Proposals

1. Proposal for a long-term Forest Garden in the land. For many years in the United States, we approximate an acre of space (per person) for our food needs. In the space of one acre, I would like to grow and care for a forest garden. Based on perennials, they need care and upkeep for roughly the first two years, and after that can thrive and flourish on their own, providing food and natural beauty for observers and users. The largest of several layers of a forest garden is the tree layer, in need of full light of the sun to thrive and support their growth. They form a shade canopy that shrubs, vines, and ground plants thrive in. Many natural forests fit this pattern, yet with judicious selection these gardens provide a compatible, mutually supportive community of edible plants, a forest garden.

Variation on this proposal: Scaled back, a steel spherical terraced garden 16’ in diameter based on the perennial forest garden.

2. On an exploratory walk and meditative journey from Brooklyn to Storm King, I map a route through significant historic earthwork sites, from “Wheatfield” to the “Monuments of Passaic”. Over the course of seven days I collect objects on the way, and wrap them together into a large bundle that I continue to roll to Storm King, responding to the most significant earthworks of our day, the landfills.

Variation on this proposal: A meditative practice, an 8’ bundle of objects collected on a journey to Storm King from New York City is dragged repeatedly around a circle at Storm King over eight days, creating a deep depression in the soil. After eight days, it is left in place, half submerged in a 4’ depression.

FOOD AND WATER NETWORKS how to

FOOD AND WATER NETWORKS (download full booklet: HowTo_Performing Economies)

As environmental instability continues to transform our cities, how can we connect local networks and individual efforts to work together more cohesively? How can cities utilize the tools of resource decentralization and network interdependency found in global supply chains to provide for each other locally, and how can these local chains more clearly account for social and environmental costs embedded in production?

Recent volatility in global food and fuel costs has increased public awareness of the existing food supply’s vulnerability as well as the detrimental effects of industrialized food systems. As cities increase focus on the effects of climate change on lives, public officials need to fully consider environmental costs as well as the affects of dependency on exterior sources of shipping in food and water.

Strong movements have been building in urban communities across America. People are planting home gardens and forming community-wide initiatives that support urban farms, rainwater collection, and storm water management. Currently, NYC has 7 community farms, 390 community gardens, 3 commercial farms, 117 public school gardens, and 245 New York City Housing Authority gardens.

In 2009 I launched the Waterpod Project: a public space, habitat, and living system on a barge that navigated New York City’s waterways. One of the project goals was to subsist off of the food we grew, eggs from four chickens, solar and bike power, and purified rainwater. All of the materials were found or exchanged through barters arranged with businesses and municipal agencies in NYC. I wanted to figure out how much time was spent maintaining these systems versus our hourly pay working day jobs to purchase these supplies outright. After an initial large investment of our own labor, we ended up with a system that supplied us with all of our basic needs for around 2.5 hours a day.

In 2012 I embarked on the Flock House project: a group of three spherical public spaces that moved around NYC in 2012. Of significant difference was the fact that the Flock House living systems could not fully support a family or even one person. We relied on barter and trade with our neighbors to meet basic needs. One of the goals of Water and Food Networks is to emphasize working together and sharing tools that can empower each other. This booklet explores local ecologies, resource exchange, and practical techniques for small-scale water and food systems.

FOOD AND WATER NETWORKS was written for Performing Economies and Thirst.

Here are plans for the Techne Rover, created for UB, and changes made to my specs for Performing Economies. Blueprints attached:

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WetLand asset mapping

WetLand2 WetLand3 WetLand4 WetLand5

Case study: WetLand Philadelphia

1.  Beginning with an idea and local, I look for interested partners, creating an “asset map” of people in the city of Philadelphia, finding others working in similar realms or with similar goals (whether schools, businesses, community groups, or individuals).

