~THE ART . . . ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC ‘ !! / w new corrections as of JAN 30, 2018

note: JOSH HARRIS says, LUVVY is his virtual self / & not his alter ego, inner evil twin,
secret persona / or performance vehicle. etc. etc.


QUIET !!!!!,

EVERYBODY talks about the drama, & the future vision, but if ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’ had a bleeding, beating heart . . it was the ART.

exhibition / hard copy art, even framed art, silkscreen, installation, both site-specific & not / performance art of all kinds, video, digital, computer, light, sound, architectural, food art, xxx rated burlesque: you name it.

I mean even the video footage, that went on to become the basis for Sundance winning ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’, was . . art. video done as – art.
the 24-7 reality camera surveillance, was part & parcel of the ‘QUIET / WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’ art game . . . from the very get-go. prob the single most important element.
in the end the footage was stored on cassette tapes, with hand-lettered labels.
I know because I hand-labeled them.
it was year 2000.
I don’t even know what kind of computer storage existed / if it was even possible for ‘amateurs’ to upload video ?

ONDI TIMONER was hired . . as a film artist !!
her project was to document this crazy wild / 2 week long millennium party . . that Josh called ‘Quiet’ / in a spit of contrary that is very characteristic of his mindset. She was so very low-key through-out, but so focused.
she was like the – breathing & inhaling of the whole.
she was on everything – like a cat.

she was also given an additional budget, something like $100,000 to archive, and store the tapes & hopefully form them into some kind of summation / a rough edit. Josh was in doubt the project was even going to amount to anything. Sundance . . been there, done that. won. hello, Hollywood.

‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’ seems to jerk forward in 9 year leaps.
anything in the Mayan calendar about that ?

ONDI was one of the first artists – to be taken on specifically for ‘Quiet’, who did not come out of Josh’s usual crew.
He watched ‘DIG!’ & she got the green light. that was it.
if it was green light / it was . . Go !!
along with a production budget, that was to most of us . . an astounding cash flow.

that’s the way the dot.com boys played at the time. cash hardball. cash moneyball / double-time.
the mainstream NYC art world had no idea what was being bounced down on them, and they still . . don’t.

that . . was Josh’s best & greatest m.o.
you pitched him an idea, from any corner – and if it caught his fancy / you were up & running.
and, I mean .. up & running.
payroll ?
payroll . . rock n’roll.

you got the kind of cash budget / sometimes you even got Josh’s credit card lol, that made it possible for you to build that art / that dream, and build it . . well. if not downright glorious. and absolutely – outside the box.
way way outside the prevailing standard white wall box gallery exhibition budget, then or, now.


I think in part that, ‘QUIET’ & the immediately following solo Josh (& the fake GF) project, the original ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’ . . .
and then 9 years later, Ondi’s cumulative Sundance winning documentary ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’ . . went basically unnoticed & definitely unremarked upon by the mainstream / usual suspects / NYC ‘art critics’ . . just, simply because of that big 90s tech dollars – cash throw-down.

one: there was a very real / very uninspired bias happening in the staid art press vs. the kind of incredible ‘art parties’ that the young tech millionaires were throwing at that time, to compete with each other, even though they were bonafide installations, which made the conventional art scene look stale & seedy, btw.
it was: they were techie parties. they weren’t art. the art critics in this town are such stupid snobs. no wonder rebel rebel Brooklyn is so alive.
(btw the tabloid press & NEW YORK mag loved Josh. they could not get enough of his ‘staged art’ installation photos.)

two: apart from the bias against who was putting on the party / install exhibits . . the institutional art critics . . just couldn’t get their small minds around a huge conceptual art ‘performance’ – that was made on such a big budget. and which was so multi-layered. at the most, all they had seen till then were Jeffrey Deitch’s small one room, ok ‘big’ room events . .

I mean, even Damien Hirst was still yet to produce his shark-in-a-tank / OBGYN-chair-in-a-tank in a room in a gallery.

