Required Reading: The Immediated Now: Network Culture and the Poetics of Reality by Kazys Varnelis

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Throughout the 1990s, digital computing and network technologies were largely employed in office work, their cultural implications confined to niche realms for enthusiasts. If that decade’s new media art formed a vital artistic subculture, it was mainly isolated and self-referential, in part due to the artists’ fascination with hacking the medium, in part due to its position as the last in a long line of Greenbergian interrogations of the medium, and in part due to its marginalization by established art institutions. Artists like Vuk Cosic, Jodi, Alexei Shulgin, and Heath Bunting replayed early twentieth century avant-garde strategies while emulating the graphic and programming demos of 1980s hacker culture, before computers left the realm of user groups and became broadly useful in society.[1]

Today, in contrast, digital technology is an unmistakable presence in everyday life and is increasingly inextricable from mainstream social needs and conventions. Network culture is a broad sociocultural shift much like postmodernity, not limited to technological developments or to “new media.”[2] Precisely because maturing digital and networking technologies are inseparable from contemporary culture — even more than the spectacle of the television was from postmodernity — they must be read within a larger context. All art, today, is to one extent or another, networked art.

This investigation can’t be limited to online venues, but it also can’t be limited to “art.” Postmodernism called high and low into question (think of Warhol as the quintessential early postmodern artist, or later Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, and Richard Prince) by bringing in products of the culture industry into art, but network culture levels that distinction utterly. Art under network culture dismisses the populist projection of the audience’s desires into art for the incorporation of the audience’s desires into art and the blurring of boundaries ...


The Most Boring Places in the World (2009) - Angie Waller

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“The Most Boring Places in the World” is a Google Earth tour that pinpoints the location of bloggers, live journal-ers, and chat room commentators. These authors all claim that the city they live in or vacationed in is more boring than any other place they can imagine, at least during the time of their post. Most locations do not repeat (with the exception of North Carolina, Ohio, Zurich and Singapore). What these destinations share in common is their ability to inspire existential crises, home-from-college woes, and the suffering specific to beautiful scenery, suburban sprawl and shopping malls.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Required Reading

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Is it still necessary to define art by intent and context? The gallery world would have us believe this to be the case, but the internet tells a more mutable story. Contrary to the long held belief that art needs intent and context, I suggest that if we look outside of galleries, we’ll find the actions, events and people that create contemporary art with or without the art world’s label.

Over the past 20 years, the theory Relational Aesthetics (referred to in this essay as RA) has interpreted social exchanges as an art form. Founding theoretician Nicholas Bourriaud describes this development as “a set of artistic practices that take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context”[1]. In reality, art erroneously known to typify RA’s theorization hasn’t strayed far from the model of the 1960’s Happening, an event beholden to the conventions of the gallery and the direction of its individual creator. In her essay Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, Claire Bishop describes Rikrit Tiravanija’s dinners as events circumscribed in advance, using their location as a crutch to differentiate the otherwise ordinary action of eating a meal as art[2]. A better example of the theory of RA succinctly put into action can be seen in anonymous group activities on the internet, where people form relations and meaning without hierarchy.

Started in 2003, 4Chan.org is one such site, and host to 50 image posting message boards, (though one board in particular, simply titled ‘/b/’, is responsible for originating many of the memes we use to burn our free time.) The site’s 700,000 daily users post and comment in complete anonymity; a bathroom-stall culture generating posts that alternate between comedic brilliance, virulent hate ...

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Thank You For Posting (2010) - Claire L. Evans

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Originally via pietmondriaan.com

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Dis & Dump.fm

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Two heavyweight internet champions - online magazine DIS (check our interview with them here) and image-only chatroom dump.fm (check a statement about the project by co-founder Ryder Ripps here) - will join forces this week for New Style Options, an event where dump.fm users will be encouraged to post fashion and style-related images to a designated DIS portal. If we're lucky, hopefully participants will use New Style Options as an opportunity to venture further into the warped Walmart meets Home Depot meets poolside LA direction of the recent DIS summer fashion spread.

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Tanner America

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Tanner America is critical satire in the form of a Tumblr blog. The site is updated several times a week with "snapshot" style images and brief accompanying captions. Each image depicts a moment from the daily lives of the Tanner family of Colorado Springs, CO: the kids' science projects, camping trips, remodeling the house, purchases from Home Depot, and their neighbor Linda. The images are purposefully mundane and would be of little interest to anyone outside the Tanner's immediate family and friends.

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What makes the images satire is the fact that they are clearly, intentionally fabricated. Each image has been noticeably photoshopped in such a way that it becomes an implicit critique. In many ways they resemble JOGGING-style sculptures or performance, as the strange juxtaposition of objects announces itself as fabricated and implies some form of intentionality, some form of critique.

