Place your hand in a bowl of warm jello and think: "I am 75% water." Wiffle your fingers through the mush and think: "Even my thoughts are 75% water." Invite a friend into the jello with you. Touch your friend's belly and think: "Woo, 75% water!" Now, stick a microphone into the jello and suck up some sound from the bottom of the bowl. Play it back into your friend's watery ear. Add reverb. Add oxygen, food, beer, weird things that get your blood moving like chicken wire, vast corporate injustices, and Motown bass riffs. Now think: "Poom! This is one muddy megillah!"
Here in the bio-electronic moment, somewhere between these words and your eyes, we are drawn into a miraculous conflux: a continuum of chemicals, linkages, feedback loops, rumors, waveforms, bricks, smirks, and terror. Yet we are not an All. We are not God. We are not a cozy One. We are a storm of undefinable presences suckling into one another, congealing, folding into a mutual murk. We cyclically strain against and surrender to some wild, howling node that lures us into its vortex.
And the question emerges: how do we extract pleasure from this timeless suction? Can our tender beings integrate with the swirls of microbes, convection currents, iron ore, cash flows, local and international media, metaphorical inversions, the very biosphere in which we breath, and still delight in the mix? Can we jam in such a dense foam of thought, blood, and wire? Can we open our dumb, simian circle out towards an infinite latice of pulsations?
Let us jam in the web, fellow animals! Let us be symbiotic, and connected. Let us induce high-density confluences of creatures, machines, and symbols. Let us pull every kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species into the oil with us. Let us jam with our neighborhoods, satellites, refridgerators, insects, rickshaws, and meteor showers. Let us protrude into the common wilderness, the radical center of mutual survival. There let us lay web upon web, inject system into system, inducing vital rituals of mongrel possibility. Let us liquidate being and coil into the nervous suction of life.
Call a meeting.
Secure a site in a culturally "neutral" area such as an abandoned warehouse.
Inhabit space for many weeks, building webs of many different materials and media, extending them, weedlike, into the entire area of the site. Roving musicians, networks of video cameras and monitors, robotic sculptural tangles, food-to-recycling systems, the local mice population, and the air itself, are all regarded as a web or system. Singular works of art or stationary performances are not appropriate.
Continue to hold regular meetings to encourage intricate webs of thought as well as substance. Encourage web overlaps, breakdowns, and recombinations. Encourage information tendrils to grow beyond the site -such as posters, electronic transmissions, and rumors.
Build to a peak of multi-web rhythm. Invite an audience in as the final biological web which completes the jam.
Jam until the entire universe folds into the mix.
Organizational Circle for "Organism"
The First Web Jam
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1993
At an abandoned mustard factory on June 12, 1993, 120 media artists, sculptors, musicians, and architects -along with over 2,000 audience participants- congealed with numerous cultural and natural systems. This first web jam, a hive of electronic, ecological, and subjective phenomena, quivered from 6 at night till 9 the next morning. Overlapping webs of culture was the operating principle, an emergent strategy of cultural production distinctly different from a DJ-centered rave or a festival made up of discreet performances. According to Domus Magazine: Organism became a kind of symbolic climax to the renegade activity that had been stirring within the community since the late eighties. It exploited the notion of architecture as living event, breathing and transforming for fifteen hours in an abandoned mustard factory. Unlike a traditional gallery exhibit where each object only engages the cube of space that it occupies, the collaborators in a "web jam" create work that engages the entire space, the body and mind of the audience and through this process ultimately integrates with the community at large. A layering of system upon system whose intersections spawn unique accidental places. In order to create Organism, the Old Dutch Mustard factory was rented for a year. After the conclusion of Organism, the site became a collective performance space for Williamsburg artists under the name Mustard --until a fire in the Spring of 1994. Organism attempted to push systems culture and the spirit of collaboration to the limit, but it could not have succeeded without a well-heeled community sharing memories of other Williamsburg events such as the Sex Salon, the Cats Head, the Flytrap and home-brew exhibition spaces such as Epoche, The Bog, Minor Injury and the Green Room. One of the principle coordinators of Organism, Robert Elmes, opened up Galapagos Artspace in Williamsburg, where an interdisciplinary spirit still thrives.
Systems included video, fax, radio, sound, performance, liquids, rye grass, slugs, weblike sculptures, computer projections, the local ecosystem, gossip, propaganda, the political economy of the site, the web jam's collaborators, and the audience.
"Call it the sequel to the rave... For 12 hours more than 2,000 people pushed into an abandoned mustard factory to see the work of 120 artists, featuring everything from exploding watermelons to performers rapelling down silos."
--Melissa Rossi, Newsweek, 1993
"These live events are all about collaboration and convergence: they are an attempt to compress people, technology, art, and ideas into a cultural reaction chamber. One of the most memorable of these was the Organism Web Jam, which for twelve hours transformed Brooklyn's Old Dutch Mustard Factory into a thumping, pulsing incubator of interaction."
