Posts for March 2012

Beyond the Surface: 15 Years of Desktop Aesthetics

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A desktop is a changing record of visual decisions. It speaks to the aesthetics of a particular work-flow and personal space. A desktop exhibits a diagram of your organizational habits and a screenshot of it captures a brief moment of its functional evolution. The image of your desktop becomes an intimate self-portrait and the impulse to decode an unfamiliar desktop is unavoidable.

Xerox Star 8010 Workstation - Image via plyojump.com

In January, Adam Cruces wrapped up his Desktop Views project. Cruces collected 51 images of artists’ desktops including a number of artists he worked with in his earlier project STATE.

Cruces frames Desktop Views with a quote from Alexei Shulgin’s legendary Desktop Is project, created 15 years earlier in 1997, at the dawn of “net.art.” The quote, taken from the about page of Shulgin’s project, uses the title Desktop Is as an iterative I Ching-style manifesto about the desktop. Its final lines claim in paradox, “desktop is a question, desktop is the answer.” Cruces’s description of Desktop Views is more straightforward and less poetic. To him the desktop is “the (virtual) space that serves as the foundation of the working environment.” Cruces and Shulgin, however, channel the same curiosity. The two projects are echoes that present voyeuristic peeks into artists’ personal virtual working spaces on public websites.

The Desktop Is site is a deteriorated time capsule. Its nostalgic Apple OS desktop interface links to two folders; one, leads to site information, and the second, to a list of submitted desktop images. Link rot has broken nearly half of the links in Shulgin’s list of submissions and the ones that work are a mix of cryptic handles, like Murph the surf, in contrast to full names - some followed by an email address.

In converse, Cruces’s new iteration, Desktop Views is standardized. It presents a grid of images (a sort of meta desktop) that can be sorted alphabetically by first name or chronologically in the order they were collected and released on the site. Artists’ full names label each desktop thumbnail in the grid. Cruces hosts all the images he has collected, so perhaps this archive of desktop images will remain intact for more complete future reflections. Within the order, the desktop images range from stark defaults to extreme clutter.

Sara Ludy’s desktop, for example, is minimal with a blurred blue smudge of pixels centered on a black background. On the right side, vased.mov is immediately above vased.gif which might reveal a recently created animated gif. Daniel Keller’s desktop image presents a more complex space. His numerous file icons stand in an equally spaced array – small and unreadable. They vanish into an endless crowded background of solar panels stacked edge-to-edge.

Martin Murphy’s desktop, for example, has a strange background image: a hand wrapped in latex touches a warped smiling face in a pool of purple color. The face stares out of the screen. Icons, floating on the right, are grid-free and vaguely organized. Three external drive mounts show a potential need for more space while a folder announces a “project with Evan” in its name. Perhaps this counts as evidence of collaboration. Amidst bluetooth connections, a dropbox account, and a desirable suite of creative software applications in the dock below, Murphy is present. He listens to Spotify and captured his desktop image with OS X’s Grab application. 

Martin Murphy's desktop from Adam Cruces's Desktop Views

Some visual clues reveal location or language, like Jon Rafman’s Canadian flag in his menu bar. His background image shows two men climbing a floating knot of infinite stairs up and down, down and up. A handgun icon labelled “TODO” floats point-blank at one man’s head. Other desktops are more mysterious. Rafael Rozendal’s blank grey background leaves everything to the imagination – his tiny system activity monitor, maxed out in red and green, is the only leading detail.

While Cruces’s project feels curatorial, Shulgin’s is more ethnographic...

 

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Comment: Medici is the Crowd

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This is a story about not asking permission.

It starts with Occupy Wall Street.

I'm an artist who got her first job making covers for SCREW Magazine. While I gradually carved out a nice career doing every sort of art that one can extract a living from, I had always been afraid to draw "activist things." Real struggles were serious business, and I drew girls with feathers and bare tits.  Making activist art seemed like posturing. So I'd sell paintings on Twitter to raise money for abortion funds, but hide the subversive bits in the margins.

The last few years changed that.

