Posts for 2007

Glitching is Making Me Scratch

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The northern Italian city of Turin will be a hotbed of generative art this weekend, for the second annual C.Stem festival. While the fest is generally dedicated to 'the applications of electronic systems in cultural and artistic fields,' this year's focus is on the conceptual and creative aspects of generative systems, particularly in relation to graphic design and auditory culture. In a project that would make graffiti writer and theorist Ramellzee proud, artist Michael Schmitz explores the relationship between typography and genetics in GynoTyp, asking if font types can reproduce themselves through generative systems. In a complementary project, Spanish artist Ricard Marxer Pinon's Caligraft uses digital systems to create computational calligraphies. Similar Diversity is a rather stunning and thought-provoking project by Andreas Koller and Philipp Steinweber using Processing and VVVV software to present an 'information graphic which opens up a new perspective (of) religion and faith by visualizing the Holy Books of five world religions.' Never forgetting that the digital revolution needs to dance too, Valerio Spoletini will perform with his V-Scratch program on the opening night. Accompanying turntables, it visually responds to the motion of the record player and movements of the DJ in a generative merger of sound and vision. These are but a few of the exciting projects in a diverse and timely festival.


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Past Present Future

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'The future ain't what it used to be.' So said Yogi Berra, and so too say artists Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead (of the British duo Thomson and Craighead) in a recent interview in the quarterly web journal Vague Terrain. Looking forward through the lens of history is one of the many strands that runs through the work Thomson and Craighead. Their early online work, Trigger Happy (which is included in Rhizome's Artbase), is a 'mashup' of Roland Barthes's 'Death of the Author' essay and the vintage arcade game 'Space Invaders.' The piece reflects the range of historical influence on new media art. Automated Beacon, a live stream of internet search queries, juxtaposes ideas of immediacy and desire from a distanced perspective, while Light From Tomorrow literally sends light from the future into the present by working across time zones. Flat Earth is a new animation created in conjunction with the UK's Channel Four Television. Billed as a 'desktop documentary,' the piece compiles texts from blogs and freely-available satellite imagery to create a narrative slice of our world, now, and what is soon to be our past. Whether embracing the old to reflect the new or vice versa, Thomson and Craighead play not only with the critical tensions between past, present, and future, but also the role of technology within that timeline.


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The Melting Song Melts

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As one of the most celebrated compositions of avant-garde music, John Cage's 4' 33" (1952) has been appropriated and performed by countless musicians in a myriad of contexts. The underlying concept behind the work is that in a stretch of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of 'silence,' the listener is enveloped in the non-silence of our sonic environment. The deeply imaginative artist Katie Paterson actually produced 'silence' in her own rendition of the work where she projected the composition onto the surface on the moon, never to be returned. As in other works, she used Earth-Moon-Earth (E.M.E.) technique, "a form of radio transmission whereby messages are sent in morse-code from earth, reflected from the surface of the moon, and then received back on earth." The composition was projected from Japan on November 23rd and is the most recent example of Paterson's complexly poetic work. For a forthcoming show at the space ROOM in London, she will exhibit Langjokull, Snefellsjokull, Solheimajokull, a video performance of 3 different field recordings of glaciers in Iceland, played simultaneously on turntables. Using a very sensitive casting technique, the water from those same glaciers was pressed into the very records and then frozen. With the needle catching on the last loop of the 'records,' they are played for nearly two hours until they melt completely; a meditation on what the artist calls 'geological time.' With such elegiac projects, Paterson exhibits Cage's sublime sense of wonder perhaps better than any other contemporary artist.

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2008 Rhizome Commission: Art vs. Advertising

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Like it or not, advertising has become a deeply entrenched part of our online experience. Ads--moving, still, or blinking--sit alongside our news, our email, and our Facebook profiles. If you find this visual bombardment less than pleasing, one of the 2008 Rhizome Commissions should be able to help you out. Developed by Steve Lambert with Evan Harper, Addart is a Firefox extension that replaces ad content on given websites with original artworks from a predetermined database. More than just blocking adds like other available 'ad blockers,' with 'AddArt' every two weeks a selection of five to eight artworks (chosen by invited curators) will be available to you. This is not Steve Lambert's first shot at the plight of omnipresent advertising. He is the CEO of The Anti-Advertising Agency and with GRL (Graffiti Research Labs) they recently created Light Criticism, a creative 'rebranding' of some of New York City's LCD screens. The Bus Stop Bench Project worked to the same effect, by covering Oakland city bus stop benches with original artwork, Lambert addressed the passive ways through which we constantly receive images, and highlighted the ease through which this power can be harnessed for good.

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Public Broadcast Potential

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From 1974-1993 WGBH Boston's 'New Television Workshop' supported the creation and broadcast of works for television by an extensive and illustrious group of artists. Nam June Paik not only created a number of his influential videos there, including '9/23/69 Experiment with David Atwood' (who was a WGBH engineer), but also with Japanese engineer Shuya Abe he created the Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer--a major development not only for Paik's work but for the entire medium. Other artists to pass through the workshop included Marina Abramovic, Laurie Anderson, Peter Campus, Stan Vanderbeek, and Bill Viola. Following in the footsteps of this important program is the WGBH Lab, which provides tools and broadcast access for a new generation of media artists. They offer a 'Filmmaker in Residence' program as well as the 'Sandbox' service that gives users free access to WGBH stock footage. For their new program, 'Open Call,' WGBH is teaming up with the National Black Programming Consortium, inviting 'pitches' from filmmakers and new media artists for projects which address current and historical issue of race in creative and relevant ways. Encouraging alternative approaches to narrative and broadcast, 'Open Call' and the WGBH Lab are progressively engaging in a multitude of issues relevant in contemporary media production and reception. These efforts are a timely and welcome reminder of the supportive potential of the Public Broadcasting System, and that public television isn't solely for the historical films of Ken Burns, but is also relevant to the diverse range media makers and issues of the present. - Caitlin Jones

