VALIBATION: Director’s Screening and Panel on iPhone-Cyborgs

A special viewing of the darkly comedic short film
Followed by a panel on the future of the human body/mind/toolkit

Featuring the film’s creator, Todd Strauss-Schulson
Panelists include playwright Stephen Aubrey, novelist Tanwi Nandini Islam, artist Ethan Gould, and writer Wythe Marschall

Date: Friday, May 24
Time: 8 PM
Admission: $10

Cinematically wedged between Cronenberg’s techno-anatomical mashup horror and the protagonist-bashing comedies of Charlie Kaufman, VALIBATION is based on a simple premise: We spend too much time touching, talking into, tapping on, and generally fetishizing our smartphones. What happens when the logical next step, implantation, comes unexpectedly in the night? What happens when we’re not sure any longer how to validate ourselves offline, by ourselves? What happens when we aren’t sure where “we” stop and our tools begin…?

Leveraging all the terrifying banality of living in the future—working a boring day job while enjoying a computer in the palm of the hand! (literally!)—VALIBATION asks these questions in an open-ended manner and via a frank eroticism that makes it more engaging than many a conceptual or arthouse short.

Join us on April 29 to talk with the writer and director, Todd Strauss-Schulson, about the future of the human, the phone, and everything they touch.

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Ever since his grandfather gave him a video camera for his Bar Mitzvah (after years of relentless pestering), Todd Strauss-Schulson has been a one-man movie-making machine—directing, writing, shooting, and editing all of his own work. Todd has directed short films and TV shows with comic greats like Stephen Colbert, Seth Macfarlane, Jeffery Tambor, Jimmy Kimmel, The Onion, Lewis Black, Jeff Ross, Patton Oswalt, Colin Quinn, Jackie Mason, Laura Silverman, and Damon Wayans. He has also directed commercials for The Oscars and The Emmy’s and other national clients. Todd’s personal projects include the award-winning Mano-A-Mano and Big Pussy. His first feature film, A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas for New Line Cinema and Mandate, was released by Warner Bros in 2011. Check out more of Todd’s work here.

Stephen Aubrey is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, dramaturg, lecturer, storyteller and recovering medievalist. He is also a co-founder and the resident dramaturg and playwright of The Assembly Theater Company. He is a professor of English at Brooklyn College, where he regularly teaches courses on monster theory and postmodern literature and theory.

Ethan Gould is a visual artist whose work—obsessing over the overlap and confusion of thing and person—has appeared onstage, in print, and in the gallery. Upcoming projects include design for Knight and Brinnegar’s Doomsurfing, The President Deaths by David Henry Haan, and an exhibition of his freaky-deeky pen and ink drawings at Observatory in Brooklyn, NY.

Tanwi Nandini Islam is a writer, youth educator, and performance artist based in Brooklyn, NY. After working as a youth organizer and Artistic Director of the Bushwick Youth Theater at Make the Road NY, she received the American India Foundation’s Service Corps Fellowship, and moved to New Delhi, India, to continue her youth work. She worked with young women of color on their creative and academic success at a number of NYC based non-profits. Her writing has appeared in CURA: A Literary Magazine for Art and Action, Escape into Life, Billboard, Brooklyn Bound, Thought Catalog, and Brooklyn Bodega; her play, Nayana’s Passing, debuted at Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival in 2005. Her debut novel, Bright Lines, is forthcoming by Viking Penguin. Follow her @tanwinandini.

Wythe Marschall writes and teaches about futurism. With artist Ethan Gould, he is the author of Suspicious Anatomy, an illustrated book of fake neuroscience. As a curator at Observatory, Wythe has curated art shows and lectures on retrofuturism, technological ecstasy, the neo-grotesque, and the para-academic. His latest show, in collaboration with Genspace, is CUT/PASTE/GROW. Wythe teaches undergraduate literature at Brooklyn College. His stories and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere. @hollowearths

The Philadelphia Chromosome

An illustrated lecture on the origin story of cancer treatment at the genetic level
by writer Jessica Wapner
Date: Tuesday, May 7
Time: 8 PM
Admission: $10 – copies of The Philadelphia Chromosome will be available for purchase and signing

Philadelphia, 1959: A scientist scrutinizing a single human cell under a microscope detects a missing piece of DNA. That scientist, David Hungerford, had no way of knowing that he had stumbled upon the starting point of modern cancer research—the Philadelphia chromosome. This book charts not only that landmark discovery, but also—for the first time, all in one place—the full sequence of scientific and medical discoveries that brought about the first-ever successful treatment of a lethal cancer at the genetic level.