Suddenly the world was crumbling, and people from London to Tahrir Square were taking to the streets. Everyone said Americans were too apathetic for that.  But we weren't.

 

 

When Occupy Wall Street first parked their mattresses in Zuccotti Park, my friends and I felt that something very rare was happening, and that we should help however we could. Noticing a lack of OWS graphics, I drew up a clunky octopus with "Fight the Vampire Squid" written on its belly. It became a protest sign around the country. Since then I've been churning out posters for Occupy — for libraries and general strikes and unions. Doing political work enabled me to take the subtext dancing at the margins of my art, and make it loud and proud. 

Political posters are fast. I'd draw one, brain on fire, and two hours later a masked protester would be carrying it on the streets. But I wanted to do something bigger- to take the political content of my OWS work, and express it in paintings that were giant and detailed. I wanted to make the kind of art that takes 100 hours of carefully daubing paint onto a giant piece of wood. The sort of work that would traditionally be sold in galleries...

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Christian Marclay in the New Yorker

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Great longread in the New Yorker this week about Christian Marclay's The Clock. Although I agree with Kenneth Goldsmith that the piece could benefit from greater discussion of the copyright issues he faced; the story behind how it was made is very compelling. It starts describing his move from New York, which meant leaving behind a larger apartment and boxes and boxes of bric-à-brac. In London his desktop became his studio:

Given his space constraints in London, Marclay decided that his first project would involve immaterial material—that is, digital media. Instead of wielding an X-Acto knife, he’d use Final Cut Pro. As he told me recently, sitting at his desk in Clerkenwell, “All I needed was this table and a computer” ....

“The Clock” is far too long to be presented on a DVD. The work is a computer program—coded by Mick Grierson, a professor at Goldsmiths College, in London—that, when booted, launches into whichever clip matches the time, down to the microsecond. The system, which archives the video and audio tracks separately, requires setup, and Marclay and a White Cube technician, Scott Martin, were present at virtually every city where the piece had been shown. (As carefully tended as the system is, mishaps can occur: at the Pompidou, “The Clock” mysteriously fell a few minutes en retard.)

If you're wondering why they aren't renting out bigger theaters for screenings, it's because the intimacy and the sound quality is so essential to the experience. The strength of The Clock lies in its uncanny intimacy, the ability to create a shared experience — a moment in time — between screen and audience. When you are stuggling to stay away at 4 am in the theater, the actors in the film clips are also yawning and sleepy-eyed ...

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Artist Profile: Jesse Hulcher

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I'm A Wiz With Computers, 2011 

In Web Presence, you password-hack your deceased father’s gmail account and display it in the gallery on a computer, logged-in, as an ‘available to chat’, contact.  The work is a loose ontological study of sorts, referring to both life during and after existence in the form of an always preserved online presence.  It also demonstrates another way that aura sustains itself in digitally mediated space.  Is this more than just sentiment? How do you confront or deal with the permanence of identity online, within the archive, etc.?

It’s definitely more than sentiment for me because it’s about sentiment. I was actually hesitant to make the piece initially because I didn’t want it to be perceived as a strictly cathartic exercise. For me, it’s about a few things. It’s about these records of ourselves that exist online. It’s about the way time is represented online. And it’s about attempting to do something that can’t be done. We can’t communicate with people who’ve died. They’re not actually there on the other end of the gmail chat. But by password-hacking my father’s gmail account, I was able to reproduce his presence in my life. I didn’t live with him and didn’t live in the same city or state. So, his web-presence was his most common presence in my life. By logging him in on a dedicated computer, I’d recreated that presence and at times even managed to surprise myself for a split-second upon logging into my own account. It was always a pleasant surprise to see him “available to chat”.

Yes, there is personal sentiment. But it’s also simply about finding emotional or spiritual uses for technology. I’ve ...

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Rhizome Commissions Deadline April 15

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Image from Brody Condon's Rhizome commissioned work, Case.

