Robot Film Festival In New York City


The tentacular Heather Knight of Marilyn Monrobot, JPL, Carnegie-Mellon, RoboGames, etc, etc, etc, has hatched another brilliant scheme for Robot World Domination – what we hope is the first annual Robot Film Festival, which takes place July 16-18 at 3 Legged Dog in New York City.

Please submit your outstanding, dazzling, hilarious or thought-provoking short film. JUST ONE REQUIREMENT: Please feature a robot as one of the main characters as or framing devices of the narrative. Films should be one to eight minutes long.

In addition to the juried film screenings, there will be a live performances, cocktail and coffee mixers throughout. The Saturday night festivities include a red carpet award ceremony with interactive installations and uniquely designed ‘botsker’ awards. Don’t forget your party shoes (or wheels)!

Deadline for submissions: June 5, 2011

Submit your film for a chance to win a Botsker!

Competitive Swinging by Paolo Salvagione


photo by Andria Lo

A delicate dance between spectator and athlete, a mediation on the properties of the pendulum, and unabashed grin-making installation art piece, Competitive Swinging by Paolo Salvagione, is now up at the Headlands Center for the Arts Gymnasium in Sausalito, CA.

Paolo Salvagione is the principal clock prototype engineer for The Long Now Foundation‘s Clock Of The Long Now, and was also an artist-in-residence at The Headlands Center last year. This year, when he was asked to create a piece for the old gym, he jumped at the chance:

“I had no idea what I would do, I just knew I loved the space. The piece reveled itself slowly. All the ingredients were there in my mind, dreams, childhood playground memories, pendulums. The challenge of a space that big is how to activate it, it was built in 1907. I spent the evening there with bottle of wine and watched the space as the sun set. I noticed period hardware on the ceiling that once held climbing ropes, a common military exercise. From that observation the piece came together. The old basketball court ask for 5 people a side and the building has 5 window on each side. The nature of athletics asked for competition, my sense of humor loved the idea of competitive swinging.

The next challenge was finding the right swings. In 1992 the rules, concerning playground equipment, were changed. The base of a swing had to be light enough not to break skin if a child was hit in the head with it. Hence the super light plastic swings in contemporary playgrounds. I was determined to reference the swings of my youth and decided to recreate the classic wooden swing with a rope instead of a chain. It was also my intent to make the swings perfectly quiet. I wanted to swing in the space in complete silence. There were a few moments where I thought my efforts to get to this swing-of-the-past seemed absurd but when the installation was complete I knew I had made the right decisions. An installation like this only comes to life when populated, with people, with smiles.”

With his work on the Long Now 10k Clock, and also as a former racing bicycle designer, Paolo rides the line between engineering and art. When asked if he is an artist moonlighting as an engineer, or an engineer in artist clothing, he responds:

“The engineering I do with the Long Now Foundation is monument scale art. My discipline informs my art, my art informs my discipline. The two are so tightly wound in my mind that I have a hard time thinking of one without the other. I feel compelled to show people the dimension that they live in but have forgotten about.”

The closing reception for Competitive Swinging will be at the Headlands Center on May 8th, form 12-5pm.

In the meantime, call ahead to the Headlands Center to see the piece yourself.

Lipstick & Kisses 2010: A Flaming Lotus Girls Extravaganza

The Flaming Lotus Girls 2001 Calendar

The Flaming Lotus Girls, makers of fine pyrotechnic arts and entertainments to tickle the ganglia and satisfy the limbic hind-brain, are presenting their brand new 2011 calendar at a fundraiser on December 3rd in San Francisco:

The Girls are having an evening of art, music, and fun to celebrate a decade of crafting metal and making flames!

Featuring a gallery show, signing of our brand new 2011-2012 calendar, and the excellent musical syncopations of Ambient Mafia and the Space Cowboys. Best of all – the evening is open to one and all, with no cover charge! Yes, that’s right. It’s absolutely FREE, and we want YOU to come.

