Posts for 2014

The Dark Optimism of Otto Piene and Zero

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Detail of Otto Piene's Neon Medusa (1969).

Yes, I dream of a better world.

Should I dream of a worse?

 

Yes, I desire a wider world.

Should I desire a narrower? 

- Otto Piene, 1961

A dark gallery space is illuminated by a single ochre neon bulb, which initiates a choreographed lighting sequence comprising 449 additional bulbs, each attached with metallic arms to a central chrome orb. Neon Medusa (1969) by Otto Piene (1928-2014) evokes Sputnik and networks of cables, Cold War technological development and military communication and control, while also calling to mind constellations, Vegas casinos, and illuminated communities dotting a shiny globe. Its seeming exuberance seems incongruous with the anxieties of the nuclear age, and with the title—Medusa being the famously hideous woman of myth, who turned onlookers to stone if they stared into her face. Where the Medusa of Greek myth is the terrifying, deadly Other, Piene's piece is a different kind of Other, a technological Other, that invites our steady gaze.

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August 10 in Rockaway: Trailblazers, a Web Surfing Competition

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Sunday, August 10, 1pm
Rockaway Beach Surf Club
302 Beach 87th Street, Rockaway Beach (Subway: Beach 90th)

Surf the classic way
From Amazon to Piratebay

Eight of New York's web surfers will find out who can surf best!

On August 10, Rhizome will host the city's first Trailblazers web surfing competition at Rockaway's premier wave surfing club, hosted by Dragan Espenschied and the whole Rhizome crew.

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Artist Profile: Heather Phillipson

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have a significant body of work that makes use of or responds to network culture and digital technologies.

Heather Phillipson, immediately and for a short time balloons weapons too-tight clothing worries of all kinds (2014). Image courtesy the artist and Bunker259.

When I saw your recent solo exhibition, immediately and for a short time balloons weapons too-tight clothing worries of all kinds, at Bunker259, I curled up in an inflatable birthing pool to watch a video suspended from an engine hoist. The video depicted a series of domestic, public, and online spaces, with a voiceover from you. At one point, you leaned over the camera and appeared to give me a facial. I broke down in laughter because it suddenly became clear that I had become a participant. When you show Zero-Point Garbage Matte, you use a similar strategy: the viewer climbs up a ladder and looks down on the monitor to view the video, a position that is reflected in its content. Which idea comes first, the video or the physical participation of the viewer?

The video usually precedes its final sculptural form, but not always. With the video suite I'm working on at the moment, for example, I have a really clear idea of what will be going on around it. Regardless, I produce multiple "versions" of each installation, so the video ends up inhabiting quite different physical structures at different times. It's like a built-in contrariness mechanism—the capacity to change the context, and therefore the work, and my mind. But, in general, the one constant is how the viewer is con/figured in relation to the video. So, with immediately and for a short time balloons weapons too-tight clothing worries of all kinds, as you mention, the viewer is recumbent with the video overhead. The video deploys regular POV shots alongside dispassionate observations, and mixes interior monologue with direct address, so there are these shifting perspectives. You're the eye/I of the camera, or its eye is turned on you…positions get conflated. For me, the physical relationship between body and screen is crucial to this formulation, although the rationale might only be revealed sporadically. It's a bastardised literary device, that semblance of inhabitation and activation—one minute you're in first person then second person or third person, then slapped back into first.

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At Our Expense: Harun Farocki's Images at War

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Still from Serious Games I: Watson is Down (2010)

To question the point of view from which a war is narrated or fought, or to say that our image of war is reshaped by imaging technologies, implies that media represents something outside of itself. That it, as McKenzie Wark writes, the media appears to be "merely reflecting 'naturally occurring' moments outside all such apparatus.”

HARUN FAROCKI. SERIOUS GAMESon view through January 18, 2015 at Hamburger Bahnhof, puts forward an alternative topology of media. Events of violence and war and revolution are not naturally occurring; they are produced, in part, by the apparatus of media. More precisely, these events are produced by workers acting on instruction, who are allowed (by the distancing effects of images, in part) to understand themselves as external observers rather than implicated parties.

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Artist Profile: Genevieve Belleveau

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have a significant body of work that makes use of or responds to network culture and digital technologies.

Genevieve Belleveau on the hood of the mobile monastery, St. Vincent DePaul Cemetery, New Orleans, 2014. Photo: Miss Megan Trosclair.

I've always found your practice really interesting and sort of futuristic in how it seems to concern itself with the faith science of "connection" as and where we find it. With your internet broadcasted reality show-performance-rituals, it was like you were tying together the rituals of spirituality with the exalted new [visual] language of technology. In this way I always felt like you were kind of an ecstatic, but now it looks like you're becoming an ascetic…?

