaphor for the power of nature. While Paper Caves, the group of works where I make early human dioramas out of office paper, is about how human imagination was utilized in the formations of early cultures.

Somehow, everything I have made since these two works are built on these two pieces in a somewhat chronological fashion. For instance in Rocks and Rocks and Rocks I started with the Stone Age, then did some pieces about the Neolithic Era and just finished My Century Zoo which touched on themes of Archaic Greek culture. It has been a slow process and I am looking forward to make it to the French Revolution sometime in the next decade!
Stones and Rocks and Stones and Bones (Detail)
2009
Office Paper
Detail of installation at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)

OPP: Can you speak about your titling process for the pieces included in each series?

ASR: My titling process is really different for the two series. The titles for Rocks and Rocks and Rocks are deliberately vague, picked at random, or generic. I feel there is already plenty of information packed in these piecesso I make the titles more atmospheric. In contrast the titles for Bones and Bones and Bones are more descriptive, as I want to steer the viewers attention to certain aspect of an animals behaviour or physical traits.

OPP: Your solo exhibition My Century Zoo, now on view at John Michael Kohler Arts Center, lists mud, paper, and wood as the materials used. You’ve used mud in your work before, but using it in My Century Zoo seems to lend to a slightly different look from your past installation work. How does My Century Zoo differ for your previous installations?

ASR: Yes, I keep coming back to mud! At first I just dipped things into it to give a uniform primordial aesthetic. Now, in my newest series, My Century Zoo mud is used as a glue for the paper, drawing material, and for its sculptural qualities. It has become both a central material and metaphor in my work. We walk on mud, make cities out of it, and can get buried in it. What I find the most interesting, is that as an art material, mud comes across as immensely fragile.

OPP: You often cut and crumble paper into small and incredibly delicate silhouettes of human and animal figures as well as into trees and other landscape elements. What's the hardest and easiest part of the process of making your sculptural paper work?

ASR: People often ask me why I do not use a laser cutter. They look as the process and all they see is tedious labor. Not only would using a laser effect the work aesthetically and conceptually, but it would take away a lot of pleasure. I really enjoy most of the detailed cutting and modeling processactually I find it incredibly relaxing. In contrast, the hardest and most frustrating part of the process is having to start over again when messing up on a complex figure—and the easiest part would be the deinstallation. It is amazing how six months of work can be put in a box in 2 hours.
Stones and Rocks and Stones and Bones
2009
office paper
Installation at Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)

OPP: Do you listen to anything while you work on the delicate elements or does your process require silence?

ASR: I am always listing to music when working on my paper cutting, often film scores—they help me focus for long periods of time.  

OPP: What does a day in the studio look like for you? Do you “sketch” by drawing or does your process include other initial steps?

ASR: Lately my studio is overwhelmingly messy! It usually involves laying down tarps, filling cement mixing troughs with stained mud, putting on a Tyvek suit, and throwing mud at large sheets of paper. There are cleaner days, where I cut and manipulate the dried mud caked paper, or apply charcoal. I have not been sketching with my new work, I have been working directly on the final surface. 

OPP: What is next for you?

ASR: I have been working on some stand alone sculpture pieces made from mud and paper, and experimenting on video work with artist Vanessa Mayoraz.

In the next few months I will be moving to a larger studio space in Tennessee. The space is an old Eastman Co. research site and warehouse recently donated to East Tennessee State University (where I will be teaching this Fall). I am very excited about making some large scale pieces there.
To view more of Andrew Scott Ross’ work visit andrewscottross.com

Copyright Infringement : What to do, and how the DMCA plays into it.

Posting an image online these days is easier than ever. While this makes visibility for your work great, (yay!), there are always concerns about misuse or theft (copyright infringement -- eek!). Much of the content on the internet is hosted by the networks of third parties, as most folks do not run their own servers. This means that the potentially infringing activities of individuals can be stored and transmitted through these third party, online service providers (OSPs), most likely without the OSP's knowledge.

Because of this, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a safe harbor for these OSPs. Section 512 of the DMCA protects OSPs from liability for information posted or transmitted by subscribers if the OSP quickly removes or disables access to material identified in a copyright holder's complaint.

In order to qualify for safe harbor protection, the OSP hosting the content must:

  • have no knowledge of, or financial benefit from, infringing activity on its network
  • have a copyright policy and provide proper notification of that policy to its subscribers
  • list an agent to deal with copyright complaints

Note however that the OSP is not required to notify you before your allegedly infringing material is removed. If the material on your site does not infringe the intellectual property rights of a copyright owner and has been improperly removed from the internet, you can file a counter-notice with the OSP, who must transmit it to the person who made the complaint. If the copyright owner does not notify the OSP within 14 business days that it has filed a claim against you in court, your materials can be restored to the Internet.

If you see your work on a website, and believe that it is being used without your permission, you do have some recourse. Here are the steps we recommend:

  1. Contact the administrator of the website, and inform them that you believe your work is being used without your permission, and ask them to take it down. (Hey, a nice note can go a long way!)
  2. If that doesn't work, find out who the online service provider (OSP) of the website is. This may take some digging. Look for words like 'Powered by'.
  3. Go to the OSP's website, and see if they have any information on their site about how to report alleged copyright infringement. If they do, follow their instructions.
  4. If the OSP's website does not have any information, try using this website to see if the OSP has decided to take part in the DMCA. You can search for the agent they have listed:  http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/a_agents.html
  5. If the OSP does have an agent listed, you can provide the information the DMCA requires, and mail notice to the agent.
  6. Basic information the DMCA requires:
  • The name, address, and electronic signature of the complaining party [512(c)(3)(A)(i)]. 
  • The infringing materials and their Internet location [512(c)(3)(A)(ii-iii)], or if the OSP is an "information location tool" such as a search engine, the reference or link to the infringing materials [512(d)(3)]. 
  • Sufficient information to identify the copyrighted works [512(c)(3)(A)(iv)].
  • A statement by the owner that it has a good faith belief that there is no legal basis for the use of the materials complained of [512(c)(3)(A)(v)].
  • A statement of the accuracy of the notice and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on the behalf of the owner [512(c)(3)(A)(vi)].

