The Snark Dance

collaborative choreographies of collective memory

This saturday… May 15, 2008

Filed under: magic/divination,Networkin',psychogeography,treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 12:01 am

For all those interested in all things psychogeography…We are bad is holding a zine launch followed by a walk from Kings x to Hackney Wick this Saturday…These people seem pretty delicious…

………………………>>>>>>>>The WE ARE BAD collective calls on all psychogeographers, miscreants and deviants to join them for a drink at Housmans to mark the launch of Issue 9 ‘HEATHROW-the psychogeography of paranoia’—-Sipson, Three Magpies, Climate camp, treaty centre and more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…………………………………..,,,,,,,,followed by a……………………….
“The Metropolitan Police issued a statement today warning residents of new residential developments in North and East London to be on their guard against a hardline militant group operating under the name ‘Savage Messiah.’ The group who are said to number several hundred in the greater metropolitan area are known for their hostility against middle class homeowners and property developers. Concern is mounting about the growing popularity of this group who police say are composed of activists well known to them who have been involved in serious disorder in the past. The group have made threats against certain gated developments the nature of which cannot be outlined here for legal reasons but police say they are sufficiently serious to urge vigilance and caution. Residents of new build gated developments,(referred to by the group as’yuppiedromes’) should look out for suspicious behaviour in individuals in the vicinity. Suspicious behaviour in this case might include wandering, climbing fences, taking photographs, drawing and drinking/walking in large groups. Parents are being warned to be vigilant and should they find literature relating to the group amongst their youngsters possessions should not hesitate to speak in confidence to the police where the matter will be treated with sensitivity.”
Reuters May 6th 2008

JOHN WILD : Psychogeographer of dataspace will be facilitating a night drift from KINGS X///////
“””””’ Taking De Quincey, Rimbaud and Verlaine as his spiritual guides, John Wild will facilitate a drift from Housman’s Bookshop Kings cross towards Hackney. You are invited to come along, armed with red wine, to drink, walk and drift. The drift is not a guided tour, rather a psychogeographic wander, an invitation to become lost and experience London in a haze of intoxication. As we immerse ourselves in the sensory experience of the drift, location data created by John Wilds mobile phone will be collated and archived. This location data reduces living places to a series of annotated grid references creating a secondary layer of space, a Cartesian grid of dataSPACE, which is overlaid onto the City and is suggestive of rationality, order, logic, Surveillance and control. This data will stand in stark contrast to the blurred recollections of our night of drinking and wandering.
Over the following weeks this data will literally be set in stone as it is converted into a series of metal and concrete plaques that will be placed back at the locations indicated by the data, creating both a physical representation of dataspace and a memorial to the lived experience of the drift. The plaques represent data as a trace of experience in an attempt to reconcile the Cartesian with the phenomenological.””””””””””John Wild

Chtcheglov said of Le Corbusier, “His cretinizing influence is immense. A Le Corbusier model is the only image that arouses in me the idea of immediate suicide. He is destroying the last remnants of joy. And of love, passion, freedom”

ROBIN BALE -expect tourettes outbursts, incantations and poetic ranting.

BRADFORD BAHAMAS-noise from broken computers, circuit boards, discarded electronic gadgetry in skips…….

First 50 copies of Savage Messiah will be accompanied by a free limited edition film by Majed A “ Kings Cross to Hackney Wick”.

” all from the wearebad blog here.


sharing is caring May 10, 2008

Filed under: hotdogs,Networkin',processing,transportation,treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 12:41 pm

courtesy of Passionate at

Image courtesy of Passionate


Social networking has changed the way people are talking about the economy and intellectual property. The FLOSS movement has really opened my eyes to issues that collaboratve development faces especially with regard to intellectual property. I find ownership patterns very interesting and my inner hippy is constantly questioning my own boundaries of possession. One interesting movement that is questioning the nasty seas of cultural property is creative commons. I wrote them about a month ago about starting a creative commons group at Goldsmiths, but I still haven’t heard from them. Oh well, there is still a non-university oriented, creative commons group in London that have some events coming up in July. Their work is really fascinating and just what the doctor ordered for getting people to become more active in the shaping of public policy and cultural movement.

