Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Many people in the world can only see the sky through a curtain of violence. Conversely, even on your darkest days you can search for pieces of light.


Why kill someone yourself when you can have someone else do it for you? Palmer Fishman Industries’ Grade A Soldiers are highly trained, loyal, obedient and disposable. No need to get your own hands dirty.

starting at $2000 per soldier. quantity discounts available.

Trauma Processing

Many traumas are characterized by loss of control, where the survivor is subjected to something they cannot stop or change.

Sometimes ritual acts that one controls from beginning to end, such as dropping a ripe papaya from a rooftop and then cleaning up the wreckage, can promote increased well-being.

Palmer fishman industries can facilitate your papaya-dropping experience

Stigma Exorcisms

stigma exorcisms, performative or participatory

Tired of the burdens of your secrets? Of being stigmatized for your HIV status, profession, addictions, disabilities? Palmer Fishman Industries can perform a public or private stigma exorcism, or design a personalized, participatory ritual based on your stigmatized characteristics of interest.

Performed for you - corporal list of secrets, ritual covering, liberation. from $300.

participatory - same elements on your body. from $500, each additional person $200.

Made in China Luxury Brand

made in china

Be a trendsetter. Don’t hide those ‘Made in China’ tags - make them bigger!

The Palmer Fishman Industries ‘MAO Made in China’ logo is overtaking the glamour and prestige of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Coach, and the rest of the obselete brown initials.

The 21st century requires something bolder!

China is cheap.

China is kitsch.

China is powerful.

China is everywhere you want to be.

Be part of the real Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward in style.

Palmer Fishman industries can print the logo on any of your goods that were made in China, from an Ikea apron (above right) to a Dianne Von Furstenburg silk wrap dress (above left).

starting from $150.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Stigma Elimination Cakes

Countless aspects of identity are stigmatized, from ethnicity to sexual orientation to hairstyles (mohawks, mullets). Don’t tolerate stigma a moment longer!

Order a custom Stigma Elimination Cake for your next corporate event, support group, or birthday party. Your guests, supporters and yes, even those who stigmatize you will enjoy helping you eliminate stigma.

Don’t hide! Eat!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Case of Emergency...

...Break Plastic. So reads the plastic cube on the New American Coffee Table. This piece is designed for the family of today, who wishes to reflect high status and wealth (via gold leaf on the frame), enjoy superlative comfort and kitsch with the turquoise and green shag fur tabletop upholstery.

The cube contains supplies for common family emergencies:
1 guide to Psychopharmacology
3 bottles of antidepressants
1 bottle of tranquilizers
1 squid egg-beater
1 pipe-cleaner choker with 'help' computer key pendant
1 guide to couples and family therapy
1 'Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath
1 R2D2 action figure
1 American Idol clapping squirt gun

The case can be opened by authorized user to customize contents.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Seating by PFI

I think she likes the cushions - they're waterproof.

What? You never realized that you need a Transformer hiding in your armchair? Or pockets? Just think, a place to stick all the remote controls, toys, maybe a snack, or an extra cold one?

Armchair dressed in the suits of one professional San Diego woman.

Palmer Fishman Industries at 16th and Market

Palmer Fishman Industries held an exclusive market for the resident's of Father Joe's Villages' beautiful new apartment building at 16th and Market, downtown San Diego. The price? Exercise your creativity! Seek inventive solutions, even if all you have to work with is trash. She looks like a satisfied customer.

We had a rush on the chalk-board table and the children's books. These two sisters took the table home, with dad's help. "Maybe they'll stop drawing on the walls," he said, hopefully.

Palmer Fishman Industries staff installed the throne next to Mission Bay in late afternoon, in time for the sunset.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Palmer Fishman Industries at Art Around Adams

Palmer Fishman Industries, the artist collaborative made up of Otto Castillo and Jessica Hirst, presented Palmer Fishman's Recycled Lounge at the Art Around Adams Festival held in San Diego on June 6, 2009. The artists installed the equivalent of a living room with two seating areas on the ball field in front of the main stage. All of the pieces were reconstructions of discards left on the curb, mostly around Pacific Beach. Castillo and Hirst have become known for their imaginative transformations of everyday and found objects, with past projects including a jewelry collection made from bottle caps, corks, seeds and other ephemera, all in collaboration with dump-dwellers in Managua. The motto of Palmer Fishman Industries, "so much more than just trash," is just this side of twee cheekiness, appropriating the cadence of corporate shininess while attempting to subvert its mercantile motives.

