My biggest project of late, which might explain my absence elsewhere, is studying for a Ph.D. in the lovely Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. My days are filled with reading and writing, but concerns with visual ways of knowing, making as a practice of theorizing, speculative modelling, and computer programming keep bubbling up in my research. More of this work to come, along with a possible remaking of this blog to reflect this shift in practice and thought.

In the meantime, Daniel, Katie, and I are showing work from our Edit Road Movie project at Transient Gallery in Des Moines, IA. The show opens on May 9th and will include a bunch of new work, some older stuff, and a few surprises for the opening:



In other news, Gautam Agarwal and I won an Honorable Mention in the Art of Neuroscience competition from the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.



The summer ended with a show at ACRE projects in Chicago in collaboration with Katie Hargrave and Daniel Luedtke. It’s up through September 29th, so go check it out! The show was curated by Kate Bowen, who wrote a lovely press release:

Edit Road Movie

From Ulysses to Kerouac the road trip, or quest, is well-established theme that spans world culture. A road trip offers a process that can provide redemption, transformation, and understanding. As a formal device the road trip presents time laid out in a straight line. This conceit keeps a narrative continually moving forward with no character left unchanged by the events that take place between points A and B. The destination is therefore also the resolution, the site of fulfillment after the long journey. However, it is the journey, its tireless momentum, its intense but uneasy relationships that are created as a curious visitor, and its necessary return to the starting point, that contains the events and experiences that allow for meaningful understanding.

Katie Hargrave, Daniel Luedtke, and Nick Lally create works that explore the road trip as a romantic, fractured, and anxious experience in their exhibition Edit Road Movie. The exhibition interrogates the peddlers and iconic byproducts of the road trip trope, focusing on the journey as a limbo. The work considers the aesthetics of the search and the journey rather than the experience of achieving fulfillment at the destination. For example, Katie Hargrave uses the audiobook narration of Kerouac’s On The Road and edits it to feature only the underlined passages in five found copies of the novel. This narration creates a backdrop for the rest of the exhibition of evocative prose, which now divorced from its context and story languishes in idling desires for transformation. Similarly, Daniel Luedtke creates a compilation of establishing shots from the beginning of action and horror movies with a road trip theme. With the majority of the image removed the video presents only the edges of the frame giving a glimpse of a continually panning lens that moves over a multitude of changing landscapes. The video cuts from one scene to the next never resting long enough to find a recognizable character or a place for the viewer to enter. The music from each scene is caught in a constant low crescendo providing an anticipatory soundtrack under Kerouac’s disconnected philosophies. The anxiety and excitement of perpetual momentum in Luedtke’s piece is further explored in Nick Lally’s video that presents the journey between point A and point B as a dusty circle that is seen from the inside of a car as it performs a donut maneuver, spinning in a never ending loop. Dizzy and directionless we try to find a steady course with advanced mapping technology. Several GPS devices with voice command simultaneously try to navigate becoming a chorus of possible routes, singing confusion and the pulling the traveller in many directions at once.

The first half of August found me at the amazing Shared Space Studio Artist-In-Residence program, run by Eliza Fernand and Mary Rothlisberger in Pentwater, Michigan. I took some photos of the stars:


made some new drawings:


and worked on some videos, a couple of which are on display in the ACRE show.


Last spring, I was in two shows. Many Places at Once at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco was the impossible collaboration between everyone in my studio, which I think turned out quite nice! Included was a video of a play directed by Erin Jane Nelson that we all acted in and this installation:


Mind Matters was a show at UCSF’s neuroscience building in collaboration with Gautam Agarwal, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley. The project looked at electrical waves moving across the brain and other waves found in the material world. The prints and videos on display explored how similar wave phenomena are found at vastly different scales arising from unique mechanisms, making speculative links between our own brain activity and the rhythms of the world. A flag flying in the wind and brain wave data mapped onto a 3-D model are juxtaposed in these two prints:


An installation shot:


Videos below the prints played various wave experiments:


It was a lot of fun for both of us to work in the interstices between our respective disciplines and I hope more of this work makes it out into the world.


