Media Studies

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This is the first installment of a monthly column by Rhizome's Contributing Editor Marisa Olson. "Media Studies" will explore timely issues within the broader field of technology. Each post will pay specific attention to the relationship between these subjects and artistic practice. For this column, Marisa provides a reading list on the topic of "Experimental Geography". In recent years, access to geographical tools and data collection has expanded rapidly, allowing many artists to rethink their relationship to the earth and geographical study. This column provides a summation of publications relevant to these developments.

Please join us tomorrow for a panel, organized by Marisa, on "Experimental Geography". Beginning at 3pm in the New Museum's theater, Creative Time curator Nato Thompson, who curated an exhibition of the same title for Independent Curators International, will lead a discussion with artists Lize Mogel and Damon Rich. - Ceci Moss

The following is an initial list of readings that might be of interest to anyone researching experimental geography. It includes key theoretical texts on the nature of space, texts on locative media, and works on radical cartography. Many of them cross over into game theory, cyberfeminism, relations between real and virtual spaces, surveillance, tactical media, psychogeography, situationism, sound art, networked cultures, site-specific installation art, and other related sub-themes. It's tempting to sort these into temporal or topical categories, but to do so might be to inappropriately compartmentalize an ongoing discourse that moves in new directions every day.

This is only a starting point. Please feel free to add texts in the comments. Links to related syllabi would also be a great resource!

Janet Abrams and Peter Hall (eds), Else/Where: Mapping -- New Cartographies of Networks and Territories, Univ Minnesota Design Institute, 2006

Saul Albert, "Locative Literacy," Mute, July 12, 2004

Marc Augé, Non-Places ...

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Tactical Transactions

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Image: UBERMORGEN, Superenhanced Generator (Logo), 2009

If you're not already familiar with UBERMORGEN.COM, now would be a good time to get acquainted. The duo formed by Hans Bernhard and Lizvlx came onto the tactical media scene in the days of Toywar. When the Bernhard-founded group etoy was taken-on by e-commerce retailer etoys.com, the artists successfully brought the company down, thus providing a keystone moment in the perpetual headbutt between artists and corporations and launching the press release as the tactical media artist's weapon par excellence. In the spirit of many a corporate breakup, the participants in Toywar went on to funnel their win into the launch of new brands and creative identities. Notable among them are the Yes Men and UBERMORGEN. Taking as their name a German word that refers to the perpetual hope of a better tomorrow, the focus of UBERMORGEN's projects has been centered largely around legal issues related to copyright and surveillance. These works include [V]ote-Auction (2000), in which they attempted to auction-off a US Presidential vote to the highest bidder, and the Rhizome-commissioned project Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI) (2006), and "autocannibalistic model" in which revenue from auto-placed Google ads was used to buy Google stock, with a business plan to turn ownership of Google over to its users. In collaboration with Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico, Lizvlx and Bernhard recently took on Amazon.com in a duel that pitted their "robot-perversion technology" against the company's proprietary book preview software. According to the artists, their copyright-busting book-downloading tool was eventually sold to Amazon for an "undisclosed sum," but the story of the face-off (entitled Amazon Noir, 2006) floats among the ranks of other tactical media mythologies--not unlike some of the projects by their frequent collaborators 0100101110101101.org--demonstrating that ...

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AVAILABLE ONLINE FOR FREE (the Sticker) (2009) - Evan Roth

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Past in the Present

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Image: Vivian Selbo, Vertical Blanking Interval, 1996 (From "Net Art 1.0")

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Image: Jodi, map, 2000 (From "Net Art 1.0")

The rapid pace of development online often contributes to the illusion that the recent past is more distant than it is in actuality. Steve Dietz's "Net Art 1.0", an exhibition curated for Steve Lambert's Firefox Application AddArt, replaces advertisements on web pages with screenshots of some of early Net Art's greatest hits. By substituting pesky ads inviting you to lose weight or join eHarmony with images of works such as Vivian Selbo's Vertical Blanking Interval (1996), Vuk Cosic's ASCII history of moving images (1999) and Jodi's map (2000), the ghost of Net Art's past becomes manifest in the here and now. In the curatorial statement, Dietz remarks that these works "pressaged the present with uncanny precision" and, indeed, the emphasis on concerns that are still prevalent, such as the mediation of human connection and the blurring between public and private, reminds us that a decade isn't exactly equivalent to an eon.

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Underglow (2005) - Susan Collins

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One of 4 works commissioned by the Corporation of London as part of a new ‘Light Up Queen Street’ annual programme of winter commissions. Underglow illuminated a number of separate gullies (drains) in the vicinity of Guildhall Yard, King Street and Queen Street and were visible from dusk to dawn from November 2005 until February 2006.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S WEBSITE

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The Watermarks Project (2009) - Chris Bodle

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Sea levels are rising due to climate change... but how much could they rise and how quickly? And how could this affect the city of Bristol?