Note that making willy nilly claims of copyright infringment is not a good idea. You're opening yourself up to liability for damages, including costs and attorneys' fees. You must consider copyright defenses, limitations or exceptions before you send notice -- so think long and hard about this (did you sign a model release? did you say it was ok for your work to be used, or sign an agreement, and just don't remember doing so? Unfortunately, simply changing your mind doesn't necessarily provide you with any protection). These are just some of the things you should be considering. If you are not sure about these things or have questions, we suggest you contact an attorney prior to filing a notice with the OSP.

If you'd like more information about OPP's policies, you can view them here:

https://otherpeoplespixels.com/dmca

To find out more about the DMCA in general:

http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/

To responsible posting, everyone!

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Molly Schafer

Specters / Bloodwrath; At my end I will take you with me
2008
Graphite, acrylic, colored pencil on paper
60" x 48"

OtherPeoplesPixels: How do you think the concept of “going feral” shapes your work? It seems to factor into a number of your works dating back to your 2006 video Centaurides, in which a computer modified child—like voice shares her fantastical observations and dreams; most of which involve a desire to break—free from the mundane, civilized, or unjust.

Molly Schafer: Yes exactly!  “Going feral” is my out to the mundane daily human life.  As I see it back in the day we had it all—tons of time outside, traveling around with the seasons, NOT MULTITASKING, self-reliance, physical strength and endurance, being in the moment and more connected to nature/each other/other animals/Earth/the universe… and then we decided to live in dark, dirty cities buy stuff from stores and sit in offices all day. Blah who wants that? Well it turns out lots of people do. And the idea of “going feral” becomes threatening to society. Perhaps it partially represents everyone’s underlying longing for freedom and/or fear of that desire.

Feral is a term referring to a domesticated creature that has returned to a semi-wild state. In a way, a hybrid state of being—not truly wild, no longer domesticated. I related that to the work I was doing with lady centaurs, themselves a hybrid of woman and horse.

While in graduate school I received feedback that people had trouble relating to the centaurs since they didn’t reflect their own human bodies (unimaginative, no?) so I decided to take that wildness and hybridity I depicted through the physical body of the centaur into a fully human body having gone feral. A major influence on this work is my first entry point into this theme: young adult novels featuring a girl who has isolated herself from society, lives in the wild with an animal companion.

I have had a life-long desire to live in one of those narratives, and I do realize it is slightly silly but I am sincere in that longing. My journey to and stay on Asseateague Island with my cat was my attempt to access a bit of that world. The trip resulted in a body of work Dawn Horse. The drawings in that work reflect the iconic images on the cover of such novels, often the only image in the whole book, their function is to only tell part of the story.

Clan of the Cave Girl (We went feral y'all)
2009
Graphite & watercolor on paper
20" x 20"

OPP: Hearing a child-like voice narrate Centaurides makes me curious about what you liked to draw as a child. What were your early sketchbooks like?

MS: Ha. Yes they weren’t too different from now. Animals, girls/women. More penguins (I was into penguins way before it was cool). My brother and I grew up drawing while we watched TV. Our parents were/are artists.

My junior high sketchbooks featured pencil drawings of awesome punk girls playing guitar. Lots of piercings, Mohawk hairdos, Tribe 8 shirts, L7 tattoos. The boys I knew were into drawing dragons, wizards and punk dudes. They always had trouble getting that we were into the same things. The gender difference or concept/awareness of gender (dragons vs unicorns) was so huge they couldn’t see past it. Not to mention they were intimidated by my skills. Lame.

Ha ha.

I dunno I’ve always liked drawing mice. I guess I’ve always fell somewhere between Beatrix Potter and fantasy novel art. Which may explain my limited successes.

Still From Barrier Island
2007
digital video

OPP: Your arctic-looking house cat plays a prominent role in your video from your Barrier Island series. In reviewing images from your subsequent solo show, Dawn Horse, at Lump Gallery in Raleigh, NC, I noticed at least three other pieces that include visual references to your cat; one that even lists “my cat's fur” in the material list. Can you speak about the role your cat plays in your artmaking? Where does your house cat fit in your work’s relationship to real and imagined animals like centaurs what you describe as “similar hybrids”?

MS: Well I’m glad someone is reading my detailed descriptions of media. Yes that is my boo. His name is Sid and he has been my dawg for 18 years now. I’ve always tried to let him be a cat and as wild as he wants to be.

Once I took Sid to hang out in a park in Pennsylvania (where we both were born and raised) after an hour or so of us just chillin in some woods he started loosing control. He ran around, ate some rabbit poop and got this crazy look in his eye—shiny and wild, like he didn’t recognize me. There are moments—the realization there is no leash and he can run far, when he is at the top of the tree and is considering leaving me—when I dare say he is hearing the call of the wild. Those moments were fascinating and frightening. I related to them and was inspired by that to make this work.

As I mentioned earlier I wanted to live like the characters in my favorite novels—Reindeer Moon, Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins. These characters all had a faithful friend/sidekick who was a non—human animal. I had Sid. And I wanted to see how feral he would go. So we went to Assateague Island to get weird.

