Interview with Herbologies/Foraging Networks

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Photo of a plant from Herbologies/Foraging Networks expedition to Kurzeme (Photo: Bartaku)

In Bernard Stiegler’s Technics and Time, I: The Fault of Epimetheus, Stiegler makes the following statement, “Innovation is inevitably accompanied by the obsolescence of existing technologies that have been superseded and the out-of-dateness of social situations made possible...adapt or disappear.”1 Applying this statement to the current network systems that we engage with on a daily basis, one might say that online network culture has transformed our relationship with people as much as industrialism had done so with the land, mediating our experience of each other through data, text messages, and on-demand catalogues of our personalities. But, the flow of information through network systems is not a new instance. In Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s Linked: The New Science of Networks, Barabasi cites the spread of Christianity as a major instance of social networks at play – albeit all executed orally.2 If this is true, it begs the question: how does today’s incarnation of network systems transform oral technologies? Does it render them outdated, or does it have the potential to take on a new incarnation?

The Herbologies/Foraging Networks occupies a critical space in trying to transform oral traditions/knowledge associated with foraging for what would seem to be increasingly disinterested generations. Initially instigated by Andrew Gryf Paterson as a Scottish man’s way of learning about the cultural heritage of his resident country of Finland (as well as the connections between the surrounding Baltic region), Paterson and cohorts Ulla Taipale and Signe Pucena have established an open architecture project that has included iterations of the WindowFarms workshop to exploratory installations on folk pharmacy.

You might ask yourself why focus on oral traditions and foraging? Foraging has previously been an important cultural touch point for Nordic countries, illustrating many social and political relations. The displacement of this knowledge marks a fundamental change in the socio-economic conditions at hand as the following discussion between Paterson, Taipale and Pucena further explains.

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Videos from Wikitopia Festival

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Videos of the keynote speeches by scholars Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Hector Rodriguez from September's Wikitopia Festival at Videotage in Hong Kong have been posted. The event examined the Free Culture movement and its impact on practices of knowledge sharing and networked creativity.

Originally via Networked_Performance



Wendy Hui Kyong Chun "The Possibilities and Limitations of Open Content"

The Possibilities and Limitations of Open Content by Prof. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun from Videotage Unlimited on Vimeo.

New media has made possible new “vernacular” archives of knowledge—from wikipedia to del.icio.us—that are challenging their standard top-down counterparts. These archives are usually either celebrated as democratizing knowledge, or condemned as destroying it. Refusing either of these positions, this talk asks: what does opening up content do? What does the open both make possible and close down? Is open content enough? How, in other words, should the open be the beginning rather than the end of the discussion?



Hector Rodriguez "The Principle of Reciprocity"

The Principle of Reciprocity by Dr. Hector Rodriguez from Videotage Unlimited on Vimeo.

Marcel Mauss’ classic study of The Gift introduced the principle of reciprocity, which has played a fundamental role in the evolution of modern social anthropology and critical theory. Mauss regarded the giving and receiving of gifts as a widespread cultural phenomenon. Although the gift often appears to have been spontaneously and freely offered, it is in fact obligatory. According to Mauss, it consists of “three obligations”: the obligation to receive, to give, and to return. The exchange of gifts thus exemplifies a complex procedure of ritualized exchange.

The principle of reciprocity can be understood in at least two different ways. First of all, the study of gift exchange constitutes a prehistory of the modern contract. Mauss showed that modern market transactions grew ...

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Touch My Body (Green Screen Version) (2008) - Oliver Laric

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Performing Participation

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MTAA, Automatic for the People ( ) Voting Kiosk, 2008 (Photo: M.River)

In the fall of 2008, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art invited several artists to create a new work for the exhibition "Art of Participation: 1950 to Now." One such invitation was extended to MTAA, a Brooklyn-based duo comprised of Mike Sarff and Tim Whidden, alternately known as M.River & T.Whid Art Associates. In response, MTAA constructed a poll-based project entitled Automatic for the People ( ), which asked the audience to vote upon the parameters for a theatrical performance executed at the conclusion of the exhibition (the title’s empty parentheses refer to an undetermined subtitle). Technically, the voting consisted of ten different electronic ballots addressing such creative and procedural elements as duration, space, and props, with each being accessible for one week at a museum kiosk and remotely online. All ten ballots contained ten options, and the most popular selections were incorporated into the live finale. During the summer of 2009, I enlisted MTAA in an email-based interview regarding the practical consequences and conceptual implications associated with producing their participatory poll and performance for SFMOMA.



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Automatic for the People ( ) Performance
(Photo: Aimee Friberg; Courtesy of SFMOMA. )

DAVID DUNCAN: Let’s begin with the project’s finale. Can you give an overview of the performance— the staging, players and performers, costumes, and actions?

MIKE SARFF and TIM WHIDDEN: We began with the idea that the live work should come together as a unified whole; we felt that a series of unconnected actions would feel untrue to the vote process. We also wanted the audience to participate in the performance. To achieve this, we established three boundaries— installation, duration and action. For the installation we had a location outside the museum’s freight elevator that was selected by vote. The performance’s duration (the same length as the REM album Automatic for the People) was also selected by vote. The action involved two teams competing to create the best robot costume—again, an element determined by vote. Lastly, we included interruptions to the robot costume building competition. These we called interludes and digressions—they were essentially acts between acts that helped to pace the performance. The goal was to make it all seem solid even if an audience member did not know anything about the whole of the AFTP: ( ) voting process.

