Posts for 2013

Video of Post Net Aesthetics is Now Online

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Post-Net Aesthetics, a panel organized by Karen Archey and Rhizome that took place at the ICA in London last week, picks up the discussion from Rhizome's Net Aesthetics panels of 2006 and 2008, both of which sought to examine the state of contemporary art engaged with the internet. This edition was organized as a discussion of the term "postinternet," and it reflected a shared sense that the term's usefulness has perhaps run its course. By way of putting it to bed, panel participant Josephine Berry Slater suggested that the "post" was problematic, in its suggestion of sequentiality. She referred to Peter Osborne's critique of Lyotard's Postmodern Condition, in which he suggested "transmodern" as an alternative term to the equally problematic "postmodern." Likewise, Slater suggested that "transinternet" might be a useful term for artists. Ben Vickers suggested that beyond postinternet, artists have a whole range of critical stances with regard to technology available to them. These include stacktivism and the new aesthetic, as well as the radical refusal to use technology or even to make art. (We'd suggest printing this out, before signing off for good.) The full video of the panel is well worth a watch.

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Running a Marathon

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Douglas Coupland, I Miss My Pre-Internet Brain (2013). Pigment on lacquered apple plywood 22" x 17". Courtesy of The Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto.

With the Frieze Art Fair now in full swing, London is undeniably where the art world is at. For those not exhausted by art fairs and panel discussions about postinternet art, we encourage you to keep up the (pun intended) pace for the 89plus marathon at the Serpentine on Friday night and all day Saturday. Curated by Ben Vickers, notable vestment-wearing participant in yesterday's "Post-Net Aesthetics" panel organized by Rhizome at the ICA, and forming a part of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Simon Castet's long-term research project of the same name, the marathon focuses on concerns facing the generation born in or after 1989—those "Younger than Rihanna," as Harry Burke put it in an article for Rhizome—who have never known a world without Tim Berners-Lee's world wide web, or with the Berlin Wall.

A diverse range of performances, talks, screenings, and installations will consider the subjectivities that have emerged in this period in history and offer speculations about the future. Notable participants include Zaha Hadid, Brad Troemel, Jake Davis aka Topiary, Hito Steyerl, Smári McCarthy (Icelandic Modern Media Initiative), Douglas Coupland, Harry Burke, and Le1F.

For those not in London, the event will luckily be livestreamed via the 89plus Clubhouse, beginning at 2pm EST / 7pm GMT today.

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Heroes and Villains: Nate Hill in New York

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Nate Hill, from the series Trophy Scarves (2013).

To the extent that people know his name, Nate Hill is a controversial figure in the internet art world. He gets into bizarre, seemingly one-sided fights with art blogs, sends fake computer viruses to his press contact list, or generally puts people off by relentlessly focusing his web projects on "white women"—the most recent example being Trophy Scarves (2013), a photo series in which Hill, who is biracial, poses wearing a tuxedo while nude white women are slung across his shoulders as if they were recently slain wild animals. Like many, I found myself turned off by some of these projects, but, nonetheless, wanted to know more: the satire was clearly there and he was prolific. I also liked how committed he was to being an artist and how thoroughly he followed his artistic voice, no matter where it took him. In a growing series of conversations with Hill, what impressed me was how consistently every project revolves around the idea of a performative "character" and how committed he is to the idea that his artistic voice is channeled through these different characters. I quickly learned that the majority of these characters aren't even internet-based, but performed in public, on the streets and subway cars of New York. Be it online or in New York City, though, these works share a common motivation to be catalysts for disruption, to interrupt Hill's daily passage through networks of various kinds. While I can't justify everything Hill does, after speaking with him regularly and engrossing myself in the work, I am convinced that he is, in a strange way, a significant artist, as well as an interesting if unacknowledged heir to David Hammons and Andy Kaufman, whose projects Hill cherishes. Because he so frequently invokes the idea of character, I thought that to write about Hill necessitated describing him as a character in a fictional style—a mode of prose that I've been experimenting with recently. What follows is an impressionistic story following a few hours in the life of Nate Hill.  It precedes two upcoming projects: a live reenactment of Trophy Scarves and "Lights: Nate Hill and Ann Hirsch," a performance event I am curating at Interstate Projects on November 2nd.

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Required Reading: A Closer Look at JODI's 'Untitled Game'

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Mute, Vol 1, No. 22 ("The Art Issue"), including CD-ROM of JODI, Untitled Game (1996-2001). 

Rhizome's erstwhile Conservation Fellow, Lisa Adang, has published the results of her material analysis of JODI's Untitled Game (1996-2001), and her findings are both more concrete and more nuanced than much of the extant scholarship.

By way of background, Adang points out that JODI began working with game "modding" around the same time as they began working with the web.

Although they may be best known for their web browser-based works, in this early period, JODI also experimented with the alteration of game code using two hugely popular computer game sources: Wolfenstein 3D (1993) and Quake 1 (1996), both developed by John D. Carmack, John Romero and the team at Id Software based in Richardson, Texas. Wolfenstein is widely recognized as the first fully rendered three-dimensional polygon game environment, a technique that allows objects and walls to appear to wrap around the player's perspective, realistically block the player’s sightline, and recede into a vanishing point that shifts with the main character/player's perspective. Characters within the game are also comprised of polygons, and sprite images occur on instances such as the firing of a weapon, scaling to suggest proximity and perspective.

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The Sixth Annual Imagine Science Film Festival

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Forms (2012) by Memo Akten and Quayola. Image Credit: ISFF 

The Imagine Science Film Festival, now in its sixth year, has grown in the hands of organizer Alexis Gambis from a small discussion group among friends to a multi-venue mélange of screenings, discussion panels, and interactive installations taking place across New York City and New Jersey. This year's festival opening was held at Google's offices in Manhattan and debuted a line-up of short films organized around the evening's theme, "The Art of Code." The program selections were remarkably diverse, speaking in a variety of ways to both the focus of the evening and the festival's larger mission of encouraging dialog between scientists and filmmakers to bring increased awareness of the sciences to the public.