The people who brought you Serpent Mother, Mutopia, Hand of God, Soma, and many other breathtaking works, invite you to join them for a gallery show to mark the release of their new two-year calendar. Showcasing the sexiest metalwork and metalworkers on the planet, the Flaming Lotus Girls’ 2011–2012 calendar is, without a doubt, the most scintillating way to burn up the next 730 days of your life. Every calendar purchase supports the creation of stunning fire art and helps this female-driven group continue their tradition of innovation and inclusiveness. Whether it’s a gift for someone you love – or for yourself – be sure to pick one up and keep the Flaming Lotus Girls ignited!

Lipstick & Kisses 2010: A Flaming Lotus Girls Extravaganza
Friday, December 3
7:00 pm to 2:00 am
SOMArts, 934 Brannan Street, San Francisco
Free to attend (donations encouraged)

Support your local woman-centered pyrotechnic art collective and have a fancy time as well!

“Ace In The Hole” Documentary Being Made About Ace Junkyard

Monsters of Accordion III

photo by Scott Beale

Many of you may be familiar with Ace Junkyard from the pages of this blog. Or perhaps, you know of Ace Junkyard because you arrived one afternoon to help with an event such as the Power Tool Drag Races or Cyclecide Bike Rodeo and ended up waking up several days later, filthy, sunstruck, head stinging with whiskey aftermath, and covered in unidentifiable petroleum substances and clown makeup.

Ah, good times.

Such was the power of the junkyard, a nexus point where makers, doers, thinkers, and those who would never otherwise have a venue for their creations could find hardware, gossip over coffee, store their junk or bring whatever to a final resting place.

Ace Junkyard has now gone to its final resting place, but never fear. Yasmin Mawaz-Khan, a San Francisco Area filmmaker and artist, seeks to immortalize Ace and add it to the pantheon of popular culture by making a film, “Ace In The Hole”.

From the Ace In The Hole Website:

This film is about Ace Junkyard: auto wreckers, artist resource and event space. It’s about its owner Bill Kennedy, and the ways in which communities develop and lives transform in the most unlikely places. On a larger scale, this film addresses a current issue in San Francisco and across the United States: where are all our alternative arts spaces going?

The stereotype of junkyards suggests that they are places for grimy men, stacks of junk and scrapped metal. That is what Ace Auto Wreckers and Dismantlers started out as, but over the years, it grew to include computer parts, random defunct electronics, odd bits and bobs, an artist-in-residence known as Number 3, and in Bill’s words, “the prettiest women that have ever worked in a junkyard.” It provided a creative environment for the freaks and geeks in society who elsewhere are considered outcasts. It created jobs, and provided stability and structure for some that otherwise might have found themselves in unsteady places.

To support this worthy endeavor, there will be a rip-snorting, good-time generator of a junkyard-style party to benefit getting this movie made:

“Ace in the Hole” Fundraiser
Date: Saturday, July 10, 2010
Time: 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Location: The Shipyard, 1010 Murray St., Berkeley, CA
Here’s a Facebook Invite for all your Facebookians out there

The benefit will feature a number of veterans from Ace: Los Banos, the Cyclecide Bike Rodeo house band; The Neverwas Haul, a streampunk Victorian exploratory house on wheels; and EX-tra special, for One Afternoon and ONE afternoon only, in homage to the Ace International Speedway, there will be a special exhibition of everybody’s favorite redneck sport, Power Tool Drag Racing!

Bill The Junkman will be in attendance to tell stories, snarl about tweakers, and elegantly sip whiskey from one greasy but well-manicured hand.

Come one, come all, bring your beer money and punk boots, grease up the kids, put the dog in the truck and shell out some cash so the Ace Junkyard story can be told for years to come.

Save Defenestration, Iconic Community-Grown Art


(To donate to the Save Defenestration fund, go here. S’ cool, we’ll wait for you to come back.)

Perched on the corner of Sixth and Howard Street and San Francisco, a ruined building provides a magical moment for anyone who thinks to look up. Queen Anne tables gallop off the roof, sideshow murals decorate the ground floor, table lamps light the window ledges, and a sofa makes its bid for freedom. Built by world-renown artist Brian Goggin plus a hoard of volunteers thirteen years ago, Defenestration, this famous example of dedicated whimsy, was only meant to last a year.

