Posts for 2011

Weekend Clicking

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“Secret Society,” installation view, CAPC, Bordeaux

  • Escape the Map, a Google Streetview interactive short sci-fi film made by Mercedes-Benz (via Kill Screen)
  • The phone hacking scandal exposed the failures of traditional institutions to maintain boundaries, distinctions and thresholds against the spectrallike entity of contemporary corporate media. - Sam Jacob in Domus on "The Architecture of Corporate Media"
  • N+1 editor Keith Gessen was arrested yesterday morning during the protest. The Awl lists other reporters who have been arrested during Occupy Wall Street.
  • “I think that speed is part of the innovation process. If ideas aren’t built on with a sense of urgency, time can pass you by.” Fast Company talks with DARPA director Regina Dugan...

 

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Virtual Spectacle: A Conversation with Wafaa Bilal

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Wafaa Bilal, Domestic Tension (still), 2007

For the past ten months, Iraqi-born New York–based artist Wafaa Bilal has been documenting everything that happens behind him. A camera has been fastened to the back of his head that automatically takes a photograph every minute. The project, 3rd I, is an attempt to capture the mundane, to create an archive of the everyday we leave behind, and put it all online. Two months before 3rd I culminates and becomes an inanimate archive and a few days after Bilal changed the mounted camera he has been using for the project in favor of a new one, designed to match a plaster cast of his skull, we met to talk about it and some earlier works, and talk about ideas concerning the archive, online and offline space, and slowness.

When considering the extreme nature of some of Bilal's works, like Domestic Tension, where the artist lived in a gallery for the duration of the performance, allowing online viewers to direct a paintball gun at him, or Virtual Jihadi, where Bilal casts himself as a suicide bomber in an Al-Qaeda version of a videogame called "Quest for Saddam," it may induce viewers to discuss these in terms of spectacle. In fact, the spectacle here is part of the performance and should not be confused with the point of the performance. In conversation, Bilal—an artist who thinks about his work complexly and discusses it eloquently—talks about his recent work 3rd I, as well as past works, in terms of his dialogue with the history of art, with the public, and with his personal engagement with politics and history.


 

You talk about 3rd I in the context of ideas of "slowness." This term is becoming increasingly commonplace, especially among people who work with new media. But your idea of slowness includes an intense, long-term commitment too, that is political, physical, and emotional. Now that the project is nearing its one-year finishing line, do you talk about slowness differently?

You're right. In the last few years, a lot of people are trying to slow down technology, I think this nostalgic notion of technology or interactivity is disappearing. I don't know if it's a fatigue or if the medium exhausted itself because there was such a great promise for interactivity and I think artists found their limitation with it making it increasingly complicated. In terms of slowing things down, we are so overwhelmed with these images that we lost any still moment in personal space, so a lot of us are wishing, I don't know if it's possible, to slow things down and shield that personal space.. 

 

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AIDS 3D interviews Jon Rafman

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In Kaleidoscope, AIDS 3D interviews Jon Rafman: 

Aids3d: As an artist you’ve got a lot of different things going on. Do you think it’s important as an artist to have a seemingly cohesive body of work, or at least some kind of delineation between different sub-practices. Could you outline some structure that organizes your practice as a whole?

Jon Rafman: What ties my practice together is not so much a particular style, form, or material but an underlying perception of contemporary experience and a desire to convey this understanding. One theme that I am continually interested in is the way technology seems to bring us closer to each other while simultaneously estranging us from ourselves. Another one is the quest to marry opposites or at least have conversations between them, the past and the present, the romantic and the ironic, even though these conversations often end in total clashes. All my work tends to combines irony, humor and melancholy.
Rafman donated two prints from A New Age Demanded (2011) series for Rhizome's Community Campaign. Check out the other great artists who donated limited edition artworks available only during the Campaign, which ends January 14th.

 

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Goodiepal’s Plot To Educate AI

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If you find Goodiepal’s artwork to be inexplicable, it may be because you’re not a robot or a blade of grass.

Goodiepal (alternately spelled Gaeoudjiparl or Gaodjiperl) has in fact directed his unique and absurd concerts/lectures/performance art/stand up comedy/show-and-tell toward AI.  As he waxes in his Mort Aux Vaches lecture, “We need to start to talk to the machines as human beings, bringing and expecting machines to understand what we are saying....in a Utopian future, [my] work is not only made to be appreciated by human minds.  No, it’s also meant to be worshiped by all kinds of alternative intelligence.”

