1. arrow keys to move
2. space bar to jump
3. explore, explore
4. stop trying to "get it"
The clock is ticking. While we've just met the halfway mark towards our goal to raise $30,000 by December 31st at Midnight, we still have a ways to go. There are only 3 weeks left until the end of our community campaign, so if you haven't contributed yet, do it today!
We'd also like to thank our supporters for being awesome. Your contributions help fund our all of our programs -- commissions, the Artbase, original criticism, innovative public programs, and much more. You rock!
Last week, two M.A. students from the Piet Zwart Institute went live with the Firefox Application Pirates of the Amazon which placed a "Download 4 Free" link on top of Amazon product pages directing users to .torrent tracker files for the item from the Pirate Bay. The project was intended as a parodic commentary on e-commerce and the distribution of information and products online. After one day of activity, Amazon sent a legal notice requesting that they take it down, and the students complied. Even with this retraction, Pirates of the Amazon received a vehemently oppositional reaction when blogged on digg and CNET, and now the students are using the original project website to document these discussions. According to a recent post to the mailing list nettime, professor Florian Cramer and open source programmer Jaromil, who supervised the project, are seeking statements of support for Pirates of the Amazon. While legal action will not be taken against the students, Cramer and Jaromil want to enlist support in the face of the conservative tone found on the digg and CNET threads. Considering how much labor, outreach, and discussion has occurred around issues of copyright and the distribution of information over the past few years, the comments (which range from "That's just evil" to "Oh for god sakes can crooks be any more pathetic") are difficult to believe. If anything, they signal the need for more work to be done in the fight for free culture. For those who would like to submit a statement of support, contact mail [AT] pirates-of-the-amazon.com.
Artist Wafaa Bilal will speak at the EFA Project Space tonight at 7pm. Bilal made headlines earlier this year when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's administration pulled the plug on the exhibition of his project exploring identity and propagandist video games The Night of Bush Capturing: A Virtual Jihadi. Bilal then moved the show to the Sanctuary for Independent Media, at which point the city of Troy promptly responded by shutting down the space due to minor infractions. (The short documentary Art Does Not Equal Terrorism follows the entire fiasco.) Tonight Bilal will turn his attention to a previous project from 2007, Domestic Tension, in which he stationed himself for 31 days as a moving target for a robotic paintball machine controlled by users over the internet. Born and raised in Iraq, Bilal's work often deals with the tension involved in belonging to two opposing territories, the United States and his native country. Journalist David Gargill will moderate the discussion.
Just in time for the holiday season comes an exhibition inspired by the heartwarming Brian Aldiss short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" in which a robotic boy is deceived into believing he's human and loving his fake mom. It's a tale for the ages. And now Bristol's Arnolfini gallery has mounted "Supertoys," a chance for a group of artists to flesh-out the fakery behind humans' relations to their playthings. In fairness, part of the show's agenda is an effort to look at how human/ object relationships can become more reciprocal as robots become increasingly intelligent and the possibility for not only learning but also emotion creeps into the picture. Codemanipulator reflect directly on the eponymous "Supertoys" story and present us with a binary toybox full of zero's and one's, with which viewers can play like building blocks. Natalie Jeremijenko's Robotic Geese and Ducks (2008) and Feral Robotic Dogs (2005) prompt us to remember puppy love and other animal affections while considering the important social roles played by these creatures. Her dogs sniff out pollution, while the fowl illustrate the life of the decoy. Despite most of the American nuclear tests being given macho code names like "Romeo," Dunne & Raby's Huggable Atomic Mushroom (2007) brings out the softer side of these curvy explosions by making cuddly, squishy, femininely-gendered toys. This play of difference highlights the role of machine culture in cultivating or quelling paranoia and false rationality. These and other works by Chris Cunningham, Kahve Society, Alex McLean, Philippe Parreno, Unmask Group, and guest robots Swarm Systems and Heart Robot use the approachability of cute objects to address often untouchable topics, in this exhibition. - Marisa Olson
Image: Natalie Jeremijenko, Feral Robotic Dogs, 2005