Proteus Gowanus » secret wars An interdisciplinary gallery and reading room Sat, 19 Sep 2015 22:40:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Secret Wars Party with Short Attention Span Theater Sat, 30 Mar 2013 23:26:16 +0000 Saturday, April 6, 7pm

At 7pm, join us for a final ‘surveillance’ under the watchful eye of spies, cameras and avian informers, present, of course, for your own good and the Homeland’s too. There will also be spy music  and wine to loosen lips.*

*We are required to inform you that your words and actions may be documented and used against you. No warrants required.

At 8pm, David Goren, Secret Wars contributor, will present the radio-inflected soundscape, The Short Attention Span Audio Theater, featuring excerpts from Antimatter, a sci-fi noir tale of shortwave radio espionage written by the mysterious C.M. Stanbury.

Spy music mix created by the polymusicologist Friese Undine.

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The Atomic Priesthood with artist Bryan Wilson Mon, 18 Mar 2013 15:40:04 +0000 Monday, April 1 at 7pm

Secret Wars artist Bryan M. Wilson will discuss his ongoing, multidisciplinary project, The Atomic Priesthood, and the two attendant installations at the Proteus Gowanus space, The Canticle for Sebeok and Vestments for Ten Millennia. Wilson will address the ecological stewardship, strategies for deep-time communication, and ritual inherent to the project and how an artistic practice can bridge seemingly disparate conditions.  The talk will be a survey of The Atomic Priesthood’s genesis, status, and potential future as it expands to collaborate with other potent collectives such as Smudge Studio and The Mildred Complex(ity).

The Atomic Priesthood is an ongoing, multidisciplinary art project that draws from the unique history and conditions of nuclear waste management. These byproducts of nuclear weapons and energy manufacture remain volatile to human life and ecosystems for tens of thousands of years. Noted semiotician Thomas A. Sebeok was commissioned by the US Office of Nuclear Waste Management to address the complex problem of long-term, geologic stewardship of nuclear waste materials.  He produced a report entitled “Communication Measures to Bridge Ten Millenia”, proffering a potential solution to spanning these enormous gulfs of time that went far beyond creating systems of marking and practical infrastructure. He proposed that a select group of individuals be indoctrinated into a secret network of information whereby the particulars of nuclear waste, it’s repositories, its dangers and its management be sustained over millennia through ritual and allegory. Sebeok dubbed this group the “Atomic Priesthood”.

Attracted to this poetic notion of engaging time and materials, Wilson has taken inspiration from Sebeok and the history of nuclear science to illustrate the duties, rituals, and material culture of this imagined Priesthood.



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Secret Wars: Readings Wed, 13 Mar 2013 20:41:56 +0000 Sunday, March 24, 5pm

The battles fought at night between white and black witches. The battle fought at bedtime between a newly married royal couple. The battle fought in subway stations with poisoned chewing gum. The battle fought with children in a dream. The culture war fought as an emergent species struggles for recognition as a civilized kind. The key battles of such “secret wars” will be the matter read aloud from translations of Czech, Japanese, American, Italian, and Old Irish crypto-military histories. Organized by Wendy Walker, editor of Proteotypes, the publishing arm of Proteus Gowanus.


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David Kahn: How Codebreaking Helped Shorten World War II Thu, 07 Mar 2013 22:22:49 +0000 Thursday, March 14, 7pm
$5 admission

As part of our exploration of Secret Wars, Proteus Gowanus is very pleased to present David Kahn, the world’s leading expert on the history of codes and cryptology. Dr. Kahn will discuss how the frantic race to break enemy codes helped bring about an earlier end to World War II.

Kahn’s monumental 1967 book The Codebreakers: The Story of Secret Writing is the definitive account of secret writing from ancient hieroglyphs through the 20th century. The book was a finalist for the 1968 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction, and was republished in a revised edition in 1996. Other notable books include Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boat Code, 1939-1943Hitler’s Spies: German Military Intelligence in World War II; and The Reader of Gentlemen’s Mail: Herbert O. Yardley and the Birth of American Codebreaking.

