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Here’s basically how our day went down (hopefully Ill edit this later more, it’s a mess…i was REALLY exhausted when I wrote it):

Left the apartment an hour late, but managed to find a cab which took us fairly close to the mall (17th and E or so), so we didnt have to walk and got there on time.  It wasnt as cold as I thought it was going to be, so I left a  layer of clothes at home, which I later regretted.  We got in the 17th and Consistution line, which was the closest but ultimately not the best. The were more people than I’d hoped there would be, but less than I expected. We’ll need to come much earlier inauguration day.  Unfortunately, two things were wrong with the entry we chose, although we couldnt have known this ahead of time.  First, the are on the constitution side of the reflecting pool got -nowhere- near as close to the lincoln memorial as independence ave side did (although realistically, because of things in the way, those guys probably still didnt have a -great- view). So, even if we had been first in, we were still a football field away.  The second issue was that further lines got in just enough earlier that a ton of people went past before we could get in.

So, the early morning plan of attack ended up being a miss. We were packed in about 30-50 people deep trying to get that extra foot closer, but behind us it didnt seem to start to fill up for ages.

Paivi and I decided we’d rather not wait from 9am-2pm for a crappy view, so we wandered out to have coffee on 17th at that Caribou.

On the way out, though, we DID get to see Snipers setting up:

This proved fortuitous, because we ended up seeing Mr Obama twice within 25 yards of us (one of those times he waved at us).  It was on the way back from coffee/lunch near the old executive building. He drove past in that awesome caddy he has and we could see him inside looking at us, smiling, and waving.

Barack Obamas Caravan before the We Are One concert

Barack Obama's Caravan before the We Are One concert

The second time was when he left an hour or so later for the concert. I thought I saw his figure outlined in one of the windows, but he was definittely in one of the cars. I have a video of  Obama driving by here:

While we were waiting for him to come out a second time, a youngish asian lady had a megaphone and kept chanting that she knew how to make world peace happen if only obama would show us his birth certificate. Every time someone would bitch at her to STFU, she’s megaphone that she was being harassed to the police. As if. Im sure at that point in the day, they wouldve been more than happy to do a little harassing themselves.

We wandered back to the concert after that and ran into Doug and Nofcna (Nguyet) near the “Homo-Sex is a National Security Issue” fuckers.  We tried to get back in to the main area, but at this point the checkpoints seemed to be closing.  We opted to go check out the concert from the Jumbo-tron nearest to Independence Ave by the WWII memorial.  At first, the sound was really bad. Doug and Nguyet eventually took off, discouraged that they could neither see nor hear. Fairly soon, though, the sound started to come through louder and we really enjoyed the show, even from so far back.

Some notes about the show:

a) Im pretty sure I could actually hear Biden’s actual voice echoing back to us. That guy was loud!
b) Im not a country music fan, but Garth Brooks is wildly successful for a reason
c) The “young adults” – all 10 of them – climbing on the tree nearby were about to tip it over. Their parents did a really crappy job raising them.
d) My wife is in love with Bono
e) Watching snipers scramble up onto towers is scary and unnerving, as are police in face-covering black masks with sunglesses
f) The rudest people are 50 year old successful white men
g) Tom Hanks presentation wouldve gone MUCH better if he’s been playing Forrest Gump up there
h) The Boss seemed to be trying to hard
i) Crowds singing along to songs rock
j) Barrack seems to have given the same speech in Baltimore?
k) Tiger Woods is not a good public speaker
l) Shakira, Usher, and Stevie Wonder worked well together
m) No one knew much about Josh Groban, but everyone seemed to have something to say about him
n) The scripts felt like a really slick advertisement.
o) Obama better know what he’s getting into and better be able to pull it off, because it is a long, fast, sad road down from this kind of a pedestal.

Afterwards, the roads out were clogged for pedestrians by pedestrians. It moved as a snails pace.

Paivi and I skipped that road (the one behind the washington monument) and fought our way across the mall directly. This ended up being much faster…much much faster.  We followed the mob up towards dupont circle and it wasnt really until past K street that the entire road wasnt packed with pedestrians. It felt like we were marching for something, but we were really just going home.

Yes We Can!

Yes We Can!

Made it Dupont area, had dinner, metro’d home.