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The clearest commentary would seem to be a general critique of white, middle class, heterosexual Middle America. The Tanner's lives are dull, they have too many kids, they are uncritical and indulge in consumerist behavior, they watch Fox News, their Facebook page lists their political views as "Tea Party", etc. In a way Tanner America is poking fun at the suburbs, at the concept of "normal, everyday Americans," and in doing so reinforcing the kind of snide elitism that the Tanners would no doubt accuse "us" of, if they were real.

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At the same time there is another critique, not of the values and lives of people like the Tanners, but the way they use the Internet and what it means to them. Taking a look at the default Tumblr theme the Tanners "chose" to use it seems grossly mismatched with the style and tone of the images and captions they post. It looks like a ...

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JUST ANOTHER WORDPRESS SITE!!!! (2010) - Jacob Ciocci and Jeff Crouse

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Curated by Becky Koblick for Light and Wire Gallery

JULY 24 - SEPTEMBER 4, 2010

In this project Ciocci and Crouse have redesigned Light and Wire Gallery’s characteristic website so that every time you visit a new page, a different layout or WordPress Theme is loaded behind the gallery’s usual content. Crouse's code randomly loads 1 of 20 different Themes, while Ciocci has visually modified each one. Fundamentally, the WordPress theme system is a way to “skin” one’s website. Not only does this determine the look of the site but the WordPress themes can provide control over the presentation of the material on a website. As one clicks through each theme, this generic design platform that largely informs the aesthetics of the web is revealed for its amateur quality.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM LIGHT & WIRE'S SITE

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General Web Content

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Trollface is a meme that celebrates and disparages the Internet troll and the act of purposefully creating controversy and havoc in online communities. Trollface originated with a short comic posted to 4chan's /v/ boards around November of 2008, and soon the face was cut, pasted, and photoshopped into any situation that had been or needed to be trolled. Trollface captures the sadistic pleasure of trolling, but is also used as a justification for misinformation. It's a reminder that we are all taking this too seriously, and that we were just trolling you anyway.

This post was assembled in anticipation of the trollish behavior (and the trollfaces) which will be the focus of TROLL, a new group show at Envoy Enterprises in the Lower East Side, curated by gay digital media art collective CTRL+W33D. The exhibit opens tonight from 6-9 and will remain up until July 15th. TROLL includes original work by a whole roster of internet-based artists, many of whom we've posted to Rhizome before, here's the full list of participants: Jacob Meehan, Brad Troemel, Kari Altmann, Andrew Laumann, Michael Magnan, Patrick Dyer, Dylan Reece, Chris Udemezue, Scott Hug, Ben Schumacher, Cody Critcheloe, Chris Bogia, Matt Lifson, Jarrod Beck, Elijah Burgher, Daniel Leyva, Lazaro Rodriguez, Ben Aqua, Da Sul Kim, Travess Smalley, Mark Spalding, Kristin Smallwood, Ivan Lozano, Khalid Al Gharaballi, Shawn Maximo, Borna Sammak, Fatima Al Qadiri, Jason Villegas, Paul Cupo, Venus Jazmin Soto, Adam Radokovich and Anthony Thornton.

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Ready to Rumble

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[via -rumblr]

Rumblr is a new web application that allows users to pit Tumblr blogs against one another by placing randomly selected images from two or more blogs in juxtaposition with one another. Users then select the preferred image and after a certain number have been judged a winner is declared. The site launched in alpha about a month ago alongside TUMBLR_WRS, a party held at Home Sweet Home in New York City.

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[via Feminine Itch]

The site capitalizes on the decontextualization and random juxtaposition of images that Tumblr is known for and attempts to objectively judge the taste of users and the quality of sites through a competition or brawl. This random selection often produces unexpected, odd, and beautiful combinations which are frequently screencapped and placed back on Tumblr. These same screencapped images might then appear as standalone images in yet another Rumblr battle, producing a kind of Russian Doll effect.

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[via -rumblr]

Rumblr in still in beta and the site's producer, Benjamin Lotan is hoping to add additional features that quantify and visualize user's decisions in new ways, such as producing average color gradients based on the images selected. Check out the site to pit your favorite Tumblrs against each other.

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On A Mountain Top (2010) - Alex Fuller (with Noah Bernsohn)

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At its most basic form, I believe social media is a dialogue. Onamountaintop.com allows users to say whatever it is they want to say with no accounts, no friends and no poking. Once the user’s entry fades to white, their words are gone forever. Just as one’s voice echoes into the valley from a mountain top. Pure poetry.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM ALEX FULLER'S SITE

Via Pocketmonsterd

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