Posts for 2004

Intimate Cinema

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'Interested in responding to the setting in which people typically view the web, Torfs wanted to offer a kind of intimate cinema.' This is from the introductory text by Sara Tucker for Approximations/Contradictions by Belgian artist Ana Torfs: the new DIA online project launched December 2. Tucker's text is key to accessing this online 'video installation'. 'Approximations/Contradictions' includes 3 different video-based perspectives on 21 singers singing 21 songs from Hollywood Songbook, a collection of songs for piano and one voice by the German-Austrian composer Hanns Eisler, written in 1942-43. The use of video is technically superb for an online environment but the work brings up questions as to why the medium of the internet was chosen. While it offers the viewer more time to process the work, this gain is balanced by a loss in engagement due to scale. But linear references, such as the lines from the songs shown and ‘cast credit’ lines as points of interaction, become 'underlined' due to being in a non-linear environment. - Laurie Halsey Brown

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Viruses and Worms and Trojan Horses, Oh My!

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The use of the term 'virus' to classify those bits of computer code that have wreaked havoc for network administrators makes some sense when the similarities between them and their biological counterparts are considered. Both carry the minimum amount of 'information' to reproduce in the right setting, and although they can function as indifferent parasites, leaving no noticeable trace of their existence, few can be considered benevolent--while many are downright lethal--for their hosts. Probably because of our less-than-amicable relationship with biological viruses there haven't been many efforts to preserve their biodiversity, with the exception of various bioweapons and disease control programs, of course. Well, Argentina-based artist Gustavo Romano has created such a preserve for the computer species of virus. 'CyberZoo,' Romano's web-based project, serves as an in-progress collection of the 'wildest expressions of artificial life' available on the internet. In essence, 'CyberZoo' positions itself as an effort of art conservation, accessing and cataloguing the attempts of culture to survive the death of its creators. - Ryan Griffis

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Tis The Season

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This holiday season choose the gift that keeps on giving throughout 2005, to your loved ones as well as to Rhizome. For the entire month of December, when you sign up for any Broadspire Linux hosting plan--from the $65 per annum starter plan to the works--you will receive a free domain name to call home. If you already have a domain, BroadSpire will extend it for one year. Not only is this the perfect way to say happy holidays to those who may appreciate new web space, but also the perfect toast to Rhizome; collaborating with BroadSpire to sell hosting is an initiative that helps keep us afloat. So tell your friends, or keep quiet and gift wrap, and enjoy the free domain. - Rhizome.org

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The New Zealand Version

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It's no coincidence that several recent Net Art News articles have mentioned New Zealand; a surge of digital activity in these distant islands has caused a ripple in the net, and it's been noticed. The Aotearoa Digital Arts list has been going strong for two years, ex-pat digital artists are making visits home and the second Version Festival is about to begin in Auckland, 4-9 December. Version offers electro-centric performance, installations, presentations and discussion with national and international artists. Adam Hyde, returning from Latvia to take up a residency at Waikato University, will be giving a seminar about net.labels and models for content distribution. Later in the festival he performs as radioqualia, with Honor Hager, streaming live from the UK: sounds of the solar system arriving via radio telescopes are 'played' in real time by the pair. Other works include a typewriter that plays music, a collection of gadgets that create orchestral sounds and Seam, a live VJ event with nine video artists, three audio producers and a computer to facilitate audience interaction. Version is organised by a non-profit collective, dedicated to promoting digital media artists and events in New Zealand. - Helen Varley Jamieson.

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Something to Look Forward to

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In case you haven't noticed, drawing's back. Amsterdam's Geert Dekkers capitalizes on its quiet renaissance by using webspace to disseminate art to an unlimited viewership. Nznl.com is a New Zealand-based weblog and 'a drawing a day' has been programmed to generate a new drawing daily at exactly 00:00 CET since May 2002. Dekkers explains that 'The drawings, even if they are not strictly drawings (but web pages or flash movies) are, in essence, plans, and I see them as the most basic form of an artistic idea. Which is of course why most of the content is in some way related to planning some event in the future.' The drawing a day project dovetails out of Dekkers' ongoing preoccupation with the concept of future, the basis for other threads such as 'One Day,' a series that 'takes a wish or desire and throws it forward into some unspecified future.' - Peggy MacKinnon

