DEC 13, 2013 – 8pm – 260 Richardson St – THREE SPEAKERS


DEC 13, 2013 – 8pm – 260 Richardson St – THREE SPEAKERS

Charter Citizen
by Tyler Coburn
In October 2012, the Supreme Court of Honduras forced closure on the latest experiment in neoliberal expansionism, ruling against the constitutionality of free cities within its borders. The ill-fated endeavor dates back to the 2009 TED conference, when liberal economist Paul Romer took the floor to pitch “charter cities”: autonomous city-states, within the territory of host countries, subject to the market-friendly jurisdiction of credible guarantor nations. Autonomous laissez-faire utopias, of course, are not new to the developing world, which has periodically served as a sketchpad for the capitalist dreamer. This talk will highlight a few cautionary tales in recent libertarian history, drawing on my firsthand experience at the conferences, in the office lobbies, and along the money trails of certain enterprises.

The Aesthetics of Pi by Evan Daniel Smith
Pi is comprised of meaningless, random numbers — so how does one go about memorizing it? It turns out that one of the most effective methods is also one of the most gratifying: breaking pi up into a series of beautiful patterns. This is a serious (but rewarding) task which involves both recognizing overt patterns as well as inventing one‘s own aesthetic associations. From simple, rhythmic patterns (0700707) to conceptual approaches, this talk will examine what it is that makes pi so memorable.

A Quick History of Typography and Fonts by Leslie Gill

Tyler Coburn is an artist and writer living and working in New York City.

Leslie Gill is an architect based in New York.

Evan Smith Evan Smith is a Long Island painter whose work invokes comparisons between art and science. He has memorized pi to 10,000 digits; never having taken part in memory sport competitions, he recently wrote the first 2,900 digits from memory at the Cathouse FUNeral gallery.

December 14, 2012 – 8pm


December 14, 2012 – 8pm

Payday Drunks and Ten-Cent Coffee– Glimpses of Everyday Life in Crime Fiction by Jon Natchez
American crime fiction typically focuses on corners of American society ignored by other genres. With burnt-out, broke, and desperate protagonists moving through burnt-out, broke, and desperate worlds, these novels parenthetically show the reader snapshots of fascinating and rarely seen ways of life. From Jim Thompson’s destitute 1950s America to Elmore Leonard’s disintegrating Detroit to George Pelecanos’s inner-city D.C., this talk will survey how and why these authors (and others) document American lives that remain largely hidden from public view.

The Secrets of South Jersey by Carlene Bauer
South Jersey is the forgotten and unknown bottom half of the state, oriented toward Philadelphia instead of New York City. It is said to be more redneck than North Jersey, perhaps because here lies much of the farmland that gives the Garden State its bewildering nickname; this impression is furthered by the accent, which is Philadelphia’s accent, not New York’s. Bruce Springsteen is not its son. But South Jersey has given birth to or played host to these legends, real or imagined: Patti Smith, the Jersey Devil, L. Ron Hubbard, and Walt Whitman. It is the home of RCA Victor, Campbell’s soup, the Pine Barrens, and the most dangerous city in America. As you might surmise from this partial list of secrets, South Jersey is strangely urban and strangely rural–and strangely haunted. And yet it still remains largely unsung as a geographical region. Carlene Bauer, a native daughter, will take you on a tour.

The Grave is Empty (explained) by David Dixon
Taking cues from the complete title of Gustave Courbet’s 1855 masterpiece The Artist’s Studio, a real allegory summing up seven years of my artistic and moral life, artist and filmmaker David Dixon will moonlight as an art historian and philosopher by reading this painting together with Courbet’s A Burial at Ornans, which was painted seven years earlier, using the famous paradoxes of the pre-Socratic Zeno and the myth of Narcissus, leading to surprising insights into the genre of landscape, immortality and social responsibility.

Jon Natchez is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter/composer currently living in Brooklyn. Called “Indie Rock’s Most Valuable Sideman” by NPR, he was a member of the celebrated group Beirut, and has performed and recorded with David Byrne, St. Vincent, Spoon, Passion Pit, Zooey Deschanel and many others. He is currently a member of the group Yellow Ostrich.

