Interactive Art: Nick Lally Seeks Silicon Valley on a Bike
7 September 2012
With workers bustling over the highways, students bussing back to school, and (e)MERGE artists busting their humps to bring you their visions as they go Seeking Silicon Valley, it's a wonder how we manage to get it all done.
Nick Lally, an (e)MERGE artist from UC Santa Cruz, brings you A Spatial History of the Silicon Valley, a 24-mile, guided tour through locations which in recent decades have played a pivotal and creative role in shaping the robust computer industry we see today.
How then should we reap in the sunshine and rolling landscapes on a beautiful weekend and cover 24 miles of the Peninsula and South Bay? We take our bicycles, of course!
Bike Tour meets 12 p.m. Friday, September 14 at the Menlo Park Caltrain Station. Saturday meet at 11:30 at South 1st Street, San Jose.
For both tours we return to the (e)MERGE Street Festival in downtown San Jose at about 6:45 p.m. See: Facebook invite.
Nick Lally enjoys bicycling as well as collaborative projects across mediums and distances and is also working on a similar project of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. He is a casual fellow, continually developing interactive works such as Fun-A-Day and illustrating whimsical caricatures. He shared some details of his bike tour over a live video chat while at his most recent artist residency at ACRE.
Like most working at technology startups, Nick commuted by car to get from place to place. Eventually he noticed something else happening: the hills presented themselves as open spaces be roamed at a slower pace, to be enjoyed and breathed in as meditation between destinations. Within a two-week tour Nick had quickly found himself riding through Silicon Valley, the Bay Area and Santa Cruz on his bike.
He describes the geography as one where a lot of people ride bikes but that the office parks, now giving priority to automobile commuters, can make bicycling inaccessible to people. "A lot of it wasn't what it used to be," said Nick in reference to the developing area.
I am curious as an Art Ambassador to see the history of computing in the eyes of the artist, yet I am truly elated to have the opportunity to get on my bike and share (or brag) with my fellow cyclists at the San Jose Bike Clinic. For me it is a chance to “earn the destination” by using my legs. I save money by not driving, not having to find parking, and I avoid expired parking meters.
For Nick, the bike tour is an opportunity to see Silicon Valley from the perspective of riding a bike. "It's an important experience," he adds, "It's really different from driving. You go really fast on the highways."
Compare it to any Bike Party event, for example (East Bay, San Jose, or Peninsula): the ride is already planned, so it’s fun and healthy. You bring a group of friends. Along the way you find a spontaneous bonding experience, as it is usually the case.
Nick conducted his research by visiting the library as well as the Computer History Museum to plan the tour. The ride is planned with stops to facilitate a slow, easy pace for novice riders and adhere to the rules of bike safety, possibly bringing further awareness to riding as recreation, exercise, and a solution to a host of other societal problems that make you curse from behind a steering wheel.
Nick Lally lives in Oakland and teaches at the California College of the Arts and San Francisco Art Institute. All photos by Nick Lally. Visit the artist’s blog to get to know more of his work.
For more bike adventures contact your local bicycle organizations: