Posts for 2004

31536000 Seconds Of Fame

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Visitors to the web-based project '1 Year Performance Video' are invited to log in and view Mark Rivers and T. Whid living out 365 days within the confines of identical, sparsely furnished, white rooms. The latest in their series of 'Updates' on seminal performance art from the 60's and 70's, this piece follows from Sam Hsieh's notorious 'One Year Performance 1978-79' in which the artist isolated himself in a cage-like room for a year's time. In MTAA's version, the test of endurance is shifted onto the viewer as the artists have replaced the human labor involved in the original performance with 160 pre-taped clips that run continuously -- and according to the clock -- for the course of a year. If the viewer successfully finishes the piece, they can redeem their time by gaining ownership of the two XML files of the artists, i.e. becoming the collector of a unique set of art data. Consider exchanging your downtime for higher status by dropping in on MTAA. And on your way, perhaps lend some support to turbulence.org who consistently perform real labor to make provocative projects like this one possible. - Lauren Cornell

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Unlawful Logics

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'Rules of Crime', closing Saturday, November 13th at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, marks retired net artist and practicing Anarchist Heath Bunting's first, perhaps unexpected, exhibition in a major museum. Comprised of works made with fellow Briton Kayle Brandon, the show provides visitors access to tools for understanding and transgressing geopolitical and personified boundaries. 'BorderXing' documents the duo's tactical trespass of international borders. With user-supplied start- and endpoints, 'BorderXing' generates not only possible routes connecting A and B, infiltrating country lines in between, but also the criminal details of how to complete these journeys undetected. 'The Status Project' is an in-development, online database amassing all human statuses -- legal, professional, recreational -- their antecedents, and the channels to and from one and the other. Identities are parsed in lists of cascading declaratives. For example, I am born, I am not dead, I am literate; therefore I can be a writer; and later I could become a practitioner of the arts. These sequences can also be structured to provide trajectories for qualifying and transforming more traditionally invariable statuses, like nationality, gender, and mortality. The compositions and consistency of Brandon and Bunting's diagramed identities are not unlike code. At times, they are similarly, strangely, poetic, and with proper knowledge, susceptible to hacking. - Kevin McGarry

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Opium(TM) is the Religion of the People

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Red, non-linear, and declared all over, McKenzie Wark's latest book A Hacker Manifesto, calls for hackers of the world to unite, minus the capital letters and exclamation points of its communist predecessor. Without flair - the cyber-age has enough distractions - Wark plants kernels for revolt, and insists hackers stand as torchbearers. Regardless of politic or economy, society compromises itself to the interests of property. Only the hacker provides an alternative. The hacker possesses an ethic that doesn't seek to overthrow, but rather to 'permeate existing states with a new state of existence'. Such existence refers to a nature abound with freedom and expression. Wark's hackers aren't just the kids getting free calls from Mama Bell. Rather, hackers are those with vision beyond the actual. Careful not to reiterate the utopias of dotcom prophecies, Wark nonetheless sees a balance shifting from the real of workers’ production, into the virtual of abstract information. He calls upon hackers to see their inherent power. Free information and we control our own destiny. - Alyssa Wright

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Net Neighbors

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It's getting easier for New Yorkers to keep tabs on their neighbors with Neighbornodes - group message boards on local wireless nodes. Anyone within 300 feet of a node can post and read messages, and as they proliferate, networks will pass messages street by street throughout a geographic community. DIY instructions for adding your own node are provided on the Neighbornode site, which explains that the concept was developed 'because the Internet, while really good at connecting people half-way around the world, is really bad at connecting people who live across the street from each other'. As well as neighborly chat, these local networks are being used to discuss and take action on community issues such as noise levels. Neighbornode was developed by NYU Interactive Telecommunications graduate John Geraci as part of a software package provided by NYCWireless, a volunteer advocacy group whose mission is to promote the development of public access wireless in NYC. Soon there'll be no need for curtain-twitching and gossiping over the back fence. - Helen Varley Jamieson.

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Raging by the Book

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In ancient Greek comedy, parabasis named 'a part sung by the chorus, addressed to the audience in the poet's name, and unconnected with the action of the drama.' Calling themselves 'the bodies of rage and longing,' six artists and filmmakers based in the United States - Dimitri Kotsaras, Mr. Flo, Melissa Longenecker, Jennifer Nelson, Michael Wilson, and Natalie Zimmerman - have devised an ongoing, collaborative project to promote parabasis transnationally. With foci in Los Angeles and Athens, The Book of Rage and Longing stages an interrogative return to the putative birthplace of Western democracy. Viewers submit textual or visual rants, connected or unconnected with the daily unfolding dramas of wars worldwide. Unedited, these texts and images are projected on a rooftop facing the Acropolis. An 'interpretive/administrative committee' modifies these contributions, reshaping them into the titular book, segments of which a group of Greek singers then performs. Read in the aftermath of this year's presidential election, these instances of parabasis have begun to seem rather more tragic than comic, as when one self-styled poet opines, 'From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,/ We must take back our land again,/ America.' - Ramsey McGlazer

