Posts for March 2005

Pod Pals

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From the busy, lonely halls of post-Valentine's Day winter comes a project about 'two people in two places living together while apart.' 'IN Network' is a collaboration between bi-coastal conceptual sweethearts Michael Mandiberg (New York) and Julia Steinmetz (Los Angeles). Presently unable to live in the same city, they opt to occupy the same routines, which they synchronize and electronically relay to each other through sets of camera phones and microphones. Powered by a phone promotion that allows for unlimited airtime between clients who are 'in network,' Mandiberg and Steinmetz are in touch 24/7. During the month of March, Turbulence.org will host webcasts, podcasts (audio broadcasts distributed to hardware via software subscription), and a moblog (blog of mobile phone photography) to transmit to an online audience the constant correspondence that describes their fused existence: 'driving to/from work, eating dinner, giving lectures to students, going for walks, having cocktails, reading books in silence, falling asleep and waking up.' This sharing of lives, though consisting of the mediatized and mundane, is less entrenched in data and detritus than it is in the lives of, and new possibilities for being, people. - Kevin McGarry

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Painting by Ones And Zeros

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'Daria,' a project by Brian Lee Yung Rowe, is something like what you would get if the evil computer Skynet from the Terminator movies mated with Bob Ross. Daria is a new category in relation to media creation: the 'art(ist)'; both creation and creator, 'she' is a fully-operating artistic personality--complete with her own style that varies based on her moods, and her own personal needs (what would any 'artistic personality' be without arm-twisting demands for sponsorship?). Daria's website keeps a catalogue of her works, and visitors can commision new art pieces from her, imputing the title of the work they want and waiting as she culls material from the internet and pieces it together before their eyes. The results are psychedelic landscapes captioned with often nonsensical bits of text. While Daria's portfolio to date doesn't exactly give the human artistic community any reason to fear a Skynet-style coup anytime soon, the complex web of programming resources that go into making up Daria's intelligence is enough to give an exciting new twist to the idea of 'painting by numbers!' - Ben Davis

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Who? What? Where? When? And Why?

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Judging solely from 'How Scandinavian of Me,' to be quintessentially Scandinavian is to be a blond-haired guy who goes all over the world barefoot and standing on piles of Danish wood chips. Apparently, Scandinavians constantly dress in t-shirts and pajama pants, too. Artist Lars Vilhelmsen has been photographed in the tourist snapshot style in front of some important non-Scandinavian sights including Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam and sights in Malaysia, Berlin, and Iran. The web-photo album has aesthetic antecedents in British artist Gillian Wearing's photographs as well as the tradition of lawn gnome snatch-and-snap. In addition to a whirlwind horizontally scrolling tour around various locales, are individual HSOM 'edition's.' Notable is 'Doing the Flamingo - Environmental Entity," where the artist lost the wood chips and gained what appears to be a warehouse full of dancing flamingos. Another, 'Paris,' portends the end of this party: in the only photograph not featuring the artist or the title of the project or both, there is a wonderful picture of a hard-frosted cake in the hands of a Parisian baker. - Sara Greenberger

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To All the Players

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Some say that we are living in the golden age of gaming. Rhizome.org's 2005 commissions--all seven of which were produced within the last year--prove the rumors to be true. Each work pushes the boundaries of gaming by creatively developing a unique virtual world that holds an insightful relationship to the real one. Several works modify archetypal gaming models. Carlo Zanni's Average Shoveler adapts the graphical landscape of Leisure Suit Larry (1987) to the East Village (2005) and replaces its libidinous anti-hero with a hipster who shovels hopelessly amidst a barrage of newsbytes falling--in the guise of snowflakes--onto the ground. Reminiscent of America's Army in its vivid, 3D war-scape, Media Blackout by c-level member Michael Wilson enlists players in the 'psychological operations of our time' through tactical conflict with religious fundamentalism, military aggression and corporate interest. Other works provide training grounds for real-life situations--such as Warren Sack's Agonistics: A Language Game, which visualizes the actions that comprise a democratic discussion with avatars propelled by comments posted onto a public, online forum. The full array of commissions, also including work by Jason van Anden, Paul Catanese, Luis Hernandez Galvan and Kabir Carter, is accessible on the Rhizome site. Get addicted today! - Lauren Cornell

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Bound in Buffalo

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Media-studies graduate student Chris Barr eschews his Palm Pilot every Thursday in March and April this year in favor of appointments made over his website by YOU; or, rather, mostly by people who are familiar with Mr. Barr and his Buffalo environs. Users are invited to 'Schedule Something,' and many people have taken the man up on his offer. Having completed two Thursdays thus far, Chris seems to be living the life of an average college student: hanging at the bar, engaging ladies in beer-drinking photo ops, painting a woman's toenails, Blockbuster rentals, drinking games, perusing students' iPods at the lunch hour (yes, as predictable as one might expect), and bumming smokes. If you are lucky enough to have your birthday fall on one of these days, join the others by ordering yourself a tribute. Tune in March 24, when Perry Garvin has Chris Barr apply glue to his lips in their local café. - Sara Greenberger

