Coilhouse Presents: Matthew Borgatti’s OWS Bandanna Remix Pack!


Photo, model and wardrobe styling: Numidas Prasarn.

Last fall, artist and maker Matthew Borgatti (previously on Coilhouse) released a snappy Guy Fawkes bandanna in solidarity with OWS in his Etsy Store. “This is the hanky code for revolution,” wrote Matthew. Perfect for protecting oneself from “sudden dust storms and outbreaks of authoritarianism,” the bandanna’s design includes tips for peaceful protesting, advice for dealing with pepper spray, phone numbers to call in case of arrest, and the words “Never Forget / Never Forgive / Expect Us” emblazoned on the corners. (The disclaimer reads, “all advice offered on this bandana should not be construed as legal council. Consult a lawyer in the event of any involvement with the law. If you cite a bandana as your legal council in court you will be laughed at by a man in a wig.”)

The bandanna quickly went viral thanks to BoingBoing, Reddit (featuring the best comment thread ever) and Laughing Squid. The mask was soon adopted by artists involved in the Occupy Movement, including Neil Gaiman and Molly Crabapple, as well as protesters nationwide.

Debuting here on Coilhouse under the Share-Alike Attribution Non-Commercial license, we proudly present the OWS Bandana Remix Pack! The zip file (1.7 MB) contains elements to remix as masks, prints, bandanas, and posters. Included are vector files with elements, stencils, and a copy of the full text on the bandana. “If you’d like to create your own Fawkes bandana,” writes Matthew, “I’d suggest cutting out a stencil on acetate and bleach printing.” Add your own layers, create new patterns and print as many as you want.

Click here to download the OWS Bandana Remix Pack! And do send us or Matthew the artwork, posters or fashion that results. We’d love to see what you come up with. After the cut, a brief interview with the maker.

Are you at all worried about the film studio suing you?
I am, a little, as I think I’ve got a solid case for the independence of this art from the works that it references, but can easily be shut down by the studio on a whim. I don’t have the financial weight to do anything but to submit to an injunction or C&D, as I can’t afford the kind of legal representation it takes to swat off Time Warner. Guy Fawkes has gone from a person, to a caricature represented in mask and effigy, to a comic book character, to a film character, to an iconic mask, to the face of an ambiguous entity, to a symbol for revolution and direct action for social change. How a single company could own all that baffles me.

“Yu + Me” by Megan Rose Gedris

Megan Rose Gedris’ comic Yu + Me is billed as a surreal lesbian romance- and it’s hard to say more than that with out spoiling it. In fact, this is one of those situations where, for some people, even mentioning the spoilers may spoil it. If you prefer stories in which things are what they seem, Yu + Me may not be your cuppa. But if you enjoy adventure, love, and a decadent proliferation of visual styles, then dive in. It’s a complete story, just short of 850 pages. Take a weekend and indulge.

“Athena’s Curse, Medusa’s Fate” — Created by Jessica Rowell, Nina Pak, and Elizabeth Maiden

Sometimes, when creative and inspired people get together to collaborate on making imagery in a specific vein that no one’s attempted before, a special kind of magic happens. Case in point, this elaborate photo series independently produced by Jessica Rowell of J-Chan Designs and photographer Nina Pak in cahoots with model Elizabeth Maiden:

Κατάρα της Αθηνάς, η μοίρα της Μέδουσας
Αθηνάς: Elizabeth Maiden
Μέδουσας: Jessica Rowell of J-Chan’s Designs
Photography: Nina Pak
Costume Design & Styling: J-Chan’s Designs
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Ancient Greek lore and steampunk culture clash, titan style, in a sumptuous mythos-meets-modernity photo series depicting the Goddess Athena (Elizabeth Maiden) and the Gorgon Medusa (Jessica Rowell).

According to legend, the once ravishing Medusa was cursed with a monstrous appearance after “seducing” Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, under the roof of Athena’s sacred temple. Hence, this series title (which, translated into English, means) “Athena’s curse, Medusa’s fate.”

