Series of Interviews on the Financial Crisis and New Media Art on Artsblog.it

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Salvatore Iaconesi posted on Rhizome's Announcements yesterday that Artsblog.it will be publishing 3 interviews dealing with the financial crisis and new media art over the next month. The first, an interview with Turbulence.org's Helen Thorington and Jo-Anne Green, breaks down government funding for arts non-profits in the United States, and underscores the limitations facing organizations that fund non-traditional arts. Marc Garrett of Furtherfield will be interviewed for the next installment, which goes live January 1st, and a discussion with Simona Lodi, of the Torino Share Festival, will conclude the series on the 6th of January.

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A Happy Medium

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Currently on view in an off-beat neighborhood in the off-beat art city of Louisville, Kentucky, is an exhibition of nine very up-and-coming media artists: Justin Clark, Petra Cortright, Thomas Galloway, Michael Guidetti, Jacolby Satterwhite, Hayley Silverman, Will Simpson, Dan Wickerham, and Damon Zucconi. Curated by artist Ilia Ovechkin, co-founder of Loshadka--a group net art site of the "surf club" variety, the show (open at Plexus Contemporary through August 8th) includes many artists who work primarily on the internet or with web-derived materials and themes, but whose work for the show demonstrates a fluidity between online and offline forms. "The common thread between these artists is that they are all comfortable with being multidisciplinary and working across media," Ovechkin said, in Lousville's local Velocity Weekly, "but the conversation becomes even more interesting when you focus on the individual works and the topics they address." The familiar title of the Weekly piece was "The Medium is the Message," but Ovechkin seems eager to zoom further-in on the works, not prioritizing their form over their content. For instance, Jacolby Satterwhite's video, Model It, in which the artist is seen vogueing in front of the camera, might initially read as just another artist's response to YouTube culture, but the song in the piece was written by his mentally-ill mother and acts as a sort of empowerment anthem backdrop for Satterwhite's bigger commentary on "African American male patriarchy, sexuality, and material culture." Damon Zucconi's video Slow Rave (last minutes of trance energy), effects a spiritual experience on a well-lit dance floor by slowing down found footage of dancers at a rave. As the subjects gesture slowly and silently, the viewer identifies with the trance-like feeling they must be experiencing on a higher level. The binary "on" of a strobe ...

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New Club Internet Exhibition

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James Whipple, Eye White, 2008


Club Internet opened a new online exhibition today, which runs until August 19th. Titled "Contact," the show is curated by artist Damon Zucconi. Included are works by Christopher Byler, Garrett Davis & Kieran Gillen, Aleksandra Domanovic, Harm van den Dorpel, Marcel Duchamp, Nathan Hauenstein, Martijn Hendriks, Jeremy Hughes & Ken Seeno, KUO I-Chen, Hugh Pocock, Jordan Rhoat, Ken Seeno, Alexandr Skarlinski, and James Whipple. (Rhizome will soon post a longer review of the show, but for now, check the link below.)


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Community Builders

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Currently on display at Baltimore's Contemporary Museum, "Cottage Industry" foregrounds the entrepreneurial and communitarian ethos of six artists/organizations, including Andrea Zittel and Christine Hill. The exhibition positions these practices, many taking the form of real- or pseudo-business and cultural ventures, in an extensive history of relational projects: from Beuys' "social sculpture" to Matta-Clark's "Food" restaurant/cooperative. Several of the participants interpolate conceptual production with community organization, including Lisa Anne Auerbach, whose project, The Tract House, makes available to museum visitors and online users a series of "manifestos, diatribes, stories, [and] rants" written by friends and acquaintances of the artist, as well as visitors to her website. Auerbach thus overlaps two meanings of "tract" (an area of land and a loosely distributed, often socially- or politically-conscious text), as if to suggest her open document pool to be a foundation for a new architecture of social exchange. The City Reliquary will also contribute something from its dusty coffers. First established as a window display in 2000, the City Reliquary has become a much-loved spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, displaying the eccentric accumulations of local collectors, old New York ephemera, and organizing events like the annual Bicycle Fetish Day (which is pretty much what its title suggests). For the exhibition, a mini-City Reliquary will be set up in the gallery in the form of a shadowbox containing special finds from their collection. In addition to exhibiting past works by participants, Contemporary Museum has helped a handful of them realize site-specific projects throughout Baltimore, including the sixth "regional prototype garden" of Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates, an ongoing project to replace "the domestic front lawn with a highly productive edible landscape." While the exhibition will conclude on August 24th, Haeg's garden will continue indefinitely -- one of many excellent examples the exhibition ...

