From the Archives

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In 1993 Howard Rheingold wrote a remarkable book called The Virtual Community. In this book he gives what might best be called a personal account of the expanding culture of people communicating via computer networks. I asked him some questions about the relationship between virtual and traditional communities, most appropriately, via e-mail.

Howard Rheingold has been publishing books and articles on computer culture for many years. He is the multimedia columnist for Publish magazine and editor of Whole Earth Review. He has also been a consultant to the US office of Technology Assessment, and recently he took charge of Planet Wired a network project that will document the digital revolution with local examples, made accessible via the Net to a world-wide audience.

More than merely informative, his book The Virtual Community is above all a highly personal account of the way in which people are using computer networks as communication devices, or rather how they are engaging in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), the term Rheingold prefers. Rheingold maintains that Computer Mediated Communication creates a new sense of community; people from around the world are linked together in public discussions, people who exchange ideas and messages, share interests and work together, outside of the constraints of geographical space and across social barriers.

In his book he provides us with a somewhat formal definition of virtual communities, which he describes as “social aggregations that emerge from the Net when enough people carry on those public discussions long enough, with sufficient human feeling, to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace”. Rheingold has himself been actively involved in one of the early network communities in the US, The Well, based in San Francisco.

Using networking technologies within the context of traditional geographic communities produces Community Networks. I began by asking Rheingold to explain ...

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Required Reading

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Petra Cortright, vvebcam (still), 2007;
high-definition digital video; 1 minute 41 seconds; ed. of 3 + AP; courtesy the artist

Brooding, solitary and usually male, the trope of “the artist in the studio” has existed in multiple iterations throughout the history of art. From Rembrandt’s workshop to the twentieth-century Parisian studios of Picasso, Braque and others, to Warhol’s Factory, the studio contains within it an evolving narrative, albeit one that remains focused on a specific physical site of artistic production. In a particularly damning critique of this romantic construct, Daniel Buren posited in a 1971 essay, “The Function of the Studio,” that the studio has a “simultaneously idealizing and ossifying function,”1 a state of “purgatory” that grants artists limited agency in the production and dissemination of their own work and culture at large. Buren’s essay is a concise example of the postmodern conception of “post-studio” practice—a practice cultivated by the likes of Robert Smithson, who came to reject the confines of the physical studio as a site of production in favor of the unconfined natural landscape, or by John Baldessari’s infamous “Post-Studio Art” class at CalArts, in which students were encouraged to “stop daubing away at canvases or chipping away at stone”2 and embrace a wider framework for art production. The influence of these artists is clearly evident in a range of contemporary artistic practices that continue to question traditional modes of production and dissemination.

The legacy of “post-studio” art is amplified for artists working with digital forms and online environments. Generally these types of practices are less an overt negation of the “ossifying” element of the studio and more a reflection of how the digital has changed cultural production at large. What happens when the studio in question is simply a laptop in ...

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The Sound of Facebook (2010) - Ryder Ripps

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In the following page I attempt to discover how people around the world are using the largest social media website, Facebook, as subject in song. In this collection I pull videos from YouTube users of many cultures and nationalities who are preforming songs which deal with Facebook - in doing this, I find points of continuity which will be addressed bellow.

-- FROM "THE SOUND OF FACEBOOK"

Originally via DIS Magazine and VVORK

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Videos from Wikitopia Festival

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Videos of the keynote speeches by scholars Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Hector Rodriguez from September's Wikitopia Festival at Videotage in Hong Kong have been posted. The event examined the Free Culture movement and its impact on practices of knowledge sharing and networked creativity.

Originally via Networked_Performance



Wendy Hui Kyong Chun "The Possibilities and Limitations of Open Content"

The Possibilities and Limitations of Open Content by Prof. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun from Videotage Unlimited on Vimeo.

New media has made possible new “vernacular” archives of knowledge—from wikipedia to del.icio.us—that are challenging their standard top-down counterparts. These archives are usually either celebrated as democratizing knowledge, or condemned as destroying it. Refusing either of these positions, this talk asks: what does opening up content do? What does the open both make possible and close down? Is open content enough? How, in other words, should the open be the beginning rather than the end of the discussion?



Hector Rodriguez "The Principle of Reciprocity"

The Principle of Reciprocity by Dr. Hector Rodriguez from Videotage Unlimited on Vimeo.