Rowell pulled “inspiration from Desmond Davis’ 1981 film Clash of the Titans, then put an atemporal spin on things by incorporating several contemporary ingredients that “also felt industrial and familiar to alternative culture.”

LONG LIVE RUBULAD. (Keep the Party Going!)

“I had some kind of epiphany about not chasing something in the above-ground world. Something happened in me that I no longer wanted to be in a band that wanted to be famous and go on tour. I just wanted to do something that was ours. I guess it was firmly planting myself in the underground, not after some kind of success that my parents would like.

…In the olden days of New York they had bands and dancing. Dancing and performers of every kind — spoken word, circus, whatever — in the same venue. Places like the Mud Club or Danceteria had a lot of different spaces and a lot of different installations and all kinds of different people went.

And then this weird thing happened when it suddenly became all giant discos and little rock bars. And those people never went to the same place anymore. It seemed like when we started doing Rubulad that people really wanted to be in the same space. They wanted to watch a band and go dance. And be happy.”

~Sari Rubinstein, co-founder of Rubulad, interviewed by Nonsense NYC


Photo via the Essentialist.

Oh, loves. We cover a lot of micropatronage drives on da ‘Haus, but the Rubulad Kickstarter project is especially near and dear. They have been an indescribably huge inspiration to many, many people involved with Coilhouse.

What is Rubulad? Back in 1993, two lovely souls named Sari Rubinstein and Chris Thomas took out a lease on a 5,000 square foot basement in south Williamsburg. Maybe a dozen other people got in on that initial deal, mostly artists and musicians in need of a cheap communal space where they could spread out and work. They all started building up and decorating the space communally. Soon, it became a fun, subterranean hang-out location that drew all sorts of kindred spirits together for dinners, readings, rehearsals, etc.

After a while, Sari, Chris, and their cohorts started throwing parties to cover each month’s rent. Over the course of the next few years, Rubulad (cleverly named with touch-tone letters that corresponded to the space’s phone number)’s space began to evolve, to literally bloom (with vibrant paper flowers, glittering murals, rope vines, colored glass, paper mache sculptures), and the parties developed into these elaborately themed bohemian blow-outs. They. Are. Fucking. AMAZING. For seventeen years now…

(Hang on, let’s take a moment. Seventeen. YEARS.

Yeah.)

…Rubulad has been instrumental in planning and throwing all kinds of events. They’ve already had to move their main warehouse space twice, but their warm, inviting DIY ethic has never faltered or changed; it’s only grown stronger.

Occupy Everywhere: The West Coast

My tour has kept me from spending as much time at the Occupations as I would have liked, so some of these observations were made in brief visits. Writing this piece took me a long time because, as a fan girl of the revolution, I was uncomfortable with my negative feelings towards the occupations – especially in light of such horrendous police brutality in Oakland, CA. But I also believe that opposing opinions, dissent and criticism are very necessary for the movement, and that supporters should not be afraid to voice their concerns and observations.


Photo by Margaret Killjoy.

Oakland

My own visit to Occupy Oakland was brief and pre-dated all the police violence, but it had a lot going for it, a racially diverse crowd, the OWS standards of kitchen, library, and medical tent, its own police, and a feeling of community. Oakland is a city that needs all the forward, peaceful momentum it can get. Oakland is also a very progressive Occupation, pushing for radical actions such as the general strike on November 2nd, and for the peaceful occupation of foreclosed and abandoned properties in Oakland. Those are both brave initiatives. The occupation of foreclosed properties being especially dangerous, not only because of the police force but because Oakland can be a very dangerous city regardless of the police.

Occupy Oakland Reportage, Part II.