Carlene Bauer is the author of Not That Kind of Girl, a memoir, and the novel Frances and Bernard, which will be published by Houghton Mifflin in February. She has written for n + 1, Slate, and Salon. Her zip code is 11211.

David Dixon works as a painter, sculptor, actor, writer, photographer, video artist, and filmmaker. His two feature length films, Unloosened and Root and David Dixon is dead. have shown across New York, the second winning Best Narrative Feature at the Queens World Film Festival in 2012. He lives and works in New York.

April 24, 2012 – 7pm


April 24, 2012 – 7pm

King for a Day
by Ned Beauman
Every king, on the day of his coronation, probably assumes he’ll rule for a hundred years like the great Emperor Sunin of Japan. But some kings don’t quite manage it. Luis Filipe of Portugal, for instance, ruled for about 20 minutes: that was how long he managed to outlive his father before bleeding to death when the royal family were attacked by terrorists. Louis XIV of France also ruled for about 20 minutes: that was how long he dithered about signing a document of abdication that he was supposed to sign at the same time as his father. Even a slightly longer stint can be a real kick in the teeth if, like Milan Obrenovic II of Serbia, you spend all 26 days of it in a coma and you never even find out you’re the king. Ned Beauman talks about the special fascination he has for these sad, pointless, truncated “reigns”.

Librarians, Nazis and the Return of the Repressed by R.H. Lossin
Why are librarians obsessed with Nazis? Could it be that Nazis burned books and are thus the archenemies of librarians? Or could it be almost the opposite?  A big part of being a librarian is actually discarding and destroying books. Usually this destruction is in the name of preservation–the practice of “destroying to preserve” has been promoted by the Library of Congress since the 1950s. But does destroying a book and turning it into say, microfiche actually preserve it? Or does destroying a book just destroy it?  From the library of Alexandria to a retrofitted space simulation chamber, this talk looks at various ways that books have been kept and not kept throughout history and the strange and complicated psychology of librarianship in the digital age.

What Is Deadpan? Portraits of The Neutral Face by Jonah Corne
In the photography of governmental identification—passports, driver’s licences, mugshots—the subject is instructed to pose “with a neutral facial expression.” But is this mandate a fantasy? Does the face have a default position? How exactly does one express an absence of expression? Jonah Corne explores these questions by pooling some thoughts on Duchenne’s electrophysiological studies of facial expression in nineteenth-century France, the “Kuleshov Experiment” of Soviet montage theory, the “zero-degree” fascinations of Roland Barthes, and several film actors famous for moments or whole modes of blank-face comportment, including Sessue Hayakawa, Buster Keaton, Greta Garbo, and Elia Suleiman.

Ned Beauman is the author of Boxer, Beetle, winner of the UK Writers’ Guild Award for Best Fiction Book and the Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Debut Fiction. He was born in London and currently lives in New York.

R.H. Lossin is a librarian and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She has written for The Nation, The Brooklyn Rail, and New York Arts Magazine.

Jonah Corne teaches film studies at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. His most recent essay, “Gods and Nobodies: The Extra, The October Jubilee, and Josef von Sternberg’s The Last Command,” appears in a special issue of Film International devoted to late Hollywood silent film melodrama.

Kelly Pratt (Bright Moments) is best known for his brass work with Beirut, Arcade Fire, and LCD Soundsystem, among others. He can currently be heard busking about with his new band Bright Moments, who recently released their debut Natives on the Luaka Bop label.

January 15, 2012 – 7pm


January 15, 2012 – 7pm

Carpets for Airports:
being part of an ongoing investigation into the aesthetics, history, and mythology of the airport carpet, the largest indoor works of art in the world.

On the Battleship that Was Parked for Three Years in Union Square:
The USS Recruit, a full-scale mock battleship that was parked in Union Square for three years during and after World War I. Although I’m a student of American history, this isn’t a topic about which I could make a proper paper — nor is wartime propaganda, more generally, a subject I study. I hope this counts as something in which I’m not an expert.

