The Gears of My Childhood
Seymour Papert

My thesis could be summarized as: What the gears cannot do the computer might. The computer is the Proteus of machines. Its essence is its universality, its power to simulate. Because it can take on a thousand forms and can serve a thousand functions, it can appeal to a thousand tastes. This book is the result of my own attempts over the past decade to turn computers into instruments flexible enough so that many children can each create for themselves something like what the gears were for me.
articles  education  learning  phd  seymourpapert  papert 
april 2018
Deep within a cloistered space at the Essex Street Complex on Buffalo's West Side, two recent University at Buffalo graduates had carved out a studio/living space that had all the hallmarks of a latter-day bohemia.

In my visit there, the smell of spray paint and epoxy threatened to suck out the last molecule of oxygen, and a batch of slightly soiled kittens bounded dangerously near tables heaped with wet paint and brush-filled cans. The industrious couple, apparently oblivious to the human need for air, worked feverishly on numerous wacky, spare-part sculptures while gooey and gaudy abstractions in various stages of finish leaned around the room.

It was 1991 and Katrin Jurati and Alan Van Every were just beginning a starry-eyed adventure that would propel them into local prominence both as artists and art entrepreneurs.

Today, their art may look a bit lightheaded, but their wily entrepreneurship in launching Big Orbit Gallery - still situated in the complex a few steps from what used to be the couple's studio door - has given the city one of the most vital, enduring venues for local art.

Big Orbit is celebrating its first decade with a large round-up exhibition from the past and present curated by Gerald Mead, education curator at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center and one of the exhibiting artists. "Big Orbit: Ten Years of Spin on Western New York Art" - installed with perhaps a little too much mod-museum decorum in the University at Buffalo's Anderson Gallery - gives an excellent accounting of the range and quality of the work that has come through this ever-evolving gallery.

Jurati and Van Every, it turned out, had a great flair for promotion. From the time, some years earlier, when the late sculptor Larry Griffis transformed a defunct ice house into an art complex, the space that would become Big Orbit had been home to two other galleries. But neither was remotely like Big Orbit. Jurati and Van Every projected a sense of fun and freedom - an exhilarating feeling that the gallery was simply meandering along finding its way a day at a time.

The reality behind that projected feeling, however, was the usual hard-labor scrabble to get an alternative gallery on good financial footing (and into nonprofit status), while somehow still balancing a demanding schedule of exhibitions and performances.

By the time the indefatigable founders left for new opportunities in New York City and artists AnJanette Bush and Josh Igushi took over, Big Orbit had secured a sounder structure, even as it began a more active pursuit of installation and performance work.

Sean Donaher, director since 1996, writes in the show's catalog that the early sense of freedom and openness continues today. Calling the gallery the community's "Rapid Response Team," he writes that "the flexibility of Big Orbit's programming schedule allows us to quickly respond to the most exciting new artists or trends in the region."

Significantly, this openness has allowed room for art of all kinds. The exhibition provides a clear view that the aesthetical scope has been, and continues to be, very wide. There appears to be no dogged pushing of a particular agenda, no effort to assume an attitude of postmodern modishness. Big Orbit seems after only one thing: the presentation of the best art that the region produces.

The portable art works are the core of the exhibition, as might be expected. Installation and performance - of great importance in this history - can only be teasingly recreated through documentation.

The real-space excitement of Mehrdad Hadighi's gallery-filling architectural rumination on an ax murder in colonial Connecticut (1996) or the first-hand experience of seeing Kurt von Voetsch's endurance test lying belly down in his fabulous "flying machine" ("Whore's Breakfast," 1994) cannot be recaptured by photos.

Fortunately, color photography gives a better sense of Leandro Soto's glowing, altarlike constructions, and a partial reconstruction of Mary Giehl's comment on child abuse ("One Day in the Life of America's Children," 1995) conveys much of the poignancy of the installation. And, thankfully, Craig Smith's frenetic "Omatic Activities" (1998) translates nicely into video.

But it is the painting, photography, drawing and sculpture that must carry the main weight. The examples are so rich and diverse that they suggest a far greater geographical reach than this corner of Western New York.

Strong and varied figurative styles appear in the work of Alberto Rey, Bruce Adams, Jackie Felix and Juan Carlos Perdiguero, whose mammoth charcoal drawing of a screaming face attempts to upstage the subtler surrounding works with its hyper aggressive, almost auditory presence. Josh Igushi's big staged photo "Last Supper" still looks audacious and also provides oddly colored portraits of Big Orbit regulars posing as apostles.

