Monday, February 18, 2013

Worldwide: Feb. 23, 2013 - Support whistleblower Bradley Manning, jailed for 1000 days so far

"Events planned across the U.S. and internationally will mark WikiLeaks whistle-blower Bradley Manning’s 1000th day in prison without trial.  They include protests, vigils, hip-hop performances, concerts, art and theater."

"Bradley’s trial, which threatens a truth-chilling life sentence, is now expected to start on June 3, 100 days after our Feb 23 International Day of Action."

"There has never been a more important time to broadcast our message of support for exposing war crimes, international justice, and people’s right to know what the government does in our name."

You can learn more and find events near you or organize one, here:

Please spread the word.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Synthetic Marijuana" ("Spice", "K2") can kill or injure

"The report examined 16 cases where acute kidney damage was reported in six different states after synthetic marijuana had been smoked. These patients became ill only days--and sometimes only hours--after smoking the fake pot. Symptoms included vomiting, nausea and flank and abdominal pain. All of the patients involved were in different stages of kidney failure when they went to the hospital."

"In 2010 alone, 11,406 people were sent to the ER for smoking the synthetic marijuana."

Work to get this off the shelves where you live.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Video: TED talk - Jessica Pabon on women graffiti writers

Jessica is writing her dissertation (book) now, and we hope it will be accessible to the public when it's published.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Graffiti and open source - Artist Hacker: From Free Software to Fine Art

Artist Hacker: From Free Software to Fine Art 
By Evan Roth 1

While there are many definitions and uses for the term “hack”, I like to think of it as a clever (often playful) small intervention into an existing larger system. Like the judo fighter using his opponent's weight to his own advantage, a hack alters a system’s intended purpose and turns it into something new. In this sense, it can be applied to many things outside the world of software development. When I look at the most interesting artistic developments within my lifetime, I see hacks. In the 1970s, DJs hacked record players and gave birth to sampling, hip-hop and remix. Graffiti writers hacked the subway system to move art around New York City (and later the world). Richard Stallman hacked copyright, releasing a virus (the General Public License 2) intended to free code as it propagates. The genius of a true hack is often judged not only on its effect, but also on the seeming ease with which it was implemented. Spray paint on a wall, scratching a record, and copyleft are all “too lazy to fail” 3. In speaking about Linus Torvold, the creator of Linux, Eric S. Raymond describes his brilliance as the ability “for finding the minimum-effort path from point A to point B” and for being “lazy like a fox” 4.

Torvold's main contribution to Linux was arguably not in programming but in deftly stoking the flames of collaboration. “Release early, release often” 5 was a new and controversial idea in the early 1990s, when the software development model at the time strove for perfect and finalized products. Instead, Torvold and the GNU/Linux community experimented with publishing software updates multiple times per day. Under this new model, the knowledge-sharing and collaborative production of thousands of anonymous users produced one of the most complicated systems of our age: an operating system.

Today, the majority of servers that power the Internet are running on software not built by corporations or governments, but built for free by a group of passionate and idealistic individuals 6. Beyond its technical merits, GNU/Linux is also an inspiring example of the power of the networked masses.

For a growing number of artists, the production philosophy developed by the free software movement serves as an exciting alternative to the traditional notion of the artist as a solitary genius and the art object as polished and bug-free. Torvold believed more frequent releases would create a tighter relationship between the developers (artists) and users (audience), resulting in better software (art). The free software and arts communities are both filled with interesting people motivated not just by money but by the act of creation and a drive to make meaningful, or at least functional, contributions to society. And while few artists have contributed or even read a single line of GNU/Linux source code, there are many that incorporate aspects of its development model into their practice.

For this new generation of artists, where the Internet is an additional platform to exhibit work, and code is an additional medium to create, this notion of the art making process as something fluid and ongoing feels very natural. Artists can now cultivate their own audiences online through a daily stream of creative content via social media, blogs, microblogs, and photo and video sharing sites. Viewers are provided with a closer look at the creative process and can witness a body of work as it develops over time and transforms from idea to creation.

