Art in Your Pocket 4: Net Art and Abstraction for the Small Screen

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"The Facets of Obama" created by Jonah Brucker­-Cohen using the Fracture application by James Alliban, 2011

The devices we carry with us can do much more than simply act as communication tools and entertainment appendages. They can also bring us into a growing world of artistic projects that could have never been imagined without their existence.

The recent boom in creative software for the iPhone and iPad now enables artists to remake existing web projects as iOS apps or use the physical world as a canvas for augmented reality, reimagining our physical surroundings through painting and rendering. In this article, the fourth one in a series that I've written over the past six years of reviews surveying art for the iPhone and iPad, I cover projects that both revive net art pieces that were once only possible on traditional computer systems or in browsers, as well as those that use the iPhone and iPad's sound and camera capabilities to their fullest.

 

Thicket

Thicket:Classic (Hairy Circles mode), 2011, Interval Studios (aka Joshue Ott and Morgan Packard)

Beginning with abstraction and sound, two works examine methods of sound production through algorithmic composition. Thicket (2011) by Interval Studios (programmer and artist Joshue Ott and composer Morgan Packard) is an amalgam of abstract shapes and patterns that engage with touch-based interaction, visual stimulation, generative pattern creation, and mesmerizing sound transference. The original version of Thicket, or Thicket:Classic, feels like a musical masterpiece on the edge of a high precipice. As a user changes the orientation of their phone in four directions (up, down, right, left) the onscreen graphics shift to new modes.

Thicket 3.11 Video, Joshue Ott and Morgan Packard, Interval Studios.

My favorite mode in Thicket:Classic is "Hairy Circles," which features menacing yellow-orangish circles of tangled lines that correspond to each finger's touch and shift when dragged around, creating a machine-like beat that evokes an industrial assembly line. Ott explains, "Thicket uses a bunch of different algorithms—for both audio and visuals. The aesthetic came from repeated experimentation and rapid prototyping of modes. Sometimes we would start with the visuals, sometimes with the audio, but there was often a back and forth process of each of us adjusting our part until we both liked the results."

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Announcing the Inaugural Prix Net Art Awardees: JODI & Kari Altmann

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After extensive deliberation, the Prix Net Art jury—comprising curators Michael Connor, Samantha Culp, Zhang Ga, and Sabine Himmelsbach—is proud to announce that inaugural $10,000 Prix Net Art is awarded to artist duo JODI, with a $5,000 Award of Distinction granted to Kari Altmann. For detailed information about Prix Net Art, visit prixnetart.org.

Jury Statement:

The internet is more than just a canvas, medium, or publishing platform for art. The internet is a system that links human and machine intelligence to produce politics, economics, culture, and subjectivities. To make "internet art" is to intervene in, or participate mindfully in, these processes.

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Emoticon, Emoji, Text II: Just ASCII

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Artwork from ASCII Art Dictionary (possibly 1999).

This is the second in a three-part series to be published on Rhizome. The first part, exploring the history of the emoticon, can be found here. The final installment (forthcoming) will explore the history of the emoji.

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Following in the footsteps of Baudelaire—and paving the way for the Surrealists and the French New Wave—early 20th-century artist Guillaume Apollinaire cultivated a cerebral taste for the most sensational elements of modern life. A poet by calling and a publicist by trade, Apollinaire seized on the outrageous whether he found it in the avant-garde (he coined the term "Cubism" in praise of early paintings by Braque and Picasso) or mass culture (he called the serialized tales of fictional super-villain Fantômas "one of the richest works that exist.") Apollinaire’s poetry fed on the chaos of Paris in the early 1900s. Take this representative passage from 1909’s "Zone":

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JODI: Street Digital

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Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans, collectively known as JODI, are rightfully venerated for their countless contributions to art and technology, working as an artistic duo since the mid-90’s. Generally referred to as pioneers of “net.art,” that oft-misunderstood “movement” combining the efforts of artists using the internet as a medium circa 1994, JODI is revered not only for their artistic meditations on the increasing presence of new technology in our daily lives, but also for their fuck-if-I-care attitude toward both the establishments of the technology and art worlds. JODI’s famous five-word “acceptance” speech—if you could call it that—for their 1999 Webby Award in art, simply read, “Ugly commercial sons of bitches.” 

Unlike an overwhelming majority of artists, and especially those in art and tech, JODI has managed to sustain a successful career for over 15 years, mounting exhibitions internationally. February 2011 saw the duo literally blow its audience in the face with bomb-like cans of oxygen at Foxy Production, accounting for one of the best performances of the year.

Yet, their recently launched exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) finds a flashy, overly simplistic exhibition that fails to represent the deeply important perspective that JODI has come to represent over the last two decades. Comprising work made from 1999 to the present, “Street Digital” extends JODI’s focus from the desktop computer to hardware’s broader, more public landscape including cellular phones, LED signs, and iPods. A projection split into four channels, YTCT (Folksomy) (2008/2010), combines Youtube videos of “people doing weird things with hardware,” or more specifically, the video features mostly-teenage boys destroying old iPods, cameras, laptops, etc., by throwing, bashing, or hammering them. Periodically, a legitimately strange occurrence replaces the usual simple, hormonally charged violent acting-out of an enfants terrible ...

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From the Rhizome Artbase: %20wrong (2000)- JODI

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In this series of posts, we will be blogging recently updated content from Rhizome's Artbase.

Founded in 1999, the Rhizome ArtBase is an online archive of new media art containing some 2503 art works, and growing. The ArtBase encompasses a vast range of project by artists all over the world that employ materials such as software, code, websites, moving images, games and browsers to aesthetics and critical ends.


%20wrong (2000)- JODI

%20wrong (2000), JODI (Screen Shot)

This work has been restored and is now being permanently hosted on the Artbase. More recently repaired works from the ArtBase can be found here.

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