Posts for 2015

Required Reading: Net Art gets bodied

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 Ann Hirsch, Playground, 2013 Performance at the New Museum

Johanna Fateman's "Women on the Verge," running in the current issue of Artforum, takes an in-depth and sensitive look at the recent online exhibition "Body Anxiety" and the work of several notable artists currently working online. The article serves as an excellent snapshot of the "current predicament" of contemporary feminism, and the seemingly conflicted positions the artists adopt:

As skeptical inheritors of the third-wave pro-sex torch, they share no unified agenda, only a cultural predicament. If to put an image of one's body on the Internet is to frame it with the apparatus of porn, to lose control of its circulation, and to expose oneself to the cultural anxiety, sexist scrutiny, and confounding hostility that attend the gesture, then what’s the way forward? There’s no single path, of course. But in many of the standout works that have emerged from this scene, young women—in registers of resignation or defiance, didactically or through performing the intertwinements of "sexuality, innocence, darkness, complacency"—seem to pull off the paradoxical feat of taking back their images at the very moment of surrender.

To celebrate this well-deserved consideration, we've collected a few resources from the Rhizome archives for further research into the topics and artists that were covered in this article, and one or two that weren't:

Josephine Bosma's review "'Body Anxiety:' Sabatoging Big Daddy Mainframe, via Online Exhibition," which discusses the show in the context of prehistories of feminism in net art.

This resource list by the Old Boys Network, which includes manifestos and writings from '90s cyberfeminist leaders like VNS Matrix and Shu Lea Cheang. This 1998 interview between Cheang and Alex Galloway is well worth revisiting. A more recent 2012 interview with Cheang and Yin Ho can be found here, in which she discusses at length her 1998 project Brandon. Parts of the project have now been restored on the Guggenheim website.

Ann Hirsch, whose 2013 Rhizome commission Playground was presented last weekend at JOAN in Los Angeles, was quoted extensively in Fateman's essay. For more on Hirsch, see her 2012 Artist Profile, Moira Weigel on Playground, and Morgan Quaintance's review of the London performance.

An Artist Profile of Jennifer Chan highlights the artist-curator's attention to cyberfeminism in relation to her own practice.

Last fall, Hannah Black and Amalia Ulman participated in our series of discussions Art in Circulation, during which Ulman launched the First Look exhibition of Excellences & Perfections. There have also been Artist Profiles of the former and the latter.

Bunny Rogers talked in depth about online identities in her Artist Profile, and participated in an evening called Internet as Poetry last summer. She'll be working on a Rhizome commission later this year.

Finally, check out Rachel Rabbit White's recap of the 2013 women-only event Zoë Salditch curated at Transfer Gallery in Brooklyn, Oh gURL: It’s so good to finally meet u IRL.

Enjoy, and we hope to see more writing about net art and online exhibitions from Artforum in the future.

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Poetry as Practice: Melissa Broder's poems for Oneohtrix Point Never

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Part of First Look: Poetry as Practice, copresented with the New Museum.

R Minus Seven (2015)
Melissa Broder
View Work

R Minus Seven (2015) by Melissa Broder (@melissabroder) is a collection of ekphrastic poetry that was written in response to Oneohtrix Point Never's album R Plus Seven (Warp Records, 2013). Each of Broder's poems is presented in a layout designed by the poet on the online publishing platform NewHive. 

Melissa Broder is the author of three collections of poems, most recently SCARECRONE (Publishing Genius Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Tin House, the Iowa Review, Fence, the Missouri Review, Denver Quarterly, and Guernica, among others. 

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Live Action Role Painting

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There is no such thing as good painting about nothing.

— Mark Rothko

This chat took place on Facebook between Jaakko Pallasvuo and Sofia Leiby on February 7th, 2015. It appears here in edited form.

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Artist Profile: Kari Altmann

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Preview image from "XOMIA" (2015) which debuts March 27th at Ellis King

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.

Your work functions on two different, related, levels. The first is the macro, or the meta—the way that images or systems are linked together, a concern that is present throughout your practice. The second is the micro—for example, tracing visual similarities between survival tools and credit card designs or reptile claws and the Three Mobile logo in Soft Mobility (2014-ongoing). Your practice is as much about workflows as individual works, which allows you and your viewer to trace connections between these macro and micro levels. What prompted you to start thinking in this way?

