Sophont Art at the Di Rosa

Here’s an interview of Desiree Holman in about her art. I built several kinetic elements that are going into the pieces :-)

Read the original article here


New Frontier

Desirée Holman’s latest project looks to the stars


Desirée Holman’s ‘Sophont in Action’ shows May 10–July 20 at the di Rosa, 5200 Sonoma Hwy., Napa.

ALIEN NATION Artist 'Desirée Holman's new show explores the pseudoscientific and the extraterrestrial.

  • ALIEN NATION Artist ‘Desirée Holman’s new show explores the pseudoscientific and the extraterrestrial.

Artist Desirée Holman has spent her professional life researching human behavior in a most unusual way.

She observes subcultures that seem outside the norm of society, but inform the mainstream.

Holman’s latest project examining these subcultures is her most out there—literally. “Sophont in Action,” a multimedia exhibit, looks at our fascination with the realms of pseudoscientific ideas and extraterrestrial icons. Her new work will be exhibited at Napa’s di Rosa gallery.

“This project is largely about this subculture gone mainstream, under the umbrella of New Age, which northern California has been seminal in dispersing,” Holman explains. The exhibit’s highlight is a striking series of portraits of “extraterrestrial” masks worn by human figures in front of an aura haze.

“This isn’t about my interpretation,” she says, “it’s more about our desire for [and] fantasy of extraterrestrials.”

In past works, Holman has examined the obsession with television and fascination with newborns. With “Sophont,” Holman seeks to understand how the collective vision of aliens has become so uniform and so familiar. “Why are popular visions of extraterrestrials always bipedal, always humanoid? ”

Holman explains how this cultural phenomenon took place alongside other cultural milestones like the Civil Rights movement. Before the 1960s, aliens were often seen as tall, fair-skinned beings that looked more or less exactly like people. Then, following popular stories of sightings and alien abductions, they evolved into the gray, large-eyed creatures we all now immediately picture.

“We’re really homocentric,” says Holman. “The beings are other than us enough that we can project hopes and fears onto them, but similar enough that they’re easy to grasp emotionally and intellectually.”

Holman’s latest show also includes paintings of the luminous aura that some believe we all emit. Inspired by the work of Guy Coggins, the Peninsula-based inventor of the Aura Camera, Holman depicts the colorful energies, which are supposed to tell us about our emotional impact on the environment.

Holman counters this with a series of stunning starscapes, images one might find on a NASA website, peering deep into the galactic abyss. All three styles of paintings lead the viewer from the outer fringes of science into the realm of accepted alternative ideas and theories.

In addition, the show will boast a massive live performance on June 28, as community-based Ecstatic Dancers, Indigo Children and Time-Travelers take to the grounds and manifest a living utopia of science-fiction and New Age concepts made real.

Triple Rubens’ Tube!

Rubens Tube 10

Rubens Tube 11

Rubens Tube 1 Rubens Tube 2

  • Mark Rubin: head of the project and owner of Guerilla Science
  • Isabelle Engler: Concert and flame piano player
  • Michael Kearny: Rubens’ Tube designer and builder
  • Lee Sonko: Rubens’ Tube designer and builder

Rubens Tube 3

Rubens Tube 6

Rubens Tube 8

Rubens Tube 5 Rubens Tube 9 Rubens Tube 7

Occupational Therapy on the Radio

I’ll be entering an Occupational Therapy Master’s Program at San Jose State University in August. What is OT? Here is an article about it from NPR.




Some people are calling the current economic downturn a man session – really. That’s because the jobless rate for men is about 2 percent higher than it is for women. While it is more of a struggle for men to find a job than women in this economy, men take note: One profession needs and wants more male bodies, and it even pays well.

Jenee Darden reports.

Mr. FARLEY HOM (Occupational Therapist): How bad is your pain, from one to 10?

JENEE DARDEN: Farley Hom is an occupational therapist. Today, he’s helping a patient at a rehab center for seniors in Southern California. The elderly man recently fractured bones in his neck after a fall. Hom tries to help the man move from his wheelchair to his bed on his own.

Mr. HOM: We’ll see when you can have your pain meds next, OK? You want pain medication?

DARDEN: Hom has been an occupational therapist for 15 years. In case youre wondering, OT and physical therapy are not the same.

Mr. HOM: To this day, even my parents have difficulty explaining to their friends what I do for a living.

DARDEN: Here’s how he breaks it down.

Mr. HOM: Occupational therapists help people to be as independent as possible with their activities of daily living. That can be anything from getting themselves dressed to brushing their teeth to driving.

