You Know We're Living in the Computer Age? Computer History According to Law & Order

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Artist Jeff Thompson received a Rhizome commission in 2012 for his project Computers on Law & Order, for which he watched every episode of the long-running television series and took screenshots of all the computers. Thompson will present an illustrated lecture based on the project  this Saturday, Feb 1 at 4pm at the Museum of the Moving Image, followed by a discussion with Law & Order graphic designer Kevin Raper. In this article, he shares some of his findings. 

In the fall of 1990, a television program about crime, police investigation, and criminal trials named Law & Order aired for the first time. The show eventually ended in 2010, tied with Gunsmoke for the longest-running live-action television show at 20 seasons and 456 episodes.[1] With its unique (and consistent) style and trademark "dun-dun!" sound, Law & Order has generated several spin-offs and can likely be found playing at any hour of the day somewhere on cable.[2]

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Required Reading

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YoHa (Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji), Coal Fired Computers, 2010.
(Installation view at Discovery Museum, Newcastle, courtesy the artists. Photograph: Louise Hepworth)

This interview follows on from a project called “Coal Fired Computers (300,000,000 Computers - 318,000 Black Lungs)” carried out in Newcastle in spring 2010 for the AV Festival. The project, by Graham Harwood, Matsuko Yokokoji with Jean Denmars involved a means of producing a physical diagram between components in production as they undergo transformations across different kinds of time, politics, matter, knowledge, and vitality. The project found a way of working with such things that was particularly powerful. The interview begins with a discussion of CFC but also moves off into databases and a certain understanding of their material force. One thing we don’t cover in the interview is the detail of the Coal Fired Computers project’s work with miner activists, including the inspirational Dave Douglass. (See information on his memoirs here ). More of this can be found in a booklet about the project here, including links to all the groups involved. The interview was carried out by email in May and June 2010.

-- EXCERPT FROM "PITS TO BITS, INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM HARWOOD" BY MATTHEW FULLER

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General Web Content

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For today's General Web Content I have assembled a collection of images that repurpose traditional models of data visualization for humorous/bizarre/illuminating effect. This meme has been around for several years now, first coming into mainstream awareness with the emergence of the overwhelmingly brilliant website "rap represented in mathematical charts and graphs," and continues to be a persistent mechanism for creative expression across the web. (Especially in forums such as b3ta, 4chan, and Something Awful.) The intent of this collection is not to present a best of, but merely to convey a broad overview of the meme. Enjoy.



























































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Last Midi Background (LMB) (2009) - Sebastian Schmieg

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Last Midi Background (LMB) is a project by Sebastian Schmieg, a Berlin-based student focusing on new media and stuff.

It is an internet radio, a cyberspace shuttle, and a kind of archive. LMB takes you on a journey through an almost forgotten web that is loud, colorful, often "personal", and doesn't care about standards. Though it might be forgotten by many, some parts of it are still there, waiting to be explored. And maybe we can learn something along the way.

LMB plays a continous stream of MIDI music. However these aren't just random tunes, instead the songs are taken from websites where they are being played as background music.

While playing a song the LMB cyberspace shuttle flies through a stream of images that have been taken from the website you're (kind of) listening to.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Illuminated Manuscripts

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The metaphor of the brain as a database (or, if you prefer, the database as a brain) flatters and anthropomorphizes the machine more than it explains the mind. Gray matter doesn't seem to be organized in a way that makes the storage and retrieval of information easy; rather, the classification and categorization that characterize the database are pre-digital technologies invented to manage the ever-increasing amounts of information that civilization requires citizens to master. Cicero used a "memory palace" when delivering orations. As he spoke, he would imagine moving through a house where each room and object represented points he needed to make in his speech and the supporting evidence he needed to make them. The antithesis of such memory systems might be the dream, the mind's nightly refresher that reconfigures the day's events and data in disjointed, symbolic narratives. Both the memory palace and the dream are based on irrational elements: subjective experience, arbitrary connections, and word play. That the memory palace is created under the thinker's deliberate control only highlights the conscious mind's eagerness to do what the unconscious mind does automatically. Even as Cicero publicly performed the constructs of reason, his brain was circumventing them.

