Incognito Mode for the 21st-Century Flâneur

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 Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877).

If it's just a matter of avoiding "that guy" or helping its co-creator avoid his ex, then the new "anti-social" app Cloak—which sources your contacts' locations based on their check-ins on Foursquare and Instagram, so that you can avoid them—is just another coddling mechanism that allows us to construct miniature worlds from our "likes," excluding anything that causes us discomfort. This ends, of course, in a boring, predictable, and ultimately doomed utopia, when suddenly everyone is too "Nearby" on Cloak's green-on-black world map, and no one can be "Far enough."

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Trolling Anal (Or, recent performance in LA)

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Thursday, 2:30 am, four drinks deep, at the old Night Gallery Space, some schmoe is coming around the crowd with a lockbox and deck of cards, telling us to hand over our cell phones. "None of this can be recorded, you guys." I get a pat down, give up nothing, phone tucked safely in my coat. Most get snagged with a grunt or a whine. The process is endless. My traveling companion is on his third cigarette. (If there is one redeeming quality of this VIP-themed performance series / curatorial-themed party called Top 40 that has smeared across my last few weeks, it's that you can smoke inside.)

We're recovering or repressing. We just watched Vishwam Velandy leave a series of messages for women he claimed to have slept with, informing them, between "uhhs.." and chuckles, that he had seen a doctor and they'd better too, because he'd just been diagnosed with HIV. Then, after endless minutes, I'm getting squashed with elbows and shoulders, alternately averting my eyes and craning for a view of the floor in front of the DJ booth, where, with frat party fanfare, Eugene Kotlyarenko's girlfriend is inserting a zucchini into his ass, and a curious, deeply unpleasant combination of boredom and offense is flowering in my insides like Giardia.

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The Commenter: A Lament

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This post was composed in one hour in front of an online audience for the Rhizome Internet Telethon 2014.

Tom Moody, Double Buckyball (detail of work in process), 2004, mixed media, approx. 60 x 40 inches.

Nearly a year ago, and not long after I started working at Rhizome, I published a post called “Breaking the Ice,” inviting the community to leave their thoughts about our curatorial and editorial direction. It took a while to get started, but eventually some of the Rhizome old timers latched on and got the ball rolling. As my introduction to the Rhizome community in my new role, it painted quite a picture. Heated opinions were debated, n00bs were put in their place, and frustrations were vented. Despite a sometimes negative tone, I was excited by the energy that people brought to it. And the fact that, y’know, people were commenting on Rhizome.org, a non-profit website that serves as an important cultural archive, rather than on a for-profit site that will sell your data to the highest bidder.

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Hey: Your data-driven headlines are probably just drivel after all, but that's OK

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A few years back, a writer friend who worked at a prominent blog explained to me that her employer's sensationalist, runon headlines were crafted with the help of a cutting-edge A/B testing system. Each article would go live with multiple versions of the same headline; the version to draw the most clicks would become the canonical version. This, I thought, this is the future: algorithms drawing on user feedback to adjust our texts on the fly for maximum impact.

In 2012, I was among the millions of Americans who noticed that Barack Obama and his campaign staff had started writing some kinda weird messages to me. They'd arrive with subject lines like "Hey" or "Would Love to Meet You." They got talked about at dinner parties. After Election Day, explanations were offered in the press. These weren't the brainchild of a mad creative subject line marketing genius. No, they were carefully tested beforehand among multiple variations sent to smaller groups of supporters, and only the most successful versions made it to the full campaign email list. Obama's campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars through email direct marketing. 

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Shia LaBeouf: Is there genius in his endgame?

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Hollywood has come to regard the likes of LaBeouf as disposable freelancers: cheap relative to more established stars, there to fill space between the explosions the summer audience really wants to see. In December, LaBeouf used work, without giving credit, by the illustrator Daniel Clowes in his short film, "HowardCantour.com." LaBeouf is currently sitting in a Los Angeles art gallery wearing a paper bag over his head that says “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE,” and while you could quibble with that statement based on all the press he’s been getting, there's one sense in which it's true: LaBeouf has now become infamous.

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Discover More Time To Do What You Love

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TaskRabbits and Art

TaskRabbit provides one-night stands of day labor. Through a familiar internet formula (connecting consumer and service), the platform lets workers underbid their peers to claim rather mundane tasks for even more mundane pay. A bizarre theme of illness runs through the site's own marketing. Its promo videos give us a Taskmaster with an injured knee, requiring Rabbits to the rescue. Meanwhile, the freelancing Rabbits can't nab full-time employment, too busy getting cancer treatments, in retirement, or supporting ailing hobbies (like careers in electronic music). If rabbits are meant to imply endless reproduction, TaskRabbit reproduces both symptoms and the disease. A neoliberal eternal spring is poisoned from the start.

Last Friday, LA-based artist and Jogging-member Spencer Longo used TaskRabbit for the close of his solo exhibition All Access, on view at the new Los Angeles project space Smart Objects. Under the amorphous heading of a potluck, Longo outsourced the task of picking out and picking up food and decorations to two members of the precarious herd.

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Why You Should Not Buy This Painting (So That Michael Connor Can)

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Austin Lee, Profile Picture (2013). 11" x 14" Acrylic on canvas.

Postmasters Gallery is now showing a solo exhibition of work by Austin Lee, a young painter whose work you should really not purchase. If his prices remain flat for long enough, it's possible that in the future, when all my babysitting bills are paid, I might stumble across it in the Postmasters sub-basement and offer whatever I happen to have in my wallet. Recent history shows us that the artworks that I have come to own do not significantly appreciate in value. Therefore, an important tip to prudent buyers: do not purchase this painting, or really any other painting by Austin Lee. Are you following my logic?

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Ikarie XB-1 and the Socialist Sci-Fi Space Ship

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Still frame from Ikarie XB-1 (1963).

In his 1964 philosophical opus Summa Technologiae (the first English translation of which was published by The University of Minnesota Press last year), Polish author Stanisław Lem refers to the SF convention of "space 'ships,' including a brave 'crew'" as symptoms of a kind of "'reverse' nineteenth-century historical novel." "We can surely amuse ourselves like this," Lem wrote, "provided we remember we are only playing."

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Instagram: Beyond

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Since the release of the iPhone 5s in fall 2013, we’ve noticed the proliferation of advanced video effects on Instagram. Power-users are employing the baked-in slo-mo feature on the new phone's iSight, as well as first- and third-party post-production apps—such as iMovie, Video FX live, InstaCollage, Camstar, Iyan 3D, ArtStudio Lite, and GiantSquare, on iOS and Android devices—to create an entirely new species of image on the popular social network.

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You are Like A Sexy Sphinx: Lindsay Lawson on loving spam

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The Smiling Rock, via eBay.

The Rhizome backend, and others like it across the web, act as sanctuaries of a sort for a dying language: the halting, intermittently sensical, koanic lingua franca of the multinational spammer and their programmed counterpart, the spambot. Today, spammers face enemies on multiple fronts: Facebook-API'd commenting apparatuses, Google algorithms, Hotmail junk-mail filters, and Twitter culls of orange-backed eggs. It has been driven to the margins, visible only to those who seek it out (or happen to be a webmaster, like yours truly). What will be lost when it's pushed out of cyberspace altogether?

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