Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: The Year of the Oculus Rift

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The latest in an ongoing series of themed collections of creative projects assembled by Prosthetic Knowledge. This edition brings together projects that make use of the Oculus Rift, a device that has reignited interest in virtual reality and provided creative inspiration for hackers and artists alike.

 Kim Laughton, Timefly.

Every year, there is usually at least one piece of technology that stands out, that captures the attention of engineers and creatives, that inspires new ideas and makes new experiences possible. At various times in the past, you could have said this in relation to (for example) the Kinect, Arduino, 3D printing, the Processing programming language, or projection mapping software. This year, one piece of tech stood out, one which reinvigorated an idea from the 1980s and 1990s, making it exciting and within the reach of anyone with a computer or console: the Oculus Rift.

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Expanded Internet Art and the Informational Milieu

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Ben Aqua, NEVER LOG OFF, 2013 (Limited edition t-shirt designed for #FEELINGS)

We are no longer mostly dealing with information that is transmitted form a source to a receiver, but increasingly also with informational dynamics—that is with the relation between noise and signal, including fluctuations and microvariations, entropic emergences and negentropic emergences, positive feedback and chaotic processes. If there is an informational quality to contemporary culture, then it might be not so much because we exchange more information than before, or even because we buy, sell or copy informational commodities, but because cultural processes are taking on the attributes of information—they are increasingly grasped and conceived in terms of their informational dynamics.

- Tiziana Terranova, Network Culture: Politics for the Information Age

Post internet[1], post media [2], post media aesthetics[3], radicant art[4], dispersion[5], formatting[6], meme art[7], circulationism[8]—all recent terms to describe networked art that does not use the internet as its sole platform, but instead as a crucial nexus around which to research, transmit, assemble, and present data, online and offline. I think all of the writers advancing these terms share a sense that since the rise of mainstream internet culture and social media, art is more fluid, elastic, and dispersed. As Lauren Cornell astutely points out in the recent  "Post Internet" roundtable for Frieze, terms are always placeholders for more complex ideas, and when successful, can instigate further, deeper conversation. Towards that end, I'd like to introduce another word to the list—expanded. Drawing from the definition of expansion as "the action or process of spreading out or unfolding; the state of being spread out or unfolded," I consider "expansion" not as an outward movement from a fixed entity, but rather, in light of data's dispersed nature, a continual becoming.[9] Expanded internet art is not viewed as hermetic, but instead as a continuously multiple element that exists within a distributed, networked system. In order to elaborate this term, and to take small steps towards thinking through the changing conditions for art production in the early 21st century, I will use Tiziana Terranova's notion of an "informational milieu" to describe the dynamic process of exchange among artist, artwork, and network.

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Artist Profile: Kimmo Modig

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here.

"In the distance I see Kimmo Modig. He's walking around Helsinki with his iphone, grumbling about bad art."
Antagon 2013: Proceedings (2013)

Age: 32

Location: Helsinki, Finland.

Jesse Darling: How/when did you begin working creatively with technology?

Kimmo Modig: I remember doing sound collages with boomboxes in my early teens, you know, like having two of them playing something I’d recorded earlier as a backtrack while the third one recorded whatever I was doing live on top of that. I’d repeat this process again and again until the signal-to-noise ratio was heavily weighted towards noise. But already at that time I always wanted to use my voice, to have a narrative of sorts. I’ve lately been returning to a way of being that I had in my teens, when I was dressing to provoke and performing nude on stage with my childhood friends.

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The Mundane Afrofuturist Manifesto

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Martine Syms, film still produced for the cover of Most Days (2014). LP. Mixed Media Recordings, Brooklyn.

The undersigned, being alternately pissed off and bored, need a means of speculation and asserting a different set of values with which to re-imagine the future. In looking for a new framework for black diasporic artistic production, we are temporarily united in the following actions.

***The Mundane Afrofuturists recognize that:***

We did not originate in the cosmos.

The connection between Middle Passage and space travel is tenuous at best.

Out of five hundred thirty-four space travelers, fourteen have been black. An all-black crew is unlikely.

Magic interstellar travel and/or the wondrous communication grid can lead to an illusion of outer space and cyberspace as egalitarian.

This dream of utopia can encourage us to forget that outer space will not save us from injustice and that cyberspace was prefigured upon a "master/slave" relationship.