Also I mainly make my objects out of whatever I have around with a nod to the materials used by and usefulness of the characters in those novels. Often they validate the killing of animals by using all of it’s parts. I don’t really kill anything for parts but do want animal parts in my work. Sid has plenty of fur to spare. And he and I are linked in a way that it adds meaning and magic to work parts of us into objects.

OPP: Your drawings of animals, centaurs and similar hybrids are often incredibly detailed. What kind of research goes into creating each piece?

MS: Hmm looking at books— field guides, pony guides, Equus Magazine. Reading about how their parts work. I also spent time with and photographed my aunt’s horses. Observing creatures in the wild or growing up around them helps. Just getting to know them. Repeatedly sketching. Honestly I have one trick that I think works best but I consider it a trade secret. Let’s just call it “becoming animal” because I like phrases that sound like the cover of hilarious fantasy novels.

Endangered Species Print Project

OPP: Your own art practice is hybrid in nature. You maintain an individual art practice exhibiting your work widely but also operate outside of the gallery system using your artistic talents to directly support conservation efforts and biodiversity as the co-founder of The Endangered Species Print Project (ESPP). Let’s talk about what ESPP is, how it got started, and how it relates to your work as an individual artist.

MS: Sure. The Endangered Species Print Project, according my collaborator Jenny Kendler, is our brain-love child. We both have strong feelings about conserving biodiversity on this planet.  We had been fumbling around looking for a way to use our artistic talents and skills to benefit a cause we cared about and to make an impact. ESPP is our best version of those efforts. ESPP sells limited-edition prints of critically endangered species. Prints are editioned to reflect the remaining population count of the species depicted. For example, there are only 37 Seychelles sheath-tailed bats remaining in the wild. So only 37 prints of my drawing of this bat will ever be made. Currently 100% of the proceeds from print sales are donated to a conservation organization working to conserve the species on the front lines.

When we started it was only Jenny and me. We have grown to include many guest artists, a blog, and an ESPP extended family which includes artist Christopher Reiger, OtherPeople’sPixels, who sponsors the project, Michael Czerepak of the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) Service Bureau who masterfully prints our work (and who asked me to marry him), and P.O.V. Evolving in Los Angeles, who handle our large print orders. Our work would not be possible without the help of the conservationists and organizations that we partner with nor without the many people who buy ESPP prints!

How it relates to my work as an individual artist? Well, for awhile it has taken over most of my studio time! Jenny and I do ESPP in our spare time. It quiets questions that may interrupt my concentration while drawing like “Why didn’t I go back to school for mammology instead of studio arts?” and “Shouldn’t I be doing something less selfish than this?”

OPP: What are you working on now?

MS: I’m in one of those stages were I am doing lots of little stuff, working up to the next big thing. So I’m slowly working on some books, maybe they fall into the graphic novel category with the chimp hybrid women I was drawing a few years back, I still have a few paintings to make to round out the Dawn Horse work. I’m also working on a collaborative project with artist and pal Tory Wright. I’ve collected a bunch of video and text to make a new narrated video, but at the moment I’m planning the piece to incorporate a good amount of hand drawn animation so I predict this will be a years long project. I’m fascinated/jealous of large predators so I collect pics of them on my blog Megafauna .

I’m moving into a new studio soon so I’m looking forward to that!  Honestly, I’m designing my wedding invitation. Is that lame? So far it features an eagle, a hawk, a peacock, a fox, a bear, a badger and a hare. I think someone else but I’m not sure. Oh! That’s right a slow loris.

To view more of Molly Schafer’s work visit mollyschafer.com.

Text Ad Links : What they are, and how to get rid of them.

Text Ad Links. What are they? Those annoying hotlinks connected to certain keywords on a website. When you click on them, they take you to an advertisement.

Here's some info on this technique:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-text_advertising

In other words, it's a scam/adware, and should have no part on your website! As you're admiring your content-rich, newly redesigned, SEO-optimized OPP site, you start noticing these ugly ad links popping up over certain keywords. Before you write an angry email to support, know that OPP would never sell you out for ad revenue!

There are a couple of reasons this could be happening, and some things you can check.
  • Look at your OPP site in a few browsers. Is this happening in only one browser, and is definitely not any special formatting you input into your artist statement? If it is happening in only one browser, it is possible that that browser has been infected with some kind of “secure your computer” or “accelerate your web experience” trojan software that installed ads into your browser.
  • Is this happening on any other website, such as cnn.com, or on our main site, otherpeoplespixels.com? If so, it's something local to your computer (or ISP, Internet Service Provider), as those two sites would never have ads built into the text.

If you are experiencing this issue in Firefox, please check out this add-on that can help you combat the issue:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/

And here are some other sites, for you to reference as well:

http://download.cnet.com/Safari-AdBlock/3000-2378_4-10793198.html

http://download.cnet.com/Adblock-for-Chrome/3000-11745_4-75000931.html

(As always, download files from the internet at your own risk!)

In addition to installing helpful addons, you could also try uninstalling the infected browser, and reinstalling it -- and hopefully that will clear up any type of trojan software that may have installed the ads into your browser.

Begone, Ad Links!

OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews David Kagan

An Interview with David Kagan: By OtherPeoplesPixels
The Year In Review (Live Performance)
2011
Mixed media

OtherPeoplesPixels: For your recent series The Year In Review you composed music with an electronic producer, shot short films to accompany the tracks, pressed vinyl, and staged live multimedia performances. For your previous series, The Redacted Bunny, you incorporated painting, installation, photography, and video into the structure of episodic television. How do you select the combination of media you use for each project?

