Posts for April 2011

Video Roundup: Severed Heads


Severed Heads on ABC Television's program "Edge of the Wedge" in 1986

Originally founded in 1979 by Richard Fielding, Andrew Wright and Tom Ellard, Severed Heads was an electronic group based in Sydney. They used synthesizers, tape loops, and an array of electronics to yield a distinctive sound, one which could most easily be described as industrial music, which later developed into abstract pop. While the lineup changed over the years, Tom Ellard has been the main continuing force in the group, up until his announcement of its end in 2008. In 1983, Severed Heads began integrating live video in their performances, which became a mainstay in their work. This post collects videos of the group, the majority of which date from the early 1980s, and many of which document their use of video synthesizers. For more information about everything Severed Heads, check Ellard's official site.

Below: Videos of a live set performed on Metro TV, a community video center, in 1982. The video synthesizer used here was developed by Stephen Jones.


Tonight! Rhizome's 15th Anniversary Benefit


Join us this evening at the New Museum's Skyroom for Rhizome's 15th anniversary benefit! Festivities commence at 7pm with VIP cocktails, and continue on at 9pm with an afterparty. We will be honoring Mark Tribe, Rhizome's founder. There will be performances by Title TK and Ducktails. Art installation by Ryder Ripps, a display of 15 works from Rhizome's Artbase and a screening of Tabor Robak and Jon Rafman's bnpj.exe.



40 gigs to Freedom -or- Hot Shit (2011) - Jesse Hulcher


USB-harddrive, 1.82 gigabytes of illegally downloaded media

The USB-harddrive hanging on the wall contains a collection of illegally downloaded files, all of which contain the words "Steal This..." within their titles. The accompanying text-file catalogues all of that media and illustrates the files' locations on my computer's harddrive.


[Note: This work is currently on view through May 1st at SPACE gallery in Pittsburgh in Jesse Hulcher's solo show STRAIGHT OUTTA CompUSA]


Required Reading: From the VCR to YouTube: An Interview with Lucas Hilderbrand by Henry Jenkins


What happened before YouTube?

It's a question we've addressed here many times before. Many different histories lead to our current moment of video sharing and DIY media-making -- some subcultural (the history of fandom and a range of other communities of practice which are generating new content), some economic, some technological. Lucas Hilderbrand, author of Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright, holds some critical pieces of the puzzle, writing with historiographical sophistication about the emergence of video as a technology and as set of cultural practices, about the debates it sparked especially around shifts in control over production and distribution, about the communities which formed around the sharing of tapes, and about how all of this looks forward to contemporary digital practices. It is a book which raises vital questions and provides a rich historical context for our current debates.

As someone who lived through the era when the VCR was launched, the book brought back many memories of things I had almost forgotten about the dramatic adjustments which the culture made to this transformative and transgressive technology. Working through the book for an interview, I was struck by the fact that I, like many other instructors, have had very little to say about videotape in my current course on new media and culture, something I will work on the next time I teach it.

Given my enthusiasm for this book, I was delighted to be able to interview Hilderbrand and share with you his own reflections on the ways the history of video can help us to understand some contemporary media developments.





SSLEEPERHOLD - Ashes (2011) / Video directed by Seth Nemec


"Ashes" by SSLEEPERHOLD from the forthcoming album on Living Tapes. Produced and recorded by Jose Cota. Video directed by Seth Nemec.

This video was created with Paik-Abe raster manipulation unit, Brewster analog modular synthesizer, Hitachi vectorscope, Panasonic CCTV camera, Processing 1.2.1, Final Cut Pro. Produced at the Experimental Television Center.


The Resurrection of Piss Christ (2011) - Anonymous


A consciously derivative work, The Resurrection of Piss Christ is a direct response to the destruction of the original. Duplicating the same fate as its star subject, Immersion (Piss Christ) is subjected to the artificial immortality we now wield through the Internet. Our interconnectedness now transforms an act of destruction - through communication and distribution - into an act of preservation.

As a statement against fundamentalism, The Resurrection will fuel it.

As a statement against the commercial value of an intentionally contentious work, The Resurrection will feed and inflate it.

I denounce any act that attempts to silence an individuals thought or speech or expression. Simultaneously, I question the integrity of a work that provokes so ineloquently.

The Resurrection flaunts its infinite reproducibility. Coupled with my anonymity, it ignores the archaic mechanism upon which the art market balances itself.

The Resurrection exists beyond the marketplace. Do what you want with it.



Rhizome's 15th Anniversary Benefit in Photos


Rhizome's 15th anniversary benefit last week was a great success - thank you so much to everyone who attended and showed their support. All photos below by Guest of a Guest unless otherwise noted.

