Monday, July 28, 2008

Social Work for Robots

Meet the Made :: John Peña, John Rubin & Brett Yasko

Marisa Olson over at RHIZOME profiles Meet the Made artist Jon Rubin:

Jon Rubin's work "explores the social dynamics of public spaces and the lives of ordinary individuals." Often working in collaboration with other artists, institutions, and members of the general public, his projects have included setting up a gallery that exhibits only information about the neighborhood's inhabitants, broadcasting an office's telephone conversations through a talking piano, producing a cable access variety show at a senior center, and a variety of fake businesses that traded on interaction and the art of conversation. The artist's two most recent projects offer a glimpse into the delicate balance of precision and irony that render his work so poignant... | MORE |

Meet the Made runs through August 31, 2008.

Robot 250 GigaPans

Thanks Mary Jo!

Friday, July 18, 2008

David Ellis Reviewed in NY Times


Roberta Smith over at the New York Times reviews Inner and Outer Space artist David Ellis's concurrent show, Dozens, at Roebling Hall in today's paper:

The New York Times | July 18, 2008
by Roberta Smith

The work in David Ellis’s latest show alternates between routine and ingenious, and ingenious invariably involves sound and motion. This is not surprising: Mr. Ellis excels at percussion, animation and the form of action painting known as Graffiti Art; he also has a tendency to build idiosyncratic musical instruments. (For this show he collaborated with the musician Roberto Lang.) For example, “Heap” is a very large pile of trash from Brooklyn and Manhattan that regularly bursts into gadget-driven drumming. Paint cans, spackle buckets, aluminum beams and tinfoil are among the noise-makers and they’re all miked. “Ok Superman” is a reinterpretation of a player piano, which plays Laurie Anderson’s classic performance piece “O Superman” — albeit quite faintly — using small fans directed at a series of empty wine bottles; its moving parts also include a computer that prints out the song’s lyrics in the shape of the airborne action hero’s S-logo.

David spent 5 weeks here at the Mattress Factory this past February making the motion painting OKAY. A video documenting his process is below:

INNER AND OUTER SPACE continues through January 11, 2009

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Factory 14s Blog

The current session of the Factory 14s Youth Art Course has started a blog. Head on over to and check out what they're up to!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crickets in the Garden

A nice review of Keny Marshall's BigBot, prototype for an infinite array of semi-autonomous percussive devices (a.k.a. Crickets), was just posted over at Boing Boing Gadgets. Read the whole post HERE. They also posted a YouTube video of Keny talking about the piece:

prototype for an infinite array of semi-autonomous percussive devices (a.k.a. Crickets) will be on view through August 10, 2008.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


You are invited to a free and friendly hypnosis session at the Mattress Factory this Friday. During these sessions you will be hypnotized into thinking that you are robot by specialist John Weir from the Pittsburgh Hypnosis Center. Each session will last about 20 minutes and they will begin at 6:00pm and 6:30pm. Come to the Meet the Made exhibit at 1414 Monterrey Ave in the Mattress Factory Annex to receive further instructions.

Please RSVP John Peña if you plan on attending. Email:

For more information including training seminar times and dates go to

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT :: Tavares Strachan


Where do we go from here (from The Orthostatic Tolerance), 2008
trailer, computers, coal, tar, robotic rover, cameras, sound system, data transmitter

Working with scientists at Carnegie Mellon and Yale Universities, Strachan created a rover that inhabits an other-worldly diorama inside the Museum and communicates with the outside world through data transmission.

Inspired by the landscape of the North Star Polaris, Strachan created a charred, coal-covered landscape where this exploratory robot roams. Named Robbie after Robert L. Lawrence, the first African-American astronaut killed during training, the rover is seen as an autonomous being by the artist, living a lonely life on a dead star.

 from here (from the Orthostatic Tolerance)"- 4

Strachan has created a sentient being that has its own intelligence and the ability to sense itself and the world around it. Communicating to the command center in the Museum parking lot, Robbie transmits data about itself and the interior landscape. The command center’s main task is to house the controls for the rover, being outfitted with an 8-channel data receptor, satellites and antennae and computers. There is also automatic feedback—so that the command center both receives Robbie’s data and sends signals to the rover every five to seven minutes.

Tavares Strachan - "Where do we go from here (from the Orthostatic Tolerance)"- 1    from here (from the Orthostatic Tolerance)"- 2

Robbie is encountered through a mediated image in the command center; we can see through the eyes of the rover, and yet we are allowed to be observers in the diorama on the third floor. Conjoining viewer with scientist, no one is a passive viewer. Strachan is, however, questioning what we think we know and what we think we see, and yet reminding us of the reality that we exist in an infinite universe.

 from here (from the Orthostatic Tolerance)"- 3

The variety of rocks that form the diorama are carbon-based. By including coal in this work, Strachan makes the connection between here (Pittsburgh) and now (current time), and there (the dead star of Polaris 541 light years away).

The work is a proposal for an actual rover that may be created some day. This project for the Mattress Factory is the theoretical underpinning for the idea. Strachan begins his exploration in the context of art and eventually these ideas and art projects may enter the real world. Strachan is currently engaged in a long-term project entitled The Orthostatic Tolerance (“orthostatic” means to stand upright, and “tolerance” refers to the ability to withstand pressure) to begin his mission into outer space and to the bottom of the ocean. Training to become an astronaut, Strachan is hoping to carry out one of the first missions—by a Bahamian—to leave the planet.

Monday, July 7, 2008

NY Times Spends 36 Hours in Pittsburgh.

The travel section of yesterday's New York Times contains a glowing review of the Steel City. The MF was highlighted as a must-see destination for "radical contemporary art," and Luca Buvoli's Instant Before Incident is described as "a riveting sculpture...that depicts a vintage Fiat in stop-action motion, as it seems to hurl out the window." A nice image of Yayoi Kusama's Repetitive Vision accompanies the feature. Read the whole story HERE.