David Kagan: I spent a long time trying to separate my “lofty artistic aspirations” from my “lowbrow” pop cultural interests, and found I wasn’t having very much fun making art. The Redacted Bunny was a turning point: I was finally able to openly acknowledge how pervasive the influence of television, especially bad television, had been on my life (my earliest memories are probably of The Love Boat). Hence, the work took the structural form of an episodic show. The other media included in the project followed on the basis of necessity: a cast of actors was required, therefore I fabricated costumes to alter my appearance and created a chorus of puppet co-stars. I needed sets, so I collected objects from thrift stores and I painted backdrops. A series of photographs were taken of myself and the various characters to serve as conceptual “film stills.” In exhibiting the video work, these additional elements sometimes served as installation environments. 

With The Year In Review, I sought to fulfill a nearly life-long ambition to record an album. But I didn’t want to do a half-assed job, so I set out to fully mimic the entire structure of a proper pop album ad campaign. My first love is video, so of course each of the tracks had to have its own short musical film. I’m an avid music collector (especially of electronic disco from the 70s, incidentally the style emulated in this project) and wanted to create a beautiful, fetishistic, and perhaps useless object. Hence, I had a limited run of records pressed with colored vinyl, full jacket artwork, and inner sleeve liner notes. The most exciting part of the project, however, ended up being the live performances, which I think of as “promotional appearances.” I had never sung live in public before, and I have terrible stage fright, but I wanted to push my art further outside of where I feel safe. I call these events “un-performances,” as I make no claims of having a good voice or any sort of stage presence; when in the gallery setting, I stand rather motionless and expressionless, and blend in with the other installation elements, my voice having no more importance than the projected videos, records, or other objects.

Still From "Patron Saint Of Collapsing Art Markets" (part of the The Redacted Bunny series)
2009

OPP: You star as yourself in each aspect of The Year In Review—using yourself as a test subject to explore your interests in identity construction and iconography. You also star in The Redacted Bunny but as the character Bunny Boy. Can you speak about your performative role in each series and how performing as yourself may have differed from performing as Bunny Boy?

DK: There’s no difference for me between playing “David Kagan” or a man in a rabbit suit. The two main characters in The Redacted Bunny, the transsexual mother and human-animal hybrid son, were basically my id and super ego, respectively. I never viewed them as anything other than myself in drag, playacting wild fantasies and darkest self-doubts. Eventually, though, I did come to see that the style of this work—the bright cartoon colors, camera hamming acting, and ceaseless, rapid-fire editing—created a distraction from what I was actually interested in: identity construction.

I found a more direct route to this line of inquiry by dropping the masks and wigs (well, not completely…) and using the material at hand-myself. In The Year In Review, I am “David Kagan” throughout the project, but it’s actually no more or less “acted” than the work that’s come before. Some of the song lyrics are culled from actual email exchanges with curators or quotes from art critiques I’ve had. I had to say the line (which is a quote of myself) “I do primarily video work” over and over a while back when I did a live performance of The Whitney Biennial Song. It sounds really awkward or trite to me, and yet the phrase still comes out of my mouth from time to time in daily life. It’s funny when I catch myself actually saying these things that I’ve used as song lyrics. It makes me realize that I’m acting all the time. I’m very intrigued by the prospect that I might actually be an incredibly insincere person.

OPP: Do your live performances and performative videos incorporate improvisation or do you stick to a predetermined script?

DK: I tend to be very scripted, in general. In my art and my life-it’s when I say things without first practicing them in my head that I get in trouble. Generally, the end product ends up being about 90% planned with a 10% margin for error. I guess I’ve set this strategy up for myself, almost unconsciously, so that the work has a system of internal flaws (the beauty is in the defects after all). Case in point, I shot a video, All The Conceptual Art I’ll Never Make on a rural road in Wisconsin last summer. Basically, I had to walk up and over a horizon line and traverse the better part of a mile up to where a video camera was positioned, and then sing a chorus.  The whole endeavor took about ten minutes. The landscape in the camera lens was perfectly desolate—a lonely road cutting through rolling hills of corn. The only problem was that I couldn’t stop the flow of traffic, which occurred arbitrarily: sometimes three cars would pass by in two minutes, then half an hour would go by with nothing. I had to accept that whatever was going to happen was out of my control in this respect. 

OPP: How do you think the concept of “endless hope” that you speak about in your statement for The Year In Review shapes your work and your artmaking process more generally?

DK: My knee-jerk reaction has always been to declare myself a pessimist but for some reason I am continually putting myself in situations where rejection or failure is a very possible outcome. Whether it’s applying for funding or a residency, submitting work for curatorial review, or doing a live performance with little practice or experience—I seem to just keep going regardless of what happens. Indeed, I guess my mantra is “turn your liabilities into assets.” That’s why the subject matter of much of my work is the absence of success: in The Whitney Biennial Song, an invitation and submission to a museum exhibit inevitably yields the sound of crickets chirping; Epic Pfail is about contacting a prominent artist after I’ve had a workshop residency with him and never hearing back. I’m seeking to infuse these events with a sense of purpose, by incorporating them into my work and seeing them not as mere disappointments, but key components of my art career.

OPP: The Redacted Bunny, was recently included in the Art Video International Film Festival at Cannes—congratulations. When screened at festivals is the series shown as episodes interspersed among other work or edited together sequentially?