Visitors to the Lounge were invited to choose from a variety of seating options, including a LaZBoy loveseat stripped down to its skeleton, then polished and painted a shiny red, with somewhat disconcerting cushions made of clear vinyl stuffed with bubble wrap. The coffee table was a celebration of kitsch, its surface upholstered with turquoise longhair fake fur, and a centerpiece titled "In Case of Emergency Break Plastic". Inside one could see a copy of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, a bottle of antidepressants, an R2D2 figure, and magnetic refrigerator letters spelling out "Om".

Palmer Fishman Industries crosses boundaries of design, installation, sculpture, participatory durational performance, and good taste. Not all of their experiments yielded attractive or indeed fully functional results, but their interactions with visitors were worthy of documentation and study. Several people spoke about loneliness, depression, and frustration with work, within five minutes of sitting down. Instead of prescribing pills, Palmer Fishman Industries offered one-word talismans in keeping with their re-use, transform philosophy: plastic bottle caps inlaid with computer keys reading "Shift...." "Home..." "Control..." and "Option". By removing these words from their daily context, the artists recapture alternative meanings, and in so doing challenge viewers (or clients?) to renew their perceptual possibilities.

Mason Beatriz, critic at large

Monday, April 27, 2009

Plantain Sofa

I designed this sofa and had it fabricated using traditional mimbre, or twisted plantain leaf, techniques. The sofa took a team of about 5 men two weeks to make, from wooden frame to twisting leaves into ropes to weaving it all together. My design was a departure from the norm, with its Dr. Seussian curves and deep seat. Since we had no soft furniture in the house, I wanted 1 piece that could serve as a sofa, day-bed lounger and guest bed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Nicology Furniture

My partner and I decided not to buy furniture. We ate on the floor, sat on the floor, worked on the floor....luckily he already had a bed before we made this decision. Bit by bit we collected pieces of junk and assembled what you see here.

The coffee table is supported by decorative concrete blocks that are often used in place of glass windows. I had three triangles cut from one piece of glass. Aluminum cans (dog food) support the glass in this photo, but on other occasions I used glass bottles, each with a plastic dinosaur or soldier inside. I also tried yellow and red Imperial beer cans from Costa Rica. This table is also fun because the user can reconfigure the structure entirely by re-arranging the blocks, glass, and supports. Heck, you can even replace the concrete blocks with something else you fancy, like paint cans or plant pots or wooden hippos.

The Lamina Lamp is made from a long piece of metal lamina, used in construction, a car wheel, and a small glass lampshade.

We had seen large cable spool tables before, but I found the smaller ones more useful, especially once we added wheels.

That's my bag

Handbags made from vinyl movie posters. I tried a clutch, a small handbag, a mini-messenger, and a shoulder bag. While people really liked them I did not move forward with production because these posters and billboard banners were already being reused as shades over bike-taxis, tarps over loads on trucks, and, yes, shelter.

The four bags are hanging on a headboard I made from an old supermarket sign.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"With us or against us" lamp

The US Embassy in Managua donated hundreds of these white plastic quasi-cylindrical containers to the NGO that hosts Nicology. The NGO used a few as pencil-holders, but couldn't find any further use for them, especially as there was a small hole at either end. They were on the verge of selling the rest to recycled materials consolidators at the dump when I walked into the office and saw... lampshades! If Ikea can do it, why couldn't we? This is one of our first experiments, using a piece of driftwood as a base. My collaborator, an electrician who also scavenges in the dump, created additional bases out of cologne bottles shaped like cowboy boots, and we tried a few pendant and wall lamps using multiple shades.

Then one day I opened a new box of shades, and an instruction card fell out that. Gas Masks! These were the shipping containers for the hundreds of gas masks supplied to the US embassy! The Embassy workers were protected in the event of a biological agent, nerve gas, or other aerosol attack, in NICARAGUA, but when I called the US Citizen Emergency line during a riot after my passport was stolen, it went directly to voice mail. For over 12 hours. At least you can buy a lamp!

Tub Shiva

Please see previous entry for context. Tub Shiva was printed life-size on vinyl, to be installed in the bottom of the same bathtub where the shots were taken, then filled with water and surrounded with candles. Tub Shiva would be encountered by gallery-goers who entered the rest room.