The deadline is fast approaching for Rhizome's 2012 Commissions cycle! Each year, this program supports emerging artists by providing grants for the creation of significant works of new media art. Projects can be made for the context of the gallery, the public, the web or networked devices. Rhizome Commissions awards generally range from $1,000 to $5,000. Deadline is Sunday, April 15th. Be sure to read over the eligibility, policy and procedures before you begin the application process.

Application Deadline: Sunday April 15, 2012

Approval Voting: Wednesday April 18, 2012 - Saturday May 12, 2012

Rank Voting: Monday May 14, 2012 - Friday June 01, 2012

The Rhizome Commissions program is supported, in part, by funds from Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, Wieden + Kennedy, the Jerome Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by generous individuals and Rhizome members.

 

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Jonas Lund Clones His Browser So You Can Watch Him Surf

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Today at 12pm EST (17:00 CET) Jonas Lund is launching his work Selfsurfing "a Chrome extension that creates a self-surfing, auto-updating clone of my browser in real time," with a 24 hour period of online browsing for you to watch. Lund's "browser has a server extension installed which transmits the current state of [his' browser to a intermediate server, which holds all relevant information." We asked him a few questions about the work in advance of its launch .... 

"Selfsurfing," is a Chrome extension that clones your activity online so we can watch in our browsers. To kick off, you'll surf online for the next 24 hours. Are there certain hours that might be more entertaining than others? Will you sneak to another browser for email, Facebook, and other things you might not want to share?

This is the first time I’m forcing myself to surf for 24 hours straight so I’m a bit unsure of what to expect. My guess is that it will be more interesting towards the end when I’ve gone through all my typical resources and I'm faced with a nice fatigue combined with the open endlessness of the web without any specific direction.

The way the extension works is that it clones the tabs of my browser, so if I surf to my Facebook, you will see your Facebook. So in that sense the social network privacy is maintained, but for the duration of the 24 hours Chrome will be the one and only browser.

What inspired this project?

Ever since I made ‘Im Here And There’ I wanted to extend it to focus more on the whole experience of surfing and not just the locations, to create a version of my web and my browsing that comes closer to the original experience.

Each change to my browser is stored in a simple mysql database, so it’s both a continuous broadcast as well as a growing archive of my online activities.

Have any interesting (or embarrassing) events come out of your previous work imhereandthere.com?

One time I got caught watching Grey’s Anatomy on sidereel.com, I think that was the most embarrassing thing ever.

 

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Two Poems by Christine Kelly

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Christine Kelly, Apple 1 is an apple. Apple 2 is the idea of an apple, 2011

 

 

One or More Occasions


If the diviner,

when he wakes up to the sound

of his own trumpet,

or presents the

                        MUST-HAVE

 

in moonlight, the wrong kind of bottle

 

we belong in the monosyllabic new

the diviner won’t embarrass

on fear of exits (this and an absence of such

fear are both aphrodisiacs)

 

stone cold absence

then the diviner becomes crooked

a bendy-neck swan totem stands in for

subjectivity

and

a subjective everything

 

features:  

 

 

feature: handle

 

 

features:

 

 

feature: permanent hat

 

 

and guess what

 

this is a timeslot

a clutter among others

at which we marvel occasionally

 

 

sink

into clean and empty

sing about the full

about means around

or in proximity to

timespace designations.  Hey,

take it like a spittoon.

 

sink

into the bloated order of cause and effect—

cranial piping is how I arrived

at permanent hat, actually

 

resembling a column of smoke

 

puff

puff

puff

puff

 

coming out of the diviner’s hat

 

 


I Baroque It

 

“DOES sport imply sanctity?” was a sporting question, which through no extension

other than the yawny, tragic phonetiks surrounding someone’s (I bet) snowmobile accident…

…less likely than a skiing accident,

more likely than a competitive taffy pull filling the interior of a milk hood shared by two school chums

with vacuum trident

tongues 

hitchedup. 

Early incidence of dual ownership can create loquaciousness so drippy that it requires a dish.      

OBLITERATE        WET         GENEROSITY 

 

-----towel                  towels-----

 

Shan’t discuss human sexual attraction in this one, but know, just know, know what you know,

when you hear those angels trumpeting:  oxygen.  100% oxygen hands slip in from behind.

