Choosy Moms Choose GIF

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It's no secret that the Rhizome staff loves animated gifs. The best to roll through our feed readers are often reblogged to our front page, and in 2005 we presented The GIF Show, an exhibition of 12 artists using animated gifs to make new work. When we heard about the upcoming "Graphics Interchange Format" exhibition, we knew we had to share the news. Curated by Laurel Ptak, keeper of the popular I Heart Photograph blog, the show at emerging Brooklyn art space Bond Street Gallery features 67 animated gifs made by 26 artists, including Rhizome's own staff writer Tyler Coburn, Petra Cortright, C. Coy, Ilia Ovechkin, M. River, Trevor Shimizu, Jo-ey Tang, Anne De Vries, and Damon Zucconi. Some of the artists are among the net's gif stars and others made their first gifs for the show--they were all commissioned on three days' notice by Ptak and are being sold in unlimited editions (accompanied by a personalized note from the artist) for $20, instigating "gif shop" puns across the net art blogosphere. The curator promises a show that will demonstrate the diversity of what this beloved file format has come to prove capable of since its inception by CompuServe in 1987. Nonetheless, as a show nestled within a group show of group photo shows, called "Young Curators, New Ideas," the artists were encouraged to use photographic media and the resultant works are poised to trigger references to the history of lens-based practices and proto-filmic experimental cell animation. Either that or they will just flicker their way into your hearts as they clearly have ours. - Marisa Olson


Image: M. River, Safarirafas, 2008

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Interview with Aleksandra Domanovic

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Aleksandra Domanovic is a Berlin-based artist who works primarily on the internet. Much of her art contrasts and recontextualizes content derived online, such as found videos and Google Maps, in an effort to establish a dialogue between these different materials. I interviewed her via email. - Ceci Moss

You were born in Serbia, grew up in Slovenia and now reside in Berlin. Has this transnationalism inflected your work? How so?

I was born in Serbia, but in a Slovakian minority in Vojvodina. Hmm, I can't say how this expresses in my work...most of the artists I know are global nomads. I have a blurred sense of nationality and have no real feeling of belonging anywhere, which may explain my obsession with maps. I also lived in Vienna for six years and spend some time in Tokyo before moving to Berlin, and for now I still enjoy not having a permanent residence.

As a blogger for VVORK, you obviously spend a lot of time surfing the web. How does this daily routine influence your practice as an artist?

I became an artist through and with VVORK. Studying graphic design, but always making video on the side, I joined VVORK about one week after it was founded by Oliver, Georg and Christoph. Surfing the web extensively, seeing so much good work and discovering it for myself, motivated me.

You completed two projects which paired online mapping and video: Srbija Do Tokia and Tesla. Could you explain the concept behind these two works?

There are 3 pages: Srbija Do Tokia, Tesla and Holivud, all written as they are pronounced in Serbian language, which is the grammatically correct way of writing foreign words in Serbia. All reflect Serbian nationalism and the recent independence of Kosovo. The day after the declaration, there were videos ...

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A Feast for Your Eyezz

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One of the hallmarks of the current era of net art is the exhibitory display of one's consumption. While a lot of early net art was self-reflexively directed at the traits of networked environments, newer work seems to be largely about running around and exploring those environments, then generating responses. The output of the pseudonymous artists behind Triptych.tv (Jimpunk, Abe Linkoln, and Mr. Tamale) forms a bridge between these two eras. It incubated in the hour of the first boom's waning and waxed ahead of the current surf blog curve. As a result, Triptych.tv (which, readers are forewarned, could very much hijack its predecessor Screenfull.net's motto, "We Crash Your Browser With Content") marries the best qualities of these two eras. The site simultaneously evades initial detection as a blog while exploiting (in the true hacker sense of the word) all of the default structural conditions that make blogs such a performative space. The artists post heavily and skillfully manipulated videos, sound clips, images, and animations, to the order of optical poptitude; and while their individual posts stand on their own, the degree to which they harmonize with each other could finally--after so many decades--stand to illustrate the truly exquisite nature of the exquisite corpse. This is net art decadence at its richest. Now if the site sounds familiar to you, we'll admit to having covered it before, but the group's current summer marathon inspired us to remind you of its presence. This, afterall, is another trait of current net art blogs. There are no one-hit-wonders, and despite the ".tv" in the site's URL, there are no reruns here. To truly take in this collaborative artwork's beauty, one needs to resign themselves to the compulsion to repeat. - Marisa Olson