Dr. Kahn holds a doctorate in Modern German History from Oxford University. Although the National Security Agency (NSA) attempted to suppress the original publication of The Codebreakers, he was later selected as the NSA’s scholar-in-residence. His lifetime collection of cryptologic books, memorabilia, and artifacts is permanently housed in the agency’s National Cryptologic Museum.


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Day Night Day Night: a Film Wed, 06 Feb 2013 17:08:58 +0000 CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER!

Secret Wars presents Day Night Day Night, a 2006 film exploring the solitary hours in the life of a shy young woman of indeterminate ethnicity preparing to detonate a suicide bomb in Times Square. Join us for wine and moviegoing. 

For obvious reasons, there is an abundance of film and television that deals with the politics and fear of terrorism, suicide bombers and anti-American fanaticism. But what of the secret war waged inside the suicide bomber? How does one enter the experience of that individual, who for whatever reason, has decided to become an agent of death? Putting aside all questions of motive, Julia Loktev’s 2006 Cannes award-winner “Day Night Day Night” brings us inside 48 hours in the life of a young woman struggling with her decision to destroy herself and others, using a backpack bomb provided by a terrorist cell. Little is explained but much is illuminated.

J. Hoberman of the Village Voice says, “Terror is existential in this highly intelligent, somewhat sadistic, totally fascinating movie.” The movie won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Award Someone to Watch.

“Day Night Day Night” was written and directed by Brooklyn’s Julia Loktev and stars Luisa Williams, also of Brooklyn.

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On the Air: Tuning In to Secret Wars Live from Cuba Sun, 13 Jan 2013 14:55:33 +0000 Saturday, January 19, 4:30 pm
  • Under deep cover, a spy waits by a shortwave radio ready to copy down a long string of numbers.
  •  Dictatorships jam signals beaming in from clandestine stations operated by opposition groups.
  •  The first act of a conquering rebel group or invading army is to take over the radio station.
  •  Sarcastic and seductive voices: In World War II Lord Haw Haw, Tokyo Rose, and Ezra Pound tried to demoralize the troops and the folks back home.
  •  Urban gladiators like Skyhawk, Lt. Columbo and Switchblade take to Channel 6 on Citizens Band radio for a keydown. The winner takes the frequency. The loser is a “mud duck.”

Radio producer and audio archivist David Goren hosts a listening session and informal discussion about the way radio is used in battles of ideology and territory. The session will include a live tuning of a Cuban numbers station intended for Cuban spies in the United States.

David Goren is a radio producer and audio archivist, who has messed around with shortwave radio sound for 40 years.  He has created several pieces about shortwave for public radio including NPR’s Lost and Found Sound series, On the Media and Afropop Worldwide. David is also the creator of the Shortwaveology podcast and website which explore the aesthetics, culture and history of shortwave radio broadcasting and monitoring, and The Shortwave Shindig, a live performance mix combining archival audio soundscapes with real time tuning and performance. Other projects include, The Tuning Lab, a shortwave monitoring station configured for use by composers and sound artists, The Propagations,a radio jam band with Ned Sublette and the forthcomingInterval Signal Improvisation Project.

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Bring Your Lost Things to the Portable M{}esum Fri, 11 Jan 2013 14:38:33 +0000 Sunday, January 13, 4pm

Swedish conceptual artist Anna Livia Löwendahl-Atomic invites you to contribute your nØbjects–things lost or missing–to the Portable M{ }esum. Only that which is lost or missing can enter the m{}esum. Your lost thing will be written down and archived on a gallery wall. (“There are many museums in the world, but only one muesum”). Join us! Wine will be served to jog the memory.

‘I am interested in the space between
the visible and the hidden, between the absent and the present, between the unspoken and the understood, between the forgotten and the remembered, between the emerging and the dissapearing, between permanence and change, between life and death, between art and life, and between you and me.’

