Posts for May 2011

The Cult of Done Manifesto

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Bre Pettis, appearing next week at Seven on Seven, cowrote the famous blog post "The Cult of Done Manifesto" with Kio Stark. This is great advice for any creative person. This is also what goes on behind the scenes at Seven on Seven:

  1. There are three states of being. Not knowing, action and completion.
  2. Accept that everything is a draft. It helps to get it done.
  3. There is no editing stage.
  4. Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it.
  5. Banish procrastination. If you wait more than a week to get an idea done, abandon it.
  6. The point of being done is not to finish but to get other things done.
  7. Once you're done you can throw it away.
  8. Laugh at perfection. It's boring and keeps you from being done.
  9. People without dirty hands are wrong. Doing something makes you right.
  10. Failure counts as done. So do mistakes.
  11. Destruction is a variant of done.
  12. If you have an idea and publish it on the internet, that counts as a ghost of done.
  13. Done is the engine of more.

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Jill Magid and Trevor Paglen in Artforum

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Jill Magid, My Sensitivity, 2007

Pamela M. Lee writes about Jill Magid and Trevor Paglen as artists who "interrogate and dramatize what could be called the mechanisms of contemporary secrecy," in a long essay in this month's Artforum:

The past several years have seen the development of a certain kind of practice, represented by artists such as the late Mark Lombardi (with his diagrams of the systemic and insidious connections that link the protagonists of global power networks) and the Web-based initiative They Rule (with its own cladistic representations of American elites), that visualizes those covert relationships of power that obtain among corporations, government agencies, and private citizens. But the focus of this essay is the work of Jill Magid and Trevor Paglen, whose distinct practices converge around the logic of the open secret. Both artists interrogate and dramatize what could be called the mechanisms of contemporary secrecy. For her part, Magid’s practice literally performs the rituals of concealment and exposure. In “Authority to Remove,” her 2009–10 exhibition at Tate Modern in London, Magid charted her long involvement with the Dutch secret service, or AIVD (Algemene Inlichtingen—en Veiligheidsdienst), which culminated in a novel based on years of interviews with intelligence agents. Large portions of the novel were then redacted. Paglen’s work in experimental geography has produced powerful insights into the photographic calibrations between the visible and the invisible, homing in on the sub rosa installations of the American military both on the ground and in the air. His latest show, at San Francisco’s Altman Siegel gallery earlier this year, continued in the vein of what Rebecca Solnit aptly calls “visibility wars” while mining new territory in the history of photography.

Both artists assiduously unpack the secret’s organizational and performative logic, its murky procedural techniques, and the alternations between the open and the hidden that sponsor its occasional emergence into public view. But perhaps what Magid and Paglen ultimately disclose, if in very different ways, is that lies and truth claims occupy surprisingly proximate territory on the spectrum of redaction and disclosure; and that the very notion of evidence as fact undergoes a radical mutation where the blurred interests of transparency and secrecy are concerned—now more than ever, given that the politics of information has taken on a startling urgency.

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Only For Dummies: An Interview with Steve Fagin

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Only For Dummies: Fractured Utopias of the 20th Century (2010) is based on the organizing principles of the social network (namely, Facebook) and the platform of the mobile phone (namely, the iPhone). In using the structural conditions of these domains -- conditions particular to the software, hardware, and the social arenas in which they are used -- Steve Fagin sets the stage for the invention of an entirely new novelistic form. He refers to it as a "miniseries," yet it is a miniseries with an epic nature. Its "star" is the ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy, the wisecracking sidekick from The Chase and Sanborn Hour radio show of the late 1930s and 40s. In this contemporary epic theater, Fagin summons the conditions of the vaudeville act, yet he retools its logics of assembly in accordance with the "friending" and "tagging" principles of Facebook and the navigational principles of the iPhone. The mischievous puppet, an anarchic avatar of sorts, does Fagin's dummy work. As with all of his projects, it is not a matter of parceling out the domains that are perversely integrated and the authority figures that are "overthrown" so much as exploring the conditions of the strange new synthetic multi- spatial and -temporal event that results -- its affects and intimacies; its dramas, dispositions, and rhythms; its intricacies, rules, and treacherous enfolds...

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RECOMMENDED READING: Sarah Hromack on Paul Chan’s new publishing venture in Frieze

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No one mistakes a Kindle for a codex any more than they might an iPad for a canvas – that much is clear. Yet the impact of electronic publishing on the book itself is becoming increasingly relevant to the art world, where the recent advent of art e-book publishing has posed an entirely new set of challenges – technical, philosophical, political and otherwise – to the artist’s book.

In the autumn of 2010, artist Paul Chan launched a publishing venture, Badlands Unlimited, out of his Brooklyn studio as a means of negotiating the rapidly shifting relationship between physical and virtual methods of book production. Aided by a cohort of designers and developers, Chan has since published a small catalogue of books, DVDs and artist-designed ephemera, rendered in both digital and print forms. ‘We make books in the expanded field’, claims the company’s website, a deceptively simple mission statement that belies the implications of re-calibrating an entire process – and by proxy, the history of a genre – in order to broach the digital divide.

E-book publishing complicates the interplay between the image and virtual page; the limitations imposed by code and hardware alone necessitate a somewhat radical re-thinking of that relationship. For an image-heavy e-book to retain its visual legibility across platforms, its author must consider the image in service of the electronically produced book and not the other way around. Hallmarks of a well laid-out publication – a strong correlation between text and image; a sense of visual rhythm; considered choices in typeface, paper stock, printing and binding methods – are impossible to replicate in some cases, and in others elusive at best. Whereas the printed book bears its maker’s mark more readily, the e-book places a comparatively stringent set of limitations on the endeavour from the outset; software and hardware developers dictate the platforms and products that publishers have to negotiate with during the production process.

