Posts for February 2008

INTERVIEW: Virus / Body / Signal Transmissions. Interview with Jussi Parikka, by Ignacio Nieto

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Jussi Parikka, author of Digital Contagions is interviewed by Ignacio Nieto.

[Ignacio Nieto]: I am very interested in the way virus is conceived as thought: as an abstract form that can auto-replicate itself on an environment, in an autonomous way, without considering the system of relations based on capitalism or in religion or in politics (usually as we are organized in the public and private sphere). Do you think that there is a possibility to translate those kinds of considerations for human relationships? Could you imagine or describe, a possible world, where bioelectronic devices attached to humans, or to other organic forms or to other generations of machines could exist with that kind of protocol?

[Jussi Parikka]: What interested me early on with this project (Digital Contagions) was how to think the virus in itself as a form of thought, a vector, a mode of transmission and media. Instead of approaching it merely as a socially constructed metaphor that is fabricated in order to impose sense on the imperceptible events of the computer, it might be fruitful to approach the viral as carrier, a condensation point concerning much of the agenda concerning media in the age of networks....

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Interview between academic and writer Jussi Parikka, author of Digital Contagions, and visual artist Ignacio Nieto. From newmediaFIX.

Originally posted on newmediafix.net by Rhizome


Mixing It Up at Eyebeam's MIXER

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In New York or any other busy urban nexus, it's all too easy to submit to the tyranny of rushing from one destination to another. How much more pleasant -- and artistically fruitful -- it can be to drift through one's environment, sampling its many sensory experiences at leisure. Last Saturday, at Manhattan's Eyebeam, a new media art party called MIXER offered many delights, from cerebral to bawdy, for those who took the time to explore and savor them. First launched in November last year, MIXER is the art-and-technology center's quarterly event featuring performances by acclaimed video and audio artists, as well as interactive installations inviting creative play by the attendees.



One highlight on Saturday was London-based VJ group D-Fuse's performance of "Latitude", an ambient cinematic exploration of everyday life in the rapidly developing Chinese cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing. Inspired by the Situationists' notion of "la dérive" (drifting through cities in response to their emotional impacts), the piece wanders among all sorts of urban tableaux, from the mundane and intimate to the grandiose. Fragments of conversations, shots of crowds, and architectural forms such as the vein-like loops of a Shanghai overpass combine to create an evocative portrait of cities in growth.




D-Fuse, Overpass, 2007


In one stunning opening clip, we see a girl emerging onto her apartment balcony -- then the camera slowly (and vertiginously) pulls back in midair, gradually revealing the immense grids of her high-rise and the construction sites that make up her neighborhood. In another shot, kids perform a dance routine on a dull green field, their sheer numbers and the vivid blue-and-white colors of their uniforms forming a kaleidoscopic pop of energy. While many scenes of street life and urban architecture might recall U.S. cities, other footage is suffused with ...

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Three new animated gifs from Petra Cortright's blog slecht lands. Her work "Landscape 5/15/05" is included in Montage: Unmonumental Online.

Originally posted on Petra by Rhizome


MOUT Urbanism

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If you've been reading Subtopia for a while now then this may not come as anything new since I've called attention before to these mysterious simulacrums of urban space--I'm talking about those ghostly MOUT (Military Operation on Urban Terrain) training facilities where entire pseudo landscapes and quasi architectures are designed solely for the purposes of being conquered and reconquered, over and over again to help prepare the armed forces for counter-insurgency warfare in cities abroad--life inside a simulative architectural loop; landscape as militaristic prop...

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This is a lengthy post on MOUT (Military Operation on Urban Terrain) training facilities by Bryan Finoki of Subtopia: A Field Guide to Military Urbanism. These large scale recreations of Middle Eastern urban towns, constructed in remote areas of the United States, allow trainees to rehearse simulated war scenarios within structures akin to enormous movie sets. The post discusses the development of CAMOUT, the largest MOUT initiative to date, which will be roughly the size of downtown San Diego when complete. In an age dominated by spectacle, Finoki's article points to chilling experiential developments.

"The essence of MOUT is that it prepares one for the conditions of an elsewhere; it is an active ghost town this way empowering its subjects to descend on cities the other side the world and enact their will wherever they see fit. It is again another manifestation of this military urbanism’s contemporary elasticity; it is the capability of bringing the complexities of a foreign city home in order to practice the art of conquering it there first. It is an eerie simulated architectural sublime in the art of war."

Originally posted on Subtopia by Rhizome


Patching You Through to the Dark Side

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"Creative geographer" Trevor Paglen began his research on the U.S. Military's secret "black sites" as a way of investigating a new form of domestic colonialism in which the uncharted bases (think Area 51) were taking over the landscape of much of the Southwest. He began mapping and monitoring these sites, from afar, perfecting his beautiful Limit Telephotography process and taking people on tours of the regions. But soon the tactical media artist began to discover a subculture of workers employed at these sites--workers who, despite the heavily-enforced veil of secrecy surrounding their work, have formed social organizations, attend alumni dinners, and even hand out awards to each other for secret jobs well-done. As he began to infiltrate these groups, in the process of expanding his research to cover topics such as the CIA's extraordinary rendition flights, Paglen started collecting patches used by these veritable grown-up boy scouts to identify their fraternal clans. Paglen's new book I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World documents the mysterious iconography and deciphers the bravado. The book is named after one particularly cryptic patch I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me, a phrase which accurately conveys the anonymity surrounding the participants in these societies. Another favorite features the emblem of an alien head and says, in Latin, "tastes like chicken." Accompanying the book is a website, compiled by Paglen, extensively cataloguing the patches, augmenting and annotating the published text, and offering readers additional texts and interpretive sources. It seems befitting that Paglen would make such use of the internet, invented by the U.S. government, to publicize information about its own cloaked networks. Log-on and see if you can help ...

