Following the conclusion of This is the ENDD and Pinar&Viola's front-page exhibition, this project can be found here permanently.
This weekend, to coincide with This is the ENDD: a Forum on the E-Cigarette, the front page of Rhizome.org will present The Smoking Room, created by Pinar&Viola and programmed by Gui Machiavelli. In this lush chatroom, you can wield strange new kinds of e-cigarettes and blow virtual smoke shapes while talking to friends and strangers.
I know. Vaping is not smoking. This is rule #1 of vaping culture, a distinction of paramount importance for vapers (who rightfully want to avoid the social stigma of the cigarette) and e-cigarette manufacturers (who want to avoid tobacco-style regulation). Therefore, in their marketing of this emerging technology, manufacturers have trodden a fine line between reminding potential users of the good, old-fashioned "benefits" of smoking, and establishing their product as something new and hi-tech and detached from bodily consequence. In a word, as something virtual.
This return of some sense of cultural urgency to the word "virtual," due in part to the expanding e-cigarette imaginary, has been a real boon for us here at Rhizome; this organization was established in 1996, the previous heyday for that term, so this is home turf. So let us remind you that the virtual (in the e-cigarette sense) is an effect of material and physical processes. And, the virtual is also a space of ideals and ideas which may not be "real" but certainly do have a considerable impact on reality.
So, welcome back to virtual space. Have a virtual smoke, engage in critical discussion about underlying material and physical processes, and actualize limitless ideals.
This is the ENDD is curated by Zachary Kaplan. The Smoking Room will be available on the front page of rhizome.org beginning at 4:30pm today and continuing through 2pm on Monday, but will remain online following the exhibition.