Neon salesman's suitcase


 "One amazing relic of the golden age of neon are the suitcases carried by neon salesmen. They contained every color they could make. The suitcases are so beautiful. You open them up, and there’s a little switch for each tube. If you turn them all on—which you’re not really supposed to do—you just get this incredible rainbow radiating out of the suitcase. It must have been so magical when a salesman walked into a little shop and opened up his suitcase, especially when neon signs were first starting to catch on."

--Kirsten Hively, via Collectors Weekly


"Emily Dickinson's To-Do List" by Andrea Carlisle

I'm sure I posted this Andrea Carlisle poem years ago, but when I searched for it this morning, I couldn't find it in the archives. I still love it. (via)

Emily Dickinson's To-Do List

Figure out what to wear—white dress?
Put hair in bun
Bake gingerbread for Sue
Peer out window at passersby
Write poem
Hide poem

White dress? Off-white dress?
Feed cats
Chat with Lavinia
Work in garden
Letter to T.W.H.

White dress or what?
Eavesdrop on visitors from behind door
Write poem
Hide poem

Try on new white dress
Gardening—watch out for narrow fellows in grass!
Gingerbread, cakes, treats
Poems: Write and hide them

Embroider sash for white dress
Write poetry
Water flowers on windowsill
Hide everything


Cities as Software/Libraries as Software

Two posts that have excited me this morning:

Cities as Software, Marcus Westbury

"[Y]ou need to start by rewriting – or hacking – the software to change not what the city is but how it behaves."

Libraries as Software: Dematerialising Platforms & Returning to First Principles
Hugh Rundle [bold his]

"Libraries are a technology for free, large scale inter-generational transfer of knowledge and culture. ... Instead of processing, moving, accessioning and purchasing physical or digital items, librarians are better used to organise and share information and stories. Libraries run like this become creation engines.  They become more about creating and sharing a community’s ideas than providing access to the ideas of others...If we combine the ideas of Westbury with Steven Johnson’s ideas about platforms we can envisage the library as a platform for enabling innovation, learning and cultural development to occur in our communities without the need for capital.  Isn’t that a lot more compelling than a place for lending books to people?"



scans Twitter for tweets in iambic pentameter and combines them into non-rhyming sonnets:

What ever happened to Amanda Bynes! ?
so many people never find the one.
I am excited for tomorrow... ish
I'm never eating waffle house again...




OdysseyWorks: all your life's a stage (for 24 hours)

Did you ever see the 1997 movie The Game, in which a character played by Sean Penn gifts his brother, played by Michael Douglas, with a wholly immersive experience--a huge Game made just for him, tailored to every aspect of his life and personality, which includes a cast of actors he will not realize are actors, unsafe situations he will not realize are safe, something pretty much guaranteed to be a life-changing if not pleasant experience for the guy who has everything? OdysseyWorks is a group of multidisciplinary artists who create such experiences (okay, maybe not quite like those in The Game, but I was immediately reminded of it) for very small audiences...24-hour experiences, usually for a single person. Not "games," quite, but as they put it:

OdysseyWorks creates immersive, site specific, long duration performances for very small and fully participatory audiences.These multi-site, cross-genre performances radically rethink the artist-audience relationship, resulting in a series of aesthetic and narrative experiences designed for one person. Reconsidering traditional processes of art-making, performative potentials of public spaces, and the nature of human relationships, the work draws from a broad range of techniques in disciplines as ordinarily estranged as poetry and architecture, music and psychology, book arts and theater. The performances deeply and personally affect both audience and artist, incorporating community members not as passive audience members but actors, extras, and assisting artists.

I was interested to see that poet Matthea Harvey is now or has been part of the group.

Via this MetaFilter post, which also includes a link to an article describing an experience designed by Matthew Purdon and Abraham Burickson, two OdysseyWorks members, before (it appears) they took the name OdysseyWorks. A film about OdysseyWorks, The Midden of Possibility, will be showing at Cannes in May 2012. Here's the blurb from the web site:

Midden of Possibility follows conceptual performance group OdysseyWorks over the course of three months as they develop a 36hr performance for a single person--Kristina, a woman in her thirties who lives in midtown Manhattan and went through an extensive screening process to have the group make a performance for her. From New York City to Ithaca--on trains, in caves and in old farmhouses--through the pages of a novel, in a poker game (played using cards bearing archaic text and 19th century lice removal recipes), and over radio broadcasts across the Hudson River Valley,she moves through this world as the a star without a script, gradually discovering her own agency. Ready for change, and looking for a different approach to her life, Kristina has no idea what is about to happen to her. Actors are infiltrating her life, articles in the New Yorker are suddenly very personal, and everyone she knows is in on it, or seems to be. The filmmakers lived with the artists for three months as they attempted to find a way to transform their work from conventional to transcendent, and to transform themselves along the way. 