Science journalist Jessica Wapner brings extensive original reporting to this book. Wapner reconstructs more than forty years of crucial breakthroughs, clearly explains the science behind them, and pays tribute to the dozens of researchers, doctors, and patients whose curiosity and determination restored the promise of a future to the more than 70,000 people worldwide who are diagnosed with CML each year.

The Philadelphia Chromosome helps us to fully understand and appreciate just how pathbreaking, hard-won, and consequential are the achievements it recounts—and to understand the principles behind much of today’s most important cancer research, as doctors and scientists race to uncover and treat the genetic roots of a wide range of cancers.

Jessica Wapner is a freelance science writer focused on medicine. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Slate, The New York Times, Ode, TheAtlantic.com, New York magazine, Science, Nature Medicine, Ecologist, the Scientist, and Psychology Today. Her writing on cancer has been in patient-focused magazines CR and Cure, as well as Oncology Business Review. She lives in Beacon, New York, with her family.

A Q&A and book signing will follow the presentation.

This event is part of CUT/PASTE/GROW.

Image courtesy Alice Hungerford

Image courtesy Rosenberg

What is Biodesign? What is Bioart?

An illustrated lecture by writer William Myers
Date: Friday, April 19
Time: 8 PM
Admission: $10 – copies of BioDesign will be available for purchase and signing

For centuries, artists and designers have looked to nature for inspiration and for materials, but only recently have they become able to incorporate living organisms or tissues into their work. This startling development at the intersection of biology and design has created new aesthetic possibilities and can help address the growing urgency to build and manufacture ecologically.

In this talk, William Myers, author of the new book BioDesign: Nature + Science + Creativity, will present several recent experiments in harnessing biology for art and design: from thoroughly serious and practical applications to provocative, gorgeous works of art. Highlights include a portrait of the human microbiome, a footbridge supported by willow trees, packaging made from mushrooms and a scheme to use bacteria to solidify sand dunes into walls in the desert.

A Q&A and book signing will follow the presentation.

This event is part of CUT/PASTE/GROW.

Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts

Image courtesy Audubon Nature Institute

An illustrated lecture by journalist Emily Anthes
Date: Friday, March 29
Time: 8 PM
Admission: $10 – copies of Frankenstein’s Cat will be available for purchase and signing

Biotechnology has given us a whole new toolbox for tinkering with life, and we have the power to modify animals in profound new ways. We are editing their genetic codes, rebuilding their broken bodies, and supplementing their natural senses. Scientists have already created all sorts of strange creatures, including a glow-in-the-dark cat, a bionic bulldog, and a remote-controlled cyborg beetle.

In this talk, journalist Emily Anthes, author of the new book Frankenstein’s Cat, takes us from petri dish to pet store as she explores how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends. Though our new scientific superpowers often spur apocalyptic fantasizing, they could do more good for animals that they’re often given credit for.

Anthes will discuss how we can harness advances in genetics, neuroscience, and electronics to create healthier, happier, fitter critters. If we’re thoughtful and careful, we may just be able to use biotechnology to save animals—and ourselves.

A Q&A will follow the presentation.

This event is part of CUT/PASTE/GROW.

The Legacy of Reverend James Randolph Denton

Ornithological Quadruped: American Badger Swallow

An illustrated lecture by Beauvais Lyons, Director of the Hokes Archives
Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society

“The Legacy of Reverend James Randolph Denton” presents the theological scholarship of the founder of The Association for Creative Zoology, a nearly century-old organization advocating for creation science. The Association was present in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925 during the trial of John Scopes, a high school science teacher charged with teaching evolution in violation of a recently enacted state law.

The lecture will include Reverend Denton’s writings and publications, many of which are part of the Hokes Archives. These include Rare Zoological Specimens, a large lithographic book that depicts animals which support Denton’s claim that God uses collage techniques, or “zoomorphic juncture” to create new animals. He cites the Duck-Billed Platypus as a living example of this principle. The presentation will also include taxidermy and fossil evidence in support of Denton’s claims.

Reverend James Randolph Denton

Beauvais Lyons is a Chancellor’s Professor and teaches art at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. For more information on the Hokes Archives, see the website at: web.utk.edu/~blyons

Book launch party: “Whatever Used to Grow Around Here” by Lauren Belski

Date: Saturday, November 10
Time: 7:00 PM
Admission: FREE
Drinks: FREE with a purchase of Whatever Used to Grow Around Here ($15)
Presented by The Crumpled Press and the Hollow Earth Society

Whatever Used to Grow Around Here by Lauren Belski is a collection of nine short stories that consider the experiences that resonate in the lives of American youth who strive to live meaningfully during times threatening to negate and dissolve.

These stories come to light against an America littered with disconcerting history and an ecology fettered to its eroding future. They bring back the tensions, desires, anxieties, liberties and passions that are our very undoing; but Belski gives us hope in the end as she confirms and explores our human connections. In their places, pieces and moments, these stories are everybody’s to remember.

