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August 16-23, 2006

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

Big Rig Art Swap

Every breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, Bush could be tracking you.

Nancy Nisbet, an assistant professor of visual arts at the University of British Columbia, attached Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology labels to all of her belongings, put them in a truck and set out on a road-trip trading-mission across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. She's stopping in Santa Cruz next.

Nisbet has been bartering in dozens of cities along the way, trading her objects with whoever shows up, monetary equivalence being of no significance. The project is meant as a critique, a way of educating and warning the public about the threats to privacy presented by technology associated with Homeland Security.

Neither Nisbet, nor her objects equipped with the RFID labels, could get lost if they tried. But the message of the freewheeling NAFTA performance isn't all dark.

Another goal of the project is to free up trade restrictions on a small scale, by facilitating situations where strangers can meet, interact and exchange stories about the belongings they swap. If you bring an object to trade, the story you associate with your object will be recorded and filed, to be shared again with the person your object is next traded with.

The content of her mobile collection continues to change, as Nisbet makes new friends and acquaintances while gathering new and old objects. "I continue to trade the things I get, so it stays really fluid and alive," Nisbet told Nūz. "It's always this act of trading, it's never a static, 'Well, let's just look at it.'"

On her trip into Tijuana last week, she received a dancer's favorite pair of ballet slippers.

"I've even had someone give me a key to their house, along with their address," says Nisbet.

The project has been adopted by a festival and curator in Argentina for mid-November, to kick-off a South American tour.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, Nisbet and her truck of haunted goodies will be parked at the Santa Cruz Institute for Contemporary Art at 131 Front St. She'll be bartering on Thursday from 4 to 7pm.

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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