--Peter Boerboom, Mute Magazine, 1997
"Organism ...was a sensory overcharge." --Jonathan Fineberg, Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being
"Must I Org? Yes, I Orged! I Orged! I was devastated! ...Really the most thoroughgoing environmental event in 'burg history. It was integrated, witty, cool, and I fell asleep in a tangle of lovely bodies in 'The Womb.' "
--Media de Vyse, Waterfront Week, 1993
"Organism Diaries" on Artnetweb: http://www.artnetweb.com/organism
(In Alphabetical Order)
Video Systems * David Brody (Video installations)
Electrical Systems * Colin Crain (Visual Cortex)
Sound Design * Richard Duckworth (Smile Master)
Electrical Systems * Robert Elmes (Antenna to the Stars from Secret Source)
Concept Junkie * Ebon Fisher (Bionic Codes)
Site Scout/Electrical * Jeff Gompertz (Thermo-Electric Dance System)
Moolah Systems * Yvette Helin (Swing Painting Machine)
Lights/Liquid/Logistics * Anna Hurwitz (Anti-Virus System)
Installation Systems * Jessica Nissen (Squishy Hands & Oranges for the Masses)
Installation Systems * Kevin Pyle (Organ Theft Narrative)
Performance Systems * Megan Raddant (Elvin Napping Systems)
Security Systems * Fred Valentine (The Water System)
Dan McKereghan, The Amazing Gustav, Gary Waingart, David Owen, Andrew Hampsas, Denman Maroney, David Simons (Colloidal Suspension)
Stuart Sachs, Melissa Stampley (Symbiotic)
Doug Benett (Roving Rapper)
John Snyder (Laser Images, Didjeridu, Waterphone, Theremin)
George Krassas, Stacey Greenwald (Pollination Station)
Gwynne Duncan, Jennifer Collins (The Tentacular Jelly Root)
Cliff Crepeau (Technical Assistance)
David H. Brown (Omni located, self-consuming Detrivors/Viruses)
David Dienes (Personal Sound Environment)
Marisa's Peaches (Dancing Your Private Butoh Dreams)
James Porter (The Womb)
Kelly Webb, Viva, Theresa Westerdahl, Julie O'Brien (The Boom Boom Womb)
John A. Cicali (Primal Heart Beat and Pulse)
Dragan Ilic (Liquid Laser System with Beans)
Marta Vi (PA-LARVA, a performance)
Amy Shapiro (Mad Scientist Laboratory System)
Stuart Sachs (The Garden of Earthly Delights)
Edip Agi and Milene Fernandez (Pods and Cocoons Undulating)
Andrew Innes and Jane Bowles (Tubes)
Esther Yun (Little Photo Portraits of Organism's Collaborators)
David Brody, Bozidar Kemperle,Daniel Brody, Carleton Bright (Video-Computer-Phrase Interface)
Daniel Berlfein (Improv: How do I get into the ORGANISM?)
Andrew Innes, Derek Bronston, Andy Mazo (Music)
Laurent Mellet (Water/Fire Radio Steel Cow -Fear System)
Karthik Swaminithan (Electro-Synaptic Pumps)
Stevie Allweis (Roving Woman)
Peter Kursel (Woo-Lip System)
Keith Godbout, Daniella & Students (Performance: If You're Not Afraid, You're Not Brave)
Dolores Zorrequieta (Rolling Self-Portrait)
The Unbearables (Matty, Jason, Adam Jankowski (Cathode Ray Tubing, Neoist News Agency)
Rob Hickman, Luisa Caldwell, Mark, Alias Jones, Stevie, Jan, Nadia (Zero Gravity Body Scans)
Pegi Vail (Before the Dodgers Left Brooklyn - Site-Specific Historical Installations)
Robin Dann (Elf/Floral Collage Posters)
Josh Cohen (Wandering Baby Projections)
Michael Henry (Chrome Stroll & Chanson D'Amour)
Melanie Hahn & Movers (Natural Lies)
Sarah Barker (Vein Things)
Ana Maria Rodriguez (Crude Optical Devices)
Danny Delgado, Eileen Schreiber (Food and Video)
Gene Pool, Tim Spelios, Caroline Cox, Sasha Sumner (Playtez Playpen)
Jon Rubin (The Big Mustard Movie)
Zloty:Fric (Doggie Limelight: The Sleep of Man)
Vernon Bigman (Barbeque Angel -High Density Audience Participant)
Eben Dodd (Elf)
Gig Wailgum (Visual Entrance System)
Brian Quinn, John Cicali, Veronica Agular, Diep Durstine (Primalpulsesystem)
Bradford Reed (Pencilina)
Sasha Noe, Bradford Reed (Bottle Breaking System)
Daniel Carello (Walk on Water)
Frank Shifreen (Numerous Biological Figures)
Ursula Clark (Birch Structures)
Judy Thomas (Viral Balls -Troubles)
Dan Green and IFAN (Blood & Immune Response Simulation)
Bruce Pearson, David Weinstein, Julie Nichols (Heterodyning Jones)
Genia Gould, Judy Murphy (First Aid System)
Andr* Kruysen (Mold)
Neil Hamilton (Geodesic Nerve Bath)
Tim Robert (Electric Guitar System)
Shelley Marlowe (Interactive Storytelling)
Borsi (Black and White)
Andrew Mazo, Drakula & Friends, Tim Otto, Ken Butler, John Snyder (Music Jammers)
David Dienes, Tim Robert, Christopher Strouse, Lex Grey (Music Jammers)
The 2,000 people who came (Human Flesh System)
WFMU (Low-tech Live Broadcast)
Slugs, mice, spiders, and microbes (Other Systems Beyond our Human Worldview)
SPECIAL THANKS TO: The community, John Shuttleworth, Matty Jankowski, Ernie Hurwitz, Set Recycling Hotline, Materials for the Arts, Miller Brewing Co., Carl Volmer, Paul Santich, The Outpost, Shlomo Mantz, Rick Culver, Bill Cuozzi, the liquid crew, the security crew, and Circle Arts.
Sponsored by Circle Arts and incubated in the webs of Brooklyn, 1993.