Interview with Christiane Paul

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The Third Quadrilateral Biennial opened last week at the MMSU in Rijeka, Croatia, and it will remain on view until January 13, 2010. The Biennial emerged out of a cultural partnership between four participating countries - Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy. Artists from these countries are selected for exhibition in the Biennial. The focus for this year is new media art, and the organizers fittingly selected acclaimed new media art scholar and curator Christiane Paul as the Artistic Director for the Biennial. Paul took a moment to answer a few questions about the exhibition over email.

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VisitorsStudio

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VisitorsStudio is a real-time, multi-user, online arena for creative 'many to many' dialogue, interviews, networked performance and collaborative polemic. Through simple and accessible facilities, the VisitorsStudio web-based interface allows users to upload, manipulate and collage their own audio-visual files with others', to remix existing media. Providing a platform for the exploration of collective creativity for both emergent and established artists from a diverse array of geographical locations and social contexts. Designed so anyone in the world can access it from a 56k modem. Participants upload sound files and still/moving images (jpg, png, mp3, flv, swf) to a shared database, mixing and responding to each other's compositions in real-time. Individuals can also chat with each other and are located in the interface by their own dancing-cursors.



Congratulations to Furtherfield.org and Furtherstudio.org for winning the Grand Prize for netarts 2009 from the Machida City Museum of Graphic Art.

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Interview with Mark Amerika

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Amerika describes himself as a "thoughtographer", an "artist-medium", a "fictional philosopher", a "remixologist", a "network conductor", a wanderer who constantly changes identities and roles in a fragmentary world where time acquires an a-synchronic and non real dimension. By trying to express the complexity and the interest of contemporary digital reality, he delves into different aspects of himself and draws on elements and traits that he transfers to the characters of his works, by using the media, the technological platforms of our time. Developing projects on the net, filming with mobile phones, remixing common moments and figures of today's culture in a VJ-like audiovisual rhythm, Amerika redefines the characteristics of today's culture and opens up the possibilities for new interpretations and thoughts from the audience itself. -- "UNREALTIME" at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens

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Required Reading

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Image: Shoveling pirated DVDs in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China, April 20, 2008

The poor image is a copy in motion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution.

The poor image is a rag or a rip; an AVI or a JPEG, a lumpen proletarian in the class society of appearances, ranked and valued according to its resolution. The poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips, contemplation into distraction. The image is liberated from the vaults of cinemas and archives and thrust into digital uncertainty, at the expense of its own substance. The poor image tends towards abstraction: it is a visual idea in its very becoming.....

......The circulation of poor images creates a circuit, which fulfills the original ambitions of militant and (some) essayistic and experimental cinema—to create an alternative economy of images, an imperfect cinema existing inside as well as beyond and under commercial media streams. In the age of file-sharing, even marginalized content circulates again and reconnects dispersed worldwide audiences.

-- EXCERPTS FROM "IN DEFENSE OF THE POOR IMAGE" BY HITO STEYERL IN E-FLUX JOURNAL #10, NOVEMBER 2009

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The Fragmented Orchestra (2008-2009) - Jane Grant, John Matthias and Nick Ryan

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The Fragmented Orchestra is a huge distributed musical structure modelled on the firing of the human brain's neurons. The Fragmented Orchestra connects 24 public sites across the UK to form a tiny networked cortex, which will adapt, evolve and trigger site-specific sounds via FACT in Liverpool.

Each of the sites has a soundbox installed, which will stream human-made and elemental sounds from the site via an artificial neuron to one of 24 speakers in FACT. The sound will only be transmitted when the neuron fires. A firing event will cause fragments of sound to be relayed to the gallery and will also be communicated to the cortex as a whole. The combined sound of the 24 speakers at the gallery will be continuously transmitted back to the sites and to each of the 24 sites.

