Posts for 2004

Better Living through ASCII

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ASCII, like fire, purifies. At least that's what New York artist Yoshi Sodeoka of group C505 hopes. Watching this latest project, ASCII BUSH, currently spotlighted at turbulence.org, one can see the similarities between the element and the protocol governing character interchange: alphanumerics twist through footage of two State of the Union addresses like tongues of flames. Sodeoka has filtered video from two generations of Bush presidents, offering online two lengthy addresses (January 12, 2003, by the incumbent George W. Bush; and March 6, 1991, by his father George H.W. Bush) rendered entirely in ASCII characters. The audio evokes a synthetic ambience, while numbers and letters pulse and converge, stitching together these presidential talking heads. According to the project notes, Sodeoka aspires '...to make art from the debris of our culture by recycling these dreadful and painfully long presidential oration(s)'. Quite possibly, these ASCII movies are closer to the true state of the union than the propaganda offered in the source materials. - Lewis LaCook

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Nine Stories

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The 'illusory virtual objects' presently wafting through the project room of New York's Chelsea Art Museum catalyze a solid examination of the behaviors that embody new media objecthood. For 'The Passage of Mirage', on view through October 16, curators Christiane Paul and Zhang Ga have selected nine works that demonstrate successful tactics of processing, encoding, and transmitting reality in the form of exhaustive digital narratives or states of being. Particularly evocative of this Mobius strip kind of totality is UK team Thomson and Craighead's 'Short Films about Flying' (2003). Each in the infinite series of randomly arranged films emotes the utility and routine exhilaration of airports by bundling cached surveillance of launching flights with streaming radio and protagonist-inducing dialogue snipped from live chats taking place online. More is sure to come to form during the exhibition's annex symposium, 'Negotiating Realities', to be hosted by New School University on October 10th, Tishman Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street from 11AM to 5PM. - Kevin McGarry

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This Old House

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In the tradition of massive industrial spaces transforming into powerhouse exhibition venues for contemporary art, Ayers Island in Orono, Maine has taken a couple cues. However, so far, said transformation has skipped much of the white-boxing and preserved the majority of the 360,000 square foot former textile factory in all its dilapidated glory. These halls have been reanimated by the first annual Ayers Island Contemporary Arts Festival: 'No Borders', curated by the University of Maine's Owen Smith. Antithetically, the location and history of Franco-Yankee Orono is situated relatively close to the Canadian border, perhaps encouraging the participation of new media students from Montreal, as well as London and Paris. Haunting installations like The Richards' 'Almost', a Xmas-light reindeer nodding from some hundred feet into the creaky depths of the factory, prime the space for the eerie transmissions of more technologically driven projects, like Margaretha Haughwout's .d.a.t.a.l.o.v.e.r., a beautiful game that mediates the playacted interactions of two entered 'lovers' who receive fictional identities from the computer, to reconcile face to face. The festival's closing festivities are Saturday, September 25th from 12 noon to 6 PM. Afterwards, we'll wait for next year, which will surely aid in confirming Orono as a much needed, spacious offline hub for new media bordered within the ever resource-friendly United States. - Kevin McGarry

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Newsworthy Games

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Forget fantasy roleplaying and action-packed adventure - here's a new game genre based on real-life event:: Newsgaming.com designs video games that are also tools for better understanding the world. Created by Gonzalo Frasca and a team of independent games developers, Newsgaming currently offers two online games and plans to publish several each year in response to world events. 'September 12th' highlights civilian casualties in the so-called war on terror. Declaring 'This is not a game. You can't win and you can't lose', it demonstrates the stupidity of the logic of an eye for an eye with deliberate simplicity. Shooting at terrorists destroys surrounding housing, and as the people cry, the numbers of terrorists increase. The message? Violence breeds violence. 'Madrid', on the other hand, is a form of digital mediatation: the player is invited to brighten candles in memory of victims of terrorist attacks all over the world. All terrorists and politicians should play these games. - Helen Varley Jamieson.