2.  Then, reaching out and sharing the project plans, I inquire as to their potential interest in working together in some way, or if I can help facilitate their missions. This could be as simple as circulating information about their group through the physical and virtual spaces of the project, or as complex as asking for contributions.

a.  For instance, students working in ecological design at Lincoln High School are taking a semester to design an efficient solar cooker for this project, and are using the same solar cooker for an entry into a science competition. The device is useful to the project, and we become their test subjects to collect data about their work. Of course WetLand is also a platform for their project.

3.  Alternative Economies: The economies involved are important and worth investigating here. I’m either asking people to participate in a type of barter, mutual promotion, or asking them to accept a stipend for their contribution (of hosting a workshop, for example).

4.  I try to establish roles and credit for mutual intellectual property in collaborative participation early on.

5.  Networks and Audiences: After a process of asset mapping and finding people who would like to be involved and share similar goals, we have together created a network where for a short time, this sculpture can act as a node or even a hub to a created network. After the project’s duration, the network lives on. With this process, there is a built-in audience of stakeholders who can help circulate information about the project.

Totems from Geodesic Domes

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As part of a research project on counterculture movements I’ve been making totems from past projects that have included geodesic domes.

Artifacts from public spaces like Waterpod project (NY, 2009), the Flock House Project (NY, Boston, and Omaha, ongoing), and Triple Island (LES, NY 2013) are repurposed into three sculptural totems. They were once functional, utilized as domes, spheres, or walls that constructed spaces for inhabitants and guests.

I refer to Buckminster Fuller’s work with geodesic domes for several reasons. I believe in his rhetoric about considering accessibility through tools. For him the dome was all about making something that anyone could build.  I believe it’s important for each of us to be able to make things that we can use with and amongst other people.

My views differ from Fuller’s proclamations in many ways. Fuller argued that appropriate means of dissemination (smooth supply chains) was the answer to housing everyone. We are very aware that isn’t true. I’m concerned about the dependency many people have on large, complex supply chains to meet our most basic needs, and believe that powerful supply networks have enabled endless development, while numerous political and market-driven factors keep us from ever reaching Fuller’s utopian goals.

That same optimism of Fuller’s is clear in the symbol of the dome. Yet the photographs of mostly abandoned communes where the dome stood (symbolic for decades) tell a different set of stories. Those are the stories I’m interested in unpacking. What was this countercultural movement, actually? What can it tell us about the solitude of small communities? How did Fuller’s intentions fit into this very Libertarian set of values?

I’ve been creating these living systems that always contain some aspect of function versus non-function, and always utilize steel conduit for part of the architecture.  Often the conduit I use has been repurposed from buildings that require electrical wiring to be covered in steel.  Using materials leftover from one building to create another has been a consistency in this work. It narrates a new space being built from an old one, but this time it’s severe, almost dystopian but with an element of potential through resource-sharing. Many times it’s mobile due to economic, environmental and political conditions. It’s about working with what you have, finding anything potentially suitable to build a structure, and many times the structure that can be built is round because of odds and ends that need to be pieced together.

With the totems I’m thinking about the final form, the non-utilitarian art object, the useless, and to me these are the most dystopian of all. Relics of hope turned luxury item.

What about a FellowShare

Not exclusive to a particular community, dislocation and relocation due to economic and environmental challenges are commonplace in New York City. Slow displacement from gentrification results in a competitive arena whereby people are forced into positions of offense or defense, seeking out or protecting precarious spaces around the city. On the contrary, quick displacement as the result of trauma from sudden upheaval or emergency often generates a communal response. For instance, stories surrounding devastation caused by recent Hurricane Sandy focus on unparalleled experiences of neighbors helping, housing, and sharing resources with one another.

Working with artists whose spaces are often in a state of flux, as well as people who have lost their homes or workspaces throughout New York City, I am dedicated to an art project that focuses on collaborations that emerge from space and resource sharing. A catalyst for alternative forms of living and working, the “Fellow-share” project enables collective experiences through collaborations based on non-monetary exchanges.