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Interview with Nato Thompson

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"I have always held the political angle of the avant-garde as a necessary and important history. The political drive behind those ambitious enough to make their dreams a reality does not come out of an interest in art per se, but the interest in producing meaning on a large level.A basic Marxist idea (that I think is quite apparent) is that the way we think is produced in the way we live. So, those interested in producing a more robust form of living must take seriously the economic and social forms that produce our world. These are hardly separate projects."

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Open Call: Climate Clock San Jose

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Climate Clock Global Initiative Call for Ideas

The Climate Clock Global Initiative is seeking ideas from artist-led teams to create a major artwork entitled Climate Clock, which will measure changes in greenhouse gas levels, and be the first in a series of global projects calling attention to climate change. Climate Clock will be an instrument of long-term measurement and will collect data for 100 years. The artwork will be located in downtown San Jose, California, Silicon Valley's city center, and will be a collaboration between an artist-led team composed of artists, international and Silicon Valley engineers and other creative professionals who are working with climate measurement and data visualization. It is anticipated that the budget for the construction of Climate Clock will be between $5 and $15 million, depending upon the scope of the final proposal.

To view the call, visit http://cadre.sjsu.edu/fuse/strategem.html.

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Originally posted on Rhizome.org Announcements by Rhizome


Sowing the Seeds of 8-bit Love

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In an art world saturated with fairs and festivals, it can be hard to stand out, but Prague is in good shape with their provocatively-named Sperm festival, which bills itself as a week of "fertile days of music and other media," including electronic art performances, workshops, and screenings. Taking place from March 6-8, the festival occupies a unique position, merging the Western European scene with a thriving Eastern European subculture. Also, this year many American 8-bit artists will be making their first foreign performances at Sperm, in a program organized by New York venue The Tank and net label 8bitpeoples. On the eighth day of March, 8-bit aficionado Mike Rosenthal has curated a program entitled 'Blip,' which will include low-bit music from Bit Shifter, Bubblyfish, Bud Melvin, Herbert Weixelbaum, Nullsleep, Stu, starPause, and x|k, and visuals by No Carrier and noteNdo. On the 7th, noteNdo will also lead a workshop on using the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to create visual images. The program is an exportation of the "chiptune vanguard" of which Rosenthal says confidently, "I'm reasonably sure we're gonna blow their minds." The artists selected for Blip continue to invent new ways to exploit old media, and the dissemination of their work at Sperm is a perfect fulfillment of the festival's mission "to be a fusion of the old and new, the familiar and the foreign." If you can't make it to the Czech Republic, try surfing the original Blip Festival's online archives and rest your ears on some of the pioneering chiptunes streamed at 8bitpeoples. - Marisa Olson

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Cory Arcangel's "Colors" Available for Download

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Artist Cory Arcangel, in keeping with his practice of providing public tutorials for his art projects, recently made his video application "Colors" available as "Colors PE" or "Personal Edition." Arcangel used "Colors" to screen Dennis Hopper's film Colors in his 2006 exhibition "subtractions, modifications, addenda, and other recent contributions to participatory culture" at Team Gallery, and the same version of the work will be exhibited in the upcoming show "Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today" at the MoMA. To begin experimenting with Arcangel's application, click here. Further information about "Colors" from the artist's website below:

"A couple years ago I made a very small video application called "Colors". This video came out of my interest in wanting to make something using slit scan. This is a very common and quite easy technique where basically something is photographed through a slit. After spending some time trying to teach myself how quicktime works and how video is displayed on a modern computer, I finally ended up with Colors. Anyway, basically Colors PE (the personal edition version) is a small application that will play any quicktime movie using a slit scan technique one line at a time starting from the top."

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AV Festival 08

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The sixth annual installment of AV Festival, the UK's largest international festival of electronic arts, explores the theme of broadcast in the work of a handful of sound artists, filmmakers and musicians. As color television this year celebrates its 80th anniversary, and China rings in fifty years of television services, broadcasting has clearly passed its period of technological novelty, while nonetheless remaining a fundamental conduit for many of the electronic arts. Departing from this assumption, the festival's program divides time between seminal moments in the history of broadcasting and contemporary practices that endeavor to push its communicative properties. Teesside actor Mark Benton, for example, will helm a re-enactment of Orson Welles' infamous 1938 War of the Worlds recording. The original, broadcast in the run-up to World War II, elicited mass-confusion and paranoia in its listeners, with many mistaking H.G. Wells' fictional account of an alien invasion for an actual Nazi invasion. The populous' susceptibility to the content of radio broadcasting may have changed in the seventy years since, but its sensitivity to globalized terror certainly has not. Among the contemporary projects will be Whispering in the Leaves, a sixteen-speaker installation by acclaimed sound technician and Cabaret Voltaire founding member Chris Watson. Appropriately housed in Sunderland's Winter Gardens, Watson's piece comprises recordings of a Costa Rican rainforest: a "dawn and dusk choruses of a myriad [sic] voices," he describes, "mostly unseen, but heard far and wide through the dense dark greens of the tree canopy." Watson's work mimics the jungle's elision of visibility, offering instead a soundscape so rich with affective resonances as to practically induce synesthesia. Like many of festival's other projects, Whispering in the Leaves elegantly and assuredly channels the transformative- at times, all-consuming - power of audio broadcast. - Tyler Coburn


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