Posts for 2004

Key Strokes for Turbulence

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Richard Nixon once explained: 'The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity.' Such Chinese 'crisis' understands the Roman 'Janus' understands the Modern ambiguity. And all understand the strengths of the turbulence blog - a blog which embraces both the turbulence and brainstorms of conversation. By showcasing network-enabled performances, and initiating dialogs about them, turbulence.org has established a collective planning team for its Spring/Summer 2006 conference. Organized by artists Helen Thorington, Michelle Riel, Jo-Anne Green, John (Craig) Freeman, Brooke Knight, and a squad of guest-bloggers (currently Nathaniel Stern), and supported by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. (NRPA), turbulence.org/blog houses an exciting array of international networked performance. Recent posts include political word play, helium balloon soundscapes, and responsive architectures. And while comments are still picking up steam, the scope and creativities of the posted performances promise for a conference full of opportunity (and maybe some danger). - Alyssa Wright

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Coders, Start Your Engines!

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Since when did hacking become a spectator sport? And in Salt Lake City yet! Well, mark your calendars: on September 17-18 coders from everywhere will crawl out of darkened basements to coagulate at Pilgrimage 2004, Utah's annual demo party. For those who don't know, the demoscene has its roots in the late 70s and early 80s, when software 'crackers' created a new art form by branding their own work with self-identifying, flourishing intros to the games they hacked. This year's Pilgrimage includes 'fast-made' competitions that happen live, in front of spectators, in everything from real-time 3d animation demos to electronic music compositions. But the event isn't just for pros - newbies can learn about combining art and technology, bring demos home to watch, create a video postcard, or take in patientzero's live electronic music wizardry. So log on and become a member of Orange Juice, their unofficial web portal, to let them know you're coming. Prizes, music, two days of partying with programmers, digital graphic artists and electronic musicians - what are you waiting for? - Peggy MacKinnon

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Transition from Missing to Mission

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Belgrade's bombed-out buildings and perpetual roadworks are visual legacies of a decade of war and social turmoil; a less visible legacy is the absence of discourse around the effects of such transition in the urban environment. The School of Missing Studies (SMS) aims to 'turn what is missing into a mission' - by bringing together artists, curators, architects and theorists from the former Yugoslavia, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the USA for two years' of research and workshops. Along with Belgrade, the cities of Munich, Zurich and Rotterdam have been chosen for study because of their different expressions of urban transition. One proposed workshop reconsiders Belgrade's city streets, inserting the experiences of marginal residents such as the homeless, disabled and prostitutes into the usual maps. A web site will provide general information about SMS as well as act as a communication and exchange platform between the participants. SMS will result in concrete projects for artworks and architecture interventions, critical writing, and cultural programming - rebuilding urban theory. - Helen Varley Jamieson.

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For The Times They Are a-Changin - Or Are They?

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In case you haven't noticed, protest songs are making a comeback. But the guitar-strumming troubadours of the sixties have been replaced with something a little less grass roots - huge acts like Springsteen and Sheryl Crow are heading the protest charge, and they've got money and technology to bring the message to the masses. The Free Speech Movement began at UC Berkeley in 1964, long before the internet and webcams displaced TV as the quickest way to circulate imagery around mainstream America. Now, 40 years later, the alpha lab at the university where it all began celebrates its anniversary with the unveiling of 'Demonstrate,' a state-of-the art webcamera that viewers can control from the comfort of their own PCs by using it to take pix of UCB's Sproul Plaza and posting the captured images online, while responding to other users‚ contributions in a public forum that takes free speech to a new, visually immediate level. There's no doubt technology has advanced the act of bearing witness, but today's political climate begs the question: has free speech really advanced that far? - Peggy MacKinnon

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DSHell

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South Africa is seeping into the fold, upholding the longstanding tradition of parody and hacktivism in net.art, whilst speaking back to what has gone wrong in our, thus far, Decade of Democracy. Governmental and/or corporate incompetence and corruption notwithstanding, business monopolies seem to be the biggest threat to Southern Africa's progress in a global context. Couple that with the digital divide, and you've got the biggest and baddest monopoly of them all: Telkom. With a stronghold on all land-line services, and the only broadband connection in South Africa worth speaking about - which they charge five times more for than the second highest priced aDSL in the world - is it any wonder that their (large-majority foreign) investors are kept extremely happy? But don't take my word for it; Hellkom.co.za (currently under fire with a lawsuit) has up-to-date price comparisons, forums and news, under the hood of their satirical attempt to take the [cyber]space that is rightfully theirs - Nathaniel Stern

