The Apocalypse of the Interdome

After three years and a couple of steps away from 400 posts, I've decided to retire Welcome to the Interdome.

I started this blog as an Internet clearhouse as I was leaving grad school, and it has tracked my motions from Iran commentary, to semiotics, from cartoon nostalgia to economic breakdown, from instant soups to atemporality. Over the years the content and color scheme has changed, but it has been basically what a blog is supposed to be: a updated journal of online and offline activity. With only the most generic of layout style, and too many links, and irrelevant tags.

It's been good times. I've met some good folks out there on the web via the links, and got some good blogging relationships going. I've enjoyed having a few dedicated readers who are interested enough in the post-structural anarchist perspective on consumer electronics to stick me in their RSS feed reader. Self-publishing is an important exercise, and I've really appreciated you all making it a rewarding one.

But every website is dated from the day its put online, and I think the time has come for ole Interdome. You start writing for the same provenience every time, and everything begins to feel a bit the same. You get into a comfortable place, and you get some familiar cheers and slogans, some typical topics and tropes, and after awhile you get the itch to get moving. You don't want to deviate off-topic, but on-topic seems off-topic from what's interesting. You start to think about format changes, new tools to make it better, but the idea of re-formatting what already exists seems insurmountable, and the idea of cramming what is new into what is there seems inexcusable.

I've also decided to close my self-publishing site, Brute Press, for the same reasons. I stopped putting work online because I was worried too much about what was right to put online, and ended up only putting old things online, and then being dissatisfied. The time span was stretched from the weekly time cycle of blogging, but it was about the same emotion. Putting my name to stuff that I didn't feel good having my name put to. Not that I didn't like the work, but I wasn't inspiring myself the way I was when I started.

And so, it's onward. Starting a new project now, called P.O.S.Z.U. There's a little bit of material recycled from the old sites to get it started, and new stuff I've been adding as I test it out. I guess you can consider it now open for beta testing. No sign up needed. Let me know what you think.

I would love to launch P.O.S.Z.U. with a grand manifesto (this being the age of grand manifestos and not grand narratives) but there really isn't one. Here are some tags I plan on using: Economics, Desire, Theory, Metaphysics, Technology, Semiotics, Politics, Sex, Product, Words, Symbols, Light, Sound, Motion, Time, Eschatology, Food, Epistemology, Art, Death drive, Nature, World. If you could imagine a graduate seminar in which half the people are watching unrelated videos, the other half are reading the Internet, and meanwhile these two groups are getting drunk and making out with each other, yeah well I guess that's the general idea, but I can't promise you'll get to second base or anything. The title is an acronym, and it really sums it up pretty well, but it's totally a secret, and not the kind that I put down somewhere obscure that you have to click through to find. I'll never tell.

Well, thanks again. See you around. I'll still be twittering as @interdome, just because that's not the sort of thing you really want to reset.


I think your break was over 5 minutes ago

Just to continue my frustrated post about Internet workflow, let me describe my current Twitter problem. This promises to be a really boring, personal anecdote with little to know application to you.

I'm trying to turn some of my twitter updates into blog posts. I've got a WordPress plugin to grab the tweets. Great. But I don't want to grab every tweet, because then conversation tweets that are out of context will be grabbed. But I don't want to edit the "spontaneity" of twitter, either.

So I got a 2nd twitter account that will be the "instant blog post" account. Now I can cross-post the tweets I want to go to the blog, and keep the boring ones on the big boring feed.

But how to cross-post? TweetDeck for iPhone works great. Type the tweet, and activate the buttons for which accounts you want the message to go to. But TweetDeck for Desktop gums up my works. First, Adobe Air takes a lot of resources on my old computer. Second, I like to do everything I can in the browser (one "minimize" clears the screen. Tabs are great.)

I keep an instance of TwitterGadget going in my iGoogle page, which is a collection of frames with similar little web apps. The nice thing is that it automatically updates itself. But it can't handle multiple accounts, or log in multiple instances on the same page.

No good Twitter extensions for Chrome that I can find, and certainly none that allow multiple accounts.

So here I am, with a Twitter problem that no one has invented a solution for yet. But is my problem even really a problem? Well, no. If it was a popular problem, someone would have come up with a solution.

But this IS the problem. The workflow of the Internet revolves around helping the majority of people do the things that the majority of people would like to do. Is my need to turn tweets into blogposts in the way I want a crucial task for humanity? Of course not. And if I even thought it was a bit innovative, I might learn enough programming to do it myself. But I won't, and so here I stay, in the same Twitter rut. Which is fine. But this is not good workflow for a "manufacturing environment", if that is what I think I'm doing with all these little witticisms and links to photos of bridges and stuff.

I guess the productive environment of writing, art, and other communicative arts have never really had any manufacturing form, as it were. Certain formal skill sets yes, but because it is largely an individual practice there's been no need for assembly line dynamics. Maybe this is changing? Post-human-individual writing is definitely going to need a line. And a union. Otherwise humanity is going to treat their artist-components the way artists treat their livers. Whether the Internet qualifies as sufficiently post-individual or not is still not resolved.

CPSC Micro-fiction #9

CPSC Notices 6/3-10/10

Maytag Recalls Dishwashers Due to Fire Hazard - An electrical failure in the dishwasher’s heating element can pose a serious fire hazard. Maytag has received 12 reports of dishwasher heating element failures that resulted in fires and dishwasher damage, including one report of extensive kitchen damage from a fire. No injuries have been reported.

GE Recalls Front Load Washers Due to Fire and Shock Hazards - A wire can break in the machine and make contact with a metal part on the washtub while the machine is operating, posing fire and shock hazards to consumers. GE is aware of seven incidents in which flames escaped the units and caused minor smoke damage. No injuries have been reported.

Micro-fiction 6/10/10

They sit, outwardly motionless, oscillating within themselves, the stoic face of contained kinetic energy, the holy halves of power and silence. One for processing clothes, the other for dishware. These gods sanitize. They take that which our bodies have soiled, and they make them whole again. Machinery of redemption, their spark of heaven's alternating current heats the water, and with it, our bodily sins are wiped away.
But for too long have these gods been ignored. In haste we order them to our purposes, pulling them from the firmament and into our dusty, earthen homes. We deposit our discarded waste into them with mere purpose, the profanity of routine, with the haste of exuberant humans with better things to do that to pay homage to the forces of nature that allow us freedom of the will we claim.
And so it starts with a spark. The smallest copper wire, the capillary beds of powder-coated steel deities, bursting in electric stigmata, insulation opened in the mercy of heaven, and the current finds a ground. Then the smoke, the odoriferous fumes of combustion, the smell of the sacrifice that ought to have been. And still motionless, the gods reach out and touch our homes, passing flame through invisible finger tips, self-immolation their passage back to the sky. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. As the gods' will, justice is done.

