Extreme Futurist Festival Pre-Party with Dorkbot SF, 11-30-2012, Part 3

This is Part 3 of a three-part review of the XFF pre-party.  See Part 1 here.  See Part 2 here.

The next speakers were part of DorkbotSF, which I had never heard of, but seems like a cool thing that us futurists should all check out:

dorkbot-sf is a spinoff of dorkbot-nyc which is
“a monthly meeting of artists (sound/image/movement/whatever), designers, engineers, students and other interested parties from the new york area who are involved in the creation of electronic art (in the broadest sense of the term.)”

the purpose of dorkbot is to

  • give artists/programmers/engineers an opportunity for informal peer review
  • establish a forum for the presentation of new art works/technology/software/hardware
  • help establish relationships and foster collaboration between people with various backgrounds and interests
  • give us all a chance to see the cool things that our neighbors are working on
Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain started out the DorkBotSF portion of the program by showing some of her film studio’s “Cloud Filmmaking:”
They invite people from all over the world to send in art work and videos, they mash it all together and make films that they then invite people to help translate.  The Moxie Institute then makes free customized versions for non profits all over the world.
Three of these short films have now been released from the series “Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change.”
I found the videos to be very moving, but I am a sucker for this stuff.  One of her primary themes is that people should recognize and embrace the concept of global interdependence to temper our Western tendency toward independence.  This thread of her presentation expanded on Rothman’s theme of a social singularity.  In fact, one film that she sneak-previewed for the audience addressed the idea of a Friendship singularity. As our list of “friends” on social media sites continues to grow exponentially, we will be friends with every living person at some point:  The Friendship.  This is actually a logical extension of Pinker’s Better Angels thesis.  It’s hard for me as a natural pessimist to get my head around, but I do take comfort in the idea.
Arts producer and executive, Amy Critchett gave a presentation on “The Bay Lights: World’s Largest LED Light Sculpture:”


The Bay Lights is an iconic light sculpture designed by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal. This stunning fine arts experience will live for two years on the San Francisco Bay Bridge West Span, starting with the Grand Lighting on March 5, 2013.

However, I was busy chatting with folks and hearing a cheerful analysis that modern Russia is like America in the 1930’s except the top gangsters have nukes and computers.  Ah, just what I needed to extinguish the warm fuzzies brought on by considering a friendship singularity.
Next up was Ken Goldberg who talked about his Bloom project:
Ken has developed several projects that use a live feed of seismic data from the UC Berkeley Seismology Lab. One example is Ballet Mori, a performance to commemorate the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, where SF Ballet Principal Dancer Muriel Maffre responded to a musical composition modulated by real-time seismic data.
I personally wasn’t much interested in this art project.  But, I found his comments about Heidegger’s “Question Concerning Technology” to be interesting.  I don’t really understand it, but I guess that Heidegger was asserting that modern science reduces everything in the environment to a resource.  Goldberg went on to suggest that with modern mobility technology, we have made ourselves into a resource that is always available.  This called to mind Rushkoff’s idea that we should unplug more often.  However, there seemed to be some tension between this and Shlain’s more positive view of mobile technology.  Nonetheless, this is one of those cases where the underpinnings of the artwork seem more interesting than the actual product.  But then, I can be a philistine sometimes.
My favorite speaker of the evening was Mark Pauline of Survival Research Labs.
Mark constructed and designed dozens of large, complex robots and machines for use in these performances and has trained and supervised the efforts of over 400 assistants in the art of machine performance.
I had never heard of SRL, but I was blown away by the videos that Mark showed at the end.  It struck me as an incredible mashup of deviant performance art and robot wars.  I don’t have much further to say about it, but I look forward to the XFF and I am definitely going to bring some serious hearing protection.

One thought on “Extreme Futurist Festival Pre-Party with Dorkbot SF, 11-30-2012, Part 3

  1. Pingback: Extreme Futurist Festival Pre-party with Dorkbot SF 11-30-2012 Part 2 | The Oakland Futurist

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