Posts for August 2008

Let's Get Physical

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Los Angeles-based artist Xtine Hanson calls her Mechanical Olympics "an alternative media spectacle to the Olympic games." Indeed, the project humorously turns the otherwise tightly-regulated machinery of both web commerce and international sports competition on their heads. Launching simultaneously with the Beijing games, on August 8th, The Mechanical Olympics invite the public to compete in sports previously restricted to people of specific genders and nationalities. The artist has enlisted participants via Amazon's Mechanical Turk site in which users receive paid commissions for completing tasks almost but not quite so simple a machine could complete them, thus joining the ranks of participatory projects like AddArt, Sheep Market, and Ten Thousand Cents, which also employed this service. Hanson likens this playful outsourcing of labor to working with artificial intelligence. Nonetheless, it's clear that her worker bees are bringing a hefty dose of personal creativity to this web-based role-playing game. A perusal of the videos thus far uploaded to The Mechanical Olympics' YouTube channel features Starbucks baristas working overtime to put their own spin on the classic sport of Hockey, and the woman who represents South Africa in the Freestyle Swimming event could win a gold medal in charm for her combined use of a spray bottle and trippy arm movements. When accepting one of the project's Human Intelligence Tasks (or HITs), the athletes agree to wear a pre-designed sign indicating their sport, gender, and country (they get to pick their own number) and to be paid between $1-3 dollars upon emailing Hanson a URL to their 30-60 second video. The footage will be posted daily, during the Olympics, and voted upon by blog readers. Rather than medals, the winning artificial Olympians receive bonus commissions, much like their more famous counterparts whose accomplishments score them lucrative endorsement deals. - Marisa Olson ...

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Then and Now: Desire on Screen

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For "The Young and Evil," the latest in tank.tv's ambitious program of guest-curated exhibitions, Stuart Comer considers the "historical contours and shifting relationships of sex and community in the digital age." Comer contends that the Internet has increasingly eclipsed the cinema as the preeminent cultural screen, and consequently divides his exhibition between the venues. Invited guests, including Andrea Geyer, Carlos Motta and Daria Martin, have each selected one contemporary work, for exhibition on tank.tv, and one historical film to be screened in Tate Modern's cinema on September 20th, 2008. But if the separation of venues emphasizes the historical division between works, the exhibition's focus on social deviance and erotics provides a compelling, unifying thread. The most notable of the works currently up on tank.tv play into what Comer describes as the Internet's state of being an "uncanny hybrid of personal longing and collective interaction." Mansfield 1962 (2006), for example, appropriates a Highway Safety Foundation video William E. Jones found on the Internet, which uses 1962 police footage of gay sex in a public restroom to instruct officers about covert recording techniques. Jones has edited the footage to concentrate on discreet moments of sexual pleasure and, at the video's end, the mug shots of participants, who all went on to serve time on charges of sodomy. For The Shape of a Right Statement I (2008), Wu Ingrid Tsang performs one section of autism rights activist Amanda Baggs' forceful address, In My Language, which she published on YouTube in 2007. Tsang's strong, androgynous features and affected computerspeak (true to In My Language) complicate the original work's register of alterity. "The thinking of people like me is only taken seriously if we learn your language," he recites, at one moment, an assertion that ...

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Company Men

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In the late 1960s, the LACMA's ambitious Art and Technology project sought to bring together contemporary artists with the biggest high-tech corporations of the day. The pairing was inspired: at the time, the art world of Los Angeles played second fiddle to New York, but Southern California was in the midst of an enormous boom in the technology industry, partially aided by an influx of military contracts during the drawn-out war in Vietnam. This year, LACMA published an online resource dedicated to the project, centered on a 392-page pdf of A & T's long out-of-print catalog, along with a selection of press clippings (one major criticism of the day: no women or people of color were invited as artists.) Over 40 corporations participated, including Hewlett-Packard, General Electric, Lockheed and Pan Am; of the 76 artists asked to submit proposals, 23 found productive matches with engineers and manufacturers. Fruitful combos included Andy Warhol and Cowles Communications (3-D printing), Robert Whitman and Philco-Ford (a massive mirror sculpture) and Claes Oldenberg and Disney (a giant hydraulic icebag), but many other projects were deemed technically or financially unfeasible. A & T's catalog makes for juicy reading, detailing the elaborate culture clash that occurred when suits and scientists had to work with cosmopolitan creative types and utopian longhairs. Perhaps the strangest marriage was that of John Chamberlain and the RAND Corporation, a military-aligned think-tank then largely seen as intellectual architects of nuclear proliferation and the Vietnam War. For his project, Chamberlain arranged daily screenings in the RAND offices of his nudity-filled film The Secret Life of Hernando Cortez, starring Ultra Violet and Taylor Mead, and circulated a series of conceptual memos asking staffers to submit "answers." One reply simply read: "The answer is to terminate Chamberlain." - Ed Halter

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Shadows Phone Home

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Aya Karpinska has just published a piece for the iPhone and iPod Touch, Shadows Never Sleep. You can get it for free from the iTunes App Store - just search for it by title. Aya writes:

the piece uses a combinatory structure and the rhetoric of children's literature to tell the story of a restless shadow on a nighttime adventure. I describe it as a "zoom narrative" which takes advantage of the multi-touch interface of the iPhone and iPod Touch to allow readers to swipe their fingers across the screen and zoom in and out of images instead of turning pages.