Below is a pretty comprehensive talk from an authors@google event by the founder of creative commons, Lawrence Lessig:

In thinking about making development go public (which is what this blog is experimenting with) I must admit that I second thoughts. I definitely have little voices in me that think that I should be more skeptical about openly sharing my ideas. However, being the socially bounded creature that I am, I am not entirely convinced to what extent these ideas should belong to me. I also think that these questions are at the core of what could shake the way we think about economy and the thought economy. Anyways, I went ahead with the blog because I would like to think that sharing ideas can only lead to better ideas and I should hope that I will keep from running out of them as sharing ideas leads to new ones.

I think some people get nervous when it comes to open source culture and online networking because it somehow threatens intimacy and privacy. In a discussion with the founders of The School of Everything, a site that is a platform for knowledge exchange, or open source education, we thought about when the internet takes the networking thing a little too far. One man brought up a networking site he was invited to where participants were asked to evaluate changes in their friends. This is exactly the sort of creation that points out how online networking can misunderstand the ins and outs of the social it wishes to connect. Then again what new sorts of societies are being created by networking platforms? What are their limitations? A secondlife informant explained to me that Secondlife could be terribly isolating unless you were a creative. Hmmm I will look into this…will keep you posted!!

Discussion/ Future projects:

I think that Open source culture has really put possession and autonomy in the spotlight. Is there such a thing as being too social? Where does collaboration fail? Also what is so important about personal space? How can we experiment respectfully with the boundaries of personal space.

Also I have been doing projects experimenting with the open source poetic by making open source poetry. This way poetry can be seen as software. Also I have been collecting texts from places such as the British museum and reconfiguring them into poems. I want to make a workshop in a library where we can retrieve passages at random and remix them into new stories. I know there has been sftware created to extract random things from the net including software which makes poetry. However I think these programs are rarely succesful. One really good one however is flowerewolf which must be run on nodebox.

Also keeping up with the ritual theme, what about open source ritual making. Thinking about it Present Attempt is sort of like an open source theatre company. Open source film making?

Oh and I guess I should also note that this year I am creating the Black Rock City Fitness Center in the gift economy based Burning Man festival. The burning man festival is about creating a week long experience in sharing and gift giving. Its in the middle of the dessert so sustainability of this way of life is a bit of a joke. Anyways, we are going to be giving free workshops and gateau-aerobics sessions (free chocolate cake weight lifting) complete with a deep fryer. Please comment if you want to take a trip to Nevada this august!

I made love to google images to make this.

I hope I don’t need citations for the cupcake and the fried chicken sandwich??


Futuresonic: Unplugging and Networking May 9, 2008

Filed under: enchantment and technology,Futuresonic08,Networkin',treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 8:05 pm


Well do I have to spell it out for ya? Courtesy of Caroline Heron

Last week I attended futuresonic in Manchester. Futuresonic was really very good for me to embrace technologies and innovation after a period of extreme nostalgia. Tradition is important but innovations can really still be very useful in facilitating their understanding when used in a balanced fashion. The theme of futuresonic this year was “The Social” so there was much focus on open source culture, social events as well as unplugging.


(All photos of friends workshop are courtesy of Aram Bartholl, via Flickr)

Aram Bartholl presented two performances at the festival as well as a workshop which created networking scrapbooks. Scrapbooks were made using stamps, old label makers and carbon paper in order to replicate information in face to face interaction. We were provided with stamps with various logos for social networking sites which could be filled out for later online networking…Low tech, crafty and fun…love it!

The process:

Below are some images of me making my book and exchanging information with a new friend. There is also an image of the big book which is the server I guess you could say:

I participated in both of Aram’s performances at Futuresonic. His first one entitled WOW was inspired from the online game World of Warcraft. A few of us carved our full names in green and suspended them above our heads with the help of volunteers. We then went along with our usual business about the conference and the city. This was done in order to mimic the interface of WOW in which players have their screen names floating above their avatars.