The first year of the “Fellow-share” project will begin by working with two specific communities: people within a range of businesses or municipal organizations are paired with artists. The artists’ work relates to the organizations they would “fellow-share” with. In exchange for space to work, artists are tasked with repurposing a percentage of the organization’s waste, diverting potential resources from the waste stream. This exchange could unfold in many ways. Artists may choose to use waste in artwork or find others who can utilize the waste, creating a networked supply-chain based on resource sharing. Sharing space and resources for the mutual experience of living and working interdependently is the crux of this project.

“Fellow-share” poses the questions: What could the effects be of artists integrating their studio spaces into a larger working community? What can the experiences be of individuals and community members who live and work in a city where integration is nurtured on this scale? How can the “Fellow-share” project become a catalyst for lasting relationships formed across-disciplines? In a world where sought-after resources including minerals, oil, and clean water are being depleted and polluted, waste carries social and environmental traumas with it, from extraction, to production, distribution, consumption, discard, and degradation. Can we find a way to repurpose materials in a direct, immediate way together?

The dialogic processes that build toward “Fellow-share” collaborations are creative and aesthetic experiences. From its moment of inception, the project will form networks of individuals, groups, and conversations that can be documented and persist as a blueprint.  The “Fellow-share” project is a step towards a more long-term utopian social change, based on compassion, empathy, understanding, and mutual learning.

Please contact me if you are interested in participating.

Research On Sleep

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/opinion/sunday/goodnight-sleep-clean.html?_r=1

Mono versus polyphasic sleep:

http://www.polyphasicsociety.com/polyphasic-sleep/overviews/monophasic/

Segmented:

http://www.polyphasicsociety.com/polyphasic-sleep/overviews/segmented-sleep/

Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Sleep:

http://www.polyphasicsociety.com/polyphasic-sleep/overviews/dymaxion/

24/7 Notes (email me for full pdf of the book)

Working Toward WetLand

The one-page document I’ve been working on to explain WetLand:

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Overview of the WetLand project

WetLand is an island-based ecosystem and mobile habitat that will float on the Delaware River.  To be offered in the summer of 2014, WetLand is a stage for storytelling about our community’s shared future, and about the impact each individual can have on the environment. Combining art, life on the water, architecture, and environmental technologies into one space, it promotes involvement through an environment based on exchange. A central part of the project will be take-away materials with instructions for building some of the systems on board WetLand.

WetLand resembles a partially submerged building, describing our potential environmental future. A 40x20x3’ seafaring vessel composes the primary infrastructure. The interior of the partially submerged house contains a live, work, and enclosed performance space. WetLand’s ecosystem include rainwater collection and purification, greywater filtration, dry compost systems, chickens, outdoor vegetable gardens, indoor aquaponics, and railing gardens circling WetLand’s perimeter. Building supplies for WetLand include reused materials from the local waste-stream such as steel, 55-gallon drums, wood, and architectural tensile fabric. Terraformed gardens around the perimeter of the structure will mimic a natural wetland. As experiments, we will monitor them to test their remediation qualities throughout the project. Through partnerships with local educational institutions such as Lincoln High School, WetLand will engage students to help steward the space, collect data about energy use and production, and test and maintain on-board water systems.

Events will be programmed with FringeArts. Residents will live on board and host activities, from workshops to skill shares. High school and college students in Philadelphia will help steward the space, collect data about energy use and production, and test and maintain onboard water systems. Equal parts symbolic, social, stage, shelter, and service, WetLand is an argument for thriving local economies that consider our environment.

Where: WetLand will be constructed at Pier 9, across from FringeArts in Old Town, Philadelphia. It will be tugged to Penn’s Landing adjacent to the Seaport Museum and open to the public on August 15,2014.

When: WetLand will launch August 15th on the Delaware River at Penn’s Landing and run through  September 31, 2014.