I've been asked this a lot lately, I've been trying to figure out some moment. I can only nail down a rough timeline that's still running. Too much content? Which led to too many tagging tools and algorithms? Too many aggregational platforms? Too much curation? Too many blogs? Too many new projects? Too much art direction? Tropes and genres just became super easy to notice, reveal, nudge, merge, produce, and reproduce. Also to deconstruct. Conceptual and cultural tropes as much as the nuts and bolts stuff. Art became about accounts and feeds just like music did. Images became meta images. Objects became meta images. Everything could be linked. Everything was part of a stream, then a mass. Everything became fractalized. Tags became crucially important. You could make other people's art, you could predict what everyone was going to post next, faster than they could post it. Your ideas and personalities became brands instantly. You started viewing everything in situ with similar and related content around it, which in art always included other work that was copying it or at least was uncomfortably similar. It also included products, artifacts, architecture, and selfies. The line between the research, the idea, the art product and the resulting trend and community blurred. One image wasn't enough. The timeline from thought to post diminished. All content sources became equalized. Resources were scarce. Memes dominated. People had their first feelings of AI. It's a story for another time.

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Poetry as Practice: Ye Mimi's filmic postcards of street life in NYC, Chicago, and Taiwan

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The poetry film Was Being Moved? (2011) takes the form of a series of postcards to a "Mr. Parade," interspersed with vignettes of public rituals and street life in Chicago, New York City, and Taiwan. It features music composed and played by Taiwanese musician Yujun Wang.

Ye Mimi is a Taiwanese poet and filmmaker. Having earned an MFA in creative writing at Dong Hwa University and an MFA in film at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she is the author of two volumes of poetry and has exhibited several of her poetry films internationally. Through collaging her words and images, she improvises a new landscape, trying to erase the border between poetry and image making. A bilingual chapbook of her poems was recently published by Anomalous Press under the title His Days Go by the Way Her Years (2013).

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Rhizome's Spring 2015 Program

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Ben Schumacher, Rebirth of the Bath House, 2014 Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montreal. Installation view

This spring, we're looking ahead to next year's 20th anniversary, and renewing our consideration of what it means to be a born-digital arts organization.

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Cyborg Origins: Lynn Hershman Leeson at Bridget Donahue

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"Lynn Hershman Leeson: Origins of the Species," installation view, Bridget Donahue. Copyright Lynn Hershman Leeson. Photos by Marc Brems Tatti. Courtesy Bridget Donahue, New York.

Lynn Hershman Leeson has been probing the idea of what it means to be a cybernetic organism since the 1960s. This line of inquiry is laid bare in "Origins of the Species," a solo exhibition of Hershman Leeson's work that inaugurates Bridget Donahue's new gallery space in New York. Running concurrently with the artist's first museum retrospective, "Civic Radar," at ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, the exhibition nevertheless assembles an impressive cross-section of Hershman Leeson's work, including multimedia works on paper, sculpture, photographs, collages, videos, and interactive installations, spanning her five-decade career.

We find the hybrid of organism and machine, very conspicuously, in the sculpture Breathing Machine II (1968/2011), a woman's face cast in wax with a tangle of feathers, butterflies, and other fauna dispersed throughout her hair, actuated to "breathe" when the viewer draws close enough to peer down onto her. Or in Hershman Leeson's Phantom Limb series (1985-1987), in which the female body melds with sockets and wires, so that technology is as much a part of one's appearance as one's skin or physique.

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Digital Publishing, Unzipped

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Kristen Gallagher's latest work has been published as a ZIP file.

This shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with GaussPDF, the publisher who hosts her Dossier on the Site of a Shooting (GPDF154). The PDF in GaussPDF actually stands for Probability Distribution Function ("masquerading as its Adobe-laced counterpart"), and aside from the expected PDF "books" of experimental writing and poetry, the full catalog contains MP3s, Word docs, MOV files, ZIPs, and links to print-on-demand versions. All of the digital files are dispersed freely.

