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LAUNCH

"Due to the fact that i didn't have to write a proposal and to enumerate advanced technologies i would be using to make this piece I was completely free to make what i think is meaningful and beautiful. The pressure to be up to date with technology appears insane to me. It doesn't bring any more beauty or pleasure. Instead it creates things that are hard to understand and impossible to handle. So nobody can actually experience them beyond reading the artist's concept."

-Excerpt from must read interview about GRAVITY.

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Triple Play

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Danish site Netfilmmakers.dk provides what it terms "a non-commercial projectionspace for netfilm, net art video and net art," structured around a series of online curated mini-exhibits of just three works each. The latest and 13th edition is "To Kill at Dusk With Foam," featuring videos by Jana Eske, Andreas Kurtsson and Abhishek Hazra. In Eske's Apfelschnappen, a camera poised at the bottom of a tank of water records various individuals bobbing for a green apple, Kurtsson's Debris narrates the witnessing of a crime within a dream over images of depopulated exurban architecture, and Hazra's nicely inscrutable Nasal Sceptre portrays a pixelated rotating teapot covered with inscriptions of what may be bizarre online lingo ("RLAIAADKTEATCOR: rotate left arm in an anticlockwise direction keeping the elbow as the centre of rotation" -- one left out of Marisa Olson's recent Netacronyms?) The accompanying essay's attempt to tie these three works together under the themes from the Mahabharata and the anthropological concept of liminality constitute theoretical lily-gilding, but the site's micro-curated format nevertheless bears the satisfying succinctness of a video haiku. - Ed Halter

Image: Andreas Kurtsson, Debris, 2008

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Harm van den Dorpel and Damon Zucconi on their work

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From Right to Left: Damon Zucconi, Untitled (SONY), and Harm van den Dorpel, Reconfigurations (Ostrich), 2008


This week, I Heart Photograph published an interview with artist Harm van den Dorpel which, however brief, offers insight into his process. In response to the first (of two) questions, van den Dorpel describes the series from which his image above is excerpted: "this work is part of my project 'semantics'. it is a series of manipulated found images. after applying one action or manipulation i put them back online. in computer programming 'semantics' is opposed to 'syntax'. when i look at media i am always struck by the (stupidity of) visual conventions and expectations; these are these syntactic rules. purposely i generate a syntax error in the visual language of the photos. after the images are processed on a lower layer, they become mine, and carry completely other meaning or emotions. " Also check out this interview from NY Arts Magazine with van den Dorpel and Damon Zucconi, a dynamic artist who shares some of van den Dorpel's concerns. Zucconi's varied and fast-growing body of work includes browser-based projects such as Sometimes Red, Sometimes Blue, video such as Untitled (SONY) as well as inter-disciplinary installations and expanded performances, all of which interrupt the marketing campaigns of everything from ideas to TV shows and, in so doing, interrogate the production and circulation of visual information. The format of their conversation: a straight transcription from gchat allows them to vacillate between casual conversation and more thoughtful reflections on their work -- all interesting and valuable to read. -- Lauren Cornell

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Express Yourself

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If virtual commerce were ever in need of a critical makeover, we might look no further than Kevin Bewersdorf and Paul Slocum to offer some solutions. As key instigators of a new type of objecthood, Bewersdorf and Slocum's individual and collective practices treat the internet as a launching pad for self-expression, where a motley crowd of Google searches and "spirit surfing" can be reinvested with the "ephemeral-imperfect" qualities of everyday items, courtesy of Walgreens.com Photo Center and other online manufacturers. What ensues are amusing products - pillowcases emblazoned with search result images of "Titanic" and "Woodstock"; mouse pads covered with pictures of "Pain" - made all the more bewildering by their stringent adherence to the terms of gallery exhibition: pristine white pedestals et. al. Bewersdorf and Slocum's reapportionment thus extends beyond the realm of clever shopping and into that of conceptual art, offering methods of traversing the routes of internet-based consumption towards highlighting a dominant commercial paradigm, yet ultimately sequestering its products in the realm of aesthetic display, within which their uncanny qualities may be brought into sharp relief. "Spirit Surfers," opening this weekend at VertexList, promises to find the artists delving deeper into this inquiry, and also marks the debut of their brand new web-based surfing club of the same name. - Tyler Coburn

Image: "Maximum Sorrow Throw Blanket #2", Kevin Bewersdorf, 2008

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Go With the Flow

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Fluxus is an art-historical movement that shares much in common with new media and is among our field's forebears. Its trajectory reads much like new media's: A network of experimental artists, scattered across the world, dissatisfied with the market's stagnant influence on art, concerned with art's ability to address the present moment, and intrigued by the interplay between concept and medium banded together to collaborate, creatively challenge each other, and co-theorize their niche. The word "fluxus" refers to "flow" and the idea of a fluidity between various media, as we now see in the ever-expanding field of new media art. Fluxus emerged in the 1960s and thrived through the late-1970s. Today, scholars and critics split hairs as to whether the movement is still in play, while its legacy continues to blossom--as in the current exhibition at New York's Maya Stendhal Gallery. "From Fluxus to Media Art," open through April 26, traces the DIY aesthetic embraced by members of the international Fluxus movement, and presents work whose signifying moments occur at the interstices of performance, film, literature, and electronic media. The show traces the movement's relationship to Dada and surrealism and its influence upon pop art, but has a stated interest in considering the path Fluxus paved for media art. Included is work by Jonas Mekas, George Maciunas, George Brecht, Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, Shigeko Kubota, and Studio IMC. Many of the seminal projects and important pieces of ephemera on view make a trademark critique of authorship, while also paying homage to peers and collaborators within the movement. In the interest of knowing the history of the present, you're encouraged to see this exhibition. - Marisa Olson


Image: Nam June Paik, Majestic, 1975 reset 1996

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Numerous Beginnings

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"The beginning of an unfinished sentence" reads No.47 (2007) by Pavel Buchler, one of many contributions to the ongoing online exhibition Why + Wherefore. The sentence fragment succinctly captures the premise of the show, which explores the tension between an art work's initial conception and completion. Curators Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan, and Nicholas Weist invited a diverse group of artists, practicing both online and off, to submit entries around the process of beginning a piece. With the involvement of over 50 artists, the interpretations of "beginning" vary widely. The website deceptively divides separate areas for "Works" and "Project Beginnings + Proposals", after some navigation, however, it becomes quite clear that the entries could easily translate to either category. Filed as a "Work", multimedia installation artist Assume Vivid Astro Focus submitted a series of long and elaborate to do lists. As a list of unfulfilled, amusing intentions (see: "13. Buy urgent: "The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell" by Aldous Huxley"), the To Do Lists (2007) demonstrate how quickly and powerfully ideas can emerge and then get lost. Artist Colby Bird's Dave and Tim (2007), also filed as a "Work", opens with the typed lyrics of Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys "Neva Eva" and then rotates through an unending loop of found digital images of keg parties, speaker systems, hallways, cats, teenagers, etc. Framed by an nondescript magazine advertisement, Dave and Tim uses the internet's store of visual detritus to present a bleak portrait of American life marked by consumerism. Artist Bard Ask's Global Perspective (2007), filed as a "Proposal", opens dramatically on a satellite image of the earth, and progressively narrows in on the state of Florida. The dramatic score heightens suspense, and the video closely recalls the opening sequence of a doomsday thriller. Florida ...

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