They wrote this to break a mental writers block that formed since ONG2 and is now broken. If you are reading this to get to the art grant announcement, then please do not skip to the end where the announcement happens. - Jon
This is my take on ONG2. We might call it a recap, but I will call it UNCAPPED. And, YES, this is written by me, Jon Phillips. For some reason, this writing blocked me up bad! I am about to turn 40 years old. To do one thing, takes like 40 things to unblock to do that one damn thing. My only option is to break thru and go direct like I learned from Tyler, the 6DAD.
The first ONG was the culmination of breakerspace, an idea invented by my friend Matt Hope, to help you break through all the garbage and things you have going on to break down objects, items, machines and more. The first ONG was on Friday, April 27, 2019 and a month prior to that was the first Breakerspace, we called Breakerspace01 and is also called Breakerspace STL. As part of writing this recap, I also made a full breakdown of what happened at Breakerspace STL and also ONG1, which featured NAAFI from Mexico City, STL-born Chicago-moved Eric Donte, and deth_bb (Hayden Molinarolo). ONG2 was a watershed event. If you have media, including sounds, video or writing about, please share in chat https://t.me/atmstl or directly on https://artifaq.io/exhibition/ong2.
The first ONG, no one knew how to pronounce, we tried several things including writing O.N.G or Ong, but now I am back to the concept ONG RECORDS. This is why the first ONG was scary good because it was so powerful to find local St. Louis artists doing amazing work and then connect with underground stars from Mexico City, NAAFI, and see the fireworks in the pairings. ONG was a total hit.
Also, I did not realize that we launched a record label. Why is this important? In the history of Art & Technology in St. Louis, there were three formative projects, Phrack Magazine, Club Cabool, a networked club led by artist/lawyer Paul Guzzardo and Beige Records, which forged Paul B. Davis, Cory Arcangel, Joe Beuckman and Joe Bonn. Above Club Cabool was a small office where the co-founders of Square worked, Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey, also founder of Twitter. Casually and creatively, ONG Records is a nod to the originals, Beige Records. Why Records? Well, ONG releases Records, also known as recorded events or as we with a Z say: ART or ARTIFACTS.
This makes somewhat clear the model for our choice of output, one night only events, a day of breaking to create the artworks for the night, and larger more regular releases from the collaborations that come from the ONG events. Happy?
Thus, ONG2 the concept of creating an underground club or rave or a Y2K scenario emerged. We mostly got there! I can say, the event I went to was NOTHING LIKE I HAVE EVER SEEN. St. Louis is the New Berlin. St Louis has its special features, the Arch and a rising Mississippi River. ONG2’s venue, Biota, was created in Laclede’s Landing situated between both special features, in a back-alley, literally underground in an failed western saloon type bar kitted out (and possibly under the River waters today as I write this).
REMINDER: This is my writing. I am recapping what happened from my perspective and what is on my mind to GET OUT. That is not always easy and your only choice is to get those thoughts out so you can get onto the bike, and cycle forward.
ONG2, was led by Tyler Mathews from Fabricatorz Foundation, and Team Biota, Jake Leech, Justin Enoch and friends. Watch these guys! I can say, I’m a friend and supporter for life! Whatever I can do to help them, I will. The entire ONG2 vibe was created by them. They found the amazing elements of the show and I can only smile at what I did not do, and what happened.
So for me, I flew in from Hong Kong for ONG2. Most of what I know from the event is from our telegram chat for ONG https://t.me/atmstl (there’s history).
Similar to ONG1, I decided to hold a Breakerspace the day of ONG2, the same day as ONG1, the one year anniversary, April 27. I had just come off a big project doing Breakerspace HK with Matt Hope and Barry Threw in Hong Kong where we found the new philosophy #zerowaste for the second half of our lives, so my energy for ONG2 came from the discovery and my new power source.
ONG2 kicked off with a Breakerspace “BS2K” at Biota at 1 PM and lasting up until the show opening at 9 PM. Ann Johnson started work on her Digit Display. Justin Enoch and Jake Leech were breaking through tires and materials inside Biota. Carter Frerichs was popping in and out of the meat locker in the back, creating what he titled, a Meme Locker. Tj Hughes and Maxwell Foley were learning how to DJ and also working on video installations for the night.
Aaron Owens is Evolving Sounds, by Matt Ruzicka
The real break-thru for me was meeting Matt Ruzicka, from St. Louis, who came to Art Tech Meet-up and was a graduate of NYU philosophy. He brought a series of devices to use and make work at the event.
For myself, I had Hayden Molinarolo’s Principles of Inclusion Church Pews in a storage unit that needed something done to them and moved from their storage, literally I got a call to do the day before. With Hayden’s input, I asked my recently retired minister father, the Rev. Doug Phillips, to come with his chainsaw to the storage unit. I figured, only a minister could help us convert these church pews into Principles of Inclusion III. And we did. We worked and worked. Breaking and Cutting. We did it! THAT story is forthcoming…
Once I arrived back to Biota, I was pleasantly surprised, much like ONG1 and its precursor, Art Hack Day, everyone was working super hard. In the Ethereum community, we laugh about decentralized governance, but it is as close to that as I have seen. Matt Ruzicka was hard at work and coded from scratch his Evolvable Sound installation. With a bit of discussion, we found a nice home for this piece.
Also, hard at work was Ann Johnson on her “Digit Display.”” When I saw her it said “HELP,”” but later in the night, I saw it progress further and further. With my Oui.Gallery hat on, I already knew about Ann’s “LED Cape,” since Oui showed it in Hong Kong Cantocore recently. I was very happy to see her use her new Laser Jacket during the event.
