Posts for September 2003

What's in Your Cabinet?

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For the last few years, Cabinet Magazine, published by the New York-based non-profit Immaterial Incorporated, has brought readers theoretical and artistic investigations into various cultural themes ('Flight' was the last one) bolstered by commissioned visual and audio artworks. A visit to the Cabinet website reveals that they have also been active commissioning works for the web. The most current project, Jackie Goss's 'There There,' is a click-through Flash site that takes visitors on a journey through a history of the mapping of North America. The current collection of nine projects exhibits the same idiosyncratic style as the magazine's print projects, including a narrative about a Balkan village built in Colorado for military exercises and an interactive generator of graphs for universal experiences. -Ryan Griffis

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A Pain in my SSID

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Once any new technology is unveiled, someone will find a way to make it painful. Taking this a bit too literally is Christophe Bruno, whos latest project, 'WiFi-SM,' features a plan for a WiFi-enabled, wearable patch that dishes a powerful jolt of electricity. How does it work? After connecting to a public node, the chip scans up to 4,000 news sources looking for keywords such as 'murder,' 'death,' and 'kill.' If they're found, the chip triggers a shock so wearers can 'feel' global pain. If participants want to personalize the experience, the product's built-in P2P (Pain-to-Pain) technology allows them to adjust pain thresholds and define their own keywords. Since it's a patch, one can also decide where it goes on the body. My personal keywords would probably be "George Bush", and I think you know where it would be placed. -Jonah Brucker-Cohen

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Art Brut's Not Dead

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The announced death of Art Brut -- whether deemed coterminus with the life of its early theorizer Jean Dubuffet, extinguished by the use of neuroleptics, or lethally problematized by contemporary contestations of its essentialist premises -- has put organization abcd (art brut connaissance & diffusion) on the defensive. The French foundation bases its activities around film-maker Bruno Decharme's extrordinary collection of over 2000 works that he feels were created free from the influence of 'cultural art,' and without concern for contact with an audience. The collection (of which several hundred images can be viewed online) is largely comprised of works by European psychiatric patients. While several of the site's texts seek to determine and articulate a functional definition for Art Brut in the 21st century, others provide a concise history of European modernism's relationship to the 'art of the insane' and the political struggle within the Paris Surrealists over Dubuffet's fascination with 'anti-cultural' art. -- Johanna Fateman

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