Untitled HTML Paintings (2003) - Enrico Glerean

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The painting in the age of the internet? The idea for E.G. is simple: the machine is the new painter and its languages are the new painting techniques. The brush stroke is now replaced by a portion of HTML code, the painter is your own computer, each painting is generated each time and everytime is brand new. References to the past abstract masterpieces are evident, but today a work of art like a Rothko's painting is reduced to a mathematical formula that give instruction to the machine to create the final painting.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Reappearance of the Undead

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In 1997, internet art hall-of-famer Olia Lialina made a "net drama" called Agatha Appears that was written for Netscape 3 and 4 in HTML 3.2. One of the main features of the interactive narrative was the travel of the eponymous avatar across the internet. Let's just say the girl got around. But the magical illusion of the piece was that she appeared to stay still, even when links in the narrative were clicked and the viewer's address bar indicated movement to another server. But in time, both the browser and code in which the story was written became defunct and the piece unraveled as the sites previously hosting the links and files upon which Agatha was dependent disappeared or cleaned house. Such a scenario is common to early internet art (and will no doubt continue to plague the field), as ours is an upgrade culture constantly driving towards new tools, platforms, and codes. Many have debated whether to let older works whither or how it might be possible to update these works, making them compatible with new systems. For those who are interested, some of the best research on the subject has been performed by the folks affiliated with the Variable Media Initiative. Meanwhile, luddites and neophiles alike are now in luck because Agatha Appears has just undergone rejuvenation. Ela Wysocka, a restorer working at Budapest's Center for Culture & Communication Foundation has worked to overcome the sound problems, code incompatibilities, and file corruption and disappearance issues, and she's written a fascinating report about the process, here. And new collaborating hosts have jumped in line to bring the piece back to life, so that like a black and white boyfriend coming home from war, Agatha now offers us a shiny new webring as a token of ...

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Grace Murray Hopper on 60 Minutes (1982)

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The Nostradamus of New Media?

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Videos: John F. Simon, Jr., Two works from the series "Winds Across the Inner Sea," 2007

Artists often loathe living in the shadow of their older, more famous works. But it is difficult to begin an article about John F. Simon, Jr. without paying homage to his 1997 project, Every Icon. The brilliant algorithmic piece exists on a 32x32 pixel grid, in which any element of the grid can be colored black or white. As it crunches through the billions of possible illuminative patterns, it will--at least theoretically--eventually display "every icon" possible. The work, itself, has become iconic. It's often the first work of art shown in lectures about internet art, and while the code behind the work speaks volumes about the speed of behind-the-scenes technological development, the resultant display is a testament to the poetic beauty and creative potential of a few simple lines and squares. This marriage of sublime potentiality and mathematical complexity has continued to be the cornerstone of Simon's work over the last ten years--as we might expect from an artist who managed to snag the URL numeral.com! Simon is now enjoying his first Italian solo exhibition, in the form of a ten-year retrospective at Collezione Maramotti (Reggio Emilia, IT), entitled "Outside In: Ten Years of Software Art." The exhibit presents work from 1999 to the present and the title might refer both to the show's ability to "zoom-in" on an artist's oeuvre or the way in which Simon's relationship to code and form has changed over the years. After making a professional leap from science to art, Simon's early works treated code like a specimen. Akin to a microscope whose focus is pulled back to reveal the larger sample, his work has progressed in a way that now ...

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Required Reading

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My work has always started with my regular drawing practice and I still sit with pencil and paper everyday and improvise. There are more ideas in my 10 years of accumulated drawing cards than I can hope to implement in code and sometimes it is enough just to have the idea without struggling to realize it in code. My interest lately is to explore how the screen can be understood in ways other than seeing it as a picture window or a TV for animations. The new cabinets re-contextualize the screen and place it next to other physical materials or take advantage of it’s light emitting qualities to speak about visual art issues.

As screens get thinner, lighter, more flexible and of course higher resolution there will be many more things possible to do with them. I very much look forward to that. I feel like we are just at the doorstep of what technology and art can do together.