Next Slide Please:
Like the typical academic talk, Next Slide Please makes a series of claims and arrives at a thesis. But it does so without the most basic feature of a lecture: words. Using the props of the classroom – a series of slides, a piece of chalk, a blackboard – this presentation sketches new relationships between sets of images from 20th century America. As language emerges out of the constellation of slides, the audience participates in a wordless argument. If only our own American history lessons had been as silent.

George Pendle writes for the Financial Times, Frieze, Cabinet, Icon and Bidoun. He is the author of Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of John Whiteside Parsons, The Remarkable Millard Fillmore, and Death: A Life. He has written signs for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

Brian Sholis is a writer, editor, and a Ph.D. candidate in the department of history at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. He is the co-editor of The Uncertain States of America Reader (Sternberg Press, 2006), an anthology of writing on recent art and politics. From 2004 to 2009 he was an editor at Artforum. He contributes regularly to that magazine, and his writing has also appeared in Aperture, the Village Voice, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Bookforum, Frieze, and other periodicals. His essays have been published in catalogues accompanying exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and other institutions. He is married to artist Julia Dault.

Sarah Halpern works as a projectionist in New York City, hangs out with the Optipus Film Club, makes films for live performance and plays in a band named Louise. She has very little expertise in general and has never given a lecture.

December 11, 2011 – 8pm


December 11, 2011 – 8pm

An Impure History of the Gold Standard by Sean Tommasi
This talk investigates the gold standard through the original hipster philosopher, Georg Simmel (1858-1918), whose incisive writings on fashion, parties and money make him urgently relevant to the problems of modern life. Linking money to gold is a way of limiting the production of money and thereby decreasing the risk of inflation. The debates surrounding the gold standard monetary policy run throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and have recently been renewed with especial intensity as experts try to figure out a way to fix the economy. What usually gets left out of the debates is the broader significance of the problem: how it bears on social relations, artistic experience, love and the meaning of life itself.

Of Allergies and the Man: A (literary) History of Hay Fever by Cecily Swanson
Certain diseases have stolen all the literary limelight. This talk pushes TB, plague, and Spanish flu to the end of the shelf to make room for one of history’s more friendly foes – Hay Fever. The aesthetic merits of this springtime scourge may be scant, but allergies nevertheless hold a certain place in the annals of the 20th century literature. The poetics of pollen has, at the very least, something to tell us about masculinity, modernity, and the marketplace.

How I [Stole] Certain of My Books by Sam Frank
“I have always been meaning to explain the way in which I came to [steal] certain of my books [Dogstar, House of Stairs, The Aesthetics of Resistance, Coup d'Etat: The Technique of Revolution, New Impressions of Africa]. It involved a very special method. And it seems to me that it is my duty to reveal this method, since I have the feeling that future writers may perhaps be able to exploit it fruitfully.” With illustrations by Joanna Neborsky, after Henri-A. Zo.

When Joanna Neborsky discovered scissors, she was six. Then somebody threw rock, and everybody died. She makes picture books, like Illustrated Three-Line Novels: Félix Fénéon.

Sean Tommasi is a PhD student in comparative literature at Emory University. He is writing his dissertation on money and taste in nineteenth-century discourses. His knowledge of finance, monetary policy, business and economics is amateur at best — he decided on the topic when he saw the original Wall Street movie for the first time like a year ago.

Cecily Swanson is a graduate student in Cornell’s Department of English. Her dissertation “A Circle is a Necessity: Female modernists and the Aesthetics of Sociability” considers how writers in the post-suffrage era negotiated the disjunction between a bohemian lifestyle on the one hand and a modernist investment in autonomy, exclusivity, and purity on the other

“Modestly [Sam Frank has] evolved nearly 25 story-plots. [Sam Frank has] been researching, expanding and elaborating on these 25 plots since many months. Currently, [Sam Frank is] concentrating on a mega-novel entitled ‘DOGSTAR.’”

