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Urgent Call to Help Oakland Artists and Organizations

Filed Under Art, SF Bay Area | 2008-10-20, 13:12

An email from Michael Sturtz, the founder of The Crucible, went out recently detailing a threat to the Oakland Arts Community that could significantly affect the Bay Area art community as well. We need to act quickly because the City Council meeting is Oct 21st. I’m reposting below:

Hello everyone,

Please read this message, the future of Arts in Oakland and The Crucible hangs in the balance.

The City of Oakland’s Cultural Arts Funding in about to get cut from the City’s budget. The Crucible has already been awarded two years of funding, that is about to be taken away, due to budget cuts. Our budget has been built around having these funds because they were awarded moths ago and now we will have to severely cut expenses to make ends meet.

Here is how you can help The Crucible and all the other Oakland Arts Organizations:

1.) Forward this urgent email to as many people as possible.

2.) Sign the online petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Oakland_Arts_Funding/index.html

3.) Come to the City Council Meeting on Tuesday October 21st!

4.) Contact a Council Member and let them know how important the arts are to you!

Here is some more info:

Funding for the Cultural Arts and Marketing Department is on the chopping block and will be voted on by the Oakland City Council this Tuesday, October 21. The meeting begins at 6pm and this topic is currently Item 19 on the Agenda, so it could be a long night. Grant funding is in jeopardy, as are all of the staff positions. This is a serious threat to a thriving but already under-funded community. We do understand that the City’s finances are in a dire situation, but the fact of the matter is that the cultural arts department has historically borne more than its share of cuts and now represents only .4% (4/10 of 1%) of the overall city budget, yet serves 6,273 children and youth through the art in the schools program (most of whom would not have access to arts without these programs), and another 957,650 people through performances, events, etc. Not only will department staff lose their jobs: staff an d teachers in the already-fragile arts sector will also lose jobs. The arts are not a luxury! Children and youth who participate in arts programs and learn positive ways to express themselves are less likely to engage in unsafe or criminal activities. Neighborhoods with visual and performing arts venues bring in $$s to the local economy, help prevent crime and violence by “keeping the lights on”, and add to the overall quality of life in our city.

If The Crucible has made a difference in your life or someone you know, please join us to make our voices heard. TOGETHER, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

There are currently three council members who are opposed to cutting arts funding: Nancy Nadel, Jane Brunner, and Desley Brooks. All other council members have indicated that they will vote to cut the program. Please don’t let this happen!! Contact your council person immediately (preferably before Monday) and let them know that cutting the arts program is unacceptable. Also, let the three council members that support the arts know how much you appreciate their support. Below is contact info for each of the district council members:

District 1, Jane Brunner, jbrunner@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-7001;
District 2, Pat Kernighan,pkernighan@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-7002;
District 3, Nancy Nadel, nnadel@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-7003;
District 4, Jean Quan, jquan@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-7004;
District 5, Ignacio de la Fuente. idelafuente@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-7005;
District 6, Desley Brooks, dbrooks@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-7006;
District 7, Larry Reid, lreid@oaklandnet.com, (510) 238-7007
At-Large, Henry Chang, Jr., cityochang@aol.com

Not sure who your council member is? Click here to find out: http://www.oaklandnet.com/oit/CDST/DistMain.cfm

Please forward this to your staff, board, friends, students, their parents, your mailing list, etc. It is our responsibility to make our voices heard – and to let the officials know that we represent a larger portion of the public than they think!

Here’s a link to the evite:

I know that you are all really busy and I appreciate your time.
Thank you in advance for getting involved, We really need your help.

Michael Sturtz
Founder / Executive Director

UPDATE: Funding was not cut! :) Thanks to everyone that helped protect the Oakland art scene.

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Jillian McDonald and Creative Commons

Filed Under Art | 2008-10-10, 14:14

Zombies in Condoland - Pieces from Jillian McDonald, Scott Beale, and perhaps others

I post most of my images on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic license. What does this mean? It means anyone is welcome to share my photos and even remix them as long as they attribute the photos to me and are not using them for commercial use. In addition, if you did want to use the photos without attribution and/or for a commercial purpose, you can contact me and I may waive those requirements for use. Chances are that if you’re an artist and “commercial use” means selling a couple prints, I won’t have any objections. But you have to ask first.