There are Web-based demos and videos of the piece for those (like me) who lack iProducts. (Luckily, I did get to see Aya show off the piece at her MFA thesis reading this past May, and enjoyed it. Sure, I didn't rush out to buy an iPhone afterwards, but I'm stubborn.) The application is programmed by Nick Dalton; Roxanne Carter modeled to provide the shadow silhouettes.

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Originally posted on Grand Text Auto by Nick Montfort


Manifesta 7. The Rest of Now. Bolzano/Bozen, Italy / Part 1/2

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The Rest of Now is the title of the Manifesta 7-exhibition in Bolzano/Bozen, Italy. The Rest of Now, curated by the Raqs Media Collective, is set in the disused Alumix aluminium factory. In the first part of our coverage of Manifesta 7's "The Rest of Now" we have a look at works by Harold de Bree, M-City, Dayanita Singh, Zilvinas Kempinas, Nikolaus Hirsch & Michael Muller, Candida TV, and Latifa Echakhch.
The Raqs Media Collective is a group of three media pracitioners: Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. Before co-curating Manifesta 7, Raqs Media Collective has presented work at major international shows such as Documenta and Venice Biennale. They live and work in Delhi, based at Sarai, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, an initiative they co-founded in 2000. They are members of the editorial collective of the Sarai Reader series.
Manifesta 7, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art. The Rest of Now. Curated by Raqs Media Collective. Ex Alumix, Bolzano / Bozen, Italy. July 27, 2008. Part 1/2.

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Originally posted on VernissageTV art tv by Enrico


OTHER "CONVERGENCES": Hans Jenny and Carsten Nicolai Explore Cymatics and Synesthesia

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As any techno-cultural aficionado will enthusiastically tell you, the 21st century is the century of "convergence", in which the communications industry progressively rolled out its own rendition of the Swiss Army knife: pocket-sized, hand-held, wireless devices which function simultaneously as movie and music players, mobile phones, gaming engines, internet connectivity devices, still image and video cameras, musical instruments, calculators...with so many functions now capable of being handled by little equipment and energy expenditure, visions of the future both Utopian and dystopian have flown off the shelves at a hitherto unprecedented rate (and wireless electricity is just around the corner as well.) Prophesies abound that this synthesis of communicative modes and cross-pollination of technological functionality is a stepping stone towards realizing some kind of fully-integrated Übermensch; eventually our ability to communicate with and comprehend each other will accelerate to the point where humans morph into sophisticated telepaths. More grandiose yet, there are the fantasies of some ultimate "awakening" along the lines of the "Omega Point" suggested by rogue priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, an ultimate synthesis of human intelligence with cosmic consciousness- the inventor Ray Kurzweil calls the same "universal awakening" phenomenon the "Singularity," albeit with a much more technophiliac gloss to it.

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tex: wearable computing meetup

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Sunday, August 10th, 2008
1pm - 3pm

tex is a meetup for those seeking skills trade, collaboration, inspiration, techniques, and exposure to topics with an emphasis on fiber, physical computing, textiles, wearables, and all matters of materials.

THE FORMAT:

contribute a tutorial introducing a single topic or technique

gather to make connections across disciplines
leave with tangible, usable techniques and patterns

submit a topic by sending an email to textopic[AT]gmail.com

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Originally posted on machine project by markallen


Rock Me Amadeus

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Australian artist Lynette Wallworth is bringing a high tech touch to this year's Mostly Mozart festival at New York's venerable Lincoln Center. At first glance, the pairing of a new media installation artist with a celebration of an old dead white guy's music may seem formulaically nouveau, but Wallworth's interactive works bring a nice visual meditation on this year's festival theme: mortality and transcendence. If anyone could speak from the grave about this topic, it's Mozart, the legend of whose death surrounds the mythologizing of his oeuvre and who has been the subject of remixes (or variations, as the ancients call them) by a number of significant classical composers. Wallworth's video installations Hold Vessel 1 and 2 and Invisible by Night create a truly immersive space, one which relies on the viewer to proactively enter and activate these areas. In Hold Vessel 1 and 2, viewers carry a bowl-shaped screen into the room, to capture "projected images of microscopic marine life and telescopic astronomical imagery." The physical analogy here seems equal parts panning for gold and holding the whole world in your hands, with the artist's expressed intention being that of revealing "the hidden intricacies of human immersion in the wide, complex world." Invisible by Night uniquely engages the context of the Lincoln Center complex, which is not only a family of concert halls but also a shopping center, luxury apartment building, and corporate headquarters. Wallworth encourages visitors to slow down, ponder the emotional history of the site, and practice empathy in engaging with video footage of a grieving woman whose gestures will mirror those of viewers who elect to touch the projection surface. The piece is meant to speak to "the transient nature of compassion," and the interactive installation format's ...

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intelligent agent Vol. 8 No. 1 - Social Fabrics

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intelligent agent Vol. 8 No. 1 - Social Fabrics print issue now available. It can be ordered as hardcover and paperback (here) or downloaded for free as PDF. It features the catalog of the Social Fabrics fashion & technology exhibition (curated by Susan Ryan and Patrick Lichty) of the Leonardo Educational Forum at the 2008 College Art Association conference.
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Originally posted on Networked_Performance by jo


Spatial Sounds, by Edwin van der Heide and Marnix de Nijs

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Spatial Sounds, by Edwin van der Heide and Marnix de Nijs from mediateletipos on Vimeo.

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From the exhibition "Deep Screen - Art in Digital Culture" currently on view at the Stedelijk Museum CS.

Originally posted on Vimeo / mediateletipos' uploaded videos by mediateletipos