Posts for March 2008

Gary Gygax (1938-2008)

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Gaming visionary Gary Gygax, co-creator of the Dungeons and Dragons universe, passed away on Tuesday, March 4th, 2008. He was 69. Gygax is credited as the father of role-playing games (RPGs), but D&D's influence has permeated almost every genre of gaming since it was first published in 1974. Perhaps what's most remarkable about the game is that, in its basic form, D&D is only a set of rules and suggestions. The creative aspects of the game are left in the hands of the players. With only a few multi-sided dice, a pencil, and some graph paper, D&D players devise fantastic worlds, develop complex characters, and engage in dynamic group experiences. The imaginative agency provided by the game and its participatory nature may be its greatest contribution to the foundations of contemporary game design. Video games have been particularly inspired by D&D, as many of the designers and coders behind some of the most important titles in video game history grew up rolling a 20-sided die. It's hard to imagine the existence of Richard Allen Garriott's Ultima series, Hironobu Sakaguchi and Yoshitaka Amano's Final Fantasy series, or Blizzard's World of Warcraft without the game play mechanics established in D&D. Even the internet itself owes a little bit to Gygax. From late-70's MUDs to the massively multiplayer online games of today, the development of networked, D&D influenced RPGs has both paralleled and pushed the development of the web towards creativity and collaboration. Artists such as Brody Condon have translated the form of role-playing to the gallery. For Untitled War (2004), Condon invited twelve warriors to fight until their "death" at the Los Angeles space Machine Project. The taxing two hour long performance, accompanied by the music of the Winks ...

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Process Makes Perfect

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The process behind generative art often holds as much fascination as the final product, as software artist C.E.B. Reas seems well aware, judging from his latest exhibition at Manhattan gallery Bitforms. Aptly titled "process / form," the show offers an unusually multifaceted glimpse into the methodology of the artist, who is well-known for co-creating the programming language Processing and for using code to mimic natural forms and behaviors in his own works. On display are software installations, prints, and relief sculptures created using Process 14 and Process 18, two new systems in Reas' "Process" series, first begun in 2005. At Bitforms, the software installations feature a clever set-up: side-by-side screens let viewers see two interpretations of each process unfurl. The right hand screen of Process 18 (2008) offers up a minimalist-inspired display, where simple white lines rapidly dart and cluster across a black background. In contrast, the neighboring screen offers a more lush, painterly vision: The same motion plays out there, but the lines' movements leave soft strokes of white, gray, and black, creating forms reminiscent of feathers or splinters. Similarly for Process 14 (2008) --- based on the form of a circle -- the right-hand screen shows stark round forms drifting and repelling one another like solitary amoebas, while on the display to the left, the circles leave gentle swirls like a field of blossoms. While such works defy materiality, Reas created the show's prints and relief sculptures to bring Process 14 and Process 18 into tactile form, he said in an interview at last night's exhibition opening. Especially intriguing are the two fiber-composite sculptures of Process 18-generated images, created using a milling machine. Matter-of-factly titled P18 (Object 1) (2008) and P18 (Object 2) (2008), the sculptures translate grayscale values into three dimensions, forming rocky-looking ridges suggesting a ...

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Marina Rosenfeld's Teenage Lontano/16 Channels at Whitney Biennial 2008

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As with any exhibition that surveys the best of contemporary art practices, the Whitney Biennial consistently elicits its share of cheers and, more frequently, jeers: complaints about artists omitted, marginalized mediums, insider back-scratching, and so on. While the 2008 edition may also merit such criticism, it deserves some praise for introducing a performance-heavy program at the Park Avenue Armory. Spanning the first two weeks of the biennial's three-month run, the Armory series finds artists and musicians like Agathe Snow, Lucky Dragons and Gang Gang Dance crossing and re-crossing the boundaries of performance and installation in the decorous (and semi-crumbling) rooms of the 1881 New York landmark. This Saturday evening, composer and turntablist Marina Rosenfeld will debut Teenage Lontano/16 Channels (2008), a "cover version" of György Liget's Lontano (1967) that Rosenfeld specifically conceived for the Armory's 55,000-square foot Drill Hall. Rosenfeld's reworking stretches the Hungarian composer's twelve-minute work to an even thirty and subjects his exceedingly meticulous score to a slew of chance scenarios - most importantly, the translation of the orchestral piece into a vocal composition, relayed via portable mp3 players into the headphones of the thirty-five New York teenagers who comprise Rosenfeld's choir. Hanging several dozen feet above the teens, a massive speaker will rotate at 33 1/3 r.p.m., like a turntable, and fire electronic sounds into the recesses of the cavernous hall: a space-age accompaniment to Rosenfeld's acoustic community. Like her seminal performance, sheer frost orchestra, in which seventeen women administered nail-polish to floor-bound guitars, Teenage Lontano/16 Channels emphasizes Rosenfeld's professed interest in the "ideosocial construction of music-making," here taking a vernacular of contemporary listening, a generation for which technology is like a second-skin, and through them reappraising a moment of high-Modern composition. - Tyler ...

