Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Audience Feedback 2.0: Intrinsic Impact at the CJM

Thanks to Theatre Bay Area, Alan Brown walked us through his study findings Stop Taking Attendance and Start Measuring the True Impacts of Your Programs Major University Presenters’ Value & Impact Study, Presentation by Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak at the Arts Presenters Conference (January 11, 2008) to download presentation click here.

One of the primary messages is that you have to balance readiness and impact. Marketing can help create that level of anticipation.

Captivation and Personal Involvement!

The Hypothesis:

“Readiness to Receive” + The Performance Experience = Intrinsic Impact

Alan Brown draws our attention to the University of Florida's Performing Arts annual report, which actually includes intrinsic value in its annual report:

Although our mission is not defined in terms of ticket sales and financial metrics, we previously reported only those figures to funders, foundations, university administrators, board members and staff. Anecdotal evidence of the transformative and non- economic impact is evident and reliable. During in-depth interviews conducted at the Philips Center during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, patrons frequently cited childhood experiences with the performing arts that they carried with them long into adulthood. The intrinsic impacts of the UFPA 2007-08 season include captivation, intellectual stimulation, emotional resonance, spiritual value, aesthetic growth and social bonding.

University of Florida Performing Arts ANNUAL REPORT 2007-08 p. 14

Robert Sweibel of the BerkeleyRep said it well, when he said that what they really want at the BerkeleyRep is a "take-home experience" where "the whole ride is a good ride," which I thought was a really good way to characterize Alan Brown's findings. And maybe why BerkeleyRep seems so successful.

Alan Brown mentioned that some organizations such as the Walker are bringing feedback into their overall program with the "SpeakEasy": "SpeakEasy Meet at the back of the Balcony Bar after every Saturday dance and Out There performance for an
informal dialogue with a Walker tour guide and a local choreographer or theater artist. Think book club, but with a performance. Jump into the discussion or just listen in as others hash it out after the show. Your questions. Your answers. Risk-free."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Collecting the Impossible

Collecting the Impossible, originally uploaded by levenj.

I was at ybca, because I've come ot know and really respect Catharine Clark. I got to know Catharine, because Ken Goldberg is doing an installation at the CJM to be entitled Are We There Yet? And Catharine represents Ken's work through the Catharine Clark Gallery.

Initial funding for Are We There Yet? came in the form of one of those amazing collaborative grants from the Creative Work Fund. According to the Creative Work Fund web site, four principles guide the Fund:

  • Artists’ creativity merits philanthropic support.
  • Individual creativity is the source of cultural richness and diversity.
  • The arts can be a powerful vehicle for problem solving and community renewal.
  • Collaborative efforts among artists, organizations, and their constituents can generate a productive exchange of ideas and bring the arts to new audiences.

    How fantastic is that?!

    Collecting the Impossible

    Well, anyhow, as part of getting to know Catharine Clark, she tells me she's going to be on a panel with collectors Jeff Dauber and Dennis Scholl about digital art, which I later discover is to be moderated by Richard Rinehart, Digital Media Director & Adjunct Curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and that Lynn Hershman Leeson is going to be a part of it as well. Rounding out the participants is Jason Kaufman, Chief US Correspondent for The Art Newspaper.

    The history of computer-based art practice goes back to at least the 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition at the ICA in London, yet digital art is only now starting to attract the attention of collectors in greater numbers. Digital art milestones such as; Listening Post by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen, the thrilling public spectacles of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and the break-through LED works of Jim Campbell have been collected by a few pioneer institutions and brave individuals, but these works and others like them can be daunting to collectors. They present new and unusual technical, legal, and maintenance obstacles that can inhibit collectors and thus the market and thus support for a whole class of artists.

    The collectors echoed beautifully the kind of thinking articulated in the Creative Work Fund's four guiding principles. Scholl talked about his support of the work of Paul Pfeiffer. Catharine Clark talked about Nina Katchadourian's Talking Popcorn, which apparently caught fire in one installation. What do you do about that? And Scholl went on to add how the Linda Pace Foundation, on whose Board he sits, is an essential sustainer of the work of Isaac Julien, and how essential that support is.

    A really lively and beautiful dialogue ensued, especially to hear explorations into the heart of what digital art is -- how much it is or isn't like it's own documentation, or its own "liveness," as Lynn Hershman Leeson put it, or how much it needs remain part of its initial technical makeup, and whether it need have residual object value beyond the validity of the technology.