Why:   Art is integral to imagining new worlds.  WetLand is a mobile, sculptural habitat and public space atop a barge made to explore solutions for sea-level rise, housing, resource interdependence, and a decrease in useable land. Increased attention paid to the social and environmental impacts involved in resource production, distribution, use, and finally discard are important ideas to take away from WetLand. The structure integrates nature with urban spaces. WetLand helps local economies strengthen and grow by bringing together a broad range of communities to the space. This enables new friendships and collective experiences through exchange-based collaborations, while recognizing other ways of working and being together and living with nature.

How:  Building supplies for WetLand are reclaimed from the local waste stream to further narrate a future when reuse is common and parts are made with found materials. This project will be completed through FringeArts, the James L. Knight Foundation, the Independent Seaport Museum and the partnerships we make together.

An interview for a textbook with Oxford University Press on 4D Art

Tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist. What is your practice like; how do you work?

I never separate the art I make from my life. Art to me is as necessary as our basic human needs. Food, water, shelter, tools, land, the seen and unseen networks that comprise them embody some of my deepest concerns. My work involves processes of research, building, experimenting, and documenting. I begin research through mapping a site from its physical properties to its embedded social, economic, and political power structures. I then map the supply chain for the materials used to build sculptures, and undertake experiments with them, finally documenting them photographically.

Please describe your work, “Waterpod” (2009), from your point of view

The Waterpod was a floating sculptural living system that circumnavigated New York’s five boroughs in 2009. It was built on a 100 x 30’ flat deck barge and consisted of a fully functional ecosystem that provided food, energy, and clean water to inhabitants and guests through regenerating gardens, chickens for eggs, rainwater purification, greywater cycling, solar and human powered electrical energy. The food, water and human waste cycled through the on-board living systems into renewed soil and water. Building materials used to make the structures were also from New York’s waste stream. I left only a few times over the course of five months. One of my goals was to test the living systems to see if they could provide enough sustenance to live on. I imagined the structure as a proposal for a future New York with less dependence on a global supply chain for resources, with more people contending with rising sea levels and less useable or affordable land, but I also wanted to describe the way people the world over are already living, to illustrate our interconnectedness and interdependency. It was a stage, and an experiment. Five friends lived with me on the Waterpod including Ian Daniel, Mira and Derek Hunter, Eve K. Tremblay, and Allison Ward. Close to 200,000 people visited in the span of the five months it traveled around New York.

Have you had any memorable responses to this piece? And if yes, please describe.

Yes, the Waterpod was a unique public and private space. It brought together numerous people and over fifty local businesses with municipal agencies to work towards permits and regulations for this structure to be a city-wide public, floating space. Because it was such a different space especially in a city like New York, I found that most people were very open, letting their guards down. In turn, so did I. People met aboard the Waterpod and I later heard they had formed deep friendships, and a couple even started a business together making sub-irrigated planters from 5-gallon buckets. On some days, strangers brought us gifts like home baked bread. It was remarkable and unforgettable. I also became more aware about just how vast our experiences are as humans. Many people I met onboard Waterpod had never seen a live chicken before, and others came with such vast experience, we learned how to better care for ours through their knowledge. The knowledge sharing that happened on the Waterpod was unlike anything I’ve been able to be in midst of.

Please name three artists you are influenced by and why.

The work of artist/architect Gordon Matta-Clark has been important to me. His work with underused urban architecture in pieces like “Splitting” and “Conical Intersects” are powerful because of their raw spontaneity and their relationships to particular sites and a specific time in NYC. The process of obtaining slivers of land for his Fake Estates project clearly speaks to bureaucracy and the nuances of land ownership in a way that is critical, humorous, laborious and Sisyphean, detailed, and brazen. His collaboration with Carol Goodden called Food, a restaurant and meeting space for a community of artists in Lower Manhattan but also a business that supported many of their friends is a model I experiment with directly. His urban vignettes with containers and spontaneous videos such as Clockshower have all been influential.

