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Jason Das

  • From March 3-April 16, six of my NYC public transit sketches are...

    From March 3-April 16, six of my NYC public transit sketches are on display in Canada, on digital billboards in the Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary transit systems, as part of “Drawing the Line: Artists Drawing in Transit.”

    I am one of 13 sketchers (and 6 New Yorkers!) in the exhibition, and I am in very good company. Let’s hope we can inspire more people to sketch in the cities where the show is!

  • Me sketching in Canarie, by Dave Mandl.

    Me sketching in Canarie, by Dave Mandl.

  • East Brooklyn, After Snow, Before More Snow

    A few weeks back, Dave Mandl invited me to accompany him on a jaunt out to Eastern Brooklyn, to see what we could find. Dave found a bunch of great photographs, and I found these two sketches:

    Canarsie LumberBrooklyn Terminal Railroad
  • "In the same time it takes an average Instagram user to choose between the Mayfair and Lo-Fi filters,..."
    ““In the same time it takes an average Instagram user to choose between the Mayfair and Lo-Fi filters, Brooklyn artist Jason Das can sketch a portrait.””

    - From a very nice profile of me in DNAinfo.
  • Visitations: “Theotokia” and “The War Reporter” at Roulette

    After I sketched Christopher Dylan Herbert’s “Winterize”, he kindly invited me to a performance of Visitations, a set of two one-act operas by Jonathan Berger, which featured Chris’s group New York Polyphony. It was held at Roulette, as part of the Prototype festival.

    It really enjoyed it! I think I’d go to a lot more operas if they were all as compact and engaging as these were. (Probably a lot of them are and I just need to try harder.)

    In the sketches below, you’ll see soprano Mellissa Hughes, the four male singers of New York Polyphony, and about half of the onstage orchestra. (Most of the other half was made up of the JACK quartet, who I sketched elsewhere recently.) The visible instrumentalists are: Doug Balliett (bass), Tara O’Connor (flute), Pascal Archer (clarinet), Christopher Rountree (conductor/music director), and David Cossin (percussion).

    And the words are all from Dan O’Brien’s libretto.

    Visitations: Theotokia Visitations: Theotokia Visitations: Theotokia Visitations: The War Reporter Visitations: The War Reporter Visitations: The War Reporter Christopher Rountree conducts David Cossin, percussion

  • Here’s a flyer I made to help save my neighborhood...

    Here’s a flyer I made to help save my neighborhood Community Garden, Roger That Garden Project.

  • Christopher Dylan Herbert’s “Winterize” at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

    A few weeks ago, on the day of the Winter Solstice, Make Music Winter made a bunch of very special musical events happen around New York City. Luckily for me, some of them were very close to home. 

    Christopher Dylan Herbert performed his “Winterize” in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It’s a staging of Schubert’s “Winterreise” cycle which moves around the garden, Herbert singing to prerecorded accompaniment played back on small radios, while translations of the lyrics are held up on large cue cards. It was a wonderful performance, and a fun experience, very reverent to the music while being rather irreverent to the trappings that traditionally go along with “the classics”. There were some significant technical difficulties with the radios, but perhaps that was cosmic justice for the weather being so unseasonably balmy? There needs to be some struggle.

    In any case, while cold weather would have been more appropriate, the warm weather certainly made sketching easier. I think I did this one just before he took his coat off.

    Christopher Dylan Herbert’s “Winterize”

    Later that day I participated in another Make Music Winter event, Merche Blasco’s “Blink”, which involved cyclists ringing our bells in response to light cues. It was more successful as a happening than as music, but it was fun, and the concept has a lot of potential. (And I’m right in the middle of this New York Times photo of it; that’s got to be good for something.)

  • Working on Amtrak

    Working on Amtrak

  • Merry merry! I finally managed to make something intelligible...

    Merry merry! I finally managed to make something intelligible with my #3Doodler

  • Claire Chase, Ken Thomson and JACK Quartet at SubCulture

    I sketched a great concert at SubCulture tonight, the record release party for Ken Thomson and JACK Quartet’s Thaw.

    The incredible Claire Chase was up first, performing (if I remember right) Steve Reich’s “Vermont Counterpoint” and Mario Diaz de Léon’s “Luciform”. If you harbor any prejudices about flute music, she’s the one to destroy them. 

    Claire Chase

    Next, Ken Thomson and JACK Quartet performed Ken’s “Perpetual” for bass clarinet and string quartet. Ken then left the quartet to fend for themselves through “THAW”. Both are wonderful compositions: visceral, humorous, and exciting. It’s always a pleasure hearing Ken play. And his writing for string quartet manages to use a huge range of the configuration’s possibilities while remaining totally coherent, and building up mammoth charges of energy along the way.

