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.


Dancing with the dead May 11, 2008

So I have been thinking more and more about what graveyards means to media ecologies (which just seems like a new way of explaining society or networks).  There is a long history relating machines and ghosts and the supernatural and technology is definitely an interesting area to explore.   Should this be viewed as being more than just a translation of the enchantment produced within us when faced with the finesse of impressive technical achievement?

My project for the Laurie Grove Bath House in November was an installation dedicated to the building’s ghost who was affectionately called Charley as he whistled the Charleston by James P. Johnson. For my installation I recorded someone whistling the Charleston and played it from the top of the stairs in order to lure people to a step, that when stepped on, projected old footage of people dancing the charleston on the walls accompanied by an old big band playing the song. The following video is nice cause it shows the ghosts of Al Minns and Leon James dancing the Charleston to daftpunk:

Also footsteps to the charelston were lit on the ground so you could dance with the figures.

The point I was trying to make with dancing with the dead was about the history of space and how media is actually able to capture the spectre. As cinema and the phonographs are mediums of disjointed time. Disjointed time is key to hauntology so that these media enable us to see and hear the dead. Due to this I think it is no wonder that phonographs and radio have been used to talk to the dead.

I now see the snark dance as an elaboration of this recognition for the ghosts which inhabit us and who we inhabit. My understadning of psychogeography is a practice in which I may hunt for the spirits encrypted in space that are just as responsible for the active production of space as the living, as the dead are written in the living. Our identities are both breathing and haunted. Furthermore, seeing our own apparitions might be the process that Lefebvre describes in the production of abstract space.

In Nadja by Andre Breton, considered by many as the first psychogeographic novel, Breton answers the question of Who am I? with Whom do I haunt? This I think is important to the interactivity involved in my project as well as the camera with which I implement in this production. In order to escape the colonialist discourse i must commune with the dead and know that the ultimate other to myself is the apparition of my nonbeing. And even this polarity must intersect. Rituals put this pace of in betweeness into action where we dance in th footsteps of our ancestors and our bodies become allegories of the past.

If the camera is the technology of the gaze and therefore in the habit of othering can we not reinterpret the gaze of desire stemming from the void and the mirror as the confrontation of our own apparition? If hauntology is the inversion of ontology then through the looking glass is the realm of hauntology, the spector. And so in complicating the gaze we enter the realm where we are not fragmented but inhabiting many places at once as we haunt through our traces and the inversion that inhabits the spaces of reflection. Ritual is about reenacting the traces of our being in order to bring together one’s being with one’s nonbeing. Ritual creates a space for authentic expereince because it thrives in this entanglement. For more haauntology fun see here.

To conclude i have included a photo from an old newspaper of my late grandmother when she was young. In it I see my own apparition as hauntology finds relationships in encrypted patterns as it uses similarity to create binaries and not difference. In this picture I understand that it depicts a ghost of myself. A piece of myself has died with her and in turn a piece of her lives in me. In our interactions we haunt each other so to ask whom do I haunt? is to ask with who have I invested with my spirit. Our exchanges shape who we are. This is the fabric of spacial production and the essence of place. By experimenting with the fabric of ritual maybe we will find some clues in discovering place through the crypt and how it might be decoded. This is the soul of art and how I can think more deeply about the poetry inherent in media, movement and dancing with snarks.

Picture of my grandmother at far right, courtesy of Florence Morning News,

Florence, SC (Oct 20 1955)


Reform the ritual in graveyard and possibly a night walk in the country side utilizing constellations

Divination practices in order to find ways of moving in a decoding space

Look into how the hauntology of the internet and the digital medium. If internet is a place then what are its ghosts? Myspace pages of the diseased come to mind.

Also how can the web andinteractive technologies allow us to understand the multiplicity of the gaze or the spector in the production of space. I am thinking installations that utilize mirrors and other technologies of reflection or recursion. How might the phantasmagoria influence the way in which footage can be presented? How can these shows be recreated?


kinetic seance

Filed under: processing,psychogeography,transportation,treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 11:52 am

The kinetic Seance was a project I did after Futuresonic to expirement with all of the ideas that have been kicking around in my head. It is called the kinetic seance because it wishes to summon the spirits of the dead through movement. In french seance means to sit so there is a nice little juxtaposition at play there.

I decided to set the psychogeography in a graveyard with 10 participants. I brought with me one DV camera, tracing paper, paper, crayons, pencils, watercolors, and roses. I gave each participant a bag with tracing paper and crayons in order to copy any text they found interesting for mapping the cemetery. I thought this was a way to get participants to confront the tombstones. I also porvided them with paper to take notes and a rose (for its symbolic connotations) in order to mark sacred places within the cemetery or to facilitate anything they needed to let go. I had no exact rules for the game. However as each participant returned from getting lost they were told to make notes on the Minutes page. The experiment took place in nuhead cemetery, which is a very enchanting setting and good foot candy as well as eye candy.

