Poetry as Practice: Ye Mimi's filmic postcards of street life in NYC, Chicago, and Taiwan

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The poetry film Was Being Moved? (2011) takes the form of a series of postcards to a "Mr. Parade," interspersed with vignettes of public rituals and street life in Chicago, New York City, and Taiwan. It features music composed and played by Taiwanese musician Yujun Wang.

Ye Mimi is a Taiwanese poet and filmmaker. Having earned an MFA in creative writing at Dong Hwa University and an MFA in film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is the author of two volumes of poetry and has exhibited several of her poetry films internationally. Through collaging her words and images, she improvises a new landscape, trying to erase the border between poetry and image making. A bilingual chapbook of her poems was recently published by Anomalous Press under the title His Days Go by the Way Her Years (2013).

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Rhizome's Spring 2015 Program

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Ben Schumacher, Rebirth of the Bath House, 2014 Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal. Installation view

This spring, we're looking ahead to next year's 20th anniversary, and renewing our consideration of what it means to be a born-digital arts organization.

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Cyborg Origins: Lynn Hershman Leeson at Bridget Donahue

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"Lynn Hershman Leeson: Origins of the Species," installation view, Bridget Donahue. Copyright Lynn Hershman Leeson. Photos by Marc Brems Tatti. Courtesy Bridget Donahue, New York.

Lynn Hershman Leeson has been probing the idea of what it means to be a cybernetic organism since the 1960s. This line of inquiry is laid bare in "Origins of the Species," a solo exhibition of Hershman Leeson's work that inaugurates Bridget Donahue's new gallery space in New York. Running concurrently with the artist's first museum retrospective, "Civic Radar," at ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, the exhibition nevertheless assembles an impressive cross-section of Hershman Leeson's work, including multimedia works on paper, sculpture, photographs, collages, videos, and interactive installations, spanning her five-decade career.

We find the hybrid of organism and machine, very conspicuously, in the sculpture Breathing Machine II (1968/2011), a woman's face cast in wax with a tangle of feathers, butterflies, and other fauna dispersed throughout her hair, actuated to "breathe" when the viewer draws close enough to peer down onto her. Or in Hershman Leeson's Phantom Limb series (1985-1987), in which the female body melds with sockets and wires, so that technology is as much a part of one's appearance as one's skin or physique.

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Digital Publishing, Unzipped

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Kristen Gallagher's latest work has been published as a ZIP file.

This shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with GaussPDF, the publisher who hosts her Dossier on the Site of a Shooting (GPDF154). The PDF in GaussPDF actually stands for Probability Distribution Function ("masquerading as its Adobe-laced counterpart"), and aside from the expected PDF "books" of experimental writing and poetry, the full catalog contains MP3s, Word docs, MOV files, ZIPs, and links to print-on-demand versions. All of the digital files are dispersed freely.

Still, in the context of artists publishing screen-based works, Gallagher's format seems radical. The title offers a clue of what's to come: a dossier is "a collection of papers or other sources, containing detailed information about a particular person or subject." In this case, Gallagher's subject is the site of the murder of Trayvon Martin in Central Florida and the trial of George Zimmerman, his killer, that followed. Gallagher visited the area on multiple occasions, wandering, encountering, engaging, collecting. She investigated the event through the place, gathering ephemera and stories along the way.

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Poetry as Practice: Tan Lin

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Part of First Look: Poetry as Practice, copresented with the New Museum.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Systems Theory (2015)
Tan Lin, 2015
Programming by Charles Broskoski

This work uses a script to pit two books—which address subjects known for their difficulty to master—against one another at hundreds of words per minute.

Tan Lin is the author of Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe (2000), BlipSoak01 (2003), Ambience is a Novel with a Logo (2007), Heath (Plagiarism/Outsource) (2009), and 7 Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking (2010). His work has appeared in numerous journals including Conjunctions, Artforum, Cabinet, New York Times Book Review, Art in America, and Purple, and his video, theatrical, and LCD work has been exhibited widely. He currently teaches creative writing at New Jersey City University.

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Global Audiences, Zero Visitors: How to measure the success of museums’ online publishing

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This text (original title: "The Outskirts of the Internet") was originally commissioned for the book Turning Inward, with contributions by John Beeson, Svetlana Boym, Marta Dziewańska, Philipp Ekardt, Felix Ensslin, David Joselit, William Kherbek, John Miller, Reza Negarestani, Matteo Pasquinelli, and Dieter Roelstraete. Edited by Lou Cantor and Clemens Jahn. The text was modified slightly, including the deletion of a section about Rhizome's own activities. Published by Sternberg Press, 2015. Orit Gat is a Contributing Editor at Rhizome.

Jim Campbell, Library. GIF excerpt from documentation video.

Fifty percent of arts organizations in the United States maintain a blog.[1] The Metropolitan Museum of Art calculated that while the museum draws six million visitors in a year, its website attracts 29 million users and its Facebook page reaches 92 million.[2] Of these millions of people interacting with the museum online, only a small percentage would ever walk up the New York museum's famous steps. If the internet has changed the definition of what a museum's audience is, then it also poses the difficult question of how to interact with it. This adds a new dimension to the museum's relationship with its traditional audience: How to extend the relationship with visitors beyond the museum's walls? This twofold task—both to generate a public and sustain existing relationships—has created a new landscape of digital engagement where museums look to their websites, dedicated apps, and online magazines as tools to involve this new online public.