Screen shot depicting World of Warcraft of an avatar with screen name floating overhead

Here is a clip from our performance, courtesy of Caroline Heron:

The second performance, Chat, was similar except this time I had a speech bubble hanging over my head. This crafty bubble was made by Aram so that text could be typed on a portable keyboard and projected on to the speech bubble. We then went out into the streets and bars at night and chatted people up. Unfortunately, I could not find any documentation of this event. However, I have included a video I found on youtube, courtesy of Aram Bartholl, of one of his Chat events from Ars Electronica:

Another genius idea was a project entitled my space, your space, our space. This was an unplugged myspace where people were invited to make their own space within a box with an envelope at the back for messages. All the boxes were displayed behind a shop window on a busy shopping street. If someone had left you a message you would be notified by a paper icon in front of your box:

Both photos of my space, your space, our place, photo courtesy of Caroline Hero


Futursonic also held many lectures about urban gaming. I found out about how GPS systems are being used for the creation of games such as geocaching which is a forum for treasure hunting using GPS devices. Also I met someone from 7scenes which is a company that creates software that allows you to tailor mobiles in order to create games and document movements through the city. I think this would be an excellent tool for clue hunting. I have also discovered twitter which allows for texting information from mobile phones. All in all futuresonic has managed to cure my technophobia. I have signed up to four new networking platforms (who knew there were so many!) since and I am now started to giggle for gadgets!


  • setting up sites for unplugged network production
  • Getting crafty
  • Now that I am growing less technophobic I want to look into the 7scenes software and see how it could help with collaborative film development and gaming.
  • Also twitter might be a cool way to start making up rules and creating game impromptu

Present Attempt

Filed under: Networkin',processing,theatre/performance — danceswithsnarks @ 6:18 pm

During my attendance at the Theatre Materials conference I met a company called Present Attempt that were developing a new play called life at the molecular level. They opened their rehearsal to the conference where we were able to sit in and have input on the development of the show. The show was developed through applying constraints to a series of improvisations over about a day and a half. One of the constraints or rules was that anything small that was noticed by a performer should be amplified and exagerated. The show that they ended up producing was fabulous and almost seemed like a digital manipulation. Using very few props such as a microwave and a kareoke machine they told a story while recreating the strange behaviour of when you are all alone. This created an intimate and uncomfortable relationship with the audience.

Also these fancy people have a rehearsal blog…Seems like we are on the same wavelength 🙂

Discussion/ Future Projects

I think that scripting projects via setting constraints is a great way to play with ritual and to comment on the mechanics of digital technologies and the technologies of social interaction and art. I wanted to mention this group as I think that questioning rituals and the making of space could be done through setting up games which required that we perform according to new rules. This is what made me start thinking of games that might be played besides a hunt in order to reinterpret the city and set the stage for live collaborative development.

I was also thinking about how mechanical algorithms could be used to guide movements. I know that Caroline has a formula from K-punk which causes participants to bump into each other from different starting points. Could be a nice editing project if each participant had a camera.

All photos courtesy of present attempt


Berlin and hospitality club May 8, 2008

Filed under: Networkin',transportation — danceswithsnarks @ 2:36 pm

Here I would like to talk about a walk I conducted in Berlin. I wrote people from the traveling network hospitality club and asked them to join me at the airport and find Berlin by walking. I wrote to about 100 people, but unfortunately, my email was delayed in the system and only reached very few people in time (there is an optional spam filter which can delay messages in the network). With that said there was an amazing response even though it was too late, so I must attempt this walk again!

Anyways, I was met by three enthusiastic Germans out of the 10 that were supposed to come but didnt due to the awful weather. We walked for about 7 hours and only were able to get just to the tip of Berlin. All involved said they enjoyed the idea very much. I got some great footage of the walk however it has been lost in my recent move…stay tuned and i will add more footage in the comment boxes when they surface…there was some pretty juicy insight from an interview with one of the participants. Anyways I find networks such as hospitality club extremely useful links to interest groups from which to find participation. Conducting work which challenges notions of space and place should find a lot of interest from dedicated travelers as it serves them a challenge to get to travel at home. It is a funny notion that transportation enjoys recreational sentiment when its abroad and not at home. Wouldn’t it be nice if the tube was more relaxing…. haha

Berlin’s history made it an amazing place to do a walk. Notions of east and west, past and future became very disorientating. This was great for my goal of getting lost. Also I am thankful that I was able to explore it with locals, two of whom were native Berliners. Together we explored the surroundings of the airport, which I would imagine could never happen without suspicion in the US or the UK. Also it was very exciting to explore places where the Berlin wall used to be. I have agreed with the participants of the walk that this summer (for good weather) we should conduct a walk that attempts to follow the Berlin wall all the way around. Now that should be an interesting cyclical path!!!

