~WE LIVE IN PUBLIC/JOSH HARRIS & THE HUMAN CHICKEN FACTORY
WE LIVE IN PUBLIC started touring the world, as in – seriously circling the globe – usually with Josh and Ondi (Timoner – the film’s auteur-director) in tow – after the film won BEST DOCUMENTARY (USA) at SUNDANCE 2009 – and it’s still going strong – witness Josh’s two gig – NEW YORK TIMES and GOOGLE HEADQUARTERS – keynote activity – at this week’s – SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK in NYC.
one recent tour gig that sticks out – was the screening of WE LIVE IN PUBLIC – with guest lecture by Josh – last Nov 4-7, 2010 – at the prestigious and cutting edge: ArtFutura 2010 – which took place this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
from the ArtFutura website:
“ArtFutura, the festival of culture and digital creativity of reference in Spain, crosses frontiers. For the first time, during the month of November (2010) the conferences and main exhibitions are held in BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA.
This year’s edition features as principal documentary “We Live In Public” . An extraordinary film about social networks and privacy on the Internet, which won the last edition of Sundance and which forms part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
Directed by ONDI TIMONERthe documentary explores Josh Harris’ and his company Pseudo’s experiences . . . in the NEW YORK of the end of the MILLENNIUM and the dot.com companies.
Before the existence of Broadband and many of the services we consider to be indispensable today , HARRIS sensed – with great clear-sightedness – the consequences of our new life on Internet and the arrival of the social networks . . . ”
what really struck me were these words on the ArtFutura site:
ART FUTURA / ART + THOUGHT
At the beginning of this third millennium we enter a process in which art and science run together on parallel paths.
Artificial life, Virtual Reality, computer generated images . . are only the first chapter of a new universe, capable of both broadening and shrinking the human spirit.
ArtFutura 2010 – presents JOSH HARRIS in the THOUGHT SECTION . . .
JOSH on the ‘farm’ – an apple orchard in up-state New York – where he retreated in 2001 – after he lost, or he thought he lost his mind – after the crazy intensity of WE LIVE IN PUBLIC had run its course – and the financial collapse of Pseudo – but he only was at it again – anticipating intuitively – the local organic farm craze that has since swept the nation and the globe. you know – uber-foodies and back-to-the-farm green markets, the cult of the locavores, the whole deal.
Josh loved to drive the tractors. at the time he said every (organic) apple was going to have not only a shelf life – but a bar code that would gave its unique ‘name’- were it was raised !! yikes, not far off was he ?
all 4 images/COURTESY: JOSH HARRIS & ArtFutura.
but what also struck me for the first time – was the title & text – of Josh’s ArtFutura presentation: THE HUMAN CHICKEN FACTORY !! what the hell was he talking about !!??
the introductory text by JOSH HARRIS to his ArtFutura gig – begins:
“Imagine being a Mayan Indian ages ago declaring that 2012 is the year the world as we know it will end. The problem for the Mayans back then was that they could not conceive of “how” a technological revolution would connect people and information independent of space and time.
The Mayans simply accepted that the human condition born from millions of years of evolution would end and evolve into another form of consciousness. We now know that they are talking about The Singularity (billions of brains weaved together in a vast data net that form a new higher level intelligence.)
For us modern humans, now living at the cusp of the 2012 dividing line, the issue at hand is perspective. To the extent possible we need to understand that the next evolutionary force is building, at a rapidly accelerated pace, better and more efficient human chicken factories. We need to understand that these factories are cages of the mind and that we are becoming the factory chickens that we eat. With the QUIET installation (year 2000 Christian millennium) we asked artists to build a prototype human chicken factory designed for groups of people. With the We Live In Public installation we wired for individual caging. . . ”
what Josh means by human chicken factory is the social network. facebook, the wired web grid – etc – all interconnected and increasingly ‘stacked’ and ‘caged’ – as are – our (non-organic !!) chickens – raised in tiny cages – one on top of the other – in our worst – big company industrial chicken farm scenarios – aka – factories. chicken factories. get it ?
it’s the yin yang of the web grid. of the new world computer-realized social network.