Josh had 4 floors of a warehouse going on, with 2 sub-basements, not to mention a bubble-wrapped 100+ person sit-down dining room / performance space next door !!
we are talking over 100+ live-in artists incl. in-house crew . . . making art, and the whole place was open to the public 24/7 / open bars and it was a mob scene.

in a way, looking back . . it was ‘infinite’ compared to the standard art exhibit.
it was . . proto-web.

three: not only were the so-called critics not up to speed on ‘conceptual’ art as an umbrella / financed by an unthinkable budget, but Josh and his Pseudo production crew – were already on the web !!
nascent as it was. they had $81 mill in the bank !!
they were completely independent . . of the staid old gallery / old boy system.
the whole Josh Harris-curated wonderland . . just went right over their heads.
it couldn’t fit inside their tiny idea – of an art box.


‘QUIET’ / ‘WE LIVE IN PUBLIC’ . . was kind of like the art scene today, with its many, tiny indie curators bypassing the stultifying mainstream art scene, by showing art wherever they can, whether from inside their tiny apt living rooms, to stuffing stuff in old abandoned phone booths !! to sabotaging advertising boxes on the street. kind of like the shattered ‘Terminator’.

Josh was the ‘Terminator’ . . whole.

Josh had the dough (supposedly $81 million) & an insane drive . . to bankroll & produce art.
He was like the Medici of the tech world. damn it, if he didn’t rent a huge 4 story abandoned warehouse, & its abandoned storefront neighbor in Tribeca, in which to throw the biggest art party this town has still never seen seen beat, & also . . splash down the megabucks for a huge hi-end loft on Spring & Broadway in Soho, in which to run his own solo / project.
we are talking: god-almighty tech million dollar art productions.

sometimes, as we all know . . CASH is a four letter word.
and so is art critic. and it’s not a pretty one.

but the downtown art scene – never ever saw better times.

here’s just a small small sampling from my own archives:

JEFF GOMPERTZ, now based in Thailand, built the incredible jaw-dropping pod hotel / art installation that housed over 100 artists. based on Japanese pod hotels, it was super functional, and sleek.
other digital artists, and technicians, whose names I don’t know, but they were masters . . wired & built the equivalent . . of a in-house proto-internet / Facebook / instagram social media / social network.
the pods were wired with surveillance cameras re: output.
re: input . .
every pod had its own screen and a few, maybe 3 channels of broadcast access . . to the 24/7 ongoing surveillance.

if, the Citizens Band was marching buck naked on the dining room table – you could see it from your pod.
if someone was having sex in the pods, you might be watching it while you ate dinner.
‘bio’ – in all its grand meaning – was a big big part of the show.
Josh – was a very curious guy. yeah, he was out to shock. and, why not ?!!
AI & Computer learning, algorithms . . take note. humans at work.

are you getting a sense of .. just how big / the big brother picture here, was ???
just how big . . the art picture was ?
this was a hardcore artist – ARMY !!!

go fit that . . in your Brooklyn living room, lol.

a birds-eye-view of the surveillance / digital HQ.
off limits . . to most of the crew.

in fact, I believe that’s ONDI TIMONER, to the extreme right, with some kind of bandana around her head.

you have to remember . . it was year 1999 – turning the corner onto 2000.
I personally didn’t even know how to email. people had cellphones, but there were no smartphones.
what was that, even the concept did not exist.
internet service was dial-up. there was no communal social media platform / this was the proto-type, in fact. a self-contained / but inter-connected 24-7 wired hub / hive.

sometimes I go to openings, and I realize . . that these kids were like . . only 4 !!
when we did this.
it was . . MEGA.

site-specific / install artist DAVID LESLIE . . concocted pretty much the whole entire basement, that wasn’t the gaming room or the shooting gallery, lol. or were those on the lower lower sub-basement ?
the opening night . . snowy ‘target practice’ / was life-size arcade blow-out . . & it was his.
it didn’t even make the cut / documentary. but all of those cheesy live action sex games, that weren’t in the pods, all those set-ups are his.
Josh’s evil alter ego Luvvy, came to life – in the footsteps of David Leslie.

