Tool Shed Days is collaboration between Red 76, Ars Virtua, and the students of San Jose State University's CARDE Laboratory for New Media. It was a FUSE Commissioned Residency for the 2nd Biennial 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge. In collaboration with ZERO1, CADRE Laboratory and the Lucas Artists Program, Montalvo Arts Center. It was shown as part of Superlight at the San Jose Museum of Art in the summer of 2008. Tool Shed Days consisted of a variety of media and real world actions. This is my attempt to combine two years worth of work, spanning several projects into a cohesive whole. As of 2010, these projects have concluded, this is archive of the work.
...In taking the name ToolShed Days a nod to the musical tradition of wood shedding; the process of going out, alone, to investigate your craft more deeply the group has set about to investigate how one may utilize existing technological forms askew from the creators initial intentions. In this circumstance the goal being to highlight a means for the use of readily available, often free/or cheap, technology and media as a means to create new frameworks for historical inquiry and sociopolitical action. All the while the importance of creating hybridized platforms that suggest transparency, and the possibility for anyone no matter their skill set to hit the ground running and apply their interests and desires was key to the groups working process. As their tool of choice Red76 and the CADRE team went about considering alternative possibilities for the online collaborative platform Second Life. With this in mind three discrete projects were considered for this experiment under the ToolShed Days moniker: A mock recruitment center created as a geographically unspecific site to help in the strategic planning of counter-recruitment actions, the recreation of a now defunct Washington state quasi-utopian anarchist colony from the 1890's, and a simple user-group site developed to connect Second Life Architect's and Public Defense Attorney's as a means to provide dynamic dramatizations for the defense of indigent clients. - Red76
It all started with a revolution. Dinner was the first project we all did together. Red 76 had broadcast dinner conversations before, and this time discussion was to center on new technologies and social revolution. Wayne Madson and I partnered up going door to door, letting people know about our dinner inviting them to join or tune into the conversation. We had flyers that we handed out with the station's frequency. I climbed a tree outside Kuniko and Zach's house to placed our pirate radio antenna. Someone took a picture of my bum in the tree and it ended up in the San Jose Mercury.
Dinner was good. Everybody contributed. The conversation got off to a tekkie start. James and I started talking about Second Life because it was 2007 and we were Ars Virtua. When everyone is pro-technology and pro-revolution, dinner conversation can be boring. At first I was afraid the choir was just going to sing to itsself. Luckily we had some out spoken decent to liven things up. Without (civil) disagreement you don't have to defend your stance, which means you aren't forced to examine your stance. I was grateful. Sam's wonderful account of the evening and a partial transcription of the conversation can be found here: Please Step Out of Your Vehicle
To understand what Second Home is, you might first need a brief history on Home, Washington. Home, WA was a colony establish in the late 19th century which was an individualist safe haven. The Mutual Home Association owned a chunk of land which then was sold to people who were willing to operate within their colony, not co-opt. While this colony seems from a brief glance to function like a utopia or a commune, in essence it was a response to failed communes and instead put the emphasis on the individual to pull their own weight and create dialog with others.
Second Home is a recreation of the system of Home within Second Life (as well as archive and web components for context), especially with regards to the educational and open forum in Liberty Hall (Home, Washington's primary "educational" site). This was a place where anyone who moved through the community could speak about any issue and from any side and develop a dialog. We will need to build the infrastructure of Second Home in order to watch the experiment unfold. - Wayne Madsen
In 2008, Red 76, with the aid of Gabriel Saloman and students and staff of the CADRE Media Lab at San Jose State University , began work on forming a Second Home Colony, this time located in the virtual world of Second Life. Second Home offers itself as an Archive of this colorful past, and the context which birthed it, as well as an opportunity for everyone who is interested to begin conversations about these histories and their contemporary parallel's. Within there are opportunities to publish radical ideas, to discuss them with an international audience, and to co-create a new colony as an experimental pedagogical form. We are hoping to create a platform for a continued exploration of communal activities in a space that provides a common ground for people all over the world. You, as a visitor and potentially a resident, are the one who will determine the fate of this new space. Welcome to Second Home... stay a while. - Second HomeEnter the Second Home Site Archive.
The idea is pretty simple, and has been around a long time. Don't be rude, don't be antagonistic, be friendly, eat up the military recruiter's time. Try to keep the conversation going as long as possible. This campaign of anti-violent war opposition was launched by Iraq Vets Against the War. Tool Shed Days created two projects with this campaign in mind. One was Recruiter Chat, a simple page that directed participants to the Army's website where they could chat with recruiters online. In this way they could help the effort from the comfort of their own home. I created this piece with a simple iframe to the army's chat page. Text by Sam Gould.
The Second project took the form of a mock recruitment center created inside Second Life. This allowed for virtual simulations of counter-recruitment actions to be run with avatars as well as strategic planning by persons separated by real-space. Using the virtual recruitment center as a set we also created a machinima training video for people looking to join the effort in person. The end result was well received and implemented into Befriend a recruiter efforts. A clip of the training video can be seen above. Befriendarecruiter.org may be gone now but this hot air rant against it is a good testament to the work.
Enter Recruiter Chat
Everyone deserves a fair trial, but those without recourses don't always receive one. The Defense Co-op was a forum that connected Second Life artists and builders with public defense attorneys throughout the United States. This crowd-sourced project aimed to assist underserved defendants, by providing both legal counsel, and visual aids. These aids would be developed by members of the socially conscious virtual community in order to help illustrate scenarios through the use machinima and simulations. Thus evening the ground a little for those defending themselves against the state, or large corporations.
"When a defendant stands trial, it is an agonizing experience. She faces the accusations of the District Attorney, the police, and any independent witnesses the State brings to testify against him. The police are trained how to talk to and persuade juries. They know to come across as affable, good natured people; they know to look at the jury when the speak; they know how to answer the District Attorney's questions in a way that effectively narrates the events in controversy. They have reports that they wrote just after the events in controversy, which they review prior to testifying. They understand the elements that the District Attorney must establish in order to convict a defendant. Most importantly, they testify all the time - they have lots of experience in the courtroom, and generally feel comfortable there." — Laura Baldwin (Red76 member, and Portland, Oregon public defense lawyer)Netbehaviour announcement
"Superlight was the lead exhibition of the 2nd Biennial 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge, the largest festival of art at the intersection of creativity and technology in North America." – SJMA. The show was on exhibition from May 10 through August 30 of 2008 at the San Jose Museum of Art. Steve Dietz served as the Artistic Director.