Required Reading

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Is it still necessary to define art by intent and context? The gallery world would have us believe this to be the case, but the internet tells a more mutable story. Contrary to the long held belief that art needs intent and context, I suggest that if we look outside of galleries, we’ll find the actions, events and people that create contemporary art with or without the art world’s label.

Over the past 20 years, the theory Relational Aesthetics (referred to in this essay as RA) has interpreted social exchanges as an art form. Founding theoretician Nicholas Bourriaud describes this development as “a set of artistic practices that take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context”[1]. In reality, art erroneously known to typify RA’s theorization hasn’t strayed far from the model of the 1960’s Happening, an event beholden to the conventions of the gallery and the direction of its individual creator. In her essay Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics, Claire Bishop describes Rikrit Tiravanija’s dinners as events circumscribed in advance, using their location as a crutch to differentiate the otherwise ordinary action of eating a meal as art[2]. A better example of the theory of RA succinctly put into action can be seen in anonymous group activities on the internet, where people form relations and meaning without hierarchy.

Started in 2003, 4Chan.org is one such site, and host to 50 image posting message boards, (though one board in particular, simply titled ‘/b/’, is responsible for originating many of the memes we use to burn our free time.) The site’s 700,000 daily users post and comment in complete anonymity; a bathroom-stall culture generating posts that alternate between comedic brilliance, virulent hate ...

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Interview with Zach Blas

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Zach Blas is an artist and writer working at the intersections of networked media, queerness, and politics. His work includes video, sculpture, installation, and design, among other things. He is also a PhD Student in the Program in Literature at Duke University, and writes extensively on the question of art, activism, and sexuality. Zach and I discussed the question of a queer technology and just what queer theory might contribute to the fields of art and technology.

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Full Throttle (2010) - Artie Vierkant

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Ongoing series presenting formal recordings of films streaming over the Internet at very slow (throttled) connection speed.

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Public Supply I (1966) - Max Neuhaus

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Public Supply I, WBAI, New York, 1966


For "Public Supply I," Max Neuhaus confined his role as musician to that of a "catalyst for sound-producing activities," using the largest existing network, the telephone network, which had about 500 million subscribers at the time. Using technology he had constructed himself, he was able to mix calls coming in to ten telephones in the studios of the WBAI radio station in New York in different ways, and then broadcast this melange of listeners' sounds and noises. Once the listeners who called in had switched their radios on, he played with the feedback this produced and bundled sounds from introverted and extroverted callers together.

"I realized I could open a large door into the radio studio with the telephone; if I installed telephone lines in the studio, anybody could sonically walk in from any telephone. At that time there were no live call-in shows. […] Although I was not able to articulate it in 1966, now, after having worked with this idea for a long time and talked about it and thought about it, it seems that what these works are really about is proposing to reinstate a kind of music which we have forgotten about and which is perhaps the original impulse for music in man: not making a musical product to be listened to, but forming a dialogue, a dialogue without language, a sound dialogue."

-- DESCRIPTION FROM MEDIA ART NET

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Required Reading

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Blast 3 from 1993

Jordan Crandall is an artist and media theorist whose work deals with the cultural and political dimensions of new technologies. Between 1991 and 1995 he was the editor of Blast, a multimedia magazine that was initially published in a box format. Blast evolved alongside the popularization of the Internet, and much of its work occurred at the intersection of publishing, digital culture, and the production and distribution of art objects. This spring, Crandall spoke with Triple Canopy about the history of Blast, the nature of the magazine as a form, and the days of accessing bulletin board systems via suitcase-size modems.

-- FROM "UNMARKED BOX ON A COUNTER: JORDAN CRANDALL IN CONVERSATION WITH CALEB WALDORF" IN TRIPLE CANOPY, ISSUE #9

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Required Reading

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How did the World Wide Web look before this Internet boom, before it became a riot for star backgrounds, bouncing envelopes and under construction signs?

Well, in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee went live with the first web page TheProject.html located inside the hypertext/WWW/ folder on a computer called "nxoc01" at CERN. Neither him, nor any of his colleagues made an effort to preserve this first version. The only thing we know is the URL http://nxoc01.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html and the way the first page ever looked in november 1992. That's early enough, still half a year before the Mosaic browser would be released and people outside of CERN would start to make their pages.

It is difficult to estimate how many pages created in 1993-1994 made it into the new millennium in their primordial way. If you manage to find something that was put online that time, it would in the best case display a 1995-1996 skin, like the Russian Space Science Internet -- redesigns clearly shaped by the then-new Netspace browser.

But there is a way to find pages that live for ever in 1993. To present them to the new students I look for "Prof. Dr." in Google.

