Wanna show your boss who's boss? Take a lunchtime excursion to the Arizona State University Computing Commons Gallery, on Palm Walk and Orange Mall on the main campus in Tempe, beginning Thursday, September 9, when the interactive installation "AlphaWolf" opens. Sure, howling, growling and whining into a microphone while the CEO looks on might not be advisable under normal circumstances, but this is for science, dammit!
Bill Tomlinson, who developed "AlphaWolf" with a group of researchers and scientists in the Synthetic Characters Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, describes the installation as a "simulation of animal social behavior" that illustrates to its participants and observers "what roles of dominance people fall into."
The entire installation, which has been seen by 5,000 to 10,000 people in seven different shows around the world, is operated by five PCs -- three of which run the graphics, with the other two controlling the sound input and output -- with video that projects onto three white walls. Participants control their own wolf pup by howling, barking, whining or growling, directing its movement with a mouse, and thus "incorporating learning, emotion, perception and development."
"With the social interaction between all of the participants and the wolves," Tomlinson says, "you can help your pup achieve the dominant status of the pack."
The free exhibition runs through October 15. Call 480-965-0964. -- Joe Watson
Bound and Gagged
Another documentary blasts the Patriot Act
If the recent Republican National Convention has raised your conservative cockles, and you're ready to give liberals a swift boat to the head, consider protesting outside the Paper Heart, 750 Grand Avenue, Wednesday, September 15, during the 7 and 9 p.m. showings of Liberty Bound, the latest in so-called "disingenuous" filmmaking. While Christine Rose's 90-minute tongue-in-cheek documentary dares assert that civil liberties might be at risk under the Patriot Act, don't bother actually going inside and, you know, watching the movie (informed criticism's so overrated). You're better off donating the $5 admission to the GOP's fallow coffers, anyway. But call 480-262-2000 or see www.libertybound.com in case you change your mind. --Benjamin Leatherman
Bodies of Work
Watch paint dry at CopperCon 24
All eyes will be on the nude female models artist Mark Greenawalt, uh, coats during his live body painting demos at CopperCon 24, the science fiction and fantasy convention taking place this weekend at Embassy Suites, 2577 West Greenway Road. Sticky latex paint will be applied Saturday, September 11 (CopperCon day two), during a partially nude afternoon show and again at an evening show for adults only. "It's not action-packed, but people are constantly entertained," says Greenawalt, whose wide selection of canvases comes mainly from local modeling agencies. "The final product makes it worth it."
Bring your questions and cameras. He and the models are used to it. "People always ask me if I would paint my wife," Greenawalt says. "The models get asked if it excites them -- or if the cold paint tickles."
Admission is $15 to $40. Call 602-375-1777 or see www.coppercon.org. --Jonathan Winters
Cakes for a cause
Hallelujah, sisters! They've paved the road to heaven with petits fours. Do good by eating well at "Getting Our Just Desserts," a love feast to benefit local charities. Twenty-three female Valley chefs pass the plate of pastries, desserts and hors d'oeuvres from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday, September 12, at the Orange Tree Golf & Conference Resort, 10601 North 56th Street. Proceeds benefit the Arizona Women's Partnership, a group on a mission to rescue the underprivileged in our state. Men are welcome to join the fellowship (or they'd have called it something else). Tickets are $60 in advance and $75 at the door, which beckons the foodie faithful. Call 602-863-9744 or visit www.azwp.org. --Kim Toms
On the Books
ASU profs log Latino culture
If you thought Ben Affleck had issues with Jennifer Lopez, have a little sympathy for the editors of the Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture. "She's driven us a little batty," says Cordelia Candelaria, an ASU professor who, with fellow academics, edited the Encyclopedia -- and its 600-some entries on Latino artists, filmmakers, sports figures and legends. "The problem with J.Lo was that we'd have to change the ending of her entry so much because she keeps changing fiancés and boyfriends."
On Wednesday, September 15, Candelaria and ASU researcher Alma Alvarez-Smith present a lecture about their reference tool -- which includes more than 12,000 index keywords -- and the process of putting it together. "Latinos are part of the American mosaic," Candelaria says, "and we wanted to address that knowledge gap."
The free lecture runs from noon to 1 p.m. at ASU Downtown, 502 East Monroe. Call 480-727-5266 to RSVP. --Joe Watson