 A Goodiepal performance might begin with a solemn whistled rendition of a patriotic ode.  Often he will place an array of strange handmade objects on a table and begin to move them around methodically on a chess board, occasionally uttering a guttural croak.  He might begin to lecture about his nonlinear conception of time, indicating that small bundles of twine on the table symbolize points of time.  He might impersonate rock bands and do karaoke.  Goodiepal’s lectures would be a complete upheaval of everything you believed if there weren’t wry Dadaist halo around it all.

Goodiepal’s London studio, The Blue House, designed by FAT

Primarily using voice in recent musical performances is an odd step for Goodiepal, since he was introduced to most fans as a synth musician and builder.  One of Goodiepal’s more infamous synths is an motorized brass bird that has several levers to control a synthesized birdsong.  This synth is just one charismatically packaged part of a massive portfolio of built-from-scratch and modified electronics.  Goodiepal in fact makes much of his income by repairing and modifying synthesizers and various electronics at his studio in London ...

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Short Documentary on Internet Infrastructure

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Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors is a short documentary explaining internet infrastructure, focusing on the art deco building 60 Hudson Street in Tribeca, which is now one of the most concentrated carrier hotels in the world. The internet has an "ironically very limited geography in terms of big strategic concentrations," explains Stephen Graham, professor of cities and society, Newcastle University, in the short film. "The big affluent high tech information rich regions" is where the infrastructure is densely located. And 60 Hudson Street was especially ideal as a hub, given that the building was already designed to accomidate cables as it was first fitted for pneumatics tubes, then telegraph cables and telephone lines. 

In an interview with The Atlantic's Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, director Ben Mendelsohn explains, "The issue of how this infrastructure is hidden fascinates me. Andrew Blum has a book coming out in May about physical Internet infrastructure, which I'm very excited for. He was giving a lecture and handing out postcards of "data monuments" in New York City, and I asked him: if these are monuments, what do they reveal about the culture that built them? Their message is really one of ambivalence. Service providers need to let potential clients know where they are, but they generally decline to make their presence widely known beyond that marketing purpose. Andrew did say that he envisions "brewery tour" style visits or class field trips to Internet buildings in the future, and I think that would be great, but the industry is not there yet."

 

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Klaus Gallery Builds a "New Wall" for Online Art

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Michelle Ceja's Wet Code opened earlier this month in Klaus von Nichtssagend's Lower East Side venue, an installation marking the launch of the gallery's new online exhibition space. Initially shown as a browser-based collage of gifs, Quicktime video, MP3s, and HTML, Wet Code also existed as a one-night installation of projections bearing a similar aesthetic. Klausgallery.net will see rotating two-week online exhibitions curated by artist Duncan Malashock, with periodic in-real-life installations by artists in Klaus Gallery proper. "We wanted to accommodate artists whose practices wouldn't ordinarily fit into a physical exhibition space," says Sam Wilson, co-owner of Klaus von Nichtssagend, "Now it's kind of like we have another wall in our space specifically made for this kind of work." Adds fellow co-owner Rob Hult, "It was also a way to satiate a growing curiosity about artists working with the medium. I saw Duncan speak on the history of internet-related art practices at Nurture Art and felt compelled to ask him to work with us on an online project."

Many conversations later brought Klausgallery.net, which developed from a more modest singular art project to a full-blown online exhibition space.

As it stands, the artist line-up may seem like a who's-who in a current internet social sphere to some, building on the web-specific dynamic of building one's practice in tandem with and through a community of peers. Though many included in Malashock's participant list are connected socially via the internet, specifically via Facebook or through the surf club Computers Club, it also ranges widely in geographic location and practice, from established Dutch artists Constant Dullaart and Harm van den Dorpel to more emerging Stateside artists Bea Fremderman, Sara Ludy, and Billy Rennekamp. Presciently, Malashock has chosen many artists whose work successfully navigates ...

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Community Campaign: Focus on Rhizome Editorial

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Your contribution to Rhizome means continued high level discussion of art and technology provided daily on the Rhizome blog and news site. We hope you'll make a contribution today to help us meet our $25,000 goal.