Monday, April 13, 2009


This image was created as a solution to a logistical problem: how to do a site-specific performance that intervenes in the spaces of an empty house without being at the site in person during the show. As video did not feel sufficiently tangible I decided to condense several mini-performances into composite photos, print them somewhat larger than life-size, and install them in the house/gallery. The composites are deliberately crude, with no effort to hide the edges of each piece. I was interested in leaving as much evidence of my physicality as possible, much as painters started to leave brushmarks visible to draw attention to the act of painting.
This image was meant to lie on the floor in the hallway, leaving viewers to decide whether to step on my image, or walk around it. The image was also seen floating in a 3-feet-deep long rectangular pool of water filling one of the house's courtyards, recalling Arthurian legends and inebriated party hallucinations in equal measure.
In the end neither my images nor I could participate in the show, as I was in a tragic car accident the week prior and on house arrest. Ironically, my stunned expression and fractured body, created weeks earlier out of light impulse and improvisation, portrayed eerily well my state of mind during those almost unbelievable days.

The Coke Side of the Revolution

"The Coke side of Life". "El lado Coca Cola de la vida". A recent public health study found that Nicaraguan children drink more Coca Cola than water. When families have only a couple dollars a day to spend on feeding their families, they spend up to half of it on Coke. Of all the exotic or pretty bottle caps we've used to make jewelry in Nicology, the best-seller by far is Coke keychains, earring, and necklaces. Although the silouette of Sandino watches over Managua and tha Sandinista party spends large amounts on publicity extolling the ongoing revolution, I think it is Coca Cola that has won the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of the Nicaraguan people.

I mounted several of the Aspire-Acquire designs on circular canned food lids, then sealed with resin to make coasters. Coasters, being fairly trivial products, and used in bars for advertising, seem an appropriately ironic vehicle for these images.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The word 'icon' (according to the authoritative, reliable Wikipedia) used to refer exclusively to images of religious figures. It now applies to a range of religious, political, cultural figures who no longer stand for themselves as individuals, but who signify certain values, ideals, or types of accomplishment. The person's image may inspire people to aspire to the heights reached by the icon. The importance and value of the icon's image starts with her or his life, character, and accomplishments, and it grows with the strength of particular images, whether captured or created, and with ensuing history. The icon's image can become so popularized that it stands for a loose set of connotations more than for specific details. Che Guevara's revolutionary ideals and military prowess are internationally famous in part based on Alberto Korda's photo, taken in Cuba in 1960. Jonathan Green, director of the UCR/California Museum of Photography, has speculated that "Korda's image has worked its way into languages around the world. It has become an alpha-numeric symbol, a hieroglyph, an instant symbol. It mysteriously reappears whenever there's a conflict. There isn’t anything else in history that serves in this way."

Corporate brands and their logos aim for similar power and recognition, but of the completely manufactured sort. There is nothing organic or real about a corporate brand and its logo. Naomi Klein does a much better and more thorough job than I will attempt here of outlining the development, spread of and current resistance to brands in her book No Logo. Suffice to say that some corporations have been very successful at convincing consumers of the 'iconic' nature of their logos. But rather than inspire consumers, their aim is to acquire consumers, and their obedience.

La Virgin de las Mercedes

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism?
How the (official) Catholic Church in Latin America continues to reinforce class hierarchy and division begun by the Spanish conquistadores?
Or an oblique critique of the hypocrisy of Daniel Ortega's revolutionary rhetoric, while he is driven in a flotilla of silver Mercedes jeeps and makes backroom pacts with the Catholic Church - you support me in the Presidential elections and I will completely outlaw abortion. Even in cases of rape of young girls by their fathers or uncles, or when the mother's life is in imminent danger.

Dalai Latte

We all know Starbucks sells lifestyle as much as coffee. They are also at the forefront of large corporations marketing hip virtue, and who embodies hip virtue more than the Dalai Lama?

None of what I've written is new or earth-shaking. Some have criticized my images as laissez-faire art, or as unoriginal, or not theoretically rigorous. I don't claim that any of my images are high art, whatever that means anymore, and I don't find such categories useful. Some pop images and advertising are provocative and aesthetically interesting. I also don't claim to be highly skilled technically. These images are some of the first I've made with Photoshop, and software doesn't come easily for me. And I'm not going to write a super-duper post-modern contemporary contextual critique of the zeitgeist of the temporal gestalt of my discourse. It doesn't seem to be fashionable for artists to say what they mean. So I may never be a famous or successful contemporary artist. I'm afraid I find most of the essays and gallery catalog articles pretentious and elitist and terribly difficult to understand. And I studied at Stanford, UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins. A lot of contemporary art-speak looks suspiciously like a secret language to make certain that none of the unwashed millions can enter the conversation.