Posts for February 2013

Artist Profile: Lance Wakeling

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A Tour of the AC-1 Transatlantic Submarine Cable (2011)

Your videos seem to borrow aspects from narrative filmmaking, the documentary format, amateur travelogues, and even at times experimental cinema. What genre(s) of filmmaking do you see yourself following or challenging?

Well, I don’t really see my videos as being film. One time I tweeted that as an artist I would never let my video work get transferred to film because too much would be lost. It was a joke, but I’m also serious. I mean, it’s hard not to be suspicious of a discipline that has a genre called “experimental.”

From the perspective of how the work is displayed, I feel my videos are not for the cinema. The movie theater flattens space and immobilizes the viewer. I like that people have to stand in a gallery, that they enter and leave the video at random times.

This is quite hypothetical, however, because in practice, most of my work is viewed online, where the artist has even less control.

In your videos you pull images and clips from a variety of sources including Google Street View, web-based image searches, and your own self-shot footage. Your videos range from twenty to thirty minutes in length. How do you structure this footage with the essays that make up your screenplay? How long does it take you to finish a video?

For Christmas my sister gave me an image from a brain scan she took of a human hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for short- and long-term memory and spatial navigation. The hippocampus looks like a sea horse and its etymology reflects this. The functions of the hippocampus intrigue me.

During the making of A Tour of the AC-1 Transatlantic Submarine Cable I researched each location extensively ...

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Beyond a href: Preserving Flash-driven Art

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As Digital Preservation Fellow with Rhizome, my work has focused on archiving works of net art from the live web into the ArtBase.  Net art, despite the benefits of being abstract - it rarely gets moldy! - is built on exceptionally fragile media.  A server failure, domain shift, or missing file is enough to effectively destroy a work of art.  As such, to properly preserve the pieces in the ArtBase, I work alongside Ben Fino-Radin to crawl, download, and adjust works for hosting in our archive.  The scope of the ArtBase - from hypertext experiments to Twitter-fed visualizations - brings me in contact with an array of technologies, media, and unexpected use cases.  While nearly every work of net art in the ArtBase founded on HTML, most go beyond it: embedded multimedia is very frequently used for a variety of purposes and effects.  As such, developing a system to download and preserve complex media objects is of tremendous importance to my work.

One of the most common multimedia formats used in the ArtBase is Flash, dating back to its origins with FutureWave and through its development by Macromedia and Adobe.  Of the myriad formats used in the ArtBase’s collection, SWF is the most prevalent and deeply used multimedia filetype: over a third of the archived works are founded on it.  Its combination of power (few formats offer its combination of browser-driven multimedia and interactivity) and ubiquity on audience machines made it the obvious choice for artists looking to go beyond the HTML and JavaScript-driven net art of the late 1990s. Hence, working with Flash is greatly important to Rhizome’s preservation mission.

Splash screen, Inflat-O-Scape (2001)

SWF, as a format, presents a number of challenges for art conservators and archivists.  As a binary format, it cannot be immediately parsed by text-friendly tools (such ...

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Announcing Rhizome's Fourth Annual Seven on Seven Conference

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Rhizome and HTC® are pleased to announce Rhizome’s Seven on Seven Conference, an annual event that brings together figures at the forefront of art and technology to create innovative new ideas. Over the course of a single day, seven teams, each comprised of a foremost artist and a leading technologist, are challenged to develop a new idea, concept, or prototype to premiere at the conference. Now in its fourth year, and to accommodate the demand for a larger audience, the conference will move from its former location at the New Museum and will take place at the Tishman Auditorium at the New School in New York on Saturday April 20, 2013, from 12–6 p.m.

Rhizome is pleased to announce the following participants:

Technologists: Tara Tiger Brown (LA Makerspace), Dalton Caldwell (App.net, PicPlz), Dennis Crowley (Foursquare), Harper Reed (Threadless, Obama for America 2012), and Julie Uhrman (Ouya).

Artists: Paul Pfeiffer, Jeremy Bailey, Fatima Al Qadiri, Jill Magid, Cameron Martin, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Matthew Ritchie.

