Posts for February 2014

I'll Send an OS to the World: "Her" as Critical Design for the Electronic Embrace

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A few years ago, I interviewed for a position at a so-called "innovation consultancy." At the time, they were collaborating with a mobile phone operator to understand what was driving growth in the telecommunications business. The company had devised several ways to intuit the needs, reactions, and aspirations of their target shoppers. They employed a team of anthropologists. They built full-scale replicas in their rehabbed industrial office to conduct focus groups. They boasted fully equipped video production facilities. I was told that narrative filmmaking was an excellent way to speculate about consumer desires.

As I watched Her, Spike Jonze's latest feature, I kept thinking of my visit to that agency. Set in a Los Angeles of the "slight future," primarily composed of present day Shanghai, the film follows ghostwriter Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and the brilliant women in his life, including the artificially intelligent entity Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). K.K. Barrett's production design conjures both the commercial language of Apple's lifestyle marketing and the familiar Kodachrome-like warmth of yesteryear. 

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The Possibilities and Pitfalls of the Video Game Exhibition

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MINECRAFT (2011). Installation view, "Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games" co-presented by Museum of the Moving Image and IndieCade. Photo: Ben Helmer.

I woke up early on an overcast and windy morning in January and caught the M train up to Astoria to spend the morning playing video games at the Museum of Moving Image. The current exhibition, co-organized by Jason Eppink and Indiecade—an international festival of indie games—is entitled "Indie Essentials," and is home to 25 ready-to-play titles on various platforms. The diverse selection of titles on view were installed with a keen attention to detail, and the exhibition was carefully structured. However, as I walked around the space and played nearly every title on display (or at least every single-player title), a question kept nagging at me: do video games belong in the museum?

This is not to say that I agree with the short-sighted, yet fascinatingly stringent, argument presented by Roger Ebert that video games cannot be art. Rather, "Indie Essentials" posed as an interesting example for the ways in which the museum as a site seems unfit to house this kind of media. This is not the fault of the Moving Image, or the organizers of the exhibition, by any means. The exhibition elegantly exhibited the works, providing ample space for players and viewers. But I'd argue that some of the experience of playing these games gets lost when presented in public space.

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On Affectionate Sabotage and Exemplary Suffering: An Audio Guide to Isa Genzken

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The artist in her studio, 1982. Image courtesy the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin.

Upon visiting Isa Genzken: Retrospective at New York's Museum of Modern Art, Rhizome's Community Manager Zachary Kaplan was struck by the relevance of the artist's practice to ongoing conversations that we observe and participate in at Rhizome every day, from her use of technological processes and goods to her deployment of globalized glurge and brand identity. We invited Tyler Coburn and Hannah Black, both artists and writers currently participating in the Whitney Independent Study Program, to walk through the exhibition and weigh in on these valences and connections. In particular, we asked them to keep in mind Rhizome's ongoing discussion of postinternet art (artworks in diverse media, particularly collage and assemblage, that can be seen as responses to a ubiquitous network culture). Their conversation worked both within and against this frame.

Below you will find images of works, excerpts from their chat about those works, and highlights from transcription. To download the whole file for while you walk through the exhibition, click here.

 

I.

"How could a woman do this kind of work?"

Isa Genzken. Rot-gelb-schwarzes Doppelellipsoid 'Zwilling' (Red-Yellow-Black Double Ellipsoid “Twin”), 1982. Lacquered wood, two parts Overall: 9 7/16 x 8 1/16 x 473 1/4″ (24 x 33.5 x 1202.1 cm) Part one: 5 1/8 x 8 1/16 x 236 1/4″ (13 x 20.5 x 600 cm) Part two: 4 5/16 x 5 1/2 x 237″ (11 x 14 x 602 cm). Collection of the artist. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin. © Isa Genzken

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Launching Rhizome's Community Campaign 2014: What Will Rhizome's Role Be in the Future?

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Had we taken this Chris Burden piece (Tower of Power, 1985) from the New Museum recently, we'd be set. 

We’re launching our six-week community campaign today.
Will you make a donation this year? 

As Rhizome’s Director, I'll kick off this year’s campaign by answering a question I'm sometimes asked: What will Rhizome's role be in the near future, when "art and technology" has fully embedded itself into "contemporary art and culture," in no small part due to our efforts over the past 17 years? Will there be a need for this organization's focus?

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Welcome to Your New NSA Partner Network: Report from Transmediale 2014

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We're running our annual community campaign through March 19. Give today!

