Recent Work

I am a Santa Cruz artist focused on social practice, sculpture, performance and new media work. Here are the major projects I’m pursuing.

The Secret History of American River People

Secret History Shantyboat in Minneapolis

Secret History is a project to build a collection of personal stories of people who live and work on the river from the deck of a recreated 1940s-era shantyboat over a series of epic river voyages. The project explores the issues facing current river communities, the long history of people who have lived on and adjacent to the river, and basic river ecology.

Over the past two summers, I have floated down the Upper Mississippi River gathering stories. This summer, I embark on the Tennessee River traveling more than 650 miles from Knoxville, Tennessee to Paducah, Kentucky.

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Adventures in Urban Landscape

I’m creating a series of large shadow boxes based on Google Streetview urban landscapes laser cut out of reclaimed cardboard. This intersects my interests in geo-mapping, organic textures, urban architecture, and diorama. It emerges from my love of landscapes rendered in graphic novels.

I could imagine these being custom made for people wanting to represent their streets or neighborhoods.
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Night Ride Storyteller Project

The Night Ride Storyteller Project is a robotic radio producer that gathers user-contributed personal narrative and music, using heuristic algorithms to produce an aural collage of personal stories and music, making the results available through streaming and podcasts.

Night Ride is a dreamy collage of music and story, a perfect opportunity for an experiment in automated radio production.
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Bear Creek Interactive Fiction

Bear Creek, August 1975.

Looking back, it was that summer, or maybe just that one day that changed everything. KC and the Sunshine Band was on the radio and you were eight years old. A curious daydreamer, on the verge of learning what lay beyond the boundaries of your own little world, and nothing was certain about whether you’d survive the journey.

Bear Creek is interactive fiction, a coming-of-age story from a child’s point-of-view. I’m working on the final installment of this story.

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Inspiration Comes in the Night

Inspire Blog

Want a glimpse of future projects coming out of my workshop? There is no likely place to find them than here.

Inspiration Comes in the Night is a weblog about art, chronicling the uneven journey through the world of visual art, social practice, performance, and technology. Art ideas, inspirations, projects, proposals, and recent news.
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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