Game Show on the Road in Portland

Game Show hit the road last month to participate in Open Engagement, an international conference hosted by Portland State University’s School of Art and Social Practice. The conference focuses on art practices that engage local communities and break down barriers between creators and audience. Since it’s the audience and community partners who really makes Game Show come alive, the conference was a terrific venue for this project of CMA’s Center for Creativity.

Game Show performed in two untraditional venues. The first was near the Fifth Avenue Food Carts in downtown Portland, where we attracted an enthusiastic lunchtime crowd. The second was at Mummy’s, Portland’s only Egyptian theme restaurant. Check out some highlights from Game Show’s performance in Portland.

Just look at these creative contestants.

In addition to the performances, we participated in a panel discussion called “Representation of a Non-Object based Practice,” about documenting socially-engaged artworks.

We were excited to see the terrific work being done by other creative museums and artists to engage audiences with art in innovative ways. Some of the projects we learned about are linked below.

Blind Field Shuttle Artist Carmen Papalia led a group of us with our eyes closed through the Portland State University campus to the Portland Museum of Art where we were provided the opportunity to take non-visual tours of the museum. Papalia offered similar tours at Columbus Museum of Art in January of 2012.

Landfill, described by project founder Elyse Mallouk as “an online archive, quarterly subscription service, and print journal that studies socially engaged artworks by way of the surplus materials they produce.”  Mallouk participated with Game Show representatives in a panel discussion about documentation.|

Oakland Standard, a program of experimental contemporary art exhibitions at the Oakland Museum of California, are doing really innovative things to connect their communities to art.

Allison Agsten is engaging audiences at UCLA’s Hammer Museum with contemporary art projects in ways that are fun, open, and accessible.

The overall feel of the conference was welcoming, handmade, energetic, and open to new ideas. It was an inspiring weekend for the Center for Creativity staff who attended.

Game Show 101; Jeff Sims (A.K.A Stu Cartier) and Susie Underwood (A.K.A. Susie Starliner) talk about Game Show’s mission at the Open Engagement Conference in Portland. Photo by Kristin Lantz.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

CMA Game Show!

Creative challenges, wild characters,
and loads of laughs are waiting for you!

Friday, October 19
8:00-10:00 PM

You could be selected to play on stage!

The evening includes a reception before each taping, during which you’ll have a chance to mingle with other hopeful contestants, do creative projects, and enjoy snacks and a cash bar.

$10 General Admission
$5 for CMA members

Click here to purchase tickets in advance
Get to know hostess Susie Starliner

Creative Theft

In the years since the rise of easy-to-access digital media and the proliferation of user-generated content on sites like YouTube, there’s been a flood of remix and mashup projects that show a tremendous amount of creativity. Originally coined as the name of a musical technique, a remix is a new work comprising parts from an existing work that are rearranged or re-contextualized. These days, the term is applied not only to musical works, but also to video and other media. Mashups are similar in that they use pre-existing works to create something new, often juxtaposing source material in unexpected ways.

There’s an excellent example of a mashup on view at CMA right now in Ground Control: Beatles Uber California by Kota Ezawa. This video, which is installed in the museum’s elevator, combines the Dead Kennedys song California Uber Alles with animated video footage of the Beatles as they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. Here’s a link to that project on YouTube, but really you need to come to CMA and see it in an elevator to get the full effect.

These techniques are well-established as forms of genuine creativity, but plenty of legal battles have been fought over unauthorized uses of published works, generally by media companies claiming that the remix or mashup artist committed theft by utilizing the pre-existing material. Well, it might be theft, but it’s a creative theft. Let’s take a look at a few examples of remix work that I find to be smart, creative, and fun. YouTube is a great place to find this stuff.

A fruitful trend that hit YouTube a few years ago is the trailer re-cut, in which a user re-edits footage from a popular movie to create a trailer that completely changes the representation of the film.