Photo: Andreas Nicolas Fischer.

A kind of cold weather antipode of summer's "Love Parade," the Transmediale 2014 media arts festival was a beacon of light in the long dusk of a Berlin winter. As a twist on the usual curated exhibition, this year's festival opted for an ad-hoc "Art Hack Day" (AHD) approach, where submitting artists were expected to create new and original artworks in the span of two days (and nights). Opening the exhibition with a more down-to-earth feel, AHD ultimately resembled a DIY, garage-style party instead of a highbrow exhibition space.

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To Program a Prose Machine

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Nanni Balestrini, Tristano, copy #10750 (Verso, 2014).

In order to program a poetry machine, one would first have to repeat the entire Universe from the beginning—or at least a good piece of it.

— Stanislaw Lem [1]

"All directions are of equal importance." This is the second sentence in the second paragraph on page 88 of my copy of Nanni Balestrini's 1966 novel Tristano, #10750. You cannot read this novel, unless I lend it to you, as each of the 10,000 copies Verso publish this month contain different iterations of the same text.

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I (No Longer) Have a Web Site: Access, Authenticity, and the Restoration of GeoCities

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"I Have a Website." JPEG version of screenshot from One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op.

One year ago, a system developed by artists Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied began taking screenshots of now-defunct GeoCities webpages from the late 1990s as they would appear on hardware and software from that time. Every twenty minutes, a new screenshot is automatically uploaded to their Tumblr, One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op. Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the project; to celebrate, Espenschied restored the three most reblogged and liked home pages posted there, as tracked by Lialina. This article covers the why and how of this restoration.

It may seem strange to say this about the likes of "Cute Boy Site" or "Divorced Dads Page," but the remains of the GeoCities web hosting service are a vital part of our cultural legacy. In its dial-up heyday, GeoCities was where non-specialist internet users made their first-ever webpages. Today, it exists as a vast, if partial, repository of the anxieties, hopes, and dreams of those creators, and offers a snapshot of the early popular usage of a now-ubiquitous cultural form, the webpage.

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Getty Images: Still Kinda Sexist?

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Portrait of a confident businesswoman

This week, LeanIn.org and Getty teamed up to release a new collection of 2,500 stock photos that aim to "represent women and families in more empowering ways." The need to do this was quite clear; stock photographs had become something of an internet sensation for their lingering embrace of a range of visual clichés, many of them sexist, such as the notorious "Woman Laughing Alone With Salad." As depictions of broadly-applicable situations and people that could be used in a wide variety of publications, particularly for marketing purposes, stock photographs claim to represent generic ideals for easy illustration. Their effect is, in fact, the inverse—it is specific ideologies they illustrate, in order to continue their reproduction.

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Community Campaign 2014 — Donate to Sustain Commissions to Artists

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Ann Hirsch, Playground (2013). Photo: Oresti Tsonopoulos

Your Gift Means Rhizome Can Commission Artists - Donate Today?

A message from Ann Hirsch, 2012-13 Commissions Awardee:

When I received a Rhizome commission, it gave me what it has given so many others: a truly unique opportunity to realize an otherwise-unlikely, ambitious artwork. Donating to Rhizome during its community campaign sustains its commitment to emerging artists, ensuring that others will find meaningful support for their work when it matters most.

New York City can be a challenging home for an artist. There's a lot of competition, exorbitant living expenses, and hardship. For me, financial pressures meant that I could only afford to do small scale projects, essentially making work at the same level at which I had been operating since receiving my MFA.

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Dating Advice Needed

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For the past few days, using a special algorithm we call "first come, first served," we at Rhizome HQ have been busily setting up blind dates (or trying to). This is not only because we want our community to have love and be happy; it's also a way to celebrate the launch of Lauren McCarthy's Rhizome-commissioned iOS app Crowdpilot

Crowdpilot lets you "crowdsource your social interactions" by audio-streaming them and soliciting advice from your friends, or from total strangers, online. You can download Crowdpilot for free on your iPhone, or you can listen to others' dates, and offer advice to them, by logging in to the project website.

Tonight, from 6:30pm-8:30pm EST, we'll be presenting Crowdpilot as Rhizome's third fullscreen frontpage exhibition (following Vince McKelvie and Molly Crabapple). Visitors to rhizome.org will have the opportunity to listen to, and advise on, any ongoing Crowdpilot sessions that are in progress at that time. We arranged two blind dates, but you can also join in as a dater: just run the app during that time, and it will show up on our front page.

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