Images from Jonathan Zawada's exhibit "Over Time" at PRISM

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Why the Earth is Green, 2010

The exhibition focuses on large-scale landscape paintings whose topographies are derived from graph data. Zawada collected and compared a variety of data series that extrapolate information over time, such as “Marijuana usage among year 12 students vs. CD and Vinyl record sales between 1975 and 2000” or “Value of land per square meter in Second Life vs. Value of land per square foot in Dubai between 2007 and 2009.” The data is then manipulated through a 3D fractal program and the resulting environment becomes a virtual abstraction that mimics a mountainous landscape.

Painted on linen, the landscapes are a response to the “virtual” reality of digital experiences that are highlighted by the intrinsic flatness and surreal color palate. Invoking the robotics hypothesis of the “Uncanny Valley,” the works take on an android quality, a sense of reality but not quite, registering with the viewer as both familiar and dissimilar. This theme carries through to his drawings, juxtaposing the hyper-real with the conceptually abstract and underlining the temporality of human experience.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM STATEMENT FOR "OVER TIME" AT PRISM (DEC 16, 2010 — FEB 12, 2011)

Flight 77, 2010

Earth Movers, 2010

Very Hot Nights, 2010

Land Sale, 2010

Originally via TRIANGULATION BLOG

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Interview with Zach Gage

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Zach Gage, Hit Counter, 2009

“Between the ubiquity of Internet access and the fact that data has no objective tangible form, internet users have long been plagued with the problem of determining the value of the content they are ingesting.” - Zach Gage

Seen in a certain light, the core of technological mediation has always been presence, absence, and distance. Writing established the possibility of presence during absence, arrows and gunpowder created force at a distance, the telephone created presence at distance, and network computing fundamentally altered the nature of being “absent” or “present” to an almost unrecognizable degree. No small surprise then that contemporary “media art” practice seems to return to these questions as being fundamental investigations. The question of what “presence” could be was explored and expanded throughout the dawn of the internet age: Ken Goldberg’s TeleGarden, Eduardo Kac’s concept of Telepresence, Sven Bauer, Heath Bunting, to grab but a few names. Each possibility of a new field of entry, a new method of retaining, mapping, signifying, and storing, opened a rich possibility. Now fast forward fifteen years and ever-presence is exhausting, a nuisance that forever asks and returns only the vague rewards of a slot-machine and seems to fray our sense of privacy, meaningfulness, boundary, and perhaps even self. So how then to artistically respond to this? Exhibit: Zach Gage.

His works are at once sophisticated and remarkably simple, both in presentation and concept in a way that might be recognizable to Joseph Kosuth or Lawrence Weiner, rather than the Baroque conceptual complexity on display in much media art in the 90’s. Computational art or interactive art has generally taken two tacks in dealing with the complexities of technology itself -- unabashed celebration and dystopian anxiety. At either extreme is the grandiose challenge of prediction: this possible or actual relationship to technology will lead to this consequence or benefit. The reality of living with technology is not only simpler but is often much more banal. The most refreshing element of Gage’s work is how it asks us to do nothing more than consider what is. Working with the instantly familiar data sources, Twitter, Google, chat servers, at their simplest, his work often resembles a refreshingly sharp Occam’s Razor taken to notions of the richness of data and networked experience.

His thesis show, “Data”, is an extremely visually and thematically understated installation comprised of several pieces. Small wooden boxes, wires, and simple placards: none of the forced estrangement, hand-waving interactivity, or spectacle that one associates with computer arts. In particular, one of the pieces in the show, Hit Counter stands out as particularly poignant: a simple measurement of the number of times someone has stood in front of the work. Face recognition software is used to keep track of the actual viewers and the number is displayed on an old-fashioned mechanical counter. Gage states “with no other means to judge it, Hit Counter demands to be assigned a worth based solely on its popularity.” But then, Hit Counter is not merely asking to be judged on popularity. It, like so many things in our media culture, is popularity. It’s nothing else, and it’s not any kind of popularity other than actual physical presence; a sharp reminder of the relationship between presence and popularity. No matter how many people hear about it online, what is written about it, what buzz is generated, it’s a simple box that generates a number based on how many unique people have stood in front of it. I’m not sure whether I’m more struck by the concept itself or that I am so struck by the concept as an ontological exercise: something that simply is actual physical presence. It’s odd that it is odd and, in that oddness, it is a stance closer to Sol Lewitt “Sentences on Conceptual Art” than many other re-interpretations of his legacy and ideas. Reformulating the simplest data object imaginable in the simplest terms has a markedly clarifying effect and in clarification is a rare kind of beauty. I spoke with Zach Gage about Hit Counter, as well as his larger practice.

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Chilton Computing Photographs: 1961-2004

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DCS Systime 5000 used for Unix Development (01.01.80)

The photos below derive from the online photo archive "Chilton Computing Photographs: 1961-2004." Photos in the collection relate to computing and computer staff on the Chilton, Oxfordshire site that housed both the Atlas Computer Laboratory and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The archive contains over 3000 photos from 1961-2004.