                $527 Cobra Quiz [win again and again]

Cobra the yogic asana. 

Cobra the health insurance for poor sods.

Cobra ...

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Image of Democracy: Why I Want to Build Nine Freedom Towers in Tiananmen Square

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Introduction

 

Albert Speer, Model of Nuremberg Marching Grounds (1937); John Powers, Penn Station Counter-proposal, (2001)

What happened at 9/11 of course changed the scale of all this... It became an issue about fear, and our horror at looking, as I did, out of our windows onto the buildings that were burning. The horror we had in our hearts from this, allowed us... to give up basic freedoms. I’m not just talking about the ones the papers talk about all the time, our democratic and constitutional rights, but in the way we live, the way we block our streets.

—David Childs (Chief Architect of SOM’s Freedom Tower”), Building and Fear, 08:20 (2007)

I am a sculptor, my work is abstract and more often than not described as “post-minimalist.” Recently I was asked to contribute a work for a group show in Hong Kong. The curatorial frame of the show is “the ways objects produce space.” Rather than contribute a sculpture and hope for some sort of latter-day phenomenological experience between ‘object’ and ‘subject’ however, I suggested revisiting an urban design project that I had not worked on for over a decade. Eleven years ago I made a modest proposal to create a series of three massively flat and empty superblocks (two in New York and one in Washington DC). I last showed these proposals as three large architectural site models, just six months before September 11th attacks. Because my proposals seemed to foreshadow the 16 acre gap left in Manhattan’s grid, I was urged to revisit the project. I didn’t, not because I didn’t feel I might have something to contribute, but because I was struck dumb horror. I refused to speak publicly about the project, and although the original show of models had been based on a long essay on the subject of art and public space, I stopped writing for years. Anyone familiar with myblogwill understand that this is not my usual MO. But looking back I am now very glad I shut up. 

Most of what was said about architecture in the immediate wake of the attacks struck me as tone deaf, some of what was said by artists was unintentionally cruel.

That is not to say I didn’t take interest in the site and the conversation around it. I followed the competition to choose an master plan, and still feel Sir Norman Foster’s unapologetically hard edged kissing chisels were the best of the lot. Most of what I saw and heard however, reinforced the observation that had inspired my proposals in the first place: the widespread inability to know the difference between what can and cannot be changed when it comes to architecture. By wide spread, I mean architects, politicians, critics and loudmouths at parties. Even after Modernist architecture’s fall from grace, the expectation is that big challenges must be addressed by massive projects, and that symbolic meaning trumps straight talk (observe Libeskind vs Foster).

While I sympathized with architect’s desire to respond to the attacks, I did not understand their responses. Architecture isn’t a symbol (that was the hideous confusion the attackers made), it is an expression; a concrete expression of an idea, an ethic, a desire. Modernists plazas are often characterized as “fascist” — the idea being that they are symbolic projections of power. Architects seldom, if ever, discuss lawns, park benches, or flower arrangements as expressions of power. Looked at as concrete ethical expressions, rather than symbols, we can begin to see these things for what they are: impediments, barriers, place holders, and dividers.

I: Double Zero

Soft Power: Jeff Koons, Puppy (1992); Tiananmen Square Olympic flower arrangement (2008)

For the show in Hong Kong I ended up showing recreations of my three original counter-proposals, and a fourth proposal that has been gestating for almost a decade, but has suddenly taken on new relevance. I proposed building nine “Freedom Towers” arranged in a tight grid formation and completely occupying the available open space of Tiananmen Square.

A decade after I proposed paving flat large portions of New York and DC, I want to “occupy” Tiananmen Square with a formation of Freedom Towers. These may seem like two very different projects and two very different political contexts, but in fact they are the same. In 2001 I was suggesting that we had lost an important variety of public space and that our cities and our republic were lessened by that loss. That in the 40 years since the civil rights and ant-war protests of the 1960s American authorities have altered the landscape of our cities –— through changes in the rules that concerning public assembly (a process Naomi Wolf calls “overpermiticisation”), but also through bricks and mortar construction. Our public space has been “developed” out of existence.