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Social Work for Robots

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Jon Rubin's work "explores the social dynamics of public spaces and the lives of ordinary individuals." Often working in collaboration with other artists, institutions, and members of the general public, his projects have included setting up a gallery that exhibits only information about the neighborhood's inhabitants, broadcasting an office's telephone conversations through a talking piano, producing a cable access variety show at a senior center, and a variety of fake businesses that traded on interaction and the art of conversation. The artist's two most recent projects offer a glimpse into the delicate balance of precision and irony that render his work so poignant. Earlier this month, at Los Angeles' Machine Project, Rubin's A Practical Demonstration was "an exercise in suspended orbits, suspended disbelief, and circular group formations." It's the latter, the part about people standing in circles, that is so interesting. As the artist played director, a group of local amateur videographers captured a 360-degree image of a stuntman jumping from the gallery's second floor window. (He was going for "a very clumsy 'Matrix' effect.") Simultaneously, a circle of international collaborators documented the activity of the sun over a 24-hour period. The result of all this participatory documentation was an edited two-channel video in which both the jumper and the sun appear to float in mid-air. On its own, such a video project visually resembles many that have come before it, but Rubin sets his apart by devoting special attention to the details of social collaboration, thus creating a more meaningful experience. The same can be said of his current project taking place on the streets of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with the legendary installation art museum, The Mattress Factory. Like many of his initiatives, Join the Human to Robot Army began with a ...

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Knitting Circles Around the War

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Cat Mazza is a practitioner of what sociologist Betsy Greer has called "craftivism." She's used knitting and other needlecraft-related processes to address pertinent political issues. Her projects are particularly adept at effecting a tactical turning of the tables on issues; for instance, using hand-made (though often computer- or software-assisted) processes to address labor conditions. Her latest project is similarly successful at fighting fire with fire (or should we say "fiber"?), parodying a US government program--even using its own explicit instructions--to critique the ideas behind it. Stitch for Senate is a contemporary take on the historic practice of charitable knitting. During WWII, women and children supported the war effort by knitting clothing and protective gear for soldiers abroad. Following the US invasion of Iraq, Americans were encouraged to make similar efforts for soldiers stationed in Iraq and Aghanistan. However, as Mazza points out in a video on her site, this war is not as popular as WWII, consequently neither is the knitting initiative. On the fourth anniversary of the invasion, in order to spur more thought and dialogue about the war, Mazza launched Stitch for Senate which encourages users to download patterns and knit helmet liners not for combat troops but for every member of the US Senate (the legislative body that votes to declare war), giving them the responsibility of distributing the fuzzy armaments. Meanwhile, the website is a space for documentation of these efforts as well as posts by users about war-related discussions and acts of charity, patriotism, and activism within radius of their own local knitting circles. A few helmet liners won't unravel the war, but as with craft groups before them, projects like these do provide a safe platform for approaching (or stabbing a needle into) bigger issues. - Marisa Olson


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Who's To Say?

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The Brooklyn Museum is hip to this internet thing. Their current show, "Click!" (note the dot-fun exclamatory spelling!) is the latest in what seems to be a slew of museum shows to pick-up the theme of "crowdsourcing." While this term, coined by Jeff Howe in a 2006 Wired Magazine article originally referred to corporate R&D, the principal of a large body of "amateur" volunteers making collective decisions has not only rocketed a number of online ventures to success, it's also become a model for online activism, collective organizing, and art. The Brooklyn Museum's show invokes New Yorker magazine columnist James Surowiecki's ideas about "The Wisdom of Crowds" (essentially that collective knowledge is greater than the sum of its parts) in inviting online audiences to discuss and vote on photographs submitted by respondents to an open call. Curator Shelley Bernstein (whose official title at the museum is not Curator but, of course, Manager of Information Systems) opens a tricky can of worms in asking whether a diverse crowd can be "just as 'wise' at evaluating art as the trained experts?" In a sense it doesn't matter, like curators and critics before them, what they say goes. After the crowd has been sufficiently sourced, the artists get an exhibit at the museum and are displayed according to rank. Incidentally, the assignment for this photo study is to capture the face of Brooklyn, so the layers of sociological reflection are highly recursive, which somehow seems fitting. In her curatorial statement for Phantom Captain: Art and Crowdsourcing, at New York's Apex Art gallery, Aurora Picture Show founding director Andrea Grover argued that "crowdsourcing as a method of artistic production appears to be heir to the throne of 1960s and 70s happenings and participatory art." Fortunately, you don't ...