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The Medium's History is the Message

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Now that New Media is getting old, at least in 'Internet years,' its histories are starting to accumulate. A PBS series has traced the commercial development of the internet (up to the edge of the dot com bubble), and Thames & Hudson has published historicizing texts on new media and internet-based art. But, as most involved in this, hardly homogeneous, field would probably say, the documentation and theorization of new media art is anything but well defined. In recognition of the large gaps in these areas, the Banff New Media Institute is hosting Refresh!: The First International Conference on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology. Co-organized by Leonardo/ISAST, the Database for Virtual Art and UNESCO DigiArt, Refresh! aims to further the understanding of art practices that engage with science and technology, from nano- and biotech art experimentation to the problems posed by networked art to curation and preservation. The conference is scheduled to take place from September 28 through October 3, 2005 in Banff, and you have until December 1st to submit proposals for papers. - Ryan Griffis

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Issue Oriented Programming

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A New Yorker cartoon, celebrating the utopian belief in the mutability of identities online once featured a dog stating as axiomatic, 'On the internet, no one knows you're a dog.' To which, bay area techno-activist Art McGee sharply retorted, 'What's wrong with being a dog?' While there are now more channels for discussion and research into the relationships between race, gender, economies and geographies and that elusive construct 'cyberspace,' the discussion has only really begun. A new email list, dedicated to exploring the role of feminist, postcolonial and queer scholars and activists in internet research, should help broaden the terrain. Developed from affinity group meetings during an Association of Internet Researchers' Conference, the list promises to provide a forum for the discussion of topics concerning the intersection of identity, politics and technology. - Ryan Griffis

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When the Cat's Away

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What would happen if we fired all the curators? Would the art world disintegrate into chaos - no traffic cops, no mediators? Two years ago Irish net artist Conor McGarrigle decided to try it, on-line. The first Stunned Net Art Open, conceived 'to provide an exhibition free of curatorial bias which presents a true snapshot of the state of the art today,' accepted any and all net art creations with no qualifying criteria. A huge response in 2002 and 2003 prompted technical innovations for this year's show, which allow a maximum of viewing with a minimum of clicking. Now each work is individually blogged, and every three days there's a fresh one posted. Or if you prefer, access the RSS and XML feeds so you won't miss a thing. Projects range from Nicolas Clauss's painterly 'White Vibes' to John Gerrard's politically-charged 'Slow Death,' with ongoing new entries. So far everything looks smart, diverse and relevant - nothing stunned about it. - Peggy MacKinnon

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Which Way Home?

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There are more ways to map a city than MapQuest could possibly take on. Consider your own strategies: is it according to streets and avenues, or the people and places to which they lead? Where traditional maps drop off, locative media comes in, wedding art and technology and opening up the world of creative cartography. Artist Sylvia Grace Borda took on the task of mapping the city of Surrey, which spans 380 square kilometers in British Columbia, by photographing every one of its more than 1400 bus stops. In order to do this, she walked, biked, drove and rode busses through the city, collecting stories and pictures along the way. The result is Every Bus Stop in Surrey, BC, a database of photographs that offer digital maps or 'snapshots' of Surrey's diverse geography and neighborhoods. The project is presented as a 38-minute DVD film of photographs projected at 2-second intervals, an interactive kiosk that provides access to all 1600 images, and a series of printed photographs. For those to whom the Surrey Art Gallery is off the map, the project is also available online. - Ophra Wolf

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Cultivating Trans Cultures

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Paola Gaetano Adi has begun to conduct experiments in bodily fusion at a distance. Her collaborative 'transBody' project invites artists and amateurs everywhere to donate sets of virtual limbs. By attaching video cameras to their waists, pointed upward or downward, and filming their bodies in motion, viewers can help to articulate Gaetano Adi's 'hybrid bodies'. Such are achieved by randomly projecting odd couples (each appropriately comprising a 'top' and a 'bottom') in quick succession. Ultimately, transBody may not prove transformative, for the crucial task of redefining and re-imagining the body calls for more than spectacular splicing, which leaves the viewer’s own somatic self altogether intact. The same goes for redoing gender. (The 'gentleman' icon that serves as the projects online emblem suggests that this mission, too, concerns Gaetano Adi.) Still, interested bodies are encouraged to submit their better halves for sixty-second, Centaurian screenings. An initial sampling of hybrid creatures will be shown December 1-4 at the Centro Cultural España in Cordoba, Argentina. - Ramsey McGlazer

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