Daniel Lichtman is an artist, educator and organizer. Dan works in game-making, performance, video, coding and installation.

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The Raisin Truck Makes Raisins

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Machine Vision Self-Portraits

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Workshop presented at Processing Community Day NYC, February, 2020.

Link to conference

Presented in collaboration with Kaitlyn Chiu, Khaliya McCall, Jose Benitez and Yingna Lu, students in the New Media Art program at Baruch College, CUNY

In this workshop we developed an application in Processing that creates machine vision (MV) self- portraits. Aimed at beginners, we explored how a computer ‘sees’ in terms of shapes, colors, lines and mathematical calculations. We played with a variety of MV algorithms (eg. face and skin detection, moving-object recognition) and fiddled with parameters (eg. which colors constitute ‘skin’? what defines a face?) to generate fascinating and unpredictable results. To point the way towards future conversation about MV’s role in society, capitalism and law enforcement we discussed examples such as automated security clearance at Shanghai Airport, smile-to-pay kiosks at KFC and John Deere’s ‘See and Spray’ MV pesticide applicator.

Accumulations.online

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Online Exhibition and email conversation presented in association with -empyre- new media listserve, Cornell University, November, 2020

Link to exhibition

This program features artists’ platforms, workshops and projects that explore intersections between networked collaboration, distributed storytelling and digital community building.

Works in the program experiment with new rhythms and topologies of writing, talking, listening, feeling and being together in networked environments. Works often build visual, textual or sound-based narratives through the gradual accumulation of contributions from a distributed network of participants. These projects take a broad view of networks, spanning spaces such as the digital, analog, public, private, human, non-human and geological.

At this moment of lock-down, new forms distributed community and collaboration are not only speculative, but urgently necessary. Importantly, works in the program use DIY and DIT (do it together) tool building, outside of the domain of big-tech and surveillance capitalism. They prioritize data-privacy, open source resources, security and autonomy from big-data.

Broadcasting from a Secret Underground Bunker

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2014-16, Presented at Chashama, NY (solo) and Northern Gallery For Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK

Here I perform a verbatim re-presentation of current international news affairs streamed on YouTube by users such as Angelocracy Xue, from Atlanta. Angelocracy recounts an all-encompassing variety of world-historical phenomena from the perspective of a 100% confident personal commentary. I project a live video, mimicking Angelocracy's visual style of webcast, speaking in a southern accent and using patriotic clip-art and info-graphics. In this version of the performance, I discuss reaching one million viewers and their personal attacks against me in their YouTube comments.

Doctors and Nurses

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2017-18, BRIC Arts and Media House (solo) In Doctors and Nurses, made as part of my Media Arts Fellowship at BRIC, two performers create a tense and oddly exuberant display of different forms of personal testimony. Patient Jim (amateur actor from BRIC Public Access TV) explains what led to his upcoming heart surgery at a New York hospital. He improvises to camera, broadcasting in search of solidarity from fellow patients, reaching out to strangers who might be watching. Lara accompanies and interrupts with phrases from forgotten Rag-Time era songs that obliquely reference early American stories and social histories. They bring a combination of improvisation, scripted material and their own creative pursuits to bear in this new work that considers the fragile forms of power, solidarity and autonomy brought about by sharing your story, both online and off.

DIY Scene Design and 3D Modeling

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2020, Workshop presented at Babycastles Academy

Working in Unity is hard. 3D modeling is involved, and it’s hard to be quick and nimble when you’re trying to do it (at least if you’re me). AAA-style textures are damn near impossible (and who wants to go down that road anyway). So how do you make a compelling looking 3D environment without superhero skills?

Join Daniel Lichtman in this workshop that introduces a range of “DIY” techniques in Unity to quickly make exciting, rich and layered 3D environments, no coding or specialized game-dev skills required. Lichtman will go through simple techniques for adding hand-drawn and flat, photo-based objects to your scene. He’ll demonstrate how to scan drawings and turn them into transparencies that, with a little (really only a little!) creativity, can fill your 3D space with fun, organic texture. He will also demonstrate how to take 360-degree photos with any phone, and use these as compelling, if often strange and disorienting skyboxes. Finally, he’ll show you how to fiddle with freely-available 3D models to turn them into mysterious, alluring objects to navigate in your scene.

How Would You Know If You Were The Last Man On Earth?

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2015, Video on computer monitor (8 minutes), media player, headphones, keyboard, mouse, chair, jacket Installed at The Drawing Center, New York

As the viewer reads the text on the monitor in this video installation, an anonymous face stares back at her through the screen, sometimes engaged, sometimes distracted. Text fragments generate a fictional autobiography, voice nostalgic memories and opaquely reference various end-of-the-world possibilities. The language has been adapted from from Michael C. Ruppert, a self-styled activist who proselytizes the imminent end of western civilization.

