Trashconnection (2000) by Roman Minaev

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LAUNCH

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You've Got Mail!

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Image: Mark Beasley, @reply-all, 2008


Opening today, the online exhibition FW: Re: Re: explores a medium even our grandparents have become accustomed to: email. Organized by Rhizome's curatorial fellow Luis Silva from the ArtBase, FW: Re: Re: pulls together work produced over the past three years to present a variety of subversive approaches to this ubiquitous technology.

The show works like this:

1) Visit this page
2) Enter your email address
3) Receive the exhibition in your inbox

The format opens the exhibition up to the uncertainty and ephemerality inherent to email -- meaning that these works can be activated or discarded just as quickly as they appear.

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What's in a System?

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The word "systems" is often used to describe the work of Jeanne van Heeswijki, and now the Netherlands-based artist has released a book by that title. In the ongoing interest of exploring the relationship between human and non-human systems, van Heeswijk's projects are worth a closer look. Often working site-specifically, on the basis of residencies, her modus operandi is to enter a community and invite its inhabitants to speak for themselves. This tactic has played-out in a number of ways ranging from inviting other artists to occupy her studio to inviting local schoolchildren to comment publicly on their harsh living environment. She describes this work as making "cultural models for public spaces," begging the question of what defines both these models and these spaces. A few of her projects have been "controversial," if only because these cultural models seems to call for sites of contestation, debate, and reconciliation. It's clear that the notion of an easy route does not compute in Heeswijk's approach to her practice, and -- usually working in collaboration with others -- she often eschews personal credit for the scenarios she concocts in order to place the emphasis on the intended beneficiaries of these designed encounters. But this lack of glory-seeking shouldn't be confused with a laissez-faire attitude. In truth, she belongs to a new generation of artists working to retool the relationship between art, activism, and public participation. It is the vocabulary of social codes and game-playing that regulates the artist's work and brings it into conversation with other network culture-based performances. Like many activist tomes, Heeswijk's new book functions much like a cookbook offering recipes for the assembly of such models. It is also partly a monograph on her previous work, which one can imagine does not lend itself to traditional ...

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Long Live the Matrix

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The connections between science and technology are always evolving, and their vocabularies continue to merge as networks further permeate our lives. Much has been written about the coincident emergence of the AIDS virus and computer viruses (and the resultant panic surrounding both) and we've subsequently seen communicative transmissions signify the transmission of communicative diseases as much as any form of broadcast. In the 1990s, a group of scientists, technologists, and humanists interested in collaborating and learning from each others' research formed the Spanish group Art-Science-Technology-Society (which they abbreviate ACTS). Among other activities, these scholars organize an annual exhibition entitled "Banquete_Nodos y Redes" and this year's installation will be at the LABoral Centre for Art and Creative Industries from June 6th-November 3rd. The show includes "thirty digital and interactive art projects which posit a series of critical reflections and participative experiences while also exploring the new shared matrix of the net." The primary interest, here, is in using Santiago Ramón y Cajal's research on neuronal networks to cross-examine Manuel Castells's research on social and telecommunicational networks--and vice-versa. A very diverse range of projects by mostly Spanish artists is suggested as outlining "a path through these neuronal micro-worlds and the global dynamics of contemporary societies." - Marisa Olson


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Net-Work

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What is new media without networks? Better yet...What are networks? Academics and technologists are fond of saying that "we now live in a network culture," meaning in part that whether they are manifested online or offline, our social relationships, the objects we make, and our worldviews are inherently informed by the conditions of life in the era of the internet. New media art would then certainly fall under this gestalt, as it not only comes out of this era, often explicitly addressing it, but it is also a social movement or art community influenced by the merger of computer networks and social networks. This is the precise point of entry for an exhibition entitled "New Media - New Networks," at the Galzenica Gallery in Velika Gorica (formerly Zagreb), which bills itself as "the first retrospective dedicated to the new media art and culture in Croatia." Unlike most gallery exhibitions, the curators aspired to keep the presentation of art works to a minimum. Instead, the show is truly a context for the production of timelines, the writing of important timelines, and the nurturing of relationships revolving around the history of networks in this region. Thus, included in the checklist are defunct Bulletin Board Systems, DIY zines, documentation of art festivals, and even the archives of a university department's research efforts. The result of this unique initiative is a heretofore unseen picture of art initiatives and collaboration in an area often painted as "off the grid" of the contemporary art world, but obviously deeply engaged in contemporary practice. As a starting point for those outside Hrvatska, visit the gallery's timeline and link collection. - Marisa Olson


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Personal Electronics

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Audio-visual performance duo Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus, better known as LoVid, will be reading people's auras tonight at the Museum of Modern Art in New York-- or at least generating an electronic approximation. For their live work "Video Fingerprints," which premieres in the show, a select group of participants (including a few artists and curators familiar to Rhizome readers) will hold a quarter-inch plug in their bare hands, thereby generating natural electric currents which will be translated into analog video images corresponding to each person's unique body signal. The cords carrying these biofeedback signals have a touch of the handmade as well, crafted with homey cardboard and fabric coverings that mirror the chunky, multicolored video patterns created in their performances. "Video Fingerprints" is the latest in LoVid's growing body of elaborately low-tech projects based around the rough malleability of the electronic signal, updating the image processing practices of first-generation video artists like Stephen Beck and Skip Sweeney with a 21st century taste for noise, overload and disruption. In addition, LoVid will enact "Venus Mapped," a double video projection which Hinkis and Lapidus perform live A/V patching to create one image that follows a prerecorded "visual score" on the other. They'll also give a talk about their work, and screen a number of single-channel recordings produced over the last few years. - Ed Halter