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Let It Spin

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Imagine an art collective whose practice--on the surface--revolves largely around inside jokes, self-congratulation, and the unabashed display of consumption. Throw in a fine balance between fearless experimentation with form and a general disregard for traditional aesthetics. Sounds like international biennale material, right? In fact, it's "Double Happiness," the net art collective who today celebrate their first anniversary of online rabble-rousing under the moniker of this popular Chinese calligraph. When the group was invited, via email, to ruminate on this auspicious occasion, "Dub Hap" co-founder Borna Sammak replied, "I've noticed that those outside the art community seem much quicker to 'get it' than art people." Then again, he also boasted, "I pride myself in having the worst website on the internet." Indeed, the group's site--also managed by artists Eric Laska, Evan Roth, Jeff Sisson, and Bennett Williamson--is chock-a-block with the fruits of inordinately long websurfing sessions: frayed gif mashups, hilarious if sometimes unnerving audio loops, shameless resizes calling for inconsistent page widths, ekphrastic word/image paradoxes, and very often beautiful collages of similar images (graffiti tags, gummi bears, umbrella hats... Google Image Searches are their friend) that not only signify through combination and quantity but overwhelm the viewer with a sheer cascade of visual awesomeness. In many ways, the blog recalls the motto of OG net artists Jimpunk and Abe Linkoln's classic site, Screenfull.net, "We crash your browser with content." Double Happiness has the fresh spirit of a sketchbook alit--a sort of exquisite corpse in which no age or end is predeterminate of today's chaotic link-dump. Ultimately, if Double Happiness revolves around an inside joke, then the joke is shared by all of us. As Williamson reasons, "I enjoy using the internet as a medium for dubhap because online we already view so many disparate ...

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Where From Here?

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Clever internet sourcing may be a common practice for a younger generation of artists, but rarely is it deployed with as much sinister aplomb as in the work of Cliff Evans. In Evans' skilled hands, a veritable parade of pixilated characters - from trade show women to stormtroopers, politicians to smiling couples - are reconstituted as the spokes, gears and pistons of ubiquitous, twenty-first century war machines: at once eerily futuristic and all too reminiscent of recent neoconservative empire-building initiatives. The resulting look of these photomontage animations is "excessive, flat, quasi-random, and circuitous," Evans describes: "all qualities inherent within the environment of the web." In Road to Mount Weather (2006), a three-channel installation spanning a 32-foot wide screen, fragmentary image groupings produce an unexpected narrative, increasingly assembling into secret military sites, underground testing facilities and others domains of the political id. Complicating what could otherwise be the somewhat conventional propagation of conspiratorial lore is Evans' self-conscious conception of his own authorial role. The artist alternately labels himself "a co-conspirator with the powers presented" and "a paranoid heretic attempting to subvert the powers of control," a bifurcated position he believes to be inevitable to a creative process reliant upon the appropriation of countless photographs - and, implicitly, lives - from the internet's vast reserves. In a way, Evans-as-author performs an overly dramatic version of our own complicity, as virtual navigators and political subjects, with the powers that be; but in lieu of fatalism, he offers animations too epic and interpretatively open to not suggest that there are more than a few routes into the future. - Tyler Coburn

Image: Cliff Evans, Road to Mount Weather (Image Stills), 2006

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One World, Many Cultures

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The Beall Center for Art & Technology, at the University of California-Irvine, has recently commissioned an ambitious installation entitled, in a thousand drops... refracted glances. The work was created by Aleksandra Dulic, Martin Gotfrit, and Kenneth Newby, members of the Computational Poetics Research Group, a collective of artists, engineers, and scholars based at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University. The premise of their work is that by creating new tool sets and scenarios for "interdisciplinary computational media performance," they can "enable creative and performing artists to enter into new collaborative relationships with encoded systems." The installation's title comes from a passage German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814) penned in 'The Destination of Man" which speaks to the life force that flows from nature through our bodies, bonding humans to each other, as it helps us self-actualize. "In a thousand drops... refracted glances" features multiple audio channels and digital collage (a la David Hockney's "joiner" photocollages). The space is strung with over a hundred monitors, hung like a mobile. The fragmented images displayed on each screen, when viewed from the right angle, form a "complete" picture. These images are pulled from a database in response to sensor data about viewers' presence and movement. The "big picture" in this work is really the artists' narrative about diversity. The question of the completeness versus fragmentedness of individuals' identities has long amused existentialists, but the query has been given new life in a world of high tech engagement. To this discussion, the artists wanted to bring a consideration of diversity and its vitality to a healthy culture, arguing that the diversity represented in the compartmentalized images seen on their screens reflects the diversity found in nature and humanity. The corresponding audio installation seeks, literally, to bring viewers into 'harmony' with what might otherwise look ...

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