eternal red-neck cowboy, MARK ENGER, R.I.P . . . of EXPLODING SKY, did a lot of the graphics, & most vividly, it was he who silk-screened circle ‘targets’ onto the in-house crew’s grey work shirts.
before there was Swizz Beatz silk-screening all over his jackets – there was Mark.

the bubble-walled dining room sat 100+ & had its own kitchen in back, with its own in-house pro chef serving 4 star meals. it totally blew everybody away. walking in, it was like turning on the Discovery channel. it made non-believers into believers. it was stunning.
commissioned by Josh himself, as were all the installations, this future-reaching, site-specific installation, shockingly visual & tactile . . was designed & made by MARIA ALEJANDRA GIUDICI.

also note, GABRRIELLE LATESSA ORTIZ ran the the food. nailed it.

ALFREDO MARTINEZ built and ran the . . SHOOTING GALLERY. licensed as a film ‘prop’. . anybody could come & safely learn how to hold & fire off a big big gun.
yeah, that’s my kid Theo, who was 9 at the time – shooting the gun.
Columbine had just happened, April 20, 1999, and, you bet: I wanted my kid to know how to handle guns.
& sad story short. high school shootings have not gone away.

the master of ceremonies, the man himself, JOSH HARRIS . . in the transparent / communal shower.
I got around that by showering under a blanket.
you had to figure out how to work it, for yourself. it was kind of a maze, a daily ritual maze.

site-specific, & very much working: lots of hot water. this functional, totally radical, transparent live in public, communal shower – was commissioned by Josh from . . and, designed by the cutting-edge design team of: MARIA ALEJANDRA GIUDICI, (who did the Bubble dining room), & her husband at the time . . MARIANO AIRALDI, who also built & installed it.
Photo via WE LIVE IN PUBLIC archives / courtesy: JOSH HARRIS

I was supposed to put on a . . . ‘live action quilt / sewing bee’ !!!!!!
alas, this was as far as I got, before I got usurped to be Josh’s right-hand production assistant.
‘QUIET’ was as quick – as the future internet was going to be, too.
you got liked or disliked . . in a blink of an Josh Harris . . eye-lash.
or . . usurped.

don’t get me wrong, he liked the quilt idea !! alot !!
just the skills that made for quilting – also made for excellent production assistant, esp in a very busy & wild ‘organic’ hive of an install – like this one.
which also seems very future vision, just check out how your IG / Instagram feed is organized.
classic 3 patch.
x digital infinity.

so, I took to building, prob the ‘tiniest’ creative units at ‘QUIET’ / DIY paper lanterns made from two sheets of standard 8 x 10 in. typing paper, glued together at the seams.
I then collaged them with various found ‘photographic’ scraps, that were all over the place.also tiny lost sequins, beads, red glitter & red Xmas thread, and hung them from the ceiling pipes, in random places, as I raced around doing Josh’s bidding.
. . & if that isn’t very FUTURE BROOKLYN – I don’t know what is.

what was so cool, was I would string em up at night, un-announced.
very private. very anonymous. no artist credit whatsover, no signature anywhere . .
and the next day, they would have colored professional lights projected on them.
I felt, in that great creative chaos, of huge $$$ artist projects, and even huger artist egos, someone was creepin’ on me.
someone . . got me !!

looking back, yeah, I was . . self-publishing.
I was making ‘comments’ ’emojis’ ?
in the proto-zone / Pseudo internet.
I was a tiny nano unit – that ‘vibes’ the communal hive, & keeps the bizz/buzz level up.
I reached in, to connect.
I was the tiny singular voice – that had . . a voice !!
I was just one outsider / in the insider singularity of the whole.
I had nothing but my own strong primal / prey driven desire . . to make art.
create . . a beat in the background, a response. articulate a skill.

I was commenting . . on the vibe of the underground, & I was diggin’ it.

yeah, someone got me.
and that someone was: Josh.

and that’s how we all felt working & making art . . for JOSH.


just we got to do it on a scale, that would blow all – your Brooklyn minds, apart !!

PHOTOS: NANCY SMITH / unless otherwise noted