Public Access Television Within A World Systems Pattern of Understanding

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2013-14, Presented at The Woodmill GP (solo), Vox Populi, Philadelphia and Platform Arts, Belfast

Recorded at City Business Centre, London, as part of my residency at The Woodmill, London. Here I re-perform verbatim a 1998 guest-lecture given by Manhattan community television personality Harold Channer at New York University. I listen to Channer’s talk in an earphone while reproducing his text and performative style for a new audience. For the lecture slides, I show clips from the video documentation of Channer’s talk, connecting my new context with the original. Channer’s interview programme stars members from the fringes of various left-wing establishments—his biggest catch, Muammar Gaddafi. While Channer was invited to speak about community television in this presentation, he spends most of the lecture promoting his own theory about the end of economic scarcity and the limitless possibilities for free expression that will result.

We Have A Dome

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2014-15 Digital video projection (8 minutes) and large ­scale video/sound installation, 35x20’, Installed at The Tetley, Leeds; screened at The Queens Museum, New York

In this large video installation, the sound of water, wind and the voice of an anonymous woman floating alone in a pool fills the gallery. It’s Sunday, and the woman describes the trees and sky above as her church, the clouds its congregation. Her meandering narrative is paired with my own footage, also shot while floating alone in a pool, observing my own surroundings, feet, legs and body. As the woman’s invocation and my video occasionally meet each other and at other times drift apart, this work reflects on the perception of innocence and modes of attention, address and distraction.

Xzone

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September, 2020, A Do It Together platform for online community-making. Presented with Lee Tusman at the Our Networks in Uncertain Times ↔ Places

https://leetusman.com/projects/xzone/

Participants in this workshop created their own D.I.T. (“Do It Together”) 2D networked online meeting places. We introduced the idea of virtual temporary autonomous zones based on the concept of temporary autonomous zones, the socio-political tactic of creating temporary spaces to evade formal structures of control. We taught how to create a simplified networked graphical community meeting space based on this concept, including creating avatars, room interiors and interactive objects, inspired by physical spaces such as the squat, loft, community space, or campsite.

You Are Good

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2019, Video screening program, touring to galleries and museums in the UK

Organized by New York-based artist Daniel Lichtman, with local artists invited by each venue. Touring to The Islington Mill, Salford (12 March); The Tetley, Leeds (13 March); Humber Street Gallery, Hull (14 March); and Kunstraum, London (16 March)

Alternately building and dismantling vocabularies of trust, works in this program sometimes appear to gaze directly at you, the viewer, and at other times look elsewhere, or entirely away. Working with scripted and improvised speech, human and non-human bodies, videos in You Are Good explore an expanded idea of wilderness, defined by language, desire and corporeality.

http://www.you-are-good.website

Get Straight Or Die

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2015-16, Presented at Dynamo Arts Association, Vancouver (solo)

A camera traces a man as he wanders through a park full of dogs. Partly addressing the dogs, partly himself, the man stutters through an intuitive narrative of the history of revolution and freedom in the West. Eventually, the camera drops into a pocket. When the image returns, language has been replaced by music and the dogs entertain themselves. Seen here as part of solo exhibition of the same name.

Game Time

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2018, Presented at Herculese Studio Art Program, New York

In Game Time, actor James Freeman theatrically conflates the emotional Youtube testimony of a man about to undergo major heart surgery with a semi-improvised story of his own recent cardiac procedure. A new character emerges between the two, situating the audience somewhere between a specific, visceral experience of the actor’s body and an abstract generalization of amateur online testimony. Building on my interest in amateur broadcasters and their communities, this performance work frames the online medical testimony as a space of potentially real solidarity, but an equally stark aloneness--another way to have a broken heart.

Death of Michael C. Ruppert

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2016, Presented at the Unruly Emotions conference at Oxford University

In this performance at the Unruley Emotions conference at Oxford University, I tell an improvised story of the suicide of whistleblower, underground journalist and internet radio host Michael C. Ruppert, using enlarged notes to help remember the story and a pile of denim clothing to indicate Michael's body. Here, my character and I negotiate the theatricality of emotional communication through narrative language to live and online audiences.

Honey Pump

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2018 Sound (duration: 10 minutes), speakers, barbecue grills, honey, mixed media Exhibited at Hercules Art Studio Program, New York

Type

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Type 2010 Typewriters, Arduino, Micro-controllers, Computer, Paper, Desk, Lamp

Two typewriters automatically type text from a live, politically themed chat room.

Get Straight or Die

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2015-16, Presented at Dynamo Arts Association, Vancouver (solo)

A camera traces a man as he wanders through a park full of dogs. Partly addressing the dogs, partly himself, the man stutters through an intuitive narrative of the history of revolution and freedom in the West. Eventually, the camera drops into a pocket. When the image returns, language has been replaced by music and the dogs entertain themselves. Seen here as part of solo exhibition of the same name.

Untitled

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2010, Slideshow, 5 minutes. Exhibited at the ICA, London

Text excerpted from my childhood diary.