at it’s best, straight – or most naive – it is this:
the ‘official’ – cleaned-up and totally fictional WE LIVE IN PUBLIC – logo poster – that Ondi Timoner actually manufactured – to brand – the film !!
and bring it into focus – as a social networking precursor !!
and at – its worst – !!
in fact – the pod – as in sleeping ‘pod’ – at QUIET – the basis of the WE LIVE IN PUBLIC experience – a 24-hr wired surveillance and real-time live streaming multi-channel video event – not to mention $1 million dollar Millennium party & art performance – as it actually was.
after the first few days – when all hell broke lose – the ‘pod’ – the artist-built jerry-rigged web / grid sleeping hotel and 24/7 surveillance hot spot – not the cameras and TV monitors – really looked more like this !!
in fact in most media reports – the sleeping ‘pod’ – is deemed: “the underground bunker” !!
trust me – it was so. even if those guys in the clean-cut version are wearing our same house crew uniforms orange pants & gray utility work shirts !! QUIET and the artist/visionaries who fueled it – were a hardcore NYC downtown bonafide artist bunch – if I ever did see one.
and I was there.
Josh watched the initial idealism and futurism – of QUIET – devolve into mayhem – and, well he instigated it a lot of that – – as Luvvy !!
(another story for another time. – yes, that bad.)
hence: up close he witnessed first-hand – the human social ‘network’ – at its earliest homemade Josh-built inception – devolve into a wild and crazy mad bad ‘chicken’ factory – up-close & personal !!
Josh always said he felt QUIET – and the subsequent WE LIVE IN PUBLIC – was more of a social experiment than an art installation or even a truly wild in your-face no-stops dot.com party.
this was also brought to mind by the (also) recent, super chic STUDIOFILMCLUB presentation of WE LIVE IN PUBLIC – this past January 13, 2011.
STUDIOFILMCLUB is a weekly film club – for free – hosted by Gavin Brown enterprise artist PETER DOIG (whose work can command millions of dollars – in the contemporary auction art market) and CHE LOVELACE in Laventille, near Port of Spain, TRINIDAD !!
you’ll note they’ve got that ‘cleaned-up’ multi-screen thing – going on in their WE LIVE IN PUBLIC promo-image above !!
the social network – in its – ‘straight’ factor grid – – as opposed to the grid dissolution into mayhem – as JOSH seems to be predicting – aka the chicken factory – but wait, just you wait and see !!
in fact, just by absolute random beauty – a day ago I stumbled across a pal watching the original – mother of them all – social grid movies – MATRIX !! and not sure if that is the actual first time – but a blue mutli-screen of the ‘matrix’ – the web of the future ??? – popped up into view – just as I passed by. and I lost my breath !!
it was also a blue multi-screen scenario – and ran across the screen – just as that StudioFilmClub image does !!
go back and watch it – again.
and you remember what kinda stacked ‘chicken’ factories – humans had become in that pre-sentient sci-fi thriller !! don’t cha !!
a hand reaching out from the MATRIX – you could be next !!
watch: MATRIX TRAILER
of WE LIVE IN PUBLIC – StudiFilmClub wrote:
“Ten years in the making and culled from 5000 hours of footage, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC reveals the effect the web is having on our society, as seen through the eyes of ‘the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of ‘ artist, futurist and visionary Josh Harris. . .
Harris, often called the ‘Warhol of the Web’ founded Pseudo.com, the first internet television network (it was before broadband existed !!) during the infamous dot-com boom (in NYC !!) in the 1990s. he also curated and funded the ground-breaking project ‘Quiet’ (the Pseduo $1 million dollar Millennium party) in an underground bunker in NYC where over 100 people (artists) lived together on camera for 30 days (actually just about 2 weeks before FEMA, the NYPD and FDNY – shut it down) at the turn of the millennium. With ‘Quiet’ Harris proved how we willingly trade our privacy for the connection and recognition we all deeply desire, but with every technological advancement such as Myspace, Facebook and Twitter, becomes more elusive. Through his experiments, including a six-month stint living with his girlfriend (former GF / Josh’s so-called fake GF – Tanya) under 24-hour electronic surveillance which led to his mental collapse, Harris demonstrated the price we pay for living in public.”