September 23, 2011 – 8pm


September 23, 2011 – 8pm

What is Pretentiousness and Does it Make Me Look Good? by Dan Fox
The word ‘pretentious’ is frequently used as a quick way of dismissing books, rubbishing exhibitions, putting down movies, slagging off music, insulting clothes or criticizing attitudes. But what does it really mean to call something pretentious? Would the world be a better place without pretension, or just more boring?

Or, to put it another way; interrogating, challenging and dancing along the boundaries of Postmodern dilletantism with particular reference to Brian Eno’s baldness, Mick Jagger’s sociopathy, class war in the late films of Joseph Losey, the struggle for hegemony in jazz and pop music as articulated by The Mighty Boosh, and Sartorial Normativity in Harlem Drag Balls.

Consistency by Tyler Rowland
Italo Calvino spent most of 1985 writing Six Memos for the Next Millennium—a monumental task of prioritizing certain special qualities within literature that he saw as valuable for the next thousand years. Essays on Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, and Consistency were to be delivered as part of Harvard University’s famous Charles Eliot Norton Lecture series, but Calvino died the night before his departure for Cambridge, MA, leaving five complete memos on his desk ready to be packed the next morning. His widow, Ester Calvino; his translator, Patrick Creagh; and Harvard University Press published these beautiful essays in 1988. The sixth memo, “Consistency”, was never written. Supposedly, Calvino had it worked out in his head but planned to put pen to paper during his year-long residency at Harvard. Clearly his sudden death surprised even him.

Making Faces: A Genealogy of the Emoticon by Molly Kleiman & Gillian Young
According to Yahoo! Messenger, emoticons are “little characters” who “spice up your IM conversations and show friends how you feel.” In this talk, we’ll map the formal evolution, use, and reception of these symbols – from the “grotesque fancies” peopling the margins of monastic manuscripts, to the typeset faces born of 19th-century publishing, to the first “winky face” on an ARPANET message board. How do these “little characters” punctuate the development of new media? What do they say about our persistent anxieties about communicating feeling through text, with text, of text?

Dan Fox is a writer, musician and Senior Editor of frieze magazine.

Tyler Rowland was born in 1978 in Reno, Nevada, raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and lives in New York. Rowland is an information-gatherer, a material-collector, and an object/tool-maker. He believes that art has social value. He uses his life, his work, his family, and his home/studio as departure points and often sacrifices or copies objects of personal value. He has shown at venues including Mass MoCA (North Adams, MA), SAPS (Mexico City), Murray Guy Gallery (NYC), GASP (Boston), More Fools in Town (Turin, Italy), and at ESL Projects, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, and Eungie Joo’s Six Months (all in LA). He has a BA from Vassar College and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. He has taught at Northeastern University, Massachusetts College of Art, Harvard University, and Edward Everett Elementary in the Boston area. Currently he teaches sculpture at Vassar College.

Molly Kleiman is a deputy editor of Triple Canopy, an online magazine, curatorial platform, and workspace; co-director of The Back Room, a project that facilitates workshops and exhibitions between Iran and the US; and the coordinator of the Writing Program at NYU’s Gallatin School.

Gillian Young is a PhD candidate in Art History at Columbia University, where she studies intersections of performance and technology.

DJ NO REQUESTS C. Spencer Yeh was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1975, studied radio/television/film at Northwestern University, repped Cincinnati, Ohio over a decade, and is now based in Brooklyn, New York. Musically, Yeh is active both as a solo artist and improviser, as well as with his project, Burning Star Core. Yeh has collaborated with a deep and ever-growing list of artists and groups, including Tony Conrad, New Humans with Vito Acconci, Thurston Moore, Okkyung Lee, Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano, John Wiese, Carlos Giffoni, Rafael Toral, Nate Wooley, Don Dietrich and Ben Hall (as The New Monuments), Amy Granat with Jutta Koether, Brian Chase, Justin Lieberman, Prurient, and Jandek.