DK: Actually, thus far it has always been screened as a single piece, but with the episodes playing non-sequentially. I chose this format as a strategy to more actively engage the viewer, forcing him to make sense of the work and construct it as a whole for himself. By nature, an episodic serial demands passivity: the spectator gives himself over to a narrative (if properly engaged) and lets it wash over himself from episode to episode, week to week, year to year. There is a sense of familiarity and stasis, especially in the sit-com genre. This is the antithesis of what the type of art I’m trying to make does; I require an obstruction, a visible thread that if pulled could unravel the very world I’ve painstakingly created.

Post x 5 Modern Tea Party
2011
Single channel video
5 min.

OPP: One of eight short films made to accompany the album tracks in your series The Year In Review features your parents and your partner. Tell me about that film. What was it like making work with your family?

DK: This is the short video Post x 5 Modern Tea Party. It was filmed over the forth of July weekend last year—the hottest two days of the entire summer! Conceptually, I’m sort of flippantly addressing the impossibility of there ever being another over-arching art movement (too many cooks in the art kitchen I suppose). It’s made all the more ridiculous with the visuals of my parents, John and I doing a synchronized dance routine in our bathing suits throughout. My ulterior motive was really to share my art making practice with the family—to include them in the process. I was attempting to foster an interaction that was outside of our normal engagement, and I wanted a record it for posterity. Of course, they might beg to differ, and see it less as collaboration and more as exploitation! My parents, though, still break into the dance moves from time to time when I see them…

OPP: How do you seek out support for your work in the form of feedback from other artists having recently graduated with an MFA from Hunter College? Are you rooted to a community of artists where you live and work in New York?

DK: This is something I’m currently sorting out, as I’m just out of grad school. A large part of why I did an MFA was to build a network of artist friends and associates. I value these relationships with former classmates and professors—and try to be diligent in supporting their exhibitions, lectures, open studios, etc.  Some schoolmates have been organizing a series of studio visits, which I plan to get looped into soon, though I guess I am still taking a break from three years of art crits!

I live on the Lower East Side, and will be doing a studio residency in my neighborhood early next year (AAI - Artists Alliance Inc.). I'm definitely looking forward to meeting some new faces and making art locally, but I have a hunch that the base of my community will remain tied to my alma mater.

OPP: What is next for you? What are you working on now?

DK: I’ve started work on more music—I’m fairly invested in that endeavor right now. It picks up thematically where the last album left off—crawling from the wreckage of an MFA program as it were. I’ve been reading books on the evils of religion (Christopher Hitchen’s God Is Not Great, Sam Harris’ The End Of Faith). It’s coloring my world right now and I’m sure it will influence the work. Love songs for atheists, perhaps?
 
I’m also very pleased to say that I’ve received a grant from Art Matters funding a project in Ghana early next year. I’m fascinated by the country—it’s where my partner is from and I’ve been just once before. I’ll be collaborating with musicians, both traditional and pop, on a filmic/music project. It’s still a bit loose as to what final form the work will take, but I’m interested in continuing to push myself further outside of what’s familiar, comfortable, or easy.

To view more of David Kagan’s work visit davidkagan.net

OPP Sponsors threewalls' Hand-in-Glove Conference

Logo Design by Plural

OtherPeoplesPixels is pleased to partner with the upcoming Hand-in-Glove Conference organized by threewalls with the Alliance for Independent Arts Organizers (AIAO) in conjunction with the MDW Fair. Hand-in-Glove will take place in Chicago October 20-23, 2011 and pre-registration is happening now (through October 8th). While the going is hot, we invited co-organizer Abigail Satinsky, Director of Programming at threewalls to fill us in on the Conference's inspiration, mission, and highlights.

AS: Hand-in-Glove is a new, semiannual conference that addresses the pragmatic realities and imaginative possibilities of self-organized, noncommercial and artist-run spaces, publications, residencies, and a variety of other pro jects that challenge traditional formats for the production and reception of art at the grass-roots level. PHONEBOOK 3, released at the Hand-in-Glove Conference and available for sale thereafter, is the essential guide for artists and arts administrators looking to connect with others in this ever-changing realm of independent artist-run culture, including everything from nonprofit and community institutions to flexible and self-organized art spaces, alternative schools, and event series. PHONEBOOK 3, in its third edition, contains over 750 listings of projects and essays by the people that run them.

Designed for both the artists who participate in these spaces and the organizers, administrators, and curators who run them, Hand-in-Glove is for anyone and everyone who participates in artist-run culture in order to talk about its past, current manifestations and potential futures. Conversations will range from sustainability to funding to unconventional organizing models, as well as the kind of creative administrative strategies people are using to stay open.  

Oftentimes, it’s  a make-do approach to keeping an artist space open or getting a publication printed. Support is usually a combination of personal donations, small amounts of grant money, the copy machine at work, and a Kickstarter campaign. At Hand-in-Glove, we want to network with each other for larger solutions as well as discuss the ethics of starting small and keeping small, the compromises of becoming bigger and the inventive problem solving that keeps independent culture alive and well. This is a creative conversation that should be collectively authored amongst artists and their support structures, taking into account the people and the economies that make things happen.

Hand-in-Glove brings together speakers from across the country that have started micro-granting initiatives, residency programs that are about learning to live off the grid, veterans of artist spaces, executive directors of venerable institutions, and amateurs. We will be hosting arts organizers from Minneapolis, Detroit, St. Louis, San Francisco, New Mexico, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Oregon, New York, and many other places. Martha Wilson of Franklin Furnace Archive, Mark Allen from Machine Project, writer Lane Relyea, Renny Pritikin, founder of the National Association of Artists Organizations, Ted Purves, artist and MFA Program Chair at California College of the Arts, and keynote Nato Thompson, curator at Creative Time (and former Chicagoan), will give their take on artist-run organizing of the last 30 years and its future. We hope you can join us!

