Tagalicious

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The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens, Greece, has committed itself to curating a number of recent exhibitions of internet art. Their current show, "Tag Ties and Affective Spies," features contributions from both net vets and emerging surfers, including Christophe Bruno, Gregory Chatonsky, Paolo Cirio, JODI, Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, Les Liens Invisibles, Personal Cinema and The Erasers, Ramsay Stirling, and Wayne Clements. The online exhibition takes an antagonistic approach to Web 2.0, citing a constant balance "between order and chaos, democracy and adhocracy." Curator Daphne Dragona raises the question of whether the social web is a preexisting platform on which people connect, or whether it is indeed constructed in the act of uploading, tagging, and disclosing previously private information about ourselves on sites like Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook. Dragona asks whether we are truly connecting and interacting, or merely broadcasting. While her curatorial statement doesn't address the issue directly, the show's title hints at the level of self-surveillance in play on these sites. Accordingly, many of the selected works take a critical, if not DIY, approach to the internet. The collective Les Liens Invisibles tends to create works that make an ironic mash-up of the often divergent mantras of tactical media, culture jamming, surrealism, and situationism. In their Subvertr, they encourage Flickr users to "subverTag" their posted images, creating an intentional disassociation between an image's content and its interpretion, with the aim of "breaking the strict rules of significance that characterize the mainstream collective imaginary..." JODI's work, Del.icio.us/ winning information (2008) exploits the limited stylistic parameters of the social bookmarking site. Using ASCII and Unicode page titles to form visual marks, a cryptic tag vocabulary, and a recursive taxonomy, their fun-to-follow site critiques the broader content of the web ...

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Conference Report: NET.ART (SECOND EPOCH)

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Last week I attended the NET.ART (SECOND EPOCH) conference in Buenos Aires, organized by Medialab-Prado. The subtitle, "The Evolution of Artistic Creation in the Net-system" speaks to the broad range of perspectives included at the conference and, indeed, the Madrid-based organization was able to draw participants from all over Latin America, including Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile to the week-long panel series, which was hosted by the Centro Cultural de España.

Most of the discussion at the conference centered around framing the history of net art, articulating its recent transitions, and assessing the current state of the field. There was a general agreement that while many critics declared net art dead after the fall of the dot-com economy, it in fact never went anywhere and is instead still thriving.

Minnesota-based curator Steve Dietz and Amsterdam-based critic Josephine Bosma presented keynote talks on the current state of the network and networked art. These talks were framed as "seminars," with each lecture followed by structured group debates. Dietz's talk was entitled "Beyond 'Beyond Interface': Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Networking." He proposed that we consider whether what we are seeing now as truly a second epoch of net art, or rather something more like art after networks. While his talk came before Bosma's closing lecture, the latter looked back farther in taking a different historical perspective. Bosma articulated five generations of networked artists, the first of which predated the public interest. Her paper was prefaced by a confession that critics always view work through the lens of the era in which they came upon the art scene, and that while she is considered an expert in the field, she now feels removed from the present generation of net artists who are no longer working within the "Net ...

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Get Real

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Beginning this weekend, a world wide web of art bloggers, internet artists, online curators and critics will descend upon Capricious Space in Williamsburg for "In Real Life," an exhibition which will showcase some of artwebland's leading lights through revolving 4-hour residencies at the gallery. Laurel Ptak of iheartphotograph curated the show, which she hopes will "explore how the distribution, production, analysis, and consumption of culture are rapidly evolving in an online context. In particular the exhibition aims to render the labor of these online practices transparent, providing 'real life' access to these cultural producers, and overall inspiring public dialogue around their practices." Rhizome will be there "in real life" as well, and we will cover the diverse, funny, and odd performances/hang out sessions/tours proposed by the likes of Art Fag City, ASDF, Club Internet, Ffffound, The Highlights, Humble Arts Foundation, I Heart Photograph, Loshadka, Netmares/Netdreams, Platform For Pedagogy, Private Circulation, UbuWeb, VVORK, and Why + Wherefore in a post later this month. Next week, we will also publish a discussion between Rhizome's Curatorial Fellow Brian Droitcour and Netmares/Netdreams' Kari Altmann, in which she touches on their project for the show. Stay tuned.