-- FROM THE PROJECT SITE

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Bits & Pieces (1999) - Peter M. Traub

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bits & pieces is a continuous composition that gets its source sounds from the web. Every morning a special search process looks for web pages with links to sound files. If links are found, the sound files are downloaded. The day's 'catch' is then used to create the pieces in bits & pieces for the next 24 hours.

Every 15 minutes a sound generating process randomly picks a few sound files to work with. There are several sound generating processes that each generate different sound pieces. bits & pieces randomly picks which process will be used each time a new piece is made. The number of processes that bits & pieces chooses will change over time as new ones are added or old ones removed. Once a sound generating process is complete, its output is converted into two mp3 files (one for high bandwidth and one for low).

-- FROM THE PROJECT SITE

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Normalized Silence (2009) - Nicholas O'Brien

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With the help of Amazon's Mechanical Turk, I asked workers to record 30+ seconds of "silence" from an on-board, or on-hand microphone. After collecting results, I normalized the submitted silence to a zero decibel level which high-lights the minor - normally inaudible - discrepancies between each recording/location/worker.

In doing so, Normalized Silence approaches the discourse of anonymity that surrounds network and out-source cultures. Accentuating the normally "silent" voices of anonymous workers within this framework provides a aural gesture of individuality within a realm of digital shadows.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Endnode (2002) - MTAA

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Endnode is a networked sculpture in the form of a large tree. Printers nested within the sculpture's plywood branches produce hardcopy of email communication that fall to the ground like leaves or apples; the branching of the Internet is literally and figuratively brought into physical space. As the leaves/apples/email fall to the ground, they become end nodes in the worldwide information flow.

-- FROM THE PROJECT'S SITE

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On Networked Equality

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Image: Heath Bunting, BorderXing Guide, 2001

The afternoon of May 30 was clear and sunny, which probably accounted for the low turnout at the New Museum’s panel discussion Networked Equality. Too bad, because the presentations were engaging and generated a lively Q&A; session afterward. More than a month later, the topics raised still seem worth discussion, especially in light of the ongoing conversation about political art and the content of Rhizome’s coverage. The speakers at Networked Equality were researchers, activists, one-time dot-com entrepreneurs and self-described nerds Ethan Zuckerman and Omar Wasow. Zuckerman discussed how the internet’s vaunted potential to increase the flow of ideas across borders of nation, race, and class had been stunted by homophily, the tendency of people to stick to like-minded groups. His project Global Voices is one effort to counter that inclination by aggregating and translating independent media. Wasow, an education specialist, emphasized that access to technology would not narrow the gap between classes, and education was the key to helping disadvantaged segments of the population become participants in a networked economy.

Zuckerman is a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, where he said his older colleagues—academics who already had established careers when the internet appeared-- greeted networked technologies enthusiastically, predicting earth-shattering change and falling borders. To the contrary, Zuckerman and Wasow’s peers, who helped build the early internet, approached it with a healthy skepticism. This attitude resonates with some pioneering net art works, such as those of Heath Bunting and Daniel Garcia Andujar who reacted sharply to utopian views of networked technologies. BorderXing, Bunting’s project with Kayle Brandon, offered a database with instructions on how to cross borders illegally, but limited access to that database; the project showed literally how political borders were in fact ...

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Dial-A-Poem (1968) - John Giorno

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"After having a conversation on the phone with Burroughs in 1968, Giorno initiated the Dial-A-Poem Poets concept, which he claimed would later influence the creation of information services creation over the telephone, such as sports and stock market. Fifteen phone lines were connected with individual answering machines: people would call Giorno Poetry Systems and listen to a poem they were offered from fragments of various live recordings. Dial-A-Poem, from 1969 on, was very successful, with 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. peaks. GPS used a variety of social issues at the time, what with the sexual revolution and the Vietnam War, which would create appeal as well as shock from the reactive community.

-- FROM THE GIORNO POETRY SYSTEMS WIKIPEDIA


Listen to Selections from Giorno Poetry Systems on UBU

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