Posts for 2011

Artist Profile: Rene Abythe

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Your works show a very specific aesthetic sensibility that is in dialogue with 80s video games and computer-generated imagery that you achieve through animation. Could you please talk a little bit about your process, and especially what you look at and where your aesthetic influences come from?

 I have two mentalities for producing work: passive and active. 

The passive mentality usually comes about when I'm getting bored with the internet, late at night, and in need of something to entertain myself. I'll open up photoshop...

 

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Making Sense of Senseless Violence: An Interview with Jack Womack

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Tottenham Aug. 7, 2011. (Lewis Whyld/PA/AP) via The Big Picture

This summer when Britain was gripped by civil disturbance, it was suggested by some in the SF community that if you wanted to understand the underlying psychology of those involved, you should read Jack Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence, originally published in 1994. Random Acts details in diary form the tribulations of twelve-year-old Lola Hart as her New York City, family, and persona come apart. It also serves as an entry point for Womack’s six-book Dryco series, which presents post-disaster America as trailer-trash corporate dystopia, complete with Elvis worship, unchecked rape and murder, and its own argot. Recently I met with Womack and asked him about the creation and particular prescience of these novels.

 


 

Your novels make me unbelievably anxious.  

I relieve my own anxiety by writing them. So, yeah, it’s transference.  

One of the things that’s so anxiety-inducing about Random Acts, as well as your first novel Ambient, is that there’s always scarcity: there’s never enough money, never enough food, never enough security. Which seems to me extremely, though not exclusively, New York.  

Oh, at the time it certainly was. The New York in Ambient was what I saw happening if everything had kept getting worse. When O’Malley is walking home to his apartment in the Lower East Side, that’s the way it used to be. What the predictive element missed was that New York would skyrocket back, and that neighborhoods you couldn’t go into at night thirty years ago, you now couldn’t afford. I moved up here in 1977 right after the blackout and the Son of Sam summer. So the fear definitely comes across. When you see Taxi Driver, that’s what it looked

 

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The Kill Screen Dialogues at the New Museum Dec 16, 2011

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Image from Mary Flanagan's [boarders]. Courtesy of the artist.

Rhizome New Silent Series event: The Kill Screen Dialogues

When are games more than games? When they are communicating with others? Although videogames are bigger than ever, they are often perceived as cultural silos and not in conversation with other art forms or cultures. In conjunction with videogame arts and culture company Kill Screen, Rhizome invites you to an evening of conversations between game designers and new media artists. Divided into three mini-conversations, the talks will explore three areas: artificial intelligence, with Dave Mark and Mary Flanagan; the feeling of digital objects, with Tabor Robak and Katherine Isbister; and games as space, with Casey Reas and Andy Nealen.

Dec 16, 2011 7:00pm at the New Museum. $6 Rhizome Members, $8 General Public // Purchase tickets


 

Katherine Isbister is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment between the NYU Game Center and NYU-Poly's Computer Science Department. She is Research Director of the Game Innovation Lab at NYU-Poly, where she focuses on designing games that heighten social and emotional connections for players, toward innovating design theory and practice. Isbister's work has been featured in Wired, Scientific American, on NPR's Science Friday, as well as in many game development and scholarly venues.

Mary Flanagan is interested in subjectivity in digital media artifacts and in the ways in which play affects everyday life; she has made game-related artwork for over a decade. Her work has exhibited internationally at venues including the Laboral, The Whitney, SIGGRAPH, Beall Center, Postmasters, Steirischer Herbst, Ars Electronica, Artist's Space, The Guggenheim, Incheon Digital Arts Festival, and others. Flanagan’s research with her game lab Tiltfactor.org has been deeply concerned with novel game design and her theories of "critical play" and “collaborative strategy” games. Her books in English include reload (2002), re:SKIN (2007), CriticalPlay (2009), and the forthcoming co-authored Values at Play in DigitalGames (2012) all with MIT Press.  

Dave Mark is the President and Lead Designer of Intrinsic Algorithm, an independent game development studio and AI consulting company...

 

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James Bridle's Talk “Waving at the machines” at Web Directions South 2011

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 James Bridle's  keynote from Web Directions South 2011 (Transcript.)  

Beginning with a picture of a cupcake stand that is pixelated rather than printed in gingham or something more obvious, Bridle considers the allure of 8-bit designs, "augmented reality made physical" like Dear Photograph, the architecture of data centers, biometrics, Street View as a historical record, and iPhone photography. Especially thoughtful near the end, considering ways we might coexist with bots in the digital realm. A thorough look at the contemporary "robot-readable" design aesthetic.

Previously: The New Aesthetic

 

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Rhizome Community Campaign: A Message from Christiane Paul

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"Since the mid-90s Rhizome has been an invaluable resource for critical explorations of net art, media arts, and network cultures. As the new media world evolved, Rhizome always ingeniously reinvented itself, building its programs and community. Rhizome's ArtBase, with its more than 2,500 works, by now has become the supreme model for the collection and study of online art forms." – Christiane Paul

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Artist Profile: Anna Lundh

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Conveyor Loop/Löpande Bandet, 2009.

Your work is incredibly research-based and covers a variety of themes spanning from the Swedish Public Dental Services in the 1930s to 1960s art in NYC. You refer to yourself as a private investigator of a kind: Where do you draw information from? What interests you in the way history echoes in the contemporary life and in the way we relate to history and time?