Marcel Mauss’ classic study of The Gift introduced the principle of reciprocity, which has played a fundamental role in the evolution of modern social anthropology and critical theory. Mauss regarded the giving and receiving of gifts as a widespread cultural phenomenon. Although the gift often appears to have been spontaneously and freely offered, it is in fact obligatory. According to Mauss, it consists of “three obligations”: the obligation to receive, to give, and to return. The exchange of gifts thus exemplifies a complex procedure of ritualized exchange.

The principle of reciprocity can be understood in at least two different ways. First of all, the study of gift exchange constitutes a prehistory of the modern contract. Mauss showed that modern market transactions grew ...

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Mister Modularity: Vittore Baroni, TRAX, And Network-As-Artwork

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The concept of networked art, or art which relies on exchange and collaboration across great geographical distances, has had a rich history prior to the Internet's first rumblings (and is now, fittingly enough, being archived, reappraised, and 'blogged' all over that same Internet.) Unlike the "one to many" presentational modes of the museum, shop, or gallery, networked art pieces were comparatively intimate "one to one" experiences, absorbed by one recipient at a time. Whether we call the collected efforts of this culture "mail art," "correspondence art," or simply "networking," its history is unlike other 'art historical' narratives, insofar as few people feel qualified to act as a spokesperson for the admittedly varied intentions of other networked artists: there is an almost universal reluctance to promote oneself as the "head" of anything in this culture. Especially on the European continent, where the most radical art collectives (e.g. Surrealism) have splintered into warring factions while under the mismanagement of paranoid leaders, no one is particularly eager to waste their otherwise productive time on internecine squabbling about whom deserves what title. So, in these situations, those who are just the most enthusiastic about their work, and its place in a larger creative milieu, end up becoming "ambassadors" by default.

One such ambassador, Vittore Baroni, is an individual who makes introductory biographical surveys like this one such a daunting task: his work spans every conceivable medium from rubber stamps and "artistamps" [mock-'official' postage stamps] and stickers to novel fashion items, and his tastes run the gamut from sublime atmospheric music to graphics exhibiting an exaggerated 'comic book' sense of humor and horror. Other than a general disregard for the taxonomy of art genres, the defining characteristic of Baroni's artwork is the nurturing of paradox and contradiction (he tells me that "[the term] 'paradoxical' is for me a great compliment, and a very positive adjective.") However, I may be getting ahead of myself here, since Baroni disavows the word "artist" entirely. In an early manifesto for his TRAX 'networking project,' co-founded with Piermario Ciani and Massimo Giacon, Baroni demurs "we are not artists, because art is a word that means everything and nothing," and proceeds to apply this to more clearly defined creative categories: "we are not musicians, but we create sounds. We are not actors, but every once in a while we get on a stage. We are not writers or publishing houses, but we can print our own writings." So what exactly is Baroni - and who are "we"?

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Maryanne Amacher's "City-Links" at Ludlow 38

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This just in: Lower East Side gallery Ludlow 38 will organize an exhibit of sound artist Maryanne Amacher's City-Links (1967-1981), an early networked sound installation. You can read more about the original project below, show opens on October 20th.

Ludlow 38 is pleased to present the exhibition Maryanne Amacher: City-Links. Between 1967 and 1981 the pioneering sound artist produced 22 City-Links projects in total, connecting distant microphones to installations and performances using dedicated FM-quality analog phone lines. Areas of downtown Buffalo, MIT, Boston Harbor, the Mississippi River, the New York harbor, studios in various locations, and other sites in the USA and abroad were transported, sometimes integrating performers near the microphones (such as John Cage and George Lewis for City-Links #18 performed at The Kitchen in 1979). The exhibition at Ludlow 38 brings together a number of documents, images and sound samples selected and reproduced from the nascent Amacher Archive as a first look at this important series of early telematic art works about which little has been published.

Maryanne Amacher wrote about her City-Links series: In my first sound works I developed the idea of sonic telepresence, introducing the use of telecommunication in sound installations. In the telelink installations "CITY-LINKS" #1-22 (1967- ) the sounds from one or more remote environment (in a city, or in several cities) are transmitted “live” to the exhibition space, as an ongoing sonic environment. I produce the "CITY-LINKS" installations using real-time telelinks to transmit the sound from microphones I place in the selected environments, spatializing these works with many different sonic environments: harbors, steel mills, stone towers, flour mills, factories, silos, airports, rivers, open fields, utility companies, and with musicians "on location." The adventure is in receiving live sonic spaces from more than one location at the same time - the tower, the ocean ...

