Following the Lines


Jeremy Wood's "Mowing the Lawn" Installation View at Tenderpixel

In an era of Google Maps, our first engagements with places are often anticipated by technology. That is, our experience with a place often comes with pre-emptive associations from aerial pictures -- our possible routes predetermined and mapped; personal narratives and exploration are displaced for utility. So, what happens to our individualized explorations in time and space when GPS technology intervenes? This is the inquiry of GPS artist Jeremy Wood’s body of work and his current show “Mowing the Lawn” at Tenderpixel in London.

Jeremy Wood, Lawn 2005 Scale 1:300, 2010

Treating his body like a “geodesic” pencil, his daily routines are documented as lines in space via GPS technology. In turn, Wood’s performative rituals are data visualized as densely packed line drawings and animations. Having spent ten years developing a system for tracking and translating his everyday movements, the resulting pieces are one part drawing, one part diary and one part critique of the technological system’s accuracy/inaccuracy and how that intervention enables/limits our perception of the spatio-temporal.

Jeremy Wood, Nine Years of Mowing, 2010

While his work ranges from tracking large-scale transatlantic flights (Star Flights, 2008) to tracing and superimposing quotes from Melville onto two meridians in London (Meridians, 2005), in his latest show, Wood focuses on documenting the simple act of mowing the lawn in different intervals of time. Here, Wood emphasizes how banal repetition offers “individual narratives that express a freedom of movement generated from an act of garden maintenance”.

What may be more compelling, though, is how a digital trace can bring to the fore the problems of technology. Looking at Lawn 2005 Scale 1:300, we see multiple lines drawn where a house already exists. In Nine Years of Mowing ...


Google Tea Towels (2007) - Thomson & Craighead


[Source: Arc Projects Flickr]

A beautifully crafted set of four tea towels sporting a series of authentic search engine results returned to a user when the criteria, 'Please Help Me', 'Is Anybody there?', 'Please listen to me' and, 'Can you hear me?' were entered into the search field, while using Google in Netscape 4.7 on Mac OS 9.2 or Netscape 6 on Windows 98.



Punk Rock 101 (2006) - Cory Arcangel



A while back, I made a web page which paired Kurt Cobain's suicide letter with Google Ads (google ads are generated from the text of the page they appear on). It was up for a while but after getting digged google decided to remove the ads from the page. I took some screen shots while it was up and below are two examples of what it looked like. Also below are the checks that google sent me!



Untitled monuments 1-3 (2010) - Ben Schumacher






wood, Formica, 3d models from three different Google warehouse users are laser etched into acrylic crystal, each model is an imaginary monument with no specific ideological function. [Link to models]


Year of the 8 ball (2008) - Guthrie Lonergan


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Unsolicited Fabrications: Shareware Sculptures (2009) - Stephanie Syjuco




I fabricated a selection of "sculptures" designed by anonymous users of Google SketchUp, a free 3-D modeling program. Designed as a simple and easy-to-use version of CAD software, SketchUp has garnered a growing following of amateur designers who use it to model virtually everything from common household items to fantasy architectural designs. These digital designs can be uploaded to a freely-accessible database to “share” with other SketchUp users in their own projects.



Google Portrait Series (2007-2009) - Aram Bartholl



Each code represents a visual enryption of a search on 'Aram Bartholl' in a specific language on Google.

A Google Portrait is a drawing which contains the Google URL search string of the portrayed person in encoded form. Any camera smart phone is capable to decode the matrix-code with the help of barcode reader like software. The result points the mobile phone browser to a search on the portrayed person's name at Google.

A large number of people can be found by name on Google today. Everyone who is working on a computer and uses the internet regularly can be found on Google. Even people who don't use computers can be found sometimes because their names appear in 'old' media (i.e. books) on the net.

'Egosurfing' is a popular way for a user to find out what websites and information Google returns on his/her name search.

How many hits does Google show on my name? Am I popular? Do I want to be found at all? Who writes about me? What do people find out about me when they google my name? Am I in concurrence to other persons with the same name? Do I rely on the results Google shows me on a person's name? In which way do I relate to someone which I only known by Google results?



From the Mixed-Up Files of Mr. Danny Snelson


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."


Real Street View (2008) - Tara Kelton


"Life-size posters of Google Street View images removed from the internet and pasted in same location in the physical world. Monuments to spaces and moments that no longer exist."


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Image: From Jon Rafman's Google Street Views

Brian Droitcour is a writer, curator, and Russian-to-English translator. From 2002 to 2007 he lived in Moscow, where he covered art for The Moscow Times and Artchronika, a Russian monthly magazine. In 2008 he moved to New York, where he started working for Rhizome, first as curatorial fellow, then as staff writer. As a translator he's worked on several exhibition catalogues and art anthologies.

Jon Rafman's Google Street Views and the accompanying essay he wrote for Art Fag City's IMG MGMT series are sure to get several well-deserved mentions in end-of-the-year lists. Tom Moody on Google Street Views: "Jon Rafman's gathering of images from Google Street Views isn't really collecting at all but solid, groundbreaking journalism. Obviously untold hours were spent perusing this recent-but-everyday tool for images in very specific, focused categories. Photos that look like art photos, photos of mishaps, photos showing the success and failure of Google's face-blurring software, photos that show class issues in a supposedly 'universal' product (the down and out are more likely to be photographed unsympathetically than the up and in). As much as one hates to see more attention paid to the monopoly that aspires to put the happy face on Big Brother, this is worthwhile, thoughtful research." Kool-Aid Man in Second Life is a distorted twin to Google Street Views, another set of screen captures singling out accidental beauty and quirks of surveillance, only this time in a fantasy world that lets Rafman personify his searching gaze in a pitcher of fruit drink.

кремль.рф (kremlin.rf) won't go live until early next year, but the Russian presidential administration's new Cyrillic URL already made waves last month, when Russia became the first country to register top-level ...