Author: Jon Santos

Experience Mapping:The Birth of a Cow

In the first few minutes of arriving at a working cattle ranch in Colorado, I witnessed the birth of a calf. In the next 12 hours we would kill a coyote in defense of the calves on property and the second bullet shot was with a pistol in my hand. It is my intention to keep close, the polarity and cycle of life and death in close proximity. Reminding myself that this is all about production and consumption. The calves mother was really struggling to rear it’s child so the ranch hands Alex and Cody stepped in to assist with the birthing process, with a touch of unintentional violence. Watching this calf and the interaction it had with it’s mother, on a cattle ranch was truly remarkable. I could not stop thinking about how this site was the perfect setting for another ONTOPO. The sound of a coyote howling in the night should not be fairly reproduced with a recording device. Try to hear it IRL. Time on the ranch was more than what i …

Project MLab Detroit

“Narnia? Naaa” “Community Building, Urban Renewal words politicians use as platforms. Guys not running for anything, not running from Detroit actually did something – in days” Photos by Jeff Caldwell I was invited to tag along as an advisor in Detroit back in 2009 for Project M Lab. This was also a time for me to learn more about improvisational and interpretive happenings and how that relates to design and site specific work. I love improvising a DJ mix, this was not as fun. A group of students and educators who don’t know each other show up to solve a problem that was yet to be defined. Of course I did what designers normally do and took a look at found type, which proved to be extremely useless. That’s one of our hosts: Doug Kisor who is the chair of the design department at the Center for Creative Studies. Looks like we are standing in front of a Diego Rivera! KIDS!   We ended focusing on the the problem of urban planning and decay in the city of Detroit. You can’t …

Marley Natural Launch

Last night Marley Natural launched in the Hills of Hollywood and even though I don’t smoke, I signed up for a card and had to come and celebrate! Deidre Dyer edited the Marley Natural magazine which I designed and David Merten is on as creative director for a line of products and brand design that makes Marley (and Cannibis) feel a bit more contemporary. Bob Marley, Bottled! A New Skin-Care Line Celebrates the Jamaican Superstar’s Legacy Vogue Marley Natural’s Elegant Pot Gear Is for Smokers Who Say ‘Whoa Sir,’ Not ‘Whoa Dude’ Wired Maggie Morris, David Merten Creative Director, Jen Leong and Ginny Hwang. That is I on the right with Deidre Dyer Editor-In-Chief .

Chinatown Drone Footage

Today I felt comfortable enough to try this circular 360 POV video using my drone’s advanced pilot setting. This shot was taken today from above Common Space Studio on Bowery and Grand street in lower manhattan. I purchased the drone earlier this year to photograph the Outlier Inn for my Ontopo retreat project and Lumeria, an educational retreat center in Maui. I have practiced quite a bit upstate, testing and crashing it up in the wilderness. I’ve got enough flying time now  and I’m the habit of flying with extreme caution in NYC. A few weeks ago BDDW held their annual Weenie Roast and I offered to come up there and take video with my drone. I guess I didn’t think it through but those guys have enough skill to shoot one down with a (giant) bow and arrow. Today’s sortie was limited to 20 Meters up while keeping the circling POV radius within 10 meters. The drone I use is a DJI Phantom 3 which weighs 2.8 lbs and is not subject to any looming FAA regulation because it’s basically a toy. ref: …

Interview w/ K8 Hardy

In 2009 I stopped by the Reena Spaulings Fine Art booth at Frieze in London, and one of the directors I knew asked if I could man the booth while they went to use the restroom. I checked my posture, placed my hands together behind my back and smiled. I hadn’t had a chance to look around, so I skimmed the walls as if I was scanning magazine pages, spending only seconds on each image. I didn’t want to give away the fact that I didn’t know much about what I was supposed to be selling, even if it was only for the few minutes before my makeshift ended. Someone approached, observed the work, and asked if the artist was a member of the electroclash group Chicks on Speed. “This chick is clearly not on speed,” I replied. “She’s on E!” On display in the booth were several self-portraits by K8 Hardy, each very similarly composed with consistent camera angles and a flattened pose that seemed distorted, evoking simultaneous perspectives without the weight or formalism …

