For Shiggles

PIPS:lab Diespace, Interactive Multimedia Experience

PIPS:lab recently made its US debut during a festival featuring Dutch artists here in Pittsburgh.  The Amsterdam group has been performing together for about a dozen years.  The work that they performed was categorized as absurdist media theater and was a short evening length work without intermission.  The use of technology for this performing group is integral.  The performance itself was noteworthy for its innovation on a number of different levels.  It is worth noting, however, the problems that PIPS:lab had in functionally executing the performance due to glitchy technology. The performance, Diespace, was essentially an introduction to a fictional new social network site that audience members were encouraged to visit after they die (or die in order to visit).  The actors polled the audience about their opinions regarding whether or not there is life after (or before, humorously) death.  These polls were conducted with a cool audience participation tool of light capture setup where the audience essentially wrote on a screen upstage.

The other insertion of tech into the performance involved video/audio remixes of various clips taken of audience member during and before the show.  These clips were then edited in real time into the performance.  This, in turn, served to engage the audience but through a pretty controlled format.  The display of the video and audio taken from the audience drew laughter and made the audience excited and was a high point of the performance lending to greater investment from the collective.  Additional audience participate was to be had through a lottery during the show where the faces of the audience were put into a virtual tumbler on the screen upstage.  Three audience members won prizes with the grand prize being a premium account for Diespace (which included significant stage time for the audience member who won it).

The performance unfolded at a relatively brisk pace with musical interludes to cover moments where the technology and content was being prepped.  The problem with this was that the performers ended up being a bit un-invested in the music and as a result it was hard to be carried away by the performance.  It was easy to check out during these scenes through the distractions on stage.  It was the sense of this reviewer that there was only one true musician on stage, a fact that was born out by the program notes about the artists backgrounds.

At least three times during the performance there were loud warnings of a computer crash each time forcing the performers on stage to repeat a few moments to a few minutes of the action.  This in turn lent to a stutter stop feel to the performance.  Execution of Diespace did not look like it was easy and to be certain what PIPS:lab is trying to do is not easy in general.  They deserve applause for attempting to stitch together so many constituent elements in the moment.  It was fascinating at times to see the failures of the technology and there was rarely a moment where the audience did not have something that they could try to be engaged in.  The relative successes and failures of this performance reinforce the point that some technologies have a ways to go before they are both accessible to independent performing artists.

The innovation of groups like PIPS:lab hopefully will be the wave of the future and it is gratifying to see media artists take the stage with musicians and actors.  The combination of talents of stage was a rich soup and Diespace was a valuable experience for the insights that it gave with regards to generation of true multi-disciplinary live work.





Creators Project in San Francisco

Last weekend the Creator's Project garnered significant attention from national media.  From the mission statement on the website "The Creators Project is a global celebration of art and technology." and "The Creators Project is a new kind of arts and culture channel for a new kind of world."   As an intersection between art and tech it seems appropriate that the blog weigh in and take a look at what they did, how they did it, and the implications.  The Creator's Project has major sponsorship from Intel Corp and VICE with significant online free content focusing on mostly short form interview of Creator associated artists.  This Project offers similar promise to other ventures to offering culture and arts online to ideas such as On The Boards TV and Jacob's Pillow Virtual Pillow but is already operating on a much larger scale than either of these.

The Creators Project offers arts and culture online at a scale that is extraordinary for such a young institution.  The levels of participation on information sharing that is happening through their website looks unparalleled and should be looked towards as a model for successful integration of technology and the arts.   The Creators Project was started in May of 2010 by VICE and seems to have two major interfaces with the public.  There is a exhibit/show that has toured around the world each year and an expanding web presence that now counts video downloads in the millions.  The content is broken out into six different categories:  Music, Film, Art, Design, Gaming, and Fashion and has engaged with artists from all of these areas to provide content online and for the annual festival.  They will be rolling out content collected from the event last weekend (March 17-19, 2012) in the coming weeks.