The full lineup of participants will be released by March 14, 2013. For more information about the upcoming and past conferences visit rhizome.org/sevenonseven

Early Bird tickets are now available for a limited time at sevenonseven.eventbrite.com

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Artist Profile: Jeff Baij

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It seems like artists who were actively making and showing their work online a few years ago have either started making objects and pursuing the familiar career path of the artist—gallery shows, teaching engagements, studio assistantships, grants, and so on—or they gave up and went into another field, like programming or web design. You haven’t done either of those things. You’re still making internet art. What’s that like?

its really weird brian

like really really weird

lemme give you a few reasons why my life has ended up like this, and also a few reasons why its weird

um i mean to be honest the first reason i dont show really is because being around gallery people for more than 5 or 10 minutes without being absolutely shitfaced is literally (Literally) in my top 3 least favorite things in the entire world.

teaching could be cool? i actually love the idea of molding (moulding?) young minds but how does one start this career path? maybe you can give me some pointers. even in an [ed.] if you'd like. [I think you’d have to get an MFA. But based on your answers I don’t think you’d like being in an MFA program. – BD]

assistantships are the same deal as showing- artists are gross, both mentally and physically (trust me on this, i am one) and i like making actual money

which brings me to why i dont make objects: im poor

so maybe i should apply for grants? is that how artists get money to work? i have no idea im really bad at the art thing, except that my work looks really nice and makes a lot of cute girls super happy.

ok so its weird because when im at an opening or out with new people they always say OH WHAT KIND OF ART DO U MAKE and i always say UHH I TAKE OTHER PEOPLES SHIT OFF THE WEB AND CHANGE IT A LITTLE BIT AND CALL IT ART and its awk my g, so awk.

another reason why its weird is because i get super wasted with a lot of like "cool" and "up and coming" artists on the regs and being the net guy/ coolest person in the room is like, pretty exhausting u know?

i just wanna use this space to say plz dont remove any of the swearing from the interview, ive waited a very very long time for this

also plz dont correct any spelling or punctuation, they arent mistakes (im just that cool)

also please leave the above note in the interview (also this one)

next!

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Announcing Michael Connor as new Editor & Curator

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We are pleased to announce the appointment of New York-based writer and curator Michael Connor to the new position of Editor & Curator. This senior appointment will significantly shape the overall artistic direction of Rhizome, through its public programs and online publishing.

Connor's work focuses on artists' responses to cinema and new technologies. His past solo and collaborativeprojects as curator include: ‘Street Digital,’ comprising gallery installation work by artist duo JODI;‘Wild Sky,’ which explored contemporary perceptual regimes through artists' images of the sun and cosmos; 'Screen Worlds,' a permanent exhibition at ACMI in Melbourne, Australia; ‘Essential Cinema,' the opening exhibition at the Toronto Film Festival's new venue; and 'The New Normal,' a touring exhibition of artworks that used private information as raw material and subject matter. Connor previously worked as Curator at FACT, Liverpool and Head of Exhibitions at BFI Southbank in London. While at the BFI, he oversaw the development of an interactive moving image archive designed by Adjaye/Associates as well as a gallery dedicated to artists' film, video, and new media.

We are thrilled to welcome Michael to the organization, and to see how he will lead the program. He will start in the position in April 2013.

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Parapolitics

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LuckyPDF, 幸運PDF S/S 2013 capsule collection, 2012.

One of my favorite searches on twitter is “twitter sadness”. For such a simple gesture, it exposes a lot about our emotional relationships with technology. Because there is a simple tension at work here: you’re at once able to connect with people, anyone in the world, but at the same time segregated, atomized, sold in 140 characters. But maybe that’s ok. These technologies exist, and we use them; what’s important is how we use them. “So much heartbreak & sadness in feed this morning, but beautiful because it's bringing people together. The power of @twitter”.

One of my favorite bands, I think, is Goth Tech. Goth Tech are the perfect correlation, because everything they release is 140 bmp or less. Slow, sad, saturated house music, like the sound of a text message when you’re in love, stretched to an hour-long DJ set. Of course, crucial to them is this fetishization of Internet sadness as alluded to above, and all around us. Pastel pink and blue, it’s music about indulging in indulging in each other, finding each other in fantasy, always forever together apart. If this seems something of a stretch, as an unlikely formula for pop music, then it is worth being clear that it is exactly the stasis of emotive, communicative capitalism. Our emotions are packaged and given value, whilst market logic maintains us at optimum distance from each other. Sadness in this respect moves from its general meaning to something entirely precise: we can tell people, but we can never talk about it. Better lonely than alone.

