The Download: Mendi + Keith Obadike

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This month The Download features American Cypher by Mendi + Keith Obadike.

Still from American Cypher (2012)

American Cypher is a suite of projects that respond to American stories about race and DNA. The first module of the project was a sound installation inspired by the relationship between U.S. Presedent Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave and mother to his children. The instantiation of American Cypher offered this month through The Download, takes the form of a score for performance; combining poetry and video recorded in the basement of Jefferson's plantation, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the following excerpt from an interview Rhizome contributing writer Jason Huff conducted last September, Mendi and Ketih discuss the role of race and history in their multi-disciplinary practice.

Many of your pieces are concerned with race and identity and confront those issues through technology. In your 2001 piece "Blackness for Sale" you were asked to remove the auction from eBay because of its inappropriateness. Thinking about growth of identity and social networks on the internet over the last decade, do you feel that it is important for artists to continue to make political work that engages the internet and other new media?

While our early sound art works like Sexmachines, Automatic, or the Uli Suite were not about race/identity, certainly many of the early Internet works were. We would say that race itself is a technology, and so making work that looks at how issues of race or identity play out online is a way to highlight this fact. The Internet is by nature a contested space, so any work that engages with this terrain is of course political. Many of the questions we started asking in the late 90s around narrative structures, technology, and identity seem to remain relevant today ...

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Community Campaign 2012: The Download features Ryder Ripps

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In-process screenshot of Ryder Ripps's Facebook, courtsey of the artist

Last week, we kicked off our annual Community Campaign with the announcement of a new program for Rhizome members called The Download. Through The Download, Rhizome members are invited to get a first look at a new and significant artwork by one artist every month. Artworks will come in a variety of ubiquitous file formats such as .gifs, .html, .mov, and .jpegs. All works will be delivered as a .zip via The Download page. Once the artwork is downloaded, it is yours to collect, share with friends, and display on the screen of any suitable device. The Download is a premier opportunity to become a collector of great digital art!

For the first Download, we are highlighting a new work by conceptual artist Ryder Ripps (Internet Archaeologydump.fm and OKFocus). Ryder Ripps's Facebook (2011) is a copy of his entire personal Facebook history including all of his photos, private messages, chats, and wall posts. The viewer is invited to explore all of Ripps's Facebook activity, exposing some of the most intimate and private information. As with previous works, this project confronts issues of privacyFacebook, and fetishization of technology. Read more about Ripps's work on The Download page.

Next month, we will feature a new work by video artist Sabrina Ratté including music by Roger Tellier-Craig, aka Le Révélateur. Look out for more information about upcoming featured artists in the next few months.

The Download is supported by the Artist Fund, a pool of financial support generated by our members that is divided evenly among the participating artists. You can learn more about The Download and the Artist Fund on the FAQ page.

If you would like to be able to receive The Download first-hand and directly support artists, please contribute to Rhizome's Community Campaign and the Artists Fund today!

 

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