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Neuroscience, Art and Music Explain the Emotional Brain Fri, 11 Jan 2013 14:20:14 +0000 Tuesday, January 15th, 7pm

Artist Nene Humphrey has been artist-in-residence since 2005 in the neuroscience laboratory of Joseph LeDoux, focusing on the emotional brain, the seat of much internal warfare (often secret war).  On Tuesday, they will talk about their mutual interest in the emotional brain through video, song and discussion. They will be joined by Amanda Thorpe  of the Amygdaloids Band, guest singer Ward White and Zoe Fitzgerald, Humphrey’s video collaborator.


Joseph LeDoux Joseph E. LeDoux is a neuroscientist, the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science, and professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University. His research focuses on the brain mechanisms of emotion and memory and he has written “The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life” and “Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are. LeDoux is also a guitarist and songwriter in The Amygdaloids.

Nene Humphrey, exhibitor in Proteus Gowanus’ current exhibition Secret Wars, has exhibited in numerous museums and galleries throughout the United States and Europe. Profiles on her work have appeared in the New York Times, Art in America and Sculpture Magazine among others. Since 2005 she has been artist in residence at the Joseph LeDoux Neuroscience Lab at NYU where her work has focused on explorations of the brain mechanism underlying human,

Amanda Thorpe is the bassist and a singer in The Amygdaloids. She has four solo recordings, most recently “Promenade,” and three band recordings (with Wirebirds and Bedsit Poets). Her songs meander through the twist and turns of the emotional being.

Ward White is a Brooklyn based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. The New Yorker said, “Ward White sports a sweet, high tenor whose hints of fragility are just a ploy: when he goes after the dramatic top notes, he nails them… soaring, lyrical pop.” His last album, Done With The Talking Cure, was named as one of the best records of 2011 in MAGNET Magazine’s Year In Musicissue.

William “Zoe” Fitzgerald is a video artist and director., he has worked freelancein art departments for commercials and films, filling creative and crew duties ranging from concept development, storyboarding, lighting design, editing, and animation. He recently started a production company called Walking House in Brooklyn, NY.





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Secret Wars: Opening Reception Sat, 29 Dec 2012 22:17:00 +0000 Saturday, January 12, 7pm

Predator 2 by Joy Garnett

Secret Wars, the second exhibition in Proteus Gowanus’ yearlong exploration of Battle, explores the cryptic ways of warfare waged behind the cloak of invisibility. From neurophysical conflict deep inside the human amygdala, to the broadcast signals used by spies and intelligence agencies, to the everyday observation of ordinary citizens by omniscient bureaucracies, Secret Wars reveals covert communications hiding in plain sight.

Curated by Proteus Gowanus co-creative director Tammy Pittman and anthropologist Thomas Ross Miller, the exhibition brings artists from New York, Amsterdam and Berlin to trace the gaps, silences, and blackouts that conceal vital and deadly knowledge.

Who controls secret information, and who has the power to understand it? How do we protect ourselves from unseen enemies? Who wins and who loses when the battle is unending and unknowable? Through art, artifacts, books, sound and surveillance, these installations render what is absent present and what is invisible visible. Inside a special room, mysterious and hypnotic short-wave radio messages in unbreakable codes are beamed to hidden spies. Lost treasures, occult symbols and predator drones appear and disappear, closely guarded enigmas shrouded in obscure and half-forgotten codes.

Artists and works include:

Front404 – PanoptICONS
Joy Garnett – Predator series
David Goren – “Atencion! Seis Siete Tres Siete Cero”: The Mystery of the Shortwave Numbers Stations
Nene Humphrey – Circling the Center
Anna Livia Löwendahl-Atomic – Did a Nose Launch a Thousand Ships? and Otophgraphs, fragments from The Mu{e}sum
Renée Ridgway – Revelation of the Concealed: Politics (in)form
Tony Stanzione – Safety First
Smudge Studio – TRANSCOM Room
Bryan M. Wilson – Canticle for Sebeok (Atomic Priesthood)
The Mildred Complex(ity) – Vestments for Ten Millennium (Atomic Priest Suit)

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