A good friend, Rubin Starset discovered that a portion of a photo taken by Scott Beale (of Laughing Squid) was being used by a Canadian artist (and Associate Professor of Fine Arts) named Jillian McDonald. She had digitally cout-out people dressed as zombies from photos that Scott had taken during one of the infamous San Francisco Zombie Mobs. She had also lifted zombies from photos taken by other photographers and it is unknown whether she had their permission or not. She then incorporated these photos into her own works, and at one point was prepared to sell prints of them.

Scott is an incredible photographer, and generously licenses his work on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic license. This means you are free to share his photos (with attribution) as long as it is not for commercial use. Oh, but did you notice that “No Derivative Works” part? Yes, that means he is not giving you permission to remix or incorporate your photos into your own artwork. But, you could ask Scott for permission if you had this desire. Had Jillian McDonald asked Scott Beale for permission to use some parts of his photos, chances are he would have said it was fine, but Jillian did not. And to add insult to injury she was trying to sell prints using his work. She has since removed the page in question, but pieces of the photos are found elsewhere scattered on her site.

Perhaps I should just stop here and let the following open letter (posted on Oct 9th, 2008) from another friend, Aaron Muszalski, sum everything up:

Dear Ms. McDonald,

My name is Aaron Muszalski, and I am a San Francisco-based artist. I am also an Instructor at the San Francisco Academy of Art University, where I teach classes in digital compositing and visual effects. Prior to becoming an arts educator I worked at George Lucas’ visual effects facility, Industrial Light + Magic.

I am writing to ask why it is that, nearly a week after having been contacted by the photographer whose work you used as the basis for your “Zombies In Condoland” project, you have yet to take any apparent action. As you have no doubt been informed, those photos were placed on flickr under a Creative Commons license which specified the following:

Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

No Derivative Works. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

Creative Commons (CC) is a grassroots attempt to update copyright laws to better deal with the new types of usage, distribution and re-mixing that digital technology have made so accessible. Where traditional copyright defaults to refusal, eg. “I own this work completely, and no one else can use it in any way without my explicit permission,” Creative Commons allows for nuance and openness, eg. “I own this work, but I’m happy to allow certain kinds of re-use provided certain conditions are met.”

One important thing to note here is that the very act of placing a work under a CC license is an act of generosity; from a content creator’s standpoint, it is far easier to simply assert copyright over one’s work. The very fact that an artist has chosen to use Creative Commons serves as a sign that They Are Not The Enemy; they are not a faceless media conglomerate who “doesn’t get it” when it comes to re-use. Rather, they are us, the content creators. Fellow artists, trying to find a sustainable middle path in an era of increasing conflict between corporations and advocates of open culture.

Such a brave choice deserves to be rewarded with consideration and respect.

In this case, that means respecting Mr. Beale’s request of “No Derivative Works”, something which your “Zombies In Condoland” images clearly are. The central elements of your composites are the photographed zombies themselves (instantly recognizable to any of us who participated in that event, and instantly recognizable as Scott’s photographs) not the backgrounds that you’ve placed them over. And even if this were not the case – say, if you had used fewer pixels of Scott’s photos, or processed them in some way as to be unrecognizable – you would still be in violation of Scott’s “No Derivative Works” license. The lack of attribution (citing the original artists who created the images used in your composites) demonstrates a further lack of consideration on your part.

The irony of all this is that, knowing Scott, had you merely contacted him in advance and provided a brief description of your project, he almost certainly would have consented to having his images used (provided you gave proper attribution of course). It is also very likely that he would have promoted the results on his highly-ranked blog, Laughing Squid. Many items listed on Laughing Squid subsequently get picked up elsewhere, including on such uber-popular sites like Boing Boing. All of this would have been very beneficial for your work. That you did not choose to ask permission makes me wonder: are you inconsiderate, or merely naive, and somehow imbued with the attitude that, “just because I found it on the Internet, I can do anything I want with it”?

Please understand: I am a strong proponent of open culture and creative re-use, and a strong critic of the ongoing attempts to extend copyright and consolidate corporate ownership of our shared cultural heritage. But to architect a truly progressive solution – one that doesn’t rely upon overpriced laywers and onerous legislation – we will have to embrace communication and consent between artists. In this case, Scott did not grant such consent, and you should respect that.

