01SJ Diary: Day 1

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Editor's Note: Over the next few days, curator Michael Connor will report from the 01SJ Festival taking place this week in San Jose, CA.


When I arrived in San Jose yesterday for the opening of 01SJ, I couldn't help but feel that this would be a defining year for the biennial festival of "Art on the Edge." The festival was launched in 2006 alongside the itinerant ISEA conference, and I was eager to see how 01SJ would take shape without its more established partner. For 01SJ, based in the heart of Silicon Valley, building local audiences depends on presenting programs that resonate with the tech-savvy, while cultivating their interest in contemporary art.


Last night was the official opening of the Superlight exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art, a central component of the 01SJ program. In his opening remarks at the exhibition, Artistic Director Steve Dietz addressed this challenge explicitly, reinforcing the point that the festival is bringing together the "so-called contemporary art world" with the "so-called new media art world." This relationship was played out in various ways through recent artworks that offer political and personal responses to a world riven by seemingly intractable problems.



Genevieve Grieves, Picturing the Old People, 2008

Talented newcomer Genevieve Grieves addresses the history of Indigenous representation in Australia in her piece Picturing the Old People. For this body of work, Grieves researched 19th-century photographs held in the collection of the State Library of Victoria. She identified particular motifs that ran through many of these photographs, such as romanticized images of the "noble savage" to the allure of the "exotic woman." She created five video portraits modeled after these archetypal motifs, in which the subjects occasionally come to life to enact their suppressed desires. In the video entitled Warrior, a man ...

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Moving Image Source

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This week the Museum of the Moving Image launched Moving Image Source, a new online journal and hub for moving image criticism, discussion, and research. Check the website for articles by leading critics in the field (including Rhizome's own Ed Halter), a calendar of international events, as well as a valuable research guide containing a diverse range of links, such as the Machinima Archive, the British Artists' Moving Image Database, and the Prelinger Library, to name only a few.

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Erase You

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As a compact but cogent set of explorations on governmental secrecy, censorship and other forms of knowledge control, the exhibit "For Reasons of State" consequently doubles as a menagerie of information technologies: projects on display feature microfiche, voice mail, tape recording, 16mm educational film, printed books, photography, surveillance video, card catalogs, typewritten documents, and good old pencil and paper-- though, perhaps significantly, there's not a computer monitor in sight. Ben Rubin's Dark Source (2005) comes closest via perverse analogy: a bank of microfiche readers displaying copies of documents that appear to be nothing but hand-scrawled bars. During a 2002 security snafu, Rubin was able to acquire the software code for Diebold's controversial voting machines, but then blacked out each line--in accordance with corporate trade secret laws-- before exhibiting it. Rubin's self-imposed censorship mirrors Jenny Holzer's Redaction Paintings (2006) mounted nearby, comprised of enlargements of classified US government documents released via the Freedom of Information Act, still containing large swathes of darkness. Other pieces deal less with active suppression of facts than their effective loss through lack of proper indexing: Lin + Lam's Unidentified Vietnam (2003-Present) series recreates a sloppy card catalog from the Library of Congress's collection of hundreds of propaganda films produced with the help of the American government for use in South Vietnam, while Mark Lombardi's Neil Bush, Silverado, MDC, Walters and Good c. 1979-90 (2nd Version) (1996) serves as an example of the late artist's obsessive sketches of conspiracy-style flow charts linking together powerful individuals, government bodies and corporations in tightly-bounded nests of sometimes inscrutable interconnections. The more exhibited and obvious choices for the show's theme (Trevor Paglen's photos of "black sites," Julia Meltzer and David Thorne's oft-programmed video essay "It's not my memory of ...