Watermarks is a public art project that will use a series of large-scale projections at sites across the centre of the city to explore these questions.

Flood level marks will be projected on to the sides of buildings, showing how high water levels could potentially rise as the sea inundates the central, low lying areas of Bristol. By displaying these levels in real space, the project aims to help us to imagine the depth and extent of this potential future flooding - allowing us to measure them against ourselves in familiar environments.

The complexity and inherent uncertainty involved in predicting sea level rise means there is little consensus across the global scientific community as to how much sea levels could rise in the coming decades. The Watermarks project will use current UK government predictions for the next century to set key flood mark levels.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

Via CR Blog

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Influential Activism

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Survival Research Laboratories, Amsterdam, 2008 (Photo by Boris VanHoytema)

The word "influencer" is most often used by marketing strategists to refer to cool people to whom other consumers turn to for fashion and food advice. But the organizers of The Influencers, an annual "culture jamming and guerrilla communication fest" brandish this word like a weapon in the fight against the corporatization of culture. On February 5-7, the artist groups d-i-n-a and Eva and Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG) will present their fifth festival "dedicated to exploring unconventional weapons of mass communication." Their approach grows out of a classical perspective on détournement but is updated by an understanding of networked infrastructures and new forms of mobility and social organizing that effect protest strategies in digital culture. In addition to talks, workshops, and impromptu interventions, the festival's events will revolve around eight commissioned works by Survival Research Laboratories, Ztohoven, BLU, Improv Everywhere, Julius von Bismarck, Wu Ming, Swoon, and Wolfgang Staehle. This is an eclectic group, to say the least, whose work ranges from graffiti to pyrotechnics to comedic group performances to poetic video installations. The group's diversity serves to illustrate the wide reach of commercialism's impact and the wide range of people interested in fighting back in support of the liberties that become threatened by corporate encroachment onto public space and public speech. One goal of the festival will be to map out how these alternative voices can infiltrate the hardlined frontier between public and private, so these artists were thus selected for "their taste for risk, the impulse that moves the authors of these projects to build dangerous machines, act politically incorrectly, use anachronous technology, or simply to defy common sense." It sounds both fun and challenging, but if you can't make it ...

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Tickets To The Sunset (2005) - Rose Marshack

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LAUNCH

I convinced Ticketmaster's web outlet, Ticketweb to give me a promoter's account and allow me to post a tour of Sunset dates and times, as if the sun was going on tour. Tickets were available to the general public for purchase at Ticketweb.com.
More work by Rose Marshack

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Pop-Up Shop

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With the economy undergoing a severe downturn, and retailers reporting an especially slow sales season during what is typically the busiest time of the year, the organizers behind Everything Must Go could not have asked for more fitting circumstances for their upcoming exhibition, which will take place in a partially abandoned mall in Birmingham, Alabama. Curator Rachel Higgins rented one retail shop out of the over 60 vacant stores in the Century Plaza Shopping Mall, and from December 20 through January 3rd, twenty artists, including Sascha Braunig, Walton Creel, Matthew Farrell, Rachael Gorchov, Jess Perlitz, and others, will approach the space as a stage, rotating works on a daily basis in order to spotlight a specific group or artist. The project's title Everything Must Go touches on the fast pace of consumerism, which steers the rate at which malls are built and discarded, but it also carries with it a darker cadence, one that suggests that our current models for economic growth, which favor rapidity and waste, cannot persist.

Image: Century Plaza Shopping Mall (Photos by Kate Merritt Davis)

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Artists' NY Times Spoof Proclaims End to Iraq War

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Taking the train to class this morning, I had a somewhat curious encounter. A man standing next to me held up a NY Times paper with the headline IRAQ WAR ENDS. Having read the NY Times that morning, I knew that this was not the day's headlines, and over the course of the entire ride, I kept quizzically peeking over at his paper in an effort to figure it out. He held the paper up in such a performative way, that I sensed something was askew. As I walked from the subway, I checked my phone and read, in a mass email from artist Joseph DeLappe, that a group of artists had created a spoof version of today's times announcing an end to the Iraq War, and distributed it around New York City. Brilliant. And so perfectly serendipitous. You can view a website for the project here.

UPDATE: A number of artists organized the prank, including Rhizome-commissioned artist Steve Lambert, The Yes Men, the Anti-Advertising Agency, CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Not An Alternative, May First/People Link, Improv Everywhere, Evil Twin, and Cultures of Resistance.

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