-- FROM "PROF. DR. STYLE VERNACULAR WEB 3" BY OLIA LIALINA

Note: This essay is the third in the series "Vernacular Web" - be sure to read "Vernacular Web 2" and "A Vernacular Web."

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Ping the Server (2010) - Sterling Crispin

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Rootkit : a type of software that is designed to gain administrative-level control over a computer system without being detected. Ping : A utility used to determine whether a particular IP address is reachable online by sending out a packet of data and waiting for a response. Ping is used to test and debug a network as well as see if a user or server is online.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S SITE

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The Chill Zone

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"Time doesn't exist when you're... just chilling!" Topping an administrative page on the site of curatorial collective Jstchillin, this slogan rephrases a familiar bit of folk phenomenology: Time flies when you're having fun! But in denying time's existence, rather making its perceived acceleration a metaphor for losing yourself in the moment, the slogan suggests a swap of the trinity of past-present-future for something else -- a sense of time that (until the end of this essay, at least) I will call "chill time." Jstchillin is concerned with the internet, and my description of chill time will be, too. It entails an awareness of parallel threads of messages, ordered by clock-time sequence and subjective assignments of importance (cf. Facebook's feed settings: "Top News" and "Most Recent"), and the knowledge that these messages will wait until you find them (in your e-mail, in your RSS aggregator, etc.) but might be irrelevant when you do if you wait too long. Chill time is simultaneity of the recent past and lagging present, the sum of attempts to track some threads into the past and push others toward the future. Awareness of physical surroundings tends to be fuzzy as you sift through old layers of digital sediment and deposit new ones. Jstchillin founders Caitlyn Denny and Parker Ito describe it like this: "[T]o chill is to live in a constant state of multiplicities, a flow of existence between web and physicality."

Jstchillin encompasses a number of initiatives, including the gallery show "Avatar 4D," but its flagship project is "Serial Chillers in Paradise," an online exhibition that has featured a different artist every other week since October 2009. Chill time, I think, is the central theme of "Serial Chillers," one that many commissioned artists have approached through conventional associations with chilling. Video games were the subject of an illustrated short story/film treatment by Jon Rafman, and Jonathan Vingiano's browser add-on Space Chillers was a game. Ida Lehtonen's contribution folded soothing ocean sounds into a video of exercises that computer laborers can do to stay limber during breaks, while Eilis Mcdonald's sent you scrolling through bits of pat, New-Agey advice and then to a page with equivalent visuals; both artists drew on packaged relaxation. Zach Schipko and Tucker Bennett's feature-length movie Why Are You Weird?, parceled into YouTube uploads, is a story of art-school students who spend almost all of their onscreen time at parties or hanging out in their dorm rooms, rehashing crits.

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Infinite Stream Loop (from the series Laps) (2010) - Art of Failure (Nicolas Maigret and Nicolas Montgermont)

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LISTEN TO INFINITE STREAM LOOP

Infinite Stream Loop is an audio stream traveling through the world wide web since the 1st of july 2010

The field of research "Laps" focuses on generating sensible representations of Internet by using it as a broadcasting space. The spatial and geographic properties of the Network are highlighted by broadcasting audio streams that travel and reverberate trough the web. Listening to these audio streams by using specific processes* allows to make audible an infinity of transformations that modify the sound as it circulates on the web. These alterations are comparable to a form of erosion caused by the network space - they are a key to allow different mental representations of this digital topography.
*Very low buffers and no error corrections

PROCESS | A sound is sent out over the network and goes through several locations on the web. Captured at the end of a loop by the original transmitter, the sound is played and then resent out with no additional modification through the web.

SOUND MATERIAL | To emphasize the changes caused by the network, the sound used for the startup is deliberately very simple - pure silence.

SPACE | Similar to a physical & resonant space, the Internet network is here used as a broadcasting space where sound gets more elaborated. The audio signal is modified by the inner properties of the network and becomes an acoustic signature of this space.

ERRORS | The audio transmission process used here allows to keep all the distortions of the original material that occurred during the process (artefacts, transmission errors, missing data...).

TOPOLOGY | The geography of the network is in perpetual motion. Web user's actions have a direct impact on the features of this "resonant space" - the sound that one can hear through Laps constantly crystallises the activity of part of the ...

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New from dump.fm

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A few months ago, we published a statement by dump.fm co-founder Ryder Ripps on the image-only chatroom, which had just been launched. Since then, the site has taken off big time. See below for some gifs from two ace memes to emerge from dump.fm - Sloth Goth and Deal With It. dump.fm have also instituted a Hall of Fame for other gems produced by users as well as an image vortex which visualizes the images dumped to the site in real time.



Deal With It

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Sloth Goth

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