LoVid, Venus Mapped, 2007

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Mobile Media

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Net art and mail art have often been compared. Afterall, no matter how static a website may look, getting there, and seeing what you're meant to see is a process that relies on a series of messages being transmitted and received. For an artist like Lisi Raskin, mail (the "snail" or electronic variety) would be a ripe topic. The Brooklyn-based artist often creates installations and scenarios predicated on paranoia in relation to the government, so what better a topic than federally-controlled communication? (Don't forget that the U.S. government invented email for internal communication.) Officially, her practice is described as "a sublimation of childhood fears of and adult desires for nuclear apocalypse into a slightly twisted and highly physical recreation involving makeshift production and playfully dark fantasy." While Raskin's interest in fear is situated as "post cold war" it is rather timely in the era of orange alerts, and the question raised is of the degree to which the government produces and trades on fear. She's further interested in the history and fantasies associated with land use discourses, so for her residency at Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies, the artist seeks to explore the impact of military facilities on the landscape of the American West. From April 15th-August 31st, Raskin's rolling in a super tricked-out van to tour the sites of nuclear tests and facilities, and responding site-specifically by making sculptures and drawings, sending transmissions, and mailing dispatches back to the gallery at Bard, where grad students are working in her "post office" to receive and display the mail. Entitled Mobile Observation (Transmitting and Receiving) Station, the project's game plan is an interesting inversion of the traditional model of the residency, and in some ways mirrors the partially-decentralized distribution of information enabled ...

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The Club Who Was Thursday

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Bearing a deceptively straightforward name, The Thursday Club at Goldsmiths College, University of London plays host to a wide range of technologist-artists for its recently-announced Summer Season; in upcoming weeks, the Club's guests will explore such diverse topics as narrative interactivity, biofeedback, coded textiles and "strategic walking." On April 17, Rachel Beth Egenhoefer presents works in progress from her ongoing art-melds of knitting and coding, including a knit zoetrope and knitting with the Wii. Writers Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph talk about their "networked book" Flight Paths on April 24; a novel to be based partially on strange-but-true occurrences of immigrant airline stowaways tragically plummeting to earth, Flight Paths is currently crowdsourcing research and ideas in its online forum. May 8th brings two artists who use medical technologies to esthetic ends: Camille Baker, whose MINDTouch combines biofeedback and mobile phones to create live performances, and Marilene Oliver, who creates artworks with MRI and CT scanning data. Future clubbers include E:vent organizers Colm Lally and Verina Gfader, artist/writer Richard Colson, and "live coders" Alex McLean and Dave Griffiths. - Ed Halter

Image Credit: Rachel Beth Egenhoefer, Detail of Knit Zoetrope (Work in Progress)

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Electric Heat

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Who's ready for summer? Starting Wednesday, the monitors and projector's inside London's Seventeen gallery will be burning-up with the work of four North American video artists. Yet, while their show, "We Like What You Eat," is a "micro survey" of outstanding work, it's not a question of who's "hot or not." In fact, what's more interesting about the show is that its venue all but proclaims itself "not hot" in saying, "In terms of exposure, the art gallery has been matched and perhaps even surpassed in importance by the website itself as an artistic platform for the included artists." It's true, the work of Paul B. Davis, collaborators John Michael Boling and Javier Morales, and Eric Fensler has simultaneously borrowed from the visual lexicon of the internet and blossomed there, finding scores of fans among the ranks of computer geeks and musicians as well as fellow artists and savvy curators. It's this crossover--or, rather, this practice of reciprocity--that binds the artists together in the show, with pop cultural phenomena flowing into the work as inspiration or source material, only to find it flowing back out as the art work itself becomes a part of pop culture. Call it the pop art visualization of the adage, "you are what you eat." The gallery declares this an all-out international movement that "nonetheless maintains its spiritual center in the United States of America." Fortunately, you can surf the artists' work from anywhere, but prepare your eyes for the optical poptitude proffered by these guys. In the words of ironically now-forgotten 80s pop musicians, Timbuk 3, their future's so bright, they "gotta wear shades." - Marisa Olson

Image credit: John Michael Boling and Javier Morales, "Body Magic," 2006 (video still)

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The New Transparent

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At least in principle, there seems to have been a wide embrace of the open source movement. The argument that things should be left open to improvement, and even personalization, by those with the know-how appeals to many of us. But where did the broader drive for "openness" come from? And what are its implications beyond technology? The "Disclosures" exhibition on view at London's Gasworks through May 18th looks at manifestations of open source methods in offline areas of cultural production. Curators Anna Colin and Mia Jankowicz describe these as "situations in which the viewer, reader, listener or internet user becomes emancipated through egalitarian participation, collaborative authorship, and/or the breaking down of hierarchical and social boundaries." Emancipation is, of course, a strong word, but it refers here to the freedom to participate in the social, economic, and production processes that inform our social reality. This is a utopia "Disclosures" both holds-up and critiques through the inclusion of work by artists and tactical media practitioners as well as cultural theorists and music producers. Projects include Declose, by Open Music Archive, a vinyl remix tool compositing copyright-expired breaks and samples from early jazz, blues, and folk recordings with new "copyleft beats" by invited musicians; John Barlow Gone Offshore, the newest chapter of Goldin+Senneby's effort to explore "the projects and mythologies of the invisible" in which fictional character John Barlow blogs his investigations into an offshore company known as Headless Limited; and Tsila Hassine and De Geuzen's web-based Image Tracer, a beautifully layered snapshot of the appearance, disappearance, and ranking of Google Image Search results that grows out of the collaborators' interest in "media images and the way their significance and presence fluctuates in the ecology of the world wide web." Not surprisingly, given its open source inspiration ...

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