    Ken Thomson & Jack Quartet

    I hadn’t been to SubCulture before. It’s a real nice room, somewhere between a concert hall and a club, with excellent sound. I hope to catch more shows there.

  • UnCaged Toy Piano Festival at Pianos

    I went to the kickoff concert for the 2013 UnCaged Toy Piano Festival and sketched the performers. It was a really nice event, with a diverse and inventive program. Just seeing the stage set up with all of the instruments might have been the price of admission. The concert was held at the rock club Pianos, which was an unusual place for most of this music, but worked out great for those of us not too bothered by the music blasting in from the front bar.

    The sonic interference was even an asset for the first performance, Ranjit Bhatnagar and Margaret Leng Tan performing a few of John Cage’s Indeterminacies (which I adore) using various instruments including Ranjit’s Speak and Play:

    Ranjit Bhatnagar & Margaret Leng Tan

    Next, Phyllis Chen (who also organizes the festival) gave the world premiere of a new work for toy piano and sampler written Lukas Ligeti:

    Phyllis Chen

    Then, singer-songwriter Alexa Dexa did a few tunes. She makes amazing use of toy instruments, including a trombone kazoo that I am sorry I didn’t sketch:

    Alexa Dexa

    Tristan McKay played and Christina Oorebeek's Three Sketches and Peter Koeszeghy's “Moon Veil” from behind a thicket of tines and spokes. The former involved the toy-piano guts and the unicycle, and the latter required playing a melodica and toy piano simultaneously (sorry I didn't sketch that for you):

    Tristan McKay

    Then, Ken Butler played his light-up one-string hurdy gurdy and a dental dam transformed into a jazz horn (yes really). It was dark, so I couldn’t sketch much on this one:

    Ken Butler

    Then, Phyllis Chen and Tristan McKay returned, joined by Cory Smythe, to play Tristan Perich's “Qsqsqsqsqqqqqqqq”, which I suppose we can never discuss aloud by name:

    Cory Smythe, Phyllis Chen, and Tristan McKay

    Finally, Matthew Evans did a few pieces for us which involved various audience participation—rustling plastic bags, giving him pennies to add to his jar, jangling our keys—in support of his toy pianoisms:

    Matthew Evans

    There’s two more days to the festival. Even if you aren’t familiar with the performers or the repertoire, if you like interesting music and artistic inventiveness, you’ll have a good time.

  • Cargo Cult Nonet Using Tic-Tac-Toe Yin Yang Sonification Notation



    I attended the Automatic Music Hackathon on December 7, and composed a game piece for improvising musicians that for now is known by the sturdy and workmanlike title “Cargo Cult Nonet using Tic-Tac-Toe Yin Yang Sonification Notation”.

    While most projects at the hackathon used computer programs as the key implementation of their automation, I used a board game, Ultimate Tic Tac Toe. The automation occurs because, as the score says, “the game players are obligated only to the goal of winning the game, and must not act with intention to influence the music. The musicians must have a clear view of the gameboard, as it is their score and conductor.” 

    The piece was performed in the evening. It was an honor and a thrill to have nine musicians (Hunter, Linda, Nick, David, Travis, and 4 members of the Sensorium Saxophone Orchestra) and two game players (Cassie and Brady) ready and eager to give it a run-through, fresh out of the oven. Later on, I’ll share further documentation, including sound, video, and hopefully more comprehensive personnel credits.

    For now, you can read score, reproduced below. I have some ideas for refining and extending it for future use, but even this initial draft should be pretty serviceable. It was a good day’s work!

    Cargo Cult Nonet using Yin Yang Tic-Tac-Toe Sonification Notation

    by Jason Das, December 7, 2013

    Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

    The composition uses Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe as a score/parameter generator for improvising musicians. Each move/turn in the game generates specific musical instructions. There are two game players and nine musical players. The game players are obligated only to the goal of winning the game, and must not act with intention to influence the music. The musicians must have a clear view of the gameboard, as it is their score and conductor.

    In Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe, the game board consists of nine smaller boards arranged into one larger board. Each smaller board can be won by a player or end in a draw. When three boards in a row are won by a player, that player wins and the game is over.  (Complete game playing instructions are not included here, as they are not entirely necessary to the musicians.)

    A blank game board:


    Each small board within the larger game acts as a score for one of nine musicians. Assignment of musicians to squares may be determined by chance, consensus, or executive order.