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Chaise Me If You Can

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A group of students at Brown University has released the first issue of the biannual, free Chaise Magazine. Chaise, a compilation of audio clips, still photo slide shows, videos and interactive media, is a DVD. Because the curating of Chaise ends at selection, viewers have the freedom to chart their own course through the artworks. Reading a DVD is nothing like reading a magazine, though, and sometimes the effort of re-cycling back to the main menu to browse the next project is a confusing, albeit liberating, enterprise. By demanding full reader engagement in this way, Chaise both proscribes an art experience (no flipping through ads while watching tv) and demands respect. It’s really more of a yearbook than a magazine, a resource for anyone interest in finding new artists to explore further. And with nearly fifty works in the first issue, it will keep you busy doing just that. The next installment is set for September/October 2004. Submission guidelines are available online. - Christine Smallwood

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The Climate Change Underground

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Explorations of the political nature of data have an interesting history in art. In the 1970s, the artist Hans Haacke tested the neutrality of seemingly raw information through an ongoing series of experiments into the nature of systems, eventually getting a bland series of architectural photographs and real estate charts deemed too politically controversial to exhibit in 1971. While some have concluded from such works that all information is therefore flexible enough to support any political statement, others see the need to further explore the invisible systems of knowledge production. Exxonsecrets.org, a new website, represents one such attempt at the latter. Created by artists/designers Josh On and Amy Balkin for Greenpeace, Exxonsecrets starts where On's earlier project They Rule left off. Like They Rule, Exxonsecrets allows visitors to create interactive, expandable maps of organizations and individuals, but here is focused and concentrated on a more specific set of data - the financial connections between Exxon-Mobile and attempts to discredit the theory of human induced global warming. Of course, the creators of Exxonsecrets want you to question the sources of their information, which, since this is the web can be done with the click of a finger. - Ryan Griffis

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Here's Lookin' at you, George!

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It doesn't take Foucault to see we're living in a surveillance culture. Ever since 9/11 big brother's been watching and encouraging us to spy on each other -- so much so that we sometimes miss really important stuff, like what the government's getting up to. But populations can, and do, subvert the panopticon by appropriating the tools of surveillance, redeploying them in ways that restore power to the populace. The Republican National Convention smashes into New York at the end of the month, and folks from Pursue the Pulse Media Arts Collective (Mark Argo, Dan Melinger, Shawn Van Every, Ahmi Wolf, and Ophra Wolf) have a special surprise to welcome delegates. The CoDeck is built around a late-70's Sears Betavision videocassette recorder refurbished for Linux. The platform consists of a web server, a video playback system, and a video capture system 'effectively a private TV channel' where people can submit self-made videos and view others' submissions, reacting and responding to each other's takes on the political clime in an open, street-based dialectic. Right now you can submit online, but from August 23 on, you RNC in-person spectators hit alt.coffee (139 Avenue A) to do your own spin doctoring. - Peggy MacKinnon

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Lie of the Storm

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With the Republican National Convention approaching, the media circus is headed into NYC and those with discerning tastes are sure to be selective about where they get their disinformation. An excellent source might be the Experimental Party DisInformation Center, a state-of-the-art media installation presented by the US Department of Art opening on Saturday, August 21 at LUXE Gallery. Featured projects include the Media Deconstruction Kit (MDK), live altering of broadcast news and Convention coverage; Society of the Spectacle, a ten-minute DVD art-loop by DJRABBI; WetheBlog.org, a virtual community for media artists and cultural critics; the Homeland Insecurity Advisory System, broadcasting the daily governmental threat levels; Awaken, a dark portrayal of the Spirit of America; and Abe Golam for President 2004, a poly-vocal remix by a politically reborn avatar-candidate. The opening celebration will feature special appearances by Axis of Eve, Billionaires for Bush, Armed Artists of America (AAA), USA Exquisite Corpse, and others, as well as Martinis made with a top-secret Experimental Party recipe. All visitors are encouraged to 'bring your own propaganda' (BYOP). - Ophra Wolf

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Auction Action

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Customs forged by the Ebay dominion are axioms of online economy and contemporary supply-demand community. The dotcom stalwart is itself dually legitimate medium for net art as well as an opportune site for experimentation and performance within and in defiance of the protocols of E-commerce. The tradition of Ebay-negotiated art actions has been chronicled by New York artist Jillian Mcdonald in 'EBAY: Buy or Sell or Buy', and now is your last chance to explore this formative exhibition online at Pace University's Digital Gallery, through September 6th. Carlo Zanni's 'Ebay Landscape' mines the virtual auction house for quantitative resources: stock quotes he datavisualizes as a craggy horizon describing part of a 'live' (hit refresh) wilderness. Eteam contracts Ebay as a real estate agent through which they click-purchase a plot of earth in Utah, '1.1 Acre Flat Screen', onto which they project an increase in value that is mediated by an Ebay resale. Rather than measuring art by mountains or market price, Nicholas Dumit Estevez puppeteers Ebay to transubstantiate a bid of $152.50 (precisely the going rate for Keith Obadike's 'Blackness') into pure artistic expression in 'Consartcration: Free Art For Sale', of which the winning bidder pays only fees owed to Ebay in order to inherit her prize. - Kevin McGarry

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