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A Green Thumb in the White Cube

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Los Angeles is a city that often produces two contradictory stereotypes in people's minds. There is an ideal version of the temperate Mediterranean metropolis by the Pacific. Then there is the dystopic image of an unsustainable uber-suburb where commuters wait for the apocalypse under the 24-7 haze of brown smog. As in all stereotypes, most of these images become more complicated, though never reconciled, upon closer inspection. A new exhibit entitled 'The gardenLAb Experiment' gives LA visitors and residents alike an opportunity to not just ponder these depictions, but to engage in the destruction and creation of representations of the city. Curators Fritz Haeg and Francois Perrin have assembled a rather large collection of artists, activists and architects in the equally large space of Art Center College of Design's new Wind Tunnel exhibition space. Aside from just viewing the installations and videos, more participatory experiences - including guided hikes by the LA Urban Rangers - are planned for every Saturday through the closing of the show on October 16. - Ryan Griffis

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New Media on the Brain

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For an English-speaker, Germany's netzspannung.org can seem confusing. Billed as '...a knowledge space and a research laboratory,' the site is in effect a huge archive for New Media scholars, and features a rich archive of papers and Real Media lectures exploring the issues central to network art. The most beautiful aspect of the site's design is the 'Semantic Map', a Java application that allows the user to navigate the site's space via a map interface. I recommend using the Semantic Map as a way to browse the corpulent netzspannung databases: areas of research represented as continents on the map. The 'data' continent, for example, will bring you to such reasearch projects as 'Affect Space' by Theda Schiphorst and Sid Fels, which seeks to 'design a networked semantics of caress, where the interactivity can recognize, understand, and even express non-rational states such as emotion or intention..' Lurking elsewhere, one finds 'BIOS,' an ironic comment on tech consumerism which consists of a 'helmet with 16 electrodes (sensors) that get attached to the spectator's head, HMD (head mounted display), EEG device and a computer. The HMD shows images that are synthesized from the impulses, generated from spectator's brain reaction to the images shown a moment before - thus creating a feedback loop.' - Lewis LaCook

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Free Domain

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Do you want free domain? Beginning today, all Rhizomers with designs on a fresh new domain name will be happy to indulge for gratis. You can pick any of your favorites - .com, .org, .net, .info, .us - and with any new BroadSpire Linux hosting accounts level Copper and higher purchased between September 15 and October 15, you will receive a free domain name. If you already have a domain, BroadSpire will extend it for one year. Rhizome will be reaping the benefits, too - collaborating with BroadSpire to sell reliable hosting is an initiative that helps keep us sustained. So tell your friends and enjoy your new space, sign up today! - Rhizome.org

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The Mod Squad

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When does modifying someone else's work become artmaking? What role does the Creative Commons play in preserving the Internet as a democratic medium? Selectparks is an international online community centered around creative manipulation of existing computer games, but its scope goes far beyond play. With media laboratories in Melbourne, Australia and Gotland, Sweden, Selectparks explores the conceptual parameters of the computer game - as medium of exchange, as performative expression, as virtual experience of place. The team includes founder Julian Oliver, Chad Chatterton, Andrea Blundell and Rebecca Cannon, among others, and the site is chock full of goodies for newbies and pros alike. You can download free games, tools and data, submit your own mods, check out the online tutorials, browse the archives, meet people in forums - this site takes days to explore. A few things are Mac-accessible only, which will leave some people with gaps, but other than that it's very fun and user-friendly. Didn't your mother always tell you it's nice to share? - Peggy MacKinnon

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Even the Small Have Birthdays

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The subway may be hitting centennial and ol' Times Square clocking the same years, but our smallest 'picture element' has a birthday coming, too. And this time, it won’t be overlooked. In 1954, Princeton researchers created the first computer graphic, and consequently, our first pixel. 2004 marks the pixel's 50th birthday, and pixelgala.org intends to celebrate. A timeline depicting history in all its pixilated glory, pixelgala.org curates pixelart submissions for each year of the pixel - from its Jersey birth to its ubiquitous middle age. The release of Windows95, Tupac's death, and the millennium bug are milestones of the last decade. In its entirety, the pixel timeline is akin to the Academy's lifetime achievement award, or an A&E; biography, just a bit more squared around the edges. Sixteen countries and 24 artists currently represent pixelgala, and the timeline still needs stuffing. The template for submissions can be found online at the gala. Call for work expires on Sunday 28th November 2004 12pm GMT. - Alyssa Wright

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Pinata Party

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It's no wonder the pinata has been a party hit throughout the ages from Aztec birthday celebrations of Huitzilopochti (the god of war), to 14th century Italian commemorations of Lent. Nothing beats the profane thrill of destroying something beautiful. Though pinatas are often seen as artful, at Gavin Brown's Enterprise from September 4th - 9th they will be works of art. Within the sanctuary of the white cube, the pinatas contributed by artists from around the New York area will be as untouchable as a group of Calder's mobiles. Come September 10th, however, they'll all be smashed to smithereens. From the 11th - 16th, visitors are encouraged to stop by the gallery to see the remnants of the pinatas, photo documentation of their demise, and to vicariously participate in the confluence of performance and catharsis. Gavin Brown's Enterprise is located at 436 West 15th Street and is open Monday - Friday from 10am - 6pm. - Perry Garvin

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