Archive for 2013

What we learned while making YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’ “Pacific Limn”: a free e-book for ipads


Since early last spring, we’ve been working with the renowned artist duo YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco to produce a new, free e-book for ipads that exists simultaneously as an original artist book and exhibition catalogue for those who missed their residency and exhibition at Kadist this spring.

The artist duo wanted to play with the idea of a book and the funny straddling of digital and physical that e-books are. Jeff Canham and Devon Bella worked to photograph a real book complete with a hidden compartment for a handgun that the book reveals on browsing.  Touching the gun brings up an original video by YHCHI that deals with Americanism, the problem of homelessness, and questions of how to or not to interact with people living on the street.

You can download the free book here>>

In the process of making this book, we learned a lot of things about the somewhat arcane world of e-pubs and ibooks.

1. You can’t have a full screen video (on touch) in a fixed format e-pub if you’re horizontally locking the pages and showing two pages at once.

2. You can change the cover size of an ibooks author book, but you have to open up the file and replace the asset. (takes about 20 steps)

3. You can’t have a transparent background for covers – it will turn the transparency black

4. It’s pretty much not worth it to mess around with javascript in epubs, except for really simple things.

5. HTML5/EPUB3 support is still pretty bad in ibooks.

6. You can’t have a external links on the same page as a video in iBooks Author.

7. You can’t have hidden videos or linked-to videos in iBooks Author.  But you can make a poster image for video that matches a background image, so that the viewer can’t really see it.  We matched a poster image to the page background color and put text on top and then styled the text to match the style of the links. Tricky.

8. You can’t hide the TOC or go directly into e-books that are made with iBooks Author.

9. Apple is sort of arbitrary an their approvals and rejections.  If you get tickets that you can’t fix – call them up and argue with them. Maybe a few times.  In the end, it’s a person who is making the decision so you have to get a middleman to write down your arguments that the Approver/Dissapprover will understand.

10. There are no page turning animations in e-books made with iBooks Author.


We, of course, could be wrong on some of these fronts. If anyone knows otherwise, prove us wrong in the comments!

The Present Prize #3 Nominees

The Present Prize#3: Research-Based Studio Practice
Nominees are:

Laurie Halsey Brown

Torreya Cummings

Brian Conley

Fiona Connor

Collin McKelvey and John Davis

Sasha Duerr

Jaimie Healy

Allison Holt

Helena Keeffe

Myrna Knode

Daniel Nevers

Scott Oliver

Megan Prelinger

Phil Ross

Miljohn Ruperto

Paolo Salvagione

Andrew Venell

Anne Walsh

Samira Yamin

Alternative Funding Strategies for Artists Class

On October 15th (a Tuesday) we’re gonna be breaking down what we’ve learned over the past seven years in regards to different funding models for artists and what the advantages and disadvantages are for each.  Come join us! 

Artists and cultural producers are increasingly turning to funding sources outside of the traditional methods.  This workshop and seminar will explore traditional and new models for funding creative practice and discuss their benefits and disadvantages.  We’ll also touch on the importance of developing social capital, along with practical strategies for building your brand and network. Participants should be ready to investigate their own support needs and be willing to contribute their own insight and experiences.

This workshop will take place over one 3-hour session with topics to include:

*Pros and cons of traditional funding sources

*Opt-Out Strategies: fee-for-service, barter, trade, co-ops, and secondary income

*Making Byproducts: production goods, economies of scale, and working with “middle-men”

*Selling your skills or surplus

*Community Supported Practice: Indirect funding, Subscriptions, MicroPayments, Crowdfunding

*Fiscal Sponsorship

*Leveraging social capital

Date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm
Location:  ProArts, 150 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612
Cost: $40.00 early registration (ends October 1); $50 regular registration (begins October 2).

Cancellation Policy: Full refund on registration fees up to 48 hours prior to workshop date. Fees nonrefundable after that date.

You can register for the class HERE.

The Present Prize #3 is open for Nominations!

At the beginning of this year, I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out how I could fund some of the projects I was working on and wanted to continue with. These were largely research based projects that I considered part of my practice. But since these works were harder to situate strictly as artworks or as social science, they were very hard to fund.  Fortunately, I’m in a position to help give that opportunity to someone else!

