Wednesday, October 20, 2004

IPD Insights

IPD Insights
by JanedaPain

IPD (Interactive Parental Digitizer)
interactive net_art

An experience that wasn't suppose to happen, did, and it was the best thing that ever happened to my son and I. I had been preparing for several months to go to Burning Man with a group of friends. I was camping with my friends Daud and Tiffany in camp Image Node a tech_savvy audiovisual crew. I was planning a week of dj/vj collaborative jams, dancing art and costumes.

Tiffany and I work for a NASA funded laboratory at CU called LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics). We had been working on a project together for the last year and had planned to go to Burning Man just after the instrument was delivered to John Hopkins APL for the New Horizons to Pluto Mission. Well the instrument ended up being delayed and thus this delayed on her arrival on the Playa.

I had taken time off from work and was ready to leave so I ended up riding out with Daud on the Art Bus to Burning Man. But, 6 hours before my departure, my plans for my sons childcare fell through. So Jared, my 7 year old son ended up coming with me to my first Burn. I was excited and disappointed to have my kid on the trip. I had been worried about missing him for 12 days, and kind of wanted him to come since I had worked so hard this summer. Jared had helped Daud and I work on the Bus to Prepare for it's travel to the Playa all summer, and he had wanted to come the whole time. But being a newly single mother, I was not sure if I wanted to have my child come with me to such an open-minded and crazy experience for over a week. I had intended to have a fun time partying and I had not wanted Jared there so I didn't have to worry about him. But my friends Daud and Tiffany assured me that they would help keep and eye on him and watch him if needed so I could have some breaks.

The Bus trip to the Playa was where all the fun began. Jared had the space to play and entertain himself on the bus as we endured the 24 hour drive from Denver to Black Rock City. There was space for the six of us traveling in this giant silver bullet aiming to start shit on the playa.
I had always had a simple way of dealing with Jared's swearing, I simply ignored it if it was in context. If it was not in context, then I gave him a timeout or grounded him. He had started swearing on the bus a little, but most of it was in context and nobody minded it, in-fact a few of them provoked it.

But when we hit the playa Jared had been possessed by an unknown entity and he became the cuskid. We were greeted by the rest of the camp upon our arrival, and Jared, whom lacks simple greeting skills decided to cus everyone out. He was mouthing profanities like "Fuck You Asshole," and "Suck My Dick Bitch." He was very expressive, flipping everyone off and acting like a punk kid. Imagine a seven year old boy shirtless, in shorts and black cowboy boots covered in playa dust, cussing anyone out who talks or looks at him.

At first I tried to stop him from this verbal and visual assault on peaceful playa folk. But then I had an epiphany and I realized that he was learning limits, and he was also testing the limits of the persons whom he interacted with. He was learning that each person reacted differently to his verbal attack. Some people cussed right back at him, others stood there in disbelief, looking around for his parents. He learned that some people really didn't like being cussed at, and that others thought it was funny. He learned that he made some people mad, including some other children he played with and then cussed at on the trampoline at kidsville.

Jared also participated in testing and questioning society and the public at large about parenting and social respect. Jared had his picture taken at least 20 times a day during our week long stay on the playa. He became an icon of limit testing for people, he was making a statement that he was a human and could speak his mind too. Even if it was not nice or accepted. Why do kids always have to be nice, and kind. Can they be allowed to express them selves in other ways too? Can they be allowed to express their anger or dislike or just be rowdy? They will anyway won't they? I did.

All of this had a profound affect on the perception that other people have on me and my child. There were people whom discussed weather social services should have been called because I have taken my kid to Burning Man and allowed him to swear and cus people out freely. I have friends whom I never saw on the playa, and heard about my cuskid, had discussions in their camp about him and didn't realize until months later that it was my kid.

But why should they not address him directly like a human if they didn't want him to swear at them. In fact a lot of people did do that, but a lot of people didn't and a lot of people approached me when they realized that I was his parent and tried to tell on him. How confused they must have been when I told them I didn't care and if they had a problem with it then they should address it with him so that he can learn how it has affected them.

This experience was a project, an unintended, spontanious, experiment in the social setting of Burning Man. This tested the limits of Jared, Playa Folk, and myself. People all over the world interacted with my Cuskid and they had an experience that they will never have in a public setting.

Jared now back at home, back in society, back in school is no longer the Cuskid. He is now Jared again, not swearing, well only very occasionally in context. He told me shortly after our arrival before school one morning. "Mom, I want to move." "Where," I asked him? He replied, "To Black Rock City." "Why," I responded. "I can be who ever I want there, and I can say what ever I want there." It was pretty powerful for both of us to see that he understood the difference between the Reality of our life in Boulder, and the Reality of our life in Black Rock City.

So with time to reflect, I started a digital art project, and I wanted it to reflect some of my time on the playa. What I learned, and what really made a profound impact in my life. And although the art and music were exactly what I needed, and wanted they still were not in comparison to the experience I had with my child.