Pre-registration (before October 8) is $100 and includes lunch on both Friday and Saturday (catered by Roots & Culture Community Kitchen) and continental breakfast on all three days. Registration at the door or after October 8 is $50/per day with no food included. We have scholarships and student discounts available, please check our website.

We also have a special offer from OtherPeoplesPixels: $25.00 off any new website account for the first year of service for every conference attendee. Email Abigail (at) three-walls.org with questions or to claim your discount.

Search Engine Optimization of your OPP Site : Part Two

Now that you have the content of your website text-rich and in tip top shape, let's move onto other things that will help with the SEO of your site.

Get the word out!

A great way to help the SEO of your site is to be linked to by other sites. No, we don't mean participating in sketchy 'I'll link to yours if you link to mine' type deals. We mean good old fashioned getting your work out there -- by being interviewed, written about, participating in networking events, art residencies, and the like.

 Google Webmaster Tools

If you do not currently have a Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) account, be sure to sign up for one. Directions on how to connect your GWT account to your OPP site can be found here:

http://wiki.otherpeoplespixels.com/help/cp/google-webmaster-tools

If you already have a GWT account, please check it regularly to see if you have any messages from Google regarding your site.

Submit your URL to Search Engines

 If you have not yet submitted your URL to Google, you may do that using the link below:

You can also request submission to Yahoo and Bing:

When submitting to Bing, please note that you don't have to set anything up with Bing Webmaster Tools. Simply go down to the bottom of the page to submit your URL using their 'deprecated tool'.

      You should also submit your URL to this independent, non-profit Web monitoring project that links to Google's directory.

      Ask Google to Recrawl your Site

      Once you have made sure that the content on your site is rich, detailed and relevant, and you have taken all the steps listed in our Google Help section, you can ask Google to reconsider your site, if you think it's been awhile since they have visited your site. Directions on how to do this, and a link to the page to request reconsideration are below. No need to worry about the technical or code related stuff here, as we take care of making sure that all this is in compliance with Google's webmaster guidelines:

      Remember that all changes to your site will take some time to be reflected in Google's index.

      Happy SEO-ing!

        OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Lilly McElroy

        2010 Was A Rough Year
        Installation Image, Thomas Robertello Gallery (Chicago)
        Stained glass window and video documentation of stand-up comedy performances

        OtherPeoplesPixels: In your artist statement you discuss your attempt to give the cliché new and personal meaning. Those ideas apply especially to your series I Throw Myself At Men, as well as your projects, Lilly invites you to come watch the sunset with her, and 2009 was a rough year. Let’s talk about how your shifting media throughout and within each these three projects effects your viewers’ interpretation of the clichés you’ve addressed. Do you yourself gain further insight from exploring the clichés from the multiple “angles” of photography, participatory websites, performances, labor-intensive constructions, and installations?

        LillyMcElroy: One of the main reasons that I make art is that I want to be able to communicate ideas. The advantage of having a multi-disciplinary practice is that I try and figure out what kind of media best conveys the concepts that I am interested in.  Also, no singular project has really provided me with complete answers or explanations to the things that I am curious about. Using a combination of media allows me to keep hacking away at an idea.

        OPP: What comes first in your art making process—an idea about a cliché or an idea for installation or performance, or do they occur to you simultaneously?

        LM: I would say that my ideas mostly come in the form of whims; a moment when I want to see what will happen if I perform an action or ask a question. My projects all begin very simply and I wind up using a lot of cliché’s because they are an effective way to communicate ideas or maybe that is just the way by brain works. I think very literally and a lot of those thoughts are clichéd. However, that thought process allows me to introduce a lot of humor to the projects. Ideas generally come first, cliché’s are just another interesting tool to work with.
        Truck Stop
        2004
        C-Print

        OPP: How do you negotiate trust and vulnerability in your work—or do you think about the interactions involved in your performances as vulnerable or requiring trust?  Are you nervous about potential outcomes before lying down in a nightgown in public as you did in Locations, leaping at strangers in bars as you did in I Throw Myself At Men, or performing other people’s jokes on stage as you did in 2009 was a rough year—or are you generally faithful in your attempts at connecting?

        LM: For my projects, I often approach strangers or am in situations where I do not have complete control. I make myself, at some level, vulnerable to other people’s responses, but I suppose that may be one of the reasons that they choose to participate in my projects.  The fact that I am vulnerable or at least making an earnest request makes it possible for them to trust me enough to participate. Hugging a stranger on the street or allowing some woman you just met at a bar to leap at you takes a little bit of bravery or trust. To be honest, I am often surprised that people are willing to participate.

        Ideas about vulnerability are most interesting, for me, in the Locations series. By lying down in public spaces, I was making myself physically vulnerable, but that action became aggressive simply because it was an interruption. I am interested in actions that can signify more than one thing, behaviors that are simultaneously loving and cruel.

        However, I am always nervous during my performances. That is part of the reason they are interesting to me and possibly part of the reason that they are successful. I am genuinely trying to connect with people and therefore the possibility of failure exists. I know to stop working on a project or performing an action when I am no longer nervous.

        Doing stand-up was a whole other type of experience, though. There was a lot of adrenaline and the moments when I actually got people to laugh at the jokes were intoxicating.
        I throw myself at men - #12
        2008
        Digital Print
        30 by 40

        OPP: Did any of the men in your series I Throw Myself At Men not attempt catch you?