Everyone was working hard, up to the time of the show! Just outstanding. From working with great people, I have learned one thing: daily hard work and output is the path to success. You might not feel good every day, but every day you put in time and you balance out your risk. You get a little bit of luck along the way, each day.
My contribution to the night, along with Tyler Mathews, I helped to package up a project he supported as a collaboration between Venture Cafe St. Louis, Sam Fox School of Architecture at Washington University and Open Source Architecture. That project was not completed, so the parts were donated to ONG2. That project became two odes to #zerowaste. First, we turned it into Open Next Game a collaborative installation that used the modular parts as a type of building block. This was an ice breaker for the night.
Also, the parts were used for Justin Enoch and Riona Omishi’s collaboration, Balken Web (2019). ONG is an experiential rare event. And, so Balken Web is a combination of LED’s and architectural components. It mirrors the work found in Open Next Game. And, connets to Enoch and Omishi’s other work, Interzone.
Continuing on, the room had an installation found in Ian Cunningham’s Flow State series of videos, called NO SYMBOL, an evolving pattern on multiple screens running simultaneously in Biota’s second floor.
The Main Event
And boom! The live show kicked off with Maxwell Foley and Tj Hughes, T.J.MAXXX. It was both artists first time DJ’ing. Maxwell mixed in some of his own works as Realboy Eternity, Skwrk and from his group, the Trash Boyz. Then Tj wove back into the mix, while his Gregarious installation was projection mapped onto the DJ booth. Tj during the entire set was live streaming in fisheye to his followers.
Up next was the debut live performance of FAILED SHAPE. What a find! This was Max’s first time to perform his high energy dynamic happy hardcore, and the world is a better place for his energy, humbleness and hardcore work. Expect more collaborations from Max, Tj, and friends!
NOTE, at this point, people in the space were actively building on the Open Next Game installation, having some drinks, recording volumes of media and exploring installations.
Also to note, art critic Lee Kratzer and myself, and patrons, led by Barry Threw were reviewing the works of the show.
Taking the volume and room up a few notches, DJ Taye, from Chicago jumped onto the decks. At this point, I knew the party was a total success as DJ Taye’s experience and frequency discernment brought the dance floor to a frenzy. At this point, Ann Johnson’s Laser Jacket was put on and swapped, eventually ending up on Tj Hughes, who was live streaming the entire event in selfie-video fashion.
Taye kept the beats thumping. He rapped on some tracks and let it be known where he is from and where is he going.
Finally, Durham’s own, GRRL, jumped on the beats and brought the 1’s and 2’s, 3’s and 4’s onto the ground to cap the night off. At that point the event had well pushed pass the 2 AM cutoff time.
To finally round off the night, the Biota DJ’s led by Ekse, Namatamago and Jake Leech took the night to chill mode, with an unexpected jump-in by Barry Threw bringing the night to peace with Namatamago.
And that is how the event went from my perspective!
Oh, you read this far? :) THANKS YOU ARE REWARDED.
The Friends of Saint McLuhan
I jumped into the fray and regret that I did not do more to support the artists. I will do even more in the future. It is the hard work with each other that makes an event a total success, and the output even better. I jumped in early in the week of ONG2. I pulled together the Saint McLuhan mixtape with help from local producers deth_bb, Realboy Eternity, and Fluke Nukes. I also received authorization from Club Cabool participant and original Beige Records member, Paul B. Davis to add his track Pretty from Beige to the mix. The mixtape needed more connection to history still. So, I brought in a few friends to the fray including Marc Weidenbaum who is wrote the book on Aphex Twin and holds his weekly Junto series of assigning work to his community and in return, outcomes quality music. Marc launched in support, Junto 0382 Understanding McLuhan. My friend Paul Guzzardo put me onto the path that Marshall McLuhan’s media theory ideas were forged in St. Louis between 1939 and 1944, when Eric McLuhan was born. He also gifted me with a nice audio sample of Eric McLuhan on the radio. Power-up!
Sometimes you feel the moment, and you do something about it. I had a quick call with Andrew McLuhan early in the week and we found that we could work together. Not only that, he authorized on behalf of the family for us to use his dad’s samples for both our mixtape, Saint McLuhan and to do Marc’s weekly Junto. Even better, we forged an alliance for longer term between the Fabricatorz Foundation and the McLuhan Institute. 31 tracks were created from Junto 0382. Andrew let me know he felt good about this project and that means I did too :) Oh, and this allowed for the history connection, bringing those McLuhan samples to the mixtape, Saint McLuhan was born.
So yes, high level global is important, but culture comes from the ground up. The quality of what we make is the quality that makes us who we are.
The ONG2 Grant Goes too…
ONG is about sustainability, also zerowaste. Two artists stood out at ONG2 and delivered. The decision by the critics and patrons is that two people should receive the art grants. The receivers of the ONG2 Grant are Ann Johnson and Matt Ruzicka.
Ann Johnson, is a tireless artist. She always comes out, works hard, has taken over the Art Tech Meet-up void and gives constructive feedback. She is growing. Not just naturally, but with a driving curiosity that infects others around her. She produced two experience altering artworks at ONG2 and invited everyone to Jake Leech’s following day recovery Furniture Music Series. Refreshing!
Matt Ruzicka came out of nowhere to ONG2. I feel a bit guilty because I was preoccupied during most of Breakerspace, but he lone soldiered ahead and made his installation “Evolvable Sound” from scratch! Not only that, his calm demeanor means he took feedback and suggestions, and built upon them graciously.
Both artists embody what is great about St. Louis and midwest culture. Work hard, be self-reliant and stay in control. They are rewarded.
And, this is just the beginning. The ONG2 “break-in” model was a total success and we will build upon that in ONG3…
Released as part of Scale Journal 17. [Read the other writings(https://scale.qihardware.org/2019/17/scale-2019-week-17.pdf).