The spam I (secretly) most appreciate is the sort that uses randomly generated text cut-ups to bust spam filters, some of them fully worthy of the cut-up experiments Burroughs and Gysin were doing in the late 50s / early 60s.

In a gravitation without warning the face of rubbing grew sullen Black angry mouths, the clouds swallowed up the horsehair The air was religion with suppressed excitement

The Brothers McLeod are doing wonderful things with cut-up spam, having developed a series of animated characters to read aloud and act out the impossible, often mythical scenarios.

nodded. The door was closed and sealed again. Quietly forward. Hands extended, fingers lightly bowed. Iron John was Thats why there is no record of them

My own spam filters seem to have wised up to this form of spam in the past year, but every now and then one will eep through the multiple gatekeepers that mostly protect me from scarybig Spamland, discretely dropping special treats at my door in the middle of the night, causing me to feel the tiniest bit hopeful.

Accidental art committed for all the wrong reasons can still be beautiful, right?

Music: Will Oldham :: Ode #1b

San Francisco in Jell-O

Hickock1 Liz Hickok creates scale models of San Francisco cityscapes, then uses the models to create Jell-O molds by the hundreds. The Jell-O cityscapes are lit and filled to perfection, wanting only a giant dollop of Cool Whip (which is itself “a delicious blend of sugar, wax, and condom lube”).

Similar to making a movie set, I add backdrops, which I often paint, and elements such as mountains or trees, and then I dramatically light the scenes from the back or underneath. The Jell-O sculptures quickly decay, leaving the photographs and video as the remains.

The labor involved in creating these must be intensive. The results strike me as super-saturated, glowing representations both of SF’s jellified undercarriage and its playful surface life. The molds later become art objects themselves.

Music: Mr. Smolin :: Face The World

Maker Faire 2007

Spectacle-Tm Spent the day with Miles at Maker Faire 2007, where you can’t swing a cat without clobbering a team of reality hackers. Enjoyed the giant Mousetrap game (perfect functional replica of the original, writ large (very large)), the myriad bicycle hacks from Cyclecide, the whale blimp, Ukey Stardust (the entirety of David Bowie’s ;em>Ziggy Stardust performed on ukuleles), the Victorian mini-mansion on wheels Neverwas Haul, The Disgusting Spectacle (kids running on a hamster wheel cause giant to pick enormous gobs of snot from nose), playing with stop-motion claymation video, performance by the original Pepsi and Mentos dudes, the sonar-controlled self-balancing skateboard (which both Miles and I rode!), the endless procession of robots both sleek and gritty – some of them engaged in mortal combat, others the picture of gentility.

Flickr set posted, though I think my set from last year was better (in fact, I think Maker Faire was better last year in general, but not by much – may have been a state of mind, or creeping jadedness). But Maker Faire has already become an amazing father/son bonding tradition thing for us. Now I just need to learn to weld before he turns five.

Music: Velvet Underground :: Sweet Jane

Goodbye Shipyard

Sad news: Berkeley’s unique mechanical artists’ collective The Shipyard is being closed down by the city, after six years of creative construction and innovative alternative energy production. At core is The Shipyard’s use of shipping containers as storage and construction bases, and the city’s perception of them as unsafe. Shipyard is moving to Oakland, so it’s not a total write-off, but Berkeley as an alternative cultural mecca will be worse for the loss.

Clock Building
Photo: Scott Beale, Laughing Squid

Neverwas Haul, the ‘Yard’s three-story steam-powered Victorian House, will be on display at this year’s Maker Faire (Miles and I will be there!).

Shipyard rep Jim Mason’s letter to the City of Berkeley is reproduced on their site – the crew is scrambling to meet Berkeley’s demands (which appear to be impossible).

Covered at Laughing Squid and on the O’Reilly Radar.

Venus de Moto

Ezra Demoto    Ezra Ambassador

Traveled with some of our visiting journalists yesterday to the hideout of Ezra Daly, who makes instruments (mostly basses) out of junkyard parts and found objects. Pictured: Venus de Moto and Frankenbass — the latter crafted from an old Moto Guzzi Ambassador gas tank, resting in an old Yamaha chassis re-deployed as a bass stand. The instruments are gorgeous in person. Long in the making, one-of-a-kind, and completely functional. Total commitment and patience in these. Daly plays mostly psychobilly and cow-punk, but has very eclectic tastes. I was sort of a hanger-on, mostly went along to see the instruments, and to help with tech stuff as needed. Amazing to see these instruments in person, and to hear them played. With fire.

Update: One of the journalists put an image of me from the same visit up on his Flickr account. Not particularly flattering, but love the lighting.

Music: Ozric Tentacles :: Ayurvedsim