For information about this series, please see the introductory post.


All Play and No Workflow Makes Internet Something Something

via @bldgblog, this post on organizing the Internet Reader workflow.

It's an anecdotal account of a designer reviewing how he saves links to read later. Complete with white board wire frame.

You probably do something similar, and so do I, and maybe it is less complicated or more complicated. And we'd probably all love to write a blog post detailing exactly how. Because this is the internet, and we like to share.

And there are a shitload of links.

But here's what I thought of, while I found myself trying to visualize the map he was describing. I thought of, "what the fuck, why am I reading this?"

Here's something I didn't read. It's an article on Time Magazine's website about how there are things out there that figure out what we want. Like Pandora and Facebook. It's funny that there's an article in what used to be my link into American content when I was seven years-old, telling me my content is now being provided by products I've been using for five years.

But not that funny. Because there is a lot of content out there, and this is a SERIOUS PROBLEM.

I don't know how I can play with this duality in this essay in a funny way, so instead of dancing around it, I'll just say it. Yeah, the shit we read on the Internet isn't really world-crucial. But then again, it is. Amid the laughing cats there is the only forum for oil spill news and revolutions and campaigns, and, to use a term from the time of Time Magazine, civics. It's the internet, of course!

So the best guide towards managing this content is a designer's whiteboard and a chorus of sites and services ending in .us and .ly, or a five year-old five years-late Time Magazine?

I work in an industry that is very similar to the Internet. It's called "printing". Printing is a lot of things, but for the purposes of this blog post it is a completely custom manufacturing system. This means, if there is a mistake in manufacturing, you can't have the customer go to the Apple Store and get a completely identical item, because there isn't one. It means you can't go back and fix spelling errors in the content after it is produced. If you fuck up, you are making the whole job again.

This is similar to the Internet not just because most of what the print industry actually prints advertising, but because there is not one Internet experience that is the same. Everyone uses it differently and has a different product. Different content.

You can't run a successful print manufacturing system without a workflow. There are just too many places for mistakes. Between designer, salesperson, estimator, prepress, press, and bindery, there are about five place each for things to get fucked up. Any fuck up costs money, any fuck up past estimator ends up costing material resources. They call it spoilage. Stuff that gets recycled because it's no good to anyone.

So it strikes me as I'm reading this first link, how is there not a workflow for the Internet? It's like we kept a print shop open with nobody working there, and when the customer shows up we show 'em in and say, "help yourself". Try not to get your legs stuck in the rollers.

Of course, there isn't what OSHA likes to call "stored kinetic energy" on the Internet, and the only resource we have to lose is time.

But still, there is no unified approach to Internet content management. No workflow. Just a browser, and a bunch of .us.ly's. The fact that a browser can combine an address bar, a search portal, bookmarks, and maybe even RSS all in one program actually puts it in the front running for workflow.

One of the great parts of the Internet distributed OS-experience is that you can customize. Plug-ins, extensions, javascript. But you have to find these, or hear someone else talk about them, or start picking a bunch of social media chicklets at random, using your email address like a coin in a slot machine. Every workflow ought to have flexibility built in, but still, there is no place to even start.

It's been the prevailing logic that the content provider is responsible for this. There is an awful lot of talk on the Internet about "curation". Like, each website is a museum. How many museums do you go to a year? Every time you need to check a fact, do you run on down to the Smithsonian? Museums are nice experiences, but they are not resources for most people. Some websites do a pretty good job, with a sturdy comment system, and maybe even a little community going on, that leads people to stop into their site directly, to see the dinosaur bones, and the woolly mammoth, and the real Apollo space capsule. I'm thinking of Slashdot, or maybe BoingBoing. But these are still magazines, publishing about things that are going on elsewhere. If the Internet is really supposed to tell us what is going on around the world, and help us connect with other people, it's some sort of crazy open air market, where people are getting pickpocketed, lost amid the meat harvested from unrecognizable creatures, and a sweaty westerner is buying a strange little puzzle box at the cafe in the corner, where it seems they sell a lot of those little puzzle boxes to westerners. Maybe this is the flavela chic stuff that guy is always talking about. What guy? I don't know, something I heard behind a stack of shipping crates.

I'm working on a redesign of my website(s) right now, because on the output end, your system and workflow does affect your content. Without the right tools, it's hard to make anything. But I still don't know what to do about absorbing the content, and helping my content be absorbed by others. I tweet links, comment on blogs, share-and-share-alike, but often it feels like I'm a guy waving a sign at an intersection, or sending ten thousand pieces of junk mail. I wouldn't rather send my stuff off to an editor, and wait six months for them to tell me they lost it (for fuck's sake, thank goodness internet self-publishing is actually rewarding compared to something!) but it seems like there is a hole here, for something not yet invented. I can actually almost taste it. Tastes like a community as easily browseable as Facebook, that incorporates any login, with public, semi-private, and private feeds, with synchable bookmarks, and read-and-comment-republish RSS/Twitter compiling... Hell, if I had any programming chops, I'd build it myself.

Until somebody builds it, I guess it's just "what's your pleasure, sir?"


Tech Esoterica

[Watch me move seamlessly from 80s movies, to Game Theory, to Technology, to Conspiracy Theories, To Death Cults, To Death Cults because of 80s movies!]

I re-watched War Games this weekend, a favorite film of my youth, after finding a VHS copy at the thrift store. I love the VHS bins at thrift stores. Some people may be willing to pay $20 for a DVD or $10 for a download, but for me, $1 hits the sweet spot of what having a copy of a film is worth. "It's not a fantastic film, but I'll watch it enough times that I'll cough up a buck." Markets in action.

This is right where War Games itself falls as a film. A young Matthew Broderick, eighties nostalgia, tech nostalgia, and some low key nuclear cold war drama. Even a couple chase scenes.

The concept is familiar enough. Computer is given power to make nuclear war. Computer achieves some level of sentience. Sentience combined with the keys to the nuclear deadly force makes computer "insane". Insane computer tries to kill humanity.

War Games' little wrinkle is the "game" aspect. Taking as its kernel the very true fact that cold war strategy in many instances derived from Game Theory, and the study of probabilistic rational thinking-making processes, this "game playing" process is the key towards the development of the "learning computer" in the plot, so desperate to "win" the nuclear "game". And, as the computer concludes in the finale, "the only way to win is not to play". Which it says in a computer synthesized voice, to the cheering crowd of military folks who are thrilled that they have not vaporized the world.

But what I noticed while re-viewing the film, is that the real SF aspect of the film is not the "computer that takes over the world". The SF of the film is the "humans that make the world into a computer".

Here's what I mean.

