Required Reading

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But, also in 1977, David Bowie releases his single “Heroes.” He sings about a new brand of hero, just in time for the neoliberal revolution. The hero is dead—long live the hero! Yet Bowie’s hero is no longer a subject, but an object: a thing, an image, a splendid fetish—a commodity soaked with desire, resurrected from beyond the squalor of its own demise.

Just look at a 1977 video of the song to see why: the clip shows Bowie singing to himself from three simultaneous angles, with layering techniques tripling his image; not only has Bowie’s hero been cloned, he has above all become an image that can be reproduced, multiplied, and copied, a riff that travels effortlessly through commercials for almost anything, a fetish that packages Bowie’s glamorous and unfazed postgender look as product. Bowie’s hero is no longer a larger-than-life human being carrying out exemplary and sensational exploits, and he is not even an icon, but a shiny product endowed with posthuman beauty: an image and nothing but an image.

This hero’s immortality no longer originates in the strength to survive all possible ordeals, but from its ability to be xeroxed, recycled, and reincarnated. Destruction will alter its form and appearance, yet its substance will be untouched. The immortality of the thing is its finitude, not its eternity....

What happens to identification at this point? Who can we identify with? Of course, identification is always with an image. But ask anybody whether they’d actually like to be a JPEG file. And this is precisely my point: if identification is to go anywhere, it has to be with this material aspect of the image, with the image as thing, not as representation. And then it perhaps ceases to be identification, and ...

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Rapture Heap v2.0 - Back 2 Reality (2010) - Eilis McDonald

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Eilis McDonald's Rapture Heap is a multi-phased project that centres around the occupation of one of Dublin's many empty retail spaces. The first installment of the project saw McDonald curate an exhibition that highlighted the artists that influence her and brought to Ireland some of today's most prominent internet based artists (http://www.raptureheap.com/v1). "Back to Reality" is the second installment of the series. Here McDonald delivers a body of work that is a result of her 6 month residency in the retail space. Commissioned under the Per Cent for Art Scheme for Dublin City Council’s Liberty Corner, the residency period afforded the artist time and space to explore the wealth of diverse activity in the surrounding area - from the various cultural institutions, such as the LAB and DanceHouse, to the Buddhist Centre, €2 shops, financial institutions, beauty salons and 24-hour internet cafés. With this particular urban spectrum serving as her backdrop, McDonald searches for the sublime and ethereal by seeking out the spiritual and subliminal. McDonald recontextualises the discarded artefacts of the local domesticity found in charity shops and fuses them with video assemblages that include a transient public contacted through advertising and classifieds in the CityAds Weekly newspaper. "Back to Reality"; the research phase of the Rapture Heap project brings together a number of varied strands of interests and motivations. The projects future online presence provides access to a broad national and international public and an opportunity to relate to a wider demographic, while the installation provides a visceral, immersive physical environment. "Back to Reality" presents a story-thus-far in preparation for the 3rd installment of the Rapture Heap Project.

-- FROM THE PRESS RELEASE FOR RAPTURE HEAP 2.0: BACK 2 REALITY

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Required Reading

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Gene McHugh, Rhizome's former Editorial Fellow and a periodic contributor to the site, received the Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts’ Writers Grant earlier this year and has used these funds to begin the "Post Internet" blog. His project aims to build a space to reflect on "...art responding to an existential condition that may also be described as 'Post Internet'-when the Internet is less a novelty and more a banality. Perhaps this is closer to what Guthrie Lonergan described as 'Internet Aware'-a term that I’m sure I will be thinking through here sooner or later." The blog is essentially a bare-bones workspace for his loose, often train-of-thought musings on contemporary internet-based art, and covers everything from Google's Parisian Love ad to Seth Price.

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Introducing: dump.fm

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Editor's Note: Ryder Ripps, of Internet Archaeology, along with Tim Baker (Delicious) and Scott Ostler (MIT Exhibit), recently launched a beta version of dump.fm, a chat room where participants communicate solely through images. The site combines the creative back and forth of surf clubs, tumblr’s loose and rapid-fire network of image transmission, and the real time spontaneity of an old school chat room. Right now dump.fm is strictly invite-only, but Ryder was generous enough to offer a special invite code to Rhizome readers - “RHIZOME” - so they can play around with the site. Ryder drafted a statement about his concept and aspirations for dump.fm, below.

I remember going into AOL chat rooms, and experiencing instantaneous glee. The hyper-everything world; where experiences come and go at the pace of your typing. Instantaneous collaboration and connection. These are the feelings I wanted to recreate in conceptualizing dump.fm. Dump.fm is a place where you can share images from anywhere on the web, your hard drive or right from your webcam, in real time with other people. Today content moves so fast, making a blog post from a week ago irrelevant. Dump.fm is a place where content is hyper-transient and used to facilitate connections and induce creativity. I think in the future people will produce and consume content much faster and because of this we must reconsider the value of content. For the surf club Spirit Surfers, content is a way to document and make public the most powerful content in the hypnotic surf, “Most of the really enlightening surfs I've had did not end with a post to a surf club -- surfing is so private, it rarely ends in a public act.”, as club creator Kevin Bewersdorf states. Where surfing was a private act from ...

