Posts for June 2005

It Isn't Over 'Til It's Over

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On the afternoon of Friday, June 24th, the Huddersfield Art Gallery (UK) will host a discussion called Evolution Is Not Over Yet, which will examine new possibilities for change, growth and improved modularity of Open Source creative production, as well as of the policies and dynamics that sculpt contemporary societies. This talk is organized in conjunction with an exhibition of Scottish artist Chad McCail's series of paintings of the same name, which, along with his series of drawings called Spring, narrate a small, urban community's experiments with utopianism staged in resistance to the institutionalized violence and systems of control issued by a familiar, fictional government regime. McCail's images have inspired a large-scale collaborative software project initiated by new media researcher Simon Yuill called "spring_alpha." "spring_alpha" expands McCail's story by situating the setting and its characters in a networked game system, the simple objective of which is to alter the rules by which this society operates. Already three freestanding phases of "spring_alpha" have been completed, each of which have incorporated substantial research into actual communities, the appearances and operations of which reverberate throughout the images and game. - Kevin McGarry

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Composing Creative Freedom

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Every picture, however complex and resonant it may be, can be broken down into discrete components. In the world of digital imaging we call the smallest of these components a pixel. By all counts, pixels are increasingly inundating our lives, but the pictures they are drawing may be far from ideal. In fact, so long as the commercial interests of multinational corporations dictate the production and uses of creative software, we inhabit a picture that is not our own. Recognizing the power of Open Source software to add bold strokes to the current composition, the Bergen Centre for Electronic Arts (BEK) in Norway organizes Piksel, an event which is both a festival and a workshop, and which gathers artists and developers working with Open Source audiovisual software tools from around the world for exchanges and discussions. This year's event, Piksel05, will take place in Bergen between October 16-23 and the main focus will be an exhibition in collaboration with Hordaland Kunstsenter (also in Norway), as well as the release of Piksel LiveCD, containing software used and developed at the event. Artists are invited to submit their work online by August 15. - Ophra Wolf

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Duograph

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If all you know of British duo Thomson and Craighead is "Trigger Happy" and "e-poltergeist," the first survey publication of their work will prove very enlightening. The new book "Thomson and Craighead," in association with the Film and Video Umbrella, features essays by art historians Julian Stallabrass and Michael Archer, and provides documentation and description of their vast catalogue of net art, technical experimentation and installation work from '90s projects such as "Obituary" and "Speaking in Tongues" to current works like "Template Cinema" and "Beacon." The only shame is that the book lacks texts by the artists themselves which, given their talent for verbal as well as visual insight, seems a real oversight. With their recent work "Decorative Newsfeeds" providing the cover illustration, alongside the way in which this book begins to illustrate the patterns traced by their careers so far, one could be forgiven for wanting to scrap the slightly weak notion of a ‘minigraph’ and instead call it a Spirograph! - Charlotte Frost

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Hide and Seek

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Camouflage typically functions as a means of hiding, but "Camouflage Comics," a website assembled by a group of Argentine artists, instead attempts to uncover what has been hidden. The website explores the history of the Dirty War, the popular term for the military dictatorship that governed Argentina between 1976 and 1983 and killed or "disappeared" tens of thousands of civilians. The site begins with an encylopedia entry that outlines a brief history of the dictatorship, which includes several strings of blacked-out words. Clicking the censored text reveals comics produced during this time of political duress and critical writings about censorship, history, memory and reconstruction. The different styles of the comics--some are loose and spontaneous, others graphic and dense--add a refreshing dose of individuality to an institutional history that has often left out the accounts of those who lived it. There's also an accompanying blog, which encourages responses to the project as well as discussion about any instance, in history or ongoing, where cultural production has been restrained or censored. So, check it out and add your voice to the ranks. - Christine Smallwood

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