Posts for 2013

Call for Papers and Projects on E-Cigarettes and Vaping Technologies

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We’ve been spotting them more and more in the wild, at galleries, house parties, restaurants, parks, various Bloomberg protectorates. Puffs of white and circular neon flickers; brushed aluminum spires or hyper-real stage props. We are, of course, speaking of e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers, from branded and capitalized (NJOYs and Blus) to bespoke and forum-fussed. What are these disagreeable objects? Are they all use or artifice, nicotine delivery à la Rube Goldberg or Richard Prince simulacra?

In February, Rhizome will present a one-day symposium in New York dedicated to vaping technologies, reading the e-cigarette socially, politically, aesthetically, economically, against its outmoded grain, as it were. On the topic, we're noobs, so we’re casting a wide net for histories, essays, artworks, workshops, and polymorphous contributions to shape this inquiry to be held online and off. Be in touch...

Deadline for Proposals: November 12, to zachary[dot]kaplan[at]rhizome.org

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Best of Rhizome: September 2013

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Performance by Genevieve Belleveau featuring Mikey Coyte at "gURLs."

In September, as we prepared for Ann Hirsch's play in early October, feminism was very much on our minds. We published a report by Rachel Rabbit White from a girls-only event at Transfer Gallery in Brooklyn (pictured); we urged you to go see Alien She at the Miller Gallery in Pittsburgh; we re-printed an article by Jacob King that used Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's writing as a way of thinking about last summer's online debate about the "Man-Child;" we commissioned a preview of Hirsch's work by Moira Weigel (a co-author of the original "Man-Child" article). Megan Heuer brought a feminist slant to Jonathan Crary's 24/7, arguing that sleep is merely one "affective" dimension of human life that is undervalued by neolibaral capitalism, along with things like care and empathy that have historically been coded as female.

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The Silk Road

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Image from the exhibition Concealed Carry, 2012 at Oliver Francis Gallery

Described as a black market eBay, the Silk Road was a website where anything—and we do mean anything—could be purchased with bitcoin and other tools allowing anonymous transactions. Products on offer on the site included drugs, weapons, fake IDs, and hacking services. This underground economy was accessed via the encrypted Tor network, which routes data through circuitous, encrypted routes to make users' activities difficult to trace.

As of Wednesday, the Silk Road is no more, and its founder Ross William Ulbricht (previously known as Dread Pirate Roberts) has been arrested, which will have an effect on an ongoing series of works by artist Brad Troemel. For the 2011 exhibition The Social Life of Things at Showroom MAMA in Rotterdam, Brad Troemel (with Ben Schumacher, Artie Vierkant and Jon Vingiano) acquired a number of services and objects from the marketplace that were presented in an installation. The installation included such objects as a fake ID that has Troemel's real details and picture on it (juxtaposed with his real driver's licence), bump keys for lock-picking, and seeds to grow plants that can be processed into psychedelic drugs. These objects were intended to be further used by visitors, continuing to circulate in the world after their movement through the Silk Road market network:

 

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Prosthetic Knowledge Picks: Computational Photography

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The latest in an ongoing series of themed collections of creative projects assembled by Prosthetic Knowledge. This edition brings together works dealing with computational photography, featuring new technologies which may alter the experience, relationship, and even definition of "the image."
 
The digital eye is an ubiquitous feature of current portable technology—webcams, DSLRs, mobile phones, tablets, even MP3 players. The Black Mirror-like ability to capture a moment and share it on social networks has shifted image recording from the creation of discrete analog mementos to an ongoing process of self-identification.

There are, however, new possibilities opening up around the next generation of mediated experiences. Of course, the artistic possibilities are tremendous, but the implications are far greater for many fields which may be struggling with their digital upkeep. From advertising to fashion, art to pornography, the photograph will not be "flat" anymore. The image can be seen from any angle, from the swipe of a touchscreen or drag from a mouse, or explored step-by-step with a headset and motion detector. "Photoshopping" will be 3D. It is not only industry-class endeavours that will change, as depth-sensing is now smaller and portable, and could give the (word-of-the-year contender) selfie an added dimension. Will the Facebooks or Flickrs support this new format? Or will another contender arise to facilitate a new process of creative self-identification?