Really a nice day, ultimately, if exhausting.

As an aside – today we were at the Georgetown Barnes and Noble and ran into the same girl who was standing next to us the day of the concert. Crazy small town!

Eep. The year’s over! That might seem old news (God, we’re already a week into 08), but the sad thing is that to remember what I’ve been doing for the last few months I had to go back to my Flickr stream and -look- at the photographic evidence! Kind of cool…but not?

But before I get into what -has- happened, I’d like to talk about what is and -will- happen. I just spent a lovely evening at the soon-to-be-no-more Dr. Dremo’s in Arlington with a bunch of the Art Outlet volunteers, artists, other board members, and friends.

One of the reasons I was there was to talk about digital art shows and the imminent re-opening of my free space for Washington, DC artists and arts events in Second Life – the SintixErr Gallery. (About which Amanda Hess has written a great article: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=34394 )

It looks like Art Outlet (the board of which I chair – at least for one more year!) will be, as a 501c(3) non-profit arts organization in DC, will be sponsoring an entire island in Second Life. My high level goals for the island will be to:

  • Provide a place for any DC-based artist to exhibit their work to worldwide audience
  • Host mixed-reality events in support of Art Outlet shows
  • Provide a central Second Life hosting capability for other DC arts organizations, museums, galleries, etc.
  • Allow for additional research into interesting ways to use virtual worlds to aid art through technology and technology through art.

There’s still no -monetary- sponsor for this (and it’s not a done deal till it’s done), but I can front the cost initially and hope through grants, donations, shows, and by way of small fees for other organizations to use the space, the area will support itself and break even.

In addition to the pure Second Life announcement, I’ve also been working on putting together (and participating in) one or more digital arts and technology shows in the DC area. These are still in their infancy, but there are a number of great, dedicated, reliable people working on them and I expect some cool event news to show up here in the next few months.

You can find more info here on what some of the participating artists’ thoughts on technology, culture, and art are in this thread:

http://artdc.org/forum/index.php?topic=7860.msg33345#msg33345

I’ll close out this post with my own thoughts from that thread:

I have two perspectives on technology’s role in culture, as it pertains to my art. First, I’ve always struggled with the concept that there is “technology” and “stuff that isn’t technology”. I never really believed that there was an inherent line there. The only thing that really rings true is Douglas Adams’ quote on the subject. He said something to the effect of “Technology means ‘stuff that isn’t quite working right yet'”. Pencils, oil paint, paper, cameras – they’re all technology. They’re absolutely the same thing as computers and any other digital mechanisms for interacting with human senses.

So, my first interest in technology, art, and culture is in the process of cultural integration of new technology into the “stuff that works” category. Things we forget about. I’m interested in the creation of and interaction with art that REFUSES to distinguish between itself and any other “old” tools used to create art. I like to see moving images framed behind museum quality glass hanging from a wall. I enjoy the idea of traditional tools being used as part of the creation of what would otherwise be considered “new technology” art.

Along these lines, I’m also fascinated by the artifical lines and boundaries we (humans) create to keep our perception of the universe coherent. Technology has always helped people do more better faster, but until the advent of science allowing long distance communication between people, our boundaries expanded, but tended to retain the same shapes. As people began to communciate over vast distances, however, our sense of “place” began to erode a little bit. TV accelerated that process, cell phones turned the process into an avalanche, and the internet looks like it might eradicate the bond between place and self altogether in our culture. Not only that, but with the variety of identities we are begining to maintain, our most basic sense of “self” is getting fuzzy. Who are we when we can “be” in multiple places at once. Who are we when we can be physically perceived by others in different ways at the same time? We have IM accounts, blog accounts, we exist (well, some of us ) in virtual worlds, etc. Part of how we perceive and understand who we are ourselves is by how we are reflected back by other people. What happens to us as our reflections become fractured and non-contiguous?

Art, over time, has often been used to explore our relationship – as people – to the universe around us. In my mind, these particular technologically-wrought changes in our culture are acute and our exploration of them as humans is well-served by doing so through art.

About Me

Jack Whitsitt

Jack Whitsitt

National Cyber Security. Risk. Multi-Dimensional Rainbows. Maker of conceptual lenses. Artist. Facilitator. Educator. Past/Future Vagabond. Drinks Unicorn Tears.

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