Interview w/ James Fuentes

I met James Fuentes when I moved to downtown New York City in the fall of 2003, when he was working for Jeffrey Deitch. I shared a loft studio on Grand and Crosby, down the street there was a vortex of cultural activity coming from Deitch Projects. They had skate ramps, hosted art parades and workshops, and they brought a populist tone to a part of the art world which made the myth of being a career artist feel attainable. The incredible spontaneity and energy of that time was characterized by geography, in particular the loose divisions between public and private spaces. James Fuentes was the first person that I knew of who decided to go out on his own to start his own gallery space. I recently met up with him at Cafe Katja on Orchard Street to find out how his enterprise came into being.    Jon Santos — How did you arrive in New York?   James Fuentes — Well I was born and raised in New York City, I went to …

Anicka Yi, Bacteria Print Donation

Anicka Yi has generously donated a bacteria print in support of our Common Space Modular website application fundraising campaign. Both the artist and her gallery, 47 canal have agreed to a special pricing of $1,500.00 for this framed print that is currently selling for $3,000.00.  We are so thankful for this contribution! For context, you can read about Anicka’s show at the Kitchen on Artforum. She currently has a solo show up on view at Kunsthalle Basel and recently exhibited at MIT where she was able to develop the process to create this work. I have had the fortune of working with Anicka Yi on numerous collaborative artworks over the years: Video / installation for Shigenobu Twilight and a collective that we formed with Josh Kline called Circular File %CF. If you are interested in contributing to Modular and would like this print, please visit our campaign page, select the perk listed at the bottom for Anicka Yi and follow purchase instructions. > Common Space Modular (campaign funding) <  

Detroit's north end. Facing downtown

Detroit’s North End

The Common Space narrative plays itself out in various formats and mediums. I think of a theoretical point for which the visual arts intersect with music and architecture. Common Space began as my design thesis project and at some point I was given the opportunity to see it play out in real-time and off the printed page. What was once a theory I could see applied. Recently I’ve looked back to Detroit where I grew up going to clubs and helping to create unique experiences within a music community. This video summarizes a trip back in which I took a look at Detroit’s North End, currently a place of interest where I would love to some day host an ONTOPO in one of it’s variant forms. On this trip home in 2014 I met with Carlton Gholz of the Detroit Sound Conservancy who introduced me to O.N.E. Mile. They and other groups have been working to preserve the history of Detroit’s North End by engaging the local community with music events, community gardens, artist non-profit projects, spaces and more. …

Rave Labor

Sound Styling + DJ Sets by $hayne Oliver (Hood By Air, Ghe20 G0th1k), Matthew Patterson Curry (Safety Scissors), Alexis Georgopoulos (ARP), Set Styling byAndrea Huelse Design. Architecture + UX by Labour NY, Leong Leong, LOBO, Volido, Common Space, Exposure NY & *HB* collaborative. Relaxation and healing by Lisa Levine. Created in collaboration with Josh Kline. Work-Life balance is on everyone’s mind these days. Rave Labor was a pop-up work party that I hosted in 2013 via Skype from San Juan, Dominican Republic. The party took place in the PS1 performance dome which multitasked as a design studio. I invited seven design firms to work on site and setup a DJ lounge where friends and professional acquaintances could enjoy themselves and network. It was also a performance event open to the public. This was one of many creative collaborations with Josh Kline. The labor and lifestyle of creative workers—graphic designers, architects, DJs, sound designers, prop stylists, and artists—will were presented as performance, an HD, 10,000-lumen graphic-design planetarium. Rave Labor (infomercial) by Jon Santos and Josh Kline, presented by PS1 Sunday …

Social Mirroring

A workshop that examines communicative dynamics within social group settings. Social Mirroring (Rehearsal) Friday May 03, 2013 Hosted by the New Museum Location: the Old School: Prince and Mott Street, New York City. 12-2pm We can improve our sense of self and relieve social anxiety by interacting with groups of people. This work was performed by a group of volunteers, Organized by Common Space, Choreographed by Jon Santos in collaboration with Lisa Levine and Juri Onuki with a sound composition by Abby Echiverri. Social Mirroring (Performance) Saturday May 04, 2013 Hosted by the Storefront for Art and Architecture Location: Spacebuster. Sarah D Roosevelt Park, New York City. 12-2pm