More photos, especially of bike adventures, can be found on the photo blog.





My studio, Real Time & Space (RTS), is part of the group show Many Places at Once at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. The show also includes work by by Martin Soto Climent, Rana Hamadeh, Li Ran, Cinthia Marcelle, William Powhida, and Ian Wallace.

Opening event: April 17, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, 360 Kansas Street, San Francisco
Exhibition dates: April 17 – July 12, 2014

Come see an installation of works from the studio along with a play, The 14 Negotiators, written and directed by former RTS resident Erin Jane Nelson, made in collaboration with studio members of RTS. As part of the show, we will also be producing a series of events:

RTS Open House
Saturday May 3, 2 – 6 pm
At RTS, 125 10th Street, Oakland

RTS Film Night (not to be missed!) – curated by Anastasia Pahules
Tuesday, June 24, 7 – 10pm
At RTS, 125 10th Street, Oakland

RTS Potluck – Portrait of the Artist as a Young Casserole
Saturday, July 12, 6 – 8pm
At the Wattis, 360 Kansas Street, San Francisco
Self portrait potluck and balloon drop! Details TBA



This Friday, March 14th, Mind Matters opens at UCSF’s Sandler Neuroscience Center on the Mission Bay campus. I’ll be there from 2 to 5pm with my collaborator, Gautam Agarwal, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley. Our work, Spatializing Waves, is an installation that includes two large prints and several videos. The title refers to both Agarwal’s work making connections between brainwaves and spatial understanding, and our own work examining and creating material waves that are related to brain activity.

Spatializing Waves makes connections between electrical waves moving across the brain and other waves found in the material world. Waves in our world take on a variety of forms: they are periodic and chaotic; natural and artificial; borne of photons, molecules, cells, humans, and cars. The project examines how similar phenomena are found at vastly different scales arising from unique mechanisms, making speculative links between our own brain activity and the rhythms of the world.

Then on Saturday, Land and Sea will be releasing a new book entitled OVERVIEW, full of 79 Risograph artist prints at Et Al in San Francisco. Included in this beautiful object is collaborative print I made with Katie Hargrave. Stop in between 6 and 9pm to check it out:




Recently I have been working with Gautam Agarwal, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, on a piece for the Mind Matters show next Spring at UCSF. His work is focused on understanding the relationship between spatial awareness and neural activity. He has been teaching me about his research and I have been developing data visualization tools in Processing to view and navigate through the massive data sets he is using:


OpenGL in Processing has allowed us to visualize hundred of thousands of data points, animate them, rotate them in three dimensions, and change parameters in real time. In the visualization below, color represents spatial positioning and the height of the curves represent neural activity, showing clear connections between the two variables:


We don’t yet have a vision of what this all becomes for the show, but we are developing a large cache of materials to work with.

Last Spring, avatar internet artist LaTurbo Avedon visited my Internet Tools class at SFAI. It was certainly the most unorthodox guest speaker I’ve had visit a class. Check out her intro video and then check out her projects, both of which are great.


Imagine and Manifest the Impossible [Achievable] Dream [Goal], screenprint on paper

Imagine and Manifest the Impossible [Achievable] Dream [Goal], screenprint on paper

EXPO Chicago is happening this weekend (Friday 9/20 through Sunday 9/22) and I will have a couple things floating around. Pictured above is a motivational poster made in collaboration with Katie Hargrave that will be at the ACRE / Bad At Sports booth.

Katie, Dan Leudtke, and I will also have stories and drawings from our Location to Station project in the EXPO Register, a daily info/gossip/etc newspaper put together by Dana Bassett.



I’m going to start up Hacking for Artists again with weekly workshops on Wednesday nights at my studio in Oakland. They are focused on artists who want to learn how to incorporate electronics and/or computer programming into their practices. They are not formal classes, but open time to work on projects in adjacency to and in collaboration with other artists who are figuring things out. And I am around the whole time to help you out, provide you with resources, and point you in the right direction. I have started to build an electronics lab and have all the basic tools (soldering iron, breadboards, etc) you will need along with a lot of components (arduino, raspberry pi, resistors, caps, lights, sensors, etc, etc) to play with.

