Posts for May 2004

Don't Touch That Dial!

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Surveillance culture isn't a new thing really. Remember the Cold War - nuclear proliferation, international espionage, all that? Well now you can experience all those feelings of alienation and paranoia but with a new media twist. Brought to you by Turbulence.org, founding member of New York based C505 Yoshi Sodeoka's Prototype #44, Net Pirate Number Station takes you back to the Cold War era when shortwave radio anticipated the internet's capacity for anonymous, surreptitious worldwide communication. The 'numbers stations,' it is believed, were used by military powers to broadcast coded number sequences to spies in the field. Delivered in a repetitive monotone, usually by a female voice, the eerie transmissions developed a cult following and infiltrated the arts through jazz and electronic music. Sodeoka's project uses the numbers stations as a model for a tongue-in-cheek, James Bond Meets Kazaa critique of new art culture itself, in which text "pirated" from websites is converted into numbers and delivered to visitors by three prerecorded video host personalities. Cold, detached, and just boring enough to be interesting, this station might be the new big thing. - Peggy MacKinnon

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Sorry, The Internet's Not Home Right Now...

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For those of us that rely heavily on email to communicate within our social networks, the phone can extend a more personal tone - where you can actually hear things like sarcasm, without relying on an appended smiley. The space of a phone conversation, even a conference call, is different than that of most net-based communications like email, blogs, chat rooms, and lists. But what exactly is the difference? 'Audiobored', a recent artwork by Dublin-based Jonah Brucker-Cohen, though not offering any answers, does present a chance to experiment with the spaces of global communications and draw your own conclusions. The work creates a connection between a (free) phone number that allows you to leave a message - with a digital operator - and a web site that provides access to previously recorded messages. Suggested topics include art, politics, and the Internet, but you can leave a "general message" if yours doesn't fit the prescribed categories. And if you find yourself going, "that's so cool, I want one," there are instructions for setting up your own 'Audiobored'. - Ryan Griffis

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Those Flashy French

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This Saturday May 8, the Centre George Pompidou in Paris hosts the third annual Flash Festival en France. Celebrating francophone Flash production, the festival combines performances, parties and prizes. French-speaker or not, exploring the festival site is exhausting and confusing, but sometimes exciting. 'Floril

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EXPLODING NINTENDO INEVITABLE

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Is geek chic the new face of Pop cool? Examining how recent art made with video games, tv and film updates the agendas of Pop Art, POP_REMIX, an exhibition which opens at SF Camerawork on May 11 and runs through June 12, says Yes. For this multi-media show, curator Marisa S. Olson selected artists who share strategies of appropriation and re-presentation with original non-originals like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. One of the events to kick off POP_REMIX is 'A Video Game Saved My Life', a talk/performance by two of the exhibiting artists, Cory Arcangel and Alex Galloway, both from New York. The two will guide the audience through a basic video game hack and present recent work, including their joint project Low Level All Stars, a compilation of graffiti 'sprayed' onto early Commodore 64 games. Other highlights include: Arcangel's presentation of two Beige vids 'Totally Fucked' and 'Naptime' which feature Nintendo icon Mario atop a lone blinking-question-mark-block and fast asleep; and Galloway's demonstration of his jolting Prepared Playstation sequences which exploit bugs in the game Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 to leave the hopeless avatars in looping, perpetual glitches. 'A Video Game Saved My Life' takes place today, Monday May 10th at 7pm at Broadcom Corporation, 190 Mathilda Place in Sunnyvale. - Lauren Cornell

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Get Pumped!

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Art has a way of seeping through the cracks in a city and expanding into empty, unused spaces. Montreal's Craig Pumping Station was built in 1887 to help control the floodwaters of the Saint Lawrence River. Now, after almost 50 years of disuse, the tiny stone building is the site of a quiet urban renewal spearheaded by CHAMP LIBRE, an interdisciplinary creation and presentation centre for the arts. Inspired by UNESCO's International Year of Freshwater 2003, EAUX ARTES