There’s been a lot of intense stuff goin’ down in Oakland, California this week. In this post, Myles Boisen shares two more installments of his ongoing documentation and  assessments of #OO with us: “SHUT DOWN”, which was written on November 3rd, 2011, after tens of thousands of protesters marched to the Port of Oakland, and “WHAT NEXT?”,  which was sent out early this morning.  -Mer

SHUT DOWN

Port of Oakland SHUT DOWN
Wells Fargo SHUT DOWN
Bank of America SHUT DOWN
CitiBank SHUT DOWN
Comerica Bank SHUT DOWN
Chase Bank SHUT DOWN
Union Bank SHUT DOWN
Bank of the West SHUT DOWN
Nara Bank SHUT DOWN
T-Mobile SHUT DOWN
Burger King SHUT DOWN
Walgreen’s SHUT DOWN

Highlights of the Oakland general strike:

10 a.m. As I start reading news feeds I see Angela Davis is addressing the early morning crowd at 14th and Broadway. Unconfirmed rumors come and go that the Port of Oakland is already closed, with possible wildcat strike action and trucks unable to get through.

12 p.m. I arrive at Oscar Grant Plaza. On the way over radio coverage on KPFA-FM says that Wells Fargo bank is already shut down. People are streaming continuously toward downtown on foot and on bicycles. The crowd at 14th and Broadway is estimated at 5,000 or more. With friends I tour the area, photographing banks and corporate businesses that have shut their doors due to the strike. The crowd is made up of elders, working people, union representatives, teachers, religious leaders, and schoolchildren present with their parents.

By the BART station we meet Ethel, a senior citizen who is gathering signatures on a petition to end the death penalty in California. One member of our party – Phil, a well-read anarcho-syndicalist – has recently moved to Alameda County, and Ethel suggests that he can go to City Hall to get the requisite voter registration papers. Could City Hall possibly be open today? We go on a mission to find out.

The Anywhere Organ: Open-Source Pipe Organ of the Future

You might know artist Matthew Borgatti as the designer behind Sleek and Destroy, which makes stylish necklaces, earrings and cufflinks based on beloved Internet memes: Pedobear, Courage Wolf, Guy Fawkes. Or you might know him for designing hackerspace passports and passsport stamps, the pillow mace, 3-D printed functional handcuffsKraken eyelashes, a Transmetropolitan panoramalaser-cut leather goggles, etc. In short, he is never-ending source of whimsical, geeky projects, often using involving new technology and an open-source ethic.

Matthew’s latest project is The Anywhere Organ: a huge, mobile, MIDI-controlled pipe organ out of salvaged organ parts. Borgatti currently has almost 50 pipes running through an electronic system that can be played by anything from a keyboard to a laptop to a cell phone, and wants to scale up to create a “room shaking, space filling, world touring monster” that can be installed anywhere, turning any space into an opulent soundscape. Over on the Kickstarter page for this project, Matthew writes:

I’d like to make the Anywhere Organ as large, beautiful, and easy to play as possible. I’d like to create elaborate installations that make music in response to people dancing. I’d like to hybrid with musicians to make Bach concertos in abandoned buildings. I’d like to stun people with the power of this instrument, but I need your help to make that happen.

The Anywhere Organ has reached almost almost half his funding goal, and doesn’t have that much more to go. Rewards are still being revealed; the pipe organ brass knuckles (“for sorting out those Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven/Schubert debates”) are wonderful. Help make this happen!

Occupy Everywhere: The Language of the Occupation

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment of musician, activist and citizen journalist Kim Boekbinder’s ongoing series for Coilhouse, “Occupy Everywhere”. Click here to read her introduction. Don’t miss Jeff Wengrofsky’s recent essay, “The Praise of Motherfuckers“, either.  The blog’s #OWS scrapbook post is also being updated periodically with new links and pertinent clippings.


All photos and video in this post provided by Kim Boekbinder.

On Speech

The participants of Occupy Wall Street have been denied the use of any amplification instruments – no microphones, no loudspeakers. So, to amplify a speech, they use “The People’s Mic”, a technique in which short sentences are repeated in waves (called “generations”) through the audience, sending the message further than the reach of one human voice.

