All-night art on the edge at SubZero
By Julian Peeples

Thousands descended upon San Jose’s South First Street Friday night for 01SJ’s SubZero street festival. Artists, musicians and performers roamed the streets, creating unique experiences and enlightening attendees.

The galleries along South First all participated in SubZero, with MACLA, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Anno Domini, Green Rice, Space 47 and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles all debuting new exhibits as part of the festival. I particularly enjoyed two of the exhibits: The Graffiti Research Lab at Anno Domini, and El Laboratorio at MACLA.

Impermanent graffiti courtesy of the Graffiti Reseaech Lab

El Laboratorio featured work by Favianna Rodriguez and Ramon Ortiz-Torres. In addition to Ortiz-Torres’ “High n Low Rider,” which opened the festival on Wednesday, Rodriguez’s “American Dream” was stunning. The exhibit focused on the lives of immigrant workers throughout the country and the challenges they encounter. I’m a huge fan of work that incorporates political issues and struggles for justice. I really connected with the pieces, which included a video component of interviews of workers. Working in the labor movement, I think it’s really important for people to acknowledge and respect our “ghost” working population, which oftentimes lives off the grid.

Graffiti Research Lab had a number of political pieces declaring a blowout sale by the Department of Homeland Graffiti. Dedicated to open-source, guerilla art, the Graffiti Research Lab’s work was both entertaining and thought-provoking, focusing on themes surrounding the U.S. government’s “War on Terrorism” and the sale of it to the American people through bright lights and shiny objects.

The GRL also showed off some of the guerilla projection techniques in the adjacent parking lot, allowing people to digitally tag the walls of buildings. They have done similar works at places like The Colosseum in Rome and on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky, spoke at Anno Domini about the intersection of art, music and culture. He will perform his new work Terra Nova: The Antarctic Suite at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday night at The Tech Museum’s IMAX theater. The piece comes from Miller’s recent travels to the forgotten continent to record the sounds of ice.

“It was quiet, It was the most eerie quietness you can imagine,” Miller said. “I want people to feel like they’ve been exposed to a different vision of how the planet exists. I want people to think about getting out of the cities … out of the oil age.”

Miller recently released “Sound Unbound,” a collection of essays on sampling, music and digital culture by such eclectic authors as Saul Williams, Brian Eno, Chuck D and Moby. Miller described the book as a “collage of radical fragments of new 21st Century approaches to art.”

“Imagine the book like a dinner party with people with all sorts of wild opinions,” Miller said. “It’s a literary mash-up. It’s DJ culture applied to literature.”

I will be transcribing the full text of my interview with Miller, as the depth of his knowledge is staggering and his perspective on the Information Age and its associated issues is compelling. This will be posted here within a few days.

South First Street, packed with 01SJ Festival goers, on SubZero/First Friday

With the festival more than half over, I think about some of the most memorable moments so far: Hundreds of bouncing people watching San Jose’s own Fingerbangers DJ crew create magic on First Street; artists carnival-barking at passers-by to get their attention to their unique brand of art; Ramon Ortiz-Torres’ dancing hydraulic contraption; the University of Minnesota students and their bicycle projectors and Stewart Brand’s compelling and shocking speech on the changing face of cities.

Yes, the 01SJ festival has been quite a time so far. I’m tired, but I feel like I’ve been involved in a sensory-intensive retreat for the past three days. It’s amazing how the art and expression I’ve seen has touched regions of my mind I didn’t know existed.

Comments are closed.