Quora: What is the most hauntingly beautiful song?

Quora users respond to the question, "What is the most hauntingly beautiful song?" (with lots of YouTube links for listening)

I've been haunted by Kate and Janelle's cover of Neko Case's "Star Witness" since it first saw and heard it about a month ago. I made an mp3 of it with this useful tool so I could listen to it in the car, but I know seeing them perform it has colored all my listens since, the way they look and smile at each other, check in with each other, and the way Janelle (on the right) looks off into the ceiling:

I think part of what haunts me is that I'm afraid they won't sing together forever.

Another I might choose--one that I've been listening to a lot longer--is Meredith Monk's "Gotham Lullaby":

Several folks on Quora chose Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings", which is so devastatingly beautiful I always want to bawl about 30 seconds in. But "devastating" and "haunting" are different for me, thankfully...if this came haunting me I don't think I could stand up in the morning:

How would you answer the Quora question?


Resource: the Community-Led Libraries Toolkit

Yesterday, via the Library Success wiki, I came across Working Together and their (link to pdf) Community-Led Libraries Toolkit. I'm less than a third of the way through reading the toolkit, but it's already the most valuable resource I've seen on working with diverse and socially excluded populations in libraries. I love how it acknowledges that good intentions, open minds, and talent aren't enough (aren't much at all, really) right in the beginning, and moves on from there. I'm linking it here for later reference and because I recommend even the little I've read so far (not just to library staff, but to school staff, nonprofit staff, etc). Below, some brief quotes to give the gist (bold mine):


[on involving community members in planning] "This process is not just about offering a service or developing a collection: it is about building and strengthening the abilities of socially excluded community members to engage in the library--not just as service recipients, but as active and confident community members. Sometimes, the most important outcome of community-led service planning is not the actual products or services, but the change in socially excluded community members' sense of their importance to the library, their right to be involved, and their ability and confidence to engage...

...Overall, it is always important to keep in mind that our role in the community is not to tell community members what they need or identify the best service for their needs. You probably have creative ideas, special skills, knowledge, experience, and abilities, all of which could achieve a tangible service output immediately. However, your solution might not be the one the community would have chosen and developed if involved collaboratively, and you will have missed the opportunity for capacity and confidence building. Instead, use your expertise, skills, and knowledge to facilitate the discussion and implementation of the community's self-identified solution.

You will really have achieved the goal of inclusive service planning when socially excluded community members feel that the library is their library and that they have a voice and sense of belonging...

...Many barriers to accessing library service result from the differences between how libraries and library staff perceive the needs of socially excluded people and how socially excluded people perceive their own needs."

[on feedback-gathering methods libraries and other institutions traditionally use, like polls, comment cards, surveys]: "Traditional consultation techniques favor existing library users and/or economically-advantaged, engaged, and confident non-users."

Community-Led Libraries Toolkit


Star Wars Uncut: Director's Cut

"In 2009, Casey Pugh asked thousands of Internet users to remake "Star Wars: A New Hope" into a fan film, 15 seconds at a time. Contributors were allowed to recreate scenes from Star Wars however they wanted. Within just a few months SWU grew into a wild success. The creativity that poured into the project was unimaginable...Finally, the crowd-sourced project has been stitched together and put online for your streaming pleasure. The "Director's Cut" is a feature-length film that contains hand-picked scenes from the entire StarWarsUncut.com collection."

I was never a big Star Wars fan, but four minutes in, I'm already hooked. What a fantastic homage, idea, and collaboration. Like the YouTube choir performing Eric Whitacre's "Sleep" and The Johnny Cash Project, Star Wars Uncut is a massive-scale art project created by folks who are strangers to each other, made possible by the web:

Read more about the project at Star Wars Uncut.


When the world is your instrument: Mogees

Mogees is, according to the website, "an interactive gestural-based surface for realtime audio mosaicing". The video demonstration is thrilling:

Mogees - Gesture recognition with contact-microphones from bruno zamborlin on Vimeo.

More text from the website:

In the video we show how it is possible to perform gesture recognition just with contact microphones. Through gesture recognition techniques we detect different kind of fingers-touch and associate them with different sounds. In the video we used two different audio synthesis techniques:

- physic modelling, which consists in generating the sound by simulating physical laws;
- concatenative synthesis (audio mosaicing), in which the sound of the contact microphone is associated with its closest frame present in a sound database.

The system can recognise both fingers-touches and objects that emits a sound, such as the coin shown in the video.

I don't understand this, or what's happening in the video: is the microphone simply massively amplifying the almost inaudible sounds your fingers make while tapping and riffing on objects? But I think it's amazing, would go nuts to get my hands on the technology, and wish one of the "objects" in the video had been a living thing.

[via Kottke]