World Community Grid Water Features (2010) - AIDS-3D

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A fountain and its natural form, the spring, are symbols of the miraculous life-begetting 'élan vital' that permeates the universe. In fact, life on earth is now thought to have begun in the nutrient-rich plumes of undersea hydrothermal vents, real-life fountains of life. But, when the image of the source is mimicked as Water Feature, a merely decorative, self-contained electric fountain, the maternalistic life-force is perverted into what amounts to abject MILF porn. The Water Feature is so wasteful and self-indulgent that it becomes the straw man in the argument against contemporary art as useless blubber for the tasteless elite. But— can't home and garden decor give back a little bit? Can't we efficiently retrofit some of our 'criminal ornaments' for a fairer future? If there is some leftover space inside their faux-marble fiberglass hollowness, we can definitely squeeze some useful nanotech in there— right? Let's finally answer Joseph Bueys famous challenge, “Kann Plastik die Welt verandern?"—can sculpture change the world? with a resounding “YES!"…as long as that sculpture contains a state-of-the-art-kick-ass-energy-efficient-linux-micro-PC that is totally discovering a cure for cancer.

A group of spectacular cast-fiberglass fountains stand together on an elevated server-room floor. A Fit PC 2 (the smallest PC currently available, 96% more energy efficient than a standard desktop) is installed in each water feature. Whenever the fountains are plugged in, the Linux PC's will automatically boot up and run World Community Grid software, a distributed computing project which uses a massive network of PC’s around the world to model solutions for various humanitarian problems, such as: “Clean Energy Project”, “Influenza Antiviral Drug Search”, “ Fight Aids@home” and “Nutritious Rice for the World". The delightful splashing of the water and twinkle of the energy-efficient LED’s act as relaxing and meditative status-light ...

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Using, Using, Used

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Within the pages of Digital Folklore Reader, Olia Lialina, one of the book’s editors, refers to a claim by the social media researcher Danah Boyd, that some American teenagers identify as Facebook and others as MySpace—preferring a conformist and clean interface persona, or a rebellious and visually pimped one, respectively.

This book, co-edited by Dragan Espenschied, is by all outward appearances a MySpace, brimming with exuberant design elements culled from all over the net and reaching deep into online history. The dust jacket repeats a background image of a unicorn perched on a boulder at sunset under a meteor shower. Its reverse is wallpapered in 32 by 32 pixel gif icons representing the gamut of popular user-generated online imagery: cartoon characters, porno ladies, geometric designs, quotidian objects, flags, logos, landscapes and text, from WTF to FREE TIBET. One layer deeper, the cover and back of the book are white, or, probably (in RGB concept), nothing. The spine is also nude, showing off the motley sequencing of pages inside, the first and last of which are a flat, vibrant #00FF00 green, allusive of web-safe color and maybe of a green screen, primed for content to be transposed onto it.

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"Decode" at the V&A: Digital Reflections and Refractions

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A large installation in the Grand Entrance of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum clatters away, registering its presence in this historic hallway. Jointly commissioned (by the V & A and SAP), bit.code (2009), by Julius Popp, consists of a large panel of black and white blocks which appear to represent a curious, indecipherable code as they rotate around their frame. Periodically its units align, clearly depicting popular terms streamed live from news site feeds. In this physical form and location, this is real-time made somehow more timely. Looming over visitors, a literal staging of data being decoded, the work asserts itself as an apt entry portal to "Decode", the V & A's inaugural exhibition of contemporary digital and interactive design.

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The Representative (2005) - Carey Young

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The Representative is a ‘portrait’ of a call centre worker that can be accessed by telephone.

Call centres are an increasingly ubiquitous and technocratic interface between large organisations and the public, and their spread has been described as endemic to a globalised world. With The Representative, visitors are invited to sit within an installation of domestic lounge-type furniture and use a single phone to connect direct to a call centre agent working at a remote location. The callers are offered the chance to ‘get to know’ the agent, and thus to experience a ‘portrait’ of the call centre agent accessible via a call centre interface. Young hired the agent and defined a ‘vignette' of them by agreeing a generic script of topics for possible conversation to be offered to callers at the start of each call, based on interviews with the agent about their personal background and experiences of call centre work. Following these initial options, calls were unscripted and based on the conversational interests of the caller.