Many scenes in the film take place in NORAD's Colorado Springs facility. It is a hardened complex inside a mountain, so needless to say, no windows. But they have huge screens, with all kinds of data read-outs, and of course, the giant maps. These giant maps is where most of the drama actually plays out.

These maps are identical to the map on Matthews Broderick's computer screen when he unwittingly boots up his game of "Global Thermonuclear War". The maps is what we, the audience understands. The USSR is red, the NATO states are green. Dotted lines, that are the lines of flight of ICBMs, lead from silos in the middle of nowhere to the familiar major cities. There is a lot of data about "entry vectors", "ballistic velocities"--the actual data of ICBMs, which Broderick dismisses with a "I don't know what that means", because he just wants to play a game, after all--coincidentally, the parsing of this complicated physical data is what computers were developed for in the first place.

It is a movie after all, and so it shouldn't be a surprise if these map displays are used to explain the course of the plot, rather than the raw data (though that would make an some-what interesting film in itself). However, the displays also drive the plot. All of the intelligence data collected by NORAD is displayed on the screen. After the first "glitch" where the game overrides reality, time and time again the characters conclude "this is not a glitch". The things they are seeing on the screen are real, not because it is supplanting their reality with a simulacrum, or fantasy. It is real because it is coming from the very sensory apparatus that defines what real is. All their intelligence, as it were, is fed through computers so that it can be pictorially displayed on the map. There is no need to have visual contact with missles, submarines, or troops, because they have visual contact with the troops on the map.

The difference between sight and hallucination is that after a hallucination is over, you know it was false. As long as the hallucination continues, it is not "as if" you are seeing things, you are seeing things. When, in the film, jet fighters fly over Alaska to get a "visual" of incoming Soviet bombers, they don't see them. But this is easily over-written by the NORAD intelligence, which reports the possibility of bombers that can project a radar image several hundred miles away from itself. Thus, the bombers are not "non-existent" or hallucinations. On the contrary, they exist, we just can't find them. If, after watching the world be destroyed on the screen, they walked out of the vault to discover the world still existing, only THEN would everything be a hallucination. If they discovered the world destroyed, then the reality of the screen remains reality, unabated.

This ability to let a visualization of reality take the place of reality is one of humanity's finest qualities. This lets us see the world as "right side up" through our eyes, even though our lenses invert the image. This lets us develop hand-eye co-ordination, to be able to use tools as if they were extensions of our hands. It allows us to have sophisticated internal mental arenas, and flip back and forth between fiction and non-fiction, between idea and reality, between past and future. How else would we be able to think of the future as "a world that is like now but not now but will be soon?" If I described to you my best friend, who exists but doesn't exist but exists somewhere else, you would think I was hallucinating. But we do this all the time. It's called consciousness.

Unfortunately, with this conscious power comes the potential for great peril. Say, we develop a game with lines and two symbols, and we take turns placing either symbol in the boxes formed by the lines, and whoever gets three similar symbols in a row first wins. Now, say we develop a machine to cause an uncontrolled fission reaction. And then one day, we get the bright idea that we play the line game, and whoever loses has to sit on the fission machine while the other one flips it on. Crazy, no?

Or, we create these alternate worlds, based on data. Statistics of economics, of personal decisions, of resources, and of population densities. This is a lot of data, and it's tough to make this world out of only numbers. Most of us only see the screen, where it's a bit easier to figure out what's going on. We could color-code parts of it, to make it even easier. Because the game is so hard to understand, we'll argue about what is actually going on, even if we're just arguing about the screen rather than any particular number. We'll call these alternate worlds "politics".

And so on and so forth.

What continues to fascinate me, is not that we get caught up in worlds of our own devising, but that we invent new ones on the basis of their invention process having its own power. It is a creative process to invent new levels of reality, and we relish the chance to do so.

Broderick's character in the film, says several times, "the computer is not saying it, it is responding according to how it was programmed", and "that's not the computer's voice, the speaker is interpreting the words it's saying". And yet, as the computer becomes a more terrifying force in the plot, he forgets that it is "just a program". By the end of the movie, they refer to it as "he", and it even gets a name.

Now, we are comfortable with the fact that we anthropomorphize our tools, and that we use language as a way of communicating, whether through abstract words or through pronouns. These are realities we are comfortable with and use on a daily basis. But the fact that Broderick is a computer hacker who likes games, while also a common trope, represents that we want to create these new worlds all the time. Whether it is a computer program, or a political intrigue, a word game, or a map, we enjoy representing things. We get drawn into it, especially if it new. We want to get it. We want to play. And then we want to try to do it ourselves. It's like a combination of dreaming, and doodling. You scribble something because you're bored. Maybe its the same little doodle, or maybe it changes. But you write it down, throw it away, and write it down again. It's give pleasure to create symbols.

Technology is a symbol, as well as a collection of symbols.

Check this out:

Via Slashdot:

Tinfoil hatters around the world are abuzz that UVB-76, the Russian shortwave radio station that has been broadcasting its monotonous tone almost uninterrupted since 1982, has suddenly gone offline.

This is from the Wikipedia article about UVB-76:

The station transmits a buzzing sound that lasts 0.8 seconds, pausing for 1–1.3 seconds, and repeating 21–34 times per minute. One minute before the hour, the repeating tone is replaced by a continuous tone, which continues for one minute until the short repeating buzz resumes.[citation needed] Between 07:00 and 07:50 GMT the station transmits using lower power, when transmitter maintenance apparently takes place.
The Buzzer has apparently been broadcasting since at least 1982 as a repeating two-second pip, changing to a buzzer in early 1990. It briefly changed to a higher tone of longer duration (approximately 20 tones per minute) on January 16, 2003, although it has since reverted to the previous tone pattern.
At 21:58 GMT on December 24, 1997, the buzzing abruptly stopped to be replaced by a short series of beeps, and a male voice speaking Russian announced: "Ya — UVB-76. 18008. BROMAL: Boris, Roman, Olga, Mikhail, Anna, Larisa. 742, 799, 14." The same message was repeated several times before the beep sequence repeated and the buzzer resumed.
A similar voice message was broadcast on September 12, 2002, but with extreme distortion (possibly as a result of the source being too close to the microphone head) that rendered comprehension very difficult. This second voice broadcast has been partially translated as "UVB-76, UVB-76. 62691 Izafet 3693 8270."
A third voice message was broadcast on February 21, 2006 at 7:57 GMT. (recording of the third voice transmission) Again, the speaking voice was highly distorted, but the message's content translates as: "75-59-75-59. 39-52-53-58. 5-5-2-5. Konstantin-1-9-0-9-0-8-9-8-Tatiana-Oksana-Anna-Elena-Pavel-Schuka. Konstantin 8-4. 9-7-5-5-9-Tatiana. Anna Larisa Uliyana-9-4-1-4-3-4-8."These names are found in some Russian spelling alphabets, similar to the NATO phonetic alphabet.