It is quite powerful. It means the audience is listening carefully to learn what they will be repeating, then they repeat clearly what has been said. And because everything is repeated you hear each thing 2-4 times. Repetition has been a powerful pedagogical tool for a long time for a reason: our relationship to words changes when we use them ourselves.

The People’s Mic falls over sometimes, speech gets garbled, speakers get carried away and forget to wait for all the generations to iterate before starting their next line, but the mic is easily recalibrated when this happens.

The technique forces speeches to be made in short bursts which are easily articulated and quick to repeat. There is a rhythm, an art. It feels good to be part of the speech, to be repeating the sentences so that others can hear. We are all in this together. My favorite part is when the speaker introduces themselves.

“My name is Katie.” says the speaker.

“My name is Katie.” First generation of voices.

“My name is Katie.” Second generation of voices.

The weakness of The People’s Mic is that speeches are chopped up into bite size morsels which tend to sound extra “revolutionary.” Everything sounds like a big, epic, shouty thing. And the complex topics, the nuances of the Occupation, cannot be expressed easily in two to three word bursts. Taken as the sparks that are meant to begin conversations the speeches are wonderful: we all heard it, we all said it. Whether we agree or not we can now continue the discussion in smaller groups.

New amplification techniques will need to be found as the crowds grow and split, but for now it’s a great triumph over adversity. And it’s fun.

On Hand Signals

When the General Assembly meets the people use hand signals to convey how they feel about what is being said. The use of hand signals allows the speaker to continue talking without interruption, though the audience is still communicating their approval or disagreement.

Wiggling your fingers to display your agreement with a serious political issue feels silly, but this is a movement that is not afraid to be silly. Have you seen “Occupy Sesame Street”? It’s hilarious. Making fun of your own movement is an amazing tactic. Occupy Wall Street is very serious, but it also has a sense of humor. And who wants a revolution without laughter?

Occupy Everywhere: An Introduction

EDITOR’S NOTE– This is our friend Kim Boekbinder:


Photo by Marianne Bijou.

A musician, artist, and writer, Kim is currently venturing across the United States on her crowd-sourced, pre-sold Impossible Girl Tour. Over the next few weeks, Kim will also attend several Occupy Wall Street demonstrations taking place in various cities that she’s traveling to, and document her experiences on Coilhouse. What follows is her first installment: an introduction, and a call to join the conversation. Thank you, Kim.  ~Mer

_________________________________________________________

On the subway I saw a girl and boy, ages 13 or 14, talking about whether or not to go to the protest.

“It won’t make a difference.” The girl said, “We’ll never change anything.”

“I used to believe like you,” said the boy, “But you always gotta believe that you can make a difference in the world.”

They spoke about the movement and what it means, the First and Second Amendments, how many people lived in their homes, the color of different dog breeds, and dancing the Macarena, before getting off the subway at Fulton St – the stop closest to Liberty Square.

Occupy Wall Street has started a conversation. And right now a lot of that conversation is about the conversation itself.

While exploring the culture of Liberty Square today, I was randomly interviewed four times in the space of one hour, each time by a citizen journalist. One man wanted to make a video for his Facebook page to spread the word. Two young women were collecting interviews for their college newspaper; they weren’t working in any official capacity; they just knew that they needed to get this information back to their school and hoped the paper would publish it. These people came out with cameras, iPads, and pocket audio recorders, to learn why they were here and to share that with the world. And each time I was interviewed, I then interviewed them in return, and we would laugh together at the absurdity of this. We are all amateurs here. We are all experts.

People around America are confused, interested, annoyed, supportive, angry, joyous. But no one seems quite sure what Occupy Wall Street is.

“It’s like the 1960s.”

“It’s the democratic answer to the Tea Party.”

“It’s just dirty hippies.”

There are as many explanations for what Occupy Wall Street is as there are people involved in it.

The energy here is electrifying. We can all feel that something important is happening. And we’re all looking for why or how or who or what it is exactly. But the movement is young, and plastic, it is changing and growing quickly. Politicians who want to co-opt it are not sure what that means. Seasoned journalists are confounded as to how to report this to the world. The minute you think you have it figured out, it slips away and changes, reconfigures itself into something exactly like, but also exactly unlike what you were just looking at.