Current content on the website is a mind blowing array of new directions taken by artists in each of the fields.  One of the standout artists at the event last weekend was a new work from visual multidisciplinary artist Chris Milk.  The installation called the Treachery of Sanctuary incorporated user interaction with digital transformation to look at elements of flight.  Visuals of this can be found here.

Anther fascinating example that was found on the Creator's Project website was the Electronic Shadow from France.  Electronic Shadow uses imaging technology and software to generate interactive 3D maps of people places and objects.  These images then can be used and manipulated in artistic fashions.  The implication for this technology would, for instance, be a game changing one for other art forms such as dance.

Exchange of ideas such as Creator's Project bring together the bleeding edge of Technology and the Arts and as such should be a point of engagement for institutions that are looking to modernize and include new audiences (and younger audiences).  The artists involved have obviously successfully engaged these audiences already and by following the lead of these success stories arts leaders at more conventional organizations can find hope in a new direction in reshaping structure and content to address the demands of a more complex world.





Sweet Pantone Tarts

Spring seems to have sprung here in Pittsburgh, and having a week off on spring break makes everything seem lovely. It is under that guise I present this post to you purely for aesthetic reasons. Emilie Guelpa is a French artist/blogger/chef who has created these masterful (et très mignon) tarts inspired by Pantone colors. While I can totally imagine eating them in the café of an art museum, they were created for the magazine Fricote and posted on her blog Griottes. While the blog is currently French only, Guelpa promises an English translation version very soon. In the mean time, you can check out her Pinterest and dream about delightfully colorful tarts.

Well, that’s all I’ve got. I hope you have a great weekend planned and nice weather to enjoy it!




Pinterest 101 for Arts Organizations [mini-nar]

Pinterest is the latest and greatest in social media, we've talked about it before, and it just reached 10 million unique hits in a month, the fastest independent website to ever attain this lofty title. Every blogger with access to a data set out there is looking at the demographics of Pinterest, but what can a visually based social media do for your organization? This Mini-Nar is going to take a look at some of the basic functions of Pinterest, as well as how some arts organizations are maintaining and utilizing their Pinterest accounts.

Check out these Pinterests from the video: the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Ballet, the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and Lionsgate Be Fit. Some of the demographic data I referred to came from Tech Crunch.

What do you think? Is Pinterest something you'll consider using - or do you already utilize it? Comment on this post and let us know!

Telemarketing is Dead - and I killed it


Fundraising for nonprofit organizations is considered an art, not a perfect science, and it's clear that techniques must be tailored to each individual organization. One of the common pieces of wisdom is that “telephone appeals” (read: telemarketing) consistently work as a fundraising tool for nonprofit arts organizations. I’m not saying random cold calls, but calling people who have funded you before, have a history with your organization and would likely donate again. Nearly one out of every five people will respond and donate to your organization calling and asking for money. As a Millennial consumer, I cannot fathom this.

I, and perhaps you, dear Reader, belong to a generation simply called “Millennials”. Spell check doesn’t know that word yet, but soon it will. We are defined not by high technological competency, which is given to the generation directly before us, but by technological connectedness. I've had a series of experiences which have lead me to create these conclusions about the relationship between Millennials and telemarketing. Millennials, who by the way love to donate, have been raised in a society where everything is connected electronically.

With that connectedness comes with a degree of anonymity. While relationships formed over the web can become as close and as intimate as the penpals of old, they take time. They are cultivated with mutual respect and friendship and while our messages may travel instantly from one to the other, the relationship is built up more slowly.

In this age of instant communication, I think the telemarketing approach is dead to those arts organizations that wish to solicit donations from Millennials. My telephone is reserved for my parents and my grandma, and for calling Renee to let her know I’m outside her building and would she please let me in.

I have had organizations, which I have supported in the past, call me on the phone and ask for donations. It never works.

They always follow a certain pattern. The telemarketer introduces themselves, and asks your name - here again, trying to build up a relationship. But I, the Millennial consumer, am used to long exchanges on Tumblr before ever learning anything than the other person’s username, so that tactic falls short. I thrive in the anonymity of the internet, and this direct and sudden confrontation with a stranger frightens me like a deer in headlights.

