Cosmic Time Capsules: Spacecraft as archaeological treasure

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An artist's impression of Rosetta waking from deep-space hibernation to rendezvous with Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. © ESA, image by AOES Meidalab.

In May, the Rosetta spacecraft will make its final approach toward the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, after patiently stalking the space rock for ten years. As the comet approaches its perihelion, it will slow to dig its foot into a gravitational eddy and steer itself around the sun. As it emerges, Rosetta will strike, launching a sensor-packed lander like a javelin into the side of the comet. Harpooned in place, the lander will allow us to reach out across the cosmos and caress a billion-year-old piece of the solar system.

The experiments are scheduled to last two months, after which Churyumov–Gerasimenko will have arced around the sun and begun accelerating back out into deep space. When it does, it will take with it a small piece of humanity anchored to its side. Forever after, this relic of early 21st century technology will remain looping above us, a time capsule buried ten years deep in space.

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Thank You. Now, we have work to do.

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Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal and friends. 

After a successful conclusion of our 2014 Community Campaign yesterday, there are many positive feelings, and many things to say.

The format was an experiment. Our annual campaign, which is a significant part of our income each year, was shorter than ever before. We recognize that nature of online giving has changed since we started our appeals in 2001, and are sensitive to this now-crowded space. Inspired to innovate with our format by the success of 2009's $50,000 Web Page (which is still online, and well worth a look), we hoped that a grand finale, the 24-hour Internet Telethon, would carry us over the edge of our $20,000 goal. It did, in dramatic fashion. With just 20 minutes left, longtime Rhizomer and Telethon participant Tom Moody made the donation that carried us over the finish line.

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The Commenter: A Lament

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This post was composed in one hour in front of an online audience for the Rhizome Internet Telethon 2014.

Tom Moody, Double Buckyball (detail of work in process), 2004, mixed media, approx. 60 x 40 inches.

Nearly a year ago, and not long after I started working at Rhizome, I published a post called “Breaking the Ice,” inviting the community to leave their thoughts about our curatorial and editorial direction. It took a while to get started, but eventually some of the Rhizome old timers latched on and got the ball rolling. As my introduction to the Rhizome community in my new role, it painted quite a picture. Heated opinions were debated, n00bs were put in their place, and frustrations were vented. Despite a sometimes negative tone, I was excited by the energy that people brought to it. And the fact that, y’know, people were commenting on Rhizome.org, a non-profit website that serves as an important cultural archive, rather than on a for-profit site that will sell your data to the highest bidder.

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$6,587 To Go, and a 24-Hour Telethon To Get Us There

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A telethon. All day. All night. We are doing this. Will you donate to support?

11am-11am EST, March 19-20. 24 hours. Wow. That's a lot of hours. But we are going to fill those hours with some of the internet's best, on view via the front page of rhizome.org.

After the break, we've included a schedule to get you pumped. If you're in NYC tomorrow, stop by Lu Magnus, our host at 55 Hester. If you're anywhere else, join the hangout for some screen time. And, for real, D O N A T E.

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Endless War: On the database structure of armed conflict

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Republished with permission from VVVNT.

Image courtesy of Graham Harwood.

How does the way war is thought relate to how it is fought?

As the Afghan war unfolds, it produces vast quantities of information that are encoded into database entries and can, in turn, be analyzed by software looking for repeated patterns of events, spatial information, kinds of actors, timings, and other factors. These analyses go on to inform military decision-making and alter the course of events in the air and on the ground.

On July 25, 2010, WikiLeaks released a large amount of this normally classified information as the Afghan War Diary, comprising over 91,000 (15,000 withheld) reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. The reports were written by soldiers and intelligence officers and calculated by clocks, computers, and satellites. The primary source of the Afghan War Diary is the Combined Information Data Network Exchange (CIDNE), a database created by the US Department of Defense (DoD).

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Rhizome's 24-Hour Telethon: Lineup Announced

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For 24 hours from 11am on Wed, March 19 (EST) on Rhizome.org, and broadcasting live from Lu Magnus. 


Our volunteers will be manning the phones.

Our campaign still has some way to go to meet our $20,000 target, but our friends around the world are going to help drum up donations via our home, the internet. Donate in advance to receive a special thank you during the telecast! 

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The Horror of Google Street View

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Jon Rafman, BR-265, Barbacena, Minas Gerais, Brazil, (2012). Archival pigment print on aluminium. Seventeen Gallery.

It is not a good opening paragraph, as opening paragraphs go: 

A friend of mine showed me how to use Google Maps. I'm sure you've seen it. It lets you use satellite images to look at locations all over the world. A few years ago, I was in a car accident.

Besides unnecessarily explaining Google Maps, "Satellite Images" begins by executing exposition with brutality and an utter disregard for the show-don't-tell "rule." But this is creepypasta, an authorless horror story from the bowels of the internet. A kind of new iteration of the urban legend, with the internet as its city, creepypasta generally takes the form of as FOAFlore (ie friend-of-a-friend lore), comments on a forum, or a final, strangled pleading blogpost, posing as authentic testimony rather than fiction. The genre thrives on anonymity and slipshod writing, both of which boost the stories' presumed veracity. Will Wiles describes the genre as having "an eerie air of having arisen from nowhere... a networked effort to deliver dread in as efficient a way as possible." 

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Blue Ruin: Totality and Acceleration

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Republished with permission from Public Seminar.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. Film still from Atomic Park (2003).

Who could have guessed that when the flood came it would come in slow motion, over forty decades rather than forty nights? As the polar ice sheets unravel and plunge into the waters, whose who have so mismanaged the fate of all things cling to their private arks. The animals, one by one, will be saved, if at all, as gene sequences.

What confronts us now, in our still cozy worlds, are spectacles of disintegration. There's probably not much one can do to prepare American culture or polity to deal, not with its future, but with the very texture of the present. It wants to hide under the covers. As the philosopher Theodor Adorno might put it: let's not let the power of others, or our own powerlessness, stupefy us. We can prepare the space of education, and joyfully, by inventing new practices where aesthetics and technics meet. That's the kind of practice there may be call for soon enough.

One understanding of art—Adorno's for example—would make it the antithesis of technology. Technology partakes in a certain kind of abstraction. It creates a grid through which to reduce qualities to quantities. The place of art is then to be a refuge for the qualitative. Art is where that which cannot be reconciled with an ever more abstract world takes its last stand.

I take a different view. I think of art as a different way of experimenting with a given technology. Art is a kind of practice which finds out what you can do in a given space of possibility. Art is about abstraction just as much as technology, it just uses different methods.

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