Posts for October 2013

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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