Creepy, huh? Imagine you were a short wave radio buff, and a couple minutes before midnight on Christmas eve in 1997 you just happened to throw UVB-76 on the speaker, kind of as a mild bit of wonder at the cryptic world of short wave radio. The way most of us will sit at the beach and just watch the waves. Suddenly, a voice comes on, reads some names and numbers, and disappears. Like you saw a ghost. Like the ocean became absolutely, glassy still for a second, and then the waves returned like normal.

But why is it creepy? Because we don't know what it means? There's speculation that the broadcast is a timing channel, or a secret broadcast like the many other numbers stations that exist around the world on the short wave band. Because it may be spy stuff? Or is it because it is intriguing in a weird way, like the premise for a story? Like a movie preview, except there is no film? It could mean anything. It could mean anything you could make up. And all of it, going on while no one else in the world has any idea...

Whatever it was, it's gone now. Maybe it will come back. Add it to the story, if you want. But there is an impetus to make up some sort of story, isn't there? To at least imagine something, now that you know what UVB-76 is, or was?

Maybe it's not a common feeling, but I want to hear it for myself. I want to get a short wave radio and tune in, to listen to these numbers being read. To watch these waves washing up on the invisible, electro-magnetic beach. To think about it, and to imagine.

No doubt this is the origin of the impetus for conspiracy theories. A little paranoia goes a long way into making up stories. Paranoia is the ability to see a parallel story to the one that everyone thinks is happening. Largely ego-centered, and possibly mentally-debilitating, yes, but paranoia gets a pretty bad rap, considering how open we supposedly are to "alternate narratives" these days. And as there are numerous (very well evidenced, I assure you) instances proving that many conspiracies do have truth to them, you can draw your own conclusions about the value of conspiracy theories.

Another film, Three Days of the Condor, features a low-level CIA analyst whose job entails scanning fiction for possible conspiracy and espionage schemes, under the hypothesis that if someone could create a fictional version, someone could also create a real version. When a report he writes actually identifies a secret conspiracy of which he was unaware, he becomes the target of the conspiracy, and action ensues.

Another take on this interpolation of non-fictional schemes and fictional conspiracy theories is the book, Men Who Stare at Goats. It is about secret military programs into the paranormal, specifically psychic research and training, as well as other related but not-quite-so-para torture techniques, etc. The part that stuck with me, was the operating hypothesis of the unit: with a budget as big as the United States military's, and with a task so dire as protecting the lives of 300 million people, it is foolish to NOT research the paranormal, because whether or not any of it is plausible, someone else could research it, and if it turned out to be plausible, this would be a threat to the US. It is a game theory approach in which the defection is not on a fellow prisoner, but on hard science.

And what's the problem? Is this not how new technological advances are made? By thinking "outside the box", whether that box is lightbulb filaments, or the bounds of consciousness and physics? Is it a hallucination, or perceptual innovation? Tin-foil hatted conspiracy theory, or open-sourced truth? Who knows best?
I guarantee one thing though, the numbers station conspiracy theorists have read a lot more about short wave radio than you have, oh defender of rationality. Probably the people debating 9-11 conspiracy theories are the only ones who actually read the 9-11 Commission Report from cover to cover.

Which says this about actual, hard science and truth: it is an open terrain, populated by geeks who are over-saturated in their technical realities, where nobody is free of preconceptions, and the next chapter in history is only a disturbed fever dream away. To be able to make any head way into any of these realities, whether conspiracy theory, politics, or HTML5, you have to buy in. You have to join the cult, and get the tattoo. Accept the brain implants. Put your hand on the book and swear that your body and soul belongs to, a certain video format, or whatever.

If you really want your social media brand to succeed, you should probably start a cult. Introduce as much archaic and esoteric knowledge into your programming (both of your application and your membership) as possible. The idea that a new religious story is ancient knowledge really works on folks. Maybe base it in Egyptology. They've got good imagery, and everyone already knows the pyramids. Worked for the Masons.

But the most important step is to encourage your followers to branch off. Let them re-purpose your dogma, and syncretize it. Like a good API, you need to give your data to those who are going to do the real developing. Look at what Nazi occultism did for christianity. Or better yet, the rumor of Nazi occultism. Maybe Hitler wanted to get his hands on the true cross, maybe not. But now we've got the Di Vinci Code. People go ape for that shit. Christianity hasn't ever had a plan to monetize. And look at how well they're doing. What is that money for, anyway?

Rather than the desire to create cultic realities messing up national security, as it did in War Games, it can help it. Check this out:

The Russian Woodpecker was a notorious Soviet signal that could be heard on the shortwave radio bands worldwide between July 1976 and December 1989. It sounded like a sharp, repetitive tapping noise, at 10 Hz, giving rise to the "Woodpecker" name. The random frequency hops disrupted legitimate broadcast, amateur radio, utility transmissions, and resulted in thousands of complaints by many countries worldwide.
The signal was long believed to be that of an over-the-horizon radar (OTH) system. This theory was publicly confirmed after the fall of the Soviet Union, and is now known to be the Duga-3 system, part of the Soviet ABM early-warning network.

One idea amateur radio operators used to combat this interference was to attempt to "jam" the signal by transmitting synchronized unmodulated continuous wave signals, at the same pulse rate as the offending signal. They formed a club called the Woodpecker Hunting Club.
Simple CW pulses didn't appear to have any effect. However, playing back recordings of the woodpecker transmissions sometimes caused the woodpecker transmissions to shift frequency leading to speculation that the receiving stations were able to differentiate between the "signature" waveform of the woodpecker transmissions and a simple pulsed carrier.
As well as disrupting shortwave amateur radio and broadcasting it could sometimes be heard over telephone circuits due to the strength of the signals. This led to a thriving industry of "Woodpecker filters" and noise blankers.

Amateur Soviet Early Warning Jamming Club? That's crazier than outsourcing cyber warfare. You get people involved in something technological, introduce a weird variable like the Woodpecker, and you can get people to create all kinds of narrative to furthering national security. And that was before they even knew how crazy the damn thing looked. If you like that one, check out these guys, listening to secret Soviet doomed space missions, and turning over their tapes to NASA.

Here's a fictional set-up: a numbers station that is easily decoded, so that conspiracy theories think they are getting the dirt on a conspiracy, when it is disinformation. Or, so that sympathizers follow the decoded orders, thinking that they are operatives, when they are only amateur spies! Fake bomb making recipes in the Anarchist Cookbook! Terrorist provocateurs hiding messages in Flickr feeds!

Or a film about an "implausible" scenario involving a thinking computer and world maps and global thermonuclear war, that encourages distrust in computers for some, and fanatical devotion to esoteric conceptions of reality in others. What could be the goal of this conspiracy? Who thought it up, and how to we counter it? Or should we support it? Whose side are we on?