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Net-Work

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What is new media without networks? Better yet...What are networks? Academics and technologists are fond of saying that "we now live in a network culture," meaning in part that whether they are manifested online or offline, our social relationships, the objects we make, and our worldviews are inherently informed by the conditions of life in the era of the internet. New media art would then certainly fall under this gestalt, as it not only comes out of this era, often explicitly addressing it, but it is also a social movement or art community influenced by the merger of computer networks and social networks. This is the precise point of entry for an exhibition entitled "New Media - New Networks," at the Galzenica Gallery in Velika Gorica (formerly Zagreb), which bills itself as "the first retrospective dedicated to the new media art and culture in Croatia." Unlike most gallery exhibitions, the curators aspired to keep the presentation of art works to a minimum. Instead, the show is truly a context for the production of timelines, the writing of important timelines, and the nurturing of relationships revolving around the history of networks in this region. Thus, included in the checklist are defunct Bulletin Board Systems, DIY zines, documentation of art festivals, and even the archives of a university department's research efforts. The result of this unique initiative is a heretofore unseen picture of art initiatives and collaboration in an area often painted as "off the grid" of the contemporary art world, but obviously deeply engaged in contemporary practice. As a starting point for those outside Hrvatska, visit the gallery's timeline and link collection. - Marisa Olson


Link »

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From Krakow With Luv

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Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based gallery Vertexlist is named after the string of numbers that codify a digital image and, as one might then expect, is a haven for electronic art in New York. From May 9th-June 8th, the space will be an outpost for ten emerging media artists from Krakow who are featured in the exhibition, "Blankly, Perfect Summer." While there is no more heavy-handed organizational logic than shared residence, the show promises not only a professional boost for these Polish artists, but also an opportunity for Americans to take a first glimpse at some compelling work. Karolina Kowalska's JPG/TXT (2007) features the long-term archiving and live projection of snippets of text and images pulled from art, music, and media theory blogs, but no longer visible to Google. The projected juxtapositions instigate an interpretive competition between these ephemeral words and images, and are meant to examine "the special conditions of perception and representation of art works and art-related concepts on the web." Wojtek Doroszuk's film, The Dissection Theatre (2006), is an intense documentary of the autopsy process that explores the culpability of the camera for its own act of dissection, while linking the splayed body to the history of representational art. Lidia Krawczyk and Wojtek Kubiak present their video, Kaleidoscope (2008), which is part of their larger Genderqueer cycle. The piece throws a series of photographic portraits into kaleidoscopic relief, prying ornamental accessories and marked physical traits (facial hair, painted lips) from the whole and places these gendered signifiers into constellation in a way that playfully shakes up conversations about the "social fabrication [of] heterosexual norms." In their respective projects, both Jacek Malinowski and Grzegorz Szwiertnia also focus on the body, and specifically upon precarious narratives revolving around protagonists with physical disabilities. Also included in this interesting summer show ...

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All the World's a Datastream

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The Rencontres Internationales is an international festival now enjoying its 15th edition, in Madrid. But you don't have to fly to Spain to surf through its compelling exhibition, "Data Meanings." (Installed at Complejo El Aguila through May 14th.) While the RI's programs do boast a roster of over 150 respected artists and arts professionals, the festival is distinct in that it is less driven by the art market and more driven to critique practices (creative and professional) within the contemporary arts community. In particular, this year's events are designed to explore the relationship between "new cinema and contemporary art" and, unsurprisingly, new media is at the center of the debate. "Data Meanings" thus chimes in as an intellectually rigorous show presenting nine artists engaging with data sets of various sorts. Mindaugas Gapsevicius's Bookshelf (2006) places computer monitors on shelves as their screens flash text that visualizes network traffic. Shown adjacent to shelves containing real books, the installation questions the status of reading, the narrativity of protocol and data streams, the relative invisibility of data, the permanence of print versus the impermanence of digital archives, and the role of the human memory in retaining this information. Christophe Bruno describes his Dadameter (2002-2008) as "a satire about the recent transmutation of language into a global market ruled by Google et al." He's essentially created an elaborate system for analyzing text surveyed by Google and mapping its linguistic similarities to Dada forms; particularly the writings of Raymond Roussel. Dada geeks will appreciate the irony of conflating these rule-based systems. On an even more playful note, JODI's Composite Club (2007) exploits the point of view of "cameras" in Playstation games by triggering them with prerecorded videoclips while Ubermorgan's The Sound of Ebay (a 2008 Rhizome Commission) uses ...