Last July, in a New York University faculty residence on West Houston Street where Picasso's sculpture and I.M. Pei's architecture face off in a courtyard invisible to Google Earth, Alexandre Singh delivered an installment of his Assembly Instructions Lectures, a series of talks illustrated by a pair of overhead projectors. After introducing his audience to Matteo Ricci, a sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary who taught the memory palace technique to Chinese officials to convince them of the superiority of Western (and by extension, Christian) thought, Singh launched into a detailed recounting of a dream he supposedly had, in which Ingvar Kamprad, founder and principle shareholder of Ikea, announced that the master floor plan implemented in every Ikea store around the world encodes a classification of all human knowledge. For instance, the arrangement of shoes, hangers, and sweaters in a display closet, as Singh demonstrated, represented the kingdoms and phyla of life on Earth. What's more, the Ikea system of Singh's dream world does not merely encode--it controls. If something changes in a store--say, a new couch model is introduced for the new season, or a passing child moves a prop coffee-table book around a fake living room--the fabric of reality is altered.

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rgb f__cker (2003) - exonemo

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Past in the Present

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Image: Vivian Selbo, Vertical Blanking Interval, 1996 (From "Net Art 1.0")

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Image: Jodi, map, 2000 (From "Net Art 1.0")

The rapid pace of development online often contributes to the illusion that the recent past is more distant than it is in actuality. Steve Dietz's "Net Art 1.0", an exhibition curated for Steve Lambert's Firefox Application AddArt, replaces advertisements on web pages with screenshots of some of early Net Art's greatest hits. By substituting pesky ads inviting you to lose weight or join eHarmony with images of works such as Vivian Selbo's Vertical Blanking Interval (1996), Vuk Cosic's ASCII history of moving images (1999) and Jodi's map (2000), the ghost of Net Art's past becomes manifest in the here and now. In the curatorial statement, Dietz remarks that these works "pressaged the present with uncanny precision" and, indeed, the emphasis on concerns that are still prevalent, such as the mediation of human connection and the blurring between public and private, reminds us that a decade isn't exactly equivalent to an eon.

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The Real McCoys

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Jennifer and Kevin McCoy are a married couple of New York-based artists whose collaborative work conveys a love of film and televised narratives. Their early projects embodied database aesthetics as they chopped shows like 8 is Enough, Kung Fu, and Starsky and Hutch into short clips, often inviting viewers to rearrange them according to what we'd now call metadata. For instance, one could choose from a bank of DVDs in their Every Shot, Every Episode to watch every occurrence of the color blue, or of extreme close-ups. More recent works have entailed building elaborate miniature film sets, complete with working cameras, to shoot microfilms. In the case of High Seas, the set is a sort of kinetic sculpture in its own right, mimicking its subject as it moves around to create shots of the famed Titanic loosing its footing on the ocean. The role of filmic media in mythologizing the ill-fated boat is of course implicit in the installation. While these projects have always been infused with a sense of subjectivity, as the artists perform their fandom through their selective decisions, lately their work has incorporated more explicitly autobiographical elements. Their piece, Our Second Date, for instance, is a miniature movie set which features the artists watching the film from their second date, Weekend, reenacted through a mobile sculpture and video streamed live to a tiny screen. The choice to position themselves as spectators within their own reality, and moreover to confess that their romance budded around screen pleasure opens up a number of interpretations of their ongoing work and paves the way to their newest project, which opens November 22nd at Postmasters Gallery. In I'll Replace You, the artists again place themselves at center stage, without stepping in front of the camera. Instead, a series of different ...

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Tetrasomia (2000) - Stephen Vitiello

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LAUNCH

Statement: Stephen Vitiello's first solo project for the web, Tetrasomia presents intriguing web-based archives of sounds from the natural and physical world, including such sounds as a fruit fly courtship, an underwater volcano, and poison frogs, as the source for an interactive sound project. Tetrasomia also features four new sound compositions by Vitiello: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.

Work commissioned by Dia's ongoing web projects series.

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Back up (2005) - Leonard van Munster

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3d installation and 3d game in university library Amsterdam, 2005.
Artist's statement: By collecting information and killing bookworms in the game, the player can cause events in "real life"


LAUNCH

More work by Leonard van Munster

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