Posts for November 2013

What's Postinternet Got to do with Net Art?

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Courtesy grouphab.it and Harm van den Dorpel.

An extended and altered version of this text will be published in... You Are Here: Looking at After the Internet (Cornerhouse Books 2014), edited by Omar Kholeif.

Earlier this month, Rhizome presented a panel discussion at the ICA in London titled "Post-Net Aesthetics." Following in the wake of prior panels (titled "Net Aesthetics 2.0") which were organized by Rhizome in 2006 and 2008, this edition was precipitated by the recent discussion of postinternet practices by a number of art institutions and magazines, including Frieze. We invited a longtime Rhizome collaborator, critic and curator Karen Archey, to chair and organize the panel, and what emerged was a wide-ranging and extremely generative conversation in which participants began to articulate some of the shifts they'd seen in artistic practice in recent years, while critiquing those shifts and their framing as "postinternet."

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This Thursday, A Fresh Start

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This Thursday, the Rhizome community will come together in the New Museum Sky Room to re-imagine its future. A future less bound by the nitpicking criticism of the past, the hand-wringing, the self-doubt. This is our promise to you: a profound sense of human connection, an art that can bridge the cultural gaps in an interconnected world, an app for every social problem, a better wave, a more sustainable and democratic glass of champagne. Are you brave enough to come with us on this journey?

Tickets begin at $50 and are on sale here. Follow us on Instagram for continuing updates. 

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ATHENS, BABY: A Conversation with Poka Yio

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The Beggar's Opera at the 4th Athens Biennale, AGORA . Source.

If you thought the Greek economic crisis had faded into irrelevancy, think again. Greece may not dominate headlines as it once did, but here, issues of value, capital and labor are fermenting, combusting, imploding, and reforming in ways that have international significance. The 4th Athens Biennale (AB4) has broached this reality head-on by installing a biennale in the old Athens Stock Exchange building that closed in 2007, and by taking as its title the word AGORA, which has come to mean "marketplace" in modern Greek, but which, in ancient times, referred to a gathering space that had overlapping social, commercial, and political uses. In order to create a space of true and viable exchange in a building once defined by power imbalance and manipulation, the biennale was organized according to a radical system. Instead of a single curator, the exhibition was organized by some forty people who responded to an open call put out only six months ago. The result is an electrifying example of networked culture in practice; of collective action enacted within what is arguably still an institutional frame of the art world itself, an agora. To get a deeper understanding of AB4's aims, and to learn how this all worked in practice, I caught up with Poka Yio via email after visiting the exhibition during the opening days. An artist himself, Yio is co-founder of the Athens Biennale along with Xenia Kalpatsoglou and Augustinos Zenakos, and a co-curator of the current biennale. 

Stephanie Bailey: Can you talk about how the 4th Athens Biennale was organized in only six months, and through an open call inviting not one, but many curators? 

Poka Yio: When asked what, in our opinion, a biennale is, our answer is: "an X-ray of today." But what is today? In the past, the two-year period was perfect to put together such a big endeavor as a biennale, but this has changed dramatically. Now we are witnessing an unprecedented acceleration of history, and creators, theorists and all sorts of analysts fail more and more to grasp it. The financial analysts have failed to overcome the crash, the political theorists have failed to arm us with the political means to withstand the social pressure without the loss of civic and human rights, and art fails to present "today" in its meta-language.

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Art Criticism in the Age of Yelp

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Thomas Struth, Hermitage 3, St. Petersburg (2005).

I. Amazon 

Amazon used to have literary ambitions. In the late '90s, the company hired professional editors who commissioned and wrote thousands of reviews a week, as well as features, interviews, and previews of forthcoming books. Later on, when the retailer began to intersperse the paid reviews with user-generated content, it retained this vision, thinking of user reviews as submissions to a literary magazine that would give the site the aura of an independent bookshop, populated by an erudite staff and clientele. Rick Ayre, then Vice President and Executive Editor of Amazon, described the tone and use of the content on Amazon.com to the New York Times in 1999: "If you spend a lot of time on the site, I hope you get a sense of the quirky, independent, literate voice, and that behind it all you're interacting with people, and that it's people who care about these things, not people who are trying to sell you these things. My mantra has always been 'the perfect context for a purchase decision.'"1

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Cyborg Humanism: Wangechi Mutu at Brooklyn Museum

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Wangechi Mutu, A'gave you (2008). Mixed media collage on mylar, 93" x 54".