Originally via DIAMOND VARIATIONS

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Atlas Machine Room in Colour, just before Closure (13.03.73)

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Apollo Domain (05.04.82)

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Computer Graphics Display: Rutherford (02.01.70)

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Computer Display Board (High Speed Local Networks) (03.10.79)

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ICL 2904 (22.03.79)

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PERQ Screen: Game of Life (05.03.81)

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Transputer (07.04.87)

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Untitled (corrupted data, 67,4 Mb, mpeg, file date : 23.03.1997) (2009) - Sean Snyder

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Originally via VVORK

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Colour Chaser (2010) - Yuri Suzuki

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Colour Chaser detects and follows black line whilst it reads the colour and translate the colour RGB data into sound.



Originally via Pixelsumo

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Interview with Katie Paterson

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Katie Paterson is an artist whose work spans installation, sculpture, transmission, and sound. Her work presents the viewer with a deeper sense of the passage of time and the evolution of nature and the cosmos. Technology often factors into this line in her practice, where it is used to bring about an awareness of its own restrictions as well as our limited ability to sense and experience natural cycles and movement. She is currently showing History of Darkness in the group exhibition “Cage Mix” at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, up until September 19, 2010. Her series "Every Night About This Time" also opens this weekend at the Whitstable Biennale.

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Hello Process! (2008) - Marloes de Valk and Aymeric Mansoux

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hello process! shows a machine doing what it does best, deleting, copying and moving blocks of data. The installation consists solely of a computer and a printer. The computer functions as it usually does, as a black box theatre of processes. The only output comes through the printer, giving us clues about the activity inside, while in the background, the raw noise of the machine creates a sound scape, a sonification of this theatre of naive computation.

A file of 128 blocks is created. In this file, each block can be occupied by a small piece of code. Every piece of code has its own strategy. Some try to conquer as many blocks as possible, others simply target one specific piece of code or an unsuspecting neighbour. When the process is set in motion, all blocks are executed one after the other. This results in a battle between the file’s inhabitants. After forty iterations, a fresh file is created with a new combination of code.

Each piece of code has a special ID. This ID is sent to the printer every time the block is loaded in which the code is residing. Each printed line represents the result of one battle cycle. 128 small graphical representations of code are printed. This process repeats 40 times, creating a map of abstract patterns depicting the changes that took place. There is some duality in this theatre of naive and nonproductive computation. We like to think of processes as actors in a machine theatre, playing with anthropomorphism and metaphors to trigger the imagination. Each piece of code has a descriptive name such as copycat, eraserhead, destroyer, or swapmaster, and displays behaviour to match. But at the same time these programs are just mechanical low level operations, totally inhuman. In the end the ...

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self.detach (2008) - Tim Horntrich and Jens Wunderling

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self.detach is a dynamic object, which adopts a critical position towards the celebration of the ego on the internet by dissolving self-portraying pictures into coloured particles.

--DESCRIPTION FROM THE PROJECT PAGE

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"Decode" at the V&A: Digital Reflections and Refractions

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A large installation in the Grand Entrance of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum clatters away, registering its presence in this historic hallway. Jointly commissioned (by the V & A and SAP), bit.code (2009), by Julius Popp, consists of a large panel of black and white blocks which appear to represent a curious, indecipherable code as they rotate around their frame. Periodically its units align, clearly depicting popular terms streamed live from news site feeds. In this physical form and location, this is real-time made somehow more timely. Looming over visitors, a literal staging of data being decoded, the work asserts itself as an apt entry portal to "Decode", the V & A's inaugural exhibition of contemporary digital and interactive design.

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mr. Danny Snelson

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Google's mission "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" centers around faith in the power of the keyword to unlock its bottomless treasure chest and put the right answer in one window. Years have passed since the company's ranking algorithm outpaced the approach of human navigators filing information into channels -- an approach that Yahoo has been trying to keep alive by farming the digital labor to users themselves. But even as search algorithms make dinosaurs of the Dewey decimal and other brain-powered systems, it might be worth considering the benefits of staying open to a plurality of variously scaled methods.

These issues converge in Danny Snelson's work as a writer, editor, and archivist. His titles increasingly overlap in the internet's library without walls--an environment that often embodies the Foucauldian idea that "one never archives without editorial frames and 'writerly' narratives (or designs)," as Snelson put it in an email. As an archivist, he has made substantial efforts to preserve endangered cultural artifacts -- making them universally accessible and useful, you might say -- on behalf of PennSound, an audio archive specializing in recorded poetry, and UbuWeb, where, at the suggestion of founder Kenneth Goldsmith, he scanned out-of-print titles and reformatted them as PDFs for free distribution via the site's /ubu channel. The PennSounds and UbuWebs of the internet undertake preservation projects that small presses and recording labels can't touch due to financial reasons, thus ensuring that experimental work will continue to reach audiences in years to come. Distribution networks like these matter in an environment where the internet (for those without access to academic libraries, at least) is often the first and last stop for research -- a realization that impelled Goldsmith to formulate a radical ontology in the title of his 2005 essay, "If it doesn't exist on the internet, it doesn't exist."

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