Information is everywhere, I try not to have any preconceived principles about what a good or viable source can be. But the search is never random or aimless, I'm always following some sort of a hunch. Obviously the internet—with its readiness, wide-ranging pathways and associative connection points—can provide not only fast news, but also very particular kinds of information (for example, access to people's unedited opinions, or documentation that would never end up in the newspaper or history books). But its aura of omniscience is very deceiving of course, and since the algorithm-governed search engines are increasingly streamlining the results to match our interests (or our predicted consumer needs), when looking for hard facts, or unpredictable information, it is necessary to broaden the scope. I often interview people for my research, which is one of my favorite things to do. I have also been digging around extensively in various historic archives. Even though I'm seemingly focusing on the past in some of my projects, the interest in specific histories and people has more to do with trying to sharpen the focus on the present. Only very specific histories become subject for my investigations, either if they are aiming their gaze toward the future, or if they can be directly traced from a current condition or behavior. At least at the moment, my interest has a ...

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The Twilight Zone for the Facebook Age: Charlie Brooker's "The Black Mirror"

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The Black Mirror is a British television program that premiered last night. Charlie Brooker, creater of the series, a media critic and host of the shows Screenwipe and How Television Ruined Your Life, was inspired by The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling's "quasi-fictional world" allowed for more political and provocative television scripts to go uncensored by networks and corporate sponsers, Brooker argues in the Guardian. 

The first episode of The Black Mirror is provocative but with unambitious targets —the 24 hour newscycle, omnipresent social media— the disgusting premise is unmerited. One gets the sense it was written mostly to test television's limits; which may be a worthwhile demand itself. Nevertheless, upcoming episodes sound much more promising.

Trailer for The Black Mirror

Episode descriptions via The Guardian:

1. The National Anthem

Set slap-bang in the present, The National Anthem, starring Rory Kinnear and Lindsay Duncan, recounts what happens when fictional royal Princess Susannah is kidnapped and prime minister Michael Callow is presented with an unusual – and obscene – ransom request. The traditional media finds itself unable to even discuss what the demand is, while the Twittersphere foams with speculation and cruel jokes. As the ransom deadline nears, events start to gain a surreal momentum of their own. This was inspired partly by the kerfuffle over superinjunctions, and partly by the strange out-of-control sensation that takes grip on certain news days – such as the day Gordon Brown was virtually commanded to apologise to Gillian Duffy in front of the rolling news networks. Who was in charge that day? No one and everyone.

2. Fifteen Million Merits

In 1984, Apple ran a famous advert that implied the Mac might save mankind from a nightmarish Orwellian future. But what would a nightmarish Orwellian future that ran on Apple software actually look like? Probably a ...

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The Never Forgotten House

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This essay will also appear in the next issue of Pool. 

Image of Williamsburg Waterfront by C-Monster, April 30, 2006.

Several weeks ago, I was leaving a party in Park Slope. As I waited to cross the street, I recognized two places across the way and realized I had eaten meals at both. I had brunch with a friend in the cafe at the corner last year. I met another friend for dinner two years earlier at the Thai restaurant at the address next. I remembered two separate phone calls with each friend explaining how to get there from the 7th Ave station. The second call, and the second walk from the stop didn't remind me of the first. It took a third visit to that intersection, and from that vantage point —across the street —to discover the venues were neighbors. Two pleasant but very different conversations came back to me at once.

I had a decade’s worth of weekends in New York City before I finally made the move last year. Chinatown buses from Washington, DC and Boston; cheap flights out of Chicago Midway that left Friday evening and arrived before work on Monday. Sometimes I visited as often as twice a month, for special events or a guy or no reason. With the insouciance of an out-of-towner, I never bothered to follow how a taxi gets from one point to another or which direction the subway train was headed when we got to the stop. Now that the city is my home, I'm constantly uncovering another fragmentary long forgotten memory.

I will never know if some of the places I remember from these early New York trips have been torn down or exist on streets I haven't walked by again yet. I refuse to ...

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Artist Profile: Sabrina Ratté

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Sabrina Ratté's video, Activated Memory, is featured on The Download this month.

Still from Activated Memory (2011)

On your tumblr, you quote Phillip K. Dick's "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later," wherein he presents his thoughts on "reality" from his perspective of a science-fiction writer whose job is to create universes in his novels and stories. Does your video work represent the reality you see? Are you attempting to make the viewer see reality as you see it?

I believe that Philip K. Dick is a master at questioning reality as we see it. When I first read Ubik, I was fascinated by the way Philip K. Dick would call in to question the basic structure of reality and disturb the meaning that we give to our everyday life. Diving into his world can cause a huge life crisis! It made me realize that we need to take certain things for granted or have faith in a « reality » that we choose in order to go on. (While being aware at the same time that this is only one choice among an infinity of others.) Doubting that we live in 2011, or being unsure if we are dead or alive can be very dangerous - and yet these questions can lead to very interesting lands if well managed. Philip K. Dick is dangerous in that sense. Are we in someone’s mind ? Are we dead ? Are the objects around us really concrete or can they melt in another dimension? Will this elevator go back in time if I step in it? The fact that he writes these ideas into a science fiction context allowes him to go further into his reflexions and gives him the opportunity to build these incredibly complex and convincing ...

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Yugodrom, a Tumblr collecting "graphic aesthetics from ex Yugoslavia"

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Images come from Yugodrom, a Tumblr collecting "graphic aesthetics from ex Yugoslavia" (via Prosthetic Knowledge)

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