DAVID DUNCAN: Beyond the audience’s participation, did MTAA conceive AFTP: ( ) in cooperation with the SFMOMA staff?

MIKE SARFF: Yes, it was conceived for this space and institution. It would be good to note here that although the vote kiosk installation and ...

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Graffiti Markup Language Gets An Upgrade

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F.A.T. Labs have declared this week "Graffiti Markup Language Week" on their blog - and each day they've posted GML-related updates. What exactly is Graffiti Markup Language? It's an XML file type developed by F.A.T. Labs that stores the motion data created by tagging -- allowing graffiti writers to share, study, and catalog their tags. Check the below for a brief overview:

GML = Graffiti Markup Language from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

What has GML week brought us so far? Over the past few days, F.A.T. Labs introduced:

► An iPhone version of Graffiti Analysis DustTag v1.0 - this handy App allows users to trace their tags and add them to the GML database http://000000book.com/ using an iPhone.

► Graffiti Analysis 2.0 - the new and improved Graffiti Analysis includes the aforementioned iPhone App DustTag v1.0, along with updates to the tracking, playback, controls and graphics, as well as previously unreleased source code and downloads to Windows, Mac and Linux versions of the playback and capture applications.

► FatTag Deluxe - the Katsu Edition - an updated version of the Fat Tag App made in collaboration with graffiti legend Katsu.

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WarMail (2008) - Jeremy Bailey

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Warmail is a live, collaborative software performance, led by Jeremy Bailey, commissioned by HTTP Gallery in London, UK. Warmail uses the audience's latent song and dance potential to write and send an email to my mother while simultaneously directing a space war campaign

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S DESCRIPTION

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Speaking in Third Person

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MIT Press recently published Third Person, an essay collection that follows First Person and Second Person in a series exploring how new media has changed the roles of author and audience. Third Person declares its subject to be “vast narratives,” which editors Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin define as cultural products that extend beyond the physical and temporal parameters usually associated with their medium. While most television detective shows devote one episode to one investigation, The Wire, for example, can stretch a case out over a season, and the continuity of characters and settings puts demands on a viewer’s memory that other shows rarely make. If the Harry Potter series of books is considered the authoritative source of that fictional world even after the release of the films, Lucasfilm delegates storytelling duties for Star Wars among books, movies, and animated series, and each addition extends the fictional universe in new directions in time and space. Vast narratives can also be generative frameworks that allow for many reconfigurations of the characters and settings over several instantiations, as in computer role-playing games and their pencil-and-paper counterparts like Dungeons & Dragons.

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The Internet Mapping Project (2009) - Kevin Kelley

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The internet is vast. Bigger than a city, bigger than a country, maybe as big as the universe. It's expanding by the second. No one has seen its borders.

And the internet is intangible, like spirits and angels. The web is an immense ghost land of disembodied places. Who knows if you are even there, there.

Yet everyday we navigate through this ethereal realm for hours on end and return alive. We must have some map in our head.

I've become very curious about the maps people have in their minds when they enter the internet. So I've been asking people to draw me a map of the internet as they see it. That's all. More than 50 people of all ages and levels of expertise have mapped their geography of online.

-- STATEMENT FROM THE PROJECT SITE

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Interview with James Voorhies

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Image: Front of Office of Collective Play, the temporary storefront space that will be used for programming during "Descent to Revolution"

Last Thursday, the new exhibition “Descent to Revolution” organized by Columbus College of Art & Design’s Bureau for Open Culture opened in Columbus, Ohio. Taking place around the city and at a temporary location in a former storefront downtown, “Descent to Revolution” will host residencies by five artist collectives and collaboratives over the course of the next three months. These groups will take up projects that engage and respond to the city of Columbus. The first resident is Portland-based collective Red76, followed by Claire Fontaine, Learning Site, REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT, and Tercerunquinto. “Descent to Revolution” curator and the director of exhibitions for the Bureau for Open Culture James Voorhies took a moment to answer a few questions about the show. You can follow the exhibition as it develops through the "Descent to Revolution" blog, here. - Ceci Moss

It seems like the multidisciplinary and fluid nature of the exhibitory framework for "Descent to Revolution" is a natural extension of the Bureau for Open Culture's activities and ethos. I am wondering if you can speak more about the Bureau for Open Culture itself and how the space came into being.

Yes. "Descent to Revolution" is, in a way, a culmination of some of the underlying ideas of what we're doing at the Bureau for Open Culture. The Bureau for Open Culture was created as a way to give shape to the exhibition program I've been operating since 2006. Many of the projects we've organized have taken place outside of the gallery or had components outside of it and often involved participants from diverse disciplines and locations like libraries, non-profit music venues, city-owned sites, empty storefronts and other area universities ...

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Normalized Silence (2009) - Nicholas O'Brien

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With the help of Amazon's Mechanical Turk, I asked workers to record 30+ seconds of "silence" from an on-board, or on-hand microphone. After collecting results, I normalized the submitted silence to a zero decibel level which high-lights the minor - normally inaudible - discrepancies between each recording/location/worker.

In doing so, Normalized Silence approaches the discourse of anonymity that surrounds network and out-source cultures. Accentuating the normally "silent" voices of anonymous workers within this framework provides a aural gesture of individuality within a realm of digital shadows.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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