Debt of Society

Everybody but everybody likes to freak out about the national debt. My liberal friends, conservatives who aren't my friends, my anarchist friends, my semi-apocalyptic cult friends. "OMG THE DEBT, something-something CHINA!" has been a popular discussion topic for awhile.

Naturally, a lot of this distrust of the debt is stemming from a distrust of LARGE, CENTRALIZED AUTHORITY, and our mutual fear of the ILLUMINATI. Which is, of course, something to fear, and I would never begrudge people to give up their healthy conspiracy theories (not an ironic statement at all... conspiracy theories are healthy. In science they call these 'new hypotheses').

But, all the same, these are people with credit cards, who use currency, and who have no problem owing someone a 10 spot or a favor.

Debt is a quantification of guilt, and important to all of our relationships. It is the placeholder for value. The ability to have an economy is to be able to exchange things not only through space, but through time. e.g. I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. Without the ability to "pay on Tuesday", there would be no sense of value, because exchange would be limited to what we currently have in our possession. Whether it is a household economy, a political economy, a sexual economy, or monetary policy.

But rather than go on about that, I'll just point you towards Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality. There are very few "must read/watch/listen" items of culture in my estimation. But this should be required reading for the human race. Or at least those who claim to be educated. It's not the answers to the way the world works, but it is such a good push away from everything we think we know about the reasons we do things, you'll never look at the world the same way.

Instead, I just want to share a little fact of monetary data with you. To put things in perspective.

Here is some data on US debt, from The Financial Times' Alphaville blog. Though of course, this is data available to anyone. If they were curious.

At the end of 2009, the US gov't debt was $10.3 trillion. Whoa, right?

But at the end of 2009 the total of ALL US DEBT was $50.9 trillion. This means that gov't debt, while a seemingly huge figure, was only 20% of all US debt.

So where is the rest of the debt coming from? Well, from you, me, our liberal and conservative friends and non-friends, our anarchist and cult friends.

$2.2 trillion was from financial companies alone.

$13.9 trillion was household debt. That's right: our mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and whatever else is more debt that the combined state and federal deficit.

And the rest of it? The debt owned by businesses, large and small. Banks, stores, farms, gas stations, private schools, car companies, whatever.

Government debt, which fundamentally exists to not simply balance the budget, but to continue to provide the monetary policy support which makes US currency VALUABLE, is only 20% of all of US debt. The rest of the debt, is, as they say, the price of doing business. How would you get credit to buy raw materials for your business without a line of credit at the bank? How would you pay your bills on time if you didn't have a credit card? How would anybody invest in anything if they could only do it with the cash they had on hand?

The entire US economy, at $14.1 trillion dollars, is leveraged to the tune of 359%. The FT blog posting notes the interesting fact that only recently has American leveraging begun to shrink FOR THE FIRST TIME in the 50 year history of the recorded statistics, down to 345% percent.

Now, I'm not any sort of expert that could comment on what the optimal level of leveraging for the US economy. But, I can tell you that the Ron Paul types who think it is feasible that the government balance the budget every year are completely out of whack. This is not a matter of "belt-tightening" or "proper accounting" or reigning in "out-of-control spending". An American economy without any sort of rolling debt would be absolutely, fundamentally incongruous with the American economy we all know (and supposedly, love). The fact that US leveraging has been increasing for every year of the past fifty years shows that an increase in debt is part of the "growing economy" we consider the norm. The fact that only this year has leveraging decreased does not show that all of a sudden we have all "come to our senses" and decided to pay off our debt. It shows that there has been a sudden collapse of available credit, which we were using as the coal-snorting steam engine driving our so-called "prosperity". Otherwise, you can be sure we would have kept swiping that credit card. What changed? Did our consumer appetites diminish, so we were content with the amount of money we made last year? Did we strike gold somewhere, so that now we have enough "real capital" to assuage our need for debt? Or did our consumer society stumble, and a massive investment sector driving our economy's growth for the last nine years suddenly and cataclysmically collapse?

Currency is only as valuable as the indications and perception that it will be valuable in the future. Offering to pay debts in US dollars is one way of maintaining that value. Another way is by finding or producing an excess of capital. I don't see anybody spinning straw into gold.

We've been riding the wave of debt for fifty years. And still our schools and highways are falling apart. I'd like to say, along with everyone else, that this is unsustainable to continue with debt like this. Maybe increasing the debt forever is sustainable, maybe it's not. But if trailing the pack of currencies heading off to slow, inflationary infinity isn't sustainable, then that means that anything familiar, anything we would like to think of as economically positive, good in society, part of our American status quo, would also turn out to be not sustainable.

Of course, we friends of the anarchist persuasion have known this for a long time. You might say we're ready for it, and have been looking forward to capitalism and the credit market's collapse for some two hundred years now. The contradictions of debt and capital have been visible to some for a while now. There may always be some form of conscious debt, as the antithesis to value. But building an entire economy on currency, quantitative value and debt seemed a bit... reckless, maybe?

And the benefit of this history is that we've already thought ahead to a life without debt. Maybe in a utopian way, maybe in a primitive way, or maybe in a downright sci-fi way. But at least we've thought about it. We know it would be a major cultural shift, and there would be fundamental changes in a society without a debt-based economy, either good or ill, that would make it unrecognizable from the way it is now.

But those tacking Ron Paul signs next to the freeway and complaining about the deficit while in the car on the way to the mall, have not. They see the system of capitalism as a giant checkbook. It must be that straight-forward, and that logical, if it is the status quo, right? The debt, for them, is as much a matter of honor, as it is not paying taxes. Because capitalism, after all, is as simple as working hard and pursuing the American dream, is it not? You shop the bargains, while you raise your own prices to afford the remodel on the house. You get the good deal, while sticking it to the other guy. It's called profit. Profit makes itself, as long as you don't have to look at the debt that pays for it. We've built an entire culture founded on this concept.

You buy into the culture, you gotta pay the price.


Anarchism in Arabic

I would like to re-post the entirety of As’ad Abu Khalil's translated essay, "I Want a Sect Against Sects", but it is long, so I'm going to only quote my favorite parts, and encourage you to follow the link to read the whole thing.

The reason I read his blog, Angry Arab News Service, other than to get all the news about the Arab world you do not get in most of the english-speaking media, is because he is an anarchist (I believe I've read him explicitly describe himself as such), but not an american anarchist, or a european anarchist, but an arab anarchist. The beliefs are not so different, but the perspective is. This is what anarchism sounds like in arabic:

...I want a sect for myself. None of the sects and doctrines can accommodate me. All restrain me. They disgust me. I don't get along with their leaders or their masses and I do not follow their slogans. I want to establish my own sect, but you're welcome to join. My sect has no rituals, traditions or customs. It's a freedom sect where everyone may define their own path. I want a sect that isn't interested in being ranked among Lebanese sects. One that doesn't boast about being one of the conflicting sects. I want a sect that the Lebanese Ministry of Interior's records do not recognize. My sect doesn't appear in commemorative photographs and doesn't get invited to the presidential palace and you don't see it in embassies. My sect doesn't receive money from the House of Saud or their followers in Lebanon....