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War, A-Z

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The Dictionary of War project takes as its impetus the refrain of philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, "At least, when we create concepts, we are doing something." Whether read as a statement of looming powerlessness or a celebration of the power of theory, the argument makes a fittingly anxious backdrop for the collaborative Dictionary of War, which gathers scientists, artists, theorists, and activists to create an alphabetical index of "key concepts that either play a significant role in current discussions of war, have so far been neglected, or have yet to be created." These include terms like "Stance", in which filmmaker Khalo Matabane compares what it means to take a stance in combat and to take a stance as an artist; "Disappeared", in which Sylvere Lotringer considers what truly happens to disappeared soldiers, and the fact that, despite periods of invisibility, "the war is never over"; or "Pleasure", in which Avi Mograbi explores the perceptions of ex-soldiers regarding their military experiences and the often unspoken "pleasure of controlling other people with the tips of your fingers." The project began in 2006 as not only a publication, but more importantly a public forum in which to discuss the terms at hand, and a website that functions as platform for the presentation of entries and video archives. In the last two years, sessions have been held in Frankfurt, Munich, Graz, and Berlin to discuss and debate the lexicon of conflict. This year, the project moves further east, to Novi Sad, a thriving creative center which has become an important point of congregation for artists and activists. On January 25th and 26th, the new media center, Kuda will play host to the newest iteration of the project, which features contributions by a range of impressive participants, including Hans Bernhard, Galit Eilat, Geert ...

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Culture and code

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A short recap of Creative Commons-founder Lawrence Lessig's evangelization talk (or rather motivation session for the converted) at 23C3 in Berlin about the differences between culture and code.

The fundamental change is the fact that code had been used to create things like printer-drivers and such. But - since a few years, code, or rather the tools that had been coded have become a main element in the creation of culture as we use and witness it today. Especially the whole mashup-culture is heavily relying on the techniques and the mindset of digital creation and open access to other's works for sampling from and building upon, etc. Popular examples are the anime music-clip subculture like the Muppet Hunter, the Jesus Christ the Musical-clip or lots of pieces that borrow from news networks' footage to make their own suggestive edits.

lessig2.jpgSo you could regard this as the pinnacle of today's tools of creativity, even the most important contemporary form of expression, probably even replacing speech and text in an American mass-media context as the main means to reach people. Having said this (and that's a bit of a rhetorical trick), he argued that threatening the freedom of this kind of usage of media equals threatening the freedom of speech itself. But, and that's a fact, the nagging question is whether this form of expression is legal or not, both in the US and elsewhere. Lessig told of a recent meeting in NYC where lawyers tried to explain the four conditions which you have to fullfill to be able to work under the law of Fair use. It took four lawyers, one hour and in the end the audience was only more confused. To him he said, it seemed a bit like the the Soviet Union ...

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Originally posted on we make money not art by Rhizome


CALL FOR ENTRIES :: The Upgrade! International

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Adam Brown:

Call For Entries Upgrade! International: Oklahoma City Upgrade! OKC
811 N Broadway
Oklahoma City, OK, 73102
December 1st - 29th

DIY Exhibition:
DIY (do-it-yourself) is the overarching theme for the exhibit. We live in an era of increased technological dependency in which the phrase, “Do-it-Yourself” has and will continue to take on new cultural meanings. The Upgrade! OKC and IAO (Individual Artists of Oklahoma) are inviting local and regional artists working with digital and electronic media to submit examples and interpretations of this concept to be exhibited as part of the 2006 Upgrade! International Symposium. These works will be shown at the IAO Gallery with a net art exhibition curated by Tubulence.org and Rhizome.org. The Symposium will be a four-day event running from Thursday, November 30th – Sunday, December 3rd. However, this exhibition will remain on display through December 29th.

About Upgrade!:
Upgrade! is an international, emerging network of autonomous nodes united by art, technology, and a commitment to bridging cultural divides. While individual nodes present new media projects, engage in informal critique, and foster dialogue and collaboration between individual artists, Upgrade! International functions as an online, global network that gathers annually in different cities to meet one another, showcase local art, and work on the agenda for the following year.

About the Upgrade! International Symposium:
The UIOC will be the second annual international gathering where individual Upgrade! organizations and their artists converge in one physical location to present art and ideas to each other and the community. Included in the event will be workshops on art and technology, audio/video performances and presentations, and an exhibition of international and regional artists. Workshops will cover topics such as net art and creating content for the world wide web for children, creative application of open source software, social mapping ...

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Originally posted on Rhizome.org Raw by Adam Brown