Our practice as artists is dependent on what we produce. But there are times when we need only to explore, where the result is so far from the horizon, that we cannot see it. While often these times can be extremely productive, it is hard for most artists to justify a step away from the exhibition schedule, from deadlines, and from the scene in general in order to dedicate the time needed to fully know a subject.

“To really see something differently, it takes a tremendous amount of work, to understand what is in fact what you are looking at. I make a new project every five years and I think a lot of artists don’t work that way. So many of us are on deadline. I did that as well but in these long term projects I try to understand as much as possible and that takes time. If you really want to understand something and really get into the idea, it takes a long time to investigate any idea or methodology.”-Trevor Paglan

It’s time to reward someone for taking the leap to pursue something complex, for doing the research, and taking the time to learn. Let’s acknowledge the time and commitment an individual is putting forth in order to gain and ultimately share knowledge for the betterment of all of us.

“… art practice, in its most elemental form, is an educational act, for the intent is to provoke dialogue and to initiate change…to vision anew what is possible, but in a way that allows others to share the view.” – Graeme Sullivan

All of our web hostees are invited to nominate two artists that are doing exceptional research as their studio practice.

If you would like to participate in this prize as a non-hostee, you can buy in.  For $25 you can nominate two artists, vote in both the public and final private phases, and contribute your entire amount (minus transaction fees) towards giving an artist a little extra time to research. Learn more here>>

A partial history of how artists, cultural producers, and content providers have experimented with funding and support models during the Internet Age.

As a result of the reaction and conversation that happened as a result of Art Micro Patronage, Oliver and I had been talking a lot about how the struggle of the net artist to get paid for their work is not unique.  The internet and the development of technology in general has generated a whole new class of cultural producer, yet very few people have figured out how they can possibly make money off of the work they produce.  From giant newspapers to the casual instagrammer, no one seems to have a solid plan to make it work.

This idea was a good fit for Nora O Murchú as she was putting together a publication for Run computer, Run, part of the GLITCH Festival at Rua Red in Ireland: exhibitions, a symposium, and a publication that focus on the current economic, political and cultural factors that are shaping the Internet.  The festival will discussed and explored how the practice of the digital artist is transitioning, not only with the growth of digital technologies, but are increasingly being informed by offline factors that are affecting how the Internet as a creative platform is being developed.  So Nora asked me to gather some of my thoughts together along these lines and contribute something for the publication.

a snippet of the timeline

In the process of trying to write about and chronicle these changes, I decided that the best thing to do was to create a timeline in order to look at these pieces of information in context during the past ~15-20 years as the internet progressively became integrated into our daily lives.

In this timeline, I’ve tracked lists of how :

  • Net Artists have Tried to Make Money
  • Alternative Funding Models in the Arts
  • Technology Advancements have Facilitated Giving
  • The Media has Experimented with Paywalls
It’s fun to look at, especially if you’re a nerd like me. It’s fun in 3D too (lower left corner).  If I’ve made any glaring omissions, please contribute points to add in the comments.


Indexhibit v2 Tutorial Website

Since Indexhibit Version 2 is still somewhat new, and we offer to install it for our hosting clients, we thought we would build something that would encourage familiarity with the platform, help people understand how it works before (and after) installation, and help us learn its advantages and pitfalls.  Periodically, we update the site with something we’ve been fielding questions about.

Happy website making!

Indexhibit v2 Tutorial Website

#valueofart Paul Chan

“Have you ever read those stories about how people produce bio-electricity? And that some of us produce more bio-electricity than others, enough so there is a strong-enough electromagnetic field that it disrupts electronic devices, like cell phones and computers? I like to think sometimes that art is a thing that produces a kind of charge that makes nothing work. Then we can look at these things that don’t work and decide whether they are in fact worth their weight for us.”

from the 2012 Believer Art issue interview with Paul Chan

A Modest Occupation

Photo: Luminary Center for the Arts

Right now we’re part of a little show in St.Louis, at The Luminary Center for the Arts, that focuses on the recent boom of art subscriptions and art CSA’s and takes a look at the work that is being produced through this model.  It is curated by Abigail Satinsky from threewalls.  The exhibition is part of The Luminary Center for the Arts’ How to Build a World That Won’t Fall Apart  Exhibition Series, a year-long exploration of the ways that artists and alternative spaces sustain their practice in times of social and economic uncertainty. The series, a product of an institution examining itself in a time of transition, resonates pretty strongly with us right now as they are exploring of the role of alternative spaces within a broader ecosystem and the collective identity that arises through collaboration.

