From the Rhizome Archives: Hacking the Art OS--Interview with Cornelia Sollfrank

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In this series of posts, we will be reblogging content from Rhizome's Archives, available here. This interview with Cornelia Sollfrank, conducted by Florian Cramer, comes from Rhizome's former publication, the Rhizome Digest. It was published on March 31, 2002. You can peruse old editions of the Rhizome Digest here.

Big thanks to Rhizome's curatorial fellow Natalie Saltiel for help with this post.


Date: 3.15.2002 From: Florian Cramer (cantsin AT zedat.fu-berlin.de) Subject: Hacking the Art OS--Interview with Cornelia Sollfrank Keywords: net art, hacking, gender, design

[This is the English translation of the original-length German interview. Copyleft and publication data is given at the end. -FC]

Hacking the art operating system

Cornelia Sollfrank interviewed by Florian Cramer, December 28th, 2001, during the annual congress of the Chaos Computer Club (German Hacker's Club) in Berlin.

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I have questions on various thematic complexes which in your work seem to be continually referring to each other: hacking and art, computer generated, or more specifically, generative art, cyberfeminism, or the questions that your new work entitled 'Improvised Tele-vision' throw up. And of course the thematic complex plagiarism and appropriation - as well as what can be seen as an appendix to that, art and code, code art and code aesthetics.

Surely code art and code aesthetics are more your themes than mine. I think I should be the one asking the questions here. (laughter)

...no, this refers very specifically to statements made by you, for example in your Telepolis interview with 0100101110111001.org, which I found excellent because of its rather sceptical undertones. If that really is more my area though, then by all means we can bracket it out of the interview.

No, no. I didn't mean it like that. Quite the opposite in fact. However that is what is so interesting and difficult about the relationship between these complexes - and which I often find myself arguing about. A lot of things appear to run parallel, or better put, one invests more in one area for a particular period of time, then returns back to something else. To keep an eye on how these various activities link together is not easy.

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Blogrolls, Trolls, and Interior Scrolls: A Conversation with Natacha Stolz

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Last spring, Natacha Stolz, a performance artist and a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, performed a piece called Interior Semiotics at an apartment gallery in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood. Stolz had the piece videotaped, and soon after the performance it went up on YouTube, where it remained unnoticed for upwards of four months. On August 5th, someone posted the video to 4chan, and it started to spread.

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Interview with Artist and Filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson, Laureate of the d.velop Digital Art Award 2010 (from VernissageTV)

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In this clip, Wolf Lieser, Director of the Digital Art Museum [DAM] and initiator of the d.velop Digital Art Award, interviews artist Lynn Hershman Leeson about her life and work. This year, Leeson won the 4th develop digital art award [ddaa] for lifetime achievement in the field of new media art.

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Required Listening

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The Women's Audio Archive began as a series of recordings, taped by Lewandowska after leaving her home country in 1984, grown out of an interest in language as a site of cultural displacement. These recordings document public events, seminars, talks, conferences, and private conversations as valuable records of a particular time in discourse, beginning around 1983 until 1990. Lewandowska denotes this period of time as one dominated by academics and artists close to October magazine and by feminist gatherings, including the participating of Judy Chicago, Mary Kelly, Barbara Kruger, Yvonne Rainer, Jo Spences, Nancy Spero, Jane Weinstock, etc. In a variety of settings and institutions, as well as in private, the recordings also document talks by artists and academics such as Benjamin Buchloh, Victor Burgin, John Cage, Allan Kaprow, Tom Lawson, Les Levine, Peter Wollen, etc.

The act of sound recording began as a way to address the possibilities, as an artist and in everyday life, within a new, unfamiliar environment - through observation in gathering knowledge and participation in developing relationships. Having been educated and raised in a totalitarian state and under a Communist regime, the artist maintains a sensitivity to the power of representation, to the original and manipulation of images, thereby influencing her perception of how history is constructed, who keeps the documents, and who has access to public broadcast. Moreover, the emphasis on sound, away from the image, is a conscious decision by the artist to undermine the primacy of visuality.

In establishing the Women's Audio Archive, Lewandowska seeks to create a collection and a site that would act as a meeting point where the recording conversations would participate in developing a history of women in the media-visual tradition that by its ephemeral nature can easily be forgotten. The Archive, with its attention to sound ...

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Multiple Views

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Artist Dan Graham (born 1942) has embraced a wide range of media and genres including film, video, performance, installation, architecture (he collaborated with Jeff Wall in 1989 to build Children’s Pavilion), women’s magazines (Figurative—made in 1965 and reproduced in Harper’s Bazaar in 1968), and rock music (where he has collaborated with musicians such as Glenn Branca and Sonic Youth). Graham is well known for his documentary Rock My Religion (1982-84), a fifty-two minute video that explores the religious and spiritual tendencies underlying the American obsession with rock music. In the exhibition catalog for Don’t Trust Anyone Over Thirty, Diedrich Diederichsen claims that this video is “one of the most important texts on the theory of rock music.” Rock My Religion, as well as many other of these interdisciplinary projects are included in Graham’s current solo show, Dan Graham: Beyond, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

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Female Extension (1997) - Cornelia Sollfrank

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Images: Sample work by fictitious female artists from Cornelia Sollfrank, Female Extension, 1997

Female Extension is perhaps one of the more renown pranks within the history of net.art. For the project, artist Cornelia Sollfrank submitted more than 200 applications by fictitious female artists to the net.art competition EXTENSION sponsored by Galerie der Gegenwart (Gallery of Contemporary Art) of the Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg Art Museum). She created not only a name, email address, phone number, and address for each applicant, but an example of original net.art work as well. Despite the disproportionate number of submissions by female artists, only male artists were selected as finalists. After the decision was announced, Sollfrank went public with the spoof.