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Relatively Remote

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Once upon a time, it took 5 weeks to travel from New Zealand to Europe; today, our remoteness has a different quality. On Saturday, March 19th, New Zealand artists are invited to ponder the impact of geographical isolation in the wired world at re:mote, a one-day experimental festival exploring remoteness and technology. Organized by r a d i o q u a l i a and ((ethermap, re:mote features artists and commentators from London, Newcastle, Helsinki, Rotterdam and Sydney presenting via live video stream, alongside presenters from around New Zealand and keynote speaker Tetsuo Kogawa (Tokyo). Participants will analyse how digital technologies can augment collaborations across geographical and cultural distances, and ask questions like 'Is remote a relative concept?' As New Zealanders have a lived understanding of remoteness, it's appropriate that we host this event--the first in a series that is planned to travel around the world. - Helen Varley Jamieson.

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Calling All Net Artists!

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Are you an artist looking for fine financial fertilizer this growing season? Time is running out to apply for a 2005-2006 Rhizome.org Net Art Commission. Construct a web-based proposal explaining your project and submit it to Rhizome by March 23 (that's next Wednesday!). Winners will be selected by May 1 by a jury of new media experts (Rachel Greene, Francis Hwang, Eduardo Kac, Melinda Rackham, and Jemima Rellie), as well as by the Rhizome.org community through a democratic, online voting system. Visit Rhizome.org to learn more about how to assemble a proposal, submit it, and view the recently completed 2004-2005 commissions! - Rhizome.org

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Why Art Needs a Hole in the Head

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Since 2000, the online journal Drunken Boat has been describing wayward contours through an intermedia landscape at least as strange as the one evoked by the 'Bateau ivre' of French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Issue #7 is dedicated to the neurological condition 'aphasia' and those whom it afflicts and inspires. It is the Drunken Boat's editors' contention that aphasia, a result of the brain's inability to match sensory input and linguistic expression, has the potential to realign the way we think about creativity. There is an ensemble of approaches to the subject, sometimes tangential, at times personal and head-on, from poets, essayists, film-makers, sound artists, and an opera singer. Sound files, text works, images and videos abound. Digital artist Christina McPhee's Aphasia + Parrhesia figures a link between neural nets and the internet via the cyborg body and the metaphor of access to/denial of speech. Drunken Boat's excursus into the murky terrain of brain disorder eschews pathos and 'idiot savant' triumphalism alike. Instead, it opens up the sealed circuit of silence and fear to a rich and skewed speech at the borders of the possible. - Marina Vishmidt

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Common Places

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The Dutch cahier Open, from the publishers NAi, describes itself simply as a publication about art and the public domain. The conciseness of the description defies the enormity of the political, economic, technological, and legal threads of the public domain discussion. In this format, adopted within the last year, Open represents a laudable effort to creatively address the question of 'public space' in the context of intensifying pressures of control and stadardization. Each issue works off of a chosen theme and balances the theoretical discussion with documentation of web-based art projects, installations and other assorted images. The most recent issue, Open 7: (No)Memory, is a reflection on the condition of collective memory in contemporary culture as it relates to and is transmitted by new methods of digital archiving, the creation of alternative sites of compiling and storing information and the implications of ownership in the context of theses new and old formats. For example, media theorist Geert Lovink's interview with Tjebbe van Tijen regarding his Ars Memoria System, provides an account of an individual labor to gather and organize information within idiosyncratic methods and a vigorous effort to reclaim material and information for public use. Unique in its stated focus, Open provides a new resource for those inventively trying to rearticulate the commons in the digital world. - David Senior

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What a Tangled Web

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While viewers of net art are used to layered reading and articles enhanced by visual and interactive components, Vectors, a new online journal published by The USC Annenberg Center for Communication in Los Angeles, is one of the first to introduce complex interactions into academic writing. While each of the eight projects presented in the inaugural issue of Vectors has a unique look and approach to the subject of Evidence, all are linked--graphically and conceptually--through numerous thematic threads. These threads are explored in the 'Vector Space,' an interactive section of the journal where viewers can draw lines on the screen to illuminate where the various contributions intersect. There are numerous ways to enter into, explore, and visualize Vector's and although those who would rather download a text may be disappointed, those enthusiastic about expanding forms and of academic discourse will find Vectors a winding and welcome addition. - Jody Zellen

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