Sunday, March 28, 2010

Plymouth: The Imagination Age

The dimensions of The Imagination Age, our 1000-inch neighborhood in Plymouth, the first colony in Loveland, is shown above at 25x40 inches.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inchvestor Profile: Ken Hudson -- "100 Squirrels in Loveland"

The Black Squirrel, part of a collection of urban art that Ken Hudson may be including in his Loveland inches.(Image and art credit: Ken Hudson)

Inchvestor Profile
Name: Ken Hudson
Number of Inches: 100

Ken Hudson is a Canadian visual and theatrical artist, performer, digital media consultant, and Managing Director of the Virtual World Design Centre at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, near Toronto.

He is perhaps better known for his ground-breaking work using the virtual world of Second Life to train Canadian Border Guards, which led to significantly improved grades on students’ critical skills tests, taking scores from a 56% success in 2007, to 95% at the end of 2008 after the simulation was instituted.

Ken will be documenting his involvement in Loveland on his new blog "100 Squirrels in Loveland."

What inspired you to buy inches in Loveland?

Obviously, there's the character of Jerry [Paffendorf] and his bon vivance. People want to be involved in ideas he's pushing forward.

It connected really strongly with my creative past. I used to create theater in alternative venues. In Canada my claim to fame is I adapted Shakespeare's Henry V to an Ice Hockey arena -- with heavy metal music and fighting with sticks. Before that I did a show in an store window on Queen Street in Toronto in 1999. [Here's a video clip.]

This idea that Jerry was going to retrieve some of these ideas -- using alternative venues, using venue as a space for expression. In other words the venue itself becomes part of the entire narrative. Those concepts are really appealing to me. Then the idea that he would be blurring the boundary between virtual worlds, augmented reality, site-specific art.

How do you perceive Loveland and what has it inspired you to do with your inches?

I see it specifically as a creative space. There's no promotional or corporate angle.

Last fall I started doing a bit of stencil graffitti art. Where I live, we have black squirrels that hop across the road all the time. So I cut a stencil of a hopping black squirrel as a way to capture that image. Then I put it in some strategic locations in our town. (See above) [Ken says he may incorporate the Black Squirrel into the expression of his inches.]

What's your current vision for how you're going to use your inches?

I see it completely as self-expression, finding images or populating the space -- physical, virtual or both with primary artistic intent. Part of my work doing performance in alternative venues, everything around it becomes part of the performance.

It's less a group show and more a collaborative art piece. I want to keep my points fluid so that I can adapt to what's around me and respond to it. I don't want to create a monolith here.

Whatever I do there, I expect to grow from the collective experience.

Kenny Hubble, Hudson's Second Life persona.

Do you imagine using your inches across platforms?

I see it as something I want to have maximum flexibility with. The squirrel may be virtual or augmented reality. The similarity between the public performance work I've done all the way to Second Life is that it all builds on the environment. It's not art that's happening in a glass box that doesn't have any relationship to anything around -- just the opposite. Everything around it changes it. If you're doing a show on the street and a bus comes by, it's part of the show.

Is it a physical project for virtual art or a virtual project with a physical location? Those are all salient questions for contemporary art as we move forward into the century. I think it is experimental in the best way. I don't think there is an over-arching artistic intention. I think there is a really neat idea. One idea that isn't even explicitly mentioned is that you could even buy real estate in Detroit for $500. I mean, that's a huge social issue that is entrenched in this concept.

What does that say for people in economically depressed areas. Or to people that don't have access to fine art or virtual worlds? What does it say to those people? To start to envision what land could be used for, what contemporary art is.

Whether it answers all these questions or not, it certainly raises all of them. To me, that's incredibly exciting.

You can follow Ken's involvement in Loveland at his project blog 100 Squirrels in Loveland.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Loveland on NPR's All Things Considered

[cross-posted from The Imagination Age -- written by Rita J. King]

Plymouth is the first full colony of inches in the Loveland project in Detroit. The yellow block of 1000 inches is my neighborhood, The Imagination Age. Loveland is being featured today on NPR's "All Things Considered." (Click here to listen to the archive)

What is Loveland?

It's an experiment in the micro-ownership of real estate, economic revitalization and cultural development.

It's an art project.

It's a statement about creating something new and unexpected.

Yes, it's about a guy selling a million square inches for a dollar each. With so many people out of work and seeking new ways to make money, create connections, excitement, fun and new ideas about the way communities work--that's a visionary way to get something going in an economy that promises to steamroll people who fail to freshen their skills, update perspectives and figure out new ways to pay bills.

Me, Jerry and our friend Tish Shute.

Sarah Hulett, the insightful journalist who interviewed me and Loveland founder Jerry Paffendorf, started off by saying that she wanted to understand the thinking behind the project.

I'm frequently asked why Jerry, who splits his time between the coasts, chose Detroit for this project. Why not? Why shouldn't a young, provocative artist move to Detroit and get something going? Is there some unwritten rule of etiquette that says we must avoid American cities in crisis? Detroit was once a city of the future, and that blueprint from the past is greatly appreciated by Jerry, who slept over at the Imagination Age Salon last night before catching a top-of-the-morning flight back to Detroit. We were up all night discussing plans for the future of Loveland and Detroit, ways we can explore Square, for example, to raise much-needed funds for local initiatives.

Sarah Hulett thoughtfully went back to interview the two little girls who live in the house next to Loveland, Celeste Moore (left, 11) and Ricki Collins, 9. In fact, their house is the only house left on the block. Ricki said she hopes the inchvestors will come and visit her. I am planning a visit soon.

Sarah Hulett asked me how Loveland might benefit the local population in Detroit. I don't know yet, but in order to find out I've opened up a block of 100 inches within the 1000 inch Imagination Age neighborhood in the Plymouth colony, a network that includes many notable residents already, including IBM Senior Research Fellow Grady Booch, WIRED writer Alexis Madrigal, filmmaker Josh Asen and educator Liz Dorland, to name a few. If you have an idea, even a tiny one, and imagination enough to envision how big you might make an inch, ping me on Twitter or leave a comment on this blog post.

I'm working hard to turn my inches into opportunities to connect people in Detroit with a larger community of innovators around the world, and I need your help, your ideas, your support and most of all, your imagination. Inches are tiny, but I hope you'll think big. Technology is a prism held up to the bright beam of the imagination.

[NPR: Inchvesting in Detroit: A Virtual Realty]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Want an Inch?

The Imagination Age in the Plymouth colony in Loveland, shown above in yellow, and the rest of the colony, in all its inchy splendor-in-the-grass, is shown around it.

Want an inch?

Yes, Loveland's first colony, Plymouth, is full--but you can still get in on the experiment. I have 1000 inches in Plymouth, a neighborhood currently called the Imagination Age. Maybe, like the newly minted Google, Kansas, the name will change once we all get set up, but for now, we're going with the Imagination Age.

Neighbors in the Imagination Age include the brilliant writer Alexis Madrigal, IBM Research Fellow and all-around creative genius Grady Booch, filmmaker Josh Asen (who directed the video above), educator Liz Dorland, Tiffany heir and designer Stephen Burlingham, Tony Award winning production designer Richard Hoover & actor John Ventimiglia, to name a few. The purpose of this experiment in micro-ownership of real estate is to see how big you can make your inch, or inches. In the meantime, the neighbors are starting to get together. If you want to be part of the neighborhood, ping me on Twitter or leave a comment on this post and tell us why.

Follow @RitaJKing and LOVELAND founder Jerry Paffendorf, @makeloveland, on Twitter.