Category:scott sforza, wh producer

October 2, 2013

To The Sforzian Barricades!

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For a brief moment yesterday, the first morning of the GOP-instigated shutdown of the federal government, anxious confusion reigned. And as folks began realizing that in addition to the hundreds of thousands of furloughed and unpaid workers, and the halt to vital government programs across the country, Washington's museums and memorials were also closed to the public, there was a ray of hope.

A tour group of World War II veterans, The Greatest Generation, were not going to stand for this assault on our great constitutional democratic institutions. So they had someone push them in their wheelchairs into the World War II Memorial as Park Police watched from the sidelines.

Yeah, then it turns out the pushers were some of the same Tea Party extremists in the House who had voted for, nay, clamored for, the government to be shut down in the first place. Last night the likes of Michele Bachmann and Steve King were promising to personally help any veterans group fight their way back into the Memorial any day if they had to. And they just dared Pres. Obama to arrest them all. Ideally, on live cable TV.

Today, with conservative media attention riveted on this Mussolinian plaza which slices the National Mall in two like a hernia operation, Park Police decided to stand aside as congressional tour guides boldly shouted, "Tear down this fence!" and "Stand our ground!" and whatever.

And GOP chairman Reince Priebus himself stood in the glare of cameras and the afternoon sun, brandishing a GOP check and offering to pay to keep the memorial open (for vets) or, in Gawker's words, "to rent the WWII Memorial for shutdown theater," and --hey, how'd those people in the background get past Obama's Black Fence of Tyranny? It's almost like that little fence was put there, in front of the sign, and strewn with police tape, just so, just to be photographed. Can we get a wide shot on this one?

[image tweeted by HuffPostPol reporter @RyanJReilly: "'Go do your job, idiot!' -- protestor to @Reince at WWII Memorial"]

October 1, 2013

Good Government Death Panel

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Here is a photo-op House GOP Leader Eric Cantor tweeted out after shutting down the government today. "We sit ready to negotiate with the Senate."

Because yelling at empty chairs on camera is apparently the only good idea the GOP's had in the last five years, and even that ended badly for them.

September 27, 2013

Let's Crash

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John Boehner pointing to the GOP target on the South Tower of Obamacare printouts, after a strategy meeting of House Republicans, I guess. image: AP/Rilley via TPM

Anxieties were rising on Capitol Hill with deep divisions (both within the GOP and between the two parties) just days before many federal services were set to close their doors. But in their private meeting, House Republicans agreed to unite on the goal that binds them together: wanting to unravel and defeat Obamacare.

"The whole room: 'Let's vote!'" Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) told reporters, according to MSNBC. "I said, like 9/11, 'let's roll!'" (The congressman was referring to the last words of a passenger aboard a flight that was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001 and crashed in Pennsylvania.)

House GOPer Compares Delay Obamacare Bill To Fighting 9/11 Hijackers [tpm]
Related: Judging from the Boehner's flickr stream, the Speaker could use a Souza. [flickr]

I guess this is what the wider shot looked like:

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September 13, 2013

The Enterprise School

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In an extensive profile of the NSA Director, Foreign Policy reports that when Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander was head of Army Intelligence, he built out his "Information Dominance Center" to look like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise:

It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer...complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a 'whoosh' sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather 'captain's chair' in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen.

"Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard," says a retired officer in charge of VIP visits.

Indeed. And here, I believe, it is.

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The Information Dominance Center at Fort Belvoir, VA is featured in the portfolio of DBI Architects, a leading DC commercial architecture firm. The firm has done buildouts for absolutely everyone, but in the 1980s, they created a "Stealth Design" practice, focusing on computer rooms and "technology-oriented spaces, including network operation centers, switch sites, data centers, advanced concept laboratories, and video teleconferencing centers."

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With several top-level command centers under their belt, DBI turns out to be one of the go-to architects for the post-9/11 Intelligence Industrial Complex. Their regional clients include Geo-Eye, the satellite imaging company which powers Google Maps; Lockheed Martin, for whom they build a 50,000-sf control center; various Army intelligence divisions; and even the White House itself. DBI remodeled the WH Situation Room in 2007. They also built the grand, cinematic nerve center of the Department of Homeland Security's National Counter-Terrorism Center, which was in an undisclosed suburban office park location until George Bush used it as a press corps backdrop in 2006.

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The DBI look is part NASA, part Dr. Strangelove, to NORAD to War Games and on and on, back and forth. The big screened control center is part of the security theatrical tradition now. And in an era of Federation-inspired flip phones and iPads, where the fictional CIA of 24 enabled and rationalized torture at the actual CIA's hands, we probably shouldn't be surprised that politicians--of all people--are susceptible to intelligence industry set pieces that look and feel just like a movie.

Previously: But He'll-- He'll See The Big Board!

September 13, 2013

Hell Yes, Francois Hollande!

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image: reuters via @noonz

My gosh, have I been wrong in trying to ignore French president Francois Hollande all this time?

Watch the video how the robot's handler, from Aldebaran Robotiques, turns its head toward the cameras. Presumably so it doesn't look like it's nursing. [francetvinfo.fr]

The robot told Hollande it's name was Nao, and that it is seven years old. I would have guessed at least eight:


Algorithm Exercise with QRIO by daisu


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Denis Charlet/AFP

Congratulations, François Hollande, you have made the dumbest on-camera face of any international leader since 2005, when George Bush tried to exit a Beijing press conference through a locked door.

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Decision to withdraw unflattering photo of François Hollande is criticised [guardian]
Previously, 2005: Mandate of Heavens to Murgatroid

July 25, 2013

Dome Half Full

You know what? It's the little differences.