    A hypothetical assignment of musicians:


    Key, Melody, Rhythmic Pattern, and Tempo are not determined by the game and may be freely negotiated by the musicians.

    The game may begin in any square (and thus the piece may begin with any musician).

    Each small board has 2 axes, and 2 possible values for each square (X, O).

    As each turn is played, a single musician is activated or reoriented. Each musician continues to follow their most recent direction until they receive a new one. (Or until their square ends in a draw or the game ends.)

    The vertical axis determines Harmonic Range: bottom = Low, top = High.

    The horizontal axis determines Complexity: left = Simple, right = Ornate


    The game player’s symbol, X or O, determines dynamics and timbre. O is Yin and X is Yang.

    Yin (O): “slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, passive; associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity, nighttime”

    Yang (X): “fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, aggressive; associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity, daytime”

    When a square is won, the musician plays continues playing the winning subsquare until the end of the game.

    When a square ends in a draw/tie, the musician stops playing completely, and is out of the piece.

    When the game is won, all musicians stop playing, and the piece is over.

  • Full Documentation of the Glass Bees’s “Unique Places of Death”

    In September, 2012, Chris Williams and I, as the Glass Bees, created a fieldwork marathon and gallery installation in partnership with the Hart Island Project, called “Unique Places of Death”.

    While we did the project over a year ago, we only completed the documentation recently, and you should really check it out.

    There’s a giant sound collage, zoomable photos of our never-to-be-recreated wall-mounted assemblages, several videos, never-before-seen pictures of sleep-deprived artists hard at work, and much more. Go see.


    Also, Hart Island itself has been getting a bit of media attention recently (NYTGizmodo) so more people are learning much more about the place itself, which is great.

  • Praying With Our Feet

    Feet on Eastern Parkway

    Thirteen of my paintings have just been published in a book Praying With our Feet: Faith-based Activism to Stop Shootings and Killings in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and Beyond. The book was produced by the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center who do amazing work against gun violence in (and beyond!) my neighborhood. It’s a very small-run book, but you can order or browse a copy on Blurb.

    There will be a book launch event on Tuesday, November 12, from 6pm-8pm at the Mediation Center at 256 Kingston Avenue. My thirteen paintings from the book are on the walls there for the event. (They may also be viewable before or after by appointment; let me know, or get in touch with the Mediation Center, if you would like to try to see them another time.)

    I made seventeen paintings in all for the project. The four extras are two buildings that ended up not being part of the final draft, one abortive attempt at a cover painting (at the top of this post), and a rained-out attempt which I preserved (rather than painting over) because I kind of like it. That particular rainstorm also made one of the best rainbows I’ve ever seen.

    My contribution was paintings of the places (mostly churches) where the members of the Save Our Streets Clergy Action Network are based. They are distributed throughout Crown Heights, Bed Stuy, East Flatbush, Brownsville, and Park Slope. Here’s a map:

    I made all the paintings on location, with very slight touch-ups afterwards. Working on location in these areas was a great experience. Most of these blocks don’t see many plein air painters! Any passersby who were artists (of any type and style) were ready to chat, and a lot of kids were also really into watching me paint and haging out to chat. The book’s layout demanded a vertical format, and obviously each painting needed to feature a given building. This is different from many of the urban landscape paintings I’ve done in the past; which tend to be horizontal and focus more on a scene or juxtaposition of buildings. As illustrations, I am happy enough with them all. As paintings taken on their own merits, some are more successful than others. Here they are:

    South Brooklyn Seventh Day Adventist Church

    Judah International Christian Center

    Rehoboth Cathedral

    Mt. Zion Church of God Seventh Day

    Glover Memorial Baptist Church

    Faith, Hope, and Charity House of God

    Crown Heights Jewish Community Council

    Mount Moriah Church of God in Christ

    1583 Bergen Street

    Congregation Beth Elohim

    Greater Restoration Baptist Church

    Greater Mount Carmel Deliverance

    Grace Tabernacle Christian Center

    Holy Temple of Prayer INC

    Rained out Peterson Temple COGIC

    Peterson Temple COGIC

  • Paul Auster, Art Spigelman, Bill Kartalopoulos, David...

    Paul Auster, Art Spigelman, Bill Kartalopoulos, David Mazzucchelli, Paul Karasik talking “City of Glass” at Comic Arts Brooklyn

  • 2013 Creative Time Summit, Day 2

    Just like I did on the first day of the 2013 Creative Time Summit, I sketched all the presenters on the second day as well. To find out more about who these people are, what they do, and why they are important, the Summit website. It looks like they’ve also posted video of all the presentations, too.