...My sect rejects the notion of children's inferiority. It actually respects the child. In my sect children play in mud and neglect their lessons anytime they want. Children in my sect do not take lessons in manners. They learn to rebel at any time they desire. Children in my sect can dress colorfully and enjoy themselves. They do not fall victim to western corporations’ propaganda that harm children's mental and physical wellbeing. In my country children can spill soup, candy and chocolate on their clothes without fear. In my sect children learn from swings and from each other any time they want. Children in my sect do not purchase American products. In my sect children speak Arabic on the playground without shame. Children of my sect do not learn through rote memorization or parrot-like repetition. Children in my sect do not observe Teacher's Day, and they reject Ahmad Shawqi's poem to "venerate" teachers. The relationship between teachers and children in my sect are democratic, not heirarchical. In my sect teachers do not yell or throw chalk or reprimand. Children in my sect can draw with ink on their white shirts if they want to. And chew gum if they want to. And dance in math class if they want to. I want a sect which girls and boys squeeze my heart and present it in a cup to my beloved. My sect airs my heart on a laundry line in front of my beloved's house. My sect records my heartbeats on a CD and places it at my beloved's door. The girls and boys of my sect play on my heart's strings the symphony of eternal love. My sect memorizes all songs of harmony and love....

...My sect isn't docile. It swoops to resistance and revolution when necessary. My sect opposes the Israeli enemy. Its sons and daughters love living life with dignity, not shame. My sect doesn't hold monthly meetings to discuss sectarian provocation and regional and global affairs. My sect doesn't have any elders who pretend respectability before TV cameras. My sect believes in a defense strategy in which the Lebanese government isn't decision maker or that the state's armed personnel stay at home on war day. Those who'd like to fight can join the resistance, not the other way round, unlike Faris Said's irrational defense methods or Duri Sham'oun's theories, which refuses to accept the notion of Israel's defeat in the July war....

...I desire a sect that redefines gender and fundamentally changes methods of child rearing and upbringing. In my sect, parenting is based on cooperation, love and equality. My sect rejects scolding and belittling as methods of instilling obedience and blind loyalty. My sect rejects family laws that monopoloize sexist laws. My sect frees foreign maids in Lebanon and criminalizes their use. My sect frees all sex workers in Lebanon and criminalizes the purchase (not selling) of sex, if we can call that sex; sex implies consent between the parties, and economic need negates freedom of choice and decisionmaking. My sect will make those into centers to spread radical feminism in Lebanon.

My sect rejects capitalism and works to cancel it. My sect agrees with Balzac that behind every fortune lies a crime. It agrees with Proudhon that private property is theft. It agrees with the demands of The Communist Manifesto as a bare minimum. My sect embraces the poor and ridicules the rich and bars them from representing people and controlling them. My sect prohibits palaces in Lebanon and will convert them into shelters for the poor. My sect will demolish statues of the rich and colonialism's puppets and will allow a statue of "the dangerous man." "The dangerous man" is my sect's dear son. My sect will oppose privatization and will nationalize all sectors after ridding the state of sectarian grasp. My sect will consult comrades Khalid Saghiyya and Muhammad Zebib on economics and will ignore everything written by Marwan Iskander. My sect will encourage people to pirate to break or decrease the monopoly of multinational corporations. My sect will refuse the impoverishment of Al-Biqa farmers under the rubric of a deceitful virtue war imported from the United States.

My sect acknowledges a debt to Syrian workers in Lebanon and gives them Lebanese citizenship. They have rebuilt Beirut, unlike one who has impoverished the Lebanese people by plotting against them and against the peoples of neighboring Arab countries. My sect pursues and criminalizes anyone and everyone who harms Syrian workers, and pursues politicians who provoke public opinion against the Syrian people in Lebanon. It also places responsibility on the Syrian regime, which neglects the affairs of Syrian workers in Lebanon. My sect considers Syrian workers in Lebanon a sect per se. It encourages unions in Lebanon to cooperate and unite with a Syrian workers’ union in Lebanon (after expelling the former’s president Ghassan Ghousn, who was installed by the Amal movement for reasons unrelated to workers’ rights in Lebanon)....

...I want a sect that flies and soars and sings before the birds. A sect that wakes with sunset and sleeps with sunrise. I desire a sect that takes on the colors of the rainbow and isn’t afraid to sleep on the clouds. I want a sect that doesn’t follow, doesn’t applaud and doesn’t chant except for freedom, without payments or provocation or commands. I want a sect that drinks and eats from the earth and then returns to it. A sect that understands environmental struggle differently than Akram Shihayib and the green party. My sect’s concept of the environment will be closer to the American Green socialist party, not the Lebanese capitalist green party. My sect’s environmental activism will involve struggle against capitalism and globalization while the “struggle” of the Lebanese green party joins the Lebanese economic system’s capitalist monopoly. My sect understands environmental needs as a struggle against the greed of oil sheikhs and their followers in Lebanese economics and society. My sect starts by prohibiting hunting and barring western corporations that have a long history of destroying the environment. I want a sect that doesn’t subscribe to Lebanese myths of superiority and claims of Lebanese genius. I want a sect that acknowledges the equality of people. Is this too much for you, sons and daughters of Lebanon’s sects? I want a sect that scribbles and merges the red and green on the Lebanese flag. I want a sect that will rewrite Lebanon’s history to discuss a war of independence that failed to achieve independence. My sect will prepare for a war of true independence for Lebanon.

This is my sect. Does anyone want to join?

I'm in.


Art. View. Discuss.

Tube installation by Adam and Rosalynn Rothstein, "Please Treat Things As You Would Like Them To Be Treated" officially opens tonight at Project Space, 150 Liberty Street NE, Salem. 5-7pm.

Just 'Cause

Allow me to, if I may, present a little statement about the "meaning bubble", and the associated undervaluing of "the real".

Which is, an odd thing for me to be thinking about, considering the fact that I'm trained in philosophy of the semiotic and psychoanalytic persuasion. I'm also a writer. These facts mean that more often than not I'm preoccupied with the "symbolic" aspect of things. Looking at life, objects, words, and systems, and trying to figure out exactly what they "mean".

The search for meaning, either in a greater existential sense or in a more pedestrian, everyday way, is after all a great part of human life. Confronted with great spectacles of reality, whether it be violence, leaking oil wells, or technological lust sweeping a culture, there is a lot of fodder for such quests.