The Last Weekend: 2013 Overview Video

2013 programming was balanced in such a way where we could experiment with the creative cycle / implemetation. We had the chance to test out some ideas on how to focus workshop efforts earlier in the day into something that could be implemented later on in the evening. A simple example was the Masquerade / Ball party which essentially some workshops earlier in the day were meant to be put to use later. Ex: Heidi Lee : Origami Hat Making > Babylon Ball Ex: Confetti System : Pinata Party > Babylon Ball Ex: R-WW-R : Costume Making > Babylon Ball Ex: House of Ninja : Vogue Dancing > Babylon Ball 2013 Overview. Video: Common Space with Yuan Liu.   2013 House of Ninja Voguing Performance. Photo: Jimmy Pham.   2013 Hat Making with Heidi Lee. Photo: Yuan Liu.   2013 Tie Dying with Shabd. Photo: Yuan Liu.  

Burning Dome

By Jon Santos January 5, 2013 In this work, Spatial design is reduced to a symbol. The form of the geodesic dome personifies architecture and acts as it’s effigy. Upon the occasion of the first Last Weekend event in 2012, I asked Huy Bui and his team to construct a geodesic dome with the intension of burning it down. The dome represents the utopian visions of Buckminster Fuller and the optimism of 1960’s counterculture. The process of burning it in this context is a cleansing ritual. I think of the geodesic dome as an aspirational utopian form, stripped of it’s function. Coincidentally, In the spring of 2012, a dome was implemented to be used as a performance venue at MomaPS1 in Long Island City. A month after we burned our dome at Camp Lakota fall 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard and as part of a relief effort, MomaPS1 implemented another performance dome at Rockaway. The cultural zeitgeist and symbolism of the geodesic dome is no longer burdened with nostalgia.  

Blind Carbon Copy

Common Space presents a group exhibition with artists Andrew Kuo, Sebastian Kim, Jon Santos, Milano Chow, Deanne Cheuk, Saiman Chow, Masayo Kishi, Yuh-Shioh Wong, and Confetti System. Wednesday June 3rd through Sunday June 7th, 2009 Location: 179 Canal Street, 2nd Floor “Blind Carbon Copy” is a sly appropriation of a day’s corporate drama. Narrative action item: Global media conglomerate headquartered in New York City commissions program bringing to the table ethnic diversity. Visionary program shall jam the culture inbox, host panel discussions, culminate with cutting edge art exhibition in midtown corporate lobby. Month of June: the Asians. Global conglomerate enlists core competency to brain dump Asian American artists to hang their art in beige hallways of media triumphalism. Eleventh and a half hour division head issues the disintermediate: Shut it down. At the end of the day refers to what happened during the day – what got dealt, what got salvaged, what got tossed out. At the end of the day, “Blind Carbon Copy” re- shuffles the deck to communicate an elliptical difference, even as that …


Jon Santos, asked over 50 artists earlier this year to bring something back from the dead. The result – Resurrection – a self published book compiling images and texts created by artists who were invited by Santos to create work for this publication. Resurrection was inspired by a visit to the Manila South Cemetery in the Phillipines, where his grandmother is buried and where families live in makeshift houses in-between mausoleum’s and stacked casket grave sights. It was here that Santos encountered a 9-year-old boy who was born and raised amongst graves and wilted flowers, a community made up of families squatting beside mausoleums. The fine line between life and death became eerily apparent, and the analogy of life cycles within popular culture triggered a concept. Resurrection is an amorphous and omnipresent theme, existing in various mediums of music, art and fashion.         Contributing Artists: AK Burns, Andrew Kuo, Andrew Paynter, Anton Esteban, Antonia kojuharova, Asha Schechter, Aurellio Valle, Babak Radboy, Bob Linder, Carol Taveras, Cendrine Colin, Christopher Ruess, Christian Jankowski, Dain Blodorn, …