I hope that you will truly consider what I’ve suggested, and promptly revise your “Zombies In Condoland” series so as to remove all of the images you took from Scott’s photographs.


Aaron Muszalski

For the record, Aaron has let me know that Scott himself did not actually contact Jillian McDonald, but rather others have emailed with her.

Here are more photos in question:

There Goes the Hood - Jillian McDonald

And here are some relevant links:
Original post from Rubin Starset
Scott Beale’s original tweet and further discussion of the issue on Scott’s FriendFeed.
Jillian McDonald’s website
Jillian McDonald’s Zombie project page
Google’s cache of the photos on Jillian’s page that started it all

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Balsa Man: a diminute effigy for a reduced community!

Filed Under Art, Burning Man, Fire, SF Bay Area | 2008-08-29, 13:28

Is it The Man or Balsa Man!?!

Originally uploaded by catcubed

There’s a large number of people who didn’t go to That Thing In The Desert this year. If you’re one of those lucky ones enjoying showers, real beds, flushing toilets, and the beautiful weather of the Bay Area, but looking for something to do this weekend, then look no further. Camp Riverton is hosting Balsa Man at Baker Beach this Saturday. Colin, Nifer, and Supervisor Ghastly have been hard at work building a 3ft version of the Man. For photos of the build check out the Balsa Man set.

The Balsa Man will not be alone on Baker Beach though. This little effigy has sparked creativity in other local artists, and rumors has it there will be a Temple of Reduced Expectations, at least one mini-artcar, and of course entrance signs. There are also rumblings of other small-scale projects that may make it to the beach. If you are an artist that wants to bring your small piece to the beach, get in touch with Colin for more logistics.

So, show up on Saturday, the 30th at sunset (8pm-ish) on the north end of Baker Beach to watch the little man burn. For all the info, check out CatCubed.com.


Mona Lisa painted in less than a second by paintballs

Filed Under Art, Geek, Video | 2008-08-28, 17:07

This video is by far the winner of the “Coolest thing I’ve seen today” award. Mythbuster’s Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman showed a crowd at NVISION 2008 the difference between a CPU and a GPU (well kind of). While not the most technically accurate demonstration (multi-core CPUs anyone?), it was definitely impressive. For the CPU, they used a robot with “addressable paintballs” to draw a smiley face. Then a huge contraption consisting of “thousands of pounds of aluminum and steel, a mire of high pressure air hose, hundreds of pounds of compressed air, and 1,100 specifically addressed paintballs and 1,100 barrels” to represent the GPU approach. “Leonardo” will make just about any tech geek drool.

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Websites as graphs

Filed Under Art, Geek, Websites | 2008-04-08, 12:45

Here’s something that’s kind of neat, representing websites as a graph of points. There’s a nifty script that will make one for you by just providing it with a URL. Here is geeked.info (click to enlarge):

Geeked.info as a graph

You can also download the source code and run it on your local machine to create a larger, higher resolution image that’s suitable for posters, t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
If you want to check out more of these, there’s a flickr pool of course. Some of them are quite aesthetically pleasing. If you’re wondering what each node stands for, here’s the legend from the site:

What do the colors mean?
blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Thanks for pointing this site out exiva


Escape from Berkeley: Racing to Vegas on alternative power

Filed Under Art, Geek, News | 2008-03-13, 20:08

Escape from Berkeley

This 4th of July weekend will see the first annual “Escape from Berkeley” with a race from Berkeley, CA to Las Vegas, NV. This three day race will be unlike an ordinary race as all of the vehicles will be running on non-petroleum fuel! The announcement arrived via an email from Jim Mason, a well known East Bay artist who is responsible for large scale art projects and the Shipyard. All sorts of vehicles are permitted to enter the race as long as they are not powered by any petroleum based fuel or something that is “currently sold as a motor fuel”. You are allowed to store 10kwh of power in any form to get you going, but past that you’ll have to use your creativity. Some of Mason’s suggestions (other than the typical solar and steam) include: biomass, gasifiers, fast starch anaerobic digesters, on board sugar stills, tesla free energy vortexes, cold fusion, humans, and hamsters. On top of this, you can’t carry any fuel with you and you can’t purchase it on your way. Contestants will have to scavenge their fuel/power for free on the side of the highway.

