Posts for September 2004

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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