The Download: James Howard

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Rhizome is pleased to announce London-based artist James Howard is featured this month on The Download.

Still from www.luckyluckydice.com (2012)

Utilizing spam that lands in his junk email folder and pop up ads, Howard appropriates the deceitful images and text in his collages highlighting the emotional tiggers that trap users. Rhizome members can download www.luckyluckydice.com (2012), a 51MB animated GIF of 1990s internet-style advertisments; a file size too large for dial-up speeds, but now easily viewable in any internet browser once downloaded. Rhizome editor Joanne McNeil interviewed him last year about the images he collects:

Images in online scams and phishing schemes can seem as artificially generated as the text — like botnet generated folk art. But there is a human hand at work. What do you think is the human element that draws people into these schemes?

People are like machines - their brains react to temptation like a computer does. Most people are able to recognise a scam, but if someone pulls the right string, sooner or later all that subconscious stuff inside you is going to lead you down the wrong path. Scams  get people by playing on insecurities, desires, fears, greed, whatever - it's uncontrollable and causes one in a thousand people to make a snap decision and pay up.

What do you consider the visual clues of this kind of kitsch of deception? Any interesting patterns or trends you've spotted over the years of collecting examples?

Squashed grinning businessmen looking into fisheye lenses, sunsets over serene oceans, happy families, sexy nurses- it's an endless and totally recognisable global visual language. There's a gruesome image of someone hooked up to a life support machine that keeps landing in my junk-mail folder these days -it always comes from a new person, with ...

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Artist Profile: James Howard

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data-encrypt-127.5x103, (2011)

Images in online scams and phishing schemes can seem as artificially generated as the text — like botnet generated folk art. But there is a human hand at work. What do you think is the human element that draws people into these schemes?

People are like machines - their brains react to temptation like a computer does. Most people are able to recognise a scam, but if someone pulls the right string, sooner or later all that subconscious stuff inside you is going to lead you down the wrong path. Scams  get people by playing on insecurities, desires, fears, greed, whatever - it's uncontrollable and causes one in a thousand people to make a snap decision and pay up.

What do you consider the visual clues of this kind of kitsch of deception? Any interesting patterns or trends you've spotted over the years of collecting examples?

Squashed grinning businessmen looking into fisheye lenses, sunsets over serene oceans, happy families, sexy nurses- it's an endless and totally recognisable global visual language. There's a gruesome image of someone hooked up to a life support machine that keeps landing in my junk-mail folder these days -it always comes from a new person, with a different story every time.

Your installation "Black Money" is based a well known email scam — displaying what is said to be millions of dollars dyed black to go through customs, alongside call cards offering chemicals for sale which could clean the cash. When I look at the sort of unboxing video that was posted to DailyMotion, the site suggests I might also like videos with titles like "Make $100,000 Now" and "How to Win the Lotto." Did anyone email cleaningmoneyATgmail.com looking to clean some dirty dollars with "SSD solution"?

Loads of people contacted ...

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Selling Spam to Saatchi: ArtInfo Interviews James Howard

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James Howard's "Lonely," 2011

"It all begins in my junk email folder, in the place where everything that has a bit of a question mark over its authenticity — pensions, Russian brides — lands. I take images and texts from that junk email folder and from pop-up adverts and I collage them together into artworks... I gravitate towards reoccurring images: adverts for Chinese wives and images of beautiful sunsets over serene oceans seem to crop up rather a lot, as well as pictures of people with distorted bodies looking up into fisheye lenses. These are the ones I really enjoy, and when I find them, I immediately start getting into Photoshop and cutting around as quickly as I can." - James Howard in an interview with ArtInfo.

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