So what do you win? Besides the geek pride and bragging rights, there will be a “significant cash prize for the winnner”. More information will be announced in the near future, but if you’re already interested in entering, get in touch with Jim. As this race is being compared to the Grand Challenge and Cannonball Run, it should be interesting to see what vehicles make it to Vegas, and who actually makes it there first!

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AudioSurf looks incredible

Filed Under Art, Movies and Music, Video, Video Games | 2008-03-03, 15:24

AudioSurf is a “music-adapting puzzle racer where you use your own music to create your own experience” says Steam. In short, you choose the music and the game creates a board and game-play experience that is related to that music. I’m always a bit wary of all these games that say your own music can affect game play and think that they’ll never be able to compare to the synaesthetic experience of Rez, an all time classic. A friend had mentioned the game in passing, and I didn’t think much of it other than to notice that it has the Orange Box soundtrack, including “Still Alive”. But after seeing the video above I instantly loaded up my Steam and purchased this. Review to come soon.


Floppy Disk CDRs

Filed Under Art, Geek | 2007-12-03, 16:54

Floppy Disc CDRs

designboom is selling some unique CDRs. While they may look like floppy disks from the days of yore, these little square disks are actually writable CDRs. Each one is designed to fit 200 MB of data and comes with blue, red, green, and yellow labels so you can scrawl “stuff” on each just like back in the day. You can get a single one for $14 after shipping, or a deal on 4 of them for $32 (including shipping).

designboom store via NOTCOT


AT-AT T-Shirts

Filed Under Art, Funny, SF Bay Area | 2007-11-13, 22:44

AT-AT Oakland T-shirtAT-AT Oakland T-shirt

mooflyfoof pointed me to these incredibly awesome shirts (of course after she got one for herself so now I can get one or else we’ll match *fist shaking*). Not only is the design available on t-shirts, but also hoodies, and infant t-shirts. To clue in those not from the Bay Area:

According to George Lucas, the AT-ATs were based on the tripod fighting machines from The War of the Worlds. He also took inspiration from elephants and loading cranes in West Oakland–hence the nickname “elephant walker.”

via answers.com

Buy your own from the girl and rhino. If you’re curious about the West Oakland AT-ATs, may we suggest a flickr search?


Electronic Ink Tattoos

Filed Under Art, Body Modification, Gadgets & Hardware, Video | 2007-10-23, 22:26

Every day it seems like we’re living in a Neal Stephenson book more and more. While the thought of tattoos that change via technology is not necessarily new, this is the first time that I’ve really seen someone illustrating the concept in a video. And on top of the sexy video, the people behind this are none other than Philips.

They describe this project as such:

Tattoos and physical mutilation are amongst the oldest forms of personal expression and identity. Subcultures have used tattoos as a form of self representation; a visual language communicating personality and status. Philips Design examined the growing trend of extreme body adornment like tattoos, piercing, implants and scarring.

The Electronics Tattoo film expresses the visual power of sensitive technology applied to the human body. The film subtly leads the viewer through the simultaneous emotional and aesthetic transformations between two lovers.

While the video really touches on the possible sensuality of a tattoo that changes with arousal and emotion, there are also practical applications for something as incredible as electronic tattoo ink. Imagine a simple text display created in electronic ink. Nothing more complex in display than a character LCD. Add bluetooth (or some other form of wireless) support to that with a small implant. Now you can display any text you’d like. Use your cell phone to pull the latest weather, sports, stocks, RSS feeds, or subjects from your emails as they download. Your latest twitter scrolling across the nape of your neck, or perhaps the song currently playing on your mp3 player. Or more importantly, serious medical information that provides EMTs with life-saving info right on your chest. The possibilities are endless, and not really that far off.

In fact, way back in the dark ages (1995) there were some people that had a similar idea. There is a patent filed by Andrew J Singer and Sean White from Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, CA. This patent is for an implantable and programmable LCD that might actually be possible with today’s advances in technology. Unfortunately Interval Research closed their doors in June 2006. *sigh* Maybe we’ll have better luck with Philips in 15 years.

via BehindTheInk


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