1 Question Interview with Billy Rennekamp

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Billy Rennekamp, Big Head Mode, 2010

This weekend, DIY storefront art space Cleopatra's in Brooklyn will be hosting an exhibition for Billy Rennekamp's WIN WIN. The event kicks off tonight with a talk on video games and cheats hosted by designers/writers Charles Pratt and Simon Ferrari. This exhibit is an extension of Rennekamp's BA thesis project at Bard, titled Big Head Mode. Focused on the idea of cheats in video games, and especially the agency yielded by the use and development of cheats in game play, the works in this installation comprise a 3D video game made by the artist, a prepared version of a Pokemon ROM, and a mix of hand sewn and store-bought sports balls littered throughout the space. In anticipation of the show, I conducted a one question interview with Rennekamp, à la Rafael Rozendaal's One Question Interview blog.

(Full disclosure - Billy is a former Rhizome intern extraordinaire and a member of badass internet surf club Loshadka.)



What makes cheats so satisfying?

We spend our life building up this little rule book that describes how everything works. So when we see something that defies these fundamental rules, we freak out. The unusual and unexplained are always fascinating.

Things are supposed to work a certain way. They've worked that way forever. But then they stop and the rules might bend or even break. When that happens a special energy is produced. Every time something rare occurs--something outside the ordinary--people make wishes and try to harness that power. Needless to say the power is felt. When I was three I got bitten by a Brown Recluse. My arm was swollen with pustules for weeks and the necrosis on my hand left a permanent scar. There's nothing beneficial about a scar, but I ...

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"Mark Essen Makes 8-Bit Action an Art" on Motherboard.tv

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In this clip, Motherboard.tv profile video game artist Mark Essen. It's a nice, brief overview of Essen's practice.

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Two New Turbulence Commissions

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Networked art non profit Turbulence announced two new (sound-related) commissions yesterday - WWW-Enabled Noise Toy by Loud Objects and Moments of Inertia by R. Luke DuBois, with Todd Reynolds. Be sure to check them out - you can read a bit about the works below.



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WWW-Enabled Noise Toy by Loud Objects (with funds from the Jerome Foundation)

Loud Objects (Kunal Gupta, Tristan Perich and Katie Shima), NYC-based circuit sorcerers, present a wacky way to learn hardware audio programming. The WWW-Enabled Noise Toy invites anyone with a web browser to write their own audio code, program it remotely onto a Noise Toy, and play it live via webcam. In the spirit of “try it yourself” software demos, the website provides a simple environment for experimenting with low-level microchip-generated audio. Load code from the Loud Objects’ own library of performance algorithms, hone your own noise techniques, and add your work to the online archive to share it with other microchip coders and create an open source noise community.



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Moments of Inertia by R. Luke DuBois, with Todd Reynolds

Moments of Inertia is an evening-length performance based on a teleological study of gesture in musical performance and how it relates to gesture in intimate social interaction. The work is written for solo violin with real-time computer accompaniment and video. Moments consists of twelve violin études written for Todd Reynolds - ranging from 1-10 minutes in length - each of which uses a different violin performance gesture as a control input for manipulating a short piece of high-speed film (300 frames-per-second) - of objects and people in motion. Taking its cue from principles in physics that determine an object’s resistance to change, the violinist’s gestures time-remap and scrub the video clip to explore the intricacies of the performed action.

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A Studio Visit with LoVid

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I had the opportunity to drop by LoVid's (Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus) studio at Smack Mellon in DUMBO this week, where they were awarded space for the 2009 cycle of their Artist Studio Program. In their work, LoVid hack and manipulate video in a myriad of ways -- sewing it into quilts, melding it with resin and foam core to make 3D sculptures, integrating live video feeds into the body of other sculptures, altering it in live performance, or weaving the electric wires that transmit video signals into large textiles. Their practice brings the elemental technologies behind video to the fore, while also emphasizing the interactive systems that trigger them. The below photo essay provides a small preview to some of their recent and older works. To see everything they've been up to, be sure to stop by Smack Mellon's Open Studios on Saturday March 20th from 12-6pm, when LoVid will open up their workspace to the public.