In the wake of the massive protests in Wisconsin, the “Arab Spring,” and the Occupy movement in New York (and everywhere else), it feels important to once again raise the question of public space as a built environment. Rather than continue to argue that we build a new kind of space here, I am suggesting that we imagine what it would mean if we exported our current development schemes to other countries; to imagine them as the work of foreign regimes. What if the National WWII Memorial, with its heroic Speerian colonnade, sunken plaza, and ground-covering fountain, had been built in Tahrir Square rather than midway between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument? How would we feel if Russian authorities were to announce the construction of a large Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim be built over, Bolotnaya Square, the site of last December’s ballot-rigging protests in Moscow?

To mashup SOM’s Freedom Tower and China’s Tiananmen Square may, at first glance seem arbitrary, but it isn’t. Both New York’s Ground Zero and Beijing’s “Zero Point” are symbolically loaded sites. non-mainland Chinese associate Tiananmen with the 1989 pro-democracy protests, but for the Chinese it was already a site loaded with meaning when protesters chose that space to take their stand. In his book Remaking Beijing, the author Wu Hung describes the formation of Chinese end of this symbolic East-West axis....

 

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Artist Profile: Jaakko Pallasvuo

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Low Epic, 2011

Your identity/brand is split between multiple internet presences.  There is definite cohesion between the works on your artist website and your Tumblr, but your illustrations seem severed and separate.  Google image searching you, your comics and illustrations actually appear more frequently than your other work.  In Auditions you briefly meditate on identity association and representation on the internet and I’m curious as to how you intentionally shape this identity.  How do you approach self-design?

The way I think is fairly contradictory so it makes sense that the works would emerge that way as well. I question how satisfying maintaining a strict, programmed artistic identity would be in the long run. Making art is for me very much a form of learning. I will gladly sacrifice cohesion if it means that I can explore larger fields of knowledge.

I've been uploading works to various internet contexts since I was 16 and can accept that I cannot control their circulation. I do contemplate the way I represent / have represented myself online but I can't completely dictate my "brand" anymore. I appreciate artists who are able to maintain a cohesive image, but I don't think I could be / would want to be one.

A lot of your image work utilizes 80's and 90’s aesthetic and culture as a jumping off point.  From the midi backing tracks heard in your How To video series, to the gradients, colors and photoshop brushwork found on www.dawsonscreek.info, where do you place nostalgia, irony and sincerity throughout these works? Where do these begin and end for you?

Irony and nostalgia are difficult terms. I think of irony as snarky non-commitment and nostalgia as uncritical sentimentality. It feels unsafe to connect them to my own work. I ...

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Marrakech Drift

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Karthik Pandian, Untitled (2012)

"While traveling sideways at 110 KM an hour, I realized that the order of videos on the internet emerges out of a far greater chaos,“ London-based artist Jon Nash tells me on a busy Marrakech street corner about his accidental collision with a traffic barrier in his performance work, Morocco Drift. Later at the artist dinner, Berlin-based artist Aleksandra Domanovic tells me the story of how her sculpture Monument to Revolution was moved to make way for the Princess of Morocco in CyberPark. With the stories adding up, it was obvious Higher Atlas, the 4th edition of the Marrakech Biennale, curated by Carson Chan and Nadeem Samman, was no ordinary foray into exhibition making. 

Miles from the nearest white cube in Casablanca, set in a city known for its historical attractions and film locations, Higher Atlas unexpectedly set artists on an unusual fittest test. Building an exhibition to be experienced first hand, the curatorial duo commissioned artists to fashion new, site-specific works derived from local influences. However this curatorial ethos was interrupted by a last minute change of venue. Working from an idiosyncratic vision, a newly elected government opted to move the biennale from the ruins of the sixteenth century El Badi Palace on the Medina’s outskirts (a UNESCO World Heritage site) to the unfinished Théâtre Royal in the Ville Nouveau.

Perhaps because within the confines of its historical sites, Morocco’s tourism board sells itself as an internet bookable chronotopic anomaly...

 

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