The world has long been split up into two categories as part of this process of trying to figure out what the world means. These categories are the realms of the material, or real world, and the meaningful, or ideal world. The world of things, and the world of words. In other words. These categories help the process by distinguishing between what we are attempting to describe, and the description itself. It's taken for granted that description can never get as close to the real thing as the real thing, because the description is, by definition, not real.

But then, as we get into the technical details of the difference between these categories, we see that they rely upon each other. It would be impossible to come up with the words to describe the real without the real existing, and the real would not exist for us in any sensible, meaningful way if we did not have words to describe it. We've achieved some sort of balance--that is to say, the realm of our ideal minds and symbolic data function in conjunction with the real world of physical material, defining a binary manifold of conscious experience. These two categories unite, giving us "existence", or "being", or "the phenomenal world", or something like that.

And there have also been attempts to find the "kernel point" in this bifurcated system, the point of original categorical separation, as it were. Whether this be a particular symbol, or a particular logical construction that is the basis for all others (Lacan's Symbol or Kant's Transcendental Logic), or the fundamental aspect of reality that is replicated in each physical and mental action (Marx's Fundamental Theses, Freud's Unconscious, Deleuze & Guattari's Desiring Machines), or some super-nominal hyper-real meeting point between the two categories (Merleau-Ponty's Flesh, Heidegger's Dasein), these theories hopefully posit that there could be a simple machine of some sort, a lever and fulcrum, from which we can begin to move the system of our world and how it attempts to mean anything for us, within an example mechanism that is relatively simple to understand.

Or maybe not. Because these various deployments of the categories, the disavowal of the categories entirely, the smashing of the idols and the forging of new categorical gods, and all the rest seems to take place over and again every so often, whenever there are skilled smiths in either material or ideas who are willing to pick up the tools. It is all suggested, and repudiated, proposed, and then debunked. All well and good. Part of the process, you know. Nothing like tearing everything down and rebuilding it, or watching something break and fixing it, to get a better idea of how it works. Or at least as good of an idea as you are going to get. Because it will break again. Or it will build itself again. The only consistency is the attempt to find consistency by watching the phase changes.

I was, at least until recently, pretty consistent in my domain on the ideal side of things. My wordy work on the subject of meaning was/is, ironically enough, based in ideas of most kernel-like aspects of the duality residing somewhere in the material realm. In other words, I was all about finding other words for saying that the material was the basis for our meaning through words. Even words are, in many senses, considered material of their own. I know, right? Well, you can spend a lot of time thinking about things in this way, and it keeps you busy.

But this was before I became a visual artist. I didn't want to be a visual artist. But, as M told me, "you are building an installation in an art space/gallery. You're a visual artist now, whether you like it or not."

Besides the fact of building something real with my hands in a certain place signifying that I was now a visual artist, all of a sudden people were asking me what, what I was building, was supposed to mean. What is it? What is it supposed to be? What did it mean to me, what did it mean to other people, what did it mean to other people other than certain other people, and what should other people tell other people about what it meant? If there was ever an indication that I was, in reality, a visual artist, it was that now I wasn't making something, I was making meaning. Or more directly, I was making something that manufactured the expectation of meaning within other people. They looked at what I was making, and expected meaning. They looked at me, as the person making the object, and expected me to translate the meaning for them, and to answer their questions about it with purposeful answers.

And the ironic meaning of this is easy to appreciate. For a few years now, I've been writing. That is, carefully building strings and codes of ideas into long, winding songs of meaning, that while ostensibly are for entertainment, have subtle hints and insinuations, like all good writing should (in my estimation), at some sort of larger system of meaning for us as thinking, perceiving, intending, conscious beings. Even though when I can convince someone to read some of my writing, they normally say something like, "cool story", or "good description, but the plot didn't really go anywhere". All that meaningful theory work, ignored in its subtlety. But then I grab a glue gun and 5000 cardboard tubes and start building a great big something-or-other, and all of a sudden everyone is looking to you for answers about the metaphysical structure of the universe. Maybe they don't care, or won't understand, or maybe they do. But mostly they just want to hear you say something. Work out some sort of meaning, to justify the material thing you've done. So they can understand what you did, and take a position on it maybe. Disagree, or applaud. Hey, did you guys know I write books too?

Of course we wrote an artists' statement. Hell, if somebody wanted me to WRITE about the sculpture, I'd put together five-thousand words in about 1/100 the time it's taking to do the same to the tubes. I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to paste some words up on a wall next to a physical monstrosity that might lead a few people to actually read something I had a hand in writing. A goal of writing is always to have someone read it, regardless of what the writing intends or what effect it might have. But of course, our statement had to be something that defied comprehension--not out of an attempt to make the meaning more abstract or obscure--but something that trumped the desire for meaning to begin with.

Because the thing we were building was not about meaning. It was about something real, taking up space, forcing people to interact with it, without necessarily knowing what it was. In this way, you might say that the meaning of the structure was for it to be VISUAL ART.

Which apparently, is something rare and revolutionary in this day and age. You ask any artist what their art means these days, and you get a proselytizing speech falling somewhere between confession, lecture, and YouTube response video, a kind of an absurd work of art itself, tripping over the process of being meaningful in the attempt to be oh-so-very meaningful. It's called an "artist statement", for goodness sake. As if by being an artist, you were necessarily making a statement. As if meaning, whether personal, philosophical, esoteric, or political, was the valuing commodity by which we understand art in the open markets of our minds and culture. As if the commodity fetishism of High Culture art sold for high prices necessitated a mirror of "real meaningful value" among the Lesser-but-in-some-ways-more-real-Culture, negotiated in the currency of complicated philosophies, intense, internal spirituality, and popular political causes. These currencies being more valuable than say, for example, craft or process. Or, aesthetics. Whatever that used to mean.

This is why I didn't want to be a visual artist. I didn't want to be part of the system bankrupting the power of the real's unspoken meaning by slapping labels and theses all over it; I don't want to be a member of the invading army of "meaningful" artists, writing their name on the world and telling you how to consider it from now on. Not to say that I think there is anything particularly holy about immediate perception. This is not the Gospel of Thomas here, refuting the god of heaven in favor of a god of the body. I'm not trying to sell you a new idol. I'm just a guy with a lot of cardboard and a glue gun, and I'm putting up tubes here. Just 'cause.