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The View From Nowhere

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The desire for a totalizing view of our environment is overwhelming, and is reflected in the technological evolution of maps, diagrams, biological imaging, and databases. But, according to (writer, anthropologist and curator) Bruno Latour's web-based work 'Paris: Invisible City', such attempts at exhaustive cartographic indexes only hinder vision. Paris, for Latour, is not tracked by static, isolated images, but rather by the traces of the transitory and interdependent. The city is visualized through the social and technical networks that give meaning to spaces, like the tourist map that depends on an infrastructure of manufactured and maintained architectural signage. 'Invisible City' combines ethnographic observations, theoretical discourse and photographs (by Emilie Hermant) in the form of a 'sociological web opera' with four acts and fifty-three 'plans'. The Flash interface (designed by Patricia Reed) discourages the singular perspective that Latour critiques, allowing for a non-linear process of discovery. And although the text makes more sense when read sequentially, the disparity is interesting. This experience of tension between controlled and open movement is a lot like that of moving through physical cities. - Ryan Griffis

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Nothing in that Drawer

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It's not often that the Judeo-Christian prophet Elijah's name is invoked in the context of new media art, but American artist Elliot Malkin claims Elijah is the inspiration for his recent collaboration with Anees Assali, Tele-Absence. In this piece, Malkin and Assali have done Minimalist Donald Judd one better: yes, this is a black cube in a gallery space, but the cube is also a server with a fixed IP address, and broadcasts via its web site a continuous video stream of its empty interior. Writing of the seder, a Jewish Passover dinner, Malkin reports, 'At most seders, there is an empty table setting reserved for the prophet Elijah...who, it is said, may materialize out of the spiritual ether and join us for dinner...' Tele-Absence plays at this hinge of presence and absence; the fascination for Malkin lies in the cluster of activities that surround absence, as if any lack felt in daily existence needs to be circled with ritual. - Lewis LaCook

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Rocks Around the Block

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City blocks are often taken for granted. We traverse them everyday but usually think about our final destination rather than the pavement under our feet. One Block Radius, a project initiated by Glowlab, a collective comprised of Brooklyn-based artists Christina Ray and Dave Mandl, attempts to challenge this relationship by presenting a semantic record of the square block surrounding the New Museum of Contemporary Art's future location in NYC's Bowery neighborhood. The online project collects photos and audio samples that document the discarded objects, local fashions, forms of communication, and even smells found on the block. The project is a vivid example of psychogeographic cartography, where objects in urban spaces (such as fire hydrants, signs, graffiti) are documented and placed on an evolving map that reveals the emotional character of the city. The website also includes audio and video interviews with residents and the New Museum's architect. Since museum construction begins later this year, One Block Radius could be the last collective reminder of a neighborhood in temporal and physical transition. - Jonah Brucker-Cohen

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Rhizome's Web

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Who's offering high-quality hosting these days? And for only $65 per year? RHIZOME IS! For that annual fee, Rhizome members can put their sites on a Linux server, with 350MB disk storage space, 1000MB data transfer per month, catch-all email forwarding, daily web traffic stats, 1 FTP account, and the capability to host your own domain name (or use http://rhizome.net/your_account_name). And from May 15th to June 15th, if you sign up for a Copper plan or higher, your first 3 months are just $1.00! Copper starts you out with 400MB disk storage space, 2000MB of data transfer, 5 POP accounts, and 5 email forwarding accounts. Please be sure to mention Rhizome.org in the 'how did you hear about us?' field of the signup form, and send an email to hosting@rhizome.org. Best of all, the hosted can take comfort in knowing they're being active roots in the rhizome schema, helping the .ORG self-sustain. - Rhizome.org

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Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

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The concept is simple, its implications fascinating: lighters implanted with wildlife research transmitters are 'lost' in select pubs throughout Limerick, Ireland. After they're found and pocketed by unwitting pub patrons, artists Volkmar Klein and Ed Lear track and analyze their patterns of movement. The resulting exhibition, Traces of Fire, documents the lighters' migratory patterns using maps, photographs and soundscapes. The madness is definitely part of the method here - what questions about our self-image as urban dwellers are raised by the act of applying biotelemetry to human social behaviours? What does masking the human carriers' identities and focusing on the devices themselves reveal about our relationship with objects and the physical environment? The installation runs at Limerick City Hall through May 23, as part of ev+a's 2004 Imagine Limerick show - public smoking ban be damned. - Peggy MacKinnon

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