Posts for December 2004

Limited Options Rule

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Tis the season to be a consumer. Dreams of digital gadgets and new appliances unfurl in front of our eyes in a seemingly endless parade of models and prices. Amidst this dizzying array of choices, there is something satisfying about having one's options limited. This is the logic behind 56k TV - Bastard Channel, a quasi television channel based on the web. Produced by Xcult.org, who have been organizing online art collaborations since 1995, 56k TV features programs that reformat television genres to fit the formal and conceptual structures of net art, such as a notably low bandwidth. The result is a play-list that ranges widely in style, genre and speed, and available only on a restricted schedule. The programs include a text-based, mystery miniseries by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, a news show narrated by a TV Bot created by Marc Lee, and a talk show titled 'New From the Dead' in which dead loved ones are conjured back from beyond the grave to commune with a studio audience. Take respite from the freedom to be a rampant holiday consumer, and catch 56k's promising first season while you still can. - Lauren Cornell

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Rebooting Gender Protocols

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'We are in need of a book which reflects the actual (and future) state of the art of thinking about, and inventing, the digital medium in its capacity to subvert cultural practices a cyberfeminist perspective can provide.' This was the ambitious call from editors Claudia Reiche and Verena Kuni but, as they anticipated, they were inundated with contributions. A stringent policy was applied and the editors selected only those articles that were clearly situated in the cyber realm or that documented artistic and political practices in which the computer is integral (more than an email and typewriter tool). The result is 'Cyberfeminism: Next Protocols', 18 chapters with intriguing titles such as 'Cyber@rexia: Anorexia and Cyberspace,' 'Female-Bobs Arrive at Dusk' and 'If Cyberfeminism is a Monster... then Clitoris Visibility = true.' Available from Autonomedia, 'Cyberfeminism: Next Protocols' will sit happily on your bookshelf alongside the recently published 'Domain Errors!'--the latter dealing with gender in relation to technology in the broader sense, and this new collection focusing on reformulating gender specifically within the digital medium. - Helen Varley Jamieson

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Believe in Ghosts

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December saw the eighteenth and final issue of HorizonZero, the Banff New Media Institute's three year-old monthly web journal of new media, art, culture and technology. The last issue, Ghost, commemorates HorizonZero with essays on obsolescence and digital amnesia; net projects that play with media past; and an interactive 'Museum of Abandoned Things' (featuring the DVD player, a relic to be replaced by bandwidth in the year 2007). The essays on the historicization of digital culture are more than a little self-conscious: 2005 will see the release of a HorizonZero DVD, and just in time for the tenth anniversary of the institute. Reading and viewing archived essays and projects that are explicitly about the very challenges of archiving can set your brain whirling. Best to remember that the beauty of interactive technologies is not their timelessness, but their ability to effect and reorganize time. The forthcoming HorizonZero DVD won't last forever, but it’s not meant to be eternal: it’s meant to be explored. - Christine Smallwood

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errorrrrArt

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Martin Heidegger wrote that the true essence of a tool shines through at the moment when it breaks. The Barcelona-based Joystick collective takes this insight to its logical conclusion for internet art. On their website, in addition to theoretical texts and records of their various performances, one can find Joystick's ERROR project, an 'investigation of the aesthetics of glitches.' The ongoing project takes as its starting point 'The Raw Archive,' a collection of images, video and sound files. Each captures a particular slip-up in the digital process, removing it from its original context and reframing it as art. One favorite is a brief clip, tagged as a 'video compression error:' prismatic blocks of color seeth and slide apart while the ghostly forms of nude women flicker in and out, barely perceptible amidst the shimmering noise. Joystick's ultimate goal is to explore the patterns in the glitches that their fans send them in further works of art--so if you are ever frustrated with your computer's misfires, be sure to send them Joystick's way! - Ben Davis

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