Housed in the defunct and decaying Hugo Hotel, Defenestration is to undergo some massive renovation to keep pace with the gentrifying neighborhood. Brian Goggin, artist and the piece’s originator, explains:

The building is owned by the city, but they wanted to tear it down in January. My friend Jeremy Sugarman, brother Patrick Goggin and I negotiated with the Redevelopment agency and the local neighborhood council to keep it up. The Redevelopment Agency agreed provided I make the piece safe and restore it or remove it by the end of April. We have made it safe by removing all the pieces that needed serious structural repair. It is looking sparse and wounded. It needs to have many pieces completely rebuilt. To reach the work to remove and replace it we need equipment – boom lifts and cranes. This takes time, labor and money. But we can raise the money and the resources if it is important to enough of us.


Defenestration began its official existence with every music maker and dreamer of dreams in the greater Bay Area and beyond come out to celebrate this emblem of joy and teamwork. The party was so colossal and so quintessentially San Francisco that people still talk about it.

Tour buses stop for it, outlets all over the world write about it, it was made by a community, and now it needs the community’s help once more.

We figure that a world famous, huge-scale art piece that is the centerpiece of a recovering neighborhood, built largely by volunteers and roundly supported by a city that really does know how, would certainly be important enough, indeed.

John Law, Suicide Club member, Cacophony Society architect, and co-founder of Burning Man, has this to say about Defenestration:

“Defenestration is the best. Brian Goggin turned a rambling, spacious, partially wrecked four story residential hotel building into ART. Not only ART, but a f**king tourist attraction, to boot. You can almost separate humanity into the proverbial two kinds of people: those who “get” the piece, and those who don’t. Those who “get it” are basically everyone. What I’m trying to say is that Brian did the nearly impossible: he made FINE ART that ALL people could appreciate.


On top of creating a brilliant piece of sculpture, he ALSO buffaloed pretty much everyone in town at the time into helping him throw the greatest street party that I remember in over thirty years in this town as the opener for the piece. The gypsies, punks, goths, machine art kids, ravers, hippies, “serious art types”, art fags, pranksters, rocket scientists, burners (this was before the pathetic appellation “burner” was in popular use), city politicos, business owners and pretty much everyone else came out for the party. Many of them helped put it on. The organizing crew got permits to hang the pieces on the building, close Howard St. for the show and have aerial and fire performances right there in broad daylight in South of Market. Try to do that now.

In 13 years Defenestration has become synonymous with San Francisco to many. Along with the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, The Cliff House, ChinaTown and Lombard Street, Defenestration is on the tour bus routes and is on display daily as a gift to both locals and visitors to our grand and kooky town.

If there is any plan to convince the Powers That Be to retain this wonderful, goofy, grand sculpture as part of whatever development eventually engulfs the corner of 6th & Howard, we should support it whole heartedly. The facades of several historically important buildings in town have been preserved and incorporated into the new structures that were built within their shells. They could perform a similar engineering feet with Defenestration.

In the mean time, let’s do what we can to support Brian in restoring the piece as the final fate of the building is debated by the City and developers.”


Defenestration is more than just rebellious furniture tacked to a wall. It’s a true icon, a symbol of what we do in this city and what a group of genuinely dedicated and excited individuals can be capable of, given the right impetus. It’s a living, breathing piece of history, something tourist and native alike can marvel at. Stories of its construction abound, from the trapeze artists suspended out the window on opening day to tales of fondly remembered mishap. Eva Galperin, now of the EFF, remembers being a high school student working in the interior:

“My most poignant memory of working on Defenestration – I was working on helping to clear out the building, to get all the plaster dust out. We were having lunch on the roof, and I had forgotten something downstairs. So I come barreling down the stairs, covered in plaster dust, only to realize that there is a 2×4 across the stairs, and I don’t duck *quite* fast enough. Giant scar across my back. I came home, covered in plaster dust still, and across my back the plaster dust was pink. I did, in fact, suffer for my art.”

This author remembers Miss Galperin in class sometime after the incident, bragging about the injury and declaring it the coolest one she had gotten to that point and we should all really come down and see this amazing thing they were building.

