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Sometimes I have trouble knowing what goes into the goes in the squishy center oval of the Venn Diagram of Nelle Dunlap's Artwork. The two circles are easy enough. The left one is Community Arts – bringing artmaking into non-traditional venues. The most recent addition is the transformation of a warehouse from punk thrash-house music venue to art studio space and performance venue that I helped orchestrate, but also scribbled in there are the years I've spent at Iowa City Senior Center Television, my short time on the board at PATV, my burlesque troupe, perhaps even my time as graphics editor at the Daily Iowan and DITV.

The White Lightning Wherehouse is a place where a lot of beautiful circumstances rub elbows: a really active punk music scene, an extraordinary physical space, and a restless collection of young adult artists gathered around the periphery of the University. Last year's tenets threw knives at the wall and left big gashes, they wrote phone numbers on the wall with marker, they installed a trapeze, two trampolines, two stoves, four organs. The hosted punk shows almost every week and did a great job at it. They threw a copy machine off the second floor and skateboarded everywhere. They had lots of cats with fleas. They built a tiny room out of particle board, thick reference books, dinner trays, discarded 2x4s and old windows. It was used mostly for sex.

When my partner Josh and I took over the lease, there was a great deal of physical work involved. My favorite fact to cite is that trash removal costs $15/dumpster, and our first month's trash bill was $1,200. But more than the painting and scrubbing, the biggest challenge was for the community to view the Wherehouse as an viable art space. It is rough trying to create events that appeal to the already existant underground-loving community and also draw a new crowd. We have had movie nights curated by the director of the local pirate radio station and intermedia performances that involve sitar players Skyping in from India. Our biggest non-show event has been the Works-in-Progress festival. This University of Iowa-affiliated event takes place at various venues all over Iowa City for a few days each fall. Artists of every medium submit works to be critiqued as "in progress;" I submitted The Wherehouse as both a project and a space in which others could present projects. I gave a presentation, and artists gave studio tours. In the evening, visiting artist Flint Jamison presented along with others, including my troupe Les Dames du Burlesque, who tried out a new set of Tableau Vivants. Over 200 people showed up, most of whom would never have set foot in the Wherehouse otherwise.

It was about 9:45 p.m. on a Friday night at the Wherehouse. In the middle of the room a small cluster of 30 and 40-somethings that had been sitting in a wide circle for most of the night scooted their chairs closer together. Some now stood, gesturing with their plastic cups of wine as they read aloud, "My lord, I do protest--". Another bunch of people had started coming in the Wherehouse, threatening the peace of the Shakespeareans. Squads of twenty year old guys and a few girls in torn black jeans, little hats, and cool Goodwill jackets carried in guitars, drum sets, and big amps with ropes of power cords. The punks hadn't seen each other in a long time, many were old friends that greeted each other with bear hugs, "Dude! I love you, what's up man!?" As the din of backslaps and banging equipment got louder, so did the Twelfth Night. "How now! art thou mad?" shouted a woman wearing a felted jester hat and veil over her long braid. I circled the readers like a nervous sheepdog as Josh hobnobbed with the musicians, but other than a few bemused looks back and forth, neither group seemed offended by the other. It was successful integration of the two facets of the Wherehouse.

I tell the same stupid story about why I started the burlesque troupe to all the reporters who have written about Les Dames. It's centered around social networking sites and having fun. It's not an untrue story, but it's incomplete. Mostly, it was selfish. I craved a chance to perform and to collaborate. I shopped a couple ideas around, and burlesque got the most response. Burlesque is a vehicle to perform, but it is also an act that is based in community. Certainly, our troupe is on the edge between pure entertainment and art-making, but we have been successful on certain occasions of placing ourselves firmly in the art-world and thereby exposing a new sector of the community to a performance they were not expecting. Last spring we were able to practice for free in the Senior Center work-out room as a performing group of the center. This meant that at the end of the semester I pressed play on a CD that started with "A Bushel and A Peck" and acted out a skit involving plastic baby dolls being swept under the table and husband-poisoning. Then I played the Vivaldi Double cello duet with my sister while removing articles of clothing. The seniors loved it.