As museums are rethinking their relationship to their audience online, an increasing number chooses to publish online magazines, and many of these publications emerge from institutions that are not necessarily the major museums in art world hubs. The attitudes toward these publishing initiatives vary—some choose to outline the scope of their publishing platforms in the shape of their programming, while others produce magazines that are thematically related to subjects the museum covers but are not directly linked to the art on view. What they all share is a feeling that online publishing expands the museum's audience, making it a potentially global one. The idea that a museum's public is to be found beyond visitorship is full of potential, but publishing online does not automatically overcome geography and create new relationships with international audiences. On the contrary, these institutions are working to generate content in an environment that is arguably already saturated. Digital presence does not automatically make for global reach, and much of the writing produced online by museums is bound to disappear in the vast amount of content on the internet. YouTube famously has more videos on it than anyone could ever watch—in fact, with 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it would take over a thousand years to view the total running time of videos posted on the platform—this, in less than ten years of existence.[3] Alexa—the Amazon-owned service that gives public estimates of website metrics—makes online publishing seem almost futile. According to Alexa's data, the most visited website in the world is, of course, Google, and an average user spends nineteen minutes and nine seconds a day on it. Facebook averages 27:34 minutes and the New York Times 3:57. Visitors spend almost twenty minutes a day on YouTube and less than three on the New Yorker's site. When so much content is offered, and so little of it seems to attract readers, the goal of museums joining the online publishing game should not be to reach the largest audience, but rather, to create platforms that expand research and the production of knowledge that builds on the museum's mission statement and expands it, regardless of how many hits it generates—a difficult leap to make, especially in terms of the way museums represent their activity and receive funding.

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Business Fish, or, Emotion Under Late Capitalism

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I can't always articulate what it is like to be a worker, writhing in muted panic in the net of late capitalism. But I have found a fine outlet in Business Fish, a surreal family of sticker sets on Facebook Messenger, which I use to illustrate many of my exchanges.

Business Fish has struck a nerve since his introduction last year: he has many vocal fans (3200+ on his Facebook page) and he's been profiled in the mainstream news. Inspired by the Shinto belief that divinity resides in animals, his creator—an artist at Tokyo-based studio Quan, Inc.—gave him a pink fish head capping a human body in a boxy blue suit that, in today's workplace  fashion parlance, reads as "male business casual."

At first glance, Business Fish seems like a composite of Gordon Gekko and Jordan Belfort, ruthless hunters of success, profit and glamor. Closer examination of his sixteen, hyper-expressive graphics reveals a more complex narrative.

He wakes in shock, sweaty, the sun at his head. He gets caught in a subway turnstile. He struggles, briefcase in hand, coughing and shaking, knees buckling. After a setback, he slumps in shame against a wall. He bows, and weeps, and clenches his fists in rage. He grovels on the ground, possibly begging for the privilege of working another day.

Created with Japanese office culture in mind, but meant to represent workers worldwide, Business Fish is a pressure-crushed employee, shot through with anxiety and anguish. If strong emotions, particularly dysphoric ones, are "the psychic fuel on which capitalist society runs," Business Fish is a resource burning at both ends.

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WITCHCRAFT: Craftsmanship, personal mythologies, and spiritual queries in the digital realm

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This essay was written in conjunction with the exhibition "Witchcraft," which opened February 19th, 2015 at Initial Gallery in Vancouver. "Witchcraft" features the work of Laura Brothers, Brenna Murphy, Krist Wood, and Sara Ludy. The show—along with this essay—considers personal mythology, craftsmanship and spiritual inquiry as entry points to these artists' practices. "In a contemporary artistic landscape focused on self-branding strategies and social media legibility," curator Nicolas Sassoon argues, "these four artists appear as valuable voices bringing a poetic breadth to what it means to engage artistically with computer technology and the internet." This essay accompanies the exhibition, elaborating on these ideas through the lens of Sassoon's personal experience.

 

"Witchcraft," exhibition view. Photo courtesy Initial Gallery.

"Computing has always been personal. By this I mean that if you weren't intensely involved in it, sometimes with every fiber in your body, you weren't doing computers, you were just a user."

- Ted Nelson

At the end of 2008, my awareness of net-based practices was almost nonexistent. I had just moved to Vancouver from France and finished creating my first blog as a distraction from solitude. My engagement with online communities was limited to searching forums to modify the HTML of my blog posts. Still, earlier in the year, I had come across the work of Laura Brothers. After browsing Laura's website extensively, I started a conversation with her via emails and animated GIFs. This conversation led to my involvement in Computers Club, along with the discovery of many artists active within and around that platform at the time.

In 2008, Computers Club was a unique collective of internet personas, particularly committed to shaping the intricacies of their online space. A few years ago, in an Artist Profile for Rhizome, co-founder Krist Wood gave a minimal definition of the online collective—"a set of identities that derive from computer users." Many of these identities had accumulated seemingly endless content across multiple websites while revealing little to nothing in the way of personally identifiable information. The collective's website acted as a central station—mysterious about its inner workings—where  the navigation of this content would start. The accumulation of works from each artist delineated the backgrounds of enigmatic characters, modeling personal mythologies through visual vernaculars and experimentations. Between 2008 and 2011, I encountered through this platform the work of Laura Brothers, Sara Ludy, Krist Wood, and Brenna Murphy. Their collection of online works was constantly updated, bringing weekly developments to their digital territories and increasing the frequency of my visits.

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