Prominent in my newsfeed towards the end of last year was the exhibition “Paraproduction” at Boetzelaer|Nispen Gallery in Amsterdam, curated by Alana Kushnir and featuring work by Hannah Perry, Benedict Drew, LuckyPDF, Christopher Kulendran Thomas and Ed Fornieles. Exploring a phenomenon of networked performances in art, the show took as its subject “a concentration of London-based artists who exploit the curatorial strategies of exhibition, circulation and distribution.” A deftly organized network performance in its own right, and very much a timestamp of a certain moment in London, the exhibition’s success came exactly in its removal from London, its production of an image of a network outside of the regular space of that network. A delicate balance of #fomo and Whatever; any fear of missing out was tempered by an understanding of not needing to be there, of participating in a different way.

The last two years have seen a proliferation of artists taking modes of circulation and distribution as an artistic material, and the exhibition was totally happy to participate in this, in fact was predicated on this trend. ”This publication has been conceived and produced for a wholly transparent purpose. It is a souvenir of cultural capital”, as its accompanying publication, featuring texts by another collection of likely subjects, proclaimed. This is refreshingly honest as the first two sentences to a publication. Yet as final as this statement appears, it still forces us its own questions. What is this cultural capital? Why do we still valorize it so much?

The intention of this text is not so much to deconstruct this, but instead situate it in a context it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. Art today is infused with networks, which is to say produces meaning in negotiation with them, and this show presents this in an honest way. Yet it also provokes us to think what that meaning is, and what we can make it be. Networked action is explicitly collective action, but it is not necessarily incisive or organized action.

So what is this networked action, as developed in these artworks? Claire Bishop, in Artificial Hells, has traced the emergence of what she terms ‘delegated performances’ in the 1990s. These are artworks that involve the “hiring of non-professional performers”, a movement away from the events and performances being enacted by the artists themselves. What is perhaps compelling about her study is not the role of this trend as in any sense an avant-garde, but the grounding of this phenomenon in the economic and political conditions of the time. The ‘outsourcing’ of labor, we’re reminded, was very much a buzzword of the accelerationist 90s, a model we can see as then appropriated in the examples cited (Santiago Sierra, Tania Bruguera et al). The works in Paraproduction can clearly be placed in this tradition. However, and in tandem with developments in labor and production of the last twenty years, there is a distinct historical difference. Participants in these projects aren’t paid, and instead participate for free following models established by P2P, crowdsourcing, and social networks.

Art, for a lot of the last century, has been caught in a precarious dialectic between high and low culture, between ideas of autonomy and placement in the physical economies of the world; its avant-gardes have always tried to rescue it, to make it into ‘life’. The works in Paraproduction mark an interesting moment in this history, as they propose an art that’s firmly within the infrastructure of society. Which is to say, they are a type of distributed performance, dispersed through the quantifiable and material networks, which comprise social relations. Whether performing alternate identities on Facebook, as explored in Fornieles’ Dorm Daze, or exercising the brand value of their peers, as is LuckyPDF’s critical project, they operate and perpetuate the immaterial production that is today so familiar, so integral to our economy as a whole.

Despite allowing for an art that seeps fluidly out the doors of the Institution, able, and in a way that Bruguera would have found impossible, to treat the museum as one site among many rather than a primary context, there is on the face of it not that much difference between this mode of art-making and its direct precursors. For art has always taken sociality as its material, even if that sociality was at one point the repressive and Byzantine codes of religion. A church fresco is an homage to a certain form of patriarchal hegemony, as is the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. The work of Hans Haacke illustrates this neatly, and makes explicit through post-war systems theory the real and ultimately oligarchical exchanges of capital that permeate museum culture within modern liberal democracies. Voting in a ballot box as an artistic gesture is beautiful, in this way, as it mobilizes the strategies of representation as maintained by the dominant elite directly against that dominant elite, yet at the same time reveals their vital insufficiencies; the reduction of politics to mere polling. Putting paper in a box as a direct expression of humanity: every perfect individual perfectly categorized.

We should therefore attempt to understand what models we’re perpetuating in the present moment, and what forms of society are implicit in the way we phrase our art projects. Though not overtly as political as Haacke’s work, and not in the same tradition of institutional critique, the differences between the MoMa Poll of 1970 and the curatorial strategies as proposed by Paraproduction mirror wider changes in participatory politics, as well as the organisation of sociality in our culture in general. Indeed the date of Haacke’s canonical work is tantalising, for it is this point that commentators generally agree marks the shift from predominantly industrial to immaterial and uninhibitedly financialised production across the global North. The artist of Paraproduction is an artist fully adapted to this liquid and connectionist world, able to exploit global economies of attention through a laptop and an eye for cheap travel. The art of this artist is indicative of this, indeed a product of it, presenting these economies of attention as sculptural or performative studies.

Hans Haacke, MoMa Poll, 1970.

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