As editor of Rhizome, I am fortunate to work with a gifted team of writers asking and answering tough questions about the role of technology in art and society. Rhizome writers are looking for the history and context. Our editorial team offers daily original reporting and critical writing on art and digital culture. Writers report on events like the Venice Biennale and ISEA in Instanbul. We provide in depth interviews with artists, curators, and technologists like Paul ChanPaola Antonelli, James Bridle, Martine Syms, and Nicholas Felton. Once a week we feature an essay or interview from the blog on our mailing list Rhizome News.

Rhizome News recent highlights:

Melissa Gira Grant wrote about the aesthetics of camgirls in the 90s in her essay She Was a Camera. "As an early online community, camgirls learned to both live on and produce the web together. We were our own audience. If there were people who were not camgirls watching – actual voyeurs – we could pretend not to notice them. While they watched, we taught each other CSS, compared different models of webcams, and complained about web hosts. It would be sexist to call it an endless slumber party at which presumably male viewers sat on the periphery. It was more a boot camp in How To Make the Web where you could show up sometimes in your pajamas."

Artist Jon Rafman contributed an original essay on the arcade Chinatown Fair when we debuted his short film Codes of Honor. "I spent the better part of 2009 in that dingy, dim-lit arcade at the end ...

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Hyper Geography (2011) - Joe Hamilton

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Hyper Geography (2011) from Joe Hamilton on Vimeo.

Hyper Geography is currently on view at 319 Scholes until November 20th.

Hamilton donated Hyper Geography Print Set for Rhizome's Community Campaign. Check out Hamilton and the other great artists who donated limited edition artworks available only during the Campaign, which ends January 14th.

For more on Hamilton's work see:

Reframing Tumblr: Hyper Geography

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"Performance Anxiety" at Stadium Gallery

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Steve Bishop, Φ III, 2011.


Stadium is a new event and exhibition space in Chelsea. The inaugural exhibition, "Performance Anxiety," featuring four artists, Steve Bishop, Ben Schumacher, Chris Chiappa, and Timur Si-Qin, opened on November 10 and runs until December 20, 2011.

"Performance Anxiety" was curated by artist Nicolas Djandji, who tragically passed away in a bicycle accident in September. A number of his friends took the research he conducted in the last few weeks of his life and grouped in order to finalize the administrative tasks necessary to complete the show and fabricate new works by artist Steve Bishop, Ben Schumacher, and Timur Si-Qin.

The artists featured in "Performance Anxiety" all deal in their works with the consumer culture of bodily self-improvement. Using quotidian products—deodorant, mouthwash, Vitamin Water—their works show how a trip to the pharmacy can tell us something about the way we live today and our value systems. From the press release:

Here, the notion that the pursuit of athletic, hygienic, and professional perfection should be sought through the constant purchase of new products is cast into doubt. Through a series of works arresting these normally utilitarian, performance-enhancing products in sculpture, Performance Anxiety waxes upon the paradoxical, collectively shared desire of the present-day individual to become superhuman–physically fit, sexually attractive, and immaculately groomed—by way of altering the body’s chemistry and obscuring its most basic functions. Contextualizing these items as aesthetic elements rather than functional goods, each artist carves a meditative space reflecting upon the absurd modus operandi of these products.

A press release so intelligently written—that speaks specifically to the artists' works and practice while tying them in with the exhibition's theme and art historical traditions—is rare. And it seems that as a space Stadium is embarking on an ...

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Architectural Uncanny Valley

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screengrab from Kane and Lynch 2 via Steam Postcards

Steam Postcards is a tumblr documenting the melancholy landscapes of video games. The role of architecture is important in gameplay. A level designer is considering the way that a surface responds to weather conditions, the depiction of shadows and textures, and other factors that contribute to a realistic looking structure. Sometimes a game will pose its own uncanny valley hypothesis, when something about the gravity in the virtual world does not match up with human experience. But as still images these buildings look like "postcards" from the future. The uncanniness is the dream world depicted, not any failure in representation.

screengrab fromLost Plant 2, Red Orchestra 2, Mirror's Edge, and Brink via Steam Postcards

 

 

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