The abstractions included illustrate the fabulous range of nonfigurative art harnessed by the gallery. In painting, there's the tipsy violence of the late Paul Sharits' letter painting; the meditative calm of Frederick Miller's three-dimensional paintings; Mary E. Begley's low-budget remake of abstract expressionism; and Peter Sowiski's joyous, shaped paperworks.

One painting does not quite tell the story of Peter Bryne's intelligent revision of minimalism, nor do we get a complete picture of Reed Anderson's zany mentality from a single mock abstraction festooned with plastic eyeballs. But we're happy to have them.

By its very nature, the show must work in hints and asides. For those who followed Big Orbit over the years, the exhibition spurs a wealth of memories of many wonderful displays and performances. And perhaps as important, it firmly stands on its own as a grand affirmation of the high stature of Western New York art and artists.
alanvanevery  bigorbit  katrinjurati  buffalo 
march 2018


Wednesday, October 11, 1995, 12:00 AM
Like most artists, Katrin Jurati and her boyfriend are familiar with life on the urban frontier. Their first gallery was in a converted ice house and stable in Buffalo. When they moved to New York City they turned a large loft on the Bowery into a studio. So when they heard about the abundance of inexpensive retail space in the Wall Street area, they hitched up their wagons and headed south. Three weeks ago they opened "Deep Space" on the ground floor of one of the many downtown buildings vacated by traditional financial services tenants. "We enjoy being pioneers," Jurati said. As the State Senate convenes in a special session to vote on Mayor Giuliani's plan for revitalizing downtown Manhattan a vote that is expected to result in approval within the next two days early signs are beginning to appear that a rebirth aided by the plan has already begun. With lucrative tax incentives about to kick in, real estate speculators, artists, restauranteurs and other investors are exploring a wide range of possible new uses for the the 25 million square feet of vacant space. That's an amount equal to what is available in the entire city of Pittsburgh. Some of them are actually putting money behind their ideas. Real estate developer Tony Goldman, who was an early investor in SoHo, has purchased or has plans to buy five office buildings in which he will build restaurants and apartments. Meanwhile, the Rudin family is upgrading an obsolete office building to accomodate the needs of high-tech software and computer firms. And numerous speculators, including Donald Trump, are buying options on empty office towers with an eye toward converting them into apartment buildings. "The whole dynamic of downtown is changing," said Carl Weisbrod, who heads the Alliance for Downtown Manhattan, a new group of lower Manhattan businesses and property owners. But it is still far from clear whether the early pioneers downtown will reach the promised land of riches they envision or end up as bleached bones in the desert. Indeed, real estate developers tried to convert office buildings to residential use in the '80s with little success. "Even at the high point of the market, those properties never sold well," said Barbara Corcoran, president of the Corcoran Group, a residential real estate broker. "There were not and there still is not enough residential services to support the feeling of community living.

" But those who are bullish on downtown see opportunity in the deserted streets as well as some great real estate bargains. They feel that as prices grow for loft apartments in Soho and Tribeca, buyers will increasingly seek out large spaces in converted downtown office buildings. "This whole thing is driven by cheap space," said Goldman, who predicts he will ultimately invest $50 million to $75 million on downtown. The conversion projects will be facilitated by Giuliani's plan. It contains a wide range of tax benefits for office tenants who sign leases and for landlords who invest heavily in their properties.
alanvanevery  katrinjurati  deepspace  newyorkcity 
march 2018
Control under surveillance capitalism: from Bentham’s panopticon to Zuckerberg’s 'Like' - Political Economy Research Centre
"Our relationships and networks, our physical infrastructures, our devices, all are being repurposed for data extraction and profit. The agents driving this are the security state and, crucially, and complicitly, the dominant platform companies. While the major platform monopolies are diverse in form, they are united in purpose: the extraction and analysis of data in ever widening domains of life to generate immense economic reward. Our common resource – collectively produced data – drives this process of capital formation, a contemporary form of accumulation by dispossession. Their goal then is universal: the enclosure and monetisation of all of society through the boundless accumulation and analysis of behavioural data."
march 2018
Against Black Inclusion in Facial Recognition – Decolonized Tech
I question whose interests would truly be served by the deployment of automated systems capable of reliably identifying Black people.
march 2018
Opinion | Facebook’s Surveillance Machine - The New York Times
A business model based on vast data surveillance and charging clients to opaquely target users based on this kind of extensive profiling will inevitably be misused. The real problem is that billions of dollars are being made at the expense of the health of our public sphere and our politics, and crucial decisions are being made unilaterally, and without recourse or accountability.
zaynep  cambridgeanalytica  data  datasurveillance  facebook 
march 2018
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