Check the website for Female Extension which contains documentation from the project, including an interview with Sollfrank as well as a list of links to the art works she created for the applications.

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Guys and Dolls

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Image: Annika Larsson, Dolls, 2008 (Stills)

Swedish artist Annika Larsson has a way of keeping her subjects in check. The slow, close, eroticized way in which she hovers around the male characters in her videos susses out innuendo, narrative, and meaning from a space absent of dialogue. She'll often stage and shoot a very simple gesture or group activity and wring every drop of suggestion out of it as she can. Her use of the camera--and very frequently her positioning of her viewers before a large-scale, almost cinematic screen--instigates a reflection on the power relationships inherent in looking, showing, camera-wielding, and screen-gazing. The dom/sub shifts revolving around the photographic lens may by now be the stuff of art school mythologies, but Larsson always finds new ways to turn the tables on one's presuppositions about such things; adding to the conversation a discourse on form and perspectivalism--another old-fashioned notion worth reconsidering. Her new 47-minute video, Dolls, on view now at Paris' Cosmic Galerie, takes her signature style to an even more self-reflexive level by once again exploring men in their supposed territory and calling on the viewer to examine the layers of mediation at play in both the male actor's performance of his masculinity and their own deciphering of the scene. Taking place in a white cube-cum-sports court, the action revolves around men interpreting the futurist symbols painted on the walls and floor, which are meant to evoke not only a Fortunato Depero-inspired Peter Saville New Order cover (a pop art relic of paternal inheritance, the Freudians might say), but also the basic visual designs used to teach humanoid robots how to serve their masters. In this case, the five men in Dolls become servants to their master's whims, be it the serving of coffee ...

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The Remote Control Frontier

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Artist Christy Gast's new year-long curatorial project exploits the charms of TV-programming in a remote location while drawing on the benefits of using the web for wider distribution. The Moab Video Project is one in which artists' videos are played weekly on MAC21, a public access channel in the small rural town of Moab, Utah. The videos are curated through an open call and are shown between infomercials, public service announcements, weather reports, and other community programs. They must also be less than five-minutes in length and comply with FCC regulations, so together this highly-localized audience and these ground rules provide a fair enough dose of contextual restrictions to add-up to a very interesting opportunity for artists. But those outside of Moab's broadcast range need not fret. Gast posts links to the artists' videos, online, so that we can all take viewing pleasure in the selected works. This month she's showing four videos (one per week) by artist Lydia Moyer. Each of these works explores tropes and mythologies of the American West, ranging from the visual strategies typically used to represent "lady gunfighters" to a narrative inspired by Dolly Parton's autobiographical tale about trying to grow ponies in the desert earth. If the Western movie genre is defined by a story's contestation around the frontier (a border between porch and desert, interior and exterior, city and country, reality and fantasy), then Moyer's Western narratives are a perfectly fitting selection for a project that straddles the frontier between online and offline or local and international broadcasting. - Marisa Olson


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Math Goddess

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Despite the fact the art world is rife with gender discrimination, a situation only compounded by historic barriers thwarting women's entree to computing, the title "Grande Dame of Digital Art" is one for which a host of pioneering artists could vie. Nonetheless, Berlin gallery [DAM] believes this designation belongs to Vera Molnar, whose experimental Plotter drawings will be exhibited at the space May 30th-July 12th. Made between 1969-1990, these color and black and white geometric images were preceded by her invention, in 1959, of a "Machine Imaginaire," a surreal algorithmic generator that presaged aesthetic computing by many years. The artist was a contemporary of Paul Klee and shared in his generation's fascination with systems. However, in a witty essay entitled "1% Disorder," she made clear that there is always an open space for chaos and creativity-- not unlike what Freud called "the naval" of the dream. It is this open space that allowed her to bring a human warmth to the rigidity of the mathematical languages she admired, like her own fever dream resulting from infection by what she called the "virus of visual experimentation." - Marisa Olson


Image: Vera Molnar, (Des)Ordres ((Un)Ordnungen), 1974

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Women's Work

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At times, identifying a group of artists' work under one broad umbrella can be homogenizing or even censorious as it pushes their practice into the preformed box of genre conventions and limited identifications. This has certainly been the case with so-called "feminist art," not lastly because the very notion of feminism has shifted over time, along with the concerns of contemporary women. Nonetheless, the moniker has been an important vehicle for a variety of voices, and like all social movements, feminism depends on the participation of a multitude to thrive. These are the tensions (and opportunities) that inform the organizational logic of "The Way That We Rhyme: Women, Art & Politics," an exhibition that will open at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 29 and run until June 29. The show indeed includes a multitude of artists whose work ranges from live performance to DIY publications to street art to new media installations, thus testifying to the diversity of channels now used to address the issues faced by an equally diverse population that identify as women. These artists include Nao Bustamante, Vaginal Davis, Eve Fowler, MK Guth, Taraneh Hemami, Miranda July and Shauna McGarry, LTTR, Aleksandra Mir, Shinique Smith, subRosa, SWOON and Tennessee Jane Watson, The Counterfeit Crochet Project organized by Stephanie Syjuco, The Toxic Titties, and others. The explicit mandate of the exhibit is to present "the politically charged work of a new generation of women who use creativity as a form of empowerment and a means for making social change," and the ultimate argument is that "the way that we rhyme" is not only by raising hot topics, but by forming collaborations and coalition to swarm the root of these issues. This recalls the original definition of "radical," getting at the underlying fibers of ...

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