Full Color, 44 pages. 2011. Published by Common Space. Large format publication 11 x 16.5 in Pâté is an appraisal of Kuwaiti taste. Blurring the line between fashion and art-book, Pâté explores how affluence, the West, censorship, and religion have shaped a nation’s style. In concept, Pâté is an homage to The Better Class (by Alice Colombo), a satirical fashion and lifestyle publication created in 1974. Borrowing the structure of The Better Class, Fatima Al Qadiri and Lauren Boyle have assembled a pastiche, pairing the most unapologetic text from Western fashion writers with rare images from various fields of Kuwaiti taste such as architecture, interior design and radical makeup art. In this mash—this fashion “spread”—Pâté captures the aesthetic evolution of an Arabian Gulf state from the 1970’s to the present.  


2014 Common Space is co-hosting Omar Souleyman with Jeffrey Deitch and NADA. NADAWAVE is a series of musical performances created by Common Space and organized in collaboration with NADA (The New Art Dealers Alliance) that take place during the Miami art fair held in December each year. 2014 will be our fourth year. NADAWAVE is a reference to the “No Wave” movement of underground music, super 8 film, performance art, video art, and contemporary art that had its beginnings during the late 1970s through the mid-1980s in downtown New York City. NADAWAVE is a cross section of reactionary artists who innovate musical genres through experimentation and improvisation. The series focus is on those who create unexpected audible forms at the overlap and unlikely combination of sounds that take root in jazz, hip-hop, electronic, bass, funk, noise and experimental music – presented in the context and vibrance of a high energy dance party. #nadawave 2011-2013 contributing artists: Venus X, Fatima Al Qadiri, Kingdom, NguzuNguzu, Total Freedom, J-Cush, Lauren Devine, Lafawndah, KWow, Nightfeelings aka Teengirl Fantasy, Drooids + Merkx & Gwynne, …

Shigenobu Twilight

Shigenobu Twilight is a limited edition handcrafted scent by NY based artist Anicka Yi and architect Maggie Peng. The scent uses three different kinds of cedar wood as its base note, along with violet leaf and nutty heart notes, and top notes of yuzu, shiso leaf, and black pepper. The packaging for this hand-distilled fragrance is made of raw cedar wood, each one uniquely hand-cut in architectural geometry, encasing a 10ml glass bottle of liquid within. We worked on graphics, a short film and and produced an event to launch the second edition of 50 units. Anicka created multiple fragrance tablets impregnated with the fragrance Shigenobu Twilight for an exhibition at GAMeC in Bergamo, Italy. These sculptures are part of an ongoing umbrella project she has been developing called the Flavor Genome. This project seeks to explore an elaborate mapping of subjectivities through the concept of “flavors”, taking reality as an elaborate matrix of perceived unique essences. We worked with Anicka to design and produce packaging for the fragrance tablets that were inserted into the exhibition catalog.      


Common Space is pleased to announce Telegraph, a sound installation installed at the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s 30th Anniversary Gala at 5 Beekman Street in New York City. Telegraph is a “re-coding” of the song Telegraph recorded by the British New Wave group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark in 1981. We commissioned Matthew Patterson Curry (Safety Scissors) to remake the song by deconstructing the composition into individual tracks which will then be re-performed to span 3 hours of time. Telegraph played in conjunction with another sound installation by Vito Acconci titled “You Are Here (& there, too, etc).” This work includes a journey through Storefront’s 30-year history. As part of the piece, Acconci narrates and interrogates the organization’s exhibition history with his own personal commentary. The installation will move throughout all rooms on the 9th floor via custom sound software designed by David Rife. Telegraph seeks to create a virtual mis en scene of unrealized space deploying interactive bodies, actors in a performance of spatial awareness.    

Houndstooth Dogtent

F.S.C. hosted a design build competition during camping trip which called for the creation of a primitive luxury good. Participants were asked to take the “roughing” out of “roughing it.” Common Space teamed up with Matt Penrose & Situ Studio to create a collapsable dog tent made with bio-degradable plastic. This prototype shelter is collapsable and comes rolled up in a bag.


2011, 3 single channel looping videos projected onto a folding table, plaza wall and bed-sheet hung in a hallway. Site: Intramuros historic district in Manila, the capital of the Phillipines. Curated by Anton Lopez. November, 2011.