Here are two early examples, which are also a couple of the best and most popular examples:

Scary Mary


I love the way these re-cut trailers can assemble pre-packaged footage to form a message that directly opposes what the filmmakers originally intended. It’s a terrific study of how information can change meaning depending on context. Because the footage is all taken from familiar films, the process of the repackaging is out in the open, and the viewer can ‘play along’ with the YouTube video creator. As the viewer goes through the amusing process of first recognizing, then reassessing the content of the video, they are learning to see things from an unexpected angle. That change in perspective can lead to some really creative thinking, as the proliferation of re-cut trailers following Shining and Mary Poppins shows. The idea is contagious because it gives us a way to navigate, understand, and have a little bit of control over the daily flood of media we’re all living in.

It’s theft – the footage is owned by the Hollywood creators – but it’s a creative theft that leads to unexpected, funny ideas.

YouTube user Pogo creates music from remixed films. He cuts snippets from family movies and mixes them up into melodic beats that attracted the attention of Disney, who showed enough savvy not to shut down Pogo’s fair use appropriation of their property, but rather commissioned him for an officially-licensed remix of the film UP.

So there are loads of examples like these on YouTube of remixers appropriating Hollywood product to make fun new things. What happens when original YouTube content, created by amateurs, becomes the source material?


In this video, remixer Kutiman has employed several unrelated YouTube videos of solo musicians and assembled them to play a single composition. Again, it’s an example of an artist making a fun, creative, innovative piece that’s crafted out of material created by someone else.

Today’s grand champion of the YouTube remix might be artist Cory Arcangel. His current exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art includes many works that mix and match professional and amateur content from video games, films, and the internet. Here is a YouTube video of one of the works in the exhibition.

To create the video, Arcangel took one-note samples from a multitude of amateur videos of musicians demonstrating their technique, and reassembled them to perform a version of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations No.1.
Crazy, right?
And totally great! Again, it’s a terrific example of how an artist can remix others’ materials into something new and original. Arcangel’s work, and the work of all remixers and creative thieves, gives us a fresh perspective on the world, and that is powerful and inspiring.

art:21 and CMA Top 5

Come to the museum this Thursday, October 8 for two special events:

6:00 PM Special Screening of new episode of PBS series art:21
7:00 PM CMA Top 5 presentation by Curator for Contemporary Art Lisa Dent

We’re participating in ART:21 Access ’09, a celebration of contemporary art and Season 5 of Art:21 – Art in the 21st Century. We’ll present a special screening of an episode from the new season of the PBS television series about contemporary artists. The episode features artists Carrie Mae Weems and William Kentridge, both of whom are represented with artworks in the CMA collection.

The 60-minute episode will be followed by a presentation from CMA Associate Curator of Contemporary Art Lisa Dent. She will present the third program in the CMA Top 5 series. This one is, of course, about contemporary art in our permanent collection.

-Jeff Sims, Educator for Adult Programs/Multimedia Producer

Art and Science of Glass

Much of the educational content we’ve created around the Chihuly Illuminated exhibition focuses on the science of glassblowing, neon illumination, and color. That’s made me more curious about the relationships between glass art and science. Here are a few links to related articles I’ve come across recently:

Glass lenses are, of course, essential to the telescopes that make much of modern astronomy possible. This Wikipedia entry tracks the history of the telescope from its invention in 1608 through the digital age.

Blown-glass vessels are also essential to the science of chemistry. The Ohio State University’s Department of Chemistry houses its own Scientific Glassblowing Laboratory. Be sure to check out their online gallery, which shows off some technique that blurs the line between art and function.

This artist creates glass sculptures of disease-causing viruses – an interesting artistic representation of what was first made visible via advanced microscope technology.

Everyone is familiar with neon light, but how does it work? This Scientific American article does a very thorough job of explaining just that.

-Jeff Sims, Educator for Adult Programs, Multimedia Producer

What is CMA’s Policy on Robots?

If I had a nickel for every time a visitor has asked about CMA’s policy on robots…
I’d be broke.

But who knows, maybe that will be an issue someday. In a fun bit from radio program Studio 360, artist Marque Cornblatt sent his robot Sparky to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see if they’d let “him” in.

