Posts for June 2011

Shana Moulton on ART21

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Should an artist separate herself from the character she creates? In this film, artist Shana Moulton traces the development of her ongoing video and performance series Whispering Pines and its central protagonist Cynthia. Shana charts the various ways in which fiction and autobiography meld and diverge in the character of Cynthia, played by the artist herself. The title of the series is an homage to David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and adopts the name of Shana’s childhood home: a trailer park for seniors near Yosemite, California. Featuring video and music from several episodes of Whispering Pines—a mix of live action, computer animation, and original songs by Jacob Ciocci and Nick Hallett.

Shana Moulton (b. 1976, Oakhurst, California, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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Internationalism and Nationality; Antiquity and Contemporaneity at the 54th Venice Biennale

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Details of Thomas Hirschhorn installation at the Swiss Pavilion, Giardini
Details of Thomas Hirschhorn installation at the Swiss Pavilion, Giardini
What always seems urgent and perhaps ineffable to curators is how notions of nationality come to pass in a biennial setting. Look at the last Daniel Birnbaum-curated Venice Biennale for evidence, his “Making Worlds,” or the last documenta in 2007 curated by German couple Roger Buergel and Ruth Noack, which, similar to Okwui Enwezor’s preceding documenta, displaced the exhibition in lesser-known, sometimes third-world locales. We now find French curator Bice Curiger’s comparatively breezy ILLUMInations inhabiting Venice, looking to the aesthetic experience as one of transcendental enlightenment while also meditating, somewhat confoundingly, on how an artist’s nationality effects the production of their work.

Although there exist many a pleasant moment in Curiger’s biennale, the curator stumbles over contextualizing it, and often relies upon generic ideas to band together ideas with no real curatorial thesis. Curiger writes, “The term ‘nations’ in ILLUMInations applies metaphorically to recent developments in the arts all over the world, where overlapping groups form collectives of people representing a wide variety of smaller, more local activities and mentalities.” I take this wily statement to mean that recently, artists of varying locales band together to represent their nationhood in larger groups—a sentiment not exactly illuminating.

In a further attempt to explain what needn’t be explained, Curiger writes, “ILLUMInations emphasizes the intuitive insight and the illumination of thought that is fostered by an encounter with art and its ability to sharpen the tools of perception.” Here I was under the impression that it was part and parcel of successful art works to “enlighten” its viewer through an aesthetic experience, how that is emphasized, I’m not sure. My guess is that this throwaway concept is one Curiger found to unify an essentially un-unifiable group of works. Perhaps the sole phenomenon unifying all works is Curiger’s propensity to pick out the most hot artists of a given moment: R.H. Quaytmann and Seth Price in New York; in London, Klara Liden, who just had a solo show at the Serpentine, Elad Lassry in Los Angeles, Sharyar Nashat in Berlin, among others. Although Curiger falters in her apparent subscription to cool internationalism, much of the work comprising the Biennale—particularly in the exhibition’s Central Pavilion in the Giardini—is worth consideration.

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Ryan Trecartin Video Premiere: Ready (Re'Search Wait'S)

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Rhizome is proud to premiere Ready (Re’Search Wait’s) by Ryan Trecartin, 1/7 of the epic video installation Any Ever which opens at P.S.1 MoMA this Sunday. Watch the video now: Ryan Trecartin
Ready (Re'Search Wait'S), 2009-2010
HD Video, 26:50
courtesy the artist and Elizabeth Dee, New York In Ready, Wait, played by Trecartin, is introduced as the eponymous figure of the series. Wait waits. He forsakes a “career” in favor of a “job,” the execution of which Trecartin calls a “work performance.” A careerist like Y-Ready (Veronica Gelbaum) may call the shots, but she is locked in her own endless narcissistic ascent, whereas Wait can retire from his job at anytime, and does, only to come back from vacation marked for containment. A third type of worker, Able (Lizzie Fitch), more fluidly adopts and discards the gestures of job and career, positing herself as a hobbyist who contrives the situations and outcomes she needs to keep her wave going. “Transumerism,” or consumerism driven by experience, is introduced as a central theme of Any Ever and underlies the plight of JJ, a painted pant-suited guru with an addiction not mood enhancers, but intangible products that offer transcient psyches wholesale. As JJ imbibes different personalities, a battery of digital filters lifted from commercial editing programs conjure a kaleidoscopic havoc that guides the characters toward calamity. Meanwhile, clashes between painting and digital art and between careerism as a means of actualizing and subverting the self, establish the voice of creativity as a vulnerable protagonist that is taken under fire by the chaos. See the other three installments of Re'Search Wait'S this week on DIS magazine, and up next on The Awl and Huffington Post.