The power of this movement right now is its openness, its caring organization. There is information everywhere. People who are unsure of whether or not they support the movement are openly invited to engage in the conversation at the info booth. There is a feeling of immediate inclusion, if you want it. Passive observation is also welcomed. Tourists wave as their tour buses pass by. Skeptics dig for signs of failure. Journalists interview each other. Wall Street workers can be seen moving through the crowd, investigating this occupation of their hallowed ground.

Accountability, transparency, communication, nonviolence, and compassion are not just fetishes or dogma here: they are the foundation on which everything that happens next is being built. We have the technology now to ensure instant accountability, transparency, and communication. And we have a history of highly successful compassionate and nonviolent movements to draw from.

So while the movement figures out what it is and how to communicate that to the world, it is also constantly checking itself, holding itself accountable, sloughing off anything that deviates from the message it is still forming. It is no small feat– amazing to watch, even more amazing to be a part of. There is no such thing as a neutral observer here, because each person here is recognized as a vital part of the process.

I’ve been gathering samples of the movement for days: observing, recording, asking, listening to speeches, interviewing people, singing along to songs, wiggling my fingers to express my consent or dissent. I am both passive observer and passionate activist. I know exactly what is going on here, and I don’t know how to tell you. You must read, watch, hear, experience as much of it as you can. You must agree and disagree for yourself.

The conversation is yours, we cannot have it without you.


Liberty Square, October, 2011. Photo by Kim Boekbinder.

In the following days and weeks I will be exploring OWS and other Occupations around America as I tour: NYC, San Francisco, Portland, New Orleans, Boston.

There is continual coverage from many good media sites. My favorites for today:

Coilhouse Can’t Stop Saying THANK YOU. (Epic Post-Fundraiser Gratitude Fest)


The core crew: @yerdua, @nicoles, @ashabeta, @theremina, @nadya, @raindrift, @angeliska, @sfslim

“I am covered in sweat, grit, glitter, leather dye, candle wax, hope & joy. #coilhouse” – @thekateblack, posted the day after. (Exactly how we felt, too.)

This post has been exactly one month in the making, but not because we’ve been flaking on it, trust us. Actually, even in the midst of everything else that’s going on (hoo-whee, there’s a lot going on), we haven’t been able to STOP thinking about it, or adding to it constantly. It’s taken time because we’ve wanted to try our best to give props to every single person who made that fundraising event possible, and beautiful, and memorable. There were so, so many of you. Danged if it didn’t take a friggin’ village.  Thanks for bearing with us, comrades. Thanks for helping us. Thanks for everything. We can’t stop saying thank you.

According to our tabulations, over three-hundred people came out to the Red Lotus Room on Sunday, August 21st, 2011. Most of them braved a torrential summer downpour, sweltering heat, substantial commutes, and a tough time getting out of bed on Monday morning. Approximately two-hundred-and-fifty of these folks were ticket-holding attendees. The remaining fifty-plus consisted of our enormous (mostly volunteer) crew. And let’s not forget the hundreds of others who donated or bid, watched the Livestream remotely, or hung out DJing for us in the Coilhouse Room on Turntable.fm! This was a huge and complex undertaking for all of us, and somehow, it miraculously came together with less than three weeks of planning.


Aerialist Sarah Stewart performs a death-defying drop. Photo by Audrey Penven.

Mer’s take on the whole thing: “I don’t think I’ve hugged that many people, smiled that much or said ‘THANK YOU’ so many times in an eight hour period.” A month later, it already feels like the sweetest, stickiest, sweatiest of dreams. But it wasn’t. It was real. You were real. Because of you, Issue 06 is imminent, and all kinds of new, exciting projects are in the works. Truly, we remain so deeply grateful to all of you, and we want to tell you again, officially and publicly. So here goes….