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Brooklyn Museum 1stfans Interview from Museum 2.0

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1stfans: An Audience-Specific Membership Program at the Brooklyn Museum on Museum 2.0


Museum 2.0 interviews Brooklyn Museum's 1stfans managers Will Cary, Shelley Bernstein and An Xiao. 1stfans is a new membership initiative, launched only last month, which utilizes social media platforms to build and target specific museum audiences. They plan to incorporate a number of different groups in the future, but in its current iteration, they gear the program toward web-savvy museum-goers who frequent their free events, but don't opt to purchase high level memberships. (1stfans is only $20 a year.) It's an interesting venture, and they've gone far and beyond simply managing a Facebook profile for the museum. In an effort to build a more dynamic and two-way relationship between the museum and the community, 1stfans offers creative perks such as a private Twitter Art Feed maintained by a revolving group of artists and invitations to offbeat 1stfans events, like a talk by conservator Lisa Bruno on animal mummies.

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Contemporary Semantics Beta

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Arti et Amicitiae
Rokin 112 Amsterdam 14-02-09 t/m 22-03-09
opening Friday the 13th at 8pm

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Interview with Graham Harwood

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Telephone Trottoire is a publishing system for communities to share news, stories, and opinions over the mobile phone. The system dials members of the Congolese community and plays them a recording in the Lingala language. The recording might be a story, song, or joke, or it could be a discussion of a serious issue. The recipient of the call has the option of leaving a comment in response or forwarding the call to someone else, allowing the system to grow virally. It was developed on behalf of Congolese communities in London by MediaShed, a 'free-media' organization based in Southend-on-Sea, England.

At 01SJ 2008, three artists Graham Harwood, Richard Wright and Matsuko Yokokoji (formerly Mongrel ) presented Tantalum Memorial, an art installation based on Telephone Trottoire. This same installation will be on view at the art and digital culture festival transmediale in Berlin this week. Tantalum Memorial is one of eight projects to win the transmediale 2009 Award. I met up with Harwood at a Peet's Coffee in San Jose last June to discuss these two projects. He wore a hat with the word 'ADDICT' emblazoned across the front (his son's) and ordered an herbal tea. - Michael Connor

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Reaping What You Sow

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Image: Victory Gardens Starter Kit

Artist/designer Amy Franceschini's newest project updates an old idea with continuing social resonance. Her Victory Gardens initiative is an effort to get people growing more of their own food, "for increased local food security and reducing the food miles associated with the average American meal." Not unlike Cat Mazza's Stitch for Senate project, which draws on WWII-era programs to keep people calm about the war and supportive of the troops abroad (in this case, through "charitable knitting"), Franceschini's project spins paranoia about food security and emergency preparedness into a creative community-building strategy. In collaboration with the San Francisco-based organization Garden for the Environment, Victory Gardens facilitates the growing of shared local gardens in the name of urban sustainability. The idea germinated in 2006, when Franceschini made it the focus of her SECA Award installation at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Growing the venture in new directions each year, in 2007 a related book featuring essays by Lucy Lippard and Mike Davis was published by Gallery 16. This year the art project blossomed from a city unification initiative into a full-fledged social networking site! The Garden Registry is an interactive map of "food production zones" through which other victory gardeners can connect with each other, share tips on working organically, and contribute to "an important portrait of land use." The site launched this week and is calling for participants to upload their information. Meanwhile, Franceschini offers potential Bay Area gardeners a tricycle-delivered Starter Kit to get growing. As outlined online, the accoutrements and their delivery mechanism perfectly resemble the spirit of other projects by Futurefarmers, the art and design collective founded by Franceschini with the goal of "making work that is relevant to the time and space surrounding us." - Marisa ...