When Americans think of Buckminster Fuller's Geodesic dome, they probably remember the eternal, benevolent optimism of the US Pavilion at the 1967 World's Fair in Montreal. Oh yes, good times.

If only Europe could look back to these days, and past the array of geodesic domes dotting the continent, the ones in which NATO radar dishes and surveillance equipment have been cloaked, then everything would be awesome once again.

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Looks like Der Spiegel didn't get the memo.

What spate of unfortunate public disclosures and Oscar losses could ever have precipitated the CIA's decision to allow coverage of its "museum"? Or maybe what beat needed to be freshly greased by NBC, that it would propose a tour of the awesome, closed-to-the-public historical exhibition spaces at Langley?

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image: John Makely/NBC News

We'll never really know, but the day before military prosecutors made their closing arguments against Pfc Bradley Manning, we were somehow lucky enough to see the AK-47 that belonged to Osama bin Laden himself, or at least the one that was found, in undiscussed circumstances, near him in the Abottabad room where he was killed.

I am most impressed by its presentation, on a simple painted grey shelf, with a bullet-riddled book of some kind, which is mounted against a tumultuous photomural of, of what, exactly? A massive explosion ripping apart a heavily forested hillside? I'm sure that's not an image from the botched attack on the caves of Tora Bora, where the US, already chomping at the Iraqi bit, let bin Laden get away in 2002. The CIA would not have such self-criticality [on unclassified display].

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Haim Steinbach, installation, 1979, image via bard.edu

But one thing we do know: at least one operative in Langley is a fan of Haim Steinbach.

'Secret' CIA museum features Osama bin Laden's AK-47 [nbcnews]
Haim Steinbach: Once Again The World Is Flat, runs through Dec. 20, 2013 at CCS Bard [bard.edu]

June 30, 2013

Laserpointer Pyramid

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Khaled Desouki's extraordinary photo of crowds in Cairo tonight forming a pyramid of laserpointers trained on a military helicopter [AFP].

Reminds me of the searchlight wigwam converging on nothing over the skies of a frightened Los Angeles, 1942:

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James Bridle of the New Aesthetic and Dronestagram Bridles opened a show at the Corcoran this evening, and I attended. It was the first time James and I have met in person, after several years of blogging at each other.

The show itself is small and drone-centric, containing a grid of Dronestagram images and Google Map dronespottings, but also video, a 10-volume printed excerpt of a UAV-related webcrawling database project in development, and Bridle's classic drone identification kit [below].

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The most stunning and disturbing image in the show is a realization Bridle made of the "Light of God," a nightvision goggle-eye view of a targetting laser descending from the heavens. It's based on a drone pilot's commentary in an Omer Fast video, and it's gorgeous, eerie, and chilling as hell.

During his talk in the adjacent auditorium, Bridle began by mentioning how he is compelled to make physical the things he studies. His most powerful piece, the life-sized outline of a drone drawn on the ground, is an excellent example of this.

In answer to one of the last questions, about materialist formalist dialectic, Bridle noted how he often found himself making an object of something from the network, in order to photograph it and reinsert it into the network. The Corcoran show feels like this: a physical instantiation of digital content.

The idea for the show, or particularly, for Bridle to be the go-to guy for such a show, more than just The New Aesthetic Guy, but certainly that, came from the Corcoran's IT department, said the curator who introduced the evening. I will choose to take this as evidence of the Corcoran's cross-disciplinary innovation and flat organization, not as a sign of a vacuum at the top of the institution. Anyway, the whole affair seems closely linked to the school side of the Corcoran, i.e., the still-functional side. The crowd was crowded, and felt student-heavy.

Anyway, James Bridle. Bridle noted that we in Washington are lucky to have a real Predator drone in our midst, right there at Air & Space Museum. It is exceedingly rare, he said, and he would know, to be able to be in the presence of an actual drone. They're either largely invisible, or they're bearing down on your village. And there's one hanging on the Mall.

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And now there is the shadow of one, the outline of one, really on the sculpture pad of the Corcoran. That's how it's described, as being sited on the sculpture pad. Obviously, it doesn't begin to fit on the sculpture pad. It's painted on the pad, the rocks, the curb and sidewalk, with white paint of some no doubt temporary kind.

It is much bigger than you might imagine, which is exactly the point. That, and imagining it being overhead and casting a shadow on the ground, the thing a Pakistani wedding party might see right before the missile hits.

Bridle noted as to how not many people will get to see this privileged view from above. I would note that White House staff in the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building will get to see it every day, and that right there is quite something.

But he's right, and it underscores his point, that the drone outline reads quite differently from the ground. It's not Nazca Lines different, but that's the sense of it.

I asked James later how he'd decided which way to point the drone. There was really only one good way to fit it, he said, and also, he knew he didn't want to aim it at the White House. Which is understandable. When he installed his first drone drawing in Istanbul, Bridle similarly made sure not to aim the drone at Mecca. In consciously not aiming at the White House, Bridle's drone ends up feeling like it's coming directly from the White House. Which probably intensifies its critical position a bit. It worked for me, at least.

In between these moments was a cogent, timely, and depressing talk about technology as a tool of control and a reflection of the political and social systems that foster and use it. If it was recorded or streamed, I will try to find a link.

Meanwhile, as I walked around the drone on my way home, I did think of one piece missing. Not to tell James how to do his job or anything. But it occurs to me that the sound of drones is distinctive and terrifying. Perhaps a sound element to recreate the perpetual presence of drones in the vicinity of the Corcoran, would provide a visceral experience. Who knows, it might even wake the neighbors.

Indeed: Corcoran College of Art & Design: Quiet Disposition by James Bridle, through July 7, 2013 [corcoran.edu]

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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Category: scott sforza, wh producer

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Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
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Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
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11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
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Chop Shop
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1-7 March 2016

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eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
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HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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