Be they about a disgruntled poet stuck in a traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere, or a state-champion cross-country runner who decides at a moment’s notice to book it out of town, Lauren Belski’s stories draw the reader into their protagonists’ identities through prose that moves to the patterns of contemporary speech and plots that linger in definitive moments of love and self-discovery. This creates a reading experience that is as open to analysis as it is refreshingly uncontrived. Belski is not afraid of writing in whatever mode her story calls for, and the result is a fiction of unmitigated immediacy and profound honesty.

From “Fat Man’s Coat”

“Oh please,” I told him. “I won’t be able to feel anything through that fat man’s coat.”
“This coat?!” he asked, astonished, as if the coat could hear and was offended. “This coat can’t contain me!”
His declaration echoed down the empty street. By far, he was the strongest man on the block.
“Come on!” he said, waving me forward then settling back into a He-Man pose.
“Fine,” I said, “But I’m not going to feel anything.”
I took a step toward him, taking my hands out of my pockets and patting them up and down his sandpapery sleeves like an airport security guard, every now and again pressing up against a solid form of life: a bicep, the tendons of a shoulder. Then I got a little bolder.

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Lauren Belski‘s work has been published or is forthcoming in StoryQuarterly, Matter Journal, The Trout Family Almanac, and other delightful places. A former New York City Teaching Fellow and AmeriCorps Volunteer on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, she is now an instructor of English at Brooklyn College where she earned her MFA. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Brian Russ.

The Crumpled Press was established in 2005. Our books are all hand sewn We publish original work by new authors and provide a space for established writers to say something new. We aim to create an audience for good writing instead of packaging writing for a target audience. We perish to publish.

Zombi Film Series!

A screening and discussion series on zombies and the politics of representation

Dates/times:
Sunday, October 7, at 7 PM – White Zombie
Sunday, October 14, at 7 PM – I Walked with a Zombie
Sunday, October 21, at 7 PM – Night of the Living Dead
Sunday, October 28, at 3 PM – Les revenants (before the Atlas Obscura event) TO BE RESCHEDULED DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY!

Suggested donation: $5 (free for students taking the Brooklyn Institute class)
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society

Zombi is a film series presented by Anjuli Raza Kolb in collaboration with the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research fall course ‘Zombi’ and the Politics of Representation, which follows zombies from their birthplace in the Caribbean to the US and beyond. We’ll look at three classic American zombie flicks and a recent French twist on the zombie and assess whether any radical potential remains in the figure of our most populous, inscrutable, and ineradicable monster. Join us for just the films or sign up for the course for a rich reading list and outstanding discussion.

A short talkback will follow each screening.

Anjuli Raza Kolb is a lecturer at New York University and a doctoral candidate at Columbia, where she is writing a dissertation about epidemiology, horror, and terror.

Repo! The Genetic Opera

CANCELLED DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY

A screening and discussion on dystopian biofictions with writers Dan Grushkin and Wythe Marschall
Date/time: Sunday, November 18, 8 PM
Suggested donation: $7
Specialty drink: DNA cocktails (pineapple juice, strawberries, vodka)
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society and Genspace

Gattaca it ain’t… Paris Hilton co-stars in this near-future, unblinkingly musical, arch-campy gorefest about GeneCo, an evil corporation that creates synthetic organs and repossesses them when clients can’t pay, inevitably killing the clients.

As real biotechnology grows increasingly sophisticated and offers advancements such as the the growth of synthetic tissues and organs, what do lowest-common-denominator fictions such as Repo! tell us about our culture’s hopes and anxieties?

Join biology-obsessed writers Dan Grushkin and Wythe Marschall for a screening of our biotech era’s first “cult classic,” followed by a short discussion.

This screening is the culmination of the second series of classes at Genspace on Genetically Modified Storytelling.

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Daniel Grushkin writes about the intersection of science, business and culture for a number of science and business magazines, including Scientific American, Discover, Popular Science, Businessweek. He’s a co-founder of Genspace.

Wythe Marschall is the co-author of Suspicious Anatomy, an illustrated book of fake neuroscience, and the co-founder of the Hollow Earth Society. He is a member of Observatory, an art-and-science gallery in Brooklyn. His stories and essays have appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere.

Check out Dan and Wythe’s recent critique of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus for Scientific American.