My foray into asceticism was sparked by peak ecstatic experiences: I’ve always tended to vacillate between extremes of solitude and sociability in my life/art, and one inevitably informs the other. I've now re-emerged from that deeply ascetic period during which I lived in my Mobile Monastery RV under a bridge in New Orleans. At that time I was curious about a personal ecstasy that I felt existed beyond the compulsive internet use and rave/club kid culture I had become entrenched in back in NYC. I was reading Thomas Merton and wanted to know more about his ideas of solitude and silence, so I logged off Facebook and Instagram and took a pause to reflect on how that felt for me. I was primarily alone for two months, sitting still in a cold, powerless RV all day, but I let myself use Twitter as a platform to share through language alone. I've always been a comfortably hermetic person by nature, only recently learning how to function in a social sphere in a way that feels truly authentic to me. This period of silence was really important as I was able to remember and reflect upon deeply personal experiences that I had never given myself the space and time to carefully examine. It was a bit like a crowd funded arts residency or sabbatical: an interesting alternative model for artists seeking to clear a sacred space for creation.

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Rhizome's 2014-15 Support for Artists: Announcing New Microgrants and Commissions

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Aleksandra Domanović, From yu to me, supported by Rhizome's commissions program in 2014.

Rhizome supports the creation of significant new art through commissions and direct funding for artists. These works may take various forms and scales, but are tied together by their considered illumination of contemporary digital culture.

Today, I outline our vision for awarding money to artists in 2014-15, focusing on three new initiatives with funding totaling nearly $40,000.

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Watch a Panel Discussion of 'The Emergence of Video Processing Tools'

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On July 13, 2014, to mark the occassion of the release of The Emergence of Video Processing Tools: Television Becoming Unglued, Rhizome, the New Museum Education Department, and Experimental Television Center hosted a conversation between inventor Dave Jones, whose video instruments span forty years, artists-designers Kyle Lapidus and Tali Hinkis of LoVid, Rhizome conservator Dragan Espenschied, and Hank Rudolph of the artist space Signal Culture and the Experimental Television Center. Documentation of the entire conversation can be found above. 

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Announcing the Prix Net Art

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Beginning this autumn, Rhizome and Beijing-based TASML and CAT/CCIA will award a substantial new prize for internet art. 

The "no strings attached" prize, which will be awarded three times in total in 2014, 2015, and 2016, will recognize the past work and future promise of one artist making outstanding work on the internet. The awardee will receive $10,000; a second distinction award of $5,000 will also be made each year.

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Greater Than A Wave: The Rise of Performance and Intervention in Japanese Contemporary Art

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Finger Pointing Worker; video still of performance by Kota Takeuchi. 

In the three years since a 9.0 magnitude earthquake tore apart infrastructures and livelihoods throughout eastern Japan, there's been a surge of international interest in any sign of the island country's recuperation. But Japan is no stranger to the process of recovery; its historical timeline is fractured by a variety of disasters. In the last hundred years alone, there were more than 40 recorded earthquakes which surpassed a 6.0 reading on the Richter scale, in addition to 6 major military operations.

This component of Japan's past is unfortunately, and often, mistaken as a component of Japanese identity in part because of its recurrence in national art and pop culture. Katsushika Hokusai's The Great Wave (c. 1833), a painting that depicts a frothing tsunami wave in the process of swallowing a row boat, is arguably the most recognizable piece of Japanese fine art. In another medium, and arriving nearly 100 years later, is Ishiro Honda's Godzilla (1954), the monster cinema star often understood as a metaphor for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Because of their central quality of immense power and their appearance alongside Japanese disasters, both of these works are often regarded by the Western world as reflections on the peculiarities of Japan's geological and political timeline, yet rarely as explorations of the kind of natural and man-made events any country is liable to experience at any moment. (Especially significant is the fact that both "Tsunami" and "Godzilla" are Japanese words, transliterated to English only from their kanji and ateji phoneticizations, respectively).

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Dancing About Architecture: Artists' reponses to the built environment

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Former Ministry of Highways Building, Tbilisi.

There is a sense in which all architecture is authoritarian, regardless of its ideals. No matter how many community meetings a planning process incorporates, in the end only one building may be built; one architecture, which by its very existence precludes another. The eventual users and non-users of the space may make minor modifications. They may open or close windows, but in the end they must deal with the consequences of the building, whether it is a postwar housing project or a San Jose strip mall. They must negotiate its little manipulations, and have little in the way of recourse if these should become oppressive.

Artists, at least of a particular bent, are not the sort to take authority at its word. Even under the most oppressive of conditions artists find ways to critique and to criticize, and to present alternate theories of the world. They respond to all forms of power, architecture included, through gestures that range from the most basic act of graffiti to Ai Weiwei's "studies of perspective."   

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