You can watch what happens in this audio slideshow. Follow the link and scroll down to “Robot as Connoisseur” to view it.

- Jeff Sims
Educator for Adult Programs/Multimedia Producer

Why Creativity Now?

Here’s an excellent interview found by CMA Educator for Teacher and School Partnerships Jessimi Jones and forwarded to me by CMA Manager for Creative Initiatives Merilee Mostov.

Why Creativity Now: A Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson

According to his profile at, Robinson is a “visionary cultural leader [who] led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements.”

Robinson does an excellent job of describing the importance of creativity in all areas of life. I especially appreciated his statement against a common misconception about creativity -

“…that it’s about special people—that only a few people are really creative. Everybody has tremendous creative capacities. A policy for creativity in education needs to be about everybody, not just a few.”

He also links creativity to critical thinking, which is another core value of CMA’s educational mission -

“[Creativity is] a process, not a single event, and genuine creative processes involve critical thinking as well as imaginative insights and fresh ideas.

Throughout the next year I’ll be discussing the ways CMA is fostering creativity by introducing the new Center for Creativity, which will occupy the first floor of the renovated building. The entire Education department is hard at work developing each element of the Center, and I’ll be reporting on that as it happens. Of course, the Center won’t open until renovations are complete, so I won’t reveal everything (no spoilers, as they say).

-Jeff Sims, Educator for Adult Programs/Multimedia Producer

Film Program at CMA

After the renovation of CMA’s original 1931 building, and specifically the transformation of our auditorium, we will launch a revitalized film program. The auditorium’s new projection system, new sound system, and NEW SEATS will make for a dramatically improved viewing experience.

Film programs at museums are very common, and usually focus on screening foreign and domestic art films (that is, films that are artfully made, critically-acclaimed, and that offer an alternative to big-budget Hollywood fare), films important to the history of the medium, films made by art world personalities, experimental films, and documentaries.

Since the Wexner Center already does such a great job presenting this type of program, we want to do something different.

Conversation is a core value to CMA, and any film program we organize will be designed specifically to promote audience discussion. Years ago, when the OSU Photography and Cinema Alumni Society worked with us to present Friday-night screenings, the pre- and post-movie discussions were frequently the highlight of the night. The social interactions prompted by the screenings were what kept audiences coming back.

So, in the spirit of promoting conversation with our audience, I’d like to ask what kinds of film programming folks would like to see at CMA in the future. Would you like to see forgotten Hollywood classics, hosted by a film historian? Would you be interested in a 3-week Saturday afternoon film theory course? Would you rather watch full features or excerpted clips hosted by a guest lecturer? Have an innovative idea no other museum has presented? Let us know in the comments!

-Jeff Sims, Educator for Adult Programming/Multimedia Producer

Lectures on Creativity

If you’re on the internet much, you’ve probably come across TED talk videos. If you haven’t, then today’s your lucky day, because TED talks, in my opinion, provide some of the best content available on web. To quote their website, TED is “is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.” They hold an annual conference in Long Beach, CA, and provide videos of lectures for free.

The renovation of CMA’s original 1931 building includes the auditorium.We’ll be getting new seats(!), new lighting, new sound system, and a recording and webcasting system that will allow us to produce videos like the TED talks and distribute them easily on the web. Soon, all of the lectures presented in the auditorium will be available to a much wider audience via high-quality video.

A core value of our educational mission is creativity, and much of the programming we present will be focused on that. A simple search for keyword “creativity” on the TED site brings up a long list of interesting videos. Here are two that I enjoyed: Amy Tan on creativity and Tim Brown on creativity and play. These videos, and all the other TED search results for “creativity,” clearly show how important creativity is to many subject areas outside the arts. Creative problem solving and innovation really are important to any endeavor. Best of all, creativity isn’t just an innate quality we’re born with. We really can learn to be more creative!

-Jeff Sims, Educator for Adult Programs/Multimedia Producer