Both Robert Smithson and Ana Mendieta’s approach to working with land has been influential. Robert Smithson’s Floating Island has been a clear influence but his ability to take earthly or industrial materials and transform them into something otherworldly has always been something I’ve been conscious of. The importance of the photographic record in their more ephemeral works formed my understanding of photography. Believing in interdependencies between humans and the natural world, Ana Mendieta rejected many attempts to classify her work into familiar limits of medium-based art categories that separate us. Rather than associate herself with Land Art she dismissed associations with a category she associated with the brutalization of nature to glorify industry, and the modernist tradition in turn. Her work is less about the production of objects reliant on alterity (a principal activity for the expansion of capital) and more about being in between places, politics, and bodies. Through gestures that imprint varied histories containing the ability to connect through difference, Mendieta’s work contains a kind of resistance that is both philosophical and interdependent.

“Wearable Home” is a project I worked on from 2001 – 2006. This work was largely influenced by Lygia Clark’s work with body extensions and sensory perception. With Hélio Oiticica she started the Neo-Concretists movement, born out of reactions to more machinist art forms like Concrete Poetry and objective painting. They believed that art was subjective and organic and informed by the participant. This movement influenced the vignettes I was making at the time where friends would use Wearable Homes in very organic ways, and also influenced my work in public spaces going forward. In their work, the borders between artwork and participant are blurred.

What are you currently working on?

A project about ownership and value that involves researching the supply chains of the commodity objects I’ve acquired, recording them digitally and bundling the physical objects into large boulders. I needed to turn my useful objects into something very useless, so wrapped them into boulders to show their mass and obstruction. The objects exist in large bundles, a burden and reminder that must be moved as I move.

As a critique of materialism I’ve been dragging these boulders to narrate rituals of consumption. It refers to the landfill, which has led me to bury one of the boulders in a formal ceremony. These objects deserve as much reverence as a human, considering every relationship that went into making them. There’s a duality between local and a more universal, and how one affects the other. Today everything is a commodity, from homes to objects to land, water, air, garbage and debt. It’s a work about that.

At the same time I’m creating two spherical living systems that are modular with a group of collaborators from Omaha, Nebraska. It’s an extension of the Flock House Project, a project that I began in New York and now we are redesigning for conditions in Omaha. These spheres don’t account for all of our needs, but they do provide shelter, some food, water, and energy. Alongside the structures, we are forming a barter-based network with businesses and individuals who can provide for additional needs in exchange for something a Flock House resident can provide.

What is your dream project?

The projects I do fulfill a need I have to understand something particular to their time and place, and they build upon one another. There isn’t time in life for any projects other than dream projects, and they are always evolving. My dream project right now is to make a permanent space for meeting and sharing in New York City: objects such as tools or books, seeds, skills, and stories.

What is one of your favorite 4D artworks, or pieces of design, and why?

Touch Sanitation by Mierle Ukeles is a piece of 4D artwork that I find very important. Ukeles met and shook the hands of 8,500 sanitation workers in 1977. “I’m not here to watch you, to study you, to analyze you, to judge you. I’m here to be with you: all the shifts, all the seasons, to walk out the whole City with you.” I face each worker, shake hands, and say: “Thank you for keeping NYC alive.” At an event for the Waterpod, curator Sara Reisman led a panel that Ukeles participated in. She told the story of Touch Sanitation to a full house, and her presentation was moving. In the late 70’s the sanitation workers in NYC were on strike. News stories reported New Yorkers being rude and disrespectful towards sanitation workers as their garbage piled up. Ukeles gained such a reputation among the workers that when she notified a crew to let them know she would arrive the following day, even the workers who were sick or on disability arrived to shake her hand. To me, this illustrated two things that I’ll always be conscious of: The waste we make is first our own responsibility. And, a simple gesture, empathy, and dedication can reach so many people. To me the stories she told became fable.