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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Level 5 Videos

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Brody Condon has uploaded two videos documenting LevelFive, a live action role-playing game/performance modeled after 1970s self actualization seminars such as Erhard Seminars Training. (The LevelFive site provides a clip of one of these sessions, from Adam Curtis' documentary Century of the Self, here.) Participants, all of whom are volunteers, take up a character for the entire duration of the weekend, and engage in a series of intense self-actualizing exercises and seminars as this person. Similar to Condon's previous project TwentyfiveFold Manifestation, the immersion and duration of the game work plays on the "bleed" between the participant's original self and that of their character. LevelFive took place at the Hammer Museum of Art from September 4-5, 2010 and again at the San Jose Convention Center on September 17-18, 2010, during the Zero1 Biennial.


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Ghosting (2006) - Riley Harmon

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In pop culture, “ghosting” is:

n. the appearance of one or more false images on a television screen.
v. when players that have been killed in a video game watch other players.

As viewers look through the gas mask, a video self-portrait is super-imposed onto the action figures via the pepper’s ghost theatrical illusion.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM ARTIST STATEMENT

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Interview with Zach Blas

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Zach Blas is an artist and writer working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and politics. His work includes video, sculpture, installation, and design, among other things. He is also a PhD Student in the Program in Literature at Duke University, and writes extensively on the question of art, activism, and sexuality. Zach and I discussed the question of a queer technology and just what queer theory might contribute to the fields of art and technology.

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Call for Participants

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A new project by Brody Condon, LevelFive, is seeking participants for two intensive seminars in September - one at the Hammer Museum in LA from Sept. 3-5 and the other in San Jose from Sept. 16-18 at the San Jose Convention Center during the Zero1 Biennial. I'm curious to see what comes of this event - it seems really interesting. You can read more about it below. To register, visit the sign-up section of the LevelFive site. Space is limited.

LevelFive is a live role-playing event focused on critically exploring self actualization seminars from the 1970’s. The LevelFive performance will loosely follow the structure of early Large Group Awareness Training sessions like Erhard Seminars Training, but it is not a re-enactment. The open-ended live role-playing environment provides a space in which players are free to explore self actualization issues with varying degrees of personal intensity, but via an alibi or fabricated character.

During the 1970’s hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans came for weekend seminar sessions, to be taught how to free themselves from the restraints of contemporary society. Intended as a kind of self transformation for the masses, the seminars utilized a combination of various philosophic and spiritual teachings focused on “allowing participants to achieve, in a very brief time, a sense of personal transformation and enhanced power.” Quickly copied, successors included not only similar self actualization seminars, but also grew into the mass of success and corporate training seminars that we are familiar with today.

Players will arrive as their characters, and are expected to emote, and experience as their characters, with minimal interruptions for the 2-3 day duration of the game. LevelFive is a live game based on the Nordic style of progressive live role-play that explicitly works with “bleed”. In role-playing games, bleed happens when ...

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On A Mountain Top (2010) - Alex Fuller (with Noah Bernsohn)

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At its most basic form, I believe social media is a dialogue. Onamountaintop.com allows users to say whatever it is they want to say with no accounts, no friends and no poking. Once the user’s entry fades to white, their words are gone forever. Just as one’s voice echoes into the valley from a mountain top. Pure poetry.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM ALEX FULLER'S SITE

Via Pocketmonsterd

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A Conversation with Jon Rafman from Bad At Sports

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In this brilliant (and hilarious, and at times, NSFW) clip, Nicholas O'Brien interviews artist Jon Rafman about his work in Second Life for Chicago-based contemporary art blog Bad at Sports. Rafman uses his avatar Kool-Aid Man throughout, of his Kool-Aid Man in Second Life (.com).