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self.detach (2008) - Tim Horntrich and Jens Wunderling

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self.detach is a dynamic object, which adopts a critical position towards the celebration of the ego on the internet by dissolving self-portraying pictures into coloured particles.

--DESCRIPTION FROM THE PROJECT PAGE

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A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter (2009) - Caleb Larsen

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Combining Robert Morris' Box With the Sound of Its Own Making with Baudrillard's writing on the art auction this sculpture exists in eternal transactional flux. It is a physical sculpture that is perptually attempting to auction itself on eBay.

Every ten minutes the black box pings a server on the internet via the ethernet connection to check if it is for sale on the eBay. If its auction has ended or it has sold, it automatically creates a new auction of itself.

If a person buys it on eBay, the current owner is required to send it to the new owner. The new owner must then plug it into ethernet, and the cycle repeats itself.

This work is discussed in the catalogue for The Value of Nothing, a 2009 exhibition. Buy or download it.

Follow the current auction here: http://atooltodeceiveandslaughter.com

--DESCRIPTION FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Using, Using, Used

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Within the pages of Digital Folklore Reader, Olia Lialina, one of the book’s editors, refers to a claim by the social media researcher Danah Boyd, that some American teenagers identify as Facebook and others as MySpace—preferring a conformist and clean interface persona, or a rebellious and visually pimped one, respectively.

This book, co-edited by Dragan Espenschied, is by all outward appearances a MySpace, brimming with exuberant design elements culled from all over the net and reaching deep into online history. The dust jacket repeats a background image of a unicorn perched on a boulder at sunset under a meteor shower. Its reverse is wallpapered in 32 by 32 pixel gif icons representing the gamut of popular user-generated online imagery: cartoon characters, porno ladies, geometric designs, quotidian objects, flags, logos, landscapes and text, from WTF to FREE TIBET. One layer deeper, the cover and back of the book are white, or, probably (in RGB concept), nothing. The spine is also nude, showing off the motley sequencing of pages inside, the first and last of which are a flat, vibrant #00FF00 green, allusive of web-safe color and maybe of a green screen, primed for content to be transposed onto it.

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mr. Danny Snelson

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Google's mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" centers around faith in the power of the keyword to unlock its bottomless treasure chest and put the right answer in one window. Years have passed since the company's ranking algorithm outpaced the approach of human navigators filing information into channels -- an approach that Yahoo has been trying to keep alive by farming the digital labor to users themselves. But even as search algorithms make dinosaurs of the Dewey decimal and other brain-powered systems, it might be worth considering the benefits of staying open to a plurality of variously scaled methods.

These issues converge in Danny Snelson's work as a writer, editor, and archivist. His titles increasingly overlap in the internet's library without walls--an environment that often embodies the Foucauldian idea that "one never archives without editorial frames and 'writerly' narratives (or designs)," as Snelson put it in an email. As an archivist, he has made substantial efforts to preserve endangered cultural artifacts -- making them universally accessible and useful, you might say -- on behalf of PennSound, an audio archive specializing in recorded poetry, and UbuWeb, where, at the suggestion of founder Kenneth Goldsmith, he scanned out-of-print titles and reformatted them as PDFs for free distribution via the site's /ubu channel. The PennSounds and UbuWebs of the internet undertake preservation projects that small presses and recording labels can't touch due to financial reasons, thus ensuring that experimental work will continue to reach audiences in years to come. Distribution networks like these matter in an environment where the internet (for those without access to academic libraries, at least) is often the first and last stop for research -- a realization that impelled Goldsmith to formulate a radical ontology in the title of his 2005 essay, "If it doesn't exist on the internet, it doesn't exist."

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Required Reading

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Image: Shoveling pirated DVDs in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, April 20, 2008

The poor image is a copy in motion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution.

The poor image is a rag or a rip; an AVI or a JPEG, a lumpen proletarian in the class society of appearances, ranked and valued according to its resolution. The poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips, contemplation into distraction. The image is liberated from the vaults of cinemas and archives and thrust into digital uncertainty, at the expense of its own substance. The poor image tends towards abstraction: it is a visual idea in its very becoming.....

......The circulation of poor images creates a circuit, which fulfills the original ambitions of militant and (some) essayistic and experimental cinema—to create an alternative economy of images, an imperfect cinema existing inside as well as beyond and under commercial media streams. In the age of file-sharing, even marginalized content circulates again and reconnects dispersed worldwide audiences.

-- EXCERPTS FROM "IN DEFENSE OF THE POOR IMAGE" BY HITO STEYERL IN E-FLUX JOURNAL #10, NOVEMBER 2009

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