Paul Garrin A'82

Statement and Bio

Founder, Name.Space —, WiFI-NY —

All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed;
Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.
–Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Paul Garrin is an interdisciplinary artist and social entrepreneur whose work explores the social impact of technology and issues of media access, free speech, public/private space and bridging the “digital-divide”.

He began studying video while at The Cooper Union School of Art, collaborated with video art legend Nam June Paik from 1982 to 1996, and, since 1989, has worked with interactive media.

Garrin’s work has been exhibited and broadcast internationally, including the Lyon Biennale, the Kwangiu Biennale, the São Paulo Biennale, Holly Solomon Gallery, NY, Museum of Contemporary Art in Montreal, and others, and has been reviewed in the New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, and elsewhere.  His works have been documented in numerous publications worldwide including the Taschen book  “History of 20th Century Art”.

As an early citizen journalist his noted video of the 1988 Tompkins Square Park Police Riot became iconic in exposing the coverup of police misconduct.

During the gentrification wave in the Lower East Side, Manhattan in the 1990’s Paul was active as an affordable housing activist and squatting advocate.  Before the Internet, activists used “phone trees” to mobilize during crises.  Paul was constantly on call and ready with his video camera to document the struggle.  His noted work “By Any Means Necessary” chronicles the confrontations and destruction of housing that disposessed hundreds of people to pave way for new developments and market housing.

Garrin was Artist in Residence at the Berlin Videofest in 1990, and has received numerous awards for excellence, including the Prix Ars Electronica in 1997; ZKM Karlsruhe Medienkunstpreis in 1992; New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in 1988; and New York State Council on the Arts Media Grant in 1990, Cooper Union Presidential Citation 2001, Cooper Union Alumni Hall of Fame 2009.

In 1996, Garrin founded project NAME.SPACE and was the first to create hundreds of new Internet Top Level Domains (TLDs) including .NYC, .ART, .MUSIC, .SPACE, .SUCKS and .GREEN, pioneering the expansion of the Internet Domain Name System while others opposed it.  NAME.SPACE endeavored to bring its TLDs to market by means of an antitrust case against Network Solutions 1997-2000, and after the formation of ICANN in 1998 through application in 2000 where it was considered in the top 10 “strong candidates” (out of 44 applicants) but delegation was deferred in favor of domain industry incumbents. Garrin’s project NAME.SPACE exists today as a social enterprise corporation and continues to challenge the
corrupt industry status-quo.  Presently NAME.SPACE is engaged in legal action against ICANN for stealing NAME.SPACE TLDS.

In 2003 Paul launched WiFi-NY, an independent community wireless broadbandnetwork that serves downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.  WiFi-NY is a cooperative network that acts as an alternative “last-mile” citizen’s backbone operating using public-access radio spectrum.  It provides free public access and low-cost high speed Internet to its members and surrounding community. Post hurricane Sandy the WiFi-NY project took on new urgency and is now part of a larger community resiliency initiative in partnership with the non-profit Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, and the Lower East Side long-term recovery group LES Ready.  Their “Beyond the Grid” initiative focuses on localized alternative energy using hybrid distributed power generation, wireless broadband comminications, food security, and information.  Cooper Union Alumna Margaret Matz of Milestone Architecture is a member of the Beyond the Grid team.

Paul has been active as a Cooper Union alumnus since 2011 and has worked with other alumi and faculty to organize the Cooper Union Entrepreneur Society (CUES), co-organized a CUAA/CUES 2013 event in the Great Hall on surveillance in conjunction with the MIT Enterprise Forum of NY, and has successfully crowd funded the “Cooper Lumen Design Challenge”, partnering with non-profit Two Bridges Neighborhood Council to directly fund interdisciplinary student work for credit in the 2014 semester, all of which has generated positive media for Cooper Union.  Paul participated in the Friends of Cooper Union and Free Cooper Union brainstorming events, contributed to “The Way Forward” and and in 2013 encouraged the CUAA to celebrate Founders Day with an open Block Party to better engage the public and the community.

He received the Presidential Citation in 2001 and has been inducted into the CU Alumni Hall of Fame.  He remains committed to restoring merit-based full scholarships at the Cooper Union.