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Immaterial Incoherence

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If we consider Internet art to be a distinct category of art making that uses the Internet as its primary medium or platform, we necessarily distinguish it from other forms in which the Internet does not play a primary role. The objects of Internet art are necessarily immaterial, and it is this immaterial quality that makes them so notoriously difficult to exhibit and archive. For some artists this has led to a kind of hybridization of Internet aesthetics and real world objects, such that they might be purchased or viewed in a real-world setting such as a museum or gallery space. For others it becomes a matter of the careful curation of digital images and documentation in an effort to brand oneself and build cultural capital where there is little possibility for financial compensation. After all, how do you monetize an object whose natural setting is a networked space that encourages many-to-many distribution practices? How do you sell a website, a .jpeg? These are responses to a crisis in image making and distribution in which older curatorial models that rely on the limitations of physical space and the exchange of physical objects are increasingly undermined by distanced, virtual, and distributed viewership online.

For art collective JOGGING - artists Brad Troemel and Lauren Christiansen - this crisis is not limited to Internet art, but has instead become the normative condition under which art is produced and viewed today.

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Deep Space

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Avatar 4D video by Chris Coy

In 1966, Allan Kaprow made the following statement in the Manifestos pamphlet:

Contemporary art, which tends to “think” in multi-media, intermedia, overlays, fusions and hybridizations, is a closer parallel to modern mental life than we have realized. Its judgments, therefore, may be acute. “Art” may soon become a meaningless word. In its place,“communications programming” would be a more imaginative label, attesting to our new jargon, our technological and managerial fantasies, and to our pervasive electronic contact with one another.

Fast-forward to 2010, and one wonders what Kaprow would make of "Avatar 4D," an evening of performances -- or, more precisely, a happening -- by seventeen internet-based artists "set up as chaotically choreographed circumstances that exist in a reality of virtual proportions." Taking its cue from the dually alienating and revelatory push-and-pull of our hyper-connected lives, and the existence of "pervasive electronic contact" taken to the nth degree, artists will webcam, stream, project, and otherwise stage work in both San Francisco's NOMA Gallery and Richmond's Reference Gallery this Saturday, April 17th. The event is curated by the collaborative curatorial team JstChillin (Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito), who are also behind the original and often humorous online exhibit series Serial Chillers in Paradise. The press release describes the artists in "Avatar 4D" as "reality hackers" -- citing Petra Cortright’s webcam videos and Ben Vickers' disclosure of his personal usernames and passwords as examples -- who experiment with "the theoretical apparatus of struggle" in the context of "the ever changing modes of the net" and its impact on the self. It seems the artists behind "Avatar 4D" are attempting to insert "art" into a reality lived in anticipation of its constant representation and performance online, perhaps becoming a form of "communications programming" within a self-programmed reality. Whatever ...

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Required Reading

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But, also in 1977, David Bowie releases his single “Heroes.” He sings about a new brand of hero, just in time for the neoliberal revolution. The hero is dead—long live the hero! Yet Bowie’s hero is no longer a subject, but an object: a thing, an image, a splendid fetish—a commodity soaked with desire, resurrected from beyond the squalor of its own demise.

Just look at a 1977 video of the song to see why: the clip shows Bowie singing to himself from three simultaneous angles, with layering techniques tripling his image; not only has Bowie’s hero been cloned, he has above all become an image that can be reproduced, multiplied, and copied, a riff that travels effortlessly through commercials for almost anything, a fetish that packages Bowie’s glamorous and unfazed postgender look as product. Bowie’s hero is no longer a larger-than-life human being carrying out exemplary and sensational exploits, and he is not even an icon, but a shiny product endowed with posthuman beauty: an image and nothing but an image.

This hero’s immortality no longer originates in the strength to survive all possible ordeals, but from its ability to be xeroxed, recycled, and reincarnated. Destruction will alter its form and appearance, yet its substance will be untouched. The immortality of the thing is its finitude, not its eternity....

What happens to identification at this point? Who can we identify with? Of course, identification is always with an image. But ask anybody whether they’d actually like to be a JPEG file. And this is precisely my point: if identification is to go anywhere, it has to be with this material aspect of the image, with the image as thing, not as representation. And then it perhaps ceases to be identification, and ...

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