Each participant went one at a time with the camera and was led to a random location after being blind folded and made dizzy. They were then told they were free to do what they wanted but had to think about how they wished to feedback to the group afterwards. The original idea was that as more people came back from the walk feedback would increase and cause to the mapping to be a collective reflective process from which I could reflect upon the editing process. But, most of the feedback was pretty silly and time flew by so that two participants were not able to go and two went together in order to get more people to go before we were kicked out. As time constraints grew smaller everyone complained that they were cut too short in their exploration. This to me suggests that the walk should be all day and use multiple cameras so that more than one person can go at a time. Someone also suggested that it would be good to send people out to excavate sound. I have consulted David about this and he has expressed interest in the project.

Also I would like to have a camera myself as trying to find the participants was very disorienting and I often got lost even without being blindfolded. Another thing I was surprised by was how casual everyone was about being in a cemetery. But, then again, it was during the day and I guess I am more superstitious than most. Also I was disheartened by the fact that nobody really started constructing a map with the tools I gave them. When I asked why not, I was told that there wasn’t enough time.

All in all, I think the walk was pretty successful at gaining further interest from all involved. We all agreed that we wanted to continue the project as everyone enjoyed themselves. Furthermore, everyone felt that there needed to be a director and that I should be the whistle blower. Also we wanted to be more disciplined in formulating rules and thought that the project should be continued over the span of a few weekends where participants could come and go throughout the process and more committed participants could develop a rythmic understanding of the space.

Discussion/new projects:

My reason for setting up this project was in order to expirement with getting lost, confronting death, and creating a ritual, game, or narrative collectively. I brought roses as I thought we could play with their symbolism. In the future I would like to think about other symbols or archetypes with which to experiment with constraints and give me clues for editing and creating narrative intersections and intertextuality.

Also documenting sound seperately from the image could help us play with the text of the situation. I am also thinking about how collaborative film making which implements collective rule making might be used in documenting the hunt or actually making the documentation part of the hunt. I have some friends who created the event Shoot London where participants are given question with which they have to answer by creating images to photograph. I have something like this in mind but in using the moving image

All Photos taken of the event, courtesy of moi


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

Magic and allegory May 7, 2008

One of my favorite reads so far in the study o finteractive media was words made flesh by Florian Kramer. In this essay Kramer discusses, the cultural imagination, the history of software and the history of computation with examples from the occult sciences. The relationship between the occult and technology is a fascinating subject. Thinking about culture in terms of calculations is very fruitful for the mechanical allegories I have been thinking about. Also, are rituals not methods of calculation, at least of identity?


These are all really huge questions but rather than ignore them I want to make a breif note here. I have currently been researching astrology and ancient treatments of the heavens. I am very interested in how I could use constellations and the zodiac in interactive art and psychogeography. Furthermore I find the occult distinction interesting as it seems to suggest that these sciences are irrational others. The surrealists’ mission to enchant the mundane is very much about questioning dangerous logics which make accusations of irrationality, thus mechanizing the human condition. I suppose the irony in the surrealist project, when thinking about magic and the othering gaze, is that surrealism also fell into the traps of its own critique.

I recently went to a discussion on the serious side of magic and the stars with Peter Forshaw and Nick Campion that was part of the Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art at the Barbican. Forshaw and Campion are academics who specialize in astrology and other aspects of the occult. I found this discussion very useful as it spoke about the obssessive categorization of the ancients in order to understand the universe. Things on earth were reflected in the heavens and this takes me back to the notion of the allegory. The allegory can be seen to represent the paridigmatic pattern between large and small bodies. Can our own technologies also be seen to mimic these patterns? For example, can the architecture of the computer be an allegory for the architecture of the city?


I kept the occult discussion brief because I personally do not know enough about it. I will keep up the research and keep it posted here at a later date.

For now I want to think about how the body can be used as an allegory. I want to do walks that transpose the macroscopic and microscopic through the paradigm of the bodies and address the following themes:

  • The cosmos: using astrology?
  • The Earth as a body/ the elements
  • The political body: National museum as setting, using traveling networks such as hospitality club
  • The human body: Hospital or hygienic walks like cleaning the city
  • Microbes/atoms

I have been thinking about settings like the British museum or a country field at night where i can expirement with constellations.

Treasure hunt: to go back to the hunting theme…The goldbug hunt got me very interested in the science of cryptography. One method of cryptography is transposition codes. I wonder if a transposition code could not be worked out through the body allegory in order to create an interesting space for expressing relationships between the macrocosm and the microcosm. The process of decrypting is why I enjoy the hunting poetic very much as it puts you in the position to suspect everything and create strange relationships. I want to develop a hunt that enables the surrealist technique through the relationship between objects and ideas in the creation of clues. Again a big challenge to the snark hunt is creating a context that enables automatic clue formation.

Also, one project I have started working on is creating zodiac poetry. this is a collaborative poetry project based on the exquisite corpse game of the surrealists. However I have been experimenting with ordering the poems in terms of the participant’s zodiac configurations. So for example I will order the participant’s astrological relationship to the alignment of the planets to inform the sequence in which each verse is placed.


