Posts for July 2002

DJ You

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Potluck is a shockwave audio engine with a twist. Most online remix environments feature sound samples by a single artist. Potluck gives access to loops and ambient effects created by a range of experimental artists, and new sound libraries are added each month. The playful interface is the brainchild of Amy Franceschini (of futurefarmers.com fame), and takes some getting used to, but one can master Potluck without being DJ Clue. Create your genius mix, and save it online for others to enjoy.

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My Old Friend the Future

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No futurist is ever 100% accurate, but often "wrong" predictions prove more enlightening in hindsight than "right" ones. Gene Youngblood's prophetic 1970's work 'Expanded Cinema' is to us now what Lev Manovich's 'The Language of New Media' may be to future readers -- a fascinating, heady analysis of digital media phenomena in process. The noosphere, bio-computing, techno-anarchy, and oceanic consciousness -- all are examined from a pre-desktop perspective. Featuring an introduction by Bucky Fuller, 'Expanded Cinema' is now available free online. - Curt Cloninger

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Where Do You Want To Go Today?

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There are Temporary Autonomous Zones, and now there are Temporary Telecommunication Autonomous Zones. The Personal Telco Group of Portland, OR, is creating the latter out of a used satellite truck. The group, associated with the freenetwork movement, is reverse-engineering a broadcast television machine to create a roving, open node: Internet access by the people, for the people. If in the Portland area, attend the next meeting to see how you can help. Also, the group is seeking "any number of bizarre things" to do with the truck once its on the go. Rhizomers with ideas, contact Nigel at nigel@joejava.com. - Brooke Singer

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All Your Pork Belong to Us

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A do-it-yourself breast enlargement kit for little girls, a subversive plot by pigs to replace the sale of pork with human meat, a young woman trapped inside a children's game -- welcome to the disturbing world of Pleix, a collective of skilled digital media professionals producing harshly sardonic, faux advertisements slamming contemporary marketing. All five short Quicktime films are painstakingly slick in their production, making their content all the more hard-hitting. Two are predominantly eye candy though -- welcome breaks in the midst of some intense material. - Curt Cloninger

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Whose Jam?

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Back in the 80's, lo-fi music savant John Oswald released a homemade CD called Plunderphonic that sampled and shredded pop artists from Metallica to Michael Jackson to Bing Crosby. The goal of the CD was not merely to make brilliantly mutated music, but to question the copyrighting of audio --when does one person's composition become someone else's? Oswald was sued and forced to recall all the CDs. Now the entire illegal CD is available online for free in mp3 format. Download and jam at your own risk. -- Curt Cloninger

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Walk, do not Surf, the Web

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The artist group Tsunamii is not surfing the web figuratively but walking it literally. As part of a project for art show Documenta 11, Tsunamii is walking from Documenta headquarters in Kassel, Germany, to their web server in Kiel. As they travel the 500-km route, a GPS (Global Positioning System) tracks their location and initiates a series of web browsing movements viewable in a Documenta gallery. Tsunamii's desire: to foreground the physical make-up (hardware, cables, and backbones) of the Internet instead of its often hyped virtuality. And there is even more: issues concerning access and boundaries arise as '403: Forbidden Access' and '404: Page not Found' errors dominate this webwalk. --Brooke Singer

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Machines R Us

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My favorite title in Tom Sherman's new book \_Before & After the I-Bomb: An Artist in the Information Environment\_ is 'My Machines Are Patient With Me When I'm Having Trouble Finding Myself.' For Sherman, machines come alive, and take us on a wild ride transforming our consciousness, ecology, and culture. Sherman's march through the last two decades of the information revolution is revealed in 49 essays or rants about technologies, information, art, nature, memory, and the future. Part writer, part artist, part visionary, Sherman has been making video, live performance, public and web-based radio for over 30 years, as well as teaching art and theory (currently at Syracuse University). Read why 'Bored People Are Dangerous.' -- J. D. Marsching

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The Strange Life of Everyday Objects

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John Freyer sold his possessions on Ebay and then traveled cross-country to visit the stuff and the people who bought it. Documenting the process at AllMyLifeForSale.com, Freyer describes each item, the related Ebay transaction, and its ultimate destination. The buyer of John's Star Wars sheets writes: 'My wife always felt guilty about giving away her son's [Star Wars] sheets. What a joy when we saw you had your sheets up for auction. We gave them to our son (who is now 25) and had a great time of reliving old times.' If you want to learn more about these dispersions and related stories, a book is due November 2002. -- Brooke Singer

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Pixel Passion

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Would you rather that digital type was not anti-aliased (smoothed out) for better visual consumption? Are you tired of slick, vector graphics? Do you want some typographic realism back on your monitor? Then pixelhugger.com, an altar to the digital square, an homage to the building block of raster images, a respite from Flash, is the site for you. At PixelHugger you can play pixel games, like pixelInvaders, or download pixel desktops, icons, and fonts. There is even an application that converts pixel-based images to ASCII text. Check out the online gallery of uploaded images. If Mondrian were a digital artist, PixelHugger would be in his browser's bookmarks. --Brooke Singer

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Reading Pictures

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Since the low-bandwidth infancy of the web, creating pictures from ASCII text has been a hallmark of the net.art scene. Popularized by Vuk Cosic and jodi.org, such ASCII-art still surfaces in recent works by entropy8zuper and Eryk Salvaggio. Now you can join the lo-res ranks with the ASCII-O-Matic, online software that translates any jpeg image into ASCII-art. Just upload your image, and the ASCII-O-Matic transforms it into a text-only masterpiece. You can even copy the resultant "text code" for display on your own web site. Now who's retro? - Curt Cloninger

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