The Whistle Stop is launching a new event this month called Dorkbot. It's an unusual event for the South Park bar in that it brings figures from the academic and avant garde arts worlds to a small club setting. Dorkbot is planned to be a recurring monthly event with a different lineup each time. The first installment will be curated on Jan. 13 by guitarist Bobby Bray of The Locust. He says the idea is to make conceptual art more accessible to a broader audience.
"The idea is that it's an open collective of world renowned people," he says in a phone interview. "But it's meant to be open to everyone—not so stuffy and academic."
The first Dorkbot in San Diego will feature performances by Tom Erbe, a UC San Diego music professor and electronics artist who invented a sound plugin used in The Matrix, and Elle Mehrmand, a performance artist who uses various media in her music and art, including electricity. By placing them in a local bar, Bray says it offers a chance for non-academics to discover the type of art they make.
"There's always been a disconnect between the bubble on the hill," he says, referring to UCSD, "and stuff going on in San Diego. The purpose of Dorkbot is to bridge these groups, and to burst all these bubbles."
San Diego is just one of many Dorkbot chapters, and Bray adds that with like-minded events like Open Oscillator happening, he thinks now is the time to introduce it here.
"There are over 100 chapters around the world. Each one has a different flavor," he says. "The bridging of these worlds is already happening in San Diego. The iron is hot."
Ben Johnson of The Long and Short of It and Grammatical B has just released his second novel, Blood Silver. He'll be doing a book signing event on January 21 at Station Tavern in South Park, where he'll also be selling copies of his first book, A Shadow Cast in Dust.