My project IPD (Interactive Parental Digitizer) started when I decided to do a piece that questioned parenting. Many people had asked me why I took my kid to Burning Man and why I would have allowed him to swear and be so rude. I reflected on this subject for several days, and I started to question my parenting techniques, morals, efficiency etc. I literally wrote out questions for my self, and answered them in paragraph form detailing my style, and being honest with myself.

I asked questions like;
What are my fears about being a parent?
How important do I think parenting should be?
How do I think I have failed?
How have I been successful?
What's my philosophy on parenting?
Whom do I hope Jared will become?
What values and ideals are important?
How do I think those should be passed on?

Then after answering all of these questions in detail, I started to ask question that related to video that I had of jared at burning man and from other sources. I started to ask questions that could apply to any parent whom may be in that situation, like;
Would you take your child to Burning Man?
Would you let your child play and roughhouse on a moving bus?
Would you let your kid play video games?
Would you let your kid ride a bike with out a helmet?
Would you let your child play at the park alone?

All of these questions are important for parents and they are necessary to ask so that you can establish strategies for your parenting techniques. This project IPD gave me the opportunity to question my own parenting skills and give me the confidence to defend my parenting techniques and styles. It also gave me a passionate subject from which to express my self artistically. I am interested in taking this project further through out the years adding additional parts to the piece as time progresses.

I am interested in taking it to the extreme, but I am also afraid that some of the content in which I am addressing could get me into trouble. I feel that honesty needs to be free, and that true healing and growing can only happen when you are honest with yourself and your audience. But because I am a loving mother, and I do not want to have social services knocking on my door because of my net_art content. I don't want to have evidence of child abuse either, but is it and where is that line?

IPD is a a collage of video and audio from experiences that happen in the real life of my son Jared. The video was mixed in Keyworx, and then a few specific clips unmixed were used as the main video question. The videos correlate to questions in which the audience must answer in order to proceed through the interactive net_art piece. As they proceed through the piece they see more video clips of Jared doing these "questionable" things.

It is a piece that questions and engages the audience, as well as giving them a new perspective on parenting. It can challenge your morals, ideals, ethics, identity. It is honest, real and an original concept created from this rude experience at Burning Man 04'.

Maybe this piece won't affect anyone, Maybe it will? But, what matters most to me is that I have affected my self and my parenting skills. I have made a positive shift, and an analytically creative response to my parenting decisions. I have a great reason to make this art, because I know other people have these questions too. I know that I am not the only person dealing with dilemmas like these and kids like mine.

I love my child and want him to grow up knowing that each action has an equal and opposite reaction, and I want him to be a critical thinker. I want him to test his limits and I want him to be respectful. I hope he will master the smooth yet direct language skills he lacks. I think that because we have experienced this amazing project together we have grown together and individually. I hope this experience will foster a better relationship with my son so we can cut through the crap and move the fuck on.

JanedaPain /aka/ Mrs.CusKid

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Amodal Suspension (Art Review)

Spac_e, Glow_e, Digi_Art in Japan
by: JanedaPain

Amodal Suspension Yamaguchi, Japan is beaming with active, creative public art. This unique art is live and originates from around the world. The Amodal Suspension project started as a relatively simple idea, but grew into an international digital experience. A digital experience that could be seen from space! Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's installation, Amodal Suspension, collects messages and signals from cell phones and e-mails around the world and transmits them into flashes of light. These flashes of light are signaled into the night sky upon huge steel towers located around the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (YCAM). The digital information is broken down from sound (words) via mathematical logarithms in to pulses of light. æThe lights pulse in different rhythms depending of whether it is Japanese or English. Although the main event was November 1st æ24th, 2003, it is still active. During the November extravaganza, the signals and rhythms of light were seen from space. The Astronauts on the International Space Station were the first to send a message and then see it from space. There are twenty light towers, and up to ten messages can signal at once, each with a distinctive rhythm. The rhythmic signal must then be grabbed by the addressee, who reads the signal. The signal then disappears as quickly as it appeared. This artistic installation is digital as well as collaborative. Over the last decade Digital art has taken on a new form, public art combined with community participation. Amodal Suspension required the public to participate for it to work. Over 58 countries and 150,000 people participated in this unique community event in November. Since then people from 94 countries have participated. A current trend in digital media is to produce collaborative artwork through free public networks. But is this really a new trend? People have been connecting through media for centuries, digitally since the first microchip. People feed and drive each other to new ideas and creative risks that often have ground-breaking results. Although technology, itself, is bred through collective creative risk takers, the irony is that these networks dwindle due to corporate and bureaucratic policies concerning Internet and communication infrastructure. Laws are being passed to limit those open sources and public spaces, and/or the content in which they can exist. Interest in digital communities has been growing since the early nineties when desktop computers became affordable for the average consumer. There are whole communities for people to participate in. Public networks and open source collective spaces active and available. These public and collaborative spaces are the future place of digital historical events like Amodal Suspension and others. Check it out for your self. You can see pictures of lights as they display the messages. You can read messages in real time. It combines art and communication in a visual way we normally don't get to see. The URL is