— EXCERPT FROM "OFF THE PAGE" BY SARAH HROMACK, FRIEZE ISSUE 139.

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Domenico Quaranta on Jon Rafman show, copyright issues

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Recently Jon Rafman removed several images from the Brand New Paint Job website after an artists' licensing organization based in Canada sent cease and desist letters. In an essay for his show at Fabio Paris Art Gallery, Domenico Quaranta, author of Media, New Media, Postmedia (excerpted on Rhizome) explains why the contested images are fair use:

Schwitters Alley, 2011

What makes BNPJ [Brand New Paint Job] a radical project, despite its apparent accessibility, is – on one hand – its not immediate identification as a work of art and – on the other – its referencing of a conception of intellectual property that is not shared by current legislation.

As for the first point, without entering into the legal motivations behind the cease and desist letters, it is interesting to note that neither of them refer to the artistic nature of the project. The first makes a generic mention of “images”, and the second refers to an “online game”. It has to be said that if Rafman had been recognised as an artist, and his work as art, it is highly likely that it would have satisfied the criteria for fair use: the limited use of copyright material for specific purposes, as normally applies to artistic appropriations. So how was it possible that a collective set up to protect the interests of artists did not recognise, or refused to recognise, the artistic nature of a work?

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Pre-Tron Triple-I CGI in Michael Crichton's "Looker"

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Directed by Michael Crichton, Looker (1981) features CGI from Triple-I (Information International Inc.) The studio was among the four companies selected to work on Tron's visual effects. (1982 Demo Reel.)

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The Data Dimension at FutureEverything 2011

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MIT SENSEable City Lab: Borderline


The Data Dimension at FutureEverything 2011 (Manchester, UK) features an eclectic mix of design and art projects which gesture towards a data-driven culture. The first microscope was designed by Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). The microscope, like the telescope, revealed entirely new worlds, at scales impossible for humans to perceive. Today, like their predecessor, scientists, artists, academics and amateurs, re-purpose, extend, and invent new technologies to observe and comprehend the things no one has seen or understood before. This not only reveals a previously unimagined realm, more than this it constructs a new reality, giving shape and life to a new dimension. The artworks featured in The Data Dimension are an example of the type of experiments taking place. They are spyglasses to study the microscopic, immaterial and infinitely complex. This is about illuminating a future, and creating a new perspective, on a world that is only beginning to emerge. The Data Dimension presents a selection of these Digital Microscopes; artworks that nurture new insights into the invisible infrastructures that make up our world. Here designers and artists visualise the invisible layer of complex data that surrounds our daily lives, making data come alive.

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Seven on Seven Next Week with Opening Remarks by Caterina Fake

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Presented by AOL, Seven on Seven is a major conference that pairs seven leading artists with seven game-changing technologists in teams of two, and challenges them to develop something new —be it an application, social media, artwork, product, or whatever they imagine— over the course of a single day. The seven teams will work together at locations around the New York City on May 13th, 2011, and unveil their ideas at a one-day event at the New Museum on May 14, 2011. Seven on Seven is organized by Rhizome.

Caterina Fake is delivering the opening remarks. We are sad to report Cao Fei is unable to attend, but fortunately, we were able to confirm last minute the dynamic artist Emily Roysdon.

This year's participants are:

ARTISTS:
Michael Bell-Smith
Ricardo Cabello (mr.doob)
Emily Roysdon
Liz Magic Laser
Zach Lieberman
Rashaad Newsome
Camille Utterback

TECHNOLOGISTS:
Andy Baio
Ben Cerveny
Jeri Ellsworth
Kellan Elliott-McCrea
Bre Pettis
Chris Poole (moot)
Erica Sadun

[Note: The hashtag for Seven on Seven on twitter is #AOL7on7]

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Antlers WiFi (2011)- Rick Silva

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

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Metahaven

JA: ... We have never unpublished something that we have published. And it’s all very well for me to say that, but how can the public be assured? They can’t. There are some things that we have traditionally done, such as providing cryptographic hashes of the files that we have released, allowing for a partial check if you have a copy of a specific list of cryptographic hashes. But that’s not good enough. And we’re an organization whose content is under constant attack. We have had over one hundred serious legal threats, and many intelligence and other actions against us. But this problem, and its solution, is also the solution to another problem, which is: How can we globally, consistently name a part of our intellectual history in such a way that we can accurately converse about it? And by “converse” I don’t mean a conversation like we’re having now, but rather one that takes place through history and across space. For example, if I start talking about the First Amendment, you know what I mean, within this current context of our conversation. I mean the First Amendment of the United States. But what does that mean? It’s simply an abstraction of something. But what if the First Amendment was only in digital form, and someone like Nadhmi Auchi made an attack on that piece of text and made it disappear forever, or replaced it with another one? Well, we know the First Amendment is spread everywhere, so it’s easily checkable. If we are confused in our conversation and unsure of what we’re talking about, or we really want to get down to the details, it’s in so many places that if I find a copy, it’s going to be the same as the copy you find. But this is because it’s a short and very ancient and very popular document. In the cases of these Nadhmi Auchi stories, there were eight that were removed, but actually this removal of material as a result of political or legal threats, it’s happening everywhere. This is just the tip of the iceberg. And there are other forms of removal that are less intentional but more pernicious, which can be a simple matter of companies going under along with the digital archives they possess. So we need a way of consistently and accurately naming every piece of human knowledge, in such a way that their name arises out of the knowledge itself, out of its textual, visual, or aural representation, where the name is inextricably coupled to what it actually is. If we have that name, and if we use that name to refer to some information, and someone tries to change the contents, then it is either impossible or completely detectable by anyone using the name...

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