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RECOMMENDED READING: Douglas Rushkoff for Edge "THE INTERNET MAKES ME THINK IN THE PRESENT TENSE"

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How does the Internet change the way I think? It puts me in the present tense. It's as if my cognitive resources are shifted from my hard drive to my RAM. That which is happening right now is valued, and everything in the past or future becomes less relevant.

The Internet pushes us all toward the immediate. The now. Every inquiry is to be answered right away, and every fact or idea is only as fresh as the time it takes to refresh a page...

This is not a bias of the Internet itself, but of the way it has changed from an opt-in activity to an "always on" condition of my life. The bias of medium was never towards real-time activity, but towards time shifting. Unix, the operating system of the Net, doesn't work in real time. It sits and waits for human commands. Likewise, early Internet forums and bulletin boards were discussions users returned to at their convenience. I dropped in the conversation, then came back the next evening or next week to see how it had developed. I took the time to consider what I might say — to contemplate someone else's response. An Internet exchange was only as rich as the amount of time I allowed to pass between posts.

Once the Internet changed from a resource at my desk into an appendage chirping from my pocket and vibrating on my thigh, however, the value of depth was replaced by that of immediacy masquerading as relevancy. This is why Google is changing itself from a search engine to a "live" search engine, why email devolved to SMS and blogs devolved to tweets. It's why schoolchildren can no longer engage in linear arguments, why narrative structure collapsed into reality TV, why and why almost ...

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Rutt-Etra-Izer

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Video animation inventor Steve Rutt passed away May 20th. In addition to his work in video art, Rutt is known for creating the Rutt/Etra video synthesizer in 1972 with Bill Etra.

As a tribute, Felix Turner created the Rutt-Etra-Izer emulator:

Rutt-Etra-Izer is a WebGL emulation of the classic Rutt-Etra video synthesizer. This demo replicates the Z-displacement, scanned-line look of the original, but does not attempt to replicate it’s full feature set.

The demo allows you to drag and drop your own images, manipulate them and save the output. Images are generated by scanning the pixels of the input image from top to bottom, with scan-line separated by the ‘Line Separation’ amount. For each line generated, the z-position of the vertices is dependent on the brightness of the pixels.

(manipulated image is from Ryan Trecartin's Ready)

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From the Rhizome Artbase: Absolut Net.Art (2001)- Eryk Salvaggio

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In this series of posts, we will be blogging recently updated content from Rhizome's Artbase.

Founded in 1999, the Rhizome ArtBase is an online archive of new media art containing some 2503 art works, and growing. The ArtBase encompasses a vast range of project by artists all over the world that employ materials such as software, code, websites, moving images, games and browsers to aesthetics and critical ends.


Absolut Net.Art (2001)- Eryk Salvaggio

Absolut Net.Art (2001)- Eryk Salvaggio (Screen Shot)

This work has been restored and is now being permanently hosted on the Artbase. More recently repaired works from the ArtBase can be found here.

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RECOMMENDED READING: Hans Ulrich Obrist In Conversation with Julian Assange II, e-flux

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HUO: Do you think the Western world as a whole is being Putinized?

JA: The Western world is slowly being Putinized. It has progressed the most in the United States. But there is a rivalry with the banking sector, and it’s not clear who is going to win. It’s not even clear, as time goes by, that these will even be two separate, rival systems. Rather, the privatization of the national security sector means that, as time goes by, the connections between Wall Street and the national security sector are starting to disappear, because you have shared ownership of, say, Lockheed Martin or Boeing. And then you have cross investments and portfolios and credit default swaps, and so forth, on the functions of these intelligence contractors and military contractors. So, they are actually starting to merge at critical points. But, looking at the behavior of the White House, it’s clear that still within the White House—and in influences upon the White House—that there are still some distinctive differences between these two groups. Obama’s backers are from Wall Street. They are from his banking sector, his big money. And he does not actually have a handle on the intelligence and military patronage network. So it’s like he’s sitting on some cake mix, which is this military intelligence patronage network. As it grows stronger, he just has to sort of rise up with it as it moves in a particular direction. He has to move with it, because he doesn’t have a handle on it. He doesn’t have any spoon he can stick into it to move it around, because his family doesn’t have anything to do with this system. They’re not meshed with the system, so he can’t control it, whereas Hillary has significant connections within that system. And we can look at something like when it was announced that Knopf had signed an 800,000 dollars deal for my book to be published in the US, and I stated that I would use a portion of this money to keep WikiLeaks afloat. Peter T. King, the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee—a powerful position in United States Congress—wrote to Timothy C. Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, and personally asked him to add Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as an organization to the US Specially Designated Nationals List, which is the US embargo list. So in the way that Cuba is embargoed from all economic interaction with any US citizen under penalty of criminal action, I, personally, would be embargoed from any economic interaction with any US citizen, and so would WikiLeaks. Timothy C. Geithner then smacked this request back within 48 hours and denied it. It’s very unusual. Geithner is right from the elite of the Wall Street patronage network. And as US Treasury Secretary, he’s remained there. In terms of a diplomatic signal, that was very interesting. As a purely technocratic response, Geithner could have sat on it for two, three weeks, to then reject or accept it for technical reasons. To knock it back so quickly is to say, no, we’re deliberately sending a signal that we don’t want that to happen. And it’s very easy to understand, because the national security, government, and private sector in the United States flourishes from its lack of accountability, from its secrecy. That’s how it’s able to gradually increase its power. But WikiLeaks is holding that power to account. To generate or to encourage the adoption of a position where publishing or revealing information about the national security sector is illegal—or will result in being added to the US Specially Designated Nationals List—is to foster the power and expansion of that national security patronage network at the economic and power expense of the Wall Street network.

