It Doesn't Just Work: DullTech on Kickstarter and Shenzhen


Earlier this month, the artist and DullTech CEO Constant Dullaart launched a Kickstarter to crowd-source the company's first product. The DullTech media player is a product that promises to simplify the installation of single- and multi-channel video work. The device works by playing and looping the first video file found on a USB-drive on any monitor or television without concern for file format, remote controls, or syncing screens. Considering the artist's previous works, which often focused on the conditions of art viewership within online networks and galleries, the concept for this device is both humorously apt and much-needed to solve the hassles of installation. 

Those who I have spoken with outside of the arts, however, have raised doubts concerning the ethics of the Kickstarter campaign and the product. Dulltech began while the artist was on a 2012 residency in Shenzhen, South China, a region known as "The Silicon Valley of Hardware." At that time, the company and product were a way for the artist to get into to an original equipment manufacturer (O.E.M.) to see the working conditions of Chinese laborers. After artists expressed excitement about the convenience of the product, Dullaart and his colleagues decided to go into actual production with the factory. Though the O.E.M. Dullaart used for this project, the Taiwanese manufacturer RealTek, does not have any reported violations, mentioning Chinese labor often elicits discomfort due to the 2010 suicides at Foxconn's Shenzhen factory and several reports by the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights and other watchdog organizations concerning working conditions, employee exhaustion, and contract terminations due to work-related illness.

DullTech's Kickstarter video


Announcing Rhizome's Autumn/Winter Program


Above: Lance Wakeling, still from Field Visits for Chelsea Manning (work in progress).

This Fall/Winter, Rhizome presents events, commissions, and exhibitions that offer considered illumination of contemporary digital culture, provide support for artists, and elaborate our vision for the born digital arts institution.


Rhizome in London: "Do You Follow? Art in Circulation" at The Old Selfridges Hotel


October 15, 2014 - October 17, 2014

A series of afternoon talks as part of the ICA's Frieze-week program at The Old Selfridge's Hotel in London. Featuring Kari Altmann, Alex Bacon, Hannah Black, Michael Connor, Constant Dullaart, Renzo Martens, Monira Al Qadiri (GCC), Takeshi Shiomitsu, Martine Syms, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, and Amalia Ulman.

With the screen arguably now the primary site of encounter for contemporary art, this talks series, taking place as part of ICA Off-Site: The Old Selfridges Hotel, examines the ways in which internet circulation has affected art practice and art's function.

Do You Follow? Art in Circulation begins with the premise that images do not merely depict their surrounding reality, but actively produce and shape it in economic, social, and physical ways. With the advent of the internet, the image's power to effect such transformation has greatly expanded. As a result, image production is by default a posthuman process, subject to the demands of global flows. Images circulating on a network may produce far-flung realities, in unpredictable ways. Some even claim that the world is becoming an image.


A Letter to Jennifer Knoll


Constant Dullaart, Jennifer_in_Paradise (2013). Restored digital image re-distributed online with stenographically encrypted message.

Dear Jennifer,

Sometime in 1987, you were sitting on a beach in Bora Bora, looking at To'opua island, enjoying a holiday with a very serious boyfriend. The serious boyfriend, John, took a photograph of you sitting on the beach, not wearing your bikini top. John later became your husband and father to your children Sarah, Lisa, Alex and Jane.

This photograph of a beautiful moment in your personal history has also become a part of my history, and that of many other people; it has even shaped our outlooks on the world at large. John's image of you became the first image to be publicly altered by the most influential image manipulation program ever. 


Constant Dullaart on the Upcoming Performance "Terms of Service"


Contant Dullaart: Premiere of Terms of Service will see the artist release a new series of works as a response to new Terms of Service conditions of several internet services.  The event is part of the New Silent Series at the New Museum on Thursday, May 24th, 2012 at 7 p.m. Rhizome spoke with Dullart over email in advance of the event:

Rhizome: The performance you will premiere on the 24th relates to terms of services of various websites. You've been working online for a significant amount of time, why are you focused on the politics of this now?

CD: A while ago a good friend compared to a (vertically) revolving library building. To continue with that analogy, my intention with this series of works was not to write a book to put in the library, but to change the perspective on that particular library (in this case Google Inc). The seeming lack of political positioning of these large corporate entities is something that benefits the approachability, the cleanliness of the image, emphasizes fake neutrality and the overall reputation that the companies build to gain the users' trust . But this does not mean that very important political decisions aren't being made by these commercially oriented multinational companies, involving everyone's access to information. The interests of corporations supplying tools that are used by everyone like water, but are being designed to make a profit have fascinated me for a long time. And the politics behind it become even more clear through vaguely described Terms of Services open to legal interpretation. Do we need to feel responsible for our online behavior in a context that is defined by enormous commercial interests, why wouldn't we stretch, bend, brake and play with these strange new laws that were put into action without any democratic process? 

Rhizome: So much of your work, whether it is a website, video or curatorial project as in Lost and Found contains a performance component. Can you describe your approach to performance, and how it will manifest in Terms of Service?

CD: Like JODI I too like to think of online artworks as sharing traits with performative art, as if the computers on the network are actively mediating the users experience in a manner that I designed and set to work, but have no final control over. As if I instructed an actor to go out into the streets and converse with strangers in a semi scripted manner. Most of my online works involve a sequence of actions that take place mostly within a personal atmosphere (at home or in an office cubicle) on a computer. And these activities function clearly and inseparably within a larger social and technical context (the rest of the internet), mostly within a short period of time where the technical options were available for these works to exist. Next to this my physical relationship to this ever evolving technical medium landscape interests me. What is my position in this whole thing, am i just an active user that is slaving away regurgitating content through these brave new media, or am I seeing myself, my online representation as material to perform with? And how does my body actually relate to all of this dissociation juggling? Can I humanize this perfectly designed fake neutral corporate online space? And what is my position in this social commodification process? Mixing the performative behaviors of online art, performing with online content, actual live performing, and performing on the social web, within the grey zones of many terms of service agreements.