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Raqs Media Collective at the New Museum's Night School

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Image: Raqs Media Collective, There Has Been a Change of Plan, 2006

Tonight at 7 p.m. the Dehli-based Raqs Media Collective will begin a three-day run of programs at the New Museum, as part of the Night School series of public seminars. Raqs has been embraced by the art world, although, as the ambiguity of the group's name suggests, the scope of its projects extend to a larger audience. Monica Narula, Jeebesh Bagchi, and Shuddhabrata Sengupta joined forces in 1992, after they completed their studies in Mass Communications in Delhi, and, at the time, had planned a collective career in independent cinema. But their work in documentary filmmaking and public broadcasting, coupled with their fascination with the nascent internet, drew them to issues related to the production and dissemination of information. Today, they continue to address those "rarely asked questions," to use the phrase the group has half-jokingly suggested its name is an abbreviation for.

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Image: Raqs Media Collective, OPUS [ Open Platform for Unlimited Signification]

Raqs's projects tend to take the form of open-ended, open-sourced networks. OPUS, or Open Platform for Unlimited Signification, is an online database of artist-submitted artworks. Conceived in the spirit of open-source software development, Raqs's online digital commons encourage sharing, collaborating, and appropriation. The collective's commitment to free culture continues in The Sarai Programme at Delhi's Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. The Sarai network of artists and scholars produce vast amounts of research and other forms of cultural knowledge, all of which is placed in the public domain.

The collective has also expressed its sensibility through a resistance to restrictions and hierarchies in their installations, performances, and theoretical writings. A recent essay in the inaugural issue of e-flux's Journal takes several fresh and surprising approaches to make ...

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Back To School

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LA-based arts organization TELIC has been a key player in the West Coast new media scene for over half a decade, mounting significant exhibitions and public programs including both recognized mid-career artists and emerging risk-takers. Now they've taken their own risk of sorts, particularly in what is so turbulent a funding climate for nonprofit arts organizations, by going back to the drawing board to redefine the mandate of presenting media art. Their new "Public School" initiative draws on internet culture's ideals about non-hierarchical (or shall we say "rhizomatic"?) collaborative structures and open source input models to offer an offline transmission of ideas in the form of classes. There are no pop quizzes, report cards, or dress codes in this school, just student-defined curricula in which the public can get together to make art or talk about cultural issues. So far topics have ranged from 8-bit workshops to a Public Service Announcement-making social studies class enticingly titled, "Yo, Dick... Ad Feminem: When Ads Attack." In a true nod to the awesomely collaborative nature of the LA alternative art community, the Public School was recently invited by local allies Machine Project to hold classes at LACMA during their recent intervention-like funfest of public events. After putting out a call for classes to be taught inside a Richard Serra sculpture on the museum grounds, blog readers could vote on course proposals--as is the model for all of their offerings--that included a thoughtfully recursive workshop entitled, "For RICHARD SERRA: me, you and some other creative people in a small but open space learning from each other." You'd never know it from the title, but the class would involve Miranda July (the artist who co-created the arguably pedagogical participatory web project Learning to Love You More with Harrell Fletcher) teaching "a workshop ...

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Repackaging Nature

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It's easy to see Philip Ross as a recent embodiment of an age-old spirit of inquiry, where aesthetics, personal discovery, and scientific knowledge are linked, and all seem to tap into the fertile edges of local industry. In San Francisco that means computing and biotechnology, and Ross's work makes use of both. The transplanted New Yorker has a body of artwork that centers around human interaction with biological materials like fungus, plants, and mollusks. Ross was also curator of the BioTechnique exhibit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and frequently teaches classes and gives lectures, such as one he delivered December 2 to amateur mycologists at the Oakland Museum of California.

His current projects include a long-term effort to grow a large building out of mushrooms, and a new, ongoing salon ("Critter") at the Studio for Urban Projects, a unique cultural center opened in 2008 by Alison Sant and Marina MacDougal. Ross describes the studio as "a collective of collectives," with about five or six contributing programmers, all similarly interested in ecology, education, technology and other related fields. - John Alderman

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