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There and Back (Again): Homebrew Computer Club at 38

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Chuck Colby with Homebrew Computer Club wares (Credit: Amy Desiree Photography

The buffet occupies two tables; the rest are covered with computer paraphernalia. In many ways, it feels like another tech meetup. Well-rehearsed elevator pitches are offered: "It's like Minecraft and The Sims smashed together and put on the web." One young programmer was attracted to the meeting because, "It's in the Bay Area, it's on Kickstarter, so why the fuck not?"

But this is the 38th Anniversary Reunion of the Homebrew Computer Club, the group that "launched the personal computing revolution," or so the story goes. Temporal and ideological anomalies abound. The hardware is all vintage, and while some participants are there in search of networking opportunities, others are still out to change the world, to put technological tools into the hands of the people. A veteran whips out his $90 paper tape reader, insisting no one can understand Homebrew unless they’ve hacked one. An Altair 8800 that famously produced music at an original meeting is here for an encore—no drastic restoration necessary, the thing just works. At serial inventor Chuck Colby's table, there's a stack of printouts which read:

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48 Artists (and Rhizome) remember when...

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When all of my friends are on at once, organized by Gene McHugh

Chat rooms, ScReEnNaMeS, AdultKing, cheat codes, Everquest, AOL/Rent essay writing contests. While the cultural forms we encounter on the internet are always changing, there was something palpably unique about the early web; for many of us, this is simply because we encountered it for the first time as adolescents. As many of the entries in When all of my friends are on at once detail, adolescent experiences online in the pre-mobile computing era were often alone, all-engrossing, and/or associated with some form of embarrassment. Launched today, this new project organized by Gene McHugh collects the thoughts of 48 contemporary artists engaged with technology on their first memories of being online.

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Between Search and Research: COR&P in Conversation with Michael Bell-Smith

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Exterior view of I Thought It Was a Pull, but It's a Push at the Center for Ongoing Research & Projects (COR&P). Photo: Tim Smith.

Last autumn, the Center for Ongoing Research & Projects (COR&P), a project space founded in 2012 by Ryland Wharton and Kris Paulsen, held a solo exhibition by Michael Bell-Smith entitled I Thought It Was a Pull, but It's a Push. The following interview explores the themes from that show, as well as the 12" record published alongside it, delving further into the ideas raised in Bell-Smith's recent piece for Rhizome, "Creative 2 Professional: 7 Things to Think About."

COR&P: COR&P's mission is to facilitate and present research-based art practices. In previous exhibitions, artists have conducted archival research (such as Shana Lutker's history of Surrealist fistfights) or mined data in real time (Aspen Mays' tracking of shipping traffic). It is apparent from your work that you are an avid collector of digital ephemera. Do you see the process of searching, downloading, and collecting files as a type of research, and how does that research inform your practice?

MBS: When I'm working, I never think in terms of "research." It implies a division between your input and your output, that you put everything on pause to conduct "research." Who has the time for that? When I think about it though, I conduct research all the time. I spend hours sorting through collections of stock footage. I clip things from across the web, logging them in different websites, applications, and folders. I'll pull out my phone in the middle of conversation to jot down the name of an article, tracking it down later to read from my phone while on the train. I take photos on the street. And so on.

With various levels of intervention these things might be flipped into "production"—input becomes output. So, my research is intertwined with my daily life and the process of actually making things.

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My Life Without Technoviking: An Interview with Matthias Fritsch

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Matthias Fritsch is an independent artist from Berlin, most well known for his work Kneecam No 1—the live video that brought Technoviking to the internet. Over a decade after he uploaded the clip that went viral, Fritsch now is enduring a long legal battle with Technoviking himself, who sued for the reproduction, proliferation, and unwarranted use of his likeness. In response to the process, Fritsch is making The Story of Technoviking, a crowd-funded documentary that aims to shed light on the legal issues surrounding viral images. Below, Fritsch talks about what it’s like do battle in court with a viking, the ownership of images in the internet age, and hopes for his current project.

My Life Without Technoviking—since the trial began, Fritsch is no longer allowed to use images of the plaintiff's face.

DQ: Matthias, I'm of course curious about the video that originated it all. What was, for you, Kneecam No 1 (2000) before it became an internet meme? Why did you upload it to YouTube? Were you expecting such a viral reaction? What did you think when it happened?

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