My relationship with the Senior Center started way before burlesque. The Center has had a television studio for over twenty years now. Senior producers send four hours of programming to local stations every month, recording the activities of the center as well as making their own artworks and documentaries. I have had many positions, but am currently the interviewer for War Stories, a series chronicling the experience of vets, and the videographer and editor for Neighbors and Friends, a show done by an 86-year old lesbian that addresses GLBTQ issues in Iowa City. I also have my own series where I introduce new classes at the Center by taking a lesson with the teacher; so far I have learned how to tapdance and how to play party-friendly piano.

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Back to the Venn Diagram. I would label the right circle with the ridiculously wide umbrella term Multi-Media Performance Art. I would put in the performances and music vidYOs I make as Princeß Tralabeeka, my YouTube persona Br00keMsweet88, owtfyt blaugging, maybe some of the less commerical design and motion graphics work I do. This work has been most greatly influenced by new social technology – not only in the form and medium of what I make, but the the way this technology has inherently changed our society; this is something I am intrigued by and am responding to.

Last August I get to spend two weeks at a pine-tree-encrusted paradise of toads and canoes, the itty-bitty northern Wisconsin cabin I have spent summers at my whole life. There’s nothing even resembling the internet up there, but as I walked by the oven installed by my great-grandfather Forrest Bennet I could have sworn I heard the little chime of a new gchat. My ears perked up. Who’s talking to me?

It was not a gchat, it was a teapot knocking against the burner, but isn’t it fascinating how we are now so attuned to a set of sounds that didn’t even exist before? Certainly this is not a new phenomenon– the sound of a locomotive was a wholly new sound that became ingrained in our brains, as was the ringing of the telephone – but the sounds we now associate with getting some kind of new information are so subtle. It’s not like “OH DAMN, THAT’S A TRAIN,” but instead “Oh, that soft series of tones is a new email on my iPhone,” and “Oh, that background whirring on the song I made in GarageBand is my overworked harddrive,” and “Oh, that tiny click at the beginning of my PhotoBooth dance video is me hitting the space bar to start All The Single Ladies in iTunes.”

New technology as particularized this, but other things in our world have been made more imprecise. The cult of celebrity has taken a turn for the ambiguous, and many relationships and accepted precepts of the art world now float around in a gray zone. Both are affected by technology that blurs the line between the performer / creator of work and the audience. Widely accessible creative tools and the promotion and distribution capability of the internet means that many more people are making and sharing creative work. The rise of a new celebrity can happen without any connection to the traditional star culture system, and the rise of an artist can happen without the backing of conventional gallery shows more quickly than it could have before.

Internet art gets work out of the gallery and into the minds of people who would not normally have access to it – groups that are either physically or social isolated from a strong art scene. Connecting to these social and economic cultures is an important part of Net art, just as it was important to the conceptual artists of the 1960s who wanted to take the power away from galleries and museums. Happenings pushed art into the public realm, surprising an unsuspecting public into reassessing notions of art and its relation to culture. In the same way, my insertion of my internet personality Br00keMsweet88 into the public sphere of other video bloggers has caused the audience to question whether it is performance art or pop culture drivel. If Br00ke were a real person auditioning for the Real World, she would be a performer in the entertainment sphere. But as she is a construct, it is art.

When I perform as Princeß Tralabeeka, I take what I see as the crux of a pop star – over-done and stereotypical sexually, extremely simple musicality, a lack of deeper meaning – to the extreme. While the content is mimicked, the form is not. The final piece of what often identifies a pop star is an aesthetic of being visually over-processed, and "Musick VidYO" is anything but. Separating the content from the form makes the accepted mass culture image look ridiculous.