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In the Long Long Tradition of New Venues

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New York has long been home to generations of experimental filmmakers and video artists. This community has embraced and fostered artists working in newer media, if not because of formal similarities, then through affinities with the effort to continue expanding the means by which artists can express themselves. The city (and its next-door neighbor, Brooklyn) has been home to countless experimental cinemas, festivals, underground venues, and similar efforts, but the ever-shifting market has edged-out many once-thriving platforms. On March 25, a new space will open in Brooklyn's Sunset Park area, called Light Industry. Founded by Thomas Beard and Ed Halter, two active participants in the film and new media communities, the organization is inspired by New York's history and strives to support a range of artists and practices revolving around film, electronic art, and performance. Their goal is "to explore new models for the presentation of time-based media and foster a complex dialogue amongst a wide range of artists and audiences within the city." On March 25, they will open their doors for the first of what promises to be many compelling events. (Check the upcoming roster of stellar artists & curators lined-up to organize unique programs.) In an inaugural screening curated by Light Industry's founders, entitled "The Blazing World," Keewatin Dewdney, Michael Gitlin, Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, Kurt Kren, Jenny Perlin, and Michael Robinson will present "films that ponder the vicissitudes of utopian scheming and the search for new ground." The following week, on April Fool's Day, Brian Frye and Bradley Eros of the collective screening project Roberta Beck Mercurial Cinema have cooked-up a recipe for folly with a long list of important shorts inspired by the art of prankery. Good times seems guaranteed, so if you have the chance, please welcome Light Industry to ...

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Driven- a dilemma of coexistence (2008) by Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow

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Driven- a dilemma of coexistence by Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow

Two people attempt to resolve a recurring argument. Their conversation is transcribed into 2 frames in a single browser. Lag starts to interfere with the flow of statements and responses.



'Driven' can be viewed in most Internet browsers and requires no plug-ins. It can be accessed in two ways. Either by individuals with personal computers, who can click through the work at their own pace,
or projected with sound in public spaces where it has its own tempo.

The first page may take a while to load. Please turn up your volume.

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Originally posted on Rhizome.org Announcements by Rhizome


Search Terms

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Artist Paul Klee once described drawing as "taking a line for a walk," though he could have just as easily been referring to ASDF's A Wikipedia Reader (2008). Assuming two forms - a limited-edition printed book and open-edition .PDF - this project stems from ASDF co-organizer David Horvitz's invitation to a handful of predominantly Los Angeles-based artists to play a "small game" with Wikipedia's navigational structure. The advent of digital information systems, Horvitz argues in the project's introduction, has made heretofore standard methods of categorization "almost irrelevant." Indeed, a virtual user's mode of accessing information relies upon the contingencies of a given search, a vastly less hierarchical mode of navigation that broadens the associative potential of a topic, instead of whittling it down. Horvitz invited eleven collaborators, such as Uta Barth, Laurel Nakadate, and Emilie Halpern, to choose topics reflective of their artistic interests and document their paths through related links. What ensues are relatively straightforward yet frequently lyrical journeys into the web�s collective memory hub, as Barth travels from "Dusk" to "Dawn" and, eventually, reaches "Polar Night"; Halpern grazes "FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" and "Fibonacci" in a search that originated with "Esperanto"; and Horvitz, in a rather appropriate summation of the project's enterprise, encounters "Dérive" and "Flâneur" on a stroll that began with "Boredom" and ends with "Balloon Mail." Given the amount of time we spend in the virtual sphere, it's fitting that ASDF would deploy the methods of Situationists and psychogeographers to generate a permanent archive of a specific moment, topography and state of knowledge that, by the nature of Wikipedia, will continue to change and evolve. - Tyler Coburn

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COLORFLIP.COM (2008) by Rafael Rozendaal

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colorflip.gif

www.colorflip.com (2008) by Rafaël Rozendaal.