    Rebecca Solnit:

    Rebecca Solnit

    Mel Chin:

    Mel Chin

    Emmanuel Pratt:

    Emmanuel Pratt

    Lara Almarcegui:

    Lara Almarcegui

    Lucy Orta:

    Lucy Orta

    Raúl Cárdenas Osuna:

    Raúl Cárdenas Osuna

    Ana María Míllan:

    Ana María Míllan

    Lucy Lippard:

    Lucy Lippard

    Elizabeth K. Sorensen:

    Elizabeth K. Sorensen

    Khaled Hourani & Sally Tallant:

    Khaled Hourani & Sally Tallant

    Darrell Cannon, Reginald “Akkeem” Berry, Sr., Brenda Townsend, Laurie Jo Reynolds, and John Forte:

    Laurie Jo Reynolds & Tamms Year Ten Panel

    Pedro Reyes & Antanas Mockus Šivickas:

    Pedro Reyes & Antanas Mockus Šivickas

    Ivet Urlin:

    Ivet Urlin

    Jimmy McMillan:

    Jimmy McMillan

    Ann Messner:

    Ann Messner

    Chen Shaoxiong: (and his uncredited translator)

    Chen Shaoxiong

    Levan Asabashvili:

    Levan Asabashvili

    Rachel LaForest:

    Rachel LaForest

    Invincible: (not sure who the vioinlist was; she was good)


  • 2013 Creative Time Summit, Day 1

    I’m attending the Creative Time Summit this year. The theme is “Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st Century” and it’s chock full of material I’m very interested in. For an event that mostly consists of sitting in an auditorium and watching lots of people give quick presentations, I really can’t imagine better. (And the end of the day is beer, conversation, and copious Legos, which is pretty perfect.)

    There are many, many really remarkable artists, thinkers, and activists in the line-up. It’s educational and inspiring, and much cheaper and faster than graduate school. I’ll be back for Saturday. I sketched all the presenters on Friday, because I was dumb smart enough to start sketching without thinking through what I was committing to. I would have liked to have written a bit about each presenter, or at least provide links, but instead I am going to get some sleep tonight and you’ll have to do your own research. (The Summit schedule may help.) And, oh, the three musicians—playing kora, hammered dulcimer, and saw—acted as the time keepers, keeping the speakers strictly to schedule.

    See also my sketches of the second day and the video archive of the presentations.

    Here’s everyone.

    Mario Ybarra, Jr.:

    Mario Ybarra Jr

    Neil Brenner:

    Neil Brenner

    Jenenne Whitfield:

    Jenenne Whitfield

    John Fetterman:

    John Fetterman

    Anne Gadwa Nicodemus:

    Anne Gadwa Nicodemus

    Lize Mogel:

    Lize Mogel

    Roberto Bedoya:

    Roberto Bedoya

    Rick Lowe & Nato Thompson:

    Rick Lowe & Nato Thompson

    Fulya Erdemci:

    Fulya Erdemci

    Laura Raicovich:

    Laura Raicovich

    Risë Wilson:

    Risë Wilson

    Kelly Anderson:

    Kelly Anderson

    Michael Premo:

    Michael Premo

    Steve “ESPO” Powers:

    Steve Powers

    Rylee Eterginoso & Elissa Blount-Moorhead:

    Rylee Eterginoso & Elissa Blount-Moorhead

    Marcus Neustetter:

    Marcus Neustetter

    Judith Leemann & Kenneth Bailey:

    Judith Leemann & Kenneth Bailey

    Christoph Shaefer:

    Christoph Shaefer

    Chido Govera:

    Chido Govera

    Alfredo Brillembourg:

    Alfredo Brillembourg

    Mary Jane Jacob:

    Mary Jane Jacob

    Tony Chakar:

    Tony Chakar

    Vito Acconci:

    Vito Acconci

    Althea Thauberger:

    Althea Thauberger

    Madeline Blount:

    Madeline Blount

  • Six-panel Comic Using Cinematic Techniques

    A couple of months ago, Tom Motley led a panel sequence workshop as part of the NY Comics & Picture Story Symposium. We discussed the potential application of cinematic techniques to comics, and then took 40 minutes or so to each make a comic using some of those techniques. MIne used panning and zooming. It’s the longest comic I’ve made in quite a few years.

    Cinematic techniques comic
  • Hi Jason, this week has been a hard week for me. How are you?

    And it’s only Monday.

  • Vandura


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