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Walker Open Field LogoThis past year saw several prominent museums open their doors to public participation in ways they had never before, such as inviting visitors to submit works for exhibition or help determine curatorial selections. At the kickoff event for the Walker Art Center’s Open Field program on 3 June, Jon Ippolito contrasts three different models for the commons such institutions can choose from–a market, a zoo, or a tribe.

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Waterfall Arts presents Still Water Co-Director Joline Blais talking about her work in ecology, the New Commons, and cross-cultural networking on Monday 26 April at 7pm.

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Distant Neighbor Screenshot smaOn March 30, 2010, Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito present “Beyond Facebook: From Cliques to Kinship” as part of the University of Maine’s Women in the Curriculum and Women’s Studies Program.

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Still Water has been awarded a Maine Water Resources Research Institute grant for a community-based ecological intervention that is creative and practical at the same time. The project takes place at LongGreenHouse, a site at the southern edge of the Orono campus dedicated to the intersection of old and new models of sustainability.

The initiative will take a core Permaculture design principle–“the problem is the solution”–and focus energy on transforming a current economic and ecological liability (stormwater run-off) into an educational and economic asset (collaborative ecological restoration and food production). In the process–via online documentation, social networking, and artists’ engagement–this LongGreenHouse project will raise public awareness of the effectiveness of collaborative and ecological designs.

The application received the highest score of relevance from all three of its reviewers, who noted:

“I have met with the investigators and am convinced that their work will be of the highest caliber. They are inventive and dedicated and have been inspirational to students and faculty on campus.”

“This proposal’s potential value to society is great–especially in an increasingly resource constrained world where current human behavior, technologies and development patterns are nearly completely unsustainable and in need of deep redesign….its integration of art, community and design engineers holds the potential to communicate the culture-shift necessary to move up-stream and eventually eliminate many of the toxic and organic sources of waste currently entering water ways.”

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Life art ImageA new University of Maine class in Life Art (NMD430/520) explores the boundaries of artistic collaboration by encouraging students to co-create with entire ecosystems of humans and other critters.

Life artists may :

  • Crowd-source their artmaking with 10,000 earthworms.
  • Get frogs to do their drawings for/with them.
  • Create sculpture ‘for the birds’ so they can survive destroyed migratory paths across continents.
  • Clone cruelty-free meat via the latest gene manipulation.
  • Get Michelle Obama to “perform” their art piece.
  • Plan an art opening with full course cross-species meals (eg for human and geese).

Student projects may draw from indigenous culture, digital culture, and/or permaculture, and will be featured in an exhibition at the end of the term. The course takes place at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine and is organized by Joline Blais in collaboration with Waterfall Arts and Unity College.

This New Media class is open to graduate students, qualified undergraduates, and members of the community. For more information, contact Joline Blais.

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From 24-26 September 2009, Espacio Enter brought artists, performers, technologists, and theorists to Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Organized by Montse Arbelo and Joseba Franco, directors and founders of ART TECH MEDIA, the conference explored possible scenarios for the future of creativity and new media over the next few decades, and gathered a diverse ensemble of presenters representing art, industry, and particle physics.

The cultural preconditions for sharing culture, energy, and emotion were a recurrent topic among presenters at Espacio Enter’s “Future Now” symposium, who hailed from Japan, Australia, and other Asian locales as well as Europe and the US. Eyebeam director Amanda McDonald-Crowley surveyed her institution’s many creative approaches to sustainability. Korean puppeteer Semi Ryu used a digital interface to inject reciprocality into the relationship between puppets and their “masters.” Transmediale curator Ela Kagel described her research on hybrid economies, and wondered aloud what a business run according to artistic principles might look like.

Drawing on themes from At the Edge of Art and the forthcoming book The Innovators, Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito presented “New Media Join the Rest of the World,” a look at creators who are taking the lessons learned in building online communities and re-applying them back in the real world. While Blais and Ippolito stressed the way networks can level the playing field compared to the hierarchies of broadcast media, Gunalan Nadarajan pointed out that the very inequalities of networks such as the electrical grid can become artistic fodder in the hands of artists such as Ashok Sukumaran, who invites street vendors in Bombay to share electricity with local apartment owners.

Blais in turn argued that the ethic of networks is one of connection rather than detachment, and that the simple act of listening to the natural world can be revolutionary in the face of the increasing mediation of technology and consumer culture. She demo’d the project Request For Ceremony, a set of community-created protocols for reconnecting with nature modeled on the famous Request for Comments (RFCs) that galvanized designers of the early Internet.

All in all, the discussion reinforced the importance of distinguishing between the technical and social definitions of shared networks.

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A landmark publication from renowned art-and-design publisher Thames & Hudson will examine the latest generation of innovators from art, architecture, design, and related fields. Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito have co-authored the new media section of the book.

Drawing on and extending themes from At the Edge of Art, Blais and Ippolito examine five artists and activists who bring strategies from the realm of electronic networks into action in the real world.

This highly produced volume is due to be published later this year, on the occasion of Thames & Hudson’s sixtieth anniversary.

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We invite Wassookeag women and friends to join us for our first Womens; Gathering hosted at LongGreenHouse (5 Chapel) by Miigam’agan. Kate Hastings will open our gathering with a short tribal dance to link our hearts and energies together for the joyous journey ahead! Food Welcome, but come as you are!

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 Still Water’s living-learning center on Chapel Street, LongGreenHouse, has been exploring the intersection between Native culture and Permaculture with students from many walks of life. In July thirty students from the university’s Upward Bound program attended Joline Blais’ workshops on greenhouses and plant guilds.

Longgreenhouse Logo pinMeanwhile kids from LongGreenHouse’s Wassookeag school have been busy too: in April they made dreamcatchers with Penobscot elder Charlene Francis; in July they visited the Black Bear Food Guild; in September they built a geodesic dome with Intermedia MFA student Bill Giordano. The BBFG’s July newsletter described the Wassookeag students as “intelligent, thoughtful, and incredibly enjoyable”; they “had a zeal for learning that was really amazing.”

More at http://wassookeag.org

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Subversion Poster illStill Water Research Fellow and Wabanaki elder gkisedtanamoogk joined Joline Blais and Jon Ippolito in presenting Still Water’s innovative legal template for fostering collaboration across cultural divides at a Cambridge University conference entitled Subversion, Conversion, Development: Public Interests in Technologies.

Meant to expand the conversation begun at Still Water’s 2006 and 2007 Connected Knowledge conferences, this meeting featured researchers in the fields of anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, and the tech industry.

See the ThoughtMesh summary of the Subversion conference.

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