Recent Work

I am a Santa Cruz artist working in the Digital Art and New Media MFA program at the University of California Santa Cruz. This is an opportunity to fill in the huge gaps in my art knowledge, meet mentors, and work with talented peers.

It is a busy and exciting time, with work continuing on several serious projects scheduled to debut in the next few months. I’m simultaneously pursuing several small projects on the side. All this on top of my coursework and MFA thesis work.

The Secret History of American River People
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The Secret History of American River People

Secret History is an ongoing research effort and mobile archive to discover, present, and connect the lost narratives of working class river communities from the deck of a recreated shantyboat serving as the project library and archive. Secret History will archives and present the lost stories of river people, river communities, and the river itself, as well as the personal chronicle of my research journey.

In July, I am launching an expedition on the Upper Mississippi River from Minneapolis, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri.

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Co-related Space

Co-related Space

Co-related Space is a digitally-enhanced environment that immerses participants not in digital space, but embodied space, highlighting the spatiality of participants, their behavior and their relationships with others within that space.

In June, Co-related Space will debut at the Leonardo Art Science and Tech Festival at Zer01 in San Jose.

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Secret Exchange

Secret Exchange

Secret Exchange invites strangers to break down barriers and share their most intimate secrets. It is an unexpected and unconventional interaction in public space, challenging the exclusivity of commercial relationships on the street. Secret Exchange invites people to share their secrets with strangers. A table and two chairs on a downtown street corner, and a sign inviting people to sit down and share a secret.

In May, I performed Secret Exchange on Pacific Ave in Santa Cruz.

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Open:Make Spastic Robots and Frankenthings


Open:Make

Spastic Robots and Frankenthings is a workshop on creating robots, kinetic art, and other DIY toys from the cast-offs of consumer society. Spastic Robots are robot doodles, cyborg rejects, the workings of the mad-scientist who lives just below the landfill. 

In April, I hosted a half-day workshop at Open:Make at the San Jose Tech Museum of Innovation. After the workshop hundreds of Bay Area children are no longer safe to be left alone with their parent’s VCRs, CD/DVD players, printers, and televisions.

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Playing Bear Creek

Playing Bear Creek

Bear Creek is interactive fiction, a coming-of-age story from a child’s point-of-view. “Looking back, it was that summer, or maybe just that one day that changed everything.”

In March, I completed Part One of Bear Creek and submitted it to Spring Thing an annual interactive fiction competition.

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Listening Post Ten Years On

Listening Post Ten Years On

Late last year, I wrote a paper about and conducted interviews with the artists of Listening Post, a mesmerizing visualization of real-time data that resonates still, in equal parts for its conceptual strength, cohesive aesthetics, and technical brilliance created in the early oughts.

In February, my paper was published in the NMEDIAC peer-reviewed new media journal.

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FOMOphobia

FOMOphobia

FOMOphobia is a network-connected installation that immerses the viewer in a visualization of the artist’s real-time social networking anxiety, sounding alarms and keeping count of unhandled content.

In December, FOMOphobia debuted at the UCSC Digital Art and New Media Fall Open Studios.

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For more about my visual art, digital and new media art, performance and social practice, community organizing, teaching, technology work, as well as employment and education history, check out the overview.

The Art and Work of Wes Modes