Required Reading

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"Art and social media" -- this topic is all anyone wants to talk about these days. The discussion extends from the staid -- the National Endowment for the Arts released a report titled "Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation" -- to more spicy ruminations on what "social media art" offers as a new category, as in the artist An Xiao’s recent three-part series for Hyperallergic.

On the one hand, this faddish obsession with "social media" is understandable. The Facebook Corp. has begun to wrap its fingers around every other aspect of life, so it is clearly logical to ask what effects social media might have on art-making. But at the same time, I find the chatter somehow sad, as if visual art’s power to inspire passion among a larger audience is so attenuated that it has to throw itself on whatever trendy thing is out there, to win some reflected glory for itself.

So, the question for me is this: Is there any more interesting way to think about the topic than the loose and impressionistic manner that it is currently framed? Maybe it’s worth noting that, of all the buzzwords of the present-day lexicon, "social media" is perhaps the only one that is more vaguely defined than "art." Let’s begin, then, by clarifying terms to see if we can get to a more interesting place.

-- FROM "SOCIAL MEDIA ART" IN THE EXPANDED FIELD BY BEN DAVIS IN ARTNET MAGAZINE

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Untitled (2007) - André Avelãs

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Originally via VVORK

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Performance, All Over the Map: On Chris Salter's "Entangled"

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Chris Salter's Entangled is a massive undertaking and a book long overdue. In this ambitious project, Salter sets out to provide a historical overview of the intersections between technology and artistic performance in order to demonstrate the profound entanglement in the historical trajectories of both sets of practices and developments. Entangled seeks to address how technological developments have altered our making and perception of artistic performance and the socio-political, cultural and economic contexts of such developments (p. xiii). Furthermore, Salter understands the histories of new media arts, theater, and other stage-based artforms as divided in a tension between the technophilic and technophobic, and his investigation is an attempt to fill this gap.

Peter Sellars describes, in his Foreword to the book, Salter's approach as radically inclusive. Indeed, Salter sets out to frame an impressively diverse range of practices as performance. Those practices include, but are not limited to, theatre, opera, scenography, architecture, video art, installations, environments, sonic arts, robotics, media arts, live and body art, expressions of popular culture such as music gigs, and more. Entangled consists of eight chapters, each focusing on a different form. This distinction is not designed to separate disciplinary trajectories though; instead, it challenges disciplinary boundaries through its fluid narrative that consistently foregrounds intersections, crossovers and common histories.

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The FM Ferry Experiment (2007) - neuroTransmitter (Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere)

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The FM Ferry Experiment, a project conceived and programmed by neuroTransmitter, was an eight-day mobile radio project held on the Staten Island Ferry during the Fall of 2007. With the collaboration of the New York City Department of Transportation and the FM signal of WSIA-FM, this project transformed the S.i. Ferry into a floating radio station, continually traveling between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island, and transmitting out to the NYC region.

Through the media of radio and live broadcast performance we were interested in spatially and sonically activating the space in and around the Staten Island Ferry, considering it's architecture, mode of transport, use of public space, and the geographical contours of the ferry's immediate environment as it moved through Upper New York Bay.

Live sound performances, experimental sound works, interviews, and lectures took place on the ferry and transmitted (along with pre-recorded programming) to New York City listeners via WSIA-FM. Each program ran approximately 25 minutes - the time it takes the ferry to complete the commute from shore to shore.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Shared Frequencies (2007) - Kabir Carter

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Shared Frequencies is a portable sound installation and performance environment that relies on multiplex radio communications events as its primary performance material. An array of radio scanners is paired with a set of analog synthesizer modules, and assembled on a set of small, modest folding tables. The scanners pick up a wide variety of speech, encoded data streams, and noise that are converted into (more) synthetic sound. The results of these electroacoustic interactions are projected into the air, and the sounds heard are physically modified by the shape and volume of the installation's site.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Homebrew Electronics

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noteNdo Live at Blip Festival 2008

Homebrew Electronics is a new series on the Rhizome blog. For these posts, I will be conducting studio visits with artists and inventors who create unique electronic instruments.

Last week, I met up with Jeff Donaldson, aka noteNdo, on a particularly sweltering summer day in his studio in Bushwick. For close to a decade, Jeff has been modifying video game consoles to produce glitchy audio and visual material. These machines form the backbone of his practice, which began primarily in a live performance context, and has expanded from there. In the past few years, Jeff has begun to apply the patterns created from his consoles into material form by making scarves and prints, and more recently, he’s moved into fully immersive, interactive installations. For this studio visit, he walked me through a number of his consoles.

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Jeff Donaldson's modified Nintendo NES Leo

Meet Leo. Named after Leon Theremin, this Nintendo NES from 1985 was one of Jeff’s first projects and has become a staple in his work. He got the idea to make animation after a vivid dream - and set out on his Nintendo NES, the only tool he had at the time.

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This is the patch bay for Leo. Patching the jacks offsets a short circuit that creates a visual effect, which Jeff discovered through trial and error. The patches allow him to revisit these effects - which are essentially bad reads by the system. Leo allows you to swap in and out different games - exposing the cartridges to the visual effects produced by Jeff’s modifications. Jeff described Leo as essentially an “auto-collage system” allowing a reworking of the original material through the settings he has determined.

Early, basic NES glitch from noteNdo recorded straight to VHS tape in 2001 ...

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The Quiet Storm (2007) - Jibz Cameron and Hedia Maron

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Dynasty Handbag - The Quiet Storm from Hedia Maron on Vimeo.

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Rock Your Body (2005-2007) - Brian Bress

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PARTY FOOD (2006-Ongoing) - Joseph Gillette

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[Stills from various episodes of PARTY FOOD.]

PARTY FOOD: THE DOO-OVER

PARTY FOOD is a multi-dimensional art project that began as a few drawings and short stories in 2006. What followed has become a blend of performance, installation, and media that cannot be defined but through experience.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM THE PROJECT'S SITE

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Call for Participants

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A new project by Brody Condon, LevelFive, is seeking participants for two intensive seminars in September - one at the Hammer Museum in LA from Sept. 3-5 and the other in San Jose from Sept. 16-18 at the San Jose Convention Center during the Zero1 Biennial. I'm curious to see what comes of this event - it seems really interesting. You can read more about it below. To register, visit the sign-up section of the LevelFive site. Space is limited.

LevelFive is a live role-playing event focused on critically exploring self actualization seminars from the 1970’s. The LevelFive performance will loosely follow the structure of early Large Group Awareness Training sessions like Erhard Seminars Training, but it is not a re-enactment. The open-ended live role-playing environment provides a space in which players are free to explore self actualization issues with varying degrees of personal intensity, but via an alibi or fabricated character.

During the 1970’s hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans came for weekend seminar sessions, to be taught how to free themselves from the restraints of contemporary society. Intended as a kind of self transformation for the masses, the seminars utilized a combination of various philosophic and spiritual teachings focused on “allowing participants to achieve, in a very brief time, a sense of personal transformation and enhanced power.” Quickly copied, successors included not only similar self actualization seminars, but also grew into the mass of success and corporate training seminars that we are familiar with today.

Players will arrive as their characters, and are expected to emote, and experience as their characters, with minimal interruptions for the 2-3 day duration of the game. LevelFive is a live game based on the Nordic style of progressive live role-play that explicitly works with “bleed”. In role-playing games, bleed happens when ...

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