DARDEN: Hom is the only male OT at the center, which is not unusual. Men make up only 10 percent of therapists. Historically, the profession has focused on recruiting women. Now, it’s pushing for gender balance and actively reaching out to men. Hom says they want workers to be diverse, like the people they serve. For instance…

Mr. HOM: A male might prefer another male to be with him in the bathroom when we’re working on toileting issues, simply because of dignity issues, privacy issues.

DARDEN: But Hom says there’s a growing need for OT’s in general, especially as baby boomers retire. Labor Department stats back this up. They show occupational therapy growing more than 20 percent over the next few years.

Mr. HOM: I’ve always been able to find work. I’ve never had a problem finding work.

DARDEN: Now that’s something you rarely hear today, and the pay isn’t bad, either. In California, an OT fresh out of grad school can start making up to $80,000 a year. Nationwide, the mean salary is about 67 grand. Good pay, steady work and a demand for male workers – in the so-called man session, why aren’t more men signing up?

Mr. SHAWN PHIPPS (President, Occupational Therapy Association of California): I think occupational therapy is one of those best kept secrets.

DARDEN: Shawn Phipps is president of the Occupational Therapy Association of California.

(Soundbite of children chattering)

DARDEN: On this day, he supervises therapists at a rehab center for kids with disabilities. He says people dont know about the profession, and a number of those who do view it as women’s work.

Mr. PHIPPS: I think that occupational therapy is sometimes seen as a caretaking profession like nursing, and men traditionally have not been drawn especially to caretaking professions.

DARDEN: But OT’s go beyond bedsides. Some work in technology and develop ideas to help people with disabilities function in everyday life. And you can find OT’s treating injured workers.

Mr. PHIPPS: I’m aware of a number of men that work in industrial rehabilitation. An occupational therapist can play a role evaluating that worker’s capability of returning to the workplace.

DARDEN: But Phipps says he notices men are starting to pay attention. He even convinced one of his friends to consider the profession. Sergio Sandoval worked in marketing research for 12 years, but was laid off more than a year ago and can’t find work. Now he plans on applying to an OT graduate program. Sandoval says he made the career switch for a few reasons.

Mr. SERGIO SANDOVAL (Occupational Therapy Student): The ability to work with people with disabilities to make a difference in their lives, and to also have steady work and create a future for myself.

DARDEN: And the perks dont stop at steady work, whether youre a man or a women. Money Magazine recently listed occupational therapy as one of the least stressful jobs in the country.

For NPR’s, I’m Janee Darden in Los Angeles.


Rubens’ Tube Commission

Over the last few weeks I’ve been building a Rubens’ Tube with Michael Kearney. Mark Rosin of Guerilla Science asked us to build a prototype of a piece that would travel to rock concerts and the like, blinding people with science. It’s an excellent plan.

Just a few minutes after the birth of the tube.

Practicing before the performance.

The view from Isabelle Engler, the pianist’s chair.



Last week we presented the Rubens’ Tube at MSRI, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. It went really well.

I’ll try to show you some good video soon.




Come To An Art Opening With My Work

I’ve been working with Desiree Holman over the last year, building electronic kinetic artwork for her upcoming event.

Join me at this free event, May 10th 6-8pm (5-6pm preview for members) at the di Rosa in Napa!

(yes, the image below is a bit intense. It’s supposed to be, it’s art!)

(Facebook invitation)
At the di Rosa, 5200 Sonoma Highway, Napa, California 94559

In this new body of work, artist Desirée Holman explores the overlap of technology, sci-fi pop culture, and New Age mysticism. Through an immersive, multimedia installation, Holman unpacks the iconography associated with these realms—including aliens, auras, and time travelers—to examine the space where fantasy can reveal truth. The exhibition emerges from Holman’s long-standing interest in the communal uses of technology for creative, spiritual, and social fulfillment. Oscillating between terrestrial and extraterrestrial, and new and old ages, Sophont in Action speaks largely to our culturally developed conceptions of “otherness” and the shaping of identity within an evolving world.
FREE. (Members’ Preview: 5-6 PM.)

View the exhibition brochure: (local archive)

Need a ride or interested in carpooling? Contact Lee or Join the Facebook event and post a message here to connect with people in your area who need a lift or are able to provide one.

Desirée Holman: Sophont in Action is on view in di Rosa’s Gatehouse Gallery May 10-July 20, 2014. Visit for more information.

Friend Looking for 2br apartment near Mission Bay, Machine Shop?

Ben Cowden, who is an excellent kinetic artist and teacher friend of mine is looking for an apartment with his wife within biking distance of Mission Bay. Possible bonus points for sharing a private machine shop. Any leads, send to me or Ben.