Security Patterns video walkthrough

Security Patterns is a studio visit installation of recent laser cut work. These sculptures and drawings are made from old books laser cut with poignant words, and drawings made from industrial patterns, all of which explore transformations in technology and their relationships to evolutions (or devolutions) in economies. Some choice examples include: two display bookshelves with an ever growing collection of 130+ investment guide books and get-rich-quick books (e.g. “Weath is a Choice” or “Investing by the Stars”) all laser engraved with the logos of failed FDIC Insured banks, A shrink wrapped bundle of 12 Yellow Pages that have been cut all the way through with the phrase “GOOGLE” and a dictionary with the phrase “OMG LOL” cut from its pages.

I have previously burned the OED, Atlases, and Phonebooks. I am interested in exploring books, especially expensive reference books, as a symbol of technological obsolecense and consumption culture. Once they were a huge symbol of prestige, now they are a sign of a era whose time has passed away. I burn them with word and symbols, as a way of commenting on their technological obsolescence, and simultaneously restoring their aura as precious objects.

More images on this blog post, or on James Wagner’s review of his studio visit

Dorkbot PDX talk: FAIL, WIN!, FTW?

I gave a lecture on August 8th at Dorkbot PDX entitled FAIL, WIN!, FTW?. It is a summary of my recent work experimenting with open licensing on physical objects. I explore what has worked, and what hasn’t, and some of the lessons I have learned.

Marisa Olson also spoke; her lecture is here

Ulrich Franzen’s Street: Radical Urban Planning from 1969

Watch the whole thing. Or at least the first 12 minutes. Its worth it. Fascinating. It is so familiar that I feel like I was shown this in grade school… alongside Powers of Ten.

Some things have changed since Ulrich Franzen made it: waterfronts are now viewed as more precious potential parks than he views the street. Putting a two mile long building on any waterfront would not work these days. Also, his vision of shared cars is starting to come true, with shared rentable cars now available in most cities, and bicycle share programs across Europe and heading stateside. I wondered if today’s political and economic culture could handle he importance and respond to the difficulty of such massive change; a review of Boston’s tragically executed and financially draining Big Dig would be a good case study in what can go wrong. All that said, I felt there were two things missing: Subways and Bicycles.

He never addresses subways: do we keep them, do we make more, are they better or worse than busses (electric or otherwise)? Which really is a question of fixed route transportation: you can put a bus in anywhere you want when you need it, but you can’t just add or take away a subway. There are vast swaths of Brooklyn and Queens that are underserved by Subways because in the first half of the 20th Century, either no one lived there because they were factories and are now living lofts, or (I would guess) the people that lived their lacked the political or economic power to bring the subway closer to them.

The other absence is any discussion of the bicycle. And while the bicycle is not the cure-all, for every transportation woe, having spent time in cities like Amsterdam, Portland, and even Shanghai & Beijing, it is clearly a hugely important part of removing strain on existing private and public infrastructure.

Just for comparison look at Shenzhen. Located just north of China’s border with Hong Kong, Shenzhen was designated China’s first Special Economic Zone roughly 30 years ago. At the time, it was rice patties. Now it is a city with the same population as New York City. It is the location one of the countries two stock exchanges, has remarkable skyscrapers, but has almost no urban planning to speak of. Much of the development has been dictated by the swaths of land set aside for corporate factories made possible by huge foreign investment. A subway was opened sometime in the last ten years, and it is in the process of being expanded. But it is one line. Running east to west. And only covers a small percentage of the width of the city. Running above this subway from the water to the city center is the main thoroughfare. When I visited we drove in my host’s car through this mostly-stoplight-free congested two lane road at a mere 25 MPH; all because of congestion, a disproportionate number of accidents by new drivers, and a lack of any other east west transportation mode. In Shenzhen new wealth lead to massive purchase of cars by first time drivers as a proud sign of their rise into economic power. At the time I was there, Shenzheners were purchasing 200,000 new cars per year. All this in a city of roughly 10 million. It corresponds with a Los Angeles like breakdown of the transportation system.

Inversely, the much much older Shanghai and Beijing have established subway systems, and a long standing bicycle culture. Despite being much larger cities traffic moves much faster, even though more people moving from one place to another. The citizens of Shenzhen do not commute far, as much of Shenzhen is made up of large and small factories that usually contain their own workers housing, which ranges from formal dormitory style high rises, to informal ramshackle wooden bunk beds in unlit rooms divided by curtains.

All this always interests me, but I am especially interested in these questions right now, as I am about to participate in the New Amsterdam Bike Slam a Transportation Alternatives co-sponsored bike related three think-tank as poetry-slam. I’ll be on one team, and some of the participants are listed here.

And while the focus of this session is on bikes in the harbor area (something dear to my heart as I commute to teach at the College of Staten Island/CUNY by bike and ferry), seeing (or maybe re-seeing) Franzen’s film has spurred my thinking in a different direction.

(via Urban Omnibus)

Drawing Contemporaries Video

HOWTO Burn the News


It was recorded from the stream.  It is a little choppy, and is overdubbed with the live translation.  So its good if you speak Spanish

90c By Surface Area

HOWTO Burn a Dollar Bill from Michael Mandiberg on Vimeo.

Part of ASDF’s $1 grant project. (

How to Burn the OED

FLOSS Digital Foundations Book Sprint

FLOSS Book Sprint: Digital Foundations from Michael Mandiberg on Vimeo.