Posts for 2003

NZ Sparks Up

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Now in its fourth year, New Zealand's SPARK Festival brings media artists from around the country and overseas together to discuss new work and ideas in creative practice. This year's draft programme is now online and packs 9 speakers and 24 proposals into the three-day event. Additionally, the day before the festival will see the first gathering of the newly formed Aotearoa Digital Arts network. Those of us not in Hamilton, NZ, can participate in the ADA symposium virtually, but it doesn't look like SPARK is offering remote participation. However, they are still calling for video 'blips' that will be screened between speakers, so if you're a blip-maker, you could be part of the bigger spark. - Helen Varley Jamieson

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Who is Reading This? Was Someone Else BCC'd?

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BCC, Flash animations by Motomichi Nakamura, has a palette of just four colors: red, grey, black, and white. The colors reference the influences of the Japan-born, New York-dwelling artist: Japanese manga, the Russian avante-garde, and 1920s Dutch design. In each of the four narratives, arresting visuals relate dark, humorous tales of technology--imbued misunderstanding or miscommunication. One animation opens with a couple holding hands, seemingly happy. In seconds they are driven apart by a litiginous mailing list moderator, who exhorts rules in two languages to drive the lessons of netiquette home. Details aren't provided on the lovers and how they breached regulations. But, BCC still manages to highlight delicate emotions and intricate interactions amid the regimens of net culture. -- Rachel Greene

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TIA meets GIA

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In response to public outcry over the formation of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) System in January 2003, the Bush administration tinkered with the project's name (now the Terrorist Information Awareness System) and hoped everything would be OK. Maybe this PR gesture was enough for some, but not for Ryan McKinley, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab. He decided to follow the old adage: don't get mad, get even. On July 4, 2003, McKinley launched his own initiative, the Government Information Awareness (GIA) in an effort to close the widening gap between a citizen's ability to monitor his or her government and the government's ability to monitor its citizens. His suite of software tools allows users to data mine individuals, organizations, and corporations related to the government and submit intelligence about government-related issues, while maintaining their anonymity. Now this is approaching something more like Total Information. -Brooke Singer

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The Mediatopian Situation

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Guy Debord and the Situationist International cautioned the 1968 Parisian intellectual community that the

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YGCOPPMMM

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The inspiration for American artist Amy Alexander's new work PPMMM is the nefarious workings of the Bush administration. Alexander contends that the government has pilfered the popular 'exquisite corpse' magnet poetry sets -- consisting of dozens of magnetized words ready to be creatively configured -- that usually adorn refrigerators. Alexander's smoking gun: the USA PATRIOT Act, which officially stands for 'Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.' Considering the acronym an insult to the magnets, Alexander has programmed a desktop version of word-magnet-poetry. PPMMM, or the Post-PATRIOT Magnetic Motto Maker, an application for home-sloganeering and motto-making is available for both Macs and PCs. The artist also recommends sending your slogans to Washington, but considering the reach and force of the Patriot Act, we suggest users proceed with caution. -- Rachel Greene

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Radical Entertainment at the ICA

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From 9-26 July, Radical Entertainment, a program of events and art installations will run at the London ICA. Its premise is to show a range of dialogues with entertainment culture -- from direct critiques, like Ximena Cuevas' hack of a game show, to projects that revel in the lightness of pop culture debris, like Paper Rad animations. Curators Lina Dzuveronic-Russell and Lauren Cornell know that it's hard to be humorless about mass culture, hence the works that celebrate and revel in consumer entertainment. The dense program of events also suggests that the curators know they'll have to keep their audience... entertained. Details are on the ICA web site. -- Rachel Greene

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Radical Software Resurfaces

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In the space of Net Art News, one can only enumerate a couple of reasons why the online publication of all issues of 1970s video journal Radical Software is so exciting and relevant: One, the ability to recognize artistic uses of televisual and satellite circuitry has only gotten easier and more important given the aesthetics of net art and tactical media. There are many dialogues to be shared here. Two, Radical Software published issues in which video shared edges with more anthropological themes -- media ecology, San Francisco culture, art for kids, activism, etc. -- contemporary art publications rarely allow these latitudes. The Radical Software archive has an introductory essay by David Ross, a history written by video artist Davidson Gigliotti, and allows users to browse or search PDF articles. Anyway, I gotta go -- writing 'thank you' emails to Davidson Gigliotti et al for making this web site and Radical Software come (back) to life. -- Rachel Greene

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See? See!-TV

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For an alternative to watching Big Brother, check out the on-line journal Surveillance & Society, edited by Dr David Wood. The new issue

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Staying in to Play

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Sometimes it's more fun to be indoors. That's what UK-based artist John Paul Bichard wants us to believe with 'Staying in to Play,' a first-person 3D environment for mental contemplation and exploring altered states. With a 90-day development cycle (ongoing until June 28) from start to finish, the spaces inside -- which include long White Stripes-inspired red hallways with moving text, mountainous terrain, and floating amorphous rooms -- are both calming and pseudo-representational. Visitors can move freely, float, or teleport to different world locations or try out a cool 'anti-matter' beam to propel them into mid-air. On the physical side, Bichard's created a downloadable PDF 'skybox' of the landscape that can be printed out and folded into a nice accompaniment for your mouse. -Jonah Brucker-Cohen

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Art and Science On the Go

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There have been many momentous developments in global economics, transnational mobility and information technology during the last several years, so it's not surprising that artists have been compelled to respond and reflect upon them. This year, the 50th Venice Biennale will include an ongoing project called Makrolab that was begun by Slovenian artist Marko Peljhan in 1994. Makrolab, which will be situated on Campalto Island in Venice Lagoon from June through September, is a working laboratory powered by solar and wind-based energy that facilitates research into the intersections of technology, ecology, and communication. Some of the areas of study include: network-centric identities; non-linear data display and usage; local ecology awareness. Makrolab is scheduled to operate in its mobile form until 2007, when it will be permanently sited in the Antarctic and run by a transnational organization. -Ryan Griffis

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