Michael Michael, also known as Danger Ranger, co-founder of BurningMan, Cacophonist and raconteur, comments:

Defenestration was one of the first large-scale art projects in San Francisco produced by voluntary collaboration. Many challenges had to be overcome to bring this brilliant idea into reality. Assembling a variety of old furniture and then modifying it into whimsical shapes, clearing massive amounts of debris from an old and long-abandoned building, installing supporting frameworks and lighting, all required heroic effort.

During the several months of installation, there was a convergence of colorful characters from all over the country and the labyrinthian interior of the building itself became a temporary colony of artists working all hours. Donated food and supplies appeared each day to fuel the hard-working crew. This historic project attracted a bunch of unique and creative individuals into what became a community effort that has had lasting effect.

And the incredible block party and circus held at the completion of the project is a legendary event remembered by many.”


Chicken John, showman and erstwhile mayoral candidate, apparently became intoxicated upon hearing the news of Defenestration’s potential demise. When asked for a comment, this is what we could make out:

“Defenestration is the most valuable asset. . .beacon of tolerance and whimsy. . .keeping the idea of San Francisco as a city of Art and Innovation. . . .overflowing with possibility. . . championing unconventional thinking. . .embracing function as form. . .perverted f*ing furniture getting away with murder. . . they move you know. . .a genuine cornerstone of truth in a world gone mad. . .if it was a girl I’d marry it. . . can’t let civic treasure slip away. . . demand you commit to its long life. . .city of arts and innovation. . .the dog loved it. . . doom and cold. . . emptiness. . .pigeons. . .”

We over here at LaughingSquid did the math, and figured that if 10% of the population of San Francisco proper gave $1.00, Defenestration would rise again to amaze and delight. Skip one hour of metered parking in SF! Buy one coffee one size down! Go through your couch to repair the one in the window! All donation are tax deductible through the very generous machinations of the Black Rock Art Foundation, with a handy dandy Defenestration Donation Page available for all your donating needs.


In Addition, the 1:AM gallery is hosting a fundraiser and admiration party
to help raise funds:

Please join us on Friday, March 5th, from 6-10 pm for a very special opening/fundraising event at the 1:AM Gallery, on the corner of 6th and Howard Streets. The gallery will host a month-long exhibit celebrating Defenestration, including examples of restoration work in progress and artwork for sale. All proceeds from the event and exhibit go directly to the restoration project. Visit for more information and updates. The exhibit will run through April 2, 2010.

If you weren’t around the first time, donate – time, money, and energy. Contribute some senseless beauty to an uptight world. Forward the donation site around. Be active, if this is something you think is wonderful, because when we win and the piece is beautiful again, you can tell people to look up when you pass, and you will be able to say “That there, that art piece over there, I did that, we did that, all of us.”

photos by Florencia Alemán

Paper Animated Parkour

Here’s a neat parkour video, except it’s not actually real Parkour, but a paper animated version. This video created by Serene Teh and Noel Lee. Serene explains:

Illustrated with technical pen, frame by frame. I admit it might not be the best, or the quality isn’t perfect, just a shot at animating the old flip book whatever-you-call-it way.

I’m a graphic design degree student living in Singapore, graduating in mid 2010. I have had work experience in a production company doing exhibition design and festive decors. Many of my works are unpublished, I’m working on posting them up on a website soon.

The audio I used is Dr Dre Rap beat, not sure who’s the artiste..

Post production credits goes to Noel Lee for his patience in piecing the sequence up together!

Originally found via Chilloutzone through @sciencegoddess. Thanks!

Ace Junkyard Is Dead, Long Live Ace Junkyard

guest post by Simone Davalos

I have started and stopped this article two or three times over this last year, but the sad moment, like most other sad moments, has finally and irrevocably presented itself.

Monsters of Accordion III

Ace Auto aka Ace Junkyard, one of San Francisco’s most interesting venues for shows, music, art, work, shenanigans, and a nice place to find the ’67 Plymouth Valiant window winder of your dreams, is closing down for good at the end of the year. After one full year almost to the day of Bill the Junkman valiantly battling with lawyers, contracts, and intractable landlords and ladies, the war has been lost.