        LM: Yes and I just bounced off of their chests.

        OPP: Were there any contributed jokes that you were uncomfortable performing at comedy clubs in 2009 was a rough year?

        LM: I didn’t tell any of the racist jokes and I partially feel like that was a cop-out.  I was supposed to be telling all the jokes that people sent in, but I couldn’t.  

        OPP: How does the idea of failure factor in your bodywork as a whole?

        LM: Failure is key or at least the possibility of failure is key. Without that possibility there would be nothing to root for. It would be like watching a sports movie without the underdogs.

        OPP: You’ve written about the gestures that you enact in your performances as simultaneously loving and cruel. Can you give me an example of how that duality plays out in a particular piece?

        LM: Hugs is the first piece that comes to mind. For this video I hugged strangers without asking their permission.  A hug, a loving and tender gesture, became aggressive and selfish. My behavior was a demand that people engage with me and there is something very mean about that. That said, there were a few moments of legitimate tenderness in the video, moments when my gesture actually felt wanted. That is what I mean by loving and cruel.

        OPP: Your drawing and paper mache installation, I kicked a dog implicates you as either having kicked what appears to be a friendly non-threatening dog, or wanting to. How does your Dog series factor into a body of work concerned with implicating yourself and others? Was this an attempt at making it clear that you are aware of your complicated position in your work—or did you just want to be sure and eliminate the possibility of ever being able to adopt a pet?

        LM: That project had a lot to do with frustration, with wanting to destroy or reject something lovely because of desperation.
          
        OPP: What are you working on now?

        LM: A bullmastiff named Buttons saved my dad when he was 11. Right now I am working on a sculpture of that dog.
        To view more of Lilly McElroy’s work work visit lillymcelroy.com

        Search Engine Optimization of your OPP Site : Part One

        Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a big deal these days. Making the first page of results for a specific group of terms is fantastic -- the top result, the best!

        OPP takes care of all of the technical aspects of SEO for you -- so you don't have to worry about any of those things. But before you throw up your hands in relief, remember that you alone are the content manager of your OPP site! This means that you and you alone have the ability to keep your site appealing to search engines.

        In Part One, we'll focus on content and the OPP settings that will maximize the SEO of your site. In Part Two, we'll focus on the other things you can do to help with the SEO of your site.

        Text, text, text.

        The absolute number one key thing to do is to make sure that the text content on your site is detailed, specific and relevant to the keywords you want people to use in search engines (especially your name), since this is how search engines decide what your site is all about.

        Here are some do's and don'ts when it comes to content:

        • Do add titles to your pieces
        • Do add text or descriptions to your images
        • Do add a content rich Artist Statement to your Home Page
        • Do use your name and most important keywords in your Home Page text
        • Don't leave your Home Page with no text on it -- Home Pages are one of the top places Google looks for keywords, and is also where Google gets the description of your site for its listing
        • Don't enter dots or spaces in between the letters of your name as your website title -- 'J o e S m i t h' and 'J-o-e-S-m-i-t-h' does not equal 'Joe Smith' to a computer

        Template

        If you are using one of our old-school Flash skins, we highly recommend that you switch to using an HTML Template, as our Templates allows Google's robots to 'read' the text on your site, therefore finding your name and keywords more easily. Google's increasing prejudice against Flash-based is part of the reason we designed the new Templates.
               * You'll only see the Flash skins as an option in your Control Panel if you've been using one for a long time. If you don't see this option, don't worry – this means you're using the correct Templates!

        Image Settings

        If you haven't already, we recommend that you switch both your Normal Image Settings and your Zoom Image Settings to 'Shared (HTML).

        Having public images is also just a good thing in general as bloggers, galleries and curators can grab your images for their files and articles this way.

        Worried about image theft? See this post.

        Having your Image Settings as 'Shared (HTML), along with detailed Captions (see the next step) can be VERY helpful.

        Captions

          Something to be aware of is that Google has also stopped using 'behind-the-scenes' keywords (technically <meta tags>), such as the ones you may have entered into the Keywords section of your Control Panel --- so that makes it all the more important to have your content visible in the text on your website itself.

          Instead, it is very important to fill in the 'Caption' section of each Image.

          Like all of the content on your site, these should be honest and descriptive, as search engines are good at spotting tricks. :) A good description would consist of something like "photograph of galaxies rainbows kittens and sunset by Your Name." This will help search engines get more info about your site and can assist in getting your images on Google Image search.

          Remember though that Google Image Search is designed to find images OF something, not BY someone. A search for your name is more likely to bring up a photo of you, as opposed to work by you.

          That's all for now, folks. Till Part Two!

          OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Adam Ekberg

          Cocktail umbrella and bic lighter
          2009

          OtherPeoplesPixels: Many of your incredible range of photographs from the past five years have everything to do with presence and absence—and perhaps more accurately with the presence within absence. What inspires your investigations surrounding these ideas?

          Adam Ekberg: This working methodology comes, pretty specifically, out of my failure to represent ideas with “straight photography.” Prior to graduate school I was a caretaker at a six-bed facility for people living with HIV and AIDS. I was really interested in the disparity between the systems surrounding death and the organic death. I was with people when they died and in awe of how amazing and unique each patient was. Comparatively, after these patients died, they got pushed through this final bureaucracy. As a direct result, I made formal pictures of funeral homes that, while formally beautiful, represented a way of making that fundamentally did not work for me.