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Community Campaign

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Just over one month remains until the close of our annual Community Campaign. We are seeking support for our online programs in 2008, including our daily art coverage, in-depth criticism, discussion forums, artist commissions and online exhibitions. Like all our efforts, these programs are underlined by our mission to encourage and expand new media art practices and discourse. We are calling on our community -- all those who read or participate in Rhizome year-round -- to make a contribution during this critical Campaign. Become a member ($25) or make an additional donation and receive a special limited edition artwork as a thank you gift. Help us keep Rhizome's online real estate running strong!

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[Jeff Baij]

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the great line-up (2007) by Jeff Baij.

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Originally posted on VVORK by Rhizome


Review of Vernacular Web 2

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“The ‘World Wide Web’ has an omnipresent ring to it, but when it first began, it didn’t carry with it the weighty significance, the reigning long-term quality of royal blood, that it now holds in all its ubiquitous glory. We don’t question its appearance and critique it with the quick-to-judge enthusiasm we once did. These days, in a somewhat arrogant fashion, we feel enough distance from the primitive web world that first embarked in the early 1990s when it underwent its awkward years, reflected in its uncertain design and organization, and limited navigation.

It was a time when the web design profession hadn’t quite taken shape. Creation was a free-for-all of experimentation and trial and error by amateur experimenters. But through all of this unsupervised exploration emerged patterns and forces of habit. Standards slowly took shape and grew, transforming into what we now understand as web vernacular, or language, and professional designers emerged from this early breed of web creators. Filled with nostalgia for an earlier era of web identity and exploration, Olia Lialina brings light to these very first elements of discovery in Vernacular Web 2, a project that serves as an archive and ode to a time when one wasn’t able to fully grasp the potential of the medium but experimented with the freedom that only infancy can provide, and our current state of separation between ‘professional’ web design and ‘amateur’.” Continue reading Review of Vernacular Web 2 by Natasha Chuk, Furtherfield.

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Originally posted on networked_performance by jo


New Luddites

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In a commercial culture in which new technologies are constantly being pushed out onto the market, it's not surprising that a renewed interest in older, obsolete, even forgotten technologies should emerge. Nintendo NES Systems, Atari, the Commodore 64--these are the kinds of technologies that seem dinky to the gearheads, gamers, and Apple poster-children of today. And, yet, a growing number of artists and musicians are drawn to this hardware and the aesthetic possibilities their limited bits can yield. Fittingly, this frenzy of hacking, repurposing, and tweaking falls under the headline of 8-Bit, a movement that has swung back and forth between Europe and the U.S. since the 90s and will be celebrated in New York with a four-day festival from November 29-December 2, 2007. Co-organized by Manhattan art space The Tank and artist collective 8bitpeoples, the Blip Fest will present contemporary engagements with what the organizers describe as "primitive video game and home computer technology" through nightly concerts and daytime workshops that will democratize engineering skills for all who attend. The festival will be complemented by the coyly titled, packed group exhibition BITMAP: as good as new at Brooklyn's Vertexlist gallery. Organized by artist, gallerist, filmmaker, and 8-Bit chronicler Marcin Ramocki, BITMAP reflects on the history of the digital image, focusing on early computing and video-game consoles. The exhibition features artists working across the spectrum of 8-Bit practice, including Dragan Espenschied, Olia Lialina, Tom Moody, Nullsleep, and Paul Slocum. Their works allow us to glimpse at the historical moments in which these early technologies were made and demonstrate that the history of technology is often best told through its mistakes: technical failures, glitches, and unintended functions. At the same time, they ask us to reflect on whether the availability of more options, in an electronic system, enhances ...

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Waiting and Giving

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As some readers may well know, tomorrow (November 22nd), marks the yearly American tradition of Thanksgiving. While many myths surround the holiday, its first celebration was believed to be a time for the colonists to "thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World." At times, presidents have altered the holiday's meaning slightly by focusing on the pressing matters of the time in their yearly Thanksgiving proclamations. In 2005, without making specific mention of 'New Orleans' or 'Hurricane Katrina' president George W. Bush briefly mentioned those "affected by the destruction of natural disasters." While anthropologist Neil Smith has deftly critiqued the myth of natural disasters and many debate whether Katrina should be categorized as a genocide, the contemporary art community has been less reticent than the commander-in-chief to address New Orleans today. Digital artist Paul Chan recently completed his two-week production, Waiting for Godot in New Orleans. Organized by Creative Time and curated by Nato Thompson, the project was deeply embedded within the local community from start to finish. Former New Museum Curator Dan Cameron has also recently launched Prospect.1 New Orleans, the largest contemporary art biennial in the US, wich will be held throughout the city and will be open until January 18, 2008. The project is intended "to help reinvigorate New Orleans following the human, civic, and economic devastation left by Katrina." In the wake of such a disaster, a harsh winter is a negligible if not antiquated crisis to survive.

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