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As conversation artists, we design interactive opportunities for people to publicly share personal histories for empowerment and preservation. Our cultural research addresses ways that social memory can strengthen a community's local fabric. Through cross-disciplinary projects, we create temporary and permanent sculptural structures for improvisational collaboration in public spaces.

Through participant-driven projects, we craft a much-needed conversational commons to explore local issues. On-the-street interactions offer people an opportunity to create lasting neighborhood narratives that connect local stories with the lived experience of a place. We sustain all project phases with formal and informal story-gathering platforms: attending community meetings; meeting with city agencies, managers and specialists; collaborations with local cultural bearers and/or historians; as well as impromptu interactions to reach the public.

Our presentations of shared local history express a condensed archaeology of a locale and its transformations. We elicit diverse communities' stories, culture, histories and visions to create meaningful events and installations. To gain people's trust, we develop tools for creative interaction including sculptural vehicles, mobile signage, and unconventional surveys. Based on these public interactions, we have collaboratively developed neighbor-led walking discussions, audio cultural history tours, traveling billboards with community-generated slogans, and commemorative plaques recognizing generations' old collective knowledge.

Since 2000, we have collaborated with non-profits, community groups, historians, urban planners, and municipalities worldwide to create projects that move beyond aesthetic experience.

Bruce Douglas, fabricator and Mechanical Engineer, brings extensive knowledge of environmental activism, community-building activities and green-building skills. He designs and manages energy conserving projects for buildings. His creative practice is informed by his watershed stewardship experience. He has worked for many years with public agencies and contractors to implement projects of various scales.

Sue Mark is a cultural researcher with 20 years' experience creating community-specific, interactive anthropological artworks. She designs boundary-crossing projects that uncover lost history, overlooked culture and community challenges. She has lectured about community-centered practices at local and international colleges and conferences including California College for the Arts, Mills, San Francisco Art Institute and UC Berkeley.

marksearch has received project support from: The California Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts/US Japan Friendship Commission, The Creative Work Fund, Oakland's Public Art OPEN Proposals, Oakland's Cultural Funding Program, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Fulbright Commission, The San Francisco Art Commission, The Dresden Cultural Commission, EU Culture 2000 and USAProjects. marksearch projects have been presented in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angles, Germany, Bulgaria, CzechRepublic, Norway, Spain, Portugal and Japan with local showings at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Kala Art Institute, Pro Arts Gallery, Berkeley Art Museum and San Jose's ZERO1 Biennial. marksearch has been a Print Public Fellow at the Kala Art Institute since 2014.


Commons Archive, Oakland/Emeryville, CA: A permanent, participatory neighborhood memory bank at a neighborhood branch library. 2017-21

Neighbors' Edge, Oakland, CA: Public conversations about local change led and documented by youth journalists. 2018

Commons Archive: The Lasartemays, Berkeley, CA: Interactive research room showcasing local African American historians. 2017

Silver Speaks, Silver City, NV: A collective archive preserving a disappearing way of life in a hippie refuge. 2017

Onishi Impressions, Gunma, Japan: Community generated ceramic tile mural honoring the region's natural resources. 2016

Sakura Machi Portraits, Kanazawa, Japan: Installation of neighbor images & stories about cleanliness philosophies & tools. 2016

Machiya Research, Ishikawa, Japan: Interviews with interdisciplinary preservationists of traditional architecture. 2016

Communities' Crossing, Oakland, CA: Improvisational performance explorations of neighborhood history & gentrification. 2014-15

Power Call, Oakland, CA: A nomadic, human-generated energy public commons for mobile device users. 2015

Finding Klinkner, Oakland, CA: Shared cultural research about a neighborhood's early real estate development. 2014

WOW: Robert Akeley, Oakland, CA: Interviews, photos, barn parties, & exhibition about a neighborhood octogenarian icon. 2013

Hands That Do All, Tondela, Portugal: A permanent cultural commemoration of craftspeople & agriculturalists. 2012

Walking the Invisible City, Oakland, CA: A permanent self-guided walking tour & podcast of neighbors' stories. 2010-11

Mobile Messaging, San Jose, CA: An interactive community bulletin board towed by tandem bike. SJ ZERO1, 2010

10,000 Steps, Oakland, CA: A collaboration with city agencies & community groups to explore downtown historic parks. 2007-10

CAlabama Peddlers, York, AL: An ecotourist exploration to develop & present town slogans for a rural town. 2007

Temescal Seed Swap, Oakland, CA: An interactive neighborhood exchange to share local seeds & stories. 2005-10

WE Riders, Oakland, CA: A collaborative bike exploration to culturally define & physically locate Oakland neighborhoods. 2005-06

Stories About Stories Kabelvag, Norway: Conversations and letters about village superstitions. Transcultural Mapping Project, 2004-06

A Place for History, Sofia, Bulgaria: An interactive oral history audio installation & series of performances. 2003

Bulgaria Time, Oakland, CA: Weekly neighborhood performances to broaden Oakland residents' knowledge of Bulgaria. 2002-03

Who Made This in China?, NYC, NY: An interactive performance to raise awareness about the production of everyday goods. 2002

Spoken Memory Maps, Sofia, Bulgaria: Multimedia oral history about post-communism for radio & local broadcast. 1998-2001