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Generation Worked

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Generation Works, an artist-run space in Tacoma, Washington, recently staged its last-ever project as part of the Upcoming Exhibitions program at abc art berlin contemporary, an art fair founded in 2008. Harry Burke reflects on their last exhibition, and on the project as a whole.

Generation Works' beginnings as a foreclosed condo in Tacoma, Washington. 

Generation Works is responsible, progressive, made of stone, its website says to you, with a touch of imagination, patience, openness. The website header, lifted from the online home of another company with the same name, appears against a background that fades from white to baby blue. In the bottom left is the emblem of its sister organisation, Open Shape, its logo like a better version of its DIS counterpart. DIS were at the fair too, in fact, in a real booth, on the Saturday presenting a talk declaring Mainstream as the truest Avant Garde.

Generation Works is the name of an artist-run space in a condo in downtown Tacoma, Washington. Since 2012 it has played host to exhibitions by three American artists: Alex Mackin Dolan, Bunny Rogers, and Jasper Spicero. It is Jasper who curated the space, which runs through three rooms, and which admitted no visitors for any of its exhibitions. On September 19 of this year, between 5:00pm and 7:00pm CET, the project space staged its last-ever exhibition in an impromptu two-walled gallery construction in the foyer of Art Berlin Contemporary, an art fair. The condo in Tacoma has been foreclosed.

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Occupy.here: A tiny, self-contained darknet

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Ed. — Occupy.here was supported by Rhizome as part of its 2012 Commissions program, and also received a commission from Triple Canopy in 2013. The project's new website launched yesterday.

Regardless of your feelings about Occupy Wall Street, we can all agree that its genesis was unlikely, to say the least. It appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, in New York's Financial District (of all places). And it continued to exist only because of a lucky break: basing the protests in Zuccotti Park, formerly Liberty Plaza Park, was a fallback plan, following a failed attempt to protest in front of the New York Stock Exchange. It was the unusual rules for Zuccotti—as a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS), it is not bound by the normal city parks curfew, and is required by charter to stay open 24 hours a day—that enabled the encampments to get a foothold. This may have been a lucky break, but one that was earned through years of organizing, cultivating the expertise and tools and networks that allow a movement to grow and sustain itself.  

Occupy.here began two years ago as an experiment for the encampment at Zuccotti Park. It was a wifi router hacked to run OpenWrt Linux (an operating system mostly used for computer networking) and a small "captive portal" website. When users joined the wifi network and attempted to load any URL, they were redirected to http://occupy.here. The web software offered up a simple BBS-style message board providing its users with a space to share messages and files.

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[Portrait of the internet as a young girl]

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Playground, a two-person performance by Ann Hirsch and commissioned by Rhizome, premieres at the New Museum this Friday, October 4.  

 

When a stranger wrote me out of the blue asking me to write about Ann Hirsch, I felt intrigued. I had never heard of her, but a Google search turned up a slew of hits describing an output that seemed impressively extensive for someone so young. Hirsch, her website said, was born in 1985. She is a video and performance artist, based in New York, interested in portrayals of women in the media. But what pulled me in were the links to her videos.

While a graduate student at Syracuse University, Hirsch started a YouTube channel under the persona of a SUNY freshman named Caroline, username "Scandalishious." In more than one hundred videos that she uploaded over nearly two years, a pale, petite young woman appears, her often-disheveled brown bangs barely softening the intensity of her eyes when she stares into the camera. Caroline confides about boys, other classmates, clothes, and feelings of depression, in a high-pitched drawl that dips to gravelly lows when she slows to stress a point. Then she puts on music and dances and dances.

To Girl Talk, MGMT et al., Caroline leaps around, blurring some line between the erotic and the epileptic. She slaps and jiggles her ass inches from the screen, flops facedown on a sofa and spins her arms like a whirligig swimming crawl-stroke. Somehow, it works. Tens and tens of thousands of viewers have watched each of these videos. The documentary that Hirsch posted about Scandlishious on her website includes talking-head professions of love and selfie dance clips that all kinds of fans have sent back.

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Fridericianum Goes (Digital) Native

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A major international show of post-internet, virtual, digital (or however you want to # it) art is opening this weekend at the Fridericianum in Kassel. To those who have experienced the long journey to the banks of the Fulda for Documenta and feel that it is best undertaken just once every five years, we shall say only this: Speculations on Anonymous Materials promises to be worth devoting some long hours to Deutsche Bahn. With a press release introduced by a sublime block of hashtags and a roster that includes some of Rhizome's favorite artists, the exhibition tackles the #processbased #visuallyreflective #corporeal and #de-subjectified positions navigated by artists as they respond to technological change.