The Representative is a development of Nothing Ventured, an earlier work by Carey Young which was staged at fig-1, London in 2000, in which she hired a call centre to ‘represent’ her. The Representative, at its simplest level, offers a view of the life and experiences of a call centre operative whose individuality and identity would normally be denied to the caller. The calls would exist somewhere between a personal chat, an interview, the reality-TV style exposure of a ‘civilian’, a script, an exposé of working conditions, a piece of journalistic research, a portrait and a service, with the caller put in the position of researcher, audience, voyeur, client and potential friend.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Interview with Caroline Woolard of OurGoods

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I first learned of OurGoods from an advertisement in “Art Work: A National Conversation about Art, Labor, and Politics.” Intrigued by their claim to provide an online infrastructure for artists to obtain goods and services without cash, I wrote to Caroline Woolard, a co-founder of the OurGoods project, to find out more. For those in the New York area, OurGoods will host "Trade School" in a storefront at 139 Norfolk Street in the Lower East Side from January 25th through March 1st.

What is OurGoods?

Caroline: OurGoods is an online barter network for artists, designers, and cultural producers to barter skills, spaces, and objects. Members of OurGoods organize creative projects with "haves" and "needs" and OurGoods matches barter partners, tracks accountability, and helps the business of independent, creative work. The site can be used to find collaborators, see emerging interests, or execute projects without cash. For example, I can help you write a grant if you make my costumes. OurGoods is a new model for valuing creative work. It fosters interdependence and strong working relationships. You will get your independent work done with mutual respect instead of cash.

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Graffiti Markup Language Gets An Upgrade

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F.A.T. Labs have declared this week "Graffiti Markup Language Week" on their blog - and each day they've posted GML-related updates. What exactly is Graffiti Markup Language? It's an XML file type developed by F.A.T. Labs that stores the motion data created by tagging -- allowing graffiti writers to share, study, and catalog their tags. Check the below for a brief overview:

GML = Graffiti Markup Language from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

What has GML week brought us so far? Over the past few days, F.A.T. Labs introduced:

► An iPhone version of Graffiti Analysis DustTag v1.0 - this handy App allows users to trace their tags and add them to the GML database http://000000book.com/ using an iPhone.

► Graffiti Analysis 2.0 - the new and improved Graffiti Analysis includes the aforementioned iPhone App DustTag v1.0, along with updates to the tracking, playback, controls and graphics, as well as previously unreleased source code and downloads to Windows, Mac and Linux versions of the playback and capture applications.

► FatTag Deluxe - the Katsu Edition - an updated version of the Fat Tag App made in collaboration with graffiti legend Katsu.

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P.S.1's Studio Visit

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Joy Garnett's Studio from Studio Visit

Long Island City's contemporary art center P.S.1 recently launched Studio Visit - a space for New York area artists to share a "virtual presentation" of their studio with a short artist's statement and bio. Imagine a DIY version of the Selby or Fecal Face's Studio Visits series. Like these sites, it taps into the reader's voyeuristic curiosity to see a side of the artist's process perhaps not immediately apparent in their output. The aim of Studio Visit is to promote visibility for these artists, cultivate a locally focused network and, one would assume, solicit offline studio visits as well. The initiative is in keeping with the institution's past "Greater New York" exhibition, which spotlighted work from emerging New York area artists with great breadth and success. However, like any new website, it looks like they're still sorting out the kinks. It would be helpful if they could add an RSS feed for recent submissions, so visitors don't need to check back to the site. I also noticed that quite a few artists ignored the fields in the submission form requesting photos of the interior and exterior of their studios -- it might be wise to require that as part of the process, especially if showcasing one's studio is a primary purpose of the site.

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Required Reading

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Never mind that the decade really ends in a little over a year, it's time to take stock of it. Today's post looks back at the decade just past while tomorrow's will look at the decade to come.