          These failed pictures led me to turn my way of making photographs inside out so that instead of concentrating on systems that the individual occupies, I make unique actions in empty spaces–apartments and landscapes. This transition from the universal to the personal helped to define what I do now. I have realized that the simple things done to amuse myself are worth capturing with my camera. I remember an amazing afternoon in the late 1990’s when several friends and I raced an empty Kool Whip container against an orange Tupperware container down a New Mexico stream. We came increasingly invested in the outcome of these races and watching the colorful containers race through the desert was absolutely hilarious and beautiful.

          These days, I think more and more that a good photograph is the result of a memory coming out sideways. My best example is my first memory: watching the barn next to my childhood home burn down after being set on fire by an arsonist. I recall being held by neighbors while my father sprayed down our house with a garden hose to prevent it from burning. I was wearing spaceship pajamas and holding a glow-stick that a neighbor of my parents had given me. At its peak, people could feel the heat and see the fire from miles away. Holding that small glow-stick while watching the giant flames take over the barn and rise into the sky was a pretty good introduction to one person’s smallness within the universe.

          From the inside looking out
          2010

          OPP: I love From the inside looking out—your photograph of ovals drawn into the steam on a windowpane. The ovals outline light sources as seen (as the title implies) from the inside looking out, but there is something intimate about your ovals beyond their obvious hand-drawn quality. I know you create all of the constructions that appear in your photographs to exist in the world (as opposed to digitally manipulating them). I’m curious if you create each with someone in particular in mind? There is something romantic about many.

          AE: That picture was made while boiling water for pasta on a winter night in Chicago. A friend was over for dinner and drew circles on the condensation in the window. If you looked through one eye from this specific place in my kitchen, the circles lined up with the lights in the parking lot. I thought that was really wonderful because it made me think about the space in between yourself and the world around you, as if the windows functioned as eyes. I attempted to take a picture of it but my camera’s lens kept fogging up so I recreated the situation on the following evening. Looking back on it, I am struck by how wonderful it is, not just as an image but also as a gesture.

          OPP: Can you speak about how lighting and illumination play into your body of work as a whole?

          AE:
          Even though it is obviously one of the elements of any photograph, I don’t think about lighting that much on a conscious level. When I use light as an overt ingredient—such as refracting a shaft of light with the camera lens or capturing the physicality of light in a smoked out room—I am interested first and foremost in making its presence known. I think a good metaphor would be having a neighbor over for dinner that you have lived next-door to for years, but never spoken to.


          Untitled (levitating pink umbrella)
          2010

          OPP: You’ve written about repositioning celebratory iconography to create minor spectacles: balloons, cocktail umbrellas, disco balls, soap bubbles, and lens-based refractions. The result is always magical and usually surprisingly so. Over time, has it become more difficult for you to maintain a sense of magic in what you do?

          AE: In many ways, I am the luckiest artist in the world, because my work investigates the commonplace. There seems to be no end to human beings’ ability to generate the mundane. I marvel at these moments of toenail cutting, tax doing, shoelace tying, and paperwork filing. It is of course a completely different exercise in taking these things and making art from them.

          I feel best about my practice when I am simultaneously creating pictures that seem like what I am known for doing and starting to make images that deviate from that. I recently made a picture of a shadow falling on a wall. There is a knothole in the wall and a human eye exists in the place of where the shadow’s eye would be (if shadows had eyes). So the resulting photograph is a kind of visual pun. This image is both grounded in what I have done and provides fertile ground in which to grow.

          Shadow and eye
          2010

          OPP: What does a day in the studio look like for you? Do you “sketch” with your camera or does your process perhaps include writing, drawing, or pursuing the materials you ultimately photograph?

          AE: I have a notebook and I make a lot of sketches of my ideas. I should “sketch” with my camera a lot more than I do, but I mostly make drawings. I like to sit and let my mind wander. I like to ride my bike because it gives my body something to do to keep it busy—my conscious mind pays attention to not running into trees but my unconscious is allowed to drift. Since a lot of my photographs come out of experiences—or an effort to reconstruct an experience or a memory or perhaps to mythologize a previous experience—I tinker a lot while I am thinking about things.

          The photograph Cocktail umbrella and Bic lighter is a good example of that. I was sitting in my apartment waiting for someone. Bored, I wedged a cocktail umbrella in the lighter making the gas stay on. When I later restaged that moment to photograph the lighter on my coffee table, the light from the flame was refracted by the lens making a warm circle of light in the picture. I love this picture because its origin is firmly grounded in playing with commonplace objects, but at the same time the result is this mundane sculpture with a halo around it that is reminiscent of painted depictions of Christ and Saints.

          OPP: You are an Assistant Professor of Photography and Digital Media, School of Art and Art History at University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. How does teaching influence your art practice?

          AE: I love teaching and am really lucky to have joined an amazing faculty at University of South Florida. I teach two classes and work with five graduate students each semester. A day of doing studio visits is my favorite—when I get to walk into grad studios and spend an hour talking to people about their work. Being surrounded by people who are working through ideas and constantly improving their ability to articulate these ideas is truly inspiring and motivating for me to do the same.

          OPP: What is next for you? Tell me about your upcoming solo show at Thomas Robertello Gallery.

          AE: Having just had solo-exhibitions at Platform Gallery in Seattle and Fotografiska in Stockholm last spring, I am now preparing for an exhibition at Thomas Robertello Gallery this October. I have a good part of the late summer free to make images and am looking forward to driving to New England to do so. Several friends of mine live on large, beautiful pieces of land in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, so they give me pseudo-residencies. My notebook is full of sketches for photographs I want to create. I can’t wait to wake up in the woods where the only thing on my ‘to do list' is to make pictures.

          To view more of Adam Ekberg’s work visit adamekberg.com