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(A)non-Proposition: A Conversation with Studio for Propositional Cinema

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In the summer of 2013, Studio for Propositional Cinema (SPC) launched itself during the Kunstverein Düsseldorf's congress "Proposals and Propositions" with a talk by Hans-Jürgen Hafner, the director of the Kunstverein, which was theatrically disrupted by an audience member planted by SPC. The project with the Kunstverein continued with regular presentations and events throughout a three month period, which included an exhibition, a performance, a reading, a screening, a poster project, and so on, each taking place at a different type of venue. The project included collaborations with a range of cultural producers, including Henning Fehr & Philipp Rühr, Aaron Peck, Calla Henkel & Max Pitegoff, Pablo Larios, Dena Yago, and Rachel Rose.

This interview seeks to understand the intentions the SPC have for cinema in the 21st Century, taking into account cinema’s contemporary and historical modes of production and dissemination.

SB: What is the SPC's form and function?

SPC: We are a structure for generating images and language, and act as a functionary of that structure. One of our primary functions is to ensure that the structure remains formless.
 
We exist in order to find new ways to research, to produce, to disseminate. Within our cultural context, all forms of cultural production come with a set of traditions and accepted orthodoxies that function as models for the territory or language in which it is considered viable to function. We formed out of dissatisfaction with these impositions. We attempt to function just enough outside of the model to see which and how many aspects of the model we can remove, destroy, or rearrange while still viably, or at least arguably, working within the form of cinema, since it is our purported form of cultural engagement at the moment. Since our primary starting point comes from a notion of a disassembled cinema, we consider every element within the cinematic apparatus as simultaneously expendable and expandable.

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More Than A Feeling: An Interview with James Richards

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Filmmaker Hito Steyerl has described the aesthetically-coded power dynamics at play between the "poor" and the "rich" image that infiltrate all aspects of contemporary video production. Beyond the dialecticism of her argument, which encourages deeper engagement with "degraded" pictures and a sort of abstract suffering through circulation (at least in terms of pixels), there remains a wide spectrum of mediocre to fair digital images for artists and filmmakers to deal with, and a host of issues concerning the resolution of visual matter, both new and appropriated. Just as collage and photomontage were once essential techniques for tinkering Dadaists, today the manipulation of picture quality has become a distinct strategy. I spoke to Berlin-based artist James Richards (UK) about his particular practice of presenting still and moving images of all registers in the space of the gallery exhibition, and the point at which an image breaks down into a feeling.

KR: In 2012 you programmed a screening for the Serpentine Gallery Memory Marathon. Surface Tension had some incredible films in it, including Paul Wong's Bruise (1976), which records the skin-level effects, in real-time, of transferring 60 units of blood between friends. That program really seemed to develop a metaphor between skin and screen—a form of intimacy that visually explodes the technological concept of a "touch screen"—something that I think also comes through in the composition of your own work, including Rosebud (2013), which premiered at Artists Space in New York in January.

 

Stills from Kenneth Fletcher/Paul Wong, 60 Unit; Bruise (1976, Digitally Re-Mastered 2008). 5.25 min., stereo, colour, English, single-channel.

JR: The censored images in Rosebud were shot in a library in Tokyo. I came across them by accident while researching there in the spring of 2012. The books—monographs on Mapplethorpe, Tillmans, Man Ray—were being imported into Japan from Europe when they were stopped by customs officials. Local law in Japan forbids a library from having books with any images that might induce arousal in a viewer, so after negotiations with the director, it was agreed that customs workers would go through the shipment and sandpaper away the genitals from any contested images. As you say, the video somehow is focused on the violence of the action of sandpapering—the point where glossy black printer ink gives way to the scuffed and bruised paper stock underneath. There's something intense but also futile in these marks. The video is a study of rubbing against and along different surfaces: the meniscus of water over the print, the elderflower rubbed along a boy's body.

James Richards, Rosebud, 2013. HD Video, 12 minutes 57 seconds. Courtesy the artist; Cabinet, London; and Rodeo, Istanbul. installation view, "Frozen Lakes," Artists Space, New York.

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