Still, in the context of artists publishing screen-based works, Gallagher's format seems radical. The title offers a clue of what's to come: a dossier is "a collection of papers or other sources, containing detailed information about a particular person or subject." In this case, Gallagher's subject is the site of the murder of Trayvon Martin in Central Florida and the trial of George Zimmerman, his killer, that followed. Gallagher visited the area on multiple occasions, wandering, encountering, engaging, collecting. She investigated the event through the place, gathering ephemera and stories along the way.

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Poetry as Practice: Tan Lin

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Part of First Look: Poetry as Practice, copresented with the New Museum.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Systems Theory (2015)
Tan Lin, 2015
Programming by Charles Broskoski

This work uses a script to pit two books—which address subjects known for their difficulty to master—against one another at hundreds of words per minute.

Tan Lin is the author of Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe (2000), BlipSoak01 (2003), Ambience is a Novel with a Logo (2007), Heath (Plagiarism/Outsource) (2009), and 7 Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking (2010). His work has appeared in numerous journals including Conjunctions, Artforum, Cabinet, New York Times Book Review, Art in America, and Purple, and his video, theatrical, and LCD work has been exhibited widely. He currently teaches creative writing at New Jersey City University.

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Global Audiences, Zero Visitors: How to measure the success of museums’ online publishing

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This text (original title: "The Outskirts of the Internet") was originally commissioned for the book Turning Inward, with contributions by John Beeson, Svetlana Boym, Marta Dziewańska, Philipp Ekardt, Felix Ensslin, David Joselit, William Kherbek, John Miller, Reza Negarestani, Matteo Pasquinelli, and Dieter Roelstraete. Edited by Lou Cantor and Clemens Jahn. The text was modified slightly, including the deletion of a section about Rhizome's own activities. Published by Sternberg Press, 2015. Orit Gat is a Contributing Editor at Rhizome.

Jim Campbell, Library. GIF excerpt from documentation video.

Fifty percent of arts organizations in the United States maintain a blog.[1] The Metropolitan Museum of Art calculated that while the museum draws six million visitors in a year, its website attracts 29 million users and its Facebook page reaches 92 million.[2] Of these millions of people interacting with the museum online, only a small percentage would ever walk up the New York museum's famous steps. If the internet has changed the definition of what a museum's audience is, then it also poses the difficult question of how to interact with it. This adds a new dimension to the museum's relationship with its traditional audience: How to extend the relationship with visitors beyond the museum's walls? This twofold task—both to generate a public and sustain existing relationships—has created a new landscape of digital engagement where museums look to their websites, dedicated apps, and online magazines as tools to involve this new online public.

As museums are rethinking their relationship to their audience online, an increasing number chooses to publish online magazines, and many of these publications emerge from institutions that are not necessarily the major museums in art world hubs. The attitudes toward these publishing initiatives vary—some choose to outline the scope of their publishing platforms in the shape of their programming, while others produce magazines that are thematically related to subjects the museum covers but are not directly linked to the art on view. What they all share is a feeling that online publishing expands the museum's audience, making it a potentially global one. The idea that a museum's public is to be found beyond visitorship is full of potential, but publishing online does not automatically overcome geography and create new relationships with international audiences. On the contrary, these institutions are working to generate content in an environment that is arguably already saturated. Digital presence does not automatically make for global reach, and much of the writing produced online by museums is bound to disappear in the vast amount of content on the internet. YouTube famously has more videos on it than anyone could ever watch—in fact, with 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it would take over a thousand years to view the total running time of videos posted on the platform—this, in less than ten years of existence.[3] Alexa—the Amazon-owned service that gives public estimates of website metrics—makes online publishing seem almost futile. According to Alexa's data, the most visited website in the world is, of course, Google, and an average user spends nineteen minutes and nine seconds a day on it. Facebook averages 27:34 minutes and the New York Times 3:57. Visitors spend almost twenty minutes a day on YouTube and less than three on the New Yorker's site. When so much content is offered, and so little of it seems to attract readers, the goal of museums joining the online publishing game should not be to reach the largest audience, but rather, to create platforms that expand research and the production of knowledge that builds on the museum's mission statement and expands it, regardless of how many hits it generates—a difficult leap to make, especially in terms of the way museums represent their activity and receive funding.

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