In 2007, inspired in part by open source communities and the hacker mentality, I co-founded the Free Art & Technology Lab (F.A.T. Lab) as a collaborative online space dedicated to open source, art and popular culture. Publicly, the mission was to expand the overlap between free culture and popular culture; privately, it was an opportunity to gently poke friends, collaborators, mentors and personally influential artists into hitting the publish button more often. The motto “release early, often and with rap music” 7 is as much a reference to our public mission statement as it is a subtle cue to F.A.T. Lab members of the informal nature of publication. As informality goes up, so does the rate of publication, since F.A.T. Lab was intended to be a place where people could publish projects that they might not have necessarily posted otherwise.

This group is comprised of roughly twenty people with interests that include fine arts, graffiti, hip-hop, activism, free speech, DIY, net art, Internet memes, web startups and colors represented by hexadecimal values. We have a yearly operating budget of 100 euros, which is spent on Internet hosting and a ".at" domain name registration. We have no meetings, no rules, no hierarchy and everyone has all the passwords to everything. F.A.T. Lab is an experiment in a friendly collaboration based on respectful anarchy.

If the free culture movement is a car with GNU/Linux as the engine, then F.A.T. Lab is the rims that keep spinning when the car comes to a stop. Our role is not to make the engine run smoother, but to make the kids more interested in driving it to the club. We are the unsolicited guerrilla marketing division for open source, and we are attempting to interject more fun into art and activism. If you brush the hair out of Justin Bieber's eyes, or look closely through the slits of Kanye's shades, we hope you will see nuggets of something more substantial than the #FF00FF and #FFF000 8 candy coating 9 that glosses the outside of many F.A.T. projects. At the center of the F.A.T. lollipop is a genuine interest in expanding the sphere of influence surrounding free culture and inserting open ideals into mainstream popular culture.

Despite the connection to technology, I do not see members of F.A.T. or other artist hackers cleanly fitting into either the “new media art” or “net art” genres. We identify more with the hack than with the code, and our interests in making work online are in large part due to the impressive ratio of production costs to cultural influence. The most exciting thing about the Internet is not specific to any visual aesthetic or programming language, but relates to the vast number of people it allows us to freely reach. The Internet has allowed more and more individuals to become makers, participants and viewers of art and presents artists with the opportunity to speak to the equivalent of a packed football stadium on a daily basis. Artists have never had such a large and immediate influence on culture, and it would seem a missed opportunity not to recognize, welcome and engage this new online audience. This is not to say that art should be reduced to the level of LOLcats and evaluated based on view counts and “likes”. Rather, I think the challenge to make art that communicates with critics, curators and the "bored at work network" 10 is a new and culturally relevant practice.

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved 11.


1    This text has been adapted from an earlier version by the author that appeared in Aram Bartholl: Speed Book by Aram Bartholl (edited by Domenico Quaranta), 2012, Gestalten, Berlin.

2 General Public License (

3 The phrase “too lazy to fail” and the notion of “constructive laziness” come from the 1973
book Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein.

4 Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, 1999.

5 Ibid

6 A 2009 survey of 38,549,333 servers reported the Apache/Linux market share at 72.09%

7 Taken from the chapter title, “Release Early, Release Often” in Eric S. Raymond's Cathedral and the Bazaar (translations into other languages)

8 The hexadecimal representation of pink and yellow.

9 From Michelle Kasprzak's introduction at Transmediale, Berlin, 2010. “You shouldn't let their candy coated shell bright colors and flash style distract you from their very serious mission of disseminating open source culture and all manner of pop culture pranksterism.”

10    The “bored at work network” is a term developed by Jonah Peretti to describe an online audience potentially larger than many mainstream media outlets. (

11    Free Software Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman 2002.

F.A.T. Lab on FB

~New York Magazine of Contemporary Art and Theory