July 29, 2011 – 8pm


July 29, 2011 – 8pm

Fighting about Steely Dan: Notes on Joy by Peter Coviello
Is there any uncooler band to be in love with than Steely Dan – Steely Dan, with their jazz-nerd preciousness, their coke-binge esoterica, their yacht-rock sensibilities? Can you think of any band whose aesthetic DNA is less present in the vast and otherwise cheerfully cannibalizing world of post-punk? Peter Coviello tells the story of an epic fight about Steely Dan, and of the discovery of a secret coherence running through their first decade’s output. And he speaks up a bit, too, against the disparagement of what is sometimes called hipster affectation, suggesting along the way that there are, in the fights we sustain around the objects that most delight us, styles of engagement with the world governed less by any economy of cool than by elements far less invidious: things like ardor, joyousness, captivation, love.

Modern Pseudoscripts by Alexander Nagel
Gibberish, nonsense, glossographia, writing in tongues, ornament, style, cryptography, geomancy, calligraphy, devil talk, noise, these are some of the themes raised by the question of pseudscripts today. “To cut a groove in language by a foreign language and to carry language to its musical limit–that is what it means to have a style.” (Gilles Deleuze)

Cool Waves / Deep Break by Myranda Gillies
Cool Waves/ Deep Break provides an unedited introduction to a cacophony of wave styles from the wet ‘n wild to the low and loud. Deep sea sounds and the big fatties that they may or may not be coming from and Middle-America mega-mall straight-edge teen tripping trends and where you can download your own MDMA will be some of the flotsam and jetsam to wash up…

Peter Coviello teaches at Bowdoin College, in Maine, and has written books about intimacy, American literature, Walt Whitman, sex in the nineteenth-century – though not, as yet, about Steely Dan.

Alexander Nagel writes about art from the Middle Ages to the present and teaches art history at NYU.

Myranda Gillies is a designer of textiles and other objects that will be useful in the future.

June 25, 2011 – 8pm


June 25, 2011 – 8pm

DoubleVision: Notes and Drawings on the US Military Presence in post-Cold War Asia by Sukjong Hong
Sukjong Hong discusses her (secret) research on the US military presence in post-Cold War Asia. As an American citizen Hong has had special access to US bases overseas, but as a Korean she has also been able to walk freely in base-towns. In this talk, Hong tries to make sense of this double perspective in creative ways, through drawing and modified photographs.

Analog Edmonton: Documenting a City’s Unseen Properties by Maegan Magathan
Maegan Magathan discusses the ubiquity of cell phone photography and the role it plays for “place-making” and civic identity. Using Edmonton, Alberta as a case-study (a Canadian prairie town dressed up as a big city), Maegan contemplates beauty in a place nobody would ever want to visit.

Ungentlemanly Behavior: the Mid-Century Misfit Revolution in American Mountaineering by Seppe Kuehn
Mountaineering in the early 20th century was largely the territory of state-sanctioned expeditions and exclusive European climbing clubs for the wealthy. Post-war, the vanguard of climbing relocated to the American West, commandeered by a new generation of dissident mountaineers who innovated new means and methods of ascent as they re-defined which peaks were climbable and who could climb them. This talk explores the mid-century transition in mountaineering methods and culture through the influences of three climbers of the misfit era: Royal Robbins (the philosopher), Yvon Chouinard (the engineer) and Fred Beckey (the vagabond).

Sukjong Hong researches and writes by moonlight for online publications and blogs, including the Institute for Policy Studies and Triple Canopy. She studied urban planning and architecture, but spends a lot of time organizing campaigns, drawing, and dreaming up art interventions. She has traveled to and coordinated study trips and programs visiting South Korea, North Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan.

Maegan Magathan is a Masters student in architecture, though she often finds herself fascinated with smaller things such as Pyrex crockery and orphaned chairs. She currently tends to a public forum that encourages the playful reinterpretation of shared space in her hometown:

Seppe Kuehn is a semi-retired amateur mountaineer and a full time scientist.