— EXCERPT FROM "IN CONVERSATION WITH JULIAN ASSANGE, PART II BY HANS ULRICH OBRIST, E-FLUX JOURNAL. Assange also responds to questions posed to him by artists Goldin+Senneby, Paul Chan, Metahaven (Daniel van der Velden and Vinca Kruk), Martha Rosler, Luis Camnitzer, Superflex, Philippe Parreno, and Ai Weiwei. (Part I)

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Economic Uncanny Valley

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Bitcoin. You may have heard of it: a so-called virtual peer-to-peer currency system. It’s been billed alternately as the savior of the world from the hands of the banking system, the scourge of world governments, a monumental waste of energy resources, a privacy nightmare, and just plain dumb. But what the hell is it? Nobody knows. Let’s get started.

You have to admit there’s something exciting about a virtual currency system, but at the same time, that something just might be hype. There’s something vaguely “of Anonymous” to the whole deal—it might be revolutionary, but also could be a joke. It could be teenagers pretending they’re anarchist comic book heroes. The trouble is, it’s tough to tell for sure.

And yet, this is what we were promised from cyberspace, wasn’t it? This is the reality of Neuromancer and Snowcrash. Virtual currencies to spend in virtual shadow worlds, run by cryptopunks, comprising off-the-grid hacker economies. If you have a single sci-fi bone in your body, you are irresistibly turned-on by the idea of a fluctuating exchange rate between Second Life’s Liden Dollars and Bitcoin. Watching the numbers rise and fall on www.bitcoincharts.com is better than a Matrix screensaver, because it is somehow, possibly, maybe, happening in real life. This is the sort of radical stuff that is The Future we fantasized about, rather than oil shortages and housing surpluses.

Virtual technologies are becoming decidedly real. From cell phone augmented reality, to the broad range of Kinect motion-sensor hacks, to location-aware tech, it’s hard to tell what is virtual, what is real, and what is just made up. The virtual is real... but still, a different sort of real. As Gilles Deleuze wrote, “The virtual is opposed not to the real but to the actual. The virtual is fully real in so far as it is virtual.” We have more reality than ever, only some of it is virtual reality, and other elements are actual reality.

“Extreme virtual reality” seems to describe Bitcoin. Setting aside the functional import of a virtual currency for a moment, Bitcoin is quite real, and impressively so. The value of all Bitcoins in existence is around 105 million USD. Over 24.5 million USD in transactions take place every 24 hours. (My stats are as of June 13, 2011. For real-time statistics of all kinds, see the excellent site http://bitcoinwatch.com.) It is difficult to estimate the total computing power of the distributed Bitcoin network, but some vague guesses place it greater than the power of the world’s top 500 supercomputers... combined. This virtual reality might not mean a thing to most of us in our daily life of tweets and emails, blogs and new media. But it certainly is not nothing...

 

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From the Rhizome Artbase: Bodydrome (2001) - Marcello Mazzella

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In this series of posts, we will be blogging recently updated content from Rhizome's Artbase.

Founded in 1999, the Rhizome ArtBase is an online archive of new media art containing some 2503 art works, and growing. The ArtBase encompasses a vast range of project by artists all over the world that employ materials such as software, code, websites, moving images, games and browsers to aesthetics and critical ends.


Bodydrome (2001) - Marcello Mazzella

Bodydrome (2001), Marcello Mazzella (Screen Shot)

This work has been restored and is now being permanently hosted on the Artbase. More recently repaired works from the ArtBase can be found here.

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Will Self on How Social Media Plays to "Romantic Yearnings"

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Social media represent the sexual arm of the internet. They are replete with an idea that is implicit in romanticism and romantic thinking, which is that there are a myriad of possible encounters out there, of which one is optimal: one is mandated for all space and all time. And in a way the social media plays to people’s yearnings on a very strong level, and it animates them to continually re-engage with it on a rather licentious promise but with a rather romantic payoff. And I think that’s why it has such an insidious and overpowering impact, particularly on young people’s minds. - Will Self

via Stowe Boyd & Felix Salmon

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