Shot of the crowd

Rhizome founder Mark Tribe and New Museum Director Lisa Phillips

Artist Cory Arcangel, curator Hanne Mugaas, fashion stylist Aya Kanai


DIS Magazine's "Labor Issue"


DIS Magazine are killin' it again with their newly released "Labor Issue" which examines work in the culture industry in an unstable, recession-ridden world. Jenna Sauers recounts how her modeling career kicked off her descent into debt, W.A.G.E share some of their propaganda, Marco Roso's photo essay shows how one can travel if a "fetishized commodity," Paul Mpagi Sepuya documents Chelsea gallery receptionists, and much more.


Kickstarter Projects We ❤


In conjunction with Rhizome's curated page on Kickstarter, we are featuring select projects from the site on the blog. If you would like to let us know about your fund raising efforts on Kickstarter, shoot us an email at editor(at)

►PRISM index - Handmade Mixed-Media Art Book

PRISM index is a limited edition, handmade, silkscreened, mixed-media book that compiles the work of a wide spectrum of artists into one place. The name serves as an acronym for print, images, sounds, and movies.

The goal of this publication is to create a collage of current art/culture scenes from throughout the US and the world. As a network for artists, this project seeks to establish a platform for multi-media sharing through the tactile, aural, and visual experience of print, images, sounds (CD), and movies (DVD) and to extend and elaborate those expressions through its online presence. PRISM index intended to create something that could not be thrown away, skimmed through, replicated, or forgotten.

Limited to 500 hand-numbered copies. Packaged in archival sleeves.

►Ende Tymes Festival of noise and experimental music

A festival dedicated to noise and experimental music, Ende Tymes will feature over 40 artists in live performances, video screenings, workshops, discussions, and sound installations. With an emphasis on bringing in out-of-state artists to interact with established locals, the Ende Tymes Festival will expose younger artists and fans to older and more distant artists.  The festival will occur June 24-26 at the Silent Barn (a DIY music venue, established 2005) and Outpost (a video post-production resource center for artists, established 1990), both located in Ridgewood NY. 

The artists will present work that engages with the many forms of noise and experimental music: drone, avant-garde, electro-acoustic, harsh noise, digital & analog synthesis, soundtracks, installations.  In addition to the musical performances at Silent Barn, there will be screenings at Outpost of videos by selected artists as well as those chosen from the pool of a public call for works, including some with live performance. 

►Important Projects

Important Projects is an independent artist run exhibition space in Oakland, CA. We started the space in November of 2009 with the intention of creating an exhibition platform that we (being artists ourselves) would want to participate in.  

Our space focuses on single projects and solo shows. At the core of the program is the belief that solo shows are an integral aspect to the development of an individual’s artistic vision. But we maintain an open program that encourages discussion, collaboration, and our bottom line is that we put the intentions of the artists we work with first.

The gallery is currently a small room on the second story of our house.  The size and location of this room provide a very specific context. Visitors who come to the space are invited into our backyard, into our home, and ultimately into our hearts. These are the days of our lives y’all!

As we move forward with the space, we want to maintain this level intimacy. An important part of Important Projects is that the gallery is part of a home. But one of the gallery's founders is moving on to earn his M.F.A., and we feel that a change is in order. We want to move the space and adjust our program so that Important Projects will no longer be a part of our home, it will be our home. The space will evolve so that it is not only an experimental space, but also an experiment in living.


How Large is an Atom of Music? A Tour through Today’s Spectral Music and Software at UCSD


Well, the short answer is .093 seconds. That’s about the shortest amount of time mathematicians need to generate a full analysis of a sound’s component frequencies.

On an even smaller scale, computers typically store sound information in 44100 samples per second. This makes up the typical waveform view of sound that most are accustomed to seeing. However, each sample only gives information about amplitude (or volume), which is a pale portrait of sound. Sound in the physical world is essentially an unfolding of waves over time. Therefore, when translating from physical to digital, frequency information over time is essential to give a meaningful atomic definition of any sound.

A waveform view plots time vs. amplitude. A spectrogram plots frequency vs. time with color representing amplitude

Armed with the calculus technique of the Fast Fourier transform, mathematicians typically take the amplitude values from a mere .093 seconds of sound and draw a complete audio portrait. This portrait consists of the volumes of each component frequency that makes up a complex sound.

Thus, the Fourier transform is the key tool for spectralists, a loosely related group of composers and scientists whose goal is to analyze and resynthesize sound using sound’s most basic digital elements. Spectralists literally rip apart sound into its tiniest grains and develop diverse strategies to reconfigure those microsounds into a new sound barely resembling its original form. Between the two poles of granular analysis and synthesis, musicians have only begun to chart a new world of expression.