There’s a thirst for everything May 6, 2008

Filed under: enchantment and technology,treasure hunting — danceswithsnarks @ 12:00 pm


I think it is fitting to begin the blog with my first hunting for a snark. This was the first hunt I conducted after reading Lewis Carroll’s poem. I began this project with my dear Baroness Von Heron, AKA Caroline. She had a thrist for psychogeography and I for fiction and poetry. We saw an obvious corrolation between the act of fiction and the act of space. In fact, psychogeography has primarily found its expression in works of fiction (I will elaborate on this in the next blog). The correlation between these two interests and our mutual interest in participatory creative actions, provoked our collaboration, and hopefully, teach us about provoking further collaboration from others.

What I found very enticing about the poem was the circularity and absurdity of the hunt. I related to the poem’s voyagers as hunters searching for an inconceivable creature with the best map, a blank. I am often frustrated with the constructs of the academy and having a blank map was very appealing. I imagined this map to be my escape from control cultures and debates about the post-cybernetic condition. Interactive art is often swallowed by the hell that is technological discourse. I call it hell because it is a place where the soul dare not enter. Yes! Technology provides excellent new passages for interactivity. However, I have been to one too many technology infused art displays which have made my heart bleed. And no, this is not an overly dramatic reaction; Art, theory, whatever without poetry is hell. I will shout it from the mountain tops!

The horror of the Futurist project was that it was, in principle, fascist. Turning away from the past is not only foolish, it is an act of violence. Naturally Futurism was no stranger to violence, as physical violence stems from conflict of the spirit. I do not mean to degrade the art of technology by any means; the realms of technology should not be reduced to the realms of gimmickry. However I do feel that there is often a use of cutting edge technology that translates art into gimmickry. Furthermore these techniques are not strange to the unplugged industry of contemporary art either. Because technology (and art is a technology) is an extension of our being, for it to be invoked through the gimmick is to degrade our being. This degradation is very much a consequence of the ubiquitous screwiness of consumerism.

I am reminded by Alfred Gell’s The Enchantment of Technology and Technology of Enchantment. In this paper, Gell argues that art is the employment of the technology of enchantment at its very basis. However, I would like to make a distinction between the enchantment that is found in the gimmick and the enchantment that shakes your being to its core. The gimmick is such that it should feed off of human emotion in order produce a particular response from the audience. This is what commercial art seeks to do. I have felt in many art shows as though someone is trying to sell me something. This becomes even more frustrating when I realize that the only thing I am being sold is the same piece of crap that is selling me something. Basically selling is being sold….Oh the splendors of the art industry! Actually, no thank you. I think I will go and admire the window displays at Selfridges. At least I can buy a perfume or something if I get the urge.

I digress. Yes, the poetic of the snark I found to be brilliant as I thought a hunt through the city could provide inspiration to turn anything into an object for the imagination to run wild. The poem left things very open as they actually are if you ignore cultural constraints. However this everything can be very empty and lonely. Vastness is a very frustrating poetic to work with. It is a challenge to point a group nowhere, especially for a hunt. Producing clues for something that does not exist, believe it or not, is hard to do. We thought of lying and saying there was something in order to get people to start finding clues of their own. The poetic of a snark hunt is that all should be lost and anything is left to interpretation. This can be slightly disorienting and I think it should require a lot of practice and dedication to master the art of the snark dance. Vastness is a method, not a project. I think this was a major lesson for the Baroness and I.


Our snark hunt began with staying up all night together watching Avante-Gard movies. The significance of the Avante-garde, especially with regard to cinema, would become apparent later (I will save this for the next blog). I love surrealism and was hoping that some sleep deprivation might be an interesting way to wake up the imagination for the next day. We hoped that this tactic would allow for us to become less familiar with our surroundings so that we could see them for our mission rather than the daily grind. This did not prove useful for anything but crankiness.

We set out from Liverpool street station. In the theme of tale chasing we went on the circle line and thought we would look for clues to tell us when to get off. I cannot recall why we got off at Baker street but someone holding a sign with an arrow soon led us in the direction of the residence of Sherlock Holmes. The keeper of the Holmes’ residence was very helpful for our snark hunt and even went to fetch Mr. Watson on our behalf. However, Mr. Watson could not help us find the snark and so we carried on to regents park. I must see keeping up with the fiction of the snark hunt soon proved to be very tiring. However I do feel that we explored areas of the city that were off the beaten path. We also found some pretty amazing clues, some of which I have included below. I think the trouble with the project, at the end of the day, was finding a way to frame it in an engaging way. Framing the project was to be Caroline and I’s major collaborative challenge. We struggled for weeks to write a project proposal together, but I will discuss that at another time.

Number clues:

A swan gives us a clue

John’s 2 cents:


I will have this section at the end of every blog in order to get some blogging happening. This way every post might lead to a new project or projects if we are lucky!

What does everyone think about testing the seas of openess to the point of vacuous vastness? How might this help thoughts concerning open source culture, for example??

If the city is left completely to be reinterpreted by a certain poetic, how might this be acheived? Possibly by spreading a myth through the internet. I am thinking about how rumours might cause actions??

Also using found objects (clues) in such a way could prove really useful for collective story telling. Here a see fertile grounds for the snark hunt in all of its vastness.

A project concerning numbers and the landscape?