The violent and ambiguous encounter depicted in A'gave you (2008) encapsulates the force and intent of Wangechi Mutu's collages, the highlight of her ongoing retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum. A blue, thick-rooted, and out-sized version of the New World monocot bends to a violated female pseudo-cyborg. Her eyes, cheap black speckled pearls, are replicated in the plant's ovary. The kneeling figure's torso, head, and left arm are thrown back in disinterested submission; her right arm is lost to perspective and/or trauma. Gold sparkle and blood explodes from her chest as she births, or pisses, a long, fat strand of bright yellow-orange which forms a new root-system beneath both her and the plant.

Mutu's strangely lucid mixed-media mylar pieces contort the sexualization of black women in consumer society into glittering, gorgeous grotesques. The twin pieces 100 Lavish Months of Bushwhack (2004) and Misguided Little Unforgivable Hierarchies (2005) feature female figures hobbled with hippo hands, faces stitched together from pornographic images, golden skin, and exploding motorcycle high-heels. They also depict differing levels of power among multiple exploited figures. The End of Eating Everything (2013), Mutu's first foray into film, features the head of Santigold gnashing a gyring flock of black birds with bloody chompers. Slowly, the plane Santigold exists on expands to reveal that her face leads a massive she-planetoid, comprising writhing limbs and embedded, useless machinery, powered by her/its own gaseous effluent. The piece is truly disconcerting and accentuates Mutu's often overlooked theme of ecological disaster.

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3 Videos by Hamishi Farah

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Surfers' Paradise was an artist residency and exhibition that took place in Melbourne from 1–10 November. Fifteen Australian artists created, documented, and uploaded artworks to the internet over the course of the event. Following are works contributed to the project by Hamishi Farah (who seems to go by first name only); the full selection of works can be seen on the project's Tumblr catalog.

 

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Welcome to My Chronic Internet Freak-Out Syndrome

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Left: AOL, about the time the internet and I first met. (Remember that sonorous modem music? The sound of the future!) Right: AOL now (yes, it's still there). With lotsa "headline news" on household health hazards, amazing pet stories, and shocking-yet-true dramatic personal episodes of total nobodies.

 

I.

I should probably start with a brief, unflattering jaunt down memory lane—unflattering mostly to my old college buddy, the internet. See, I came of age as a graphic designer in the early 2000s, when the internet was a vastly different place—virtually (heh, virtually) unrecognizable. I'd only ever had an AOL email account. I'd never sent a text. MySpace hadn't even dethroned Friendster yet as king of social media (a term no one had ever heard), Facebook was still just a glint in young Zuck's eye, Twitter was a looong way off, and a camera phone was the must-have device du jour (bonus points if yours didn't have a little antenna you pulled out to get reception).

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The Chambers Pavilion at The Wrong - New Digital Art Biennale

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Chambers Pavillion at The Wrong—New Digital Art Biennale.

The Wrong—New Digital Art Biennaleaccessible only from November 1 through December 31, brings together 30 online "pavilions" showing curated artworks. Each pavilion is introduced by an informational web page on thewrong.org which includes an external link to the pavilion itself; pavilions often take the form of an artist- or curator-designed page through which one can access multiple artworks. For Chambers Pavilion, curator Sara Ludy invited eleven artists to create original, online "sound rooms" which can be accessed from a blueprint-like layout (pictured above). Select works from the pavillion are featured below.

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CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: Digital Conservator

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Migrating obsolete digital media as part of XFR STN at the New Museum. Photo: benfinoradin.info

Digital Conservator
(full-time w/ benefits, or part-time negotiable)
Deadline: Tuesday, December 3rd at 9am EST
Send a cover letter and resume to jobs at rhizome dot org

Rhizome is seeking a digital preservation leader to bring our award-winning digital art conservation program to its next phase, and to steward the ArtBase archive of born digital, internet-based, software, and computer art. The successful candidate will work inside a lively contemporary art  museum alongside a dynamic team at the forefront of art and technology culture, with the opportunity to make significant contributions to the digital preservation field.

Full description (PDF).

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RIP Artists Space Cursor

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artistsspace.org, as it was 

Today, storied NYC arts nonprofit Artists Space relaunched their website. Overall, it's a playful refinement, yet one that loses the old artistsspace.org's most defining feature: its oversized royal purple triangle cursor, derived from the institution's longstanding "A"-oriented visual identity. (A breezy and engaging history of which, given by Rob Giampietro in 2011, can be found here.) In fact, against the site's sparse backdrop, the cursor was, more or less, the design.[1]

Created by Studio Manuel Raeder, Artists Space's deceased cursor was hulking, distracting, so wonderfully weird. It was an input object that always left you wondering whether you'd clicked, and where. On an internet that values user comfort and control above all, the cursor asserted difference and disobedience—what we look for in art, in general. 

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