    I kept thinking about all those lost-object black-and-whites from art history books, the lost Lorenzo Lotto, or others often lost to wars (now being reclaimed and repatriated in some cases rediscovered and redocumented, thanks to new digital inventories) and how much that work is so much no longer what it was when first made. Yet these predella panels, paintings or objects still hold an important historical and aesthetic position. With time, they have also taken on a conceptual stance well beyond original intentions, and maybe even quite contrary to the original context, being re-placed into a seemingly heretical world.

    I also thought of the Maestà of Duccio, once heralded in Siena as unique and powerful, magically religious even, now many of the panels are distributed or lost. But each component piece, when you come across it talks back to its source.

    What's the technological biosphere that keeps all this going? Audience member Michael Naimark had the next to last word, thanks to Rick Rinehart, and he pointed out that he "wrote the report," and it's called "Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Money:
    Technology-Based Art and the Dynamics of Sustainability."

    The whole talk was part of 01SJ Biennial: 01sj.org/2010/events/collecting-the-impossible/
  • Creative Commons Salon: Participatory Culture Offline

    Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Jaron Lanier, Wild Thing

    by James G. Leventhal

    Jaron Lanier came to speak at the Contemporary Jewish Museum as part of the Museum's LINK program,, a Jewish, Art, and Technology initiative at the CJM.

    Jaron Lanier purposefully positions himself as archaistic. He wants you to read a book. He wants you to think before you "tweet." He is also sometimes credited with inventing virtual reality. That's right, inventing virtual reality. And he has helped to craft some of the finest future visioning in a Philip K. Dick film, yet, as a creative consultant on Minority Report. He has jammed with "Q," Ornette Coleman, and been on tour with Yoko Ono.

    Jaron Lanier, Wild Thing, originally uploaded by levenj.

    Hearing Jaron Lanier speak at the CJM was a thrill for me.

    I'd been reading Lawrence Lessig and Chris Anderson, and was all excited about the 'wisdom of the crowds' and the potential of mass collaboration and social media's power to build networks and layers of meaning.

    So I was excited to dig into You Are Not a Gadget, figuring it would be an apt counterpoint; but, instead found something of an indictment of this Clay Shirky Here Comes Everybody way of thinking:
    The new twist in Silicon Valley is that some people -- very influential people -- believe they are hearing algorithms and crowds and other internet-supported non-human entities speak for themselves. I don't hear those voices, though -- and I believe those who do are fooling themselves.

    Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget p. 39

    Wow. it stopped me in my tracks and made me question a lot that had informed my now-and-future world view. Lanier's not really throwing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak; but he is encouraging a consistent "turning off" or "tuning out." Go for the individuated longplay.

    There's another important layer that has to do with ownership of knowledge and the fact that "the corporation" owns all this "sharing." Lanier is keenly attuned to this, even invested in it, as he points out. There is something chilling about who owns what we are creating and sharing so openly. A question, I think, as yet unresolved in its implications; especially as, in my opinion, these new sharing spaces being driven by corporations have added such tremendous good in the world so far. And it may be only in our quietest of moments that we truly own our own thoughts. Isn't value defined in exchange? How then do we determine value outside of those known channels? This blogging space is run by Google, for example.

    And when it's all said and done, Lanier's really speaking about moderation. He's a champion of technology and it's sort of like the new book Hamlet's Blackberry, where the author reminds us that these are in fact age-old questions, finding the balance from the natural distraction from humanity that technology can offer.

    Sit back, relax with your laptop, or smart phone. Play the video. And dig the opening instrumentation.

    There's a lot up in there -- what do you think?

    LINK, a Jewish, Art, and Technology initiative, opens the CJM as a laboratory to explore practical applications for forging new paths in Jewish education. LINK is a multidimensional initiative which brings together a monthly speaker series exploring the intersection of Judaism and new technologies, a year-long educator fellowship, and an innovative exhibition with web, gallery, and classroom components.

    LINK is made possible by a generous grant from the Covenant Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Koret Foundation and The David B. Gold Foundation.

    Education and Youth Programs at the CJM are supported by Koret and Taube Foundations; Jim Joseph Foundation; Alexander M. and June L. Maisin Foundation; The Wallace Foundation; Bank of America; The Skirball Foundation; Target; The James Irvine Foundation; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Pacific Gas and Electric Company; Wells Fargo Foundation; Citibank; The David B. Gold Foundation; Macy’s Foundation; Morris Stulsaft Foundation; and Union Bank of California Foundation.