As I observed before, this decade is marked by atemporality. The greatest symptom of this is our inability to name the decade and, although commentators have tried to dub it the naughties, the aughts, and the 00s (is that pronounced the ooze?), the decade remains, as Paul Krugman suggests, a Big Zero, and we are unable to periodize it. This is not just a matter of linguistic discomfort, its a reflection of the atemporality of network culture. Jean Baudrillard is proved right. History, it seems, came to an end with the millennium, which was a countdown not only to the end of a millennium but also to the end of meaning itself. Perhaps, the Daily Miltonian suggested, we didn't have a name for the decade because it was so bad.

-- EXCERPT FROM "A DECADE IN RETROSPECT" BY KAZYS VARNELIS

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It's time for my promised set of predictions for the coming decade. It has been a transgression of disciplinary norms for historians to predict the future, but its also quite common among bloggers. So let's treat this as a blogosphere game, nothing more. It'll be interesting to see just how wildly wrong I am a decade from now.

In many respects, the next decade is likely to seem like a hangover after the party of the 2000s (yes, I said party). The good times of the boom were little more than a lie perpetrated by finance, utterly ungrounded in any economy reality, and were not based on any sustainable economic thought. Honestly, it's unclear ...

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Top 5 - 10

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title_leaving.gif Nicolas Sassoon, Leaving, 2009 (From Computers Club)

 

Ceci Moss is Rhizome's Senior Editor.


 

For my top 5-10, I've decided to pull together my favorite online exhibitions of internet-based art from the past 12 months.

► Computers Club

Each week or so, Computers Club introduce a new work by an artist. Many of the Computer Clubbers have helped to define the current crop of internet-based art influenced by Larry Cuba and Tron-style computer graphics, such as Laura Brothers, Nicholas Sassoon, and Elna Frederick.

► Internet Archaeology's "Guest Galleries"

Internet Archaeology is a site devoted to the recovery of graphic artifacts found within earlier internet culture. (Think Olia Lialina's A Vernacular Web.) Their Guest Galleries section features original work using images culled from the collection by Tabor Robak, Krist Wood, Jacob Broms Engblom, Daniel Leyva, Emma Balkind, and Nasdaq 5000. My favorite piece so far is Robak's Heaven, which I posted to Rhizome not too long ago.

► JstChillin's "Serial Chillers in Paradise"

Run by Bay Area-based artists Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito, JstChillin's "Serial Chillers in Paradise" series is quite ambitious -- for a full year, they're knocking out a new work, in the form of a solo site, by an artist every two weeks, with an accompanying essay by Denny and Ito.

► NETMARES & NETDREAMS v 2.2

Like software, the curatorial project NETMARES & NETDREAMS signal the progression of their exhibitions through versioning. The exhibition "2.2" went live last summer, and it is loosely based on beach iconography, with a gloss of dark surrealism. A sense of the ominous pervades throughout, from Harm van den Dorpel's dizzying montage of palm trees to Michael Guidetti's loop of a rippling, virtual ocean.

► Club Internet's "Dissociation"

Now closed, Club Internet's fall exhibition "Dissociation" was ...

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Right Here, Right Now - HC Gilje's Networks of Specificity

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This essay was originally commissioned by Hordaland Kunstsenter (Hordaland Art Centre) in Bergen, Norway, to coincide with HC Gilje's solo exhibition blink. Thank you to Mitchell Whitelaw, HC Gilje and Hordaland Kunstsenter for allowing us to republish it to Rhizome News.

HC Gilje's work arises from a moment when the anything-at-all of digital video was just opening up, thanks to a combination of new real-time tools, cheap computing power, and some key interdisciplinary influences. Drawing on experimental sound and music, improvisation and performance became important solutions; working live in a specific situation, artists would gather, process, generate, and recombine material. In work from the late 1990s and early 2000s, from Gilje and his collaborators in 242.pilots, as well as video ensembles such as Granular Synthesis and Skot, the result is abstract and intense, a flow of layered digital texture. In performance it saturates the body and senses; big screens, big speakers. Instead of the narrative transport of cinema, which takes us somewhere else, this work creates - and is created in - an intensified sense of presence, what Gilje calls an "extended now". This methodology is vital; it focuses the open-ended generality of digital media in to a point: on this, rather than anything-at-all.

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