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Debut of riverthe.net and Interview with Ryan Trecartin on AFC

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Screengrab of riverthe.net

Remember, a few months ago, when we posted about David Karp and Ryan Trecartin's Project Ten, a site which assembles ten second clips uploaded by users, navigable by 3 keywords? I called it "totally, totally cool" and expressed how I really hoped they would develop the site. Well, dreams do come true! Project Ten has been redubbed riverthe.net and is now live on the web, thanks to programming by Rhizome's Director of Technology Nick Hasty and Sergio Pastor. AFC unveiled the site today with an exclusive interview with Trecartin by Paddy Johnson, which you can read here. riverthe.net will also be in the upcoming exhibition "Free" at the New Museum which opens on October 20th.

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Pictures from 01SJ

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I was out in San Jose last week for the 01SJ Biennial and I took a few snapshots of the exhibits for the blog, below. I organized Rhizome's live performance event "Domain," which was part of 01SJ's film program. "Domain" included artists Jeremy Bailey, Petra Cortright, Constant Dullaart, and JODI.

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JODI - Domain Performance

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Constant Dullaart - Domain Performance

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Petra Cortright - Domain Performance

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Jeremy Bailey - Domain Performance

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Garnet Hertz - OutRun (2010)

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H. Dio Mendoza and Pilar Agüero-Esparza - El Shop (2010)

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Eyebeam Roadshow (2010)

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Natalie Jeremijenko - xAirport (2010)

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Annette Mees and Ken Eklund - ZOROP (2010)

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Todd Chandler and Jeff Stark - Empire Drive-in (2010)

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JOGGING COMMEMORATIVE (2010) - JOGGING (Brad Troemel and Lauren Christiansen)

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This project features a full archive of all 743 Jogging posts from 2009-2010. Images of these works are viewable in chronological secession on Youtube videos that feature the Billboard Top 100 tracks for the first week of September 2010. Each image is shown for 10 seconds in the videos. The first 24 Jogging posts are presented with the #1 Billboard song playing. Posts continue to unfold chronologically, moving down the chart and ending at the 31st song on the charts...

The songs in Jogging Commemorative are not intended as musical accompaniments. In this project, Billboard Top 100 tracks are the medium Jogging’s history exists through; the sites at which the Youtube viewer’s consensual desire to listen is paired with an unwitting visual experience. By choosing the most popular songs currently available, the artists intend to make use of this music’s universality as a form of digital public space. Here art is a parasite, assuming the shape of popular culture insidiously while seemingly undergoing minimal alteration in visual content.

Though these songs may be commonly heard due to their advantageous corporate sponsorship, they are not cultural commons. Each video in Jogging Commemorative stands as a display of Youtube users’ contextual helplessness in the face of heavily lobbied copyright law. The array of subsidized advertisements to purchase the songs is a constant reminder of the music industry’s tenuous relationship with freely distributed subject matter. “This is property on loan”, the advertisements figuratively tell viewers, as the RIAA hedges a bet that the more widely distributed the forced advertisements for MP3 purchases on available Youtube videos, the more likely they will recoup the lost profits of music listened to without cost. Jogging’s distributive and aesthetic intentions are nestled within this counterintuitive marketing ploy.

Not all will be able ...

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Required Reading

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Ive's designs for the iPod and the iPhone are network culture's icons, much as the Model T Ford or the Boeing 707 were icons of their time. Just as the earlier machines produced mobility, so do ours: mobile, networked technology allows most members of developed societies to compress space in a way reserved until recently for the media, government, and élite. In so doing opened it opens up a new phenomenological space.

Mobile technologies allow us to disconnect from the world around us so that we may instead connect with individuals at a distance or, alternatively, with software agents residing either in our mobile devices or in the networked cloud (as data speeds rise, the difference between local and remote applications and data is becoming unclear). Although sometimes this disconnect with our surroundings is a matter of lament, more frequently it is a deliberate choice, a way to fill something we lack in space that surrounds us. If sometimes we use such technologies to augment immediate space-looking up the address of a destination on a map, calling a friend to triangulate a meeting place while in route-more often we employ them to distance ourselves-reading and writing e-mail, updating a social media site, immersing ourselves in a soundtrack of our own choosing with portable music players.

Introduced in October 2001, the iPod was a runaway success worldwide. That it succeeded even though it was released just a month after the 9/11 attacks to a generally depressed consumer mood and a dismal economy points to its significance. By allowing individuals to paint the world with an emotional soundscape, it allows them to subject it to their control, making it familiar through the recognizable sounds it reproduces. Technology, it seems, could overcome alienation.

Just as financialization is a mutation in ...

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