Originally posted to Rhizome's Discussion section by Domenico Quaranta

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Software Teach-in

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Although most of us use software on a daily basis, its operation still remains obscured to a large majority. In Golan Levin's introduction to the 3-day conference Art and Code hosted this weekend at Carnegie Mellon University, he describes distressingly low levels of software literacy, and the need to further educate the public about these tools. This impulse underpins the many "How-To" workshops, panels, and discussions scheduled over the next few days, which will devote specific attention to tools useful for artistic production, such as Max/MSP, Processing, openFrameworks and VVVV. While heavy on the tutorials, Art and Code will round out the calendar with an exhibition of generative artwork by Casey Reas and Marius Watz as well as nightly screenings of visual music pioneer Oskar Fischinger's films.

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Means of Production: Fabbing and Digital Art

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Several years ago, while making the lecture circuit rounds, American architect William Massie described a key goal within his practice as moving towards a more direct translation between bits and atoms. Architecture has always thrived on the tension between representation and material assemblages and what he was addressing with this comment was the dawning of an era characterized by a new proximity between digital models and physical output. In selected contexts, artists, architects, and designers have been exploring these accelerated development cycles for a decade but the involved technologies are descending in price so quickly that, for example, 3D printers are now cheaper than laser printers were in 1985. A key question: how does the looming ubiquity of these tools and workflows apply to the production and display of new media art? This article will explore digital fabrication (aka fabbing) at a variety of scales which include the curatorial questions raised by these new hybrid industrial design/sculpture objects as well as the implications on the practice of individual artists. Before delving into either of these milieus it would be useful to acknowledge some common language and terminology associated with fabrication and recognize some important precedents.

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Picture Stories

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Image: Kristin Lucas, Travel Advisory, 2007

This year's Artefact festival is organized around the notion that "images inevitably show and hide at the same time." Given the theme of "Behind the Image/ The Image Behind," the fest will feature the usual assemblage of great performances, panels, lectures, and installations. From the 10th through the 15th of February, Leuven's STUK Museum will be headquarters for deep discussion of the semiotics of digital images, the cultural snapshots that looking at code provides, and the patterns by which both are circulated. These form vs. content questions are part of the event's goal of "covering and uncovering media," as a means of exploring the nuances of contemporary digital visual culture, and the politics of representation and sharing in this realm. The lineup of speakers attests to a continuum of modification practices ranging from secret messages encoded in images to remixing other people's images, and the organizers hint explicitly at the connection between these transitional forms of textuality and the ideological transitions in representational strategies that coincide with technological development. That's right--this is a no fluff conference! Smart practitioners Taryn Simon, Ines Schaber, Harun Farocki, Pia Linz, Kristin Lucas, Peter Weibel, and ShiftSpace will be among those present to crack into these deep discussions. Not to worry, the evening programs are full of fun events to stimulate your eyes and ears after days of thinktankery. - Marisa Olson

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Not Valid (2008) - Jonathan Vingiano

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LAUNCH

More work by Jonathan Vingiano

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Breaking the Rules

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For an invention meant to help us express ourselves, language sure comes with a lot of rules. To some, this is an exciting artistic challenge, while to others this is a barrier to the full expression of an identity that may no more adhere to a culture's norms than it does to the grammar of the mother tongue that culture gave her. This quandary has led many media studies scholars to take an interest in the relationship between natural languages and computer languages, between social codes and computer codes. A new online exhibition, entitled "You Own Me Now Until You Forget About Me," traces these issues and adds to the grist questions about the ownership of language (from authorship to identification with a lexicon to branded alignment with various software platforms, etc) and the looming potential of languages to die. Enveloped within these issues is an aspiration to study and encourage human interaction, and to preserve the traces of these conversations. The show includes work by Karl Heinz Jeron & Valie Djordjevic; Martin Wattenberg & Marek Walczak; Codemanipulator; J�rg Piringer; carlos katastrofsky; Mary-Anne Breeze (a.k.a. mez); and Christina Goestl. Some of these contributions are classic net art pieces already experiencing the interestingly adverse effects of time on web-based media, but all of them are important contributions to this discussion of communication. Surf them for yourself and then add to the show, if you'd like. That's right! Curators CONT3XT.NET have adopted an open curatorial model that allows visitors to chime in and widen the vocabulary used "in the exploration of our language with its arbitrary systems and rules, its corresponding functions within society, as well as with its absurdities and restrictions for the individual." The show will also be installed at the Museum of Modern Art ...

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