Also airport walks are extremely interesting as they show the space bubbles we create through our everyday rituals by breaking them. There was actually a controversy surrounding Berlin’s airports I became aware of during the walk.  Apparently Tegel Airport which is close to the center was to be shut down and the more wealthy Berliners were upset with this prospect.  The airport ritual is such that it transports you from one bubble to the other. In Berlin’s case the airport even mark class territories as more expensive flights service Tegel and it is more convenient by car.

Will Self gives an extremely helpful lecture on youtube about his walk from London to New York which included a walk from his home in London to Heathrow and then his walk from JFK airport to Manhatten:

As I mentioned before the juicy bits of footage of the walk have been buried in my mountains of crap. For now I will have to give you the only clip I could salvage which is admittedly pretty lame, but still kind of cool, because it is the point when two of the participants took the camera off of me and did some of their own filming in an old restaurant we found on the outskirts of Berlin:


  • Another Berlin walk where the email gets to everyone on time and in sunnier weather!
  • Berlin wall walk
  • More airport walks or other spaces where transport disrupts spatial continuity
  • Making recreational spaces in public transportation

Messy Reflections: snarks, dialectics, surrealism and mirrors May 7, 2008

Here I would like to speak about the difficulty Caroline and I encountered in reflecting upon the snark hunt and how we wanted to take our psychogeography further.

We found the absurd, circular-like logic of the snark dance as something useful. We loved absurdity in so far as it made thoughts move in messy directions so that ends could not meet. Even still there is something in this movement I find very meaningful. I think this makes a mess of dialectics and I am pretty sure this is what the surrealists had in mind in their use of strange juxtaposition as a creation of new spaces for thought to roam freely from the fascism of linear logics. The cycle of absurdity is very interesting especially when we look to how this can apply it to the space between polarities (which might be understood as the gaze) in relation to recursion or the application of the absurd to reflection and the infamous gaze.

A side project I had been working on was a documentary or ethnography of a pie and mash shop in East London. A major challenge to this project were the many mirrors within the setting that kept revealing the camera in our footage. This made me very aware of my own Western gaze towards East London. Seeing myself behind the camera and in front of the camera made a maze of my thoughts in determining where I could situate myself in a responsible representation of this project. I reconciled the situation by juxtaposing the mechanics of my cinematic project to the mechanics that were in the shop. The winding sound of the machines used to make pies echoed the sound of a film projector. Using the allegory of mechanical production was actually a very interesting technology with which to confront the gaze. I think that allegory is a useful device in which to make some sense or meaningful experience within the labyrinth created by complicated modes of reflection.

In thinking about the history of cinema in relation to the history of anthropology and this thing called colonialism I began to think about the surrealists. One thing Caroline and I loved about avant-garde cinema was its creative use of the mechanics of documentation in order to produce surreal content. One major critique of surrealism is the feminist critique as the surrealist movement has a very sexist undertone. For example the ubiquitous objectification and disfigurement of the female body in surrealist painting (think Dali). The surrealist manifesto was not signed by a single woman and female contribution to the surrealist project is severely marginalized. Leonora Carrington (a contemporary of Breton) has produced writing and paintings that blow many surrealists out of the water! But I bet even some of the biggest fans of surrealism have never even heard of her.

Magritte (1929): Je ne vois pas la (femme) cachee dans le foret meaning I do not see the woman hidden in the forest. A great example of the surrealist objectification of the female, it depicts prominent figures in the surrealist movement. This image was found in a fantastic article on the blog: Letters from a Librarian.

Now I would like to argue that the objectification of the woman in the surrealist project stems from the movement’s relationship to the history of cinema. The camera is the technology of objectification as its very mechanics are the gaze hatis higly gendered. The cinema allows for the audience to see as flaneur not flaneuse (the prostitute).