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Originally posted on VVORK by Rhizome


Media Art in the Age of Transgenics, Cloning and Genomics with Régine Debatty

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This Friday March 14th at 7:30pm, Régine DeBatty of We Make Money Not Art will moderate a panel at the New Museum entitled Media Art in the Age of Transgenics, Cloning and Genomics. The latest installment in Rhizome's monthly New Silent Series, the panel will look at what is known, in short, as 'bio-art' or, in a more elaborate form, art that responds to the increasingly powerful role that biology has come to play in our lives. Artists who will present and be in conversation with DeBatty are Caitlin Berrigan, Brandon Ballengee, Kathy High and Adam Zaretsky. As a teaser to this panel -- and also as a bit of context for the uninitiated -- we conducted a one-question interview with Debatty (see here for interview-format inspiration) on why she has honed in on this art form.


RHIZOME: Régine, you are covering so many practices that are at the intersection of art and technology, but bio-art seems to have been a preoccupation lately. What is that draws you to this field and what do you hope to bring out in this talk?


RD: What makes me particularly attracted to biotechnology is that although it is already pervading our lives (think of what awaits you on the shelves of the supermarket) we can still pretend that it's not there, that it's science-fiction. The brash headlines of magazines (our entrance gate to the labs) cultivate the confusion. Every week, scientists seem to come up with a new breed of 'fearless' mice, rice with human genes in it, super-carrots that will make your bones invincible and skimmed milk directly from the cow. The researchers who are interviewed on TV look like well-mannered guys in a pristine white coats but the reality of their work is far messier than that ...

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Unraveling Digital Media

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German artist Margret Eicher works in "traditional media," but don't let that fool you... Her tapestries, watercolors, and paintings are digital art in every sense of the phrase, employing digital weaving and printing tools and techniques to comment on information society. Eicher appropriates vernacular imagery of pop cultural figures, as well as news photos, video game images, and iconic art historical images to craft unique digital collages that then get translated into their "traditional" form. In an upcoming show at [Dam] Berlin, called "SHE," Eicher will present three tapestries that play off of the tropes of sensuality, irony, and provocation to explore femininity. Her images range from stills of the TV show "Desperate Housewives" to photos of "young bored couples." The tapestry medium is one with an important history, touching upon wealth and industry as well as early computing, in the era of Jacquard's Loom. Eicher is precise in recalling this history and using it as a vehicle to fabricate semiotic and psychological analyses of figurative gestures and their political implications, in mainstream visual culture. Her exhibition will be up from March 14-May 17 and more images of her work can be found here. - Marisa Olson

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Wafaa Bilal: Speech in a Democracy

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"Virtual Jihadi"



Wafaa Bilal is currently an artist-in-residence at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the city of Troy, New York. Shortly after his arrival on March 5, his exhibition in the gallery of the Arts department was closed to the public by order of the university's president. Today there is no certainty that the exhibition will be reopened. What I want to show is that every aspect of Wafaa Bilal's visit to RPI points back to one fundamental issue: the value of free speech in a democracy.

Bilal was born in Iraq in 1966. He resisted the authoritarian government of Saddam Hussein, suffered persecution and then escaped the country, emigrating to the US in the early 1990s to realize a lifelong dream. He completed an MFA at the Chicago Art Institute in 2003 - and then, due to circumstances far beyond his own choosing, he became one of the most controversial artists in America.

He works with photography, video and computer games, using the Internet to reach beyond the gallery to a wider public. At the heart of his recent pieces is a single principle: he performs the existence of an Iraqi civilian. He shows us, tells us and tries to make us feel what life might be like right now, for those he left behind in his home country. By staging himself in interactive situations, he asks each of us to chose what we have to say to the Iraqi people.

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Excellent, insightful summary of the Wafaa Bilal controversy at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute by critic Brian Holmes.

Originally posted on Continental Drift by brianholmes