I think the neatest thing about the technology of my universe is that the weight/truth/existence of a real-world object or event or person can be negligible compared to its presence in the world of the internet. Princeß Tralabeeka has only had one live performance – at the Open Lot Gallery in Nashville in 2010, but she has multiple music videos, and has made a TV appearance (as an alien robot lounge singer for the PATV remake of Moon Zero Three – to be aired fall 2011). Many fans never see their favorite entertainers perform live. The quality and quantity of digital material that entertainers produce is so immense that it has become an acceptable alternative to in-person interaction. In that system, physical reality is not truer than what can be created online. I want to create smart and beautiful things in the real world and then remake them into something new online; multiplying their greatness by designing them a bigger identity. That includes my own self.

Last year took photos of my outfits almost everyday for months and months and posted them online with incomprehensible phonetic captions. Although the process of taking the photos and posting them online was always very public, looking at them retrospectively and remembering each of those days is an incredibly intimate and emotional experience for me. Last year was hard; I spent a lot of time crying and feeling really horrible about myself. I began drawing pictures of my body over and over, and recording my feelings in melodies in garageband as a new therapeutic coping mechanism. This dark and emotional personal reflection is a sharp contrast to the images I was putting in front of a growing public audience. Neither group of work is complete on its own, both are needed to form the portrait.

For a long time I felt a self-consciousness that what I was doing on my outfit blog was a waste of time, that it was too flip, that it lacked content and failed to take into account the seriousness and sadness of the world. But then I started playing my cello in a Shangri Las cover band. In the course of my totally immersing myself in the culture of the 1960s, I looked into the art of that era. What struck me first in my research is how incredibly work-intensive it was for women to do hair up in a beehive every morning. Then I began reading about Fluxus artists. I was struck by the similarities between their principles of artmaking and mine: a DIY aesthetic, off-the-cuff performance that elevates the banal and everyday, the awareness of the audience, integration of multi-media, and most of all humor. Fluxus artists didn't perform too seriously, they were social and communitarian. Art doesn't have to be alienating. It is human to be goofy.

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So, the Venn Diagram intersection. I am interested in pushing this grayness of artmaking to futher limits of desaturization in the physical world. Not only are gallery spaces taking a back seat to internet display, but also alternate art spaces are becoming more and more viable in the physical world. It's a Thing now to "run a warehouse" – people know you aren't talking about managing a storage space for a Big Box retailer. I have been lucky enough to do this aforementioned activity, and in doing so have learned what a vibrant national movement public art is now. So with the right circle as multi-media performance art and the lefts community art practice, what goes in the middle? Recently it has seemed these two actions might come together in teaching. This spring I will be teaching burlesque class to seniors at the Senior Center, and at Public Access Television will be instructing children in creating music videos – from writing the songs to shooting and editing. In my community art practice with Les Dames du Burlesque, The Wherehouse, The Senior Center, the Public Access Station, all my focus is on creating a new audience by presenting the work in a non-traditional space.

When I was twenty, and a designer from the University of Iowa newspaper spoke to my typography class, what appealed to me was the chance to collaborate with non-artists, be conscious of a different world, and work on projects that had creative elements in addition to technical / analytical / managerial. This is what I have gotten at the Wherehouse, but instead of making diagrams and pie charts, I have skinned rabbits, played in a Shangri Las cover band, performed flexibility moves on a trapeze, installed a staircase, and worked a PA. I have learned that even if you don't smoke it's important to go outside when everybody does, because smoking is only in part about nicotine. It's mostly about taking a step back from what you are working on to meet the people you are working with. I like the problem solving, responsibility, control, hard work, passion. I have learned what people respond to. I have learned it takes a long time for people to get their heads around something. When they are on board things happen right quick, when they are not, it doesn't. I guess this is the importance of having good people around you, who you trust, who are hard workers, whose aesthetics and decision-making you respect. I think I know now to just go for it.