Power Tool Drag Races

Artists, builders, dreamers, power tool racers, military surplus crane enthusiasts, Geiger counter owners, gearheads, rodeo klowns, welders, cheerleaders, noise band musicians, dumpster divers, drag racing drag queens, shiftless ne’er do wells, and wayward youth, lend me your ears.

St. Stupid's After, After Party

St. Stupiders, Lost Vegans, Horrible Dangerous Junkyard Party-goers, Cycleciders, imbibers of rusty tin cans full of Tecate with scrap metal Jim Beam chasers, the hour has come. For real this time.

Power Tool Drag Races 2008

One year ago yesterday, the rumblings sounded. We thought it was for sure, we thought it was final. Bill The Junkman held and defended our venerable junkyard from further destruction. He fought the good fight, for one whole year. Here he tells the tale in his own words:

She won on the building permit clause of the lease.

Yes, I would have won the eviction and the lease extension. However even if I won on these issues, I would have needed to pay her the 8+ months of back rent, (about 40K) and I still would have only had 4 more years left. That and the lease has a clause that states if she get a building permit (if only for a dog house) then I need to be out in 60 days. So even if I won she would take my rent money and use it to get the building permit and I am still out in sixty days.

I have been here for 25 years, well over half my life was spent here, While on one hand, I walk out of here in less than 90 days, 53 years old, 10 of thousand of dollars in debt and no job.

The other side of it is…. well it was and is worth ever penny of it. The people, events, art, and most importantly to me the parts of my self that I found, and the person that I have become. A large part of who am now is because of the love and support on my family of friends I have made from this place.

Has for what is next for me? for now a B I G push to get this place closed up and cleaned out. After that i have no clue, there just not a lot of demand for transgendered junkyard mangers nowadays. I may go out to Honolulu to my folks’ and surf for a week, but as nice has Hawaii is, it not home, as I write this at the yard, i feel like I am going to be a bit “homeless”. Not to worry, I have a place to sleep at night, but truly Ace was my home, and I know for a lot of you, it was as well.

St. Stupid's After, After Party

Friends, neighbors, family. Anyone who has ever been to the Junkyard to listen to Mongoloid, Attaboy and Burke, Neighborhood Bass Coalition, and many more; if you have ever borrowed a tool, come around for gossip and advice, stored a thing, learned a thing, or moved that pile of heavy stuff over next to that other pile of heavy stuff; if you ever wondered what the hell this place was that your friends had taken you on your night out, or just enjoyed knowing that the junkyard was there when you needed it, raise a glass.

Ace Junkyard will forever be a singular font of arts, culture, wisdom and indelible grease stains. We will never see her like again.

photos by Scott Beale

Bay Bridge Closure, Featuring Live Web Cams

guest post by Simone Davalos

Bay Bridge Closure 2009

photo via Caltrans

As pretty much everyone who has encountered any Bay Area media in the last month or so knows, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge closed to regular traffic for Labor Day Weekend last night at 8pm and will reopen at 5am on Tuesday, September 8th.

The reason they are doing this, of course, is to perform an astonishing feat of very large construction, namely, moving a whole section of the double-decker freeway over to insert an equally massive bit of roadway over to the new bridge detour.*

I personally am sick with envy of the people with watercraft who get to watch the whole thing live and in person [Sidenote: the Extra Action Marching Band does, and will, and will probably be playing on the bay to cheer on the construction this evening. Fellow boaters, take note and keep your ears on.].

Bay Bridge Web Cam

However, if you are one of the thousands that do not have a dinghy at your disposal, fear not, Bay Bridge Info has seen fit to provide us with live web cams (from multiple angles, even!).

TransBay Blog also has a nice rundown of the feats they will accomplish this weekend, as well as transit info for anyone who has a pressing need to get between San Francisco and Oakland.

My question is, what do you do this weekend if you live on Treasure Island? Do you clear your calendar and settle in for a great view? Take up long distance swimming as a sudden hobby? If anyone knows, please enlighten us in the comments.

* Does this mean that all the foofaraw so far was just to prep for building the actual bridge? transport geeks, geeks, please advise!

UPDATE: The web cams are no longer showing up on the website. Not sure if this is a temporary or permanent thing.

via Telstar Logistics