re:building the public university

a project of the building collective, made possible by a grant from the Santa Cruz Faculty Association.

project proposal:

Re: building the University is the creation of a convivial and relaxed space at the site of picket lines on March 1st, 2012. Students and staff plan to picket, and, indeed, blockade, both entrances to UCSC on this day, effectively shutting down the campus, much as happened on March 4th, 2010. On that day, and at countless marches and rallies before and since, we have hypothesized that the fatigue of standing and of sunlight might be obviated by access to a pleasant, comfortable place to sit, talk, and enjoy a cup of coffee.

It is in such spaces that dialog can flourish. Enlivened by struggle and by speeches, students and staff are often most acutely aware of the effects of the crisis, and the possibilities of transforming public education, during the day of action itself. And yet there are so few venues for sharing that awareness, let alone for documenting it for a wider audience. Our project seeks to provide a space to discuss such ideas, and prompts participants to record their thinking in the simple form of a postcard.

Re: building the University will create the space for dialog, as noted above, but it will also provide blank postcards with which to extend those dialogs to people who are not present on March 1st. Participants are prompted only with the text, “a public university could be:” at the top of each postcard. Though the building collective will have a list of potential recipients on hand (administrators, politicians, journalists), participants are encouraged to send the postcard to whomever they see fit. Art supplies, pencils, typewriters and clipboards will be available for writing and illustrating these postcards. When finished, participants will be encouraged to deposit their postcard into a collection box; all postcards collected will be scanned before mailing and posted on a website for the project, in order to document the thoughts and feelings of participants.

In order to create an appropriately comfortable space for dialog, and to better protect the grasses surrounding University’s main entrance, we will set out a large tarpaulin. Imagine it as a giant picnic blanket. Along with pens, pencils, and clipboards, we would like to make available to participants a collection of pillows, blankets, and portable furniture, as well as snacks and tea. Clearly some of these expenses exceed the scope of this small grant proposal; any such costs will be undertaken by the building collective in coordination with the General Assembly which is planning the day of action.

Finally, we recognize that one of the primary ways that students and staff engage in dialogs during actions such as this one is via social media, especially Twitter. As part of an installation that the building collective produced at the UCIRA “State of the Arts” Conference at UC San Diego in November 2010, we developed a javascript program that aggregates twitter posts related to actions at UC campuses and displays them in a scrolling timeline. This program will be updated to the appropriate hashtags for March 1st and presented publicly at the base of campus with wireless connection and battery-powered monitors. These tweets should serve as both fodder for dialog and as a reminder of the extent and expanse of these dialogs beyond our campus.


still building

“still building: mapping possibilities of student movements”

The building collective, based in Santa Cruz, CA, aims to transform the physical spaces that we occupy by playing games, engaging in conversations, going on walks, and drinking coffee. Our installation for the UCIRA State of the Arts Conference invites attendees to contribute to a collective map of UC campuses that focuses on the historicity, recent events and future possibilities of respective student movements.

Here are some photos from our installation:





Things That Are Possible, Digital Arts Research Center (Santa Cruz), 2010

by Kyle McKinley and Nick Lally with Ann Altstatt, Karl Baumann, Pou Dimitrijevich, Theresa Enright, Miki Foster, Nik Hanselmann, Jessy Lancaster, Madeline McDonald Lane, Lucas McGranaham, and Sophia Strosberg.

Building anything is a process. Building something good usually involves a lot of people’s ideas and labor. building is what we have called the people and the process of building something good in this building. Each Friday at 2pm, building gets together to talk, eat snacks, and make building. building builds on itself: last week’s building is this week’s built, but this week’s built is the place to build next week’s building. The interests of building include ghosts, software studies, coffee, walks in the woods, things that turn, critical spatial practice, the politics of representation, edge sites, flea markets, poesis, precarity, female-fronted punk bands of the 70s and 80s, and building. However, building interests are always building. The process of building results in traces of those interests. It also involves traces of the art/works of Nick and Kyle. All those traces are the building here you now stand. What will be building tomorrow?

Winner of the Alumni Award for Best in Show







building8 building9



building2 building4

building ideas

participatory performance

the building collective visited the Santa Cruz flea market on two occasions in February 2010. On our first outing, we attempted to buy ideas for art projects from the vendors, but found surprisingly few people willing to sell their ideas. Our revelation was that people don’t go to the flea market looking for money, they go looking for cool stuff. So for our next visit to the flea market, we set up a stall of our own, and attempted to trade some things that we had found and some things that we had made for ideas of what building should build in the new Digital Arts Research Center building.

We met a lot of interesting people, and in trade for our wares received several dozen interesting ideas. Several of these have served as inspiration for subsequent building projects, though we not have, as of yet, proven inventive enough to physically manifest any of these ideas directly in the DARC. We did, however, build an archive of the ideas and display portraits of participants, audio recordings of our conversations with them, and records of their ideas in March 2010.