Posts for September 2003

You and Your Software

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Those who follow 'software culture,' a field which applies critical discourse to the software we use every day, likely know the work of Holland-based critic Matthew Fuller. Not only was he a co-conspirator with Simon Pope and Colin Green on the Web Stalker (the first artist-made web browser), and a frequent collaborator with Mongrel, but he is also a well-known promoter of nefarious, indie software projects (one of the latest is runme.org). Some of Fuller's writings have been published in the just-released book 'Behind the Blip.' Not sure which Fuller essay I recommend the most: maybe the classic Web Stalker intro which first introduced the term 'not-just-art' (opposed to 'anti-art,' 'art,' and 'non-art') into my lexicon... or maybe 'It Looks Like You're Writing a Letter: Microsoft Word' which will have all readers wondering how word processors inhibit creativity and autonomy. If net art itself can be understood as a contestation of new media, isn't software culture a hot topic? -- Rachel Greene

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A Vision in Delft Blue

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Dutch artist Hugo Kaagman adorns his site with an array of images and animations whose palette of Delft blue and white evoke his country's history. The shuttling between traditional symbols, such as windmills and animals, and radically contemporary ones, an Internet Explorer icon and a rollerskate, is matched by an old-fashioned, canvas-like interface that features clickable animations. Though the blue and white site is formally precious and appealing, many of its animations are rooted in a sense of irony about the cliches of historic official culture. Also, net art collectors will be happy to know that Kaagman's works are for sale. Details, in blue and white, on the site. -- Rachel Greene

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Can You Spell R.O.C.K.?

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When Vuk Cosic combined his ascii movie making skills with Alexei Shulgin's midi pop rock skills, the genre of ascii music videos was born. Now c404's Yoshi Sodeoka continues the tradition in gloriously green Quicktime with 'ASCII Rock'. Sabbath, Zeppelin, Hendrix, AC/DC, and more are all given a lo-res ascii/midi audio-visual massage. Angus Young's signature gyrations are remarkably recognizable, even when rendered in animated letter form. Finally, rock icons get the iconic treatment they deserve. - Curt Cloninger

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Down the Rabbit Hole

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Known simply as 'samorost.swf', this interactive Flash game by Czechoslovakia's Amanita Design combines Myst/Riven-like puzzles with a whimsical animation style reminiscent of crankbunny.com (or Roger Dean's early 'Yes' album covers). The puzzles are challenging but surrealistically intuitive, and the combination of gorgeously textured organic settings and playfully animated vector characters is plenty of motivation to advance to the next level. Samorost is a rare combination of entertainment, art, absurdism, and humor. And, as an added bonus, you get to save a planet from utter destruction. - Curt Cloninger

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Show Me Your Blips

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The mining of gameboys for sick beats has grown into a genre-spanning practice and, undeterred by Nintendo's non-inclusive language, women do it too. While the detournement of videogame sounds was most prominent in the broken beat, digital hardcore, and glitch movements of the nineties, the new school often eschews the dystopic arcade clamor of its predecessors. Tasmanian-raised, London-based artist Lektrogirl (AKA Emma Davidson) serves on the directory board of micromusic.net, a stylistically diverse (well, kind of) online community for artists to share and discuss low tech and videogame-derived electronic music. Her evil/sweet bubble tracks can heard on the micromusic site and her album 'I Love My Computer' -- made on an Ensoniq SQ80 and recorded to (gasp!) cassette -- is out on Richard D. James' 'braindance' label Rephlex. As if that weren't enough, she is also a founding member of Lektrolab, a women's collective that organizes DJ workshops and parties. -- Johanna Fateman

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Going Alone

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Dutch artist Karen Lancel presses notions of security and space by secluding participants and focusing their interactions on the topics of isolation and fear. In her work 'Agora Phobia (digitalis),' a white, translucent contraption offers a space for insular conversations with agoraphobics, prisoners, and otherwise cloistered peoples. These dialogues do not remain private however and are archived online along with personal testimonials about human contact (or lack thereof). By superimposing different traumatic experiences of separation, Lancel demonstrates how differently these can be measured depending on whether one dwells on physical spaces or psychological states. Participate online or this weekend in New York City. Details on this Saturday's event, as well as upcoming programs in Holland and Germany, are noted on the site. -- Rachel Greene

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This Thursday at the Baltic

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This Thursday, September 18, near Newcastle, England, Baltic, the Centre for Contemporary Art, will host a seminar on data-based art. The first talk of the day will feature independent curator and event chair Sarah Cook introducing how visual artists use technologies to respond and deal with environments of information overload. Over the next few hours, attendees will dive into the following -- UCSD Professor Lev Manovich querying the database as a form; Mongrel-member Graham Harwood on how to share data to make it socially relevant, and German cyberfeminist artist Cornelia Sollfrank downloading on her persistent use of random-generators in her art practice. Other participants and three free performances (two sound, one cinematic) round out what should be a full day. Reserve your place online. -- Rachel Greene

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Wireless Sunbathing Allowed

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Do you ever feel that when you're online you're neither here nor there? If so, NYCWireless and the Downtown Alliance want you to explore the possibilities that open wireless (Wi-Fi) networks may provide for connecting virtual and physical space. They are co-sponsoring Wireless Park Lab Days, two days of events designed to expand knowledge of Wi-Fi networks and create new ways to use them. Aside from the new user area to encourage interested newbies, there will be a wireless art exhibition featuring creative and critical uses of wireless technology and a chance to play the scavenger hunt-like Noderunner. Events will be held at City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan on September 19-20, from Noon to 4PM EST. Even if you're not feeling very sociable, you can always do some virtual people watching. - Ryan Griffis

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For What/Whom Do You Hunger?

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When I was in the Whitney Program, someone hosted a discussion on French writer/theorist Antonin Artaud and the centrality of 'hunger' to his conception of a theater undifferentiated from the overwhelming forces of reality.

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Barely Legal

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Providing unprecendented, free access to primary moving-image historical material is part of a Rick Prelinger's commitment to making public domain works meaningful as such. When Prelinger Archives, an archive housing over 48,000 'ephemeral' films (including educational, industrial, propaganda, advertising and amateur films) was acquired by the Library of Congress last year, more than 1,500 of the key titles were digitized, and made free and available to the public as downloadable MPEG2 files to 'encourage the widespread use of moving images in new contexts by people who might not have used them before.' Iconic films such as 'Duck & Cover' (what to do during a nuclear attack, featuring a caroon turtle) and 'Are You Popular?' get the most hits, but stunning home movies, WPA films, cautionary tales and utopian kitchen tours are easily found as well among these uncopyrighted or copyright-expired films. -- Johanna Fateman

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