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Imperfect Sound Forever

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Many scholars within the field of media archaeology opt to focus on the backstory behind an influential medium or technology and map out how its inception and organizational logic (re)shaped the world. An alternative approach is the excavation and arrangement of fringe/forgotten prototypes into an array to problematize dominant historical narratives regarding technological progress. Caleb Kelly's recent text Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction uses two consumer technologies, the phonograph and the compact disc, to survey 20th century musical and artistic production. The book catalogs a broad range of experimentation with these playback technologies to create detailed timelines of misuse and critical engagement. In bracketing this realm of sound-producing practice, Kelly proposes "cracked media," a subversion of technological devices whereby "...tools of media playback are expanded beyond their original function as a simple playback device for prerecorded sound or image." Given the prominence of the glitch and lo-fi malformed digital artifacts everywhere from media art to pop music to web video, it is easy to take the aesthetics of failure for granted. The investigation executed within Cracked Media prefigures many of the discussions that underpin generative and glitch aesthetics by focusing on work that foregrounds and interrogates the materiality of two specific mediums. Kelly methodically tracks projects that subvert the CD and phonograph over the entire 20th century and in doing so he builds a fascinating discourse about musical performance and reproduction that is equally comfortable referencing Friedrich Kittler as DJ Qbert.

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"Something Wrong is Nothing Wrong: Jodi.org" on Motherboard.tv

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In this clip, Motherboard.tv speak with Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans of the legendary Jodi about several of their works, focusing on their playfully chaotic approach toward technology.

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Top 5 - 10

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Loud Objects Noise Toy

Nick Hasty is Rhizome's Director of Technology



Here's my top 5 list of DIY audio art kits to keep you busy in 2010.

► Arduinome

Open source, Arduino-based version of the monome controller interface that utilizes usb midi and open sound control. Great for controlling instruments, installations, and performances.

► Casper Electronics Drone Lab

Peter Edwards' Drone Lab is a 4 voice analog drone synth, rhythm generator and FX processor. A great kit from one of the kings of circuit bending.

► Loud Objects Kit

Simple but powerful kit from the Loud Objects performance group. You can easily integrate your own code to write new low-bit jams.

► Triwave Picogenerator and other assorted kits by 4ms

4ms has been making a wide variety of wonderful and novel instruments for nearly 15 years. These guys are pros and extremely nice to boot.

► the x0xb0x

Open-source version of the Roland TB-303. What more could you ask for?

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DC Power Supply (2005) - Paul Slocum

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printed circuit board, wire, components, LEDs (4.5" x 14.5")

"I found a way to translate bitmap images into the circuit design program I was using, and converted actual and recreated images that I made when I was a toddler and a rebellious youth. The drawings are rendered in tin-plated copper on standard circuit board material, and were produced at a professional circuit board manufacturing shop using the same process as any electronic prototype board. The lines in the images are integrated with very simple circuits that illuminate LEDs and a neon lamp."

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S DESCRIPTION

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Disorganiser (2007) - Jaka Železnikar

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Technically, the work is executed as an add-on for the Web browser Firefox (v. 2.0.0.*); its execution involves the use of a number of Internet or computer technologies. I myself have executed the program in its entirety, which I emphasize because I consider the idea of the work and the execution of it as an indivisible whole that emerged over a period of development in which these two aspects were constantly interacting....

The image of any give Web page (or the visible part of the Web page if it is bigger than the computer screen) is understood as a matrix that reproduces itself. The size, height, and width of the reproduction are transformed depending on the matrix. The reproduction is placed in a selected section of the matrix and becomes part of it. The process repeats several times. The result is an unrepeatable visual structure that is based on manipulations of the particular Web page.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Ctrl+F'd (2009) - Greg Leuch

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With recent mistakes by companies and organizations not knowing how to properly censor online documents, its easy to see why people believe the text they can’t see can’t be read. And with computer illiterate people like Rush Limbaugh, it is easy to befuddle them with the apperance of censored text on the web pages they commonly visit.

A playful experiment in “censoring” a web page by hiding text and images behind blocks.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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