Then the telemarketer will try to tell me about the organizations hardships this year; how an economic recession has set them back, or how government legislation has made their work more difficult, could I please help with their annual fund? I, the Millennial consumer, just watched a video of the violence in Syria this morning - you’re trying to tell me you have problems? The problems I care about are the ones involving life and death - and I will negate your ask at every turn.

Finally, the telemarketer has been instructed to ask three times before respectfully hanging up. Are you kidding me? I, the Millennial consumer, tweet, reblog, and share on Facebook all while drinking my caramel latte and finishing an accounting assignment. Your long phone call is wasting my time. Why didn’t you understand when I first said ‘no’? Are you trying to guilt me into this? This is ridiculous. I will never give to this organization again, and their number is now blocked on my phone.

In truth, this all could have been avoided if this organization, who clearly have a record on me, had just emailed me their ask with a direct link, explaining that they need help with their annual fund. The anonymity is intact, I no longer have an individual I don’t know trying to force me into the intimate donor relationship. They haven’t insulted me with blowing their issues into hyperboles (while important to the organization, meaningless to me). And it took all of two seconds to click the link and another to type in my credit card number.

What I’m saying here is, if you’re catering to a mature audience, use telemarketing. Statistically, it works. And probably you’re already using online direct asks in some form, whether its email or otherwise. What I’m hoping you’ll do is pay more attention to who gets what message. If you’re reaching for the Millennials, those fun-loving young kids, maybe tweet them. Email them. Ask them when they attend your next party.

For the love of art, though, do not call.


Videos to make your Wednesday less like Wednesday and more like Friday

It's Wednesday, sigh. To help with your mid-week blues, here are a few humorous and just plain cool videos. Ever wonder… …what it would be like to work for Twitter? We regularly emphasize the benefits of Twitter and other social media networks for arts managers, fundraisers, developers, marketers, PR personnel, etc. So today I offer a break from the usual discussion about Twitter and instead, an “over-budget,” under-informative and comical video highlighting the Twitter office experience featuring Twitter CEO Dick Costolo…


…how much video is uploaded to YouTube a day? Then check out this website that visualizes just how much video it is in comparison to other worldly and environmental phenomena.


…about a popuphood? It’s exactly what it sounds like, a neighborhood or block of pop-up stores. But these aren’t your typical, temporary pop-up stores. In an urban initiative to revitalize the historic Old Oakland neighborhood in Oakland, California, popuphood is providing six retail store owners with free rent to occupy vacant storefronts in the neighborhood. The ultimate goal is for the six stores to be successful enough at this location to sign a long term lease upon the close of the first six months. Innovation in economic and urban development at its very best.


Hope these ideas make your Wednesday all the more pleasant!

The Best of 2011

As the year comes to a close, let’s take a look at what topped the charts in the art world in 2011.

1. The top 100 of the art world’s most powerful figures from ArtReview

2. The top 32 Facebook Best Practices from DIOSA Communications

3. The top 10 reasons to support the arts

4. The top 10 companies supporting the arts in America according to Americans for the Arts

5. The top 10 works of art and architecture according to Philip Kennicott for the Washington Post

6. The top Twitter topics and hashtags according to Mashable

7. The top global topics, statuses, sports teams, music, articles and the like shared on Facebook (for all the locals: the Steelers obviously made the cut) according to Mashable

8. The top 50 not-for-profit executives according to the NonProfitTimes

9. The top 15 museums in the world according to the Huffington Post

10. The top 10 private museums worldwide

We here at Technology in the Arts look forward to sharing with you new technological advances, best practices and trends in the upcoming year!

A Bear-y Familiar Conversation

Here is a little video to poke fun at the public's all too common misconceptions of not-for-profit arts organizations. After all, Kanye and Bieber do not ask you to make an additional donation for their performances, why on earth do not-for-profits?! Happy Monday to our arts community!