Now I do not want to go into this much further. But why the gaze whether it be gendered or colonialist is important to this blog is that it presents something for the interactive project to think about. The gaze should be complicated in interactive based projects and media. The potential for reflexivity in these projects could compromise the simplicity of the gaze and therefore the process of objectification. If the gaze is reflected upon itself it was in my recent experience then what is then objectified?? Does this not echo the complexities of the digital postcolonial age. Do internet networks do the work of multiple reflections opening up passages for the gaze to be distorted?

Using the mirror or echo allegory has really helped me in my filmmaking but I also hope for it to challenge my research for the creation of interactive activities. I think part of role playing is our individual rituals of gazing… Who are we allowed to gaze at and in which context?

Returning to the snark… how does an empty signifyer affect this discussion? What happens when a hunt is for an object that does not exist? This is something that caroline and I did not take into enough consideration before hand. I think in order for this to work we would have to really implement our theatrical skills. Maybe our acting abilities just arent up to par for such a task. However until then, I think something to take a away from this experience is this rethinking of the dialectics that I believe the surrealists were aware of in their praise of the absurd. Through the absurd I think we are able to fill inthe gaps of strange juxtaposition in order to form a new space for synthesis. I am not saying that the surrealists advocated the unraveling of absolute spirit. However, I think there is something to be said for this process.

Also the Surrealists were able to create a playful atmosphere for our thoughts to roam. This is something I really love about the genre. So what I ultimately would like to do is to take surrealist technique and exorcise the gaze. I think this has to come from reflexivity from all sides.. the technology of recursion could underline the labyrinth of our being inorder for us to escape modes of othering. Now if this soundslike a complicated mess, I think it is supposed to be, but maybe such a mess can be magical.


I think that putting absurd cycles into movement would be great. Maybe tryingto walk in a perfect circle around the city. Or playing with the circle line. Implementing different typesof cycles in these walks…The moon cycle, the day cycle, a bicycle?

circulation as allegory: This again approaches my interest in documentation. Circulation of products, the body, etc. Reproductive cycles and the digital age.

Using mirrors in order to create interesting film projections or installation.. This is something I have been thinking about using besides editing for film experimentation.

recurssion in programming and networking…messy feedback loops to reflect the messy dialectics

the technique of absurd juxtaposition in networking


Immersing into theatre May 6, 2008

Filed under: Networkin',processing,the gaze,theatre/performance — danceswithsnarks @ 4:54 pm

My partners in crime in Interacive Media at Goldsmiths mostly seem to be allergic to the word theatre. Everyone except the Baroness Von Heron who is in a wild love affair with Judy Garland, so go figure. I think that many of them they see the gimmick light flashing on Broadway whenever I bring this up…I guess they are revolted by the idea of it in a similar vein to myself and other artforms that uses gimmick tactics. With that said, yes the theatre is just as guilty for employing these tactics as any other. However, I think that there is a lot to learn from the theatre. As someone interested in creating processes rather than products, I think I am a performer by default. Where I find the theatre particularly interesting for participatory practices is where performances question the role of the audience. London, especially, has many interesting companies that have moved out of the theatre and into other avenues and venues. One site that comes to mind is the Shunt Vaults. This is a site for performance and art installation. In fact, the founders consider themselves curators rather than dramaturgs. So maybe even contemporary performers are starting to be allergic to theatre. Places like shunt (which began as a site specific theatre venue) is where I think the future lies in terms of practicing processual artforms, especially for the psychogeographically inclined.

Now I want to discuss a few of my theatrical encounters over the past few months and what I have learned from them in terms of being a person with a vested interest in participatory art practice. As Bill Shakespeare once said, life is a stage, and this is exactly why performance art might have some good insight for interactive projects no matter what stage they may leap from.


When I first started thinking about the snark hunt I went to the Masque of the Red Death, produced by Punchdrunk. I found this project hugely inspiring as it materialized many thoughts I had pertaining to the snark project. Soon after I saw the performance I began working as a steward for the production. This was not the average steward job as it required that I dress in a cloak, black mask, and top hat. Immersive theatre turns the whole stage/backstage distinction on its head. Being able to take part in immersive theatre, and a relatively successful one at that, helped me better understand my role in my own work as an interactive mediator.