I think they work best if you have a project and/or idea in mind and come to the workshop with questions. Then I can put together little demos, show you tutorials online and in books, and help you figure things out. I’m also open to feedback, so please let me know what you would like to see.

If you are interested in programming, I will give you a couple pre-workshop assignments to get started, then we’ll go from there.

So if you would like to participate, let me know. Since I’ll have to limit the number of people who show up, please RSVP to: nicklally *[AT]* gmail *[dot]* com

So here are some initial dates to think about:

September 18
September 25
October 2
October 9
October 16
…the future TBA

Let me know if you’ll be joining us!



I’m in show opening tomorrow at Martina }{ Johnston in Berkeley:

Four Core Chambers
Curated by Katie Anania
Leah DeVun, Leslie Dreyer, Yasmin Golan, Nick Lally, David X. Levine, Sanaz Mazinani, Christina McPhee, Jeanne Stern, Elizabeth Travelslight, Andrew Voogel,Jungshih Wang, and Keith Wilson.
Saturday, September 7th, 2013 to Sunday November 3rd, 2013

Opening Reception: Saturday, September 7, 2013 from 4 – 8 p.m.
Hours: Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment.

Cor Humanum: Four Artists on Matters of the Heart:
Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 6 – 9 p.m.
Closing Reception including a screening of Open Heart:
Sunday, November 3, 2013, 1 – 4 p.m.

Martina }{ Johnston is pleased to announce Four Core Chambers, a group exhibition of fourteen new works that explore the contours of the human heart, both romantically and medically. The artists involved are all based in the United States, and together their works map the gallery itself as an analog of the human heart, with the gallery’s central “chambers” helping to shape the flow of viewers’ experiences.

It’s co-sponsored by EMERGENCY-USA, an independent nonprofit organization that provides support for medical care, rehabilitation and relief efforts for the victims of wars, land mines, poverty and natural disasters around the world. They are doing amazing work.

My piece looks something like this:

Nick Lally’s video work Throb (2013) uses Euler Magnification algorithms to process film and news footage, and reveals people’s pulses hidden within the video information. The footage cuts between the original videos, processed videos, and stylized animations to reveal unexpected data within the visual elements. This, in turn, invites viewers to re-consider their own heartbeat not as the “original” to which the heartbeat reading is a “copy”, but as a highly relational and contingent piece of information in its own right.

More information.



Michael Huggins and I recently completed an installation at zero station in Portland, ME. It will be up all month, although scaled-back. Here are some photos and video of the work in its full form:




The wall text reads:

knot talk
michael huggins and nick lally

The two artists have filled the gallery with Japanese Knotweed, a fast growing invasive weed harvested from the surrounding area. The plants, together with visitors’ bodies, modulate a complex sound installation as electric signals connect the plants, humans, and electronics. Did you know that plants communicate with each other using sound waves? Come in and talk to to some plants that are taking over the northeast.

To modulate the soundscape, gently grasp a plant’s stalk and hold on!

And for the geeks: we wired the plants to work as capacitive sensors using two Arduinos which talked to a PureData patch running in Debian Linux.



knot talk

zero station presents an installation by Michael Huggins (Portland, ME) and Nick Lally (Oakland, CA) opening on July 5th.

The two artists have filled the gallery with Japanese Knotweed, a fast growing invasive weed harvested from the surrounding area. The plants, together with visitors’ bodies, modulate a complex sound installation as electric signals connect the plants, humans, and electronics. Did you know that plants communicate with each other using sound waves? Come talk to to some plants that are taking over the northeast.

The artists will be serving snacks made from Knotweed during the opening.


I recently put together a bike-powered USB charger for touring, pictured above. You can find all the details on the Vintage MTB site.


I recently got my Raspberry Pi working and set it up as an FM transmitter for my upcoming Location to Station project. So much potential for this tiny computer!