February 20, 2011 – 6pm


February 20, 2011 – 6pm

Unsolicited Architecture by Bjarke Engels
Bjarke Ingels accounts for architectural practice BIG’s explorations of urban pro-action. see video…

Unpacking the Hoodie by Anthony Graves
What do E.T., St. Francis, Rocky Balboa, Jeru the Damaja, and your dad all have in common? They all wore that mantle of cozy privacy, the hoodie. Anthony Graves speculates on the various lives of this ubiquitous article, from ritual to function and back again, through a series of what good art historians call false homologies (the Djellaba, the Goggle Jacket), with a detour into tactical political attire, and we may just get to some semblance of truth under all of that double-knit cotton. see video…

A Short Walk Through Chromatic Garden of Graph Theory by Neil Freeman
Although pigeon-holed as mere computation, Mathematics is actually the study of patterns and the complicated implications of simple rules. Graphs are examples of the basic patterns that mathematicians study. They’re easy to understand, beautiful, and all around us. No, not charts with x- and y-axes, but diagrams with points connected by lines. Subway maps, flow charts, wiring diagrams, and organizational charts are all graphs. Even a map, like the map of the United States, is a graph. Graph Theory is the study of these utterly basic and devilishly complicated creatures. Neil Freeman’s lecture will cover some basic concepts in Graph Theory, and will especially cover its application to coloring in maps, which produces the astoundingly powerful Four-Color Rule, one of the greatest results in twentieth-century Mathematics. Although this is a lecture on math, no multiplication or division required (OK, there might be a little, but not with numbers bigger than four). see video…

Bjarke Ingels is a Danish architect.

Anthony Graves is a visual artist and occasional writer living in Brooklyn, New York. He is a founding member the Camel Collective, and founding janitor of, an online archive of art and social practice. When not applying for grants, he spends his time erasing newspapers.

Neil Freeman is an urban planner and artist whose work focuses on cities and maps. He studied art and math at Oberlin College, and planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He lives in Brooklyn.

January 29, 2011 – 8pm


January 29, 2011 – 8pm

Bacon, Bacon, and Bacon: the philosopher, the painter and the porcine product by Clara Chapin Hess
A way to amplify anything is to break it and to make an anatomy of it in several parts and to examine it according to several circumstances”, writes Sir Francis Bacon, the 17th century philosopher and scientist, one of a trio of homographic subjects butchered in this lecture. The other two are Francis Bacon, the 20th century painter, and bacon, the popular porcine breakfast meat. Through visceral, analytical, and historical contexts these namesake figures collide to draw a triangle of deformity, beauty, and catastrophe.

Breaking and Entering Into Tradition: The Vaudevillains New Years Brigade by Daniel Denvir
Each and every New Year’s Day, thousands of white ethnic Philadelphians march down South Broad Street dressed up like Mardi Gras Indians, wenches and the like, shoes spray-painted gold. The parade is culturally rich, but is far from inclusive and has been racially divisive. What are young artist-types doing in this parade, wearing sparkling spandex and riding pink unicorns?

On Everyday Magic and Being Lost in Wyoming by Justin Armstrong
Wyoming. Welcome to the middle of everywhere. Along roads that almost don’t exist, the Great Plains rip out long strands of empty space: farmhouses exploded by forgetting, one-person towns, bullet holes. This talk suggests that there is beauty and magic in the negative space of culture, in the places overlooked and seen only in sidelong glances at 80 MPH. It recommends drifting as an anthropological practice and being lost as an art form. Featuring pretty pictures and stories about guns, cheap gin, and street fighting in the absence of streets.

Clara Chapin Hess is a visual artist working in Brooklyn, NY.

Daniel Denvir is a journalist in Philadelphia and a member of Vaudevillains NYB.

Justin Armstrong is a cultural anthropologist and human geographer teaching at Wellesley College in Boston. His research examines the visual, narrative and material culture of isolated and abandoned settlements throughout North America. He produces experimental electronic music under the names kimonophonic and Wooden Teeth, and is a sometimes drawing-maker, printmaker, filmmaker, and photographer.