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Suddenly September

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I’ve moved into my new studio at NEW INC and Counterpractice is real. And it feels different. Overnight, how I work has changed. I’m in a huge studio space filled with creative people and we’re all stretching into new territory. Working here is public and social. The stimulation is infectious. I haven’t felt this motivated in a long while.

And just off of the quiet of Portlander, I’ve landed in a September frenzy. A good frenzy though. Printed Web No. 2 is about to launch and a nice series of talks and exhibitions is coming up. Here’s what’s happening:

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Counterpractice

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I’m happy to announce that I’m moving my studio to the Bowery this summer. As of August 1, Counterpractice will be open for business within NEW Inc., the New Museum‘s art/design/tech incubator. This is the first of its kind: the museum is setting up a non-profit, collaborative work space at 231 Bowery, next door to the museum. They’ve hired SO-IL/Gensler to build it out with desk space, work shops, class rooms and a kitchen. We got a walk-through a few weeks ago and it’s beautiful; Rhizome and Studio X are our studiomates. The mission is impressive—develop a place where artists, designers and entrepreneurs can experiment, influence each other and benefit from in-person, cross-studio stimulation. A brave move by an arts institution to create a new kind of ecosystem.

After I gave the Resistance talk at Build I struggled with next steps. I kept making and teaching but none of it was sustainable and I didn’t know what to do. It took a good six months to understand that I should use that talk as the basis for a new kind of studio—one that’s wide enough to include projects like Printed Web and Portland Bill but selective enough to take on meaningful client work at the same time. So, Counterpractice was born. And it needs to live in a collaborative place.

I don’t have an elaborate description or a Counterpractice manifesto. Simply, Counterpractice questions the red-hot center, and looks for magic in the margins. The studio favors longevity over right now, thingness over ephemerality and agility over perfection. Above all, radical curiosity drives the work. That’s it. The rest will come as I do more work.

I didn’t mention stretching, but opening up to uncertainty is a big part of this (or rather, allowed this to happen). So, I built Counterpractice.com by hand. For anyone familiar with front-end web development, this is almost laughable—it’s a dumb one-pager of minimal text and images. For me, it was a big deal. During the last couple of weeks I used Codecademy to teach myself HTML and CSS and I made it work (Krate stepped in to clean up the code, thankfully). It was the first time that I didn’t hire someone else to build a site for me, and it’s my first Counterpractice project (similarly, an early version of Soulellis.com was the first project I did as Soulellis Studio, back in 2001—using Dreamweaver! it was also the last site that I ever built myself). Counterpractice.com is pretty bare bones: images are hosted in an Amazon S3 bucket and the site sits within my Dropbox account. Still, it’s a start.

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Counterstudio

I just applied to the New Museum‘s NEW INC program, “a shared workspace and professional development program designed to support creative practitioners working in the areas of art, technology, and design.” I’m planning to reboot my design studio in the coming months, and while I think this would be an incredible platform for a new kind of “counterstudio,” if this doesn’t happen, something else will. Currently looking for new ideas, opportunities and scenarios.

NEW INC asked five questions as part of the application. Here are all of my responses, merged into one essay.

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The motive of the algorithm is still unclear

Raw notes from tonight’s talk at the New Museum, Stories from the New Aesthetic.

Aaron Straup Cope
Motive
The luxury of association
Selfawareroomba
Elevator songs / whale songs / we assign value without meaning
The objects are recording stories
People are building stories around the things we collect
How we’re teaching things to see in the world and what’s bouncing back — patterns, bursting through
Crazy-talk narratives that can be shaped from those patterns
Drones
Automating the pattern matching
The inevitability of self self driving cars
Algorithms are emerging that people don’t know what to do with
Worrying that we’re building a future without narrative
Filters are the difference between flickr and Instagram / the past is just a medium, a screen to help make sense of the present
Massive feedback loop of the mirrored schroedinger’s box

Joanne McNeil
The Internet isn’t a mirror it’s full of lies and stories and fictions
The map weirdness / not errors but what you see through the looking glass
How machines tell stories to us
rhizome
The act of reflection / people not recognizing themselves in daguerreotypes
Dora Moutot / webcam tears
Tears are the new pornography
Google street view going inside franks LA
Trap streets / streets that don’t exist

James Bridle
Demarerializarion of the book / we had no way to express our fear, so we obsessively focused on the physicality
The real worries are around the ownership and understanding
Amazon warehouse — a space that is augmented by algorithm / co-space / humans & software processing, architecture a function of the software
Code/space
Nostalgia / a deliberate act of committing the image to memory / engraining photographs with grain, giving them weight, then sharing, sharing is a form of memory, giving if weight, like putting them in a box
The city & the city / unseeing, moments of breach, and yet we choose to layer images all the time
Intense cognitive dissonance apple maps
Trying to find ourselves in the satellite image
Clement Valla
Mishka Henner / Dutch landscapes
Data centers are the new civic architecture (post, admin)
Stuartgeiger.com bots on wiki / automated agents
Co-creating the system with us: our machines
Drone project / shadows of real technology that acts from a distance
The velocity of the material / jenniferbrook / book vs app
Opinions are noncontemporary
Tarot cards / incredible machine and storage device for storytelling
The network is like that
William Gibson / notional space, cyberspace
Living inside the machine, inside the network