Tag Archives: ali osborn

Post-Sandy Reopening of the South Street Seaport Museum and Bowne & Co.

Bowne and Co Custom Print ShopLast night, I attended the reopening of the South Street Seaport Museum and the print shop, Bowne & Co. Founded in 1775, Bowne & Co. is New York’s oldest existing business under the same name and thankfully, it survived Sandy.

Bowne and Co Sandy Recovery

As I mentioned in my post about Sandy, my friend Ali Osborn is the Resident Printer at Bowne & Co. located in the South Street Seaport. The print shop filled with antique equipment was inundated with two feet of salt water. This would have been enough to damage any business, but with the thousands of historic wooden and metal type and the wooden drawers housing prints, it was a disaster.

Bowne and Co Sandy Recovery

So Ali, with the help of Assistant Printer Gideon Finck and other members of the museum staff, and volunteers, worked to recover and restore as much as they could. They had to go through more than 100 drawers, washing and drying off each individual piece of type. Then, they had to hope that the wood wouldn’t bow – otherwise, the type would be useless for printing.

Unknown Roman

Almost three months after the storm, the print shop has reopened. Returning to its normal business of custom letterpress printing orders and creating original, hand-printed cards, posters, and coasters for sale in their shop and at the South Street Seaport Museum.

Bowne and Co

It was wonderful to see the shop restored with new prints lining the walls. Many people came out to show their support of the historic company and even Mayor Mike Bloomberg stopped by, reiterating the importance of this institution in New York City.

Ali Osborn at Bowne and Co

Among the various prints on display, there were posters that said “New York,” a postcard of an art deco the New York City skyline, and a note card with a ship in a bottle. Bias aside, my favorite piece was Ali’s There, There. With delicate humor and smart sensibility, the large text sits atop various maps in this edition.

All in all, it is great to see an organization dedicated to preserving the history of this technology and furthering it as an art form.

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Printing

Physical vs. Analog: The Experimental Television Center

Experimental Television CenterAlthough I had heard about the Experimental Television Center for a couple years and seen some of the work that was created there, I really had no idea what it was, and so when I got the invitation to spend a couple days there, I jumped at the chance to see what it was really all about.

The Experimental Television Center (ETC) was founded in 1971 with the intention of supporting the creation of work using new electronic media technologies and providing space and time to artists for personal, self-directed creative investigations. Chris Kucinski (my brother) and Owen Osborn of Critter and Guitari had been in residence at ETC three times when they found out that it was closing. When given one last chance to use the tools and freedom to create, they decided to invite some close friends to share the experience with. Those friends included George Langford and Tom van Buskirk of the band Javelin, Bennett Williamson aka Bennett 4 Senate, and Owen’s brother, Ali Osborn.

ETC Entrance

Ali Osborn and the unassuming entrance to the Experimental Television Center

To my surprise, the Experimental Television Center was not a modern building in the forest of upstate New York – no, it was located in a brick building above an antique store downtown in the village of Owego, NY. It was also just one big room overlooking the Susquehanna River that happened to have image processing equipment. The equipment is a “hybrid tool set, permitting the artist to create interactive relationships between older historically important analog instruments and new digital technologies.” Chris and Owen additionally supplied a color video camera, a projector, and instruments including drums, guitars, Pocket Pianos, and Kaleidoloops.

It didn’t take long for the other guys to get settled in, setting up their drum machines, synthesizers, electronic kazoo, and Xaphoon. Bennett also brought a Title Maker and an old school drawing pad that he hooked up to the video equipment. With all the pieces in place, everyone was psyched to create.

Chris Kucinski on the image processing machines

Chris Kucinski on the image processing machines

The guys started making music and twiddling around the video equipment. There was no right or wrong way, there was no “stop” or “hold on” – it all just happened organically and without any rules. What happened happened and it was all recorded. For most of my stay there, I oversaw the visual aspect of the performance (as the self-appointed “creative director”), making sure that we were capturing optimal visuals and a sharp aesthetic however strange the outcome.

George Langford on the Pocket Piano

Geoge Langford on the Pocket Piano

Having no prior video training, the most important thing I learned is that there is a difference from “physical” vs. analog. What they had at the Experimental Television Center was a physical machine made of hundreds of patches that you physically had to plug and unplug. The equipment was created and maintained by an engineer who lives in Owego, so recreating the equipment would be possible, but very difficult to do.

My directorial debut

I designed and directed this set with Owen and Chris

All in all, my stay at the Experimental Television Center was filled with endless sonic and visual possibilities created by very intelligent and talented people.

2 Comments

Filed under Art, Film, Music