The show features works from Alula Editions (Bay Area, CA) Art Practical Mail Art Subscription (San Francisco, CA), Community Supported Art ChicagoCommunity Supported Art Philadelphia,Community Supported Art MinneapolisThe Drop/NOLA (New Orleans), The Present Group (Oakland, CA), Regional Relationships (Chicago), and The Thing Quarterly (San Francisco, CA), along with a special reading room in the window space by Silver Galleon Press (Chicago).

Photo: Luminary Center for the Arts

If you aren’t in St. Louis between March 15 – April 12, 2013, you can still catch the show in other locations as it travels around the country:
June 28 – August 3:  Threewalls, Chicago, IL
September 14 – October 26:  Transformer Gallery in Washington, DC
possibly then to New Orleans hosted by The Drop

Abby also worked with projects included in the show along with designer Working Knowledge to create a publication featuring essays and profiles from participating art subscription services.  A physical copy of this publication can be ordered for $3 from Luminary Arts or you can download a pdf version by clicking on the image below.

Photo: Luminary Center for the Arts


New Project: The People’s E-book

Last fall, we went to a conference in Seattle and presented on a panel called Moving Forwards by Looking Sideways: Creative Thinking in Museum Digital Strategy.  This was a great opportunity for us because one of the things we’ve been thinking about a lot is ways that we might partner or work with museums to do projects that would benefit larger communities.   One of our co-panelists, Greg from Hol Art Books, brought up the idea of Museums employing and/or creating space for artists and startups in residence allowing the museum to not have the responsibility for “crazy” stuff they might do, but also gain the rewards of the programming, energy, and community building that these small groups might generate.  The artists or startups on the other hand get a little time and money to activate collections and larger audiences that are normally beyond their reach.  There are some examples already in place for this.  We love this idea and have been talking it up a bit, but something we’ve learned is that museums move slowly and in order for something like this to get implemented, it will likely take years, not months.

Live Museum Soundtrack, Machine Project at the Hammer Museum, 2010-11

Meanwhile, little guys like us and Hol Art Books can move pretty fast.  We hung out a lot with Greg while we were at the conference and spoke a lot about e-books – what they are, how they’re programmed, and why artists aren’t making more of them.  We quickly realized that they really are an untapped medium and started thinking of all the e-books that we should start making.  One great thing about them is that there is already a funding mechanism built in.  People are used to paying for books and e-books and inherently understand that transaction.  Yet they are built on html and the structure is open enough that there is room for a good amount of play, as long as you allow for the fact that the different readers, just like different browsers, each have their own set of rules.

Greg has had an idea floating around for an e-book builder that would allow many more people to start to play with creating, publishing, and selling e-books.  It would make creating an e-book as easy as writing a blog post. But he needed a partner to build it, and as this project fits nicely with our mission of creating systems and tools that facilitate the funding and distribution of artist projects, we offered to be that partner.

Tonight, we launch our very first Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of that project, The People’s E-book.  Help us realize this dream. There are some nice rewards that will encourage further learning, collaboration, and publishing of e-books at all levels.  E-books for everyone!

Web hosting that supports artists.


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Lego Hello World
I wish all my printers were made of legos.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
Images from Life Magazine going back to 1860′s, hosted by Google

Coming Face To Face With The President
Well crafted story about an under-heard point of view.

In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron
A new funding source for the arts – reaping big rewards and funding many projects.  It’s pot.

Notes on Portraiture in the Facebook Age

Celebrity Book Club: A List to End All Lists
Because, well, it’s sortof awesome.

Are "Artists' Statements" Really Necessary?
The pros and cons about that nemesis for most artists.

This to That
You tell it what you’ve got and it’ll tell you what to glue them together with.

Work of art: Online store for buyers, sellers
Not the TV show!  Kelly Lynn Jones from Little Paper Planes is interviewed on her project, gives us a cheat sheet to local affordable art resources.

How to make a Daft Punk helmet in 17 months