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Seven on Seven London at the Barbican Centre, October 27

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 David Karp (Tumblr) and artist Ryan Trecartin at Seven on Seven 2010. Image credit: Renny Gleeson. 

Rhizome's Seven on Seven conference series heads to the Barbican Centre in London on October 27. The event brings together artists and technologists to make something new together in one day, presenting to the public for the first time in the conference the following day. We're particularly proud of the lineup for our first London event, which includes luminaries who Rhizome has written about, followed or supported for some time: 

Susan Philipsz + Naveen Selvadurai (Foursquare, Oscar) 
Jonas Lund + Michelle You (Songkick) 
Mark Leckey + Daniel Williams 
Graham Harwood + Alberto Nardelli (Tweetminister) 
Aleksandra Domanović + Smári McCarthy (IMMI) 
Cécile B. Evans + Alice Bartlett (BERG) 
Haroon Mirza + Ryder Ripps (OKFocus) 

Hot on the heels of Mayor Bloomberg's assertion that London, not Silicon Valley, is New York City's biggest tech competitor (we'd like to think ally is the more appropriate word), the city seems a natural fit for the event's first international foray. In its new location, Seven on Seven's underlying goal remains the same: to bring criticality and thought to the development of technology in culture, and promote further dialogue between the two contexts. 

Tickets available from £35 on the Barbican's website

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Artist Profile: Harry Sanderson

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here.

Harry Sanderson, Human Resolution (2012). Installation view at Arcadia Missa for PAMI, London. Digital video, perspex, monitor.

Harry Burke: Your "Human Resolution" project, which you exhibited as part of PAMI last year in London, comprised of a 3D hologram projector and accompanying sound piece, which translated the body of the viewer standing before it into a glitching but uncannily faithful grayscale projection (3D object). It was an attempt to reinsert the body into ubiquitous computing environments, which are too often conceptualized as immaterial, virtual, or idealist, and to re-emphasise the corporeal within the predominantly visual regimes of these technologies. Do you think it was, in this regard, successful?

Harry Sanderson: I think that rather than reinsert the body or to attempt to repair anything, it was an attempt to exhibit a kind of a lack that occurs when something is represented in that sort of way. There is a common conception that images work on a flat plane, for example in a regular movie file, and this was an attempt to show how imaging technologies are moving beyond that into something that actually apprehends physical space. It wasn't just a grayscale projection but it had depth; it would turn and you would see that it understood the contours of your body in a way that's much more physical. 

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Collecting Contemporary Art Means Collecting Digital Art

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Petra Cortright. RGB,D-LAY, 2011. Webcam video file. Edition of 5. 1 AP. Courtesy of the artist and Steve Turner Contemporary, Los Angeles. 

Last night, Rhizome was the beneficiary of the Paddles On! auction at Phillips auction house. Curated by Lindsay Howard and co-organized by Phillips and Tumblr, the auction brought together works under the banner of "digital art." While the sale of artworks that engage with digital technology is nothing new, there was something remarkable about the scene last night. Magda Sawon tweeted that it was "like parents forgot to lock the house & the kidz had a great party!" (She also added, "One day it may be their house or they burn it," but that's just typical gallerist-auction house repartee, we're sure.) Every lot was sold, and perfectly-coiffed bidders competed not only over digital prints, sculptures, and Petra Cortright's digital painting, but also over Jamie Zigelbaum's interactive installation and Rafaël Rozendaal's website. Rhizome was the grateful beneficiary of this frenzied activity; we received 20% of the proceeds, with the other 80% going to the artists, and when the last gavel fell, nearly $18,000 had been raised on our behalf, which will help us continue to expand our efforts to commission, contextualize, and conserve technologically-engaged artwork.

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Rafaël Rozendaal's Liquid Websites

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The following videos are selections from interviews that Rhizome conducted with artist Rafaël Rozendaal, whose online artworks are part of the Rhizome Artbase.

Rozendaal's work is an important inclusion in the Artbase not only for its considerable artistic merits, but also because of his development of new models for selling internet art that allow the work to remain publicly accessible online. The terms of Rozendaal's Art Website Sales Contract stipulate that collectors may purchase the websites (and many have), but that they must maintain it as a public site. This provision makes it possible for Rozendaal to deposit a public, archival copy of the works with Rhizome for conservation and research purposes, even as it is also part of a private collection.

In the following videos, Rozendaal describes his working process, his pieces and his understanding of the web as medium. The full videos will be made available to researchers as part of the forthcoming ArtBase relaunch.

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Artist Profile: Erica Scourti

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here.

 

Daniel Rourke: Your recent work, You Could've Said, is described as "a Google keyword confessional for radio." I've often considered your work as having elements of the confession, partly because of the deeply personal stance you perform—addressing we, the viewer or listener, in a one-on-one confluence, but also through the way your work hijacks and exposes the unseen, often algorithmic, functions of social and network media. You allow Google keywords to parasitize your identity and in turn you apparently "confess" on Google's behalf. Are you in search of redemption for your social-media self? Or is it the soul of the algorithm you wish to save?

Erica Scourti: Or maybe the algorithm and social media soul is now so intertwined and interdependent that it makes little sense to even separate the two, in a unlikely fulfillment of Donna Haraway's cyborg? Instead of having machines built into/onto us (Google glasses notwithstanding), the algorithms which parse our email content, Facebook behaviours, Amazon spending habits, and so on, don't just read us, but shape us.

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