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What's in a System?

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The word "systems" is often used to describe the work of Jeanne van Heeswijki, and now the Netherlands-based artist has released a book by that title. In the ongoing interest of exploring the relationship between human and non-human systems, van Heeswijk's projects are worth a closer look. Often working site-specifically, on the basis of residencies, her modus operandi is to enter a community and invite its inhabitants to speak for themselves. This tactic has played-out in a number of ways ranging from inviting other artists to occupy her studio to inviting local schoolchildren to comment publicly on their harsh living environment. She describes this work as making "cultural models for public spaces," begging the question of what defines both these models and these spaces. A few of her projects have been "controversial," if only because these cultural models seems to call for sites of contestation, debate, and reconciliation. It's clear that the notion of an easy route does not compute in Heeswijk's approach to her practice, and -- usually working in collaboration with others -- she often eschews personal credit for the scenarios she concocts in order to place the emphasis on the intended beneficiaries of these designed encounters. But this lack of glory-seeking shouldn't be confused with a laissez-faire attitude. In truth, she belongs to a new generation of artists working to retool the relationship between art, activism, and public participation. It is the vocabulary of social codes and game-playing that regulates the artist's work and brings it into conversation with other network culture-based performances. Like many activist tomes, Heeswijk's new book functions much like a cookbook offering recipes for the assembly of such models. It is also partly a monograph on her previous work, which one can imagine does not lend itself to traditional ...

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Rhizome 2009 Commissions: Announced!

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Image: Angelos Plessas, Still from 'ElectricityComesFromAnother Planet.com' Proposal

We are pleased to announce the international group of artists who will receive grants through the Rhizome Commissions Program, this year.


Their projects will culminate in a variety of forms, from performance, to sound, to interactive websites and installation, to works that manifest across multiple disciplines. Each one pushes forward the field of contemporary art engaged with technology. All works will be completed by Summer 2009 or earlier, with information available on Rhizome.


The next call for commissions will take place in January 2009. Commissioned artists receive a grant and are invited to present their work at Rhizome's affiliate, the New Museum of Contemporary Art.


Marfa Webring, Jona Bechtolt, Claire Evans, Aaron "Flint" Jamison
In Marfa Webring, the artists Claire Evans, Jona Bechtolt and Aaron "Flint" Jamison will attempt to alter the Google search results for the town of Marfa, TX by creating a Webring and, then, (with the cooperation of the town's permanent residents) investigating the results of this action on the daily life of the town.


Case, Brody Condon
Brody Condon will re-create William Gibson's cyberpunk classic Neuromancer at a red barn theatre in rural Missouri with a local, former political activist in the role of the protagonist.


Untitled (Plate Tectonics), Andy Graydon
Andy Graydon explores sound as a building material. The project begins with field recordings taken at New York City arts institutions and manifests as phonograph records and a website where visitors are encouraged to add their own ambient recordings of installation and performance spaces.


Versionhood, Kristin Lucas
The artist Kristin Lucas recently changed her legal name from Kristin Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas and, thus, in her words, created "the most current version of Kristin Sue Lucas." In Versionhood, Lucas will consult ...

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Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

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San Jose, California, is an interesting place. Home to a seriously diverse range of people and subcultures, it's best known as the epicenter of Silicon Valley and, as such, has seen a number facelifts with the waxing and waning of the "information economy." But no event changes the look of San Jose quite like 01SJ. On June 4-8, Zero1 will present their second biennial festival, the first of which coincided with the 2006 ISEA festival. Five days may not sound like a long time period, but a quick perusal of the festival's lineup will reveal the extent to which the performances, exhibitions, public installations, screenings, happenings, discussions, and other see-it-to-believe it events will overhaul not only the city's art venues and alternative spaces, but especially its mainstream pavilions, parks, and platforms. The suits won't know what hit them! The team behind 01SJ includes some of the most longstanding champions of new media art and their selections for this year's programs push the envelope and keep a very open mind as to what constitutes new media and where the field is headed. If you're anywhere near the West Coast, consider hotfooting it to this hotbed of creativity. - Marisa Olson


Image: Camille Utterback, Abundance, 2007

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Editor's Note: Check Rhizome's blog later this week for daily reports from the 01SJ Festival by curator Michael Connor.

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