Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

The Author of the Acacia

This Ursula K. Le Guin story is so good!

No known dialect of Ant employs any verbal person except the third person singular and plural and the first person plural. In this text, only the root forms of the verbs are used; so there is no way to decide whether the passage was intended to be an autobiography or a manifesto.

Seeds 14-22

Long are the tunnels. Longer is the untunneled. No tunnel reaches the end of the untunneled. The untunneled goes on farther than we can go in ten days [i.e., forever]. Praise!

The mark translated “Praise!” is half of the customary salutation “Praise the Queen!” or “Long live the Queen!” or “Huzza for the Queen!”—but the word/mark signifying “Queen” has been omitted.

Thanks to Matt Webb for transcribing it from The Compass Rose. You can also listen to Le Guin reading the latter half of the essay (with an additional footnote!) in a 2014 talk.

Link via Hugo Reinert

In Search of Personalized

My friends Taeyoon and Roon have been working on a project called In Search of Personalized Time. Last year they were collaborating remotely, with Taeyoon working on-site at a festival in Seoul coordinating with Roon here in New York on a very different timezone.

It was, as if, we are living in someplace else—in-between New York and Seoul—and doesn’t completely belong to either of those two places.

Similarly, in our perceptions, those conference calls were happening not in New York or Seoul’s local time, but possibly elsewhen—sometime else, that the participants from both places share momentarily.

Perhaps, we could create a time device, that shows your personal time, so that you can interact with it without syncing back with the GMT. Then perhaps, we could network these devices, and think about how to negotiate these personal times from person to person. then perhaps, we could create an alternative time-system, a consensus time, the bottom up approach towards deciding what time it is now.


After showing the piece at LACMA earlier in the year, they participated in the Art Book Fair this past weekend along with Sam Hart, editor of

After syncing the devices to their personal clocks, the volunteers were asked to spend the afternoon on a “scavenger hunt for time,” taking the Art Book Fair as an opportunity to begin new conversations about their sense of lived time and the significance of publication as an act of preserving a particular moment.


Art Hack Day /

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 12.10.02 PM

Tonight I am starting a two day art-making binge at something called Art Hack Day:

Art Hack Day is an internet-based nonprofit dedicated to hackers whose medium is art and artists whose medium is tech … Sixty artists-hackers and hacker-artists inhabit an art space to create an exhibit from scratch during 48h. We start on a Thursday evening with a meet & greet and provide good food, fast Internet, and equipment for collaborating on and creating new work. On Saturday evening we transition from hackspace to exhibition hall and the projects are shown to the public during a flash exhibit (open to the public just one evening).

Each Art Hack Day event has a theme, and this one is called Deluge.

The increased severity and frequency of extreme weather events, including recent years’ tropical storm systems, droughts and heat waves, are largely the result of human-induced climate change. In addition to widespread damage across the Atlantic seaside, Sandy’s flooding in New York’s Zone A confronted many artists and galleries directly with the reality of their environment, bringing undeniable gravity to a crisis that often seems distant. Decades of postponement and self-deceit will have to come to a close. But what comes next?

Come on out to Pioneer Works for the exhibition this Saturday, January 31st, starting at 7pm.


What is a border?

From Jason Kottke’s weblog:

Today I learned that the US government considers the US border as extending 100 miles into the country. This means that states like Maine, Michigan, and Florida are entirely within the border area and 2/3 of the US population lives within the border.


In an update to the post he explains that the border is actually more complicated than that. “Precise” and “linear” seem not at all how you would describe how borders actually behave in the world. There’s the 100 mile wide extended border, the functional equivalent border, and within those, the physical terrain where border stops occur and humans start getting involved. What your rights to privacy are in these areas seems pretty open to legal interpretation, and those rights are often abused by border patrol officers.

In addition to the This American Life episode he links to, it also reminds me of the On The Media series about the experience of being detained. It also makes me think of Francis Alÿs’s performance/video The Green Line where he physically traced the “green line” border through Jerusalem using a can of green paint.


Random Darknet

Kind of along the lines of Google Will Eat Itself, but for darknet goods:

An automated online shopping bot with a budget of $100 a week in Bitcoin, is programmed to do a very specific task: go to one particular marketplace on the Deep Web and make one random purchase a week with the provided allowance. The purchases have all been compiled for an art show in Zurich … the programmers came home one day to find a shipment of 10 ecstasy pills, followed by an apparently very legit falsified Hungarian passport.

The article is mainly concerned with the question of “is it legal?” This, to me, seems like a terrible metric for an art project.

Link via New Aesthetic

The State of Detention: Performance, Politics, and the Cuban

Cuba may be an island but its culture does not exist solely for local consumption. Bruguera’s foreign audience is the only one at present that can easily consume the flow of information about her artistic proposals, political views, and serial detentions. The Cuban people remain outside the picture so to speak, but Cuba’s status as an art world superpower comes under scrutiny.


Star Wars and Modernism

John Powers aka @starwarsmodern:

Earlier this week on twitter I ‘tweeted’ what might be thought of as an 8-bit art history lecture. By “8-Bit” I mean that, in the same way an 8-bit portrait is accurate, if radically simplified, this is a blocky generalized history. I was spurred to give this lecture after Todd Florio passed on the artist, Tom Sachs’ observation that “Darth Vader IS Hitler. Yoda IS Buddha.” Sachs owns Foamcore, police barricades, and can make an almost entirely air-tight claim on NASA, but Star Wars is mine. Sorry Tom.

I’m pretty sure this is what the internet was invented for.

Darth Vader is a Modernist
“Darth Vader was not a German Fascist, he was an American fascist (lowercase f)”


Machine Project Documentary

This video by David Fenster was created two years ago, but it’s new to me (as are the other Machine Project videos).

Machine Project and Mark Allen are among my favorite things in Los Angeles. Mark gave a good interview on Bad At Sports about his year-long residency at the Hammer Museum (my favorite LA museum!).