Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Oct 23, 2004 7:04pm

video riot 2004

Video Riot 2004 is coming, November 2004 in San Francisco. I was lucky to be part of the first two VR's, these events are a load of fun. This one seems to have a political slant to it, which is to be expected given the contentious election that's about to go down. I'd like to be able to say that on November 7th we'll have the pleasure of greeting a new president, but realistically we'll be embroiled in voter intent lawsuits that will make Florida in 2000 pale in comparison.

"last gasp of freedom"

November 7th, 2004

150 Folsom (@ Spear)
San Francisco CA

Artists Release Election Tensions on a Giant Wall

The 3rd annual "Video RIOT", organized by Video Salon SF, will coalesce again on Sunday Nov. 7th. In case you've missed the last two years, a video riot is a unique event. To the casual observer, it comes off as part multi screen drive-in, part head bobbin' tailgate party, but to those involved, its an assault on the urban landscape--using live video mixing tools.

"Video RIOT" is a miracle of transformation. Dozens of performers descend on the block-long parking lot near Folsom and Embarcadero and project video, lights and lasers on a seven-story wall. The underground nature of the VJ artists and the fact that they set up 30 projectors within an hour has earned this chaotic event the often misunderstood name "RIOT".

In fact, there's actually a lot of planning going on behind the scenes. Video Salon, the group throwing the event, has been a guild of sorts for VJs for the last four years. Their semi-monthly jam sessions feature screenings, software demos, and mixing sessions open to any artists who show up. Dimension7, an internationally recognized VJ institution, hosts both Video Salon, and the RIOT.

"We try to include a broad spectrum of people. Computer graphic artists, experimental filmmakers, and live VJs all come and show their work." say organizers Jon Schwark and Grant Davis. "We want to actively promote experimentation and aesthetic development within this community."

But the pair is also interested in the message that artists can bring to the public. This years "Video RIOT", with its political theme "gasp of freedom", is a perfect case study on the peaceful expression of dissent with words and images that are bigger than the media that surround us every day.

Considering the date of the event, its a timely message. On November 7th 2004, we're unlikely to know who the next president of the United States will be. It may be too close to call, and many people have unresolved questions about the process. No one can say for sure if we're just getting ready to dive, or finally coming up for air, but this group of artists will be using this video projection soapbox to claim their "gasp of freedom."

Coming Soon...our website:

See the first one:

Hosted at:

Sites and Reviews:

Oct 12, 2004 12:13am

to game, or to optimize?

So sayeth the Online Journalism Review:

"I think what you're seeing is an odd little linguistic artifact," said Zuckerman, former vice president of Tripod.com and now a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society who studies search engines. The chief culprit, he theorized, is that mainstream news publications refer to the senator on second reference as Kerry, while alternative news sites often use the phrase "John Kerry" multiple times, for effect or derision. To Google News' eye, that's a more exact search result.

A second possible factor, Zuckerman said, is that small, alternative news sites have no hesitancy about using "John Kerry" in a headline, while most mainstream news sites eschew first names in headlines. The inadvertent result is that the smaller sites score better results with the search engines.


What Zuckerman calls gaming the system, others call optimizing your site.

Oh man.

I don't think it's an odd linguistic artifact, I think it's a technological broadside against The Rockridge Institute's Strategic Framing Initiative, a linguistic project aiming to shift the terms of contemporary political debate. Word choice is everything. The Rockridge Institute hopes to frame the terms of debate about economics and politics by developing a common language (e.g. "moral economy") with embedded assumptions about the metrics that ought to matter.

If link text is to language as URL is to meaning, then Googlebombing is a strategic framing initiative of its own, and what what J.D. Lasica is seeing with Google News is a new kind of "discourse optimization," with all the beauty and nastiness that entails.

Oct 7, 2004 4:56pm

style over substance?

What Barry Says (26Mb quicktime movie) is a stylish visual monologue about "War Corporatism" - the current political situation in the United States that gives weapons manufacturers and military-industrial complex participants a say in the country's foreign affairs, including a near-continuous state of U.S. conflict in some part of the world or another for decades. It's a typographical animation narrated by Barry McNamara.

I'm curious whether the visual punch of this piece overloads its message. Is it possible to take a monologue seriously when it's accompanied by jarring imagery of planes, tanks, bombs and maps in an intentional 1930's fascist throwback style? Or is it a necessary component of the piece, with visual allusions to last century's propaganda part of the message? The piece reminds me strongly of The Fire This Time, a 2-CD set from last year, featuring a history of the lead-up to the current Iraq war overlaid on the music of electronic artists like Aphex Twin, Orbital, and Speedy J.

I was also taken back to the animated portions of Errol Morris' The Fog Of War, monochromatic illustrations of General Curtis LeMay's bombing campaign against cities in Japan, with comparisons to U.S. cities based on population. I was lucky enough to enjoy that movie from a seat ordinarily far too close to the screen, in the second row. The animated sequences and Morris' unconventional framing of his interviewee made for a delicious, overwhelming, almost architectural visual experience. Everything wrapped around me. The film occupied my entire visual field, stretched out to my peripheral vision. In viewing the current Barry McNamara piece, i wanted to see it projected against a building, with the stark red/black/white images filling up the space in front of me. I'm not surprised that the Nazi Party's visual identity has been called the most effective branding exercise in history.

Oct 4, 2004 4:27am

30 days, 2368 attacks

Pardon my recent silence, I've been in M&uunl;nich for work. Good times, Oktoberfest!

The New York Times has been publishing a steady stream of beautiful information graphics this year, especially on the subjects of the Iraq War and the Presidential race.

Just saw their latest via Waxy: A map of Iraq showing 30 days' worth of attacks on U.S. forces. They are broken down by attack type (landmines, homemade bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, etc.), and the territory occupied by Arab Sunnis is marked. The majority of attacks appear to occur in Sunni territory. A plurality of the attacks were within or around Baghdad. This was neither the quietest, nor the most violent month in Iraq so far.

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