The performance took place over about 30 rooms in the Battersea Arts Centre, where different narrations inspired by the work of Edgar Allen Poe, were performed in two loops over the entirety of the building. I learned from the Co-Director that music helped synchronize the performance that, as it happens, was all over the place. I could relate to this through my experimentation with editing and documentation. Music greatly guides me through choreographing, if you will, the clips into a continuity. This is especially helpful when dealing with non-linear narrative structures. What was special to me about thinking about my editing work in relation to theatre was how I might think in spatial terms about narrative. This also has interesting implications for issues in documentation. The impossibility of the camera to capture the experience of narrative theatre is fascinating more me as an editor that wishes to push the limits of cinematic capability. However, key to the success of this show was that the audience was masked. This masking cut perception to the cinematic gaze, a gaze that was not confined to the walls of the cinema.

The masks also allowed for audience members to find more freedom in movement through anonymity. In fact, many found so much freedom they began to really push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. One time where I was watching over Pluto the cat in the seance room I was tackled by a huge man because I was trying to guard the Victorian wonderland that was the set from being polluted by the image of the office in the next room.

None the less, masking the audience was a very sensible decision. I think masking is key to creating participatory artforms. Again why I think theatre can inform those of us working outside the theatre is that it allows us to see the world for the role playing of daily life. These roles are scripted through ritual and to interrupt these rituals can cause embarassment to the participant. Therefore the role of the mask is very helpful. This need not be an actual mask but something that might relax the constraints of daily identity. This allows for the actor to become more playful and investigative.

One thing I was very surprised to find in conversation with the co-director of the producution was that psychogeography was not something they had thought about in creating the production. Perhaps I had superimposed my own research, but still many things in the setting alluded to the history of psychogeogeographic practice. Perhaps this is due to the recreaton of Poe’s man in the crowd and his obsession with the flaneur. I have come across many comparisons of flaneury and the cinematic gaze. It is interesting that the mask could perform as a facilitator of this sort of gaze turning the audience member into the wandering silent observer, a flaneur. The gaze is something that strikes a chord with psychogeography and situationism. Situationism is one that experiments with the spectacle put what happens when we play with the gaze? I think thinking of media as masks should be very fertile ground and crucial to the documentation of snark dancing.


What really made the MOTRD a special experience for me was the Goldbug hunt that, as it turned out, was a separate production from Punchdrunk. It stll remains a mystery to me who exactly is responsible for these hunts but I know that rabbit is key. This is interesting as before the snark became a key feature of my own hunts, I was thinking of using the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland as a symbol of invitation. The Matrix also comes to mind.

Anyways, I found out about the hunt by following instructions from the woman that led us into the entrance of the play. She told us to seek Benoit in the Palais Royale if we dared. I went to Benoit who gave me a note instructing me to go to the Opium Den at half 8 to see what I found and then report on the blog they had set up. Here you can find my report to the goldbug website. I cannot go into full detail about the hunt as it was a very impressive project. However the blog serves as pretty good documentation- gotta love the blog! This blog enabled a community of very curious hunters to crack codes in order to reenter the play and discover more clues. In the end everyone involved (about 80-100) were invited to excavate the treasure from the BAC basement. This Rabbit whatever it is, is very very good. However I think their success was hugely about being able to work in the fantastic world that Punchdrunk had created. This I think is key to Caroline and I’s problem for the snark hunt. We do not know which world to set it in. I think site specific work is good food for thought. Dealing with the city as a whole is a project far too ambitious for the time being but one |I am still willing to consider in the future.


I am still thinking about the snark hunt and how we could contextualize it to make it work?

Also I am thinking about a project where the masking happens behind the camera or the screen?? Something that can point out the mediations that shape behaviour and experience.

Also Sherlock Holmes fever! I have been seeing treasure hunts everywhere. Turns out that idea was not so original after all. However, I am still thinking of how media ecologies can be used to solve a mystery or create a mysterious setting.

Last but not least….The blog! The goldbug hunt would have been impossible without blogging, what other clever projects can blogging provide….I am thinking of gaze play implementing the blog…