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Mir not Mur

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In 2001, Vito Pace began collecting images from artists that expressed their ideas about 'Kontora Mir' (office of peace) and publishing them on the web. Started in Russia, today the site contains more than 100 images from all over the world. Now, Pace hopes to raise awareness about the Palestinian struggle for independence by linking the Kontora Mir project to Electronic Intifada, a site publishing news, commentary, analysis, and reference materials about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from a Palestinian perspective. The arts section of this site includes a review of the award-winning film 'Mur' (Wall), documenting Israel's construction of a concrete dividing wall on Palestinian land. In another creative protest against the wall, three muralists from Mexico are working with local and international artists to deface and decorate it. As it says on the site, history has shown us that building walls rarely solves conflicts. We need mir, not more mur. - Helen Varley Jamieson

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The Abyss

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The elusive New Zealanders who call themselves The Paul Annears have released unto the web what they declare is 'The Concise Model of the Universe'. It's a troubling, at times humorous, labyrinth of indexed texts and images deliriously juxtaposing snapshots of historic atrocities, platitudes about the general vastness of things, the odd cap from 'The Simpsons', AP blurbs about the War on Terror, bombastic complaints about the contrivances of language, futuristic vehicles, stories from small town newspapers, and terse manifestos from the authors and secret societies buried within. All entries are sorted into categories accessible by clicking rows of numbers and letters (Q is for Quotidian). However, with each click these characters reshuffle themselves like a haunted library. Browsing the database sequentially (using '+' buttons flanking the images) will eventually catapult you further into confusion. The sequence will be broken at random, sending you to a far-off entry, but with a noticeable preference for redirecting to current events that underscore a similar abandon of universal order and assurance. A semi-secret link allows you to submit 'your take on the Zeitgeist.' Like history, the only way it seems possible to navigate The Paul Annears' vortex is to stumble backwards, retracing where you've come from last. It's a mirror world that produces a startling, overwhelming, and eerily sober reflection of the times. - Kevin McGarry

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Blog Yourself Blue

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Has the weblog become the best example of cyber studio? In today's cultural/economic climate blogging offers artists an overhead-free space to create, disseminate and generate dialogue around their work. Rhizome's own Director of Technology Francis Hwang wants to address this new phenomenon, so he's assembled a panel of four net art experts to talk--not blog--about it. Kabir Carter, creator of the sound-based Walking in the City joins photoblogger David F. Gallagher, arts critic Tom Moody and net artist t.whid of MTAA for 'Blogging and the Arts,' a discussion that will 'address questions such as whether blogs will change the nature of discourse in the fine arts field, and ways that artists and critics are integrating this new form of communications into their own work.' The event is sponsored by Pub Sub Concepts Inc. and takes place at the New Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday, November 23, from 6:00-8:30 p.m. Real people, real place, real time. - Peggy MacKinnon

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Peace is Possible

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Cynics might suggest that Pakistani songwriter Mohammad Iqbal Behleem's mission was borrowed from a desperate Miss Universe contestant, but in times like this the world needs more self-professed and pro-active peaceniks. Behleem's declaration that he wants to 'use the universal language of music to communicate the beauty of humanity and promote positive peace' is put into practice with the E-Peace Music Project, where everyone is invited to contribute peace poems that will be published on the website. Selected poems will be used as lyrics for songs composed by Behleem. Organised by Behleem and Belgian poet and mail artist Guido Vermeulen, the E-Peace Music Project has so far attracted contributions from Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and USA. The deadline for contributions is 31 July 2005, so you have plenty of time to irenically develop your poem. In the face of continuing war and violence, the very least we can do is hope, write and sing for peace. - Helen Varley Jamieson

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Imagine All The Data...

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Databases, in one form or another, have become so ubiquitous in life that they permeate practically every conscious and unconscious activity. Just considering the personal data that is stored, retrieved and analyzed every time one makes a credit card purchase, obtains a drivers license, or checks out a library book, it is easy to imagine the vast catalogs of information that are often just below the visible surface of daily life. 'Database Imaginary,' a new exhibition at the Banff Centre's Walter Phillips Gallery, co-curated by international curators Sarah Cook and Steve Dietz, along with Gallery Director Anthony Kiendl, provides a range of works that envisions our relationship with the technological systems we have created to store and access information. The thirty-three works in 'Database Imaginary' are, not surprisingly, heavily influenced by the development of computers for compiling and analyzing data, including early works like Hans Haacke's 'Visitors' Profile' of 1971. But there is also a strong sense of material and spatial engagement in this collection. Through the exhibit's presentation of works that actively confront the countless points of contact between data and life, one can almost feel the pressure of metadata as it is tagged to our every experience. - Ryan Griffis

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