“Hey, Where’s My Robot Girlfriend?” An Exploration of Sexual Robotics, Teledildonics, and Carnal Technology at the Cornelia Street Cafe

vintage-robot-wedding1 An illustrated lecture with sexual health researcher, educator, and writer Laura G. Duncan

***IN MANHATTAN at The Cornelia Street Cafe as part of the HUMAN+ series***

Date: Sunday, June 24
Time: 6 PM
Admission: $10, includes one drink
Presented by the Hollow Earth Society and Morbid Anatomy

The robotic bride. The orgasm ray. The sex machine. These classic tropes of science fiction—how fictitious are they really? Hybrids of sex and technology are flourishing in contemporary culture, from basement workshops where power tools are lovingly repurposed into bedroom aids to sexual media empires with genres devoted solely to robot-human couplings. The medical sciences have even gotten in on the act with models of sperm-powered nanobots.

Technology and sexuality have long been intimately connected, each inspiring innovation in the other and nowhere is this more striking than in the fields of teledildonics (computer-interfaced sex toys) and sexual robotics. The mechanical in service of the libidinal is rooted deeply in our cultural consciousness. So just how close are we to having a real life Data, the beloved android from Star Trek, as fawning partner to our eminently human Tasha Yar? Will we be able to disable our foes with weaponized orgasms? Can you learn to love a robot? Can a robot learn to love you?

Join researcher Laura G. Duncan for a multimedia lecture on sexual technology to find out. With examples from popular media, the medical sciences, and actual sexual robotics projects, this talk will work to explode the dichotomy between the “natural” and the “technological” and open a critical analysis of how society conceptualizes sexuality, science, and even the body itself.

Laura G. Duncan is a lecturer and researcher whose research focuses on social inequity in sexual healthcare and the influence of medicine on social understandings of sexuality and the body. She has taught sexual health education in a variety of academic, non-profit, and community venues and currently serves as a full-spectrum doula with The Doula Project. She is, disappointingly, not a robot. www.lauragduncan.com

This talk was originally produced at Observatory in Brooklyn by Morbid Anatomy.

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About the series:

inuit-maskCornelia Street Cafe and Observatory present a series of Observatory talks in the borough of Manhattan: HUMAN+ (You’ll Be Partly Plastic When You Die): Lectures on posthumanism, machine music, transhumanism, and machine love. These talks will introduce Observatory to a new audience and give presenters the opportunity to update their work.

Produced by the Hollow Earth Society and Ted Enik. Originally produced at Observatory. Thanks to our hosts, Cornelia Street Cafe, and our presenters: Kip Rosser, Laura G. Duncan, and Salvador Olguín.

Lab and Field Reports for the Organism for Poetic Research on the Skin of Space/Pelt No. 1 Release

opr-logo-copyDate: Friday, May 25, 2012
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: FREE
Presented by: the Hollow Earth Society

The Organism for Poetic Research consists of exactly what its name says it does. The publication PELT constitutes its epidermal organ, its interface with the world. Operating at the crux of empirical and humanist methodologies, fascinated with differentiation, the OPR has been studying the problem of the Skin of Space as an important political effort.

This event marks the release of the first volume of PELT, titled ‘The Skin of Space,’ and heralds the occasion with the presentation of additional field and lab reports on the subject, in the form of poetry, lecture, and findings presented in printed graphic arts.

Lytle Shaw is the author of Cable Factory 20 (Atelos), Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie, articles on Smithson, and the forthcoming Specimen Box (Periscope) and Fieldworks: From Place to Site in Postwar Poetry (Univ. Alabama Press). He is associate Prof. of English at NYU.

Ed Keller is Associate Dean of Distributed Learning and Technology and Associate Professor, School of Design Strategies, at the New School. He is also a co-founder with Carla Leitao of AUM Studio, an award winning architecture and new media firm, and his work and writing has appeared in Praxis, ANY, AD, Arquine, Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Architecture, Parpaings, Precis, Wired, Metropolis, Assemblage, Ottagono, and Progressive Architecture.

Jeff T. Johnson‘s poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in 1913 a journal of formsdandelion magazine, Slope, and Whiskey & Fox, among other publications. Critical essays have appeared in The RumpusColdfrontSink Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, is Editor in Chief at LIT, and edits Dewclaw. He is currently working on LIVE FROM THE VOID, a typographic projection digitally rendered in architectural model space. For more information, visit jefftjohnson.wordpress.com.

Daniel C. Remein and Ada Smailbegović are colleagues as Ph.D. candidates in the English department at NYU, and are co-founders, with Rachael Wilson, of the Organism for Poetic Research.

BF Bifocals is a collective that does contemporary design, free.

Gracie Leavitt‘s first book of poetry—Monkeys, Minor Planet, Average Star—is forthcoming from Nightboat Books. She is also the author of the chapbook Gap Gardening, out this year from These Signals Press. Poems have appeared or will soon in such journals as The Brooklyn Review, Conjunctions, Lana Turner, LIT, The Recluse, Sentence, and SET. Transatlantic collaborations appear in Whiskey & Fox‘s series “Parks and Occupation.”