But then again, of course there was stuff I could say. If I wanted to. I've spent over 60 hours so far, and probably will commit another 40 or so, putting up tubes inside a room. I've had plenty of time to think about the tubes, whether I'm thinking about what they mean, or just considering them as things in my hands. I think about where I'm putting them, though it is generally a random process. So there is meaning, somewhere. As much meaning for me as there is for anyone else walking into a room and seeing several thousand cardboard tubes arranged in some sort of crystalline structure. So how can this "real" meaning, that is, the free meaning that develops naturally any time a human considers his or her surroundings, replace the "ideal" meaning that is dictated by artists, critics, or theorists trying to analyze the development of meaning, as meaning? Is one meaning more authentic than the other? If not, then why does it seem like they are constantly vying with each other for domination of the meaning rubric? Why are we so worried about the hows of interpretation, if there are always several ways of creating or interpreting meaning? Or is the "how" the realm of meaning deeply tied into any process of discovering meaning from our environment? By the very act of perception are we also analyzing the methods by which we perceive?

And now I'm back at the beginning, which is analyzing the history of the exegesis of heuristic methods, and delving into the abyssal asymptotes of semiotic theory. Which, for me anyway, is probably the best place. Because I could go on about this for pages, and spin around in circles until everyone but me is dizzy, or until everyone but me is clearheaded. Depending on how you look at it.

But, I can tell you this, and you can perceive it to be a conclusion, if you like. When I do visual art, I'm making something with my hands, and I'm sure as shit not building it out of words. When I'm messing with words, you'll know it, even if you skip out after two paragraphs and go back to looking at the tubes. Call it whatever you want. Hope it's entertaining for you.


Tubes Updates

These are the last two updates from our tubes installation. If you have already supported us on Kickstarter, then you received these updates automatically. If you haven't, you should!

Sunday night was the first night I dreamed of tubes. Rosalynn hit tube dreams as of Friday.

But let me back up.

As of Tuesday morning (now), we've spent 60 gross hours in Salem, working on the installation, both together and separate. There are 3300 tubes installed, and another ~2400 still in boxes. All major constructions are in, save one that will go in after the dance/music performance.

Both Rosalynn and I have been sick, maybe from hot glue fumes, or maybe from bad bar food. Our fingers are callused from sewing, crimping tube ends, and hot glue burns. Our backs are sore from bending, stretching, reaching, lifting. We slept underneath the tubes on Sunday night, on a bed of cardboard, because we were too tired to drive home.

It was in my feverish state of bar food induced sweat-sleep, (from a grilled cheese sandwich, of all things) on the hard floor underneath the rising dome of our labors, that I had my first tube dream. It was filled with impossible angles, with stretching beyond arm's length for tubes or glue gun to buttress a hanging curve that I was supporting with my other hand, with dead-ending tube tunnels, and with the roar of collapsing cardboard echoing off of unfinished walls. Rosalynn was also in my dream, taking out a large sections of tubes with a baseball bat, and when I suggested that this would increase the amount of work I had to do, she responded that "it's your fucking problem". In fairness, I featured in her dreams as well, pursuing her with a hot glue gun, promising I would cool the glue down a bit before I covered her in it.

Well, all's fair in love and art. After all, we're suffering for YOU here, gentle contributors.

Despite our legendary efforts, the work is coming along great. There are more pictures than I could ever hope to post here, especially since Phil Krug has been there several times taking photos of us working, and posting them to his Flickr feed. But this, of course, is a reason for you to contribute and receive our curated photo CD reward, which will include Phil's photos and ours. (Thanks, Phil!)

So, let's see what we've got here:

Me, assembling, rocking my fantastic Rudy Rucker "Seek the Gnarl" T-shirt, constructing the gnarl, as it were.

The banner, in early stages.

Makoto and Mike, the dancer and musican, practicing while I glue in the background.

Makoto and Mike again, this time using the light bulb (awesome shadow effects in the tubes).

Rosalynn sewing away while the tubes foment.

View from the entrance, through the tubes.

The entrance wall, with Rosalynn and canned goods visible on the other side.

Reflection of the storefront windows, a cheap piece of self-congratulatory double-exposure art.

Tubes under the glare of the lights. This is the most recent, and most complete picture.

The "shrine of the harvest". Not what we're actually calling it or anything, but that's what it looks like to me right now.

Rosalynn feigning indifference, perched adorably on a box of tubes.

As I said, we have 3300 tubes up, and another 2400 or so still to do. We probably won't increase the number significantly by tomorrow, when the performance takes place and the installation officially opens to the public during Salem's First Wednesday. Maybe another 300 or 500 tonight, but not that much more than that. We're exhausted.

That's okay though. A few things have changed our original plan of having them all up by tomorrow. First, we got 36" tubes, rather than the 24" for which we made our original estimations. This means that the tubes we have take up more room, and we can increase the footprint of the installation with less. Second, we got the big shipment of tubes only a week before the opening, and so the time estimation was optimistic to say the least. Third, we needed to leave a significant amount of space for Mike and Makoto's performance tomorrow. They were willing to work in and around the installation (the practices of which look excellent, by the way) but they also need a bit of empty space for seating, and for Mike's music equipment.

But they will all go up over the next month. The "performance area" will be filled with a blob-like peninsula, and there is a fair amount of "thickening" to be done. Thickening is the "highly technical term" for going back over the structure and increasing the density, and decreasing the amount of free space in the tunnels and passageways. It really increases the sense of the installation as an imposition, blocking light, sound, and movement, as the structures grow, like a crystal.

But anyway, after a little bit more work and clean up tonight, we are ready for the opening tomorrow night! It is open from 5-7pm tomorrow, Wednesday June 2nd, and the performance is at 7:30pm. If you are anywhere near Salem, Oregon, come by the Project Space at 150 Liberty Street NE to check it out.

Because we've had the doors open most of the time we've been working, and also because there are large windows facing the street, we've been able to get reactions from Salem folk already. Quite a few of them are impressed, from a construction standpoint, if not a pure art standpoint. I've found there is a certain comfort threshold with the tubes. After working on them for hours on end, I feel like they are small, almost unnoticeable. I see the empty space, the work not done. But on returning after a night's sleep, I'm struck by the expanse of it, probably similar to how people see it for the first time. But then, after a little while I'm accustom to it again, and it bores me.

Rosalynn and I, in talking about projects of this size, agreed that there is a strange dynamic between the progression of a project, and the sense you have of its progression. If you imagined a timeline between 0% complete and 100% complete, at about 5% you feel like you've done nothing. At 10-15%, you feel like you're moving right along, and it will be done in no time. At 40%, the project is taking forever, and you're not making any progress. At 70%, you feel like you've regained your forward motion, but you still back at 40%. At 95%, you finally feel as if you are almost done. But there's nothing else. You never reach 100%. There is always something that can be tweaked, something to add. 95% is as far as it gets.

This is a theme of the project, at least for me. The push and pulls of inhibition and exhibition, of curation and of imposition. What is